WWE's Race Problem Is Bigger Than Hulk Hogan

By Luke Y. Thompson in TV
Friday, July 24, 2015 at 12:00 pm


(Please pardon the non-Monday wrestling post. I didn't think this could wait.)

I often say when it comes to racism accusations that intent matters. A white guy rapping lyrics to an NWA song aloud - including the "N" in their name, in full - probably does not hate black people. But a guy talking about how he doesn't want his daughter dating a black person, and if she must then he wishes it were a basketball player? No way around that - that's a racist thought and utterance.

But firing Hulk Hogan for saying that (in private, on a tape that's at least three years old), and scrubbing the entire WWE website to make it look like he never existed or was acknowledged, is both historically ignorant and a superficial gesture, the equivalent of MLB pretending Ty Cobb never happened. I don't have a problem with the firing in and of itself - but I do have a problem with WWE's official statement on the matter, which includes the phrase "WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide."

As Miz would say: "Really?"

Demigod's Not Dead: Kevin Sorbo Will Voice Hercules in Online Game Smite

By Luke Y. Thompson in Video Games
Friday, July 24, 2015 at 11:00 am


Taking a brief respite from his apparent day job of saying dumb things about Jews and atheists, Kevin Sorbo is now returning to his signature character, that pagan son of false deity Zeus. Win 10 player-versus-player matches in Smite during the month of August, and you'll get a Sorbo voice pack and a retro-Hercules skin (from the PC Beta, alas, and not the Sorbo TV show).

Here's Sorbo to tell you why that's awesome, because unlike those hateful atheists he'd never commit the sin of pride...

TR Interview: Kevin Durand on Finally Being the Lead, and What Superhero He'd Like to Play

By Luke Y. Thompson in Comics, Movies
Friday, July 24, 2015 at 9:56 am

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Kevin Durand is one of those guys you've noticed a lot, usually in movies that aren't as good as he is like Wild Hogs or X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but he's starting to become a guy that can no longer be relegated to the back burner. On FX's The Strain, he steals the show from the ostensible lead character, and in Dark Was the Night, opening today, he finally takes top billing as a small-town sheriff dealing with both familial loss and a possible Wendigo on the loose.

The most surprising thing about talking to him is that, unlike almost all his characters, he's very soft spoken and has a smooth conversational flow. You expect a halting, taciturn tough guy, and instead this totally mellow-sounding, sweet dude is on the other end of the phone. Now - just wait till you hear what comic-book character he wants to play most.

Ghostbusters Franchise to Include a Multiverse Now?

By Luke Y. Thompson in Movies
Friday, July 24, 2015 at 8:00 am


It's starting to become the newest cliche idea. DC, whether acknowledging it onscreen or not, is getting a multiverse with the existence of separate, parallel TV universes. Terminator, if it continues as a franchise from the Genisys storyline, incorporates multiple dimensions in a way that is ultimately meant to allow all previous iterations to still exist in continuity. Star Trek now has two timelines plus the Mirror universe.

And now it seems Ghostbusters might, too. Over at Nerd Report, Fred Topel (who writes for us sometimes) got to talk to Drew Pearce, who wrote a draft of the Ghostbusters movie that's meant to follow Paul Feig's - the "male" one with Channing Tatum. Fred specifically asked about Venkman, Stantz and Spengler being in or out of continuity, and here's what he said:

"It's interesting, my idea may allow them the ability to connect everything," Pearce said. "It's kind of a choice above my pay grade but on a level of imagination and creativity, I would love to see a world where all of the things were a shared universe. It's just more attractive for a massive fan of Ghostbusters like me."
Since Spengler's dead and Venkman doesn't want to be involved, I'm not sure what the point would be - but fans of continuity porn might be happy. And if Marvel plans their own Multiverse, rumored to be a concept in Dr. Strange, they'd maybe better hurry up and introduce it before it's totally played out.

