'Black Panther: The Album' is your ride to Wakanda

Black Panther feels less like a movie soundtrack and more like a new Kendrick Lamar project. That’s a compliment, of course. Black Panther has more heat than most albums. The soundtrack succeeds in delivering bangers with replay value, something few film or TV shows have managed to do. But continuing on the trajectory that properties such as Luke Cage and Atlanta brought to mainstream, the Black Pantheralbum stays just inside the box in the context of blending traditional African sounds with modern pop/rap into an entirely new thing. Perhaps with good reason—it’s digestible for all audiences, and I’d like to think of it as only the second layer of the film’s complete musical vision. Black Panther: The Album is an incredible gateway that, combined with Ludwig Goransson’s score, is destined to ease Marvel fans into the Wakandan dimension.

It may be the first original soundtrack fans will know the words to prior to entering the theater. That in itself is an unprecedented accomplishment. But what the soundtrack doesn’t do is give Black Panther a sonically unique identity... yet. It’s unique in the sense that Kendrick Lamar’s influence is all over it, but not as a standalone. A handful of these records could exist outside the realm of Black Panther. The best example is“X” (featuring 2 Chainz & Saudi). It’s a radio hit that you could find from a Kendrick or 2 Chainz album. That being said, from Marvel’s commercial standpoint, it couldn’t be more perfect. Ryan Coogler and the cast of Black Panther don't necessarily have the privilege to be imperfect. With less at stake, we may have seen a little bit more risk in production and lyricism from the Top Dawg Entertainment crew, which may have resulted in a more sonically unique version of the soundtrack. In this respect,“Seasons” with Sjava & Reason is the album’s most distinctive rap offering.

The best part of the soundtrack is that it’s memorable and easy to identify with, even if the records are by no means Kendrick’s best or most original work. Riding the wave of the flutes in “Mask off,” Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar team up for “Big Shot.” If you recognize part of the hook, it’s because it’s a line from Kendrick’s verse on Rich The Kid’s “New Freezer.” Swae Lee and Khalid embrace the wanderlust wave of artists like 6lack and Syd on “The Ways,” and nail it. “Paramedic!” channels the sounds of the young generation of rappers. The record is pretty much a better version of "The Race" by Tay-K. 

For the most part, Black Panther: The Album strays away from the mainstream formula of rapping about lean, percocet and xanax. “Bloody Waters” with Ab-Soul, Anderson .Paak and James Blake is stylistically the chanciest record on the album, combining the strengths of each into a cohesive fusion of all hip hop has to offer. The same goes for“Redemption” with Babes Wodumo and Zacari and “Opps” with Yugen Blakrok and Vince Staples. We’ve not heard songs like these before, created by a collaboration only a platform like Black Panther could bring to existence. That being said, a soundtrack including all songs like these probably wouldn't have had the same mass appeal. Kendrick had to throw tracks like “King’s Dead” featuring Future and Jay Rock into the mix and for the RnB fans, “I Am” by Jorja Smith.

It’s likely the score from Ludwig Goransson will interact with the soundtrack in a way that will give the music another dimension, incorporating the traditional African sounds some fans were hoping for. The capacity of depth is there. We see this with “All of the Stars,” which on its own was a sub-par SZA song, but put against visuals was a stunning and empowering music video that celebrates African culture. Same goes for“Pray For Me.” The record drives full speed at the piercing, nasally line The Weeknd walks on all his songs, but that chorus up against a portrait of Wakanda or Dora Milaje heading into battle could be epic.

Lamar is what ties the album together. Swerving through genres and voices, Kendrick transforms his journey into T’Challa’s. Only he could make a song like the titular “Black Panther.” He embodies everything this film stands for. And while I can’t speak for the score yet, I have a strong intuition that combined with the soundtrack, the impact ofBlack Panther will extend beyond the visual narrative.


'Trollhunters' deep dive with Dark Horse writer Richard Hamilton

Richard Hamilton was a Trollhunters fan long before he started writing Tales of Arcadia: The Secret History of Trollkind with Marc GuggenheimThe 72-page graphic novel from Dark Horse Comics is the latest piece of the growing Trollhunters franchise. Set to release on Feb. 14, the comic book is a companion to Netflix and Dreamworks’ Emmy Award-winning original series from Guillermo del Toro. With the Trollhunters Part 3 release date still up in the air, dedicated fans can still get their fix by following Jim, Claire, Blinky and AARGGH on a journey of historical discovery.

Make sure to check out our exclusive preview of The Secret History of Trollkind, but we also caught up with Hamilton (How To Train Your Dragon) to discuss his dive into comics with Dark Horse, the intricacies of the Trollhunters franchise as well as his upcoming work.

Note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.



How did you first get involved with the Trollhunters franchise?

Honestly, it was just basically begging and making a general nuisance of myself for a couple of years. I was trained as a screenwriter and I used to self publish my own comics. Eventually, I worked at Dreamworks Animation. I got lucky and got to work for Bill Damaschke, the chief creative officer of Dreamworks, and also the person who brought in Guillermo del Toro. Guillermo brought the script that would one day becomeTrollhunters. Bill knew I was a big comic book fan and an aspiring writer. He let me look at that script. It was very early days, but many of the hallmark features people love about Trollhunters were present in those early drafts.

It was seven or eight years ago, but and I had the sense at the time, ‘I hope Trollhuntersbecomes a thing and I hope I get to be a part of it.’ Several years went by. I had several jobs at Dreamworks and did a lot of work on the How To Train Your Dragon franchise, but in the back of my mind I was always thinking Trollhunters. Then I found out it was going to be an animated series and I started watching the episodes and seeing the quality of the animation and the writing. So when I found out there was going to be a comic book series with Dark Horse, I threw my hat in the ring. I had already started writing some How To Train Your Dragon comics with Dark Horse, and really enjoyed the process of working with everyone. So they let me co-write this first one with Marc Guggenheim.

You said you read the early script, what popped out at you that you knew would be something special?

It was a couple of things. Predominantly it was Jim. There were some differences with his character in that script, and if you compare it to the novel that Guillermo co-wrote with Daniel Kraus, you’ll see some differences there. At his core, Jim, then as he is now, is an inherently decent, good guy. I loved the relationship he has with his Mom. I love that he loves to cook. I love to cook. But he was a guy who to all outward appearances seemed very average, but deep down was somebody always trying to do right by people and always trying to do the right thing. That really struck a chord with me. There’s sort of a Peter Parker aspect to Jim. I'm a dad and have two boys of my own. I saw a lot of attributes in Jim I hope my boys inherit one day.

The other part of it is the world. We’ve all heard of trolls in other forms of literature and in the movies, but this was a wholly unique interpretation very much in Guillermo’s style. There was a sense of grandeur in scale, but also playfulness and whimsy. To have characters named Blinky and AAARGH and the whole story about how they came over on the Mayflower from the old world ... all that was there. It was just so funny and action-packed and gave me that feel of the old Amblin movies that I loved.

What are the main differences in your creative approach to comic books and novels?

The graphic novel work is, to me, closer to my training in screenwriting. There is a real economy to the writing, and real emphasis on the visuals because it's such a visual medium. So trying to think in terms of clear, distinct images that are going to tell a story sequentially, and then when you add dialogue or narration or caption boxes on top of that, what is this new meta-meaning you can give to the page or give to the issue? It’s a very disciplined, very pared-down style of writing. You just pray that you get paired with an amazing artist, and in my case I've been extremely lucky.

The book writing, in some sense, is a little bit of a relief after you've been trained to be so judicious in screenwriting. You can’t really write what characters are thinking, you can’t really go too deep into describing the scene or the action, because the screenplay or a comic script is meant to be a blueprint that’s fleshed out by an artist or film crews. In a novel, that's kind of all on you. So it’s a lot of fun to exhale a little bit, and get to write in all these other little details and features and inner monologues you normally couldn’t.

Is there anything that you’ve inserted or added into the story?

The thing I really like doing is putting together characters, giving them scenes that you don't get to see them do in the actual show. For instances, I have a scene in one of the books coming up where we see Not Enrique talk with the real Enrique. And that's a fun interaction between the two of them and we see a bond form between them.

Trollhunters is kind of lousy with mythology and Easter eggs. I mean that in the best way possible. It’s like in every episode, there’s a cool line or reference to a past Trollhunter or some kind of relic or artifact. It’s a lot of fun for me to go back in, take these cool names that are mentioned, and reverse-engineer a character and a personality for them and come up with the different stories about all these other Trollhunters that preceded Jim.

And that’s what happens in Secret History. We go back and learn a lot more about Kanjigar. Why did you decide to flashback to that beginning.?

It was my understanding that Marc and Guillermo and the crew of the show, they all hoped that they’d get to make comics and graphic novels one day. And if they did, they always wanted the first story to be about Kanjigar. As a fan of the show and a fan of comics, that's exactly the story I wanted to tell. Although we only see Kanjigar very briefly ... there is something so evocative about his character. It may just be because it’s Tom Hiddleston's voice, but you know the fact that this show opens with the hero sacrificing himself for the greater good.When a character does that, I want to learn more about that character.

And then Draal also happens to be one of my favorite characters, and the writers did an amazing job hinting at and establishing a very complicated father-son relationship between Kanjiagr and Draal. As a dad and a fan, I was very excited to explore that.

Working with Marc Guggenheim, do you have specific roles?  What’s that collaboration like?

I felt like I was getting the better end of the deal, because I was learning so much from Marc in the process. We would meet in his very awesome office, where he works on TV shows like Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, and when I was done touching all the maquettes and action figures on his shelves we would sit down and start talking. We knew we wanted to book-end the story with scenes of Jim in the present, because although we really wanted to tell a Kanjigar story we wanted to be mindful of the fact this is the first Trollhunters graphic novel out there. For fans who know the show, we wanted them to see characters they recognize. For those new to the property, we wanted to give them a fairly even taste of all the different things you would find in the show. So then we came up with a rough outline, and Marc worked with Guillermo to make sure it was something Guillermo was happy with. The hope is, when it’s all put together, you can’t tell which scenes I worked on and which ones Marc worked on. That it feels like one uniform author.

