Disney is rotting from the head
What to know
Disney is rotting from the head… How did Disney’s epic Scarlett Johansson mistake happen? Apparently, things are not well at the top of the company. The Wrap reports that new CEO Bob Chapek and outgoing CEO Bob Iger are not speaking and that the ScarJo scandal is emblematic of the disfunction over there. Chapek allegedly doesn’t have experience working with talent, which might be a problem! 🏰
Marvel What If writer accidentally pitched the Guardians 3 plot… A.C. Bradley had a lot to choose from when penning the upcoming MCU remix cartoon and apparently hit an upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy storyline right on the head. Considering What If is all about multiverse scenarios, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be getting some multiverse shenanigans in Guardians 3. 🦝
Colin Jost to write new live-action Ninja Turtles movie… This is separate from Seth Rogen’s upcoming animated take on the Turtles. Didn’t we just get a “live-action” TMNT movie? At least, they’re hiring comedy people to make these 🐢
Aubrey Plaza to headline Hulu drama pilot… from Ingrid Goes to West to Olga Dies Dreaming 🎬
Dropping this week:
The Suicide Squad — Aug 6 HBO Max and theaters DC comic movie | RT 96%
Val — Aug 6 Amazon and limited theaters Val Kilmer doc | RT 92%
Vivo — Aug 6 Netflix Lin-Manuel Miranda animated movie | RT 91%
Mr. Corman — Aug 6 Apple Joseph Gordon-Levitt dramedy series | RT
What to watch
What if the Underground Railroad was an actual underground railroad? What if Lindbergh beat FDR? What if the Allies lost the war? What if Russia got to the moon first? At this moment in time, popular culture seems obsessed with the “what if?” Hell, Marvel is about to have a show called What If. The multiverses are everywhere. Maybe because the world grows more complicated every day, we turn to the comfort of rebooting, remaking, and remixing. We imagine alternate version of our favorite stories, both fictional and historical, as a new but still safe balm.
Apple’s brilliant and surprising For All Mankind is the latter, an alternate history that starts with the question above (What if Russia got to the moon first) and then plays out every theorized choice our presidents, NASA administrators, and astronauts would make after. The series gives us an entirely new lens by which to view the Cold War, mid-century racial and gender issues, and of course, the triumphs and failures of the United States of America. Imagine the setting and ensemble work of Mad Men plus the thrills of Apollo 13 and Gravity.
If that sounds like big picture stuff, it very much is, but creator Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) brilliantly makes the show an intimate character drama. Yes, it’s about space and tensions with Russia. For All Mankind often has the highest of stakes and provides some of the most tense and thrilling television in years. In fact, some of its twists and surprises are on a level with Game of Thrones. But all of that works so well because it’s really about the people and their choices. Love and family and friendship and ego and sacrifice power the rocket ships on For All Mankind. The show has about two dozen richly drawn characters with fascinating and captivating interior lives, each played passionately by a cast of what-do-I-know-that-person-from TV vets.
But this alternate history show really stands above because it is thematically about alternate histories and our own “what ifs”. It forces us to look inward at the decisions we make and where they have taken us. Every choice we make comes with a choice we didn’t take, creating an infinitely expanding branching path. Besides being a branching path in and of itself, For All Mankind digs into this concept by constantly testing its heroes and then letting the ripples of their choices play out for better or worse. It reveals that though we can imagine the what if, we must look inward and show up to the what is. The show reveals that choice, not fate, will lead us to the promised land or take us even further away.