content by

Keith R.A. DeCandido

Fiction and Excerpts [4]

Fiction and Excerpts [4]

Back to the Future — Star Trek: Picard’s “Remembrance”

The opening of Picard’s premiere episode is pure fan service: we’ve got the Enterprise-D flying through space just like it was on The Next Generation, we’ve got Data back in his old uniform, we’ve got Ten-Forward, we’ve got a poker game (a running gag that got its start in the episode “The Measure of a Man,” far from the last callback to that episode we’ll see in this first hour), and we’ve got Bing Crosby singing “Blue Sky,” which Data sang at the Riker-Troi wedding in Star Trek: Nemesis.

It’s all a dream, of course. But the fan service doesn’t end there….

[I don’t want the game to end….]

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Caretaker”

Written by Rick Berman & Michael Piller & Jeri Taylor
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 1, Episode 1
Production episode 101
Original air date: January 16, 1995
Stardate: 48315.6

Captain’s log. A crawl explains the existence of the Maquis, who are rebels against a Federation-Cardassian treaty that ceded disputed territories to each side regardless of who was living there. Gul Evek is chasing a Maquis ship into the Badlands. Maquis engineer B’Elanna Torres takes the weapons offline to add impulse power so Chakotay, the cell’s leader, can get into the Badlands. Tuvok of Vulcan thinks this is a bad idea, but goes along.

Evek follows them into the Badlands, to Chakotay’s surprise, and is damaged. Chakotay avoids a plasma storm, but then is hit by a tetryon beam of unknown origin.

[“We were warned about the Ferengi at the Academy.” “Warned about Ferengi, were you?” “That’s right.” “Slurs, about my people, at Starfleet Academy!” “What I meant was…” “Here I am, trying to be a cordial host!”]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

“That’s life” — Joker

Batman’s debut in Detective Comics #27 in 1939 was a massive hit, so much so that National Periodical Publications gave him his own title in 1940, though he also continued to star in Detective Comics.

Batman’s villain in the debut issue of his eponymous comic was the Joker. The story of the character’s creation is a he said/he said mess among Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson, but they all at least agree that the Joker’s look was inspired by Conrad Veidt in the 1928 movie adaptation of Victor Hugo’s The Man Who Laughs and a joker playing card.

He quickly became Batman’s arch-villain, and has remained so for eighty years.

[I just hope that my death makes more cents than my life…]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

Introducing the Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch!

Twenty-five years ago today, the United Paramount Network debuted with the premiere episode of the third live-action Star Trek spinoff, Voyager. The first Trek show to have a female lead, Captain Kathryn Janeway, played by Kate Mulgrew, joined Kirk, Picard, and Sisko in the ranks of Trek captains. She was joined by a cast that included Robert Beltran, Robert Picardo, Robert Duncan MacNeill, plus a few people not named Robert: Roxann Dawson, Ethan Phillips, Jennifer Lien, Garrett Wang, Tim Russ, and, later, Jeri Ryan.

Every Monday and Thursday, starting next week, will run my rewatch of an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. Yes, really.

[Yes, it’s really a Voyager rewatch. Honest…]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

“I’m going to help my family” — X-Men: Dark Phoenix

One of the most popular stories in comics history, the extended storyline that cemented the X-Men’s place in the late 1970s and early 1980s as Marvel’s new flagship title, was the “Dark Phoenix” saga, which culminated in the death of Phoenix in 1980’s Uncanny X-Men #137. Co-plotted by scripter Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne, the story saw founding member Jean Grey become corrupted by her power, thanks to mental manipulation by the longtime X-villain Mastermind.

This storyline has been adapted several times in screen versions of the X-Men, including once before in the Fox live-action series. The cowriter of that film, Simon Kinberg, took advantage of the time-travel shenanigans of Days of Future Past to take a mulligan on The Last Stand and do it all over again, this time as both writer and director.

[“I have no desire to fight you.” “I get that a lot.”]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

School Daze — Star Trek’s “Children of Mars”

Star Trek has never provided a particularly imaginative future. This isn’t really a problem, as such. Science fiction isn’t always—or even often—in the business of accurately predicting the future. And Star Trek in particular has always been more about commenting about the contemporary world than providing a possibly accurate lens to the future.

Because of this, Trek’s track record with schools is hilariously unimaginative, as we see in the last Short Treks episode of this batch, “Children of Mars.”

[We can be heroes, just for one day……]

“You really think a black suit is going to solve all your problems?” — Men in Black International

While 2012’s Men in Black 3 was a bigger success than 2002’s Men in Black II, the notion of continuing the series was hindered by the aging process. Tommy Lee Jones is in his seventies now, and Will Smith is in his fifties. Plus both are high-profile actors whose schedules are ever-difficult to coordinate.

So Sony hit on the notion of introducing a pair of younger agents to anchor a possible ongoing series, and hit comedy gold with the already-established team of Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, who co-starred in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame to good effect.