The Trollhunters show is really fast-paced. There’s always something happening. Did you try to keep that speed in the graphic novel?

I appreciate the pace and the density of the storytelling. I think that's something a lot of fans respond to. It's a show that doesn't talk down to its audiences. It trusts them to retain a lot of this lore and a lot of these big emotions and to keep up with that. That was definitely a goal in this.

On the other hand, when I get a comic and I read it in less than five minutes and nothing’s really happened, I feel kind of gypped. Especially for a cover price of $2.99 or $3.99 an issue. I know some parts of the story are a little bit more action-packed than others, but from my self-publishing background, I really believe in giving people a bang for the buck. It was important to me, and I'm thinking it was probably important to Marc too, to make sure this wasn’t a throwaway prequel book. That there were big, meaningful, lasting events in there that if you read the comic and watch the show it gives you a new appreciation. But also if you just read it as a comic, you feel like, ‘Wow, that was a complete adventure.’

The show feels so multidimensional because of all the different settings. The art style in the graphic novel manages to create that same feel through the character work and coloring.

I can't overstate how unique a skill it is to take characters that everyone is accustomed to seeing as 3D surfaced rigs on a show and making them work in a 2D medium like comics. It’s not a simple as lighboxing an outline of a 3D still. When you see the expressions on Blinky’s face or Claire’s body language, it looks like it does on the show. I think having Timothy Green on board as the artist really made all that possible.

As I was reading, I could hear everyone’s voice from the show. Was it a different process writing something where you knew people would already be reading with that association?

I think that’s a testament to the voice cast of the show. There are no weak links. They all have such distinct voices. So I did my best to channel their voices, Kelsey Grammer in particular. To hear Blinky go on a big jag of hoity-toity exposition, that's a blast to listen to and it's just as much fun to write.

You said you have kids. Have they inspired any aspects of your Trollhunters writing?

There are certain behaviors my sons exhibit that I put into Jim and Toby. They are also big fans of the show. I guess there’s a little bias in my house, but they love Trollhunters.My oldest son has brought up questions about Angor Rot and his backstory which have served as the genesis for one of the new Trollhunters books I’m working on right now. Also, saying the things they like about the show, if I see that they like that and their classmates and friends like that, that's a pretty good sign of something to include in one of the stories. I also want to mention that my six-year-old, his request is for Jim to get puppy. I don't know if that's going to happen on the show, but if there's an organic way to make it happen in the comics or the books, we'll see if we can do it and come up with an armored puppy.

As long as it’s not a cat I think we're good...

Yeah, cats don't do to well around Trollmarket. A puppy has a better chance.


Tony Isabella Clarifies Old Black Lightning/Green Lantern Rumors

Even though she doesn't have powers (that we know of), Lynn Pierce is one of the most intriguing protagonists in Black Lightning so far. Her relationship with her former husband, Jefferson Pierce, is hardly the only interesting aspect of her life. She’s an amazing mother with a strong moral compass who has the entire family’s best interests at heart. But there’s still a whole lot we don’t know about her background. What does she do for a living? Did she and Jefferson break up purely because of his crimefighting? How did they meet? Why are the kids living with Jefferson instead of shared custody? And in true DCTV fashion, some emerging questions regarding source material have resulted in one long standing mystery not going unnoticed.

Let’s start with a brief summary of what we know about Lynn from the period in comics history the Green Lantern/Lynn Pierce fan theory stems from. Most importantly, the comics introduce Lynn as Lynn Stewart, not Lynn Pierce, as seen in Black Lightning TV series. She was created by Tony Isabella with art by Trevor Von Eeden and first pictured in Black Lightning No. 3 as the newest member of the Garfield High School staff. It’s immediately clear she and Jefferson have a rocky history. Jeff is pretty cold toward her, refusing to speak with her until No. 6, where it’s revealed they are divorced. Turns out she didn’t know about Jeff’s alter-ego, but quickly figures it out after seeing him in action, claiming “A mask and a wig can’t fool a woman who’s seen you in your birthday suit.” Jefferson wasn’t expecting her to be so accepting, but unfortunately the story ends there for Isabella’s 1970’s run.

We never got to see Isabella’s early vision for Lynn come full circle (though we should get at least a version of resolution in Cold Dead Hands). However, after the first episode of Black Lightning fans clearly googled the crap out of Lynn, discovering her maiden name was Stewart. Giving even more credence to the theories of Lynn Stewart being related to Green Lantern, some blogs and wiki’s claim Isabella at one point said Lynn was intended to be John Stewart’s sister. However, we could not find the source of the claims so we reached out to Isabella for further clarification. While there may have been a pinch of intent a long long time ago, he reiterated Lynn is not John Stewart's sister in any comic book.

“When I first came to DC, Jenette Kahn asked me to bring some of that "Marvel magic" to their comics. The interconnections between books was part of that. So when I created Lynn, I gave her the last name of "Stewart," with an eye towards maybe connecting her to John Stewart in the future. But I never did and no one else ever did either,” he explained.

Even if Isabella had made the connection clear in one of his Black Lightning stories, it seems unlikely The CW would make concrete ties to one of the biggest DC characters. It took five seasons for Arrow to directly mention Batman. The fan theory of Lynn being John Stewart’s sister also relies on her maiden name turning out to be Stewart. Isabella continued to say he’s not hopeful the TV series will make the connection either.

“And, though I can't say for sure, I would hope that's the case with the TV show version. In any case, I was the one who first stated this, probably in a blog or interview somewhere. But I can't remember where I first stated this. The key thing to report is… it was never revealed in the comic books of the past and it's definitely not true in the new incarnation.”

When Isabella says “nobody else did,” he’s referring to the other Black Lightning authors. Denny O'Neil took over writing duties with Black Lightning No. 11. The build up of Lynn's backstory ended along with the series in No. 12 in December 1978. Isabella returned to write Black Lightning in 1995 until No. 8 when Dave deVries stepped in for the last five issues. Jen Van Meter brought back Black Lightning for Year One in 2009.

Isabella's creative absence with Black Lightning is no more with Cold Dead Hands, his latest run with the character. In fact, he also revealed an interesting bit of information about Lynn’s first appearance in the six-issue series. She was mentioned by Anissa (Jefferson's cousin not daughter in Cold Dead Hands) as a new high school teacher. It will be interesting to see how their relationship develops moving forward, but do not expect a Green Lantern connection.

“My current Lynn Stewart - who was mentioned in Cold Dead Hands #2 and will be first seen in issue #5 - is definitely NOT related to John Stewart," Isabella said.

So there you have it. May not have been the Green Lantern-Lynn Stewart fan theory piece you were hoping to read, but that’s the backstory. Are you still holding on to hope Anissa and Jennifer will one day call Uncle John? Sound off in the comments and check out the Black Lightning episode of our Cape Talk podcast below.


'Black Lightning' shows strength in vulnerability

Black Lightning is not stumbling upon the conversation of identity politics in America and it doesn’t take place in the world of the willfully blind. Jefferson Pierce is a man wholly concerned with taking care of his family, students and community. But in the face of adversity, he’s forced to use the special gift he’s been given. Some of that sounds ordinary, but Black Lightning separates itself from the rest of CW’s lineup by refusing to offer a full escape from reality. Jefferson Pierce is one of the most powerful heroes in the DC Universe, but there’s no even playing field in Freeland. He’s still Black.

The series dodges the reluctant hero trope in the very first episode: as a respected principal of Garfield High, Jefferson Pierce is already a hero. He’s aware of his impact on the community. The internal struggle stems from him having convinced himself he doesn’t need his powers to help the people he cares about, though he realizes after a nine-year hiatus Black Lightning is his purpose. Even if suiting up prevents him from reconciling with his ex-wife, Lynn, it means a better future for his daughters and students.

“Justice, like lightning, should ever appear to some men hope, to other men fear.”

Jefferson and Lynn’s relationship isn’t anything like we’ve seen on TV. They are divorced, yet do not loathe each other’s company. In fact, it's quite the contrary. In a perfect world, these two would be together. But Black Lightning doesn’t inhabit a perfect world and uses this dynamic to display appropriate relationship boundaries. In a world where more people are divorced than married, presenting a vision of a successful co-parenting situation is vital for a series that will attract a young audience.  We also see how Jefferson and Lynn’s tumultuous yet healthy relationship affects their daughters, who both highly value themselves when it comes to interpersonal relationships on all levels, proving divorced parents can provide a stable foundation for their children.

That being said, the series does not shy away from showing the imperfections of its characters. One could see Lynn’s view of Black Lightning as selfish. Why would she not want her husband to help the world as much as he can? The youngest daughter, Jennifer, struggles with witnessing The 100 gang’s violence first-hand and turns to alcohol and marijuana to cope. Anissa is hesitant to fully commit to a long-term relationship with her girlfriend as she’s too busy with work, school and activism. And while Jefferson understands the role gangs play for survival in Freeland, he strives to find a way for gangs, the community, and police to live in harmony. When diplomacy doesn't work fast enough, he answers with violence.

Black Lighting ’s treatment of death shows a high level of emotional intelligence. In the first two episodes, many people die. But unlike most superhero shows, there are real, serious consequences. There’s no high fives or “Go Team.” These deaths are tragedies and aren’t marketed otherwise, even though they people killed are technically villains. While the series has a clear-cut antagonist in Tobias Whale, there’s an unspoken understanding that these characters do not want to be villains. They are just trying to survive in an unjust world, paralleling Jefferson Pierce’s own story.

