Save the cheerleader, arm the raccoon

    Sometimes it seems like Hollywood doesn’t have its priorities straight anymore. Film studios seem to be preoccupied with nothing but superhero sequels, movies based on board games and interminable rom-coms. But thankfully, there’s one thing they’re still good at: distilling a film’s premise into a two-minute clip full of quick cuts, thumping music and dramatic voiceovers. Every week, we'll serve up Hollywood’s hottest trailers without making you pay for a movie ticket. We all know the previews are the best part anyway.

    Heroes Reborn

    Release date: 2015

    Cast: TBA

    What's It About?: So far most details about NBC's recently announced Heroes reboot remain shrouded in secrecy. So shrouded, in fact, that even Masi Oka, one of the primary stars of the original 2006-2010 TV series, tweeted his surprise when the 20-second teaser for Heroes Reborn premiered during an Olympics commercial break. No names other than that of original Heroes creator and showrunner Tim Kring are even attached to the project, so any and all plot details are mere speculations at this point. So, let's speculate! The original series ended with Hayden Panettiere's Claire Bennet revealing her power of Wolverine-like regeneration to the public, a cliffhanger full of storytelling fuel that has gone unused for years after the original plan for a Heroes movie fell apart. So perhaps this series will pick up in real time, four years after the existence of superpowers became public. Given that many of the original stars (including Panettiere) are currently embroiled in other projects, it's safe to assume that the main characters will be a new generation of Heroes, coming to terms with their no-longer-secret powers. Could be interesting.

    Initial Reactions?: If you asked me where I acquired my current understanding of comic book adaptations and superhero storytelling, I could answer with a Kanye-like refrain: Heroes taught me. The original show was great for a longtime superhero comic book fanboy like me because it showed me how those archetypes I loved could apply to the modern world in an interesting way, but Heroes also demonstrated the limits of classic book storytelling (Season 3, which most explicitly followed a classically comic book superheroes-vs-supervillains plot, was easily the show's worst season). I'm cautiously optimistic for Heroes Reborn because it seems like the show was always better-suited to a miniseries format; you could say that the beginning of the end for the show was the Season 2 premiere, when Kring and the other showrunners decided not to mulligan their cast. They kept popular breakthrough characters like Oka and Panettiere around, even though those characters' arcs had reached their pinnacle by the end of that first season. This led to predictable storytelling strains, as well as an erosion of the realism that made Season 1 cool, as characters like Milo Ventimiglia's Peter Petrelli and Zachary Quinto's Sylar continued to escalate in power (only the Joker has escaped death more times and in more unbelievable ways than Sylar). This is all a long way of saying that I think an injection of fresh blood with the predetermined contraint of a miniseries format could do wonders for enlivening the original concept of Heroes. Going even one step further: now that TV minserieses seem to be taking off in popuarity, maybe Heroes Reborn could become an anthology series in the vein of American Horror Story or True Detective, with a new cast rotating in each season to play different stories of modern superheroes.

    Guardians of the Galaxy

    Release date: August 1, 2014

    Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper

    What's It About?: The unparalleled success of blockbusters like 2012's The Avengers has now freed Marvel to start adapting some of its more psychedelic concepts into movies, which is how we have ended up with Bradley Cooper voicing a gun-wielding space raccoon. Guardians of the Galaxy follows a ragtag group of spacefaring misfits led by Chris Pratt's Peter Quill as they try to save the Marvel Universe from complete destruction. Think of similar space outcast stories like Star Wars (as in, the original trilogy of movies, when everything was dirty and looked like it was falling apart) or Firefly, but with even wackier characters. Rocket Raccoon is the least of it; Vin Diesel will be providing the voice of Rocket Raccoon's best friend, a talking tree named Groot. Yes. Anything goes here...

    Initial Reactions?: ...or does it? Some have argued that the use of lesser known characters and concepts in Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as the casting of talented comedic actors like Pratt and John C. Reilly, will make for a refreshing, bombastic movie experience to offset the dour, Christopher Nolan-ness of most modern superhero movies. But I'm not so sure. The trailer's tone seems incosistent, and despite the colorful concepts at play, the actual physical pallette of the movie seems pretty down-played, barely a step up from Nolan's gritty Batman films. There is a lot of potential here, though. It's also worth noting that some of the characters in this movie, such as Zoe Saldana's Gamora, have ties to Thanos, the uber-villain teased at the end of The Avengers, which opens up some cool tie-in possiblities. If they can pull it off, it will be amazing to watch as Marvel continues to build a movie universe just as complex as the one in their comics.


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