How Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol Was Originally Supposed To End For Ethan Hunt

Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt has been the face of the Mission: Impossible franchise ever since the first movie came out in 1996. Many characters come and go, and some even stick around for more than one movie, but Ethan is the guy leading the charge each time. One way or another, Ethan ends up being active in the field, but apparently 2011’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was originally supposed to conclude with him hanging up his gun and becoming the new leader of the Impossible Mission Force (IMF). According to Ghost Protocol cinematographer Robert Elswitt:

It was already public knowledge that Christopher McQuarrie was brought in to rewrite portions of the Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol script to reintegrate parts of the story into the action, but Robert Elswitt went into great detail about what the fourth movie of the Mission: Impossible series had planned for Ethan Hunt. After three movies of fighting the bad guys, Ethan would have taken over IMF, which makes sense given that Ghost Protocol sees the then-current IMF secretary, played by Tom Wilkinson, being killed. From there, a new agent would have taken over as the hero in the field for future movies.

And it wasn’t just Ethan Hunt’s promotion that was changed for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. During his appearance on the Light the Fuse podcast, Robert Elswitt also talked about how the movie’s ending changed significantly. As he put it:

Once Christopher McQuarrie came aboard to handle rewrites, that’s when a good portion of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, primarily the latter half, was changed. This included a scene where Ethan Hunt was speaking with his IMF allies aboard a train, took over the team and laid out everything that had happened and what they will do next. As for who this agent was supposed to take over Ethan’s spot as the main action hero, my guess it was Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt. He was introduced in Ghost Protocol, and with movies like The Hurt Locker and The Town on his resume, it’s easy to see how the creative minds could have envisioned his character as a worthy successor. Brandt came back for Rogue Nation, but because Jeremy Renner was busy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he didn’t return for Fallout.

Needless to say that Ethan Hunt calling the shots at IMF is a far cry from where we are now with the Mission: Impossible franchise. Ethan is still out in the field and saving the world, and there’s no sign of that changing for Mission: Impossible 7 or 8. Christopher McQuarrie is also now spearheading the Mission: Impossible franchise as both writer and director, and all of the movies that he’s had a hand in have been met with critical acclaim. So it’s safe to say that the Mission: Impossible movies have been in good hands with McQuarrie.

See What Simon Pegg Could Look Like As The Batman’s Riddler

With Matt Reeves’ The Batman finally starting to take off, fans have been putting their heads together and drumming up some ideas for the new cast. Since the writer/director has already teased the inclusion of a rogues gallery, there are tons of possibilities for our favorite actors to portray a few of the Dark Knight’s iconic villains. So, solve this puzzle: what about Simon Pegg as The Riddler? One artist has imagined the Mission: Impossible actor as the enigmatic Edward Nygma. Check it out:

I don’t know about you, but I’m into this! The fan art from ShatterverseEnt (via Reddit) is very much in line with the vision of The Batman, which Matt Reeves has said will be a “noir” tale. Since the Caped Crusader will also be tapping into his detective skills more than ever, facing the sneaky clues the Riddler leaves behind could certainly fit right into this kind of narrative.

The last time audiences saw The Riddler on the big screen in live action, he was cleverly played by Jim Carrey and worked with Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face, opposite Val Kilmer’s Bruce Wayne in 1995’s Batman Forever. Riddler is a great choice to be featured among other villains and Pegg would certainly deliver a completely different take on the character than Carrey.

He could pull off healthy combination of sinister and entertaining. Pegg is no stranger to delivering a solid performance in beloved blockbusters, such as Scotty in the new Star Trek films and as Benji in the Mission: Impossible movies. The actor has also been a part of some comedy classics including Shawn of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Paul.

With the recent announcement of upcoming Mission: Impossible 7 and 8 coming in summer 2021 and 2022, Simon Pegg could be booked for the foreseeable future if he signs on for the final two installments to be helmed by Christopher McQuarrie. However, since Star Trek 4 doesn’t look to be happening after being in development hell since 2015, The Batman could serve as a sweet replacement if he has the time for it.

So far, we know that Matt Reeves’ The Batman will not be featuring Ben Affleck as the titular hero. Bruce Wayne will be reportedly be played by a younger actor who has yet to be cast. Among the rogues gallery, Penguin will likely be one of the villains facing Batman. We’ll have to wait and see if Riddler ends up joining as well.