Black Lightning’s vulnerability is what makes him the strongest hero DC Comics has brought to television. Writers Mara Brock and Salim Akil defy stereotypes of black masculinity and femininity, constructing characters who feel so grounded you could run into them at the grocery store. Beyond the first two episodes this review is based on, there’s room to explore how the worlds of the police, gangs and community collides within the characters of Inspector Henderson and Tobias Whale. These dynamic characters make Black Lightning one of the most the most truthful, culturally dense shows on network television.


Comic book pioneers trace the impact of Black heroes at ‘DC In DC’

Black Lightning is not only DC comics’ first African American superhero, but Cress Williams will also be the first Black man to lead a network TV series. For comic book innovators like Milestone Media co-founder Denys Cowan and The Other Side Of The DC Universe writer John Ridley, this has been a long time coming.

“I was maybe 10 years old the day I went home and pulled these comic books out and one of them was Black Lightning. A lot of you will not have that feeling of pulling something out of a bag and being so stunned by it,” Ridley told the audience during the “The Many Shades of Heroism: DC Heroes Through The African American Lens” panel at DC In DC “To live long enough where it's not pulling the surprise out of the bag, but it's being presented to all of us as mainstream entertainment.”

Black Lightning, created by Tony Isabella and illustrated by Trevor Von Eeden in 1977, was one of the first times Ridley saw himself in a comic book. It later became Milestone’s goal, founded in 1993, to make sure everyone could see themselves in comic books. The influence of co-founder Dwayne McDuffie’s inclusive ideologies helped expand Milestone’s mission to its full capacity.

“When we started Milestone, it was like Black comics done by Black people in a Black way,” Cowan said. “It took someone like Dwayne McDuffie to go and say to me, ‘You know, dude, we need to open this up so it’s multicultural, so there’s different voices...Gay voices, transgender voices and we did a lot of stuff back then—all being done by the people who were those people.”

Decades later, executive producers Salim and Mara Brock Akil continue to build on that same foundation with the Black Lightning TV series.

“These writers and producers are creating the text to make sure our reality is better in the future,” said The Wind Done Gone author Alice Randall, who is currently working with Reginald Hudlin on Earth-M, a title in Milestone’s upcoming line.

The Akil's are adapting visceral, real-world experiences to Black Lightning and they aren’t holding back an ounce of emotion in the process. 

“I’m probably the angriest Black man in Hollywood,” said Salim Akil. “I just had a lot of shit to say. I’m a sensitive person, so the world affects me everyday. I can’t help but put it in my work because I feel like what I’m doing is a blessing. When you are given an opportunity in these times, I felt like I have to say something, right?”

It’s clear from the the footage released so far that Black Lightning is different. Jefferson Pierce, a high school principal, would be a hero even if he didn’t have powers. At the end of the day, he’s just a man trying to survive and do the best he can in an unjust world.

“We use that word authenticity often times when we are talking about other cultures. But really what we are talking about is the nuance of culture. And Black culture is an integral part of American culture. You just can’t tear the two apart,” Salim Akil said. “You can take the Black off and he’s a man who wants the best for his family and community.”

Black Lightning premieres on The CW Jan. 16 at 9 p.m.


'Doomsday Clock' is the birth of DC’s existential awakening

Doomsday Clock connects the Watchmen universe to the DC universe. At least that’s the selling point of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s sequel story. Batman meets Rorschach, Lex Luthor meets Ozymandias, Superman meets Doctor Manhattan… that's all in the first issue. It was only a matter of time before the two worlds merged together to create the core of Doomsday Clock, but that moment came and went in the first pages of Doomsday Clock #2, leaving fans with a whole lot more than we expected. There’s a crisis in Gotham, but this time it’s an existential one.

This review contains spoilers. 

Doomsday Clock #2 is both a beginning and an ending to a story that unravels the characters in the DC Universe as we know it. Aside from the Watchmen and newDoomsday Clock characters introduced in the first issue arriving in Gotham City, #2raises HUGE questions about the very science behind the DC Universe’s map of characters.

The biggest plot mystery lies beyond the last page of the issue and in the truthfulness of what is dubbed, ‘The Superman Theory,’ detailed in The Bulletin and Daily Planetarticles filling the last three pages. It presents more of a thematic issue coupled with Ozymandias and Rorascah’s individual mission. Doomsday Clock takes place a year later than DC’s present continuity, making this world where all heroes are believed to be villains and constructs of the government a tease for the future. What’s to come backtracks from the foundation of hope in which the universe was predicated. Everything we know about metahumans--starting with Metamorpho and Man-Bat--could be an act of deception.

Doomsday Clock #2 calls forth an old Invasion story arc, recently explored in last year’s TV crossover event between The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow.Basically, The Dominators invade Earth to learn more about the metagene so they can develop it for themselves. It’s an arms race. Who can become the most powerful? And that’s what’s happening in Doomsday Clock right now. Russia appears to be controlling America’s media narrative behind the scenes (as we saw in the most recent Presidential election). Lex Luthor and Wayne Enterprises compete for the best technology as we learn the American government may be responsible for the majority of the metahuman population, which is much higher in the United States than anywhere else. Coincidence? I have a feeling Geoff Johns doesn’t believe in coincidences… definitely not when Doctor Manhattan is involved.

The latest issue also sees the events that started Watchmen come full circle. The Comedian is back, and he shoots Lex Luthor with a bullet meant for Ozymandias.Watchmen began with an end and Doomsday Clock is doing the same, setting up a future we haven't really gotten to yet. Because of this, this issue deserves a few reads, not necessarily to find more clues about the Superman Theory, but because Johns and Frank have crafted tiny clues within each character’s study.

One such example is the real meaning behind the presence of Marionette and the Mime. Why does Marionette represent a piece of Doctor Manhattan’s humanity? Can the Mime really make his imagination reality? After only a brief introduction, these new characters are let loose in the DC Universe. Wherever each of them ends up first should be a clue about their purpose and place in the story and what will be history when the DC Universe continuity catches up once Doomsday Clock is complete.

The Comedian’s return is the most surprising plot twist so far. Simply making this Comedian the DC Comics version doesn’t seem like Johns’ line of thinking. It’s got to be more complicated, perhaps even more complicated than Doctor Manhattan bringing him back to life. What’s more, how did The Comedian know Ozymandias was at LexCorp? Are he and Lex working together? Why is the new Rorschach so willing to go along with Ozymandias’ plan?

What’s most intriguing about Doomsday Clock isn’t anticipating the twists and turns, it’s a philosophical questions that trickle down to each individual character. Who controls the narrative? The government? The people? The media? Don’t be fooled, these invisible hands are the real antagonists.

At this point, the only person we can name who could have the most direct impact is Doctor Manhattan. Why did we finally learn that the elements radiating off his skin make him blue? Does he have the power to activate the latent metahuman gene, and if so, is he pursuing the idea that if everyone's super, no one is? He may have recognized that his greatest weakness is being all powerful, therefore he’s creating these metas as a safeguard against his own. The very idea of an all-powerful man can skew the world into an arms race and a competition for survival that has led humans to regress back into the very savages we were back when we were hunting our own food.

Who has propelled the Superman Theory into truth is the surface-level question Johns is using to disguise this existential deep-dive into the DC Universe and its origins, but it’s likely we’ll find our answers as we get to know who this new Rorschach is and why Ozymandias is taking part in yet another dubious mission to save the world with Doctor Manhattan. With the guidance of John’s inclusion of DC characters--small, large, and from varying nooks and crannies of the DC  history--hopefully all these perspectives will eventually give us a clearer picture of the story this crossover is dying to tell.

Source: ttp://

'The Gifted' star thinks there’s no happy ending for mutants

Dumont talks Magneto, Professor X and the future of The Gifted.

Every conversation, every scene in The Gifted has a larger meaning. It’s what makes the X-Men series feel so big, despite being filled with lesser known characters. The fall finale was no different. The Stepford Cuckoos make their debut, telepathically forcing more than a dozen Sentinel Services agents to open fire on one another. This happens only hours after Agent Turner’s lengthy, and somewhat enlightening, conversation with the Strucker parents that culminated in an agreement to transport the captured Mutant Underground’s allies away from Trask Industries where Dreamer was murdered.

“It was very important the conversation included the wives,” series star Emma Dumont told Player.One. “We’ve seen conversation between Jace and Reed. It’s bigger than just these men and their egos, there are bigger risks. And it foreshadows that the X-Men say a war is coming -- this scene specifically shows it may not just be a war between two parties. What does that mean for the mutant underground and the Struckers, and what does it mean for Lorna? There are so many factors that we get into in the last three episodes.”

At this point in the series, we don’t know much about the deadly “7/15” event that is tied to the disappearance of the X-Men and the Brotherhood, but the nature of the Stepford Cuckoos’ introduction was so ruthless, so dark, there’s no doubt Agent Turner is done hearing out the Mutant Underground.

“We can talk about 7/15 all day long and obviously understand what it’s a reference to, but until we actually see a mutant commit a horrible crime like this, we aren't gonna understand why Jace is the hero of his own story,” she said. “The fact that this sweet little blonde girl could make armed, trained men do these things -- it's terrifying. But not only can she can do it, she will do it. We could kill each other every day of our lives, but we don't, because we have empathy. That's what makes us different than other animals. But to see someone who really doesn’t have that... The audience needed to see it.”

Dumont explains the scene highlights The Gifted’ s ongoing exploration of prejudice. You cannot blame an entire group, especially an entire minority group, for the terrible actions of one person. But for Polaris, the incident was particularly jarring because the Stepford Cuckoos actions are sort of an irrational version of her own Magento-esque mutant code. It’s a kill-or-be-killed world, but there are rules.