You Can Help Choose the Next Disney Infinity Character

By Luke Y. Thompson in Cartoons, Video Games
Friday, July 24, 2015 at 6:30 am


This isn't quite like the Hasbro Star Wars Fan's Choice, which began by allowing any and all nominees - I think Disney knows all too well that people like me would start movements to draft Uncle Remus, Netflix's Wilson Fisk or the alien from Extra Terror-estrial. Not that their final list of 20 nominees are all necessarily better - with Alice Kingsleigh (i.e. the Tim Burton Alice) and a Johnny Depp Mad Hatter both in the running, it's pretty clear Disney has a level in mind based on that particular cinematic atrocity. On the other hand, Darkwing Duck is in the lead right now, and we could help keep it that way.

Ready to vote? Let's get dangerous!

8 Reasons Ernest Cline's Armada Is Nothing Like Ready Player One (and Why That's Not a Bad Thing)

Friday, July 24, 2015 at 5:00 am


The meteoric rise of Ernest Cline should be an inspiration to all of nerdkind. I unknowingly first encountered his work when I read his Buckaroo Banzai sequel script that made the rounds in the early days of the Internet, and from there he went on to script Fanboys; a love letter to the Star Wars saga that was full of heart, even if the finished product was a little mediocre. His title of King of the Nerds was obtained with the release of his first novel, Ready Player One, in which young nerd everyman Wade Watts searches the virtual-reality replacement to the internet for an Easter Egg worth more than he could possibly imagine. Ready Player One practically became a nerd holy book overnight. The wildly popular tome was optioned for a film the day after release, and is currently in pre-production with Steven Spielberg sitting in the captain's chair.

Last week, Cline's second novel Armada hit book shelves everywhere. Less than a week later, it's ranked 59th overall on the Amazon Best Sellers page, with a visit to the New York Times bestseller list almost guaranteed in the near future. It's the story of Zack Lightman, a completely average, normal nerdy teen who discovers that his favorite video game is a lot more important than just entertainment. The question is: does Cline replicate the success he found in Ready Player One? Let's find out...with minimal spoilers.

Lana Condor's Jubilee and Other X-Men Get Their Apocalypse Close-ups

By Luke Y. Thompson in Comics, Movies
Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 3:40 pm


Fox just dropped a whole bunch of new images of the main cast, including Kodi Smit McPhee's Nightcrawler, Alexandra Shipp as Mohawk Storm (good lord, I feel for anyone playing a nerd-fave character and having a name like "Shipp"), and Jennifer Lawrence looking like she forgot to take off her Katniss costume while reporting to set.

Hitfix has the full gallery. I'm okay with most of it except the Katniss gear - are we never going to get Mystique in blue skin with white dress?

Ian McKellen Wants to Tell You How to Make Scrambled Eggs

By Luke Y. Thompson in Food & Drink, Nerdery
Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 2:04 pm


After hanging around Hobbits all that time, he ought to know how to make a good breakfast, though his "old family recipe" seems pretty much like every recipe for them that I've ever heard.

Still, when Sherlock Gandalfneto tells you how to make eggs, YOU SHALL NOT PASS this up. Though I admit I was hoping for a Battle of the Five Cheeses omelet.

There Be Monsters in the Comic-Con Trailer for Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

By Luke Y. Thompson in Books, Movies
Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 12:33 pm


That's Killer Croc, isn't it? Or are alligator men just the next big Comic-Con trend?

I like the curveball of just a random monster at the end of a trailer for a movie in a series that generally doesn't have them. Turning war into one giant obstacle course - well, while that seems on one level like an awful kind of simplification, it is just fiction, and they've dealt well with Katniss' PTSD so far.

Not sure why President Snow doesn't just drop nukes on them again. I guess the books might explain that better, but it's certainly not like deterrence is in effect.

Topless Robot Live! Comic-Con Men Get Antsy

By Luke Y. Thompson in Live Performance
Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 11:00 am


Deadline.com's associate editor Ross Lincoln joins me on the podcast to compare and contrast our respective Comic-Con experiences - his in Hall H for the big movie presentations; mine roaming the main hall and various hotel suites grabbing interviews.

We also talk Ant-Man with Julia.

As always, if you do iTunes, please subscribe and review us - subscribers get the newest podcasts first.