Zachary Levi Shazam
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Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

The Week in Geek: It's Shazam vs. Joker on the Bebop in the Twilight Zone

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Apr 5, 2019

We have done it, we made it to the end of yet another week. Not an easy one, either, considering it basically kicked off on April Fools' Day, aka the worst holiday on the calendar.

Thankfully, a lot of things happened, and most them were not pranks. You know what that means! It's time to count down the five biggest stories from... The Week in Geek!

SHAZAM! IT'S ANOTHER DC MOVIE PEOPLE LIKE!

First there was Wonder Woman. Then there was Aquaman. And this Friday, Shazam marks the third DCEU film that most people actually enjoyed!

If you haven't seen it yet, Shazam is basically the Tom Hanks movie Big (1988) but with superpowers. Nostalgic reference spoiler: there's even a scene with one of those pianos you step on to play. I know!

One of the best things about Shazam as a character is that he doesn't rely on a Chosen One narrative. In fact, if anything, Shazam, as a film, distinctly carries on the anti-chosen one narrative we saw in Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse. Shazam is also a story about how beer tastes bad and how it's hard to pee in super suits. It's very nice and fun yet somehow still a DCEU film.

HELP I'M STEPPING INTO THE TWILIGHT ZONE

After the enormous success of Us just a couple of weeks ago, Jordan Peele's other hotly anticipated project, a reboot of The Twilight Zone, was released at the beginning of this week. There were two episodes immediately available, "The Comedian" and "Nightmare at 30,000 Feet."

These first two entries in the new take on the classic show have had mixed receptions, but they are certainly in keeping with the type of unsettling storytelling the original The Twilight Zone was known for.

"The Comedian" is an indictment of justifying brutal honesty in the name of comedy and "Nightmare at 30,000 Feet" is about how dumb white guys probably just should not go on planes, honestly.

Anyway, "The Comedian" is available to watch for free on YouTube. I recommend it.

cowboy bebop spike spiegel

Credit: FUNimation Entertainment

WAIT, IS NETFLIX'S COWBOY BEBOP GOING TO BE GOOD?

3, 2, 1, let's jam. I think I will.

A live-action adaptation for the enormously popular anime series, Cowboy Bebop, is a long time coming now. A long time ago, Keanu Reeves tried to make a movie happened. Spoilers: it didn't happen! More recently, it was announced that Netflix would be releasing a 10-episode series. All of us fans (well some of us) quietly waited to reserve judgment until we heard about the cast. Well...

This week the cast for Cowboy Bebop was announced. John Cho, he of Star Trek and Harold and Kumar fame, is playing the bounty hunter Spike Spiegel. In the role of former Ganymede Police Officer, Jet Black, we have none other than Mustafa Shakir, who most folks will remember from his turn as Bushmaster in Luke Cage season 2. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom's, Daniella Pineda, is playing the amnesiac, Faye Valentine; Alex Hassell will play Spike's former ally turned enemy from the Mars Crime Syndicate, Vicious.

No, they have not cast goofy wiz kid, Ed, yet, nor the genetically advanced corgi, Ein. But feel free to share who you think should snag those roles in the comments. Honestly, though, this casting so far is... good? It's really good. Almost shockingly good. Worth celebrating, even.

We had our doubts, but here we are. Now, we just need a kick ass soundtrack worthy of the Yoko Kanno score that came before it, and we'll be all set, space cowboy.

THE JOKER MOVIE LOOKS GOOD, PEOPLE ARE STILL DUBIOUS ON IT

We got a teaser trailer for the Joker movie starring Joaquin Phoenix that's do out this coming October. The project, written and directed by Todd Phillips, has had a lot of buzz around it but also a lot of skepticism.

One of the first things to know about the Joker is that we don't really know anything about the Joker. Where does he come from? Who was he before he became the Joker? What drove him to become arguably the most famous agent of chaos in the history of comic books?

We have no idea. And fans, historically, have always liked that.

And yet, this teaser trailer confirms what many of us suspected: a movie where the Joker is the protagonist kind of has to reveal certain elements of a backstory that have been previously shrouded in secrecy for many decades. And the response has been a lot of people saying, "this looks good, but I'm still not sure I want it."

As a counterpoint, let me say this: I think the most interesting part of the entire trailer comes from a scrawled paragraph in the Joker's comedy notebook which reads, "The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don't." And that, I can tell you, is very true. But it also suggests that this Joker movie will be, at least in part, a tale of a man who has been the victim of a society that doesn't know how to accept and be understanding of people struggling with mental illness. We need stories like that. It's just a question of whether or not it makes sense for the Joker to have a story like that given his fictional history.

HUGOS MAKE HISTORY

This past Tuesday, The World Science Fiction Society announced the full list of Hugo Award finalists. And while there were a number of expected items on the list, including shows like The Good Place, Doctor Who, and The Expanse, there were some surprising and very cool things that also appeared specifically in the Best Related Work category.

The first is Archive of Our Own, which is a project of the Organization for Transformative Works. Or, put another way, it's an exhaustive collection of fan art and fan-fiction. Which is to say, if Archive of Our Own wins, then, suddenly, a ton of fan fiction writers are technically Hugo award winners. That's neat.

The second is a YouTube documentary called The Hobbit Duology. This marks only the second time a YouTuber has ever been nominated for a Hugo. The first time was in 2011 when none other than Rachel Bloom of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fame, was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation for her music video, "F*ck Me, Ray Bradbury."

The Hobbit Duology is obviously a very different animal. Written and edited by Lindsay Ellis and Angelina Meehan (full disclosure, I do know both these women), The Hobbit Duology is a deep analysis of Peter Jackson's largely failed attempt to get lightning to strike twice on Middle Earth. The Hugo nomination is a huge boost for the format of video essays on YouTube, and serves as a reminder that the platform is good for a lot more than calls to action and weird dudes doing pranks and trying to get you to click that bell for notifications.

Anyway, that's it. The week was full of good movies, good TV, and good casting. Let us know what you thought of these stories and what stories got you talking this week.

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