“If you are using your mutant ability, using mayhem and violence and chaos, and you are not saving someone… Lorna thinks it’s fine, kill Hitler, it’s totally fine, but if you are doing things that don't benefit other people, that is disgraceful. Reed, in her mind, isn't helping anyone. Putting those mutants away, ripping up families, those are bad things and they are not redeemable,” Dumont said. “However, if someone like Magneto were to kill one bad human and save hundreds of innocent mutant lives, that is okay with her, she sees the good in that. It’s a very sketchy fine line, but to her it’s very clear thinking. Lorna thinks it makes total sense.”

Eclipse doesn’t see it that way, and his relationship with Polaris illustrates the dynamic between Professor X and Magneto (and their real life counterparts) from the comics and cinematic universe.

“It’s an exact parallel to Professor X and Magento. Marcos wants peace. He will sit by and have change happen slowly. He thinks any change is good change, and Lorna won’t have it. She definitely believes if we all started acting a lot more, using our powers and taking a stand. If that means violence than so be it. But if things continue the way Marcos wants them to continue, then things will never change,” Dumont continued.

“The difference between slavery and current-day hate crime, it’s a difference but we are still living in a world where horrible things happening to minority groups -- innocent people being hurt and killed -- and it's not okay. And Marcos sees those two time periods and says, ‘Oh, but look how different it is now? Now, people don’t own mutants, they just abuse them and hurt them.' But to Lorna that's an awful way of thinking. She thinks if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything. She has a very Magento way of thinking politically. In the eyes of justice, that's the right thing to do.”

Like Magento, Polaris isn’t even sure there is a place for people like Strucker -- who have only recently displayed a willingness to understand the mutant cause -- to be part of the way society moves forward to create equality.

“Someone that’s been raised up in bigotry, who now works for the government, not only do they do that because they are passionate about ‘protecting the general public,’ they are paid to do this. They get paid to hurt people. So, of course, the end goal we all say is to make this a peaceful environment for mutants and humans to live in together. But Lorna doesn’t know if that is possible. She’s almost to the point where she thinks these people need to be taken away,” she said.

The X-Men universe is defined by what exists between love and hate. Mutant discrimination never stops, political initiatives are never enough to incite real social change, the scientific experiments only get more invasive -- and The Gifted will be no different.

“There will never be a happy ending, especially in the X-Men universe,” said Dumont. “The fall finale was heartbreaking in every way imaginable. On an individual level, people start to get what they want, but then in the overall goal of making peace between mutants and humans, it sort of falls apart.”

Dumont teases big things for the last few episodes, including an internal struggle about her character’s place in surviving such an oppressive world -- a story arc Dumont isn’t shy to compare to that of Magneto. With a child on the way, Polaris will finally come to terms with what she believes needs to be done.

“She has this reputation, but finally now she’s at a place where she doesn't care. She doesn't care if you don't like things about her because she is right. And she hates that she’s right -- we will see this in the last few episodes -- she hates that Magneto was right. She wishes it wasn't this way, but it is, and she has to do what she has to do.”

The Gifted returns Jan. 1.

Originally published on Player.One.



"Crisis On Earth X" crossover tests the future of comic book television

This review for Crisis on Earth X Crossover Part 1 & 2 contains spoilers. 

There’s a moment in Part 2 of the Crisis On Earth X crossover where Oliver lays on the ground half-conscious from an explosion. As he spits out blood, catches his breath and regains his balance, time slows as he watches all the DCTV heroes fighting around him. Heat vision, streaks of red lightning, fireballs, swords and Nazis from an evil parallel universe paint a scene straight out of a comic book. In that moment, this epic television event showed fans how far DC Comics’ TV universe, eventually named “the Arrowverse,” has come since Oliver Queen changed comic book TV forever in 2012.

The Arrowverse has evolved to be greater than anything fans had ever expected—the action from this crossover event is unlike anything we’ve ever seen from an antenna TV channel. While it doesn’t have the production value of high budget Warner Bros. films like Justice League, it does capture moments from the DC comics that the studio struggles to replicate in its live action films. Crisis on Earth X  recreated unbelievable scenes from the comics that made your heart race—Oliver swinging between the scaffolding of a building in construction, Supergirl sleep flying, or Oliver hurling himself into Vibe’s breach. There was never a missed opportunity.

As a standalone crossover, Crisis on Earth X is able to pick up with the cast of every show while fighting their respective villains of the week—ninjas for Green Arrow, King Shark for The Flash, aliens for Supergirl and random timeline intruders for the Legends. In the middle of the battles, the heroes casually discuss if they have RSVP’d to the West-Allen wedding. These brief introductions set the pace of Crisis for the hours to come.

While the Earth-X doppelgangers seem like an easy subject for a crossover, there’s the same timely, deeper meaning that is permeating throughout the entire DC Extended Universe: hope. The resistance on Earth-X vows to bring hope to a darkened world where Nazi’s won in WWII. The face of the opposition is none other than James Olsen’s Guardian (with his American flag SHIELD) and he is the first to die at the hands of Nazi Green Arrow. His murder is a symbol for the fact that everything DC heroes stand for is at stake.

All our favorite heroes gather to the city just 15 minutes into Crisis On Earth X Part 1, their lives seamlessly intertwined. Cisco and H.R. are already working on a way to separate Firestorm after Stein announced his retirement. Heatwave is fascinated by Killer Frost’s sharp icicles as it reminds him of his long lost buddy, Captain Cold. Alex and White Canary immediately hit it off, skipping out on the rehearsal dinner completely. But there are also some surprising serious plot points, aside from the possible introduction of Dawn Allen.

In the middle of rehearsal dinner, Oliver casually proposes to Felicity. Though he doesn’t get down on one knee because he’s supposedly still sore from fighting ninjas, he offers a lifetime of commitment to Felicity. But her answer would offend Olicity shippers—She declines, explaining she doesn’t believe in marriage. Felicity is just as committed as she would be with a ring, but prefers their relationship as is. Even though she persists, “No Oliver, I won’t marry you,” a little bit louder than she should have (a cringeworthy moment for Oliver), he doesn’t resent her for her unexpected answer. And either way, Oliver and Felicity have a lot of bigger problems on their hands.

Nazis interrupt the wedding ceremony and it’s the first time we see all the main characters fighting in their plain clothes. Wally West pulls some wild martial arts movies, catching bullets and tossing them back like Michael Jackson with superspeed abilities. Kara claps her hands and releases a burst of air that knocks over an entire room of Nazis. Killer Frost and Heatwave launch fire and ice back to back. It’s beautiful, organized mayhem.

The heroes manage to hold off their Earth-X counterparts and capture Prometheus, which reveals one of the episode's biggest twists. It’s not Adrian Chase behind the mask, but Tommy Merlyn, the first main character of Arrow to be killed off all the way back in Season 1. It was short lived fan service, as Tommy kills himself to avoid interrogation, but there’s immense resolution. Oliver finally gets at least a little bit of closure from his old best friend.

It’s in the wake of Nazi-Oliver’s best friend’s death that we learn Overgirl and Arrow are actually married on Earth-X. The real reason Arrow is involved in Eobard Thawne’s (yes, Earth-1 Eobard) plan to overtake Earth-1 is because Overgirl is dying. She’s been exposed to too much solar radiation and needs a heart transplant from Earth-38 Supergirl, Kara Danvers. But Thawne and Green Arrow’s two separate missions spark a divide within the Reich. Thawne is worried Arrow’s love for Overgirl will come in between his plan to turn a red prism (aka sublight generator) stolen from Earth-1 into a nuclear bomb.

And after the reveal of Thawne, Green Arrow and Overgirl’s plan, we’re left with a 20 minute battle scene. It starts with Oliver riding to the fight on a motorcycle and the show’s most memorable line: “Superspeed. I don’t have it.” The street-level hero proves to be the Batman the Arrowverse can never have with the reveal of his Kryptonite Arrow. How Oliver Queen managed to acquire Kryptonite is anyone's guess, but the comic book fan in us won’t ask any questions. If we think, too much, we’d have hour-long discussions about how Eobard Thawne is still alive even though he was killed by the all powerful grim reaper of the speed force, Black Flash.

By the end of Crisis On Earth X Parts 1 and 2, our heroes are stuck on Earth-X in an internment camp. The stakes are higher than ever and parts 3 and 4 are bound to be even more action-packed than the first. While we still don’t know how Green Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and the Legends will escape Earth-X and return home, one thing is for sure: this is the future of TV and we can thank Arrow for it.

Review: 9/10


'The Punisher' binges on the misery of Frank Castle

This is a review of the first six episodes of The Punisher. Episodes provided by Netflix.

Marvel’s Netflix shows are becoming extremely hard to rank against one another, butThe Punisher stands out. Not just because Jon Bernthal was just so good in Daredevilthe franchise had to give him a solo run, but because it shows what Marvel is capable of outside the confines of continuity. It’s refreshing. The sad, visceral series offers a unique impact Marvel’s other superhero shows, and many other drama series for that matter, have yet to achieve.

Frank Castle is his own man, and The Punisher narrowly escapes the usual Marvel formula.  There are numerous subplots, but the series moves at a distinctly slow, dragging pace that compliments Frank’s wallowing temperament. The lone wolf approach injects a fresh dramatic narrative. While some may call The Punisher’ s violence inappropriate and untimely, this story isn’t all about guns and shooting… and when it is, there’s consequence and an underlying message of restraint and personal responsibility. If anyone can be The Punisher and do it with such gentlemanly grace, it’s Jon Bernthal.