Simon Pegg could be a good choice, but Reddit users were sounding off their other ideas for Riddler, including David Tennant, Michael Emerson and Jim Parsons. There’s loads of talent to go around, and as casting begins shortly, fans will start getting some answers. The Batman is set to open on June 25, 2021, and rumor has it, the movie will begin filming fall of this year.

Why Are Rom-Coms Making a Comeback?

Once upon a time, romantic comedies were everywhere! Between Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan, Matthew McConaughey and Adam Sandler, actors could build their careers around the genre. In 2001, rom-coms were just as saturated as today’s superhero flicks, as The Princess Diaries, Legally Blonde, Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Wedding Planner, Kate and Leopold (and more) all debuted. It was a winning formula that continued to reach audiences and create timeless classics time after time.

Then the formula tired. Maybe audiences had seen just enough women working at fashion magazines and touching grand gestures her guy thinks up by the end? Fewer rom-coms graced the screen and more badass female heroines started dominating blockbuster franchises. But in 2019, Hollywood says “Why not both?” With What Men Want and Isn’t It Romantic coming to theaters within a week of each other and more upcoming rom-com projects soon on the way, the genre is making a comeback.

Why are more rom-coms standing in front of audiences asking us to love them… again? There’s a few reasons, let’s break it down:

Netflix Took The Leap

Buzz over the return of the genre started brewing in summer 2018 when a string of Netflix rom-com originals hit the streaming service. People were watching and talking about films such as Set It Up and To All The Boys I Loved Before, and praising them for their fun and genuine takes on the genre. The streaming giant’s accessibility had these rom-coms going viral at a time when the genre hadn’t been adored by the mainstream in a while.

Netflix didn’t seem to be taking a significant risk in producing these rom-coms either because it makes everything. Rom-coms were the releases that were sticking, and while users weren’t taking much of a risk either to sit on their couch and choose a lighthearted love story for movie night, the success of these titles – namely with To All The Boys, which is already getting a sequel – means an interest had clearly sparked.

Crazy Rich Asians Made A Cash Splash

Within the same week of the release of All The Boys Who Loved Before, Crazy Rich Asians opened in theaters to an impressive No. 1 opening weekend, later scoring over $238 million worldwide and becoming the first big hit for the genre since 2009’s The Proposal.

Yes, Crazy Rich Asians delivered on the first all-Asian cast in two decades but the movie was distinctly a romantic comedy style flick and it worked. It didn’t completely feel recycled or by-the-numbers because new faces were being showcased, it was exploring a culture the genre doesn’t typically go for and the “happily ever after” wasn’t the guy-gets-girl formula; it centered on the female protagonist’s own growth in her sense of self, amidst a few lovable clichés. Now, filmmakers will be looking at the success story of Crazy Rich Asians, especially considering how cheap for the studio to make ($30 million) and try to replicate it in new ways. Bok, bok, bitches! The rom-com is back and Crazy Rich Asians showcased that there is an audience for it in movie theaters.

They’re Rewritten For A New Perspective

One reason the rom-com became irrelevant in recent years was because how overdone it started to feel. The same actors, writers and filmmakers kept cranking out entries for the genre, and after a while they tired the same storylines. What defines this new resurgence is how fresh and inclusive it feels. While audiences may be seeing some of the same clichés and tropes of the genre in these new films, they’ve never been told in the mainstream from these perspectives before, so moviegoers are more energized to check them out. Hollywood is selling a different kind of rom-com and the trend has kept moving forward. Since the industry is aware more then ever that audiences demand more from the stories being presented, they seem to be made with more thoughtfulness and relevance.

What Men Want is an interesting example because it actually borrows from the premise of the early 2000s romantic comedy What Women Want, starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. It flips the dialogue by making it a woman who hears thoughts of men instead of the other way around. It also attempts to act as commentary for the struggles of women in male-dominated industries. Both ideas have been used before in rom-coms, literally in another movie of similar title and since women in this genre are constantly faced with some sort of work-related struggle. It feels different because a black woman’s perspective is in the mix, it’s generally more aware of itself and there’s new blood taking hold.

There’s A Space To Let In Diversity

Coming down the pipeline are rom-coms coming from a range of new voices such as Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis starring as girlfriends in a holiday-set TriStar film Happiest Season and Billy Eichner’s recently announced gay rom-com to be produced by Judd Apatow under Universal. Insecure’s Issa Rae and Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani are also teaming up to star in Paramount’s Lovebirds, about a couple who are caught in a murder mystery. Fresh Off The Boat’s Randall Park and comedian Ali Wong will also star in Always Be My Maybe, and Grownish’s Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton will star in A Sun is Also a Star.

