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‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ Post-Credits Scenes Hint at the Asgardian God’s Next Great Challenger

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‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ Post-Credits Scenes Hint at the Asgardian God’s Next Great Challenger

Director Taika Waititi and star Natalie Portman unpack a pair of post-credits scenes, one with a new foe, one full of emotion.

[Editor’s note: The following story contains spoilers for “Thor: Love and Thunder” and its post-credits scenes.]

When Taika Waititi’s “Thor: Love and Thunder” opens, our Asgardian god of thunder, key Avenger, and all-around fun dude Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth) is at loose ends. And who could possibly blame him? The last time we saw the superhero in this Marvel Cinematic Universe milieu, he was reeling from the events of “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” (remember “the blip”?), and while things were looking up (remember when “the blip” got reversed?), even the burliest member of Earth’s mightiest heroes realized he needed to do something different.

Thor eventually headed out to space with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and while most of the crew loved the big lug, it was unquestionably a temporary situation. Said situation is winding down as the fourth “Thor” film kicks off, with Thor finally realizing that in order to find himself, open his heart, and live life to the fullest (a real “live, love, laugh” situation), he needs to strike out on his own (plus close pal Korg, voiced by Waititi himself).

What follows is a colorful, brash, funny, and often quite emotional film that sees Thor reuniting with his beloved Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and close pal Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), helping defeat a nasty piece of work named Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), and basically saving the day (with a few tear-stained twists, more on them to come). So, after his fourth standalone adventure, what’s next for Thor?

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In the grand tradition of the MCU, Waititi’s film ends with a pair of post-credits sequences that — dare we say it? — actually seem to be pointing to the next stage of his adventures, including introducing a fresh potential challenger and taking us to a brand-new realm.

[One more time: Spoilers ahead for both “Thor: Love and Thunder” and its post-credits scenes.]

1. Thor’s Next Challenger Emerges

“Thor: Love and Thunder”

Jasin Boland

When Gorr the God Butcher (what a name!) arrives in New Asgard, snatches the village’s entire kiddie populace, and absconds with them to the Shadow realm, it sets in motion a plot that forces Thor, Jane (now wielding Mjolnir, which turns her into Mighty Thor, even as it doesn’t seem to be curing her cancer, which is why she picked up the damn thing to begin with), Valkyrie, and Korg to cook up a plan to defeat him.

One early idea: head to Omnipotence City (where all the gods hang out, of course) and ask for their help in defeating a dude whose entire reason for being is killing them all. Any easy ask, right? Wrong. Thor and company are brutally rebuffed by no less than Zeus (Russell Crowe, clearly having a lot of fun), who mocks them for their quest and assures them that Gorr will never be able to enact his master plan. Understandably enraged at Zeus’ narrow-mindedness, Thor attacks him with his very own thunderbolt, seemingly killing him and sending the gods into total disarray.

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But, come on now, even Thor can’t just off Zeus with a little old thunderbolt, right? When the film’s first post-credits scene kicks off, Zeus is indeed a) very alive and b) very mad. Surrounded by some of his more attentive handmaidens (the credits actually refer to them as the “Zeusettes”), the almighty ruler pouts and whines about his current state.

His main beef isn’t even that Thor tried to kill him, it’s that no one seems to respect the gods anymore! Everyone loves superheroes, and Zeus is done with that. It’s time, he says, for the universe to remember the power of the gods, to stop making them the butt of all jokes, to do away with all that affection for boring old superheroes. And who better to help Zeus with his master plan than his cherished son Hercules?

(Important note: Zeus, Hercules, and a number of other Olympian gods have long been part of the Marvel comics world. Zeus first showed up in a Thor comic way back in 1949, and Hercules even had his very own comic series for more than a decade.) As Zeus looks up to the one being he thinks he can make his god-centric dream a reality, Waititi pans to introduce Hercules, perhaps the next great baddie in the MCU (or at least the Thor portion of it): it’s “Ted Lasso” star Brett Goldstein.

Surprising? It was to Waititi, too, who recently told IndieWire, “I have zero idea about that. That was Kevin [Feige]’s idea to put Hercules in the film, so he knows what’s going on there. I have no idea! All I know is that we wanted to show that Russell wasn’t dead, because he had just gotten a lightning bolt through his heart and fell off that thing. I wanted to make sure we had a tag where, ‘Oh, he’s back, because I love that character and want to see more of him.’ Then Kevin was like, ‘Oh, why don’t we put Hercules in there?’ He even cast Brett. He was like, ‘I want to see what Brett looks like in this.’” Good call, Feige!

Given that the film ends with a tantalizing (and, yes, traditional) reminder that “THOR WILL RETURN,” it seems safe to assume that Hercules and Zeus will, too.

2. Welcome to Valhalla

(L-R): Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Marvel Studios' THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER. Photo by Jasin Boland. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

“Thor: Love and Thunder”

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Jasin Boland

There’s no way around what is arguably the biggest spoiler of all when it comes to “Thor: Love and Thunder”: Jane Foster (AKA Mighty Thor) dies. Waititi’s film adapts a long-running comic storyline that sees Jane taking up Mjolnir, both to help defend Earth and in hopes that its great power will help heal her cancer. And while Jane certainly feels great when she’s wielding Mjolnir (she’s a Thor!), once she puts the weapon down and goes back to just being Jane, she’s sicker than ever.

During the film’s final big battle sequence, a very ill Jane opts to grab Mjolnir and join the battle, knowing full well it will probably kill her. And though it does, the good doctor gets to pass into the next realm as a proud Asgardian warrior, which means she gets the eternal reward of no less than entrance to Valhalla.

The film’s second post-credits scene sees Jane (looking healthy and sprightly and very much herself) passing through a number of shimmering portals, only to end up in the quite idyllic-looking afterlife, where she is greeted by Heimdall (in a surprise cameo from Idris Elba), who was killed by Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War.”

As Portman told IndieWire, despite the seeming heaviness of the scene, she quite enjoyed making it. “We’d actually filmed it quite early on in the shoot, so I think it didn’t have the kind of weight that I realize now seeing it, where it’s placed, of course,” she said. “It was incredible to get to shoot with Idris. I admire him so much and I was so excited to get to even have a little one line exchange.”

Even with just one exchange, it’s still a lovely moment, one that also seems primed to make the audience consider the limits of Valhalla, which surely houses plenty of beloved MCU characters who have passed on and could (maybe?) return in some form or another (hey, it’s happened in the comics).

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Additional reporting by Eric Kohn.

A Disney release, “Thor: Love and Thunder” is now in theaters. 

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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