Frank isn’t a straightforward anti-hero character to begin with. He fits the criteria of a villain--he murders people and clearly enjoys it--but we somehow still have sympathy for him, which in a sadistic way is the only thing that makes him a hero. Therefore, the antagonists of this story have similarly dysfunctional moral compasses. Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) is a Persian-American CIA agent who understands very well the government considers her alternately dispensable and indispensable, just like the Afghani operative who the United States military tortured and murdered for no good reason. While she is chasing after Frank Castle (who is believed to be dead), she’s also suspicious of her agency’s corruption and keeps the bulk of her investigation under wraps knowing it could get her killed and Frank Killed. Billy Russo is Frank’s best friend from his Marine days, but he now works for a private military company still contributing to problematic warfare and using unethical recruitment tactics.

The story establishes a depth that isn’t solely braced by the events of Daredevil Season 2. An incident during Frank’s time in service brings Madani, Russo, and other main characters together. Ebon Moss-Bachrach is Frank’s ally, Micro. Both hunted by the government for knowing about the aforementioned covered-up murder of an Afghani operative that ultimately resulted in the massacre of Frank’s family (as seen inDaredevil Season 2), they are the only two alive who wish to right the government’s wrong. They are also two of the most mentally and physically healthy characters in the series, which is saying a lot….

Civilian life is at the center of The Punisher, which views post-traumatic stress disorder from multiple lenses. An injured vet who served with Frank, Curt Hoyle (played by Jason R. Moore) runs group therapy sessions for veterans. Lewis Wolcott (Daniel Webber), an attendee who has dug a bunker for himself in his backyard, is used to illustrate how any veteran could end up mentally debilitated after service. Lewis’ vulnerable psychosis attracts the likes of a conservative gun activist, at which point he becomes a clear danger to himself and others. The series encapsulates the impact of simple policies like gun control and mental health services without choosing a side. Through these former soldiers trying to make sense of the modern world, The Punisher explores the cause and effects of terrorism, both domestic and overseas.

Providing emotional relief for Frank through all of this is none other than Daredevil ’s Karen Page, whose presence in the series does not feel forced. Karen’s connection with Frank is more than just good acting, as it seemed in Daredevil. Their scenes together do have a hint of will-they-won't-they, but it’s clear Frank and Karen’s intrinsic connection is not based on romance. Pain is at the core of this relationship, whether it be a friendship or budding partnership. Sadness and conditioned vulnerability radiates from them both, an unspoken vow of unconditional support in survival caused these traumatized characters to become invested in one another. They’ve both had their families ripped from them and suffer from a sort of reactive attachment disorder that causes them to question every interpersonal relationship. But unlike Daredevil who pushes everyone away, Karen and Frank have a level of understanding that’s hard to replicate.

It’s a somber series with no humor at all, but there’s a lot going on below the surface. It’s just as deep as Jessica Jones and the fight scenes are just as sharp as Daredevil.But the lack of Defenders characters and generic heroes and antiheroes provides a sense of relief. There’s less focus on what’s going to happen and more focus on the character interactions in the present, giving viewers a chance to binge in the misery of Frank Castle.

The Punisher arrives on Netflix Nov. 17.

Originally published on Player.One.



Marvel’s Runaways Is The Most Delightfully Offbeat Show On Hulu Since Misfits

Whether you are a fan of the Runaways comics or not, you’ll be hooked on Hulu’s latest original venture by the end of the first episode. We meet this group of five young, soon-to-be heroes at high school, but the series couldn’t feel less like your typical teen drama. Over the course of its first four episodes, Josh Schwartz (The O.C.) and Stephanie Savage (Gossip Girl) build a sophisticated world that impressively manages to make a dozen individual storylines feel like one.

The first episode can be hard to follow without any knowledge of source material, but within the confusion and slow pace there’s a certain satisfaction. It’s okay to not know what’s happening or who’s who. The irresistible personalities, friend-group drama and refined performances from the young cast are enough to lure you right into the second episode (the first three arrive on Hulu Nov. 21).

We are first introduced to Alex Wilder and his parents, for no reason other than Alex is the one who brings the childhood friends back together: Gert Yorkes, (her younger adopted sister Molly Hernandez), Nico Minoru, Karolina Dean and Chase Stein. We quickly learn these kids aren't the whole story. The antagonists are their parents.

Things get interesting with the introduction of the villainous group called ‘Pride.’ At first, Alex’s parents appear to be at the helm -- Geoffrey and Catherine Wilder host the Pride meetings in a secret chamber in their house. There, they are joined by the Yorkes, the Deans, the Steins, and the Minorus. If you are a fan of the comics, you’ll notice there is a couple missing from that list -- The Hayes. That is one of the series’ many intriguing mysteries that I will not get into because spoilers.

READ MORE: Marvel’s Runaways Premieres At NYCC, And The Fans Love It

There are teen cliches in The Runaways, but they serve as a source of larger ironic plot device. For example, Karolina (stereotyped as a goody-two-shoes religious girl) is almost sexually assaulted by three popular boys at school. Chase, the jock, saves her and ends up quitting the team when the coach fails to penalize his classmates. All the other characters seem to inhabit a stereotype as well -- the nerd, the goth, the social justice warrior. But, so far, the story arcs seem to defy the stereotypes themselves.

The Runaways doesn’t rely on powers and showy effects -- it relies on overall story development -- which is probably the only way the writers could successfully present viewers with so many main characters so early on. It’s clear they took the complex stories right from the comics and simplified them for an audience unfamiliar with the source material by working backward. Within each of the first four episodes, we get one more puzzle piece that leads us into a deeper and more impactful mystery. Mind you, these kids haven’t used or have just discovered their powers by the end of the fourth episode, and we only see the dinosaur in action once, all signs the first season (just 10 episodes long) is going to finish strong.

Score: 9


How The Mr. Robot Soundtrack Moved From TV To The Roxy

Mac Quayle wants you to hear the music from Mr. Robot IRL

Television scores and soundtracks have become an increasingly popular and cherished art. TV critics and fans alike have raved over the sound of Atlanta, InsecureStranger Things, Luke Cage and one of the pioneers of the trend, Mr. Robot. But how does an artist or composer take music from a TV show to the next level? By performing it live. That’s what Emmy-winning and Grammy-nominated composer Mac Quayle aims to do with his upcoming performance at The Roxy in Los Angeles.

“My vision for this music to be performed is that it’s more like a rock or EDM show than what you might consider to be a typical film or television music concert,” Quayle told Player.One. “They tend to be orchestral based in theaters—everyone is sitting down, they aren't too loud, they are a little more restrained. This music, to me, lends itself to something a bit different, which is it is loud. It’s like going to a rock or EDM show, and The Roxy is a great place for that.”

The live performance is fittingly titled “M@cQuayle_TheMus1c0fMrRob0t.mp3” and takes place Dec. 5. The concert will feature a selection of music from all three seasons of the show, but building a set list was more complex than simply putting all his favorite pieces on a playlist—Quayle had to choose what to perform based on several factors.

“I start looking at which pieces would be feasible, which pieces would be enjoyable to play and hopefully entertaining for an audience. That narrows the list down a little bit. And then I start doing some adaptations to make it playable. It may be a re-arrangement, I may extend it or shorten it. For some pieces, I’ve been doing medleys from one into another. Slowly, the set list grows and I get more and more pieces that will work on stage,” he said.

What makes Mr. Robot so alluring, in both the music score and the TV series itself, is the technique and finesse. Performing live presents different challenges than a recording studio, and to maintain that same feeling, Quayle had to strip down certain elements of the instrumentation.

“You can pack a lot more detail in a recording that will be noticed and appreciated when someone listens to it. But if you try to pack all that detail into a live performance, due to the nature of acoustics and the venue and whatnot, to me, a lot of that can get lost. I like to simplify a bit and pull out some of the details that aren't going to add too much to the performance, clutter it and make it more difficult to perform.”

The instrumentation for the concert is similar to what Quayle uses to record the score for the show. It’s very electronic based, with two keyboard players, including himself. However, Quayle will also add a live drummer to his live performance, something he didn’t use on the show.

“That drummer will be playing some of the electronic sounds, the drum sounds, that are used in the score, but will also have an acoustic drum kit. So that adds this whole other element, brings the energy up a lot from what some of the recordings are and makes it what I hope is an exciting performance.”

Some of the pieces are approaching dance music and Quayle said considering the fact The Roxy has mostly standing room, he wouldn’t be surprised if people were more physically engaged than the traditional instrumental performance. At least that’s the goal. The very first performance, at another Hollywood nightclub for an early summer Emmy promotion event, was the proof of concept.

“We just performed three pieces, but it was in a nightclub with a big sound system and it really showed me that that is a great type of venue for this music. The next performance was in Spain at the MOSMA film festival in July, and we did a full set of music from the show. That was in a theater and it was great, but didn’t quite have the impact that I envisioned for it. I’m thinking The Roxy will be more in line.”

Quayle has been performing live since he was seven. First in the church choir, then the high school band orchestra, then a rock band. Up until a few years ago, he was playing with Donna De Lory. Live performance is one of his early passions, and he sees Mr. Robot as an opportunity to continue.

“This music is important to me. I’m looking forward to The Roxy show as the next step in the evolution of where I think a performance of Mr Robot music could go.”

Quayle’s performance at The Roxy is on Dec. 5. Buy tickets here and catch Mr. RobotWednesdays at 10 p.m. on USA Network.


Can Polaris Forgive Humans? The Gifted's Emma Dumont Says No

Blood drips from Polaris’ nose after she successfully escapes her prison cell in The Gifted episode 3. She uses every ounce of energy she has to combat the inhibitor collar shackled to her neck in order to blast the door open, but quickly passes out in the hallway before she can flee. “Now that’s just sad,” the prison guard utters before calling for backup. This is one of many times we’ve seen Polaris go to the extreme to ensure her child has a chance at life.

The first testament to Polaris’ grit came in the pilot, when she is first apprehended. This was such an important, character-defining moment, actress Emma Dumont says there were two versions.

