The Hero Nation Index is a Monday round-up of news from the genre sector (sci-fi, fantasy, superheroes, horror, and animation).
Empty Suit: Remember the Stranger Things plagiarism lawsuit that was scheduled to go to trial this week in Los Angeles Superior Court? The plaintiff abruptly changed direction this weekend after realizing his version of the facts was all Upside Down.
Decaf for Daenerys? How in the name of the Seven Kingdoms could a Starbucks-style coffee cup sneak into a Game of Thrones scene? Sorcery abounds or perhaps Craft Services over-floweth.
The Marvel Age: The Marvel Studios mega-movie Avengers: Endgame sails past $2.18 billion, Titanic sinks to No. 3 on the all-time leaderboard for global box office. Marvel is doing so well they can release trailers and then urge moviegoers not to watch them.
Mayhew Missed: The death of Peter Mayhew, the towering Brit who portrayed fan-favorite Chewbacca in five Star Wars films, cast a heavy pall over this year’s Star Wars Day events across the globe. The gentle giant (who, at 7-foot-3, had a two-inch height advantage of Shaquille O’Neal) was remembered by Bob Iger, J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill, but George Lucas may have summed up his legacy best. “He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature — and I learned to always let him win.” Disney’s Lucasfilm will close out the Skywalker saga in December with the release of Star Wars-Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker , which wrapped principal photography right after St. Valentine’s Day. The Abrams-directed film will include unreleased footage featuring the late Carrie Fisher, who died in 2016.
Remember?: in 1978, Mayhew co-starred in the infamously odious Star Wars Holiday Special, which took Chebacca to his native planet to visit his family tree (that’s not figurative — his family literally lives in a tree). Three of his relatives were introduced, can you remember their names? You’ll find the answer below.
Hedging Sonic: Savaged by social media for off-putting character design, the contrite director of Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog pledges to fix it fast — good thing since the CG animated films hits theaters on Nov. 15.
Morbius On Set: On Instagram, actor and R&B star Tyrese Gibson tapped into a vein of acting inspiration while sharing an image of himself and director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) on the set of Morbius.in a leafy corner of London. The November 2020 release from Sony’s Columbia Studios stars Jared Leto as the transmogrified sci-fi vampire from the pages of Marvel Comics.
Say Anything: Bill Maher antagonized plenty of Stan Lee fans when he used the beloved Marvel icon’s death as a timely opportunity to mock superhero films and jeer at any misguided adults who actually consider the genre worthy of their attention. “I’m not glad Stan Lee is dead,” Maher said in January, “I’m sad you’re alive.” Harsh? Yes. Hypocritical? Probably, judging by one revealing genre-nerd reference Maher casually dropped on his Friday night show. “Trump won ’cause he was a TV star,” Maher said on his HBO show. “[It’s] ‘Kneel before Zod!’ TV is Zod.” Wait, Maher was in his mid-20s when Superman II came out back in 1980 — and now, four decades later, the 63-year-old thinks a quote from a superhero story is a credible way to illuminate presidential politics? Someone might remind Maher that he frowns on that kind of thing. “There is nothing wrong with a man writing comic books,” Maher said in January. “There is something wrong with adults thinking they’re profound.”
Remember?: Forty years ago last November, the Star Wars Holiday Special introduced three of Chewbacca’s woolly relatives: his wife, Malla; his father, Itchy; and his son, Lumpy. The family seemed like a deep-space version of the Country Bear Jamboree without the banjos.