The Hero Nation Index is a Monday roundup of news from Deadline’s coverage of the genre sector (sci-fi, fantasy, superheroes, horror, and animation).
GET WITH IT: The highest-grossing R-rated horror film in Hollywood history (if tallied by unadjusted international grosses) is It, the terrific 2017 release from Warner Bros and New Line Cinema that adapted the first half of Stephen King’s massive 1986 novel. After watching the must-see trailer for It: Chapter Two, I’d say it’s a good bet that record book will need revising again before Thanksgiving. The sequel opens on September 6 and continues the saga of a group of childhood friends who confront a depraved supernatural predator that appears as a leering clown while gorging on the youth of Derry, Maine. It: Chapter Two has an impressive cast, too, led by James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Finn Wolfhard and Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the Laughing Clown.
WATCHING WATCHMEN: Tick, tock, tick, tock…Watchmen is the biggest wild card among television’s upcoming high-profile launches, and the new teaser for the HBO series will only add to the intrigue surrounding the show, which shares its name with the revered Reagan Era comics epic by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons. To me, the “masked masses” imagery in the unsettling teaser also evokes a different Moore-penned 1980s comics classic: V For Vendetta.
“A LONG TIME AGO…”: Happy 75th birthday this Tuesday to George Lucas, the architect of the Jedi universe as well as the industry pioneer behind Industrial Light + Magic and THX Sound. The late, great Richard D. Zanuck once told me that Lucas would belong on the Mount Rushmore of Tinseltown if anyone ever decided to make one. “He’s the Thomas Edison of Hollywood,” Zanuck said. Lucas isn’t the only tech-minded filmmaker with a USC degree who was born on May 14th: Back to the Future and Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis will turn 67 on Tuesday.
FEELING THE FORCE: Plenty going on these days in the Jedi Universe. Bob Iger, Steven Spielberg, and J.J. Abrams got an early shared tour of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and the Disney chief tweeted photos of their Anaheim visit. Abrams likely didn’t linger too long. He’s in post-production on Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, which storms theaters on December 20. Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro, meanwhile, did some digging on the trailer traffic for the holiday mega-release from Disney’s Lucasfilm. Oh, and Disney also announced three new (as-yet-untitled) Star Wars films will be released in 2022, 2024, and 2026.
SMALLVILLE DAYS: I recently interviewed Alfred Gough & Miles Millar about the series finale last week of AMC’s Into The Badlands and it was a major flashback moment for all of us. I had interviewed the tandem just once before, way back in August 2001 when they were ramping up their earnest-but-soapy Superboy pilot for The WB’s fall lineup. The show was, of course, Smallville, which would endure for 217 episodes (2001-2011) and still reigns as TV’s longest-running live-action adaptation of any comic book property. (AMC’s The Walking Dead is a distant second with 131 episodes to date.) I asked Gough & Millar to share a memory from that inaugural Smallville season and they cited an early guest star. “In the first season, early on in one of the first 10 episodes, we had Amy Adams play a fat-sucking vampire,” Millar said with a chuckle. “It was simply the most bizarre role you could possibly imagine. And it would take someone the caliber of Amy Adams to pull it off. And she did! I remember at that point she said she was about to leave Hollywood and give it all up. Then she got Junebug after that and she just took off. She was one of the most amazing guest stars we had.” Indeed, while Smallville had early appearances by plenty of rising stars (Colbie Smulders, Adam Brody, Evangeline Lily among them) none of them can match the scenery-chewing performance by future six-time Oscar nominee Adams in the Season 1 episode “Craving.” Here’s a taste…
MEMORY “LANE”: Amy Adams would go on a decade later to share scenes with a different Clark Kent by portraying intrepid Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane opposite Henry Cavill in three films (starting with Man of Steel in 2013). Adams was the seventh Hollywood actress to portray Lois in a live-action film or television adaptation but not the most recent — that’s because an eighth actress joined the esteemed list last year. Can you name that most recent addition? If that question is too easy, try this one: Counting Adams, how many of those eight Lois Lane actresses appeared on Smallville, either as a guest star or a cast member? Find the answers below…
ENDING WITH A BANG: After 12 seasons of stellar comedy fission, The Big Bang Theory is counting down the days to its final fadeout from the CBS primetime lineup. The perennial sit-com hit will close out its historic run next Thursday with its final two episodes, “The Change Constant” and “The Stockholm Syndrome,” which will air back-to-back as a one-hour doubleheader. Finales can be tricky business for era-defining comedies — it was 21 years ago this week, for instance, that Seinfeld delivered an existential head-scratcher for its swan song (which had 76.3 million viewers and commercials priced at $2 million for 30 seconds). No need for Big Bang fans to fret about an anti-climactic farewell. I attended the finale taping on the Warner Bros lot and while I won’t share any spoilers I can tell you it’s one of the most satisfying shows of the season and pitch-perfect as a farewell. The episodes will air starting at 8 PM ET/PT on Thursday, May 16 on CBS. The cast will also appear on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert on the night the finale airs.
QUICK HITS: Lots of buzz at ABC for the network’s first new drama series pickup, the Colbie Smulders series Stumptown, based on the namesake crime comics that were launched a decade ago by Oni Press…Congrats to Seth MacFarlane and the other crew members aboard The Orville, which just got renewed for Season 3 on Fox…Tune in to the Season 4 finale of the CW’s Supergirl next Sunday to catch Jon Cryer in evil mastermind mode as Lex Luthor.
BACK TO MEMORY “LANE”: Lois Lane has been part of the Superman mythology since the very beginning — the ace reporter debuted in 1938 in Action Comics No. 1, the first Superman story (and they had sparks right away, too, as you can see in the saucy image from that inaugural issue and drawn by Joe Shuster). In the eight decades since her first published appearance, Lois Lane has been portrayed by eight Hollywood actresses: Noel Neill, Phyllis Coates, Margot Kidder, Teri Hatcher, Erica Durance, Kate Bosworth, Amy Adams, and, most recently, Elizabeth Tulloch, who took on the part for December episodes of the CW’s Elseworlds crossover event. Also, of those eight Lois Lane screen actresses, four of them have Smallville appearances among their career credits: Kidder, Hatcher, Durance and Adams.