“The original one we shot was me in a vacuum-sealed bag,” Dumont told Player.One at New York Comic Con. “In that moment she was in a lot of pain and up in this big bag and it was different. The scene we have in the new pilot was way more intimate, and we have Reed Strucker, a father, trying to be like, ‘Hey dude, stop being crazy. Stop being erratic and nuts and trying to kill cops. You have a kid that you have to take care of.’ Polaris says ‘f*** you, I don't care what you have to say, I'm going to fight even harder now. It’s a momma bear moment.”

The original incarceration scene (shown in early trailers) dehumanized Polaris even more, which may be the reason it was changed for the premiere.

The original incarceration scene (shown in early trailers) dehumanized Polaris even more, which may be the reason it was changed for the premiere.

Others in Polaris’ position would stop resisting and grieve their fate. That’s not in Polaris’ DNA. She is determined to fight because she has nothing to lose. If she doesn’t resist, her mutant child could be executed by the Sentinels. If she does fight, her mutant child could still be in danger, but at least there is a glimmer of hope she’ll see Eclipse and the Mutant Underground once again.

“I don't know how long gestation is for mutants, but if it’s nine months, she has nine months to make the world a better place so her kid can be born in a safe environment. That's her timeline. One more day that my kid is going to be hunted down. One more day the Sentinel Services are killing babies and taking them away from their families. The stakes are so high for her every single day. Our first season is only 18 days or something.”

The Mutant Underground is already plotting a way to get Polaris out of jail, but Dumont teases she may have to work with a former adversary in the meantime. Reed Strucker, now in Sentinel Services custody for protecting his two mutant children, could be the key to the plan. Reed worked as a mutant prosecutor and knows the ins and outs of the Sentinels system. While the two will be forced into partnership, Dumont is adamant Polaris will never forgive Reed for his willingness to participate in mutant oppression.

“She hates his guts. She thinks he’s what's wrong with the world. He’s a bigot, he’s a bad person, he’s harming innocent people and he doesn't even realize he’s bad. She hates him. But for survival and for survival only, with the stakes so high with her mutant baby she has to worry about, she ends up having two work with Reed,” Dumont said. “There is a difference between putting things aside and forgiveness. I don't think Polaris ever ever forgave him. There are moments Reed admits he was wrong and realizes his faults. She basically says to him, ‘No, you definitely don’t get forgiveness from me.’ She’s stubborn, but rightfully so.”

Strucker and Polaris have yet to meet behind bars. It’s unclear in what capacity this partnership forms, but it will be interesting to see how two individuals with very different views of the world work together toward a common goal -- to protect their children.

Do you like the direction The Gifted is headed? Let us know in the comments.


The Gifted Is Not Copping Out Of Meaningful Narrative

After The Gifted premiere, I questioned whether the series would follow through with the themes of social justice. Would The Gifted challenge America’s narrative of racial inequality beyond a surface level?  After speaking with cast at New York Comic Con, it's clear the same core values that define the X-Men comics will define the series.

“Actively participating in creating this disparity in society, I don't think he thinks he’s doing that,” Stephen Moyer, who plays Reed Strucker, told Player.One. When we first meet Strucker, he’s a federal prosecutor who takes cases from The Sentinels, an organization that hunts down mutants and who are now hunting down his two mutant children.

“I think he thinks he's doing what he does is for the good of society. To keep people safe. To keep people with the mutant powers who cannot control using them in public away from everybody,” he said. “So he thinks he’s doing the right thing.”

Moyer said it’s the discovery his children are mutants that acts as the catalyst for Strucker to reconsider the choices he’s made. This includes his wrongful imprisonment of Polaris whose unborn child’s life could be taken against her will.

“He knows that when people go into the mutant detention center they are not going to get seen again,” Moyer said. “They are moving into a very different place and he doesn’t want to lose his kids. Good drama makes you question your life choices and that’s what he has to do.”

It’s all about perspective and willingness to understand, themes The Gifted will explore moving forward and a lesson the series cast hopes resonates with viewers.

“It’s good stuff isn’t it?” he said. “Because it’s talking about what it means to be different and if we are living in a box where our kids aren’t different and our society isn’t different and we are in some sort of gated community … then is that living? Are you participating in the world? I think they are good questions.”

Reed’s wife confronts him about his willful blindness in one of the most impactful pieces of dialogue in the episode. “Did you know this was happening?” Kate asks him after their family flees to safety on the run from The Sentinels seeking help from Polaris’ friends, the Mutant Underground.

“Just because something doesn’t affect you, does it mean it’s not worth fighting for?” said Amy Acker, who plays Kate Strucker. “I think the complacency they had with their lives-- they are living a privileged life, wanting for nothing--and now all of a sudden you have someone at your door saying they are going to take your kids away.”

As the Sentinels barge in the Strucker home to take their youngest son away after an incident at school Kate screams, “But my husband is a prosecutor!”

“They were like, ‘Yeah, that’s not going to help.’ So it is a quick turn and from this point, the questions are, where did we go wrong? Why didn’t we ask the questions earlier? How do we change? It goes different directions to figure out how to make other people see this light we started to see,” Acker said.

It will be interesting to see how Kate and Reed approach enlightening others about issues that don’t affect them. If they are successful, we can only hope it can inspire others to rethink their understanding of identity and racial politics in the real world.

The Gifted airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox.


Marvel’s Inhumans In IMAX Feels Like A Scam

This Inhumans review has no spoilers.

A Marvel’s Inhumans TV series makes sense. An Inhumans IMAX movie does not. That’s the problem with simply combining the first two episodes into a movie. The very idea of putting this in a theater is problematic and serves no purpose. Inhumans in IMAX has been marketed as special and ambitious. It’s not, and it comes across as merely a scheme by IMAX and Marvel.

Taking risks is commendable, even if those risks fail. On the surface, the Inhumans theatrical premiere has been marketed as a risk. And in some ways, it was. We’ve never seen a TV series in IMAX quality. Medusa’s hair looked awesome. Lockjaw looked great (considering he’s a full CGI character). The brief glimpses of Attilan were… okay. But aside from that, the IMAX experience did not complement the first two episodes of the series. Inhumans will look and feel better on your 42-inch HD TV.

August is a dry month for big Hollywood releases, and this is a pretty clear attempt to just get people into the theaters. Marvel brings in the big bucks for IMAX. Every Marvel movie is a hit lately, and compared to DC, Marvel can’t do wrong. That’s the whole problem. Neither company really had anything to lose by putting this into production. It’s a safe bet, even if it’s not the best. The series had to be filmed anyway, so why not just double up? It really wasn’t a risk at all, when you think about it.

READ: Why Is Inhumans In IMAX? Let The Director Explain

The IMAX experience did not offer fans anything more than what they’ll see on TV for free. In fact, it actually offered less. Not only are they asking for 20 dollars, you’re actually seeing less footage than what you’ll see come Sept. 29 on ABC. All this being said, the ABC series still holds promise.

Separating the IMAX experience from the ABC experience is the fairest way to judge this project. It will be interesting to see how (or if) Inhumans will have a direct connection with Agents of SHIELD, which will head into its fifth season after the Inhumans finale on ABC. SHIELD informed viewers about terrigenesis, introudced us to Quake and Yo-Yo, and explored the dynamic between Inhumans and humans on Earth after the Sokovia Accords intorudced in Captain America: Civil War. 

But even with SHIELD propping up the Inhumans storyline, there are still problems heading into the TV series, corporate decisions about IMAX aside. Performances from some of the supporting cast were average at best, Crystal and Gorgon in particular, at least partly because the dialogue did not give them much to work with. Just likeMarvel’s Iron Fist, also from writer Scott Buck, there were a few cringeworthy moments.

There was very little depth on display in the first two episodes of Inhumans, aside from Maximus’ compelling and deceitful monologues. It takes awhile to get used to a character who never speaks, but Black Bolt’s silence and body language does become extremely intriguing when he arrives on Earth. You’ll leave wanting to know more about Karnak’s powers. While Medusa’s character development felt rushed, you’ll still feel invested in the progression of her story (watch Cape Talk if you want to know why). The series also leaves off in a place that’s better than where it started.

If IMAX had made the premiere of Inhumans something more special, perhaps by including footage that wouldn’t be seen on ABC, or incredible shots of the Attilan landscape, this would have been worth the trip to the movie theater. However, the IMAX experience felt like watching a TV series on ABC while pressing fast forward, instead of a well thought-out and executed feature film based on a TV series.

The final verdict: wait until Sept. 29.

Originally published on Player.One.

The Defenders Has Huge Payoff Potential

Disclaimer: This is only a review of The Defenders episodes 1-4. No spoilers.

The first episode of The Defenders gets off to a slow start, but it isn’t a bad one. We last saw Jessica Jones in November 2015... It's been awhile. The final minutes of DaredevilSeason 2 left Matt Murdock's life in shambles. Luke Cage is behind bars. And the most recent of Marvel’s Netflix shows, Iron Fist, wasn't exactly a joy to watch for most fans. Needless to say, The Defenders has a lot of setting up to do for New York's four heroes to meet.  Marvel has always put character development first for its Netflix run, and that strategy is hard to maintain in a show featuring four superheroes fans have spent 60-plus hours watching. So while the pacing of the first two episodes is unexpected, it's necessary, especially for fans who may have given up watching Iron Fist or not seen every series. 

We've never seen Daredevil or Jessica Jones lack intensity in their missions. The wayThe Defenders begins with JJ and DD in particular is certainly a change of pace, but the absence of urgency within their arc in the first two episodes feels well-deserved. Trauma, loss and hopelessness are ever-present in their lives. On the other hand, Luke Cage and Iron Fist are both ready for action. Danny is ready to face The Hand at any cost after they slayed everyone on Kun-Lun, and Luke Cage, fresh out of jail, feels the fate of Harlem is his personal responsibility.