In an industry constantly criticized for being too white, rom-coms certainly used to be a top offender. With the demand for new voices and the fact that there are so many making their way into the mainstream, the rom-com is becoming a great place to start. As said before, the genre doesn’t typically cost too much to produce, and usually these movies will make their money back. When interest in supporting diversity is at an all-time high, there’s room for them to become blockbusters too, and for different voices to dominate a once weary genre.

There’s A Desire For Escapism and Predictability

Audiences also aren’t taking a huge risk when they buy a ticket for a rom-com because the formula is still there nine times out of ten. It’s comforting to walk into a movie knowing full well there will probably be some feel-good happy ending and everything will wrap up nice and tightly in a bow.

In a time when something like Avengers: Infinity War shocked audiences, the horror genre is remerging, dramas are combatting the intense issues and emotions of the day, and keeping up with cinematic universes sometimes asks a lot from fans to follow along, the romantic comedy is a comfy place for moviegoers to go again. It’s a different type of escapism that is fun, potentially relatable and made for repeated viewings if done right.

So what do you think? Are you excited to see more rom-coms in the near future? Sound off in the comments below.

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Bohemian Rhapsody’s Rami Malek Says Playing Freddie Mercury Was The Hardest Job Of His Life

The film world is currently in the midst of Awards Season, with critical favorites from the last calendar year earning nominations and wins at a variety of ceremonies. With the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and BAFTAs now in the rear view, the time has come to look toward the holy grail: The Academy Awards. Plenty of filmmakers and actors are looking to snag a trophy in a few weeks, with certain performances being the clear frontrunners.

One of these frontrunners is Rami Malek’s role as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the hit biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Malek brought the physicality, teeth, and voice of Mercury to the silver screen, in a performance supported by Queen’s band members. The Mr. Robot actor might have made the performance look effortless, but he recently revealed it was the hardest job in his career, saying:

Rami Malek had big shoes to fill in Bohemian Rhapsody, as the 37 year-old actor had to immerse himself in the role and truly become Freddie Mercury. And considering that Queen has generations of fans, the pressure was on to deliver a performance that wouldn’t spark outrage among that mass of moviegoers.

Luckily for him, Rami Malek’s performance has been universally acclaimed. While Bohemian Rhapsody suffered from lackluster reviews, Malek’s characterization still got nods from even the harshest critics. And in the end, audiences didn’t find as many issues with Bryan Singer’s biopic. Bohemian Rhapsody has since made a ton of money, helping to make Rami Malek a household name for more casual film fans who haven’t caught him in USA’s Mr. Robot.

In his same conversation with Express.Co, Rami Malek also expressed the flip side to his massively difficult role. Aside from garnering a ton of trophies and nominations for playing Freddie Mercury, Malek is happy that Bohemian Rhapsody is introducing Queen’s catalogue to a new generation of fans. As he tells it,

Rami Malek might have had a difficult time playing Freddie Mercury and dealing with the pressure of leading Bohemian Rhapsody, but it seems his efforts are paying off. Queen’s music is once again at the top of the charts, while Malek is the frontrunner to pick up a Best Actor Oscar in a few weeks. We’ll just have to see how it all turns out.

Bohemian Rhapsody is available for home purchase now, and you can see how Rami Malek fare at the Oscars February 24th on ABC. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Brie Larson And Marvel Didn’t Want Captain Marvel To Wear The Bathing Suit Costume

Comic book fans can be mighty particular about costumes being comic-accurate. Captain Marvel will be showcasing some familiar looks for Brie Larson’s character, Carol Danvers, just not the one-piece from Ms. Marvel’s early years. Here’s Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige with more on that:

That’s not quite the direction they’re taking the MCU’s Captain Marvel movie. That comic book version of Carol Danvers looks more like a WWE wrestler. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not the direction this movie is taking.

Carol Danvers was first introduced in the comics in 1968 as a colleague of the Kree superhero Mar-Vell. In the 1970s, she became the first character to take up the mantle of Ms. Marvel.

Just the use of “Ms.” made Carol Danvers stand out as a symbol of feminism at the time, rather than using Mrs. or Miss.

Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel movie is taking inspiration from the comics written by Kelly Sue DeConnick in 2012, with artwork by Dexter Soy. In that series, DeConnick’s idea for Captain Marvel was basically “Carol Danvers as Chuck Yeager,” referencing the iconic test pilot.