[“Should we call it in?” “Call it in? No! The paperwork is a nightmare!”]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

Hey Up, Boys, Nimue — Hellboy (2019)

The first two Hellboy movies were moderate hits, popular with fans, and did decently at the box office. While they were set up nicely as a trilogy, there was a bit of disagreement between Mike Mignola, the creator and owner of Hellboy, and Guillermo del Toro, the director of those first two films. Mignola and Andrew Cosby had written a script for a third Hellboy movie, which they wanted del Toro to be a producer on. But del Toro (a) wanted to direct and (b) wanted to direct his script for the third film.

Ron Perlman was only interested in reprising the role with del Toro as the director, so the title role was recast and the whole thing was rebooted.

[“We belong together, you and I.” “We do, but it’s not going to work, y’know, ’cause I’m a Capricorn, and you’re fucking nuts!”]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

Back to the Drawing Board — Star Trek’s “The Girl Who Made the Stars” and “Ephraim and Dot”

Back in the 1970s, Star Trek was proving more popular in syndicated reruns than it ever was as a new show on NBC in the 1960s. Gene Roddenberry was looking for ways to capitalize on that popularity, and while attempts to revive the show in live-action were made—a movie, then a TV show, then a movie again, which finally happened in 1979—he also succeeded in reviving the series via animation by doing a deal with Filmation for an animated show that lasted twenty-two episodes.

For the first time since that animated series ended in 1974, Star Trek has produced an animated episode. In fact, they’ve done two.

[“Computer, aluminum. I mean lu…” “Illuminate?” “That’s what I said! Make it brighter!”]

“His name is Captain Sparklefingers!” — Shazam!

In 1940, superheroes had become the biggest thing in comics, thanks mostly to the huge success National Periodical Publications (what is now DC) with both Superman and Batman over the previous year or two. So we got lots more superheroes being created in the shadow of a world war in Europe: Timely Comics (what is now Marvel) gave us Captain America and the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch, National also gave us Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern and the Flash, and Fawcett Publications gave us a character originally known as Captain Thunder, later Captain Marvel, who later became a DC character and who these days is known as Shazam because Timely is now called Marvel. Oh, what a tangled web we weave…

[I can see why Rocky climbed up all the way here.]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

The Calm After the Storm — Spider-Man: Far From Home

After making his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Captain America: Civil War (a movie that made over a billion dollars), Spider-Man starred in three MCU movies—his own Homecoming as well as the next two Avengers movies, Infinity War and Endgame—and also was the subject of a hugely successful non-MCU animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

A second MCU film was inevitable, especially since it was a moneymaker for both Disney (who control the MCU) and Sony (who control the film rights to the web-head). The hype on the movie started late due to Marvel Studios wanting to avoid spoiling Endgame (recall that Spidey was one of the ones who turned to dust at the end of Infinity War).

[It’s my Blip Beard…]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

“Whatever it takes” — Avengers: Endgame

One of the amazing things about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in an age with a twenty-four-hour news cycle, with more sources for news than you can shake a smartphone at, and with interest in movies based on superheroes at an all-time high—not to mention the sheer number of people involved in making these films—is how tight a lid they’ve kept on information. Even though Infinity War and Endgame were filmed back to back, and had long post-production times—long enough, in fact, that Captain Marvel was made after these two, and yet was released between them—very little information came out about either until they were released. Hell, the title of Endgame wasn’t released until December 2018, eight months after Infinity War hit theatres.

And then it took three months after Endgame’s release for any news about any of the 2020 and beyond films to be released. In part, that was because so much happened in Endgame, and so much of the status quo was upended.

[That’s America’s ass!]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

“Yibambe!” — Avengers: Infinity War

Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was dedicated to putting everything together for Avengers. Phase 2 was about the aftermath of that movie and setting up the team for a big blowup following the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Phase 3 involved the team falling apart in Captain America: Civil War and coming back together in Avengers: Infinity War.

And seeded throughout the whole schmear were the six infinity stones, all of which came together (literally) in the tenth anniversary of the MCU.

[All words are made up.]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

Kobayashi Sidhu — Star Trek’s “Ask Not”

Anson Mount was the breakout star of Star Trek Discovery’s second season with his portrayal of Captain Christopher Pike, with Ethan Peck and Rebecca Romijn right behind him as Spock and Number One, respectively. The events of the end of that season precludes the trio returning to Discovery any time soon, but they’ve made up for it to a degree by having Mount in all three of the second batch of Short Treks to date, with Romijn and Peck in two of those, including the new one, “Ask Not.”

[We’ve all learned to expect no mercy from Number One.]

You Will Believe a Hello Kitty! Pez Dispenser Can Fly — Ant-Man & The Wasp

With Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014 and Ant-Man in 2015, Kevin Feige had proven that he could give pretty much any Marvel character(s) a movie and they’d thrive. Despite being about a character who has at best been at the mid-range of Marvel’s heroes, Ant-Man was a huge hit, just like all the other Marvel Cinematic Universe films, and a sequel was pretty much inevitable, especially since that 2015 movie ended with Hope van Dyne being given the Wasp costume she should’ve gotten at the beginning of the film…

[Who are you and how do you know so much about car wash protocol?]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

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