The way The Defenders reintroduces these characters makes sense. The interactions between Daredevil and Jessica Jones, and elsewhere with Iron Fist and Luke Cage, are undoubtedly the highlights of the second and third episodes. While you will never catch us saying Luke Cage’s first interaction with Iron Fist solves all of Danny Rand’s problems, it rectifies the character’s ignorance to a degree. It makes me wonder whether this dynamic was Marvel’s plan all along: showing how a black man and privileged white man can interact and become allies. The responsibility in that discussion rightfully lays on Danny Rand’s shoulders, and he takes Luke’s words to heart in episode 4. Without saying too much, this interaction completely changes the trajectory of Danny Rand’s character, which in turn plays a large part in how The Defenders approach the villain.

Learning Alexandra’s intentions and the true reach of her influence makes for some truly thrilling moments of the top half of The Defenders. The mystery is still there, but small tidbits that weave in and out of each Defenders’ storyline explain why she’s so threatening, even though the prospect of facing New York’s four heroes doesn’t seem to excite her much. But that’s because she’s not your average villain. There are still many questions to be answered, but the mere prospect of her unknown origins and power makes her intimidating enough.

It’s not only new relationships that make the first four episodes of The Defendersintriguing, it’s the old ones that really start to shine as the series progresses. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ chemistry is unexpected, partly because of their past, and more so considering Luke’s recent fling with Misty Knight and romantic relationship with Claire Temple. Daredevil is forced to come to terms with the ending of Season 2 and make a choice about how he’s going to move forward with Stick and Karen Page. By the end of the first four episodes, the stakes are incredibly high. New York is on the verge of destruction and we're left wondering not only how The Defenders will save the city, but what's next for these heroes and villains afterword. 

The mere thought of Heroes for Hire and Daughters of the Dragon is exciting.The Defenders should also provide some much-needed clarification about the direction of both Jessica Jones and Daredevil, who were lost and had all but given up as heroes. To those who will say Sigourney Weaver's villain doesn't pack a punch, thinking about The Hand in the grand scheme of Netflix-Marvel’s plan since Daredevil Season 1 will remind you of how ambitious this series actually is. If The Defenders succeeds in the end, it’s due to the intricacy in the way the writers have tied together each show and the commitment to character development above all else. These heroes are not the Avengers and this is not a movie. Each episode is increasingly better than the one before it, and at this pace, the last four will will hit the ground running with huge payoff potential.


Sigourney Weaver Teases Alexandra’s Agenda In The Defenders

Sigourney Weaver plays Alexandra, the villain of The Defenders who we still know very little about.  However, it’s obvious she’s not a clear-cut big bad. The trailers suggest she has a specific agenda and peculiar interest in one of The Defenders.

Danny Rand and Alexandra has the potential to be one of the most interesting in the The Defenders. Not only because of Iron Fist’s direct connection to The Hand, who are the sworn enemy of Ku'n-Lun. But also because of Madame Gao, who we know has been alive long enough to see the previous incarnations of the Iron Fist. It's not yet clear how all of this pieces together, but Weaver offered a few clues at San Diego Comic-Con.

“I consider Iron Fist an innocent,” Weaver told Player.One. “I have been around a lot longer than he has and he’s very idealistic and very passionate. Given enough time I’m sure I could win him over to my point of view. I’m sure that’s true for Luke Cage -- I could put a lot of resources in Harlem. If I had the time to win each of them over, I could, but when they come together it’s very hard to isolate them.”

The Defenders takes place over the course of just one week. That’s a lot of ground to cover, but Weaver teased Alexandra isn’t one to get her hands dirty--after all, each main cast member of The Defenders has a color and hers is white.

“I was surprised to find my character's color was white, though in the end I came to love it. It’s very elegant and [for] someone who doesn't get their hands dirty. I don't think she ever pretends to be anything other than she is. I think she thinks it's a shame that these guys are so young, they can't see the way the world works and they are going to try to make a difference where they can and they are so talented but if they came to work for me, they could really get somewhere.”

Because Alexandra’s one to work more behind-the-scenes, we may not see her amid fight scenes and action as much as fans may have hoped.

“I think she has all those skills. I think she has several, a number of, frankly ninjas who will protect her so that I don't really need to get sweaty myself,” Weaver said after revealing she has a red belt in karate. “But I think in the past, she has done all those things but now she has a protective group around her which we all deserve in this world.”

Alexandra does have a secret weapon in Elektra, whom we know from trailers does come back to life as a mysterious entity known as “black sky.” The purpose of Black Sky is still unclear, but Alexandra doesn’t only think of Elektra as a weapon, she cares at least a little bit.

“It was very natural to believe in Elodie [Yung] and try and take her under my wing up to a point and I think that my character is very sincere about the relationship. I thinks she wants to be a mentor to Elektra and I think she would actually love to mentor all of the four heroes. Unfortunately, they have some pesky tendency to be idealistic which I feel they will grow out of but they haven't at this stage so they become unfortunately my enemies.”

What will be most interesting to see after The Defenders debut is who Alexandra aligns with. The Hand has weaved through the entire Marvel-Netflix universe. Why haven’t we seen or heard about her until now? A recent Defenders teaser revealed Alexandra and Stick are “old friends.” But so far, it’s been Madame Gao as the mysterious force that seems to tie everything together. When I asked Weaver if Alexandra will overshadow Gao, she said, “I certainly hope so.”

“I think Madame Gao is awesome. We have a very interesting relationship. There’s never any security in the world and it’s a lesson one has to learn again and again.”

There are still so may questions to be answered about The Hand, Madame Gao, Ku’n Lun, Stick and the ancient opposing forces that seem to be running New York City. However, when The Defenders ends, it may be up to the fans to put the pieces together about Alexandra.

“I think we build the information with each show. But I think they purposely don’t want you to know too much about her because it is written from The Defenders’ point of view. You get glimpses into her life, I think pretty intimate glimpses, but ultimately it’s about these forces coming together.”

Any theories about who Alexandra is and why she wants to destroy New York? Let us know in the comments and check out our review. The Defenders arrives on Netflix Aug. 18.


Meet The Comic Book Writer Behind #VisibleWomen

#VisibleWomen. You saw it all over Twitter yesterday, filling your feed with gorgeous art from women and non-binary creators in comics. But who is behind the hashtag? That would be Kelly Sue DeConnick, known for her work on Captain Marvel,  and much more. She has been running #VisibleWomen multiple times a year since March 2016. DeConnick started the hashtag as a way to connect artists to employers.

“The first time I did it, it was on a Sunday and it was a spur of the moment thing. I had been asked a few times by folks in the industry if I could recommend some women artists because they didn’t know very many or how to find them,” DeConnick told Player.One. “I both appreciated the asking and also was like, “You guys there are so many. Are you even looking at all?’ So I wanted to boost the visibility of women artists in our industry.”

The name of the hashtag is a play on Invisible Woman, the first Marvel superhero who was a woman. Sue Storm (previously known as Invisible Girl) first appeared in The Fantastic Four #1 in 1961.

“Her power was invisibility, which is kind of hysterical,”  DeConnick said, pointing out the irony. “The idea [for the hashtag] was like, ‘Oh this is Visible Women.’”

Though she conceived the name, DeConnick emphasized right off the bat #VisbileWomen is not a lone effort. She gives a special shoutout to her team, especially Turner Lobey, who compiled all the information from incoming tweets into a spreadsheet. She also stresses she’s not the first to do this and points to Mari Naomi, who has maintained two databases for queer cartoonists and cartoonists of color for quite some time.

“I’m not the first person who has tried to put together databases for marginalized creators or signal boost. Naomi has maintained those two lists for quite some time. In this moment of spotlight for #VisibleWomen, if we could share some of that, that would be cool,” she said.

This year got the biggest response because Twitter Moments helped boost the hashtag’s exposure. It was also the first time submissions were open to colorists, letterers, inkers and writers as well as artists. While the visibility is great, DeConnick is most pleased when her efforts result in women getting hired.

“It doesn’t really mean that much to me as an exercise, but if it leads to folks getting hired I think that's tremendous,” she said. “Women are discouraged from advocating for themselves, often don’t know how to do it, or are very uncomfortable doing it and are sometimes punished for doing it. A man puts himself forward for a job and that’s great and he’s ambitious. A woman does and she’s kind of uppity.”

After her team compiles the data into a spreadsheet, she offers the document to any hiring professional who wants it. Yesterday, there were more requests than ever before, eight (as of Monday at 8 p.m. EDT), which will be sent out on Wednesday.

“There aren’t that many publishers in comics,” said DeConnick, stressing eight is no small number. “That’s eight hiring professionals. We’ve hired from the list ourselves.”

DeConnick believes we are facing age old problems that aren’t unique to the comics industry. However, the quick turnaround of an issue out every 30 days is one factor that makes it even harder for women to break into the industry.

“There’s not a lot of time to take chances, so people hire the same people they've always hired. It’s difficult to develop new talent and when they are developing new talent, I think you’re hiring this white guy and he recommends this white guy he went to school with and the guy does great work. Great. Fantastic, and this guy vouches for him. It happens,” she said. “I mean there is certainly sexism and racism and all kinds of other ugly isms that are both overt and culturally ingrained that play into it, but I think there are very few really mustache twirling, ‘Let’s keep the girls out.’ I think it’s more just habit and who people know.”

She also believes there are also some ideas about what men think women’s art looks like, a stereotype that affects employment.

“Our art isn’t any more characterized by any one thing than anybody else's is and if you look at the breadths of styles in the Visible Women spreadsheet you will see women who do horror and women who do delightful, light romantic manga and everything in between,” she said. “Just like anything else, our culture has preconceived notions about what women can be and women can do and it’s  just very limiting.”

For more on the #VisibleWomen campaign, check out DeConnick’s website and follow her on Twitter. Also, be sure to support Cartoonists of Color and Queer Cartoonists run by Mari Naomi.

Detroit's Joseph David-Jones Reflects On The Horror And History

Detroit tells the true story of the 12th Street Riot, with a focus on the events leading up to and after the massacre at the Algiers Motel. It serves as documentation of a brutal series of events that have been swept under the rug since 1967 -- 43 dead, over 1,000 wounded, 2,500 businesses burned or looted, police officers unpunished -- just one of many such incidents in African-American history.

Helmed by respected director Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal, both of 2008’s Oscar-winning Hurt Locker, the film is gaining traction because of the talent involved and affecting narrative. But this is not your average documentary or historical adaptation. The incident and its aftermath are horrendous, but the trailers evoke an elevated feeling of cinematic horror. While the subject matter is poignant, timely and undoubtedly visceral considering Bigelow’s track record, it’s hard to watch, let alone take part in creatively.

“She’s shot this in its period, the 60s, which is most of the time in film is very stylized, but she shoots this so real and gritty it’s almost like a war film or something,” actor Joseph David-Jones told Player One. He plays Morris, a singer with the group The Dramatics who performed at the historic Fox Theater during the riots. “[It’s] a horror movie watching this trailer. They don't pull any punches. It’s very very gritty, raw and real and in your face and it puts you right amidst the chaos that was going on in Detroit at that time.”

David-Jones, who recently appeared in the latest season of Nashville, says it was the bond between his castmates, particularly his fellow band members, that helped him wash off all the heavy material and keep his spirits high.

“Every day people would be getting like, you know, we’d be at the hotel and all the terrible things that were going to happen there. Being able to come back and be around your friends and brothers who were going through the same things as you, it really helps you not be weighed down by it,” he said.

Before his casting, Davis-Jones did know about the Detroit riots, but wasn’t aware of the Algiers Motel murders. As a young actor working with people like John Boyega, Anthony Mackie and Kathryn Bigelow, he still says the biggest thing he learned from the experience on set were the details of the 1967 riots and how history seemed to carry these deaths away without consequence.

Joseph David-Jones just finished filming Roman Israel, Esq. with Denzel Washington.PHOTO: PHOTO BY JSQUARED PHOTOGRAPHY. STYLED BY MELISSA WALSH.

Joseph David-Jones just finished filming Roman Israel, Esq. with Denzel Washington.PHOTO: PHOTO BY JSQUARED PHOTOGRAPHY. STYLED BY MELISSA WALSH.

“I had no concept for it,” Davis-Jones said. “Whenever you are doing something like this where it’s a true story, you're playing people who really existed and something as heavy as this, there is always an added pressure and added responsibility to do justice to the person you are playing and to the story itself. So it was just a lot more responsibility on me to really be present in the moment and connect with the emotions of it all.”

The cinematic devices Detroit uses to tell these stories may be controversial, but Jones says the one thing he hopes people gain from the film is a level of understanding.

“The main thing that we are trying to get people to take away from this is empathy and understanding of where this all began and what we as black people have to go through and what it’s like to be a black person in America today and back then. Because I think they’ve changed but they haven’t changed that much. It’s about empathy, understanding, and forming a commonality and community,” Jones said. “It's not just a black movie or a black issue, it's an American issue. I feel like everybody is going to get something from it, even if it's just a better understanding of the people around you.”

History is set in stone, but the future isn’t. Jones is optimistic moving forward that films featuring African-American actors won’t always focus on black trauma.

“We are starting to see more of a shift toward us as leading men and women that are powerful, that aren’t about a history of us being abused and being victimized. I get it, sometimes it's hard to see those types of things, even though it’s important to learn and know your history, but I think it is changing,” he said.

For more on Detroit, read Newsweek’s review


Finn Jones Teases Mike Colter About Luke Cage 'Keeping It In His Pants'

Luke Cage has hooked up with three supporting characters from The Defenders. First Jessica Jones. Then Misty Knight. Now he’s in a relationship with Claire Temple. We asked Mike Colter about this last week; he prefers the term “ladies man.”

“I don't know why… player? He’s not a player he just crushes a lot, that’s what the song says. He’s just one of those guys where he’s just looking for the right fit. He comes into contact with these women, he had sort of an unreasonable thing he carried for his former wife, and that’s always trouble when you have someone who you feel is perfect. Eventually, he meets Jessica, but then that was weird. Then Misty, then Claire and we will see how that works out, but, I mean, he’s just still kind of searching.”

“You need to keep it in your pants,” Finn Jones interrupts jokingly.

Luke Cage’s relationship with Jessica Jones got off to a fiery start, but while under the influence of Killgrave, she murdered the love of Luke’s life, Reva Connors. Then, he meets Misty Knight very early in Luke Cage Season 1.

“You're beautiful, a little older than he usually likes them,” says Luke while bartending at Cottonmouth’s club, Harlem’s Paradise.

"Yeah, you're definitely not getting a tip tonight,” Misty says. "But I'm not finished,” Luke says. “Dumb men like little girls. Me, I ponder a woman."

"Why don't you ponder me another cosmo,” Misty says, asking him to get coffee when they met in the street later that night. They had a night together, and while each had their suspicions, the two didn’t learn each other’s real identities until a few episodes later in Pop’s barbershop.

Jones and Colter joked about this in our interview, because it’s Misty and Danny who have the romance in the comics. “I picked his pocket,” Colter said, laughing. Asked how he would feel if Misty and Danny got together, Colter said. “It’s a month apart, he would get over it.”

“It’s certainly interesting and a question for the writers because they do have a relationship in the comics. How is that going to be addressed when they meet each other?” Jones asks, as Colter playfully adds that Colleen Wing was actually one of Luke’s girlfriends in the comics.

“Oh come on. I love Colleen. I’m not letting her be tainted by your unruly behavior. She’s sensible she's not going to go with you,” Jones said.

“Sensible? I’m just a broken-hearted fool looking for love in all the wrong places,” Colter said. ”I’ve been heartbroken so many times. It’s true. All roads lead through Harlem at some point. All I’m saying.”

“Oh don’t play that trick,” Jones said.

After our interview, Colter said at The Defenders SDCC panel, “The flame is not out, let’s be honest,” about his relationship with Jessica Jones. However, he notes that because of Alexandra and needing to “sort this thing out with Danny Rand,” the series might not explore the sparks and tension still between them. He concluded by comparing the situation to... Naked and Afraid?

“If anyone’s ever seen an episode of Naked and Afraid, it’s weird. They’re naked and they’re afraid. They’re naked, but they’re also afraid.”

Not really sure where you’re going with that… though they are both characters who hesitate to show any vulnerability. Since Luke Cage appears to be committed to Claire Temple at this point, there’s no telling what will go down between him and Jessica, and how Jessica will react when she finds out about Luke’s new girl.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments. The Defenders arrives on Netflix Aug. 18.

Finn Jones Says Heroes For Hire Should Further Explore Iron Fist’s Privilege

The first time Iron Fist and Luke Cage meet in The Defenders won’t be all fun and games. We all saw the scene in the first trailer where Iron Fist punches Luke Cage in the face, but even though comic book fans know the two are destined to become BFFs, Finn Jones told Player.One their initial conversation is a little contentious because of their difference in life experience.

“How we first start off is a bit surprising. The first time we see each other there is conflict and it grounds and roots the characters which is really interesting,” Jones said.

This interaction really changes Iron Fist’s mindset, which forces him to approach his heroism in a different way.

“That's the great thing about our coming together. We really learn from each other. One of the things he learns from Luke is to understand who he is a little bit better and take his responsibility a bit more seriously. The fact I have this enormous power because I'm the head of this company, I can use this in a more intelligent way other than just punching stuff.”

Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Daredevil will join forces to face Alexandra inThe Defenders, but Jones thinks there are many more lessons for his character to learn from Mike Colter’s down the line.

“That’s why Heroes for Hire would be a great television show, because you could go deep with that conversation. Having someone like Danny Rand who is from a white privilege background and then someone like Luke... think about some of the conversations and the themes and stories you could really tackle with that. That’s just speculation.”

“That’s 2025,” Mike Colter quickly added.

Jones said Danny has never grown up in a community and comes back into his wealth acting like a “kid in a candy shop” in Iron Fist Season 1.

“He needs to realize his actions have repercussions,” Jones said. “You’re like, ‘Hey dude, what the fuck are you doing, get real.”’

Luke Cage’s solo series addressed systemic racism, exploring the adverse consequences of the criminal justice system for people of color, and his character was a vehicle and symbol of social justice. Iron Fist was perceived as the exact opposite, to its detriment. Jones agreed his character’s conversation with Luke taught Danny Rand a lesson, but Mike Colter says his series and The Defenders will only “scratch the surface” compared to documentaries like 13th.

“We have a burden of being a superhero show first and we also have to be a conduit for what change happens in society, especially in Harlem. This is a very specific community we are talking about. While he’s a black superhero, he still has to deal with everyday problems that are not something that is black or white or Spanish or latino, it’s just a problem with being a guy with a bit of history. It’s an American issue. People saw the documentary 13th. They saw other documentaries about the judicial system and how it works. Trayvon Martin... these are issues we are dealing with. The second season, we are going a whole different direction, but still keeping some of that.”

Neither Colter or Jones confirmed Heroes For Hire is happening, but Jones does admit the two eventually do become best friends despite their differences.

“Because it is so iconic, I don't think you want to put too much pressure onto it or oversell it. I think we just played it very truthfully and luckily Marco Ramirez wrote some incredible scenes for us, got into the nitty gritty, about why these two eventually become best friends.”

Check out our review of the first four episodes of The Defenders. The series arrives on Netflix Aug. 18.