Brie Larson took her Captain Marvel training very seriously, and she built up some muscles under her superhero costume. But, thankfully, she didn’t have to show off those muscles in a one-piece. Her status as an Air Force pilot has definitely been featured in the trailers, and the movie even renamed her comic book cat “Goose” in honor of Top Gun. (The cat’s name is Chewie in the comics, as a nod to Star Wars‘ Chewbacca. No idea why they couldn’t have just kept that the case on screen.)

Captain Marvel will apparently be showcasing multiple looks for Carol Danvers, and also giving us the backstory of Nick Fury’s later one-eyed look. The ’90s-set film will introduce the heroine before bringing her into the Avengers fold for Endgame.

Happy Death Day 2U: What CinemaBlend Thought Of The New Sequel

It’s only been a little over a year since Happy Death Day hit theaters and Blumhouse Productions already has a sequel not only in the works, but shot, packaged and hitting theaters just in time for Valentine’s Day. This time around, the sequel has a more specific premise and goes in a totally different direction tonally than the first film.

Look, in particular Happy Death Day 2U is a sequel to Happy Death Day, but it’s probably not the movie you think it is, especially if you’ve seen the trailers. Both Jason Blum and director Christopher Landon have spoken out prior to the release of the film about how “bonkers” the movie is, and it’s no surprise to me that mileage might vary with the movie (as plenty of critical reactions have shown.)

Over at CinemaBlend, it’s been no exception. Some of us think Happy Death Day 2U is the bee’s knees, some of us didn’t really get it and some of us liked it well enough but appreciated it trying hard to do something different. This is exactly the sort of movie that makes a roundup like this valuable. It can be really difficult to see a star rating for a movie like Happy Death Day 2U and know whether or not it will be worth your time. So, especially if you are on the fence about shelling out money to see this one on a very big screen, check out what we had to say about the new release.

First up is Mike Reyes, who wrote the official – and might I add glowing – review for Happy Death Day 2U. He said:

Happy Death Day was a novel original feature the did the groundwork for something truly exciting in Happy Death Day 2U. With a cast that’s as game as Christopher Landon’s script and direction are to really bring out the bonkers, all involved have not only stepped up their game with the sequel, they’ve set a pretty high bar to clear for any potential follow-ups. The movie is fun with a capital “F-U,” as it plays with your expectations to not only get a bigger reaction than the first film, but to show off the full extent of the premise’s possibilities. This is a movie you need to see with an audience, simply because the reactions are as golden as what happens on screen.

If you want more glowing recommendations, look no further than our own Eric Eisenberg, who has plenty to say about the movie and how it compares as a follow-up to 2017’s Happy Death Day. Per Eric:

In a year that was already peppered with fantastic horror movies, Happy Death Day was a real surprise when it was released in 2017, and it’s a wonderful thing that writer/director Christopher Landon has had the opportunity to explore his vision for a sequel. Happy Death Day 2U is most definitely a change-up that fans should be prepared for – with a genre switch that makes the material more sci-fi and comedy heavy than a Groundhog Day-type slasher story – but it’s a worthy follow-up that’s impressively clever, super funny, and has legitimate heart.

Then there’s the slightly less enthusiastic take on Happy Death Day 2U from our own Mack Rawden, who nonetheless still feels like he was able to engage with and stay involved in the wild things happening on the screen in front of him.

Happy Death Day 2U is a weird movie that only gets weirder as it moves along. I’m still not entirely sure if it’s a horror movie or a comedy or a dramedy about a science experiment or all of the above, but you certainly won’t see anything else like it this year. I’m not entirely sure I would say I had a great time, but I remained interested, which is more than I can say for a healthy percentage of movies. So, if you like the unusual, go for it. If you’re looking for a paint-by-numbers horror movie, this certainly isn’t it.

Cody Beck said he was also a little bit confused about how this movie ended up panning out as a story, but he had a fun enough time and was at least happy he checked the final product out. Plus, he hopes it makes enough money to continue the franchise into a third movie sometime down the line, which is something Christopher Landon has already expressed interest in doing and has ideas about.

Happy Death Day 2U is a bloody fun sequel, but the leap from horror to sci-fi leaves a little to be desired. Compared to the first film, many of the slasher-film elements that made me love Happy Death Day are put on the backburner in lieu of adding too much exposition. I’d still recommend checking it out and really hope that Landon is able to wrap up his trilogy.

Personally, I think the movie is neither as funny nor as scary as the first movie, but still earns a merit badge for being unlike any other movie I will likely see this year. Or as I put it…

This movie is utterly and completely bonkers. You won’t see anything like it elsewhere this year and you also probably won’t see a sequel that tries for something quite so different from the original movie elsewhere either. Despite a few scenes that miss for me, I love how Happy Death Day 2U doesn’t fall into the usual sequel trap. See it and judge for yourself.

I may be biased, but if you take anything from CinemaBlend’s roundup, it should be the “see it and judge for yourself” part. You can catch Happy Death Day 2U in theaters starting today and all through this Valentine’s Day weekend. I’d say it’s counter programming to Isn’t It Romantic, but we all know that was also created as cheeky comedy counter programming to the usual Valentine’s Day rom-com releases. We’ll get in a time loop if we keep talking about this, so just look over the movie schedule to see what’s out.

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Cinematographers Aren’t Happy About The Oscars Bumping Their Category To The Commercial Break

In the months leading to the 91st Academy Awards, the show has certainly had its share of controversial discourse, as the producers have attempted to make some changes after last year’s viewership all-time low. The Academy’s latest decision was to present four categories during the commercial breaks, leaving them out of the initial telecast.

The categories being moved from the live broadcast this year are Best Cinematography, Film Editing, Makeup And Hairstyling and Live-Action Short. This decision has outraged members of the filmmaking community, namely from American Society of Cinematographers President Kees Van Oostrum, who notified his almost 400 members with these words, in part:

Since Academy president John Bailey is a member of the ASC he also received the letter and responded by clarifying that the show is “still honoring” each of the categories and the categories cut from the broadcast will be rotated every year. The Academy is also still filming the acceptance speeches of the winners of these categories, but they will not be aired until later in the broadcast.

According to sources to The Hollywood Reporter, the ASC volunteered to be presented during commercial breaks, though it doesn’t seem to reflect the thoughts expressed in President Kees Van Oostrum’s letter. He did however express to THR his understanding that the Academy president is being pressured by the network to shorten the show and likely didn’t have a choice.

Roma director Alfonso Cuarón, who is also nominated in the Best Cinematography category for his work on the highly-acclaimed Netflix film recently took to Twitter to give his thoughts. Take a look:

He brings up a valid point, if the Oscars celebrate the art of filmmaking, cinematography and film editing is one of the most vital elements of putting together a film. The Academy’s decision sends an awkward message to some nominees, even if they feel it’s necessary to keep viewership up.

Some have pointed out that the four categories left out of the broadcast are the few technical categories that don’t include Disney films. Since the Oscars is televised on ABC, which is owned by Disney, it makes looks like the categories were emitted to meet Disney’s best interests should Black Panther, Mary Poppins Returns, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Avengers: Infinity War, Christopher Robin, Solo: A Star Wars Story or animated short Bao take home the golden trophy. Of course, this could simply be a coincidence.

Marvel Studios is hoping for a win out of Black Panther’s seven nominations or by Infinity War’s Visual Effects nomination and with those chances, it will nab one or two. To delay some of the most pivotal filmmaking awards to take all the glory during the broadcast certainly doesn’t seem fair.

The move is part of the Academy’s attempt to keep the show at three hours, following complaints about the length of the show. We’ll have to see (or not see?) come Oscars night on Sunday February 24.

Five Feet Apart Trailer Looks Like A Real Tear-Jerker

There are fewer more potent combinations guaranteed to induce waterworks than when young love is mixed with life-threatening illnesses. If that’s what you need to let the tears flow freely, it’s been a while since A Walk to Remember or The Fault in Our Stars and your reservoir is probably backed up. Fear not, Five Feet Apart has you covered because the trailer for the romance looks like a real tearjerker. Check it out:

So, these two are totally doomed right? This trailer is playing on your emotions hard, showing the desperate situation Stella and Will are in with their cystic fibrosis and the restrictions of their disease. But it also features the sparks flying between them would make them want to risk their very lives just to be closer to one another.

Judging by the trailer, the chemistry between the two leads is palpable, Riverdale‘s Cole Sprouse as the defeatist rulebreaker and The Edge of Seventeen‘s Haley Lu Richardson as the eternal optimist, determined to do everything right and trying to help others along the way. This chemistry is crucial to audiences investing in their romance, and connecting with Five Feet Apart in the way that they did for something like The Fault in Our Stars– which was hugely successful.

As the trailer goes on we see that Stella pulls Will out of his malaise and gives him a reason to fight and to live, while he causes her to bend her own rules in a desire to gain some agency in her life. It looks like an incredibly sweet and uplifting story that will probably see audiences shed a few happy tears before what I imagine will be a tragic ending.

Five Feet Apart is the narrative feature debut for director Justin Baldoni who is also an actor on Jane the Virgin. The film is written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis. That writing duo has another film hitting theaters this year, one from the opposite end of the genre spectrum, the terrifying looking horror film The Curse of La Llorona.

Unlike The Fault in Our Stars, which was based on John Green’s book, Five Feet Apart was developed simultaneously as a YA novel according to Publishers Weekly. Rachael Lippincott adapted Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis’ screenplay into the novel, which landed on the New York Times bestseller list. So if you want to prepare your tear ducts by reading the book first, it is available.

Five Feet Apart arrives in theaters on March 15. I don’t imagine tissues are included with the price of admission so plan accordingly. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to see all of the movies you can look forward to this year and stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest trailers and movie news.

Batman And The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Are Getting A Crossover Movie

Comic book crossovers are a frequent occurrence, though most of the time they happen with characters owned by just one company. But every now and then, two companies will join forces to have two separately-owned properties interact with one another. DC Comics and IDW Publishing have already done this several times with Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and today it’s been announced that the Caped Crusader and the Heroes in a Half Shell will now join forces in a cinematic setting as well.

Based on the first Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book crossover that was written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Freddie William II, this Warner Bros Animation direct-to-video movie, titled Batman vs. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is a co-production between DC Entertainment and Nickelodeon, and will be released on 4K, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD this spring. Batman will cross paths with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles through a “transdimensional encounter,” and the anthropomorphic amphibians will subsequently team up with the Dark Knight to fight his colorful rogues gallery.

As reported by SYFY WIRE, Batman vs. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will feature Troy Baker voicing both Batman and The Joker. Baker has previously voiced those characters in separate projects, but this will be the first time that any actor has voiced the arch-nemeses in the same project. The cast also includes The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story’s Darren Criss as Raphael, Saturday Night Live’s Kyle Mooney as Michelangelo, Grace and Frankie’s Baron Vaughn as Donatello, Eric Bauza (who voices Splinter on the Nickelodeon series Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) as Leonardo, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom as Batgirl, Spongebob Squarepants’ Tom Kenny as The Penguin, Adventure Time’s John DiMaggio as Mr. Freeze, The Powerpuff Girls’ Tara Strong as Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, Reno 911!’s Carlos Alazraqui as Bane and The Expanse’s Cas Anvar as Ra’s al Ghul. Robin will also appear, as shown by the first official still from the movie, but it wasn’t revealed who will voice him.

Considering that this movie is based off the first time that Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles met on the printed page, noticeably absent from this lineup of characters is the Turtles’ greatest foe, The Shredder. In the original storyline, Shredder and his Foot Clan were transported with the Turtles to Gotham City, and Shredder subsequently formed an alliance with Ra’s al Ghul. Either this movie is keeping Shredder’s role a secret or this will be more of a loose adaptation that doesn’t include him. If it’s the latter, perhaps he could be saved for a sequel where Batman is the one transported to the Turtles’ universe and has to fight an assortment of their enemies, including Shredder.

After Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles first crossed over in 2015, these versions of the characters reunited in 2017, where Bane traveled to the Turtles’ universe and seized control of the Foot Clan. That story could also be used as the story for a Batman vs. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel, especially since we’re meeting Bane in the first movie. There was also a crossover that was published between late 2016 and early 2017, although that was a separate ‘first encounter’ event between the Batman from the DC Animated Universe continuity and the Ninja Turtles from the world of the 2012 CGI animated series. In any case, this animated movie marks the next logical step for an odd, yet fun superhero alliance that’s less than half a decade old.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for all the biggest updates concerning Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, whether they’re together or off on separate adventures. If you want to learn what movies are heading to the big screen this year, look through our 2019 release schedule.

The Black Widow Movie Just Added Some Star Wars Talent

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in a fascinating place right now, as Phase Three comes to a close with Avengers: Endgame. With only two blockbusters left in the current slate of movies, plenty of moviegoers are looking to the unclear future of Marvel. Unfortunately, very little is known about the franchise in Phase Four, except for Spider-Man: Far From Home and the still developing Black Widow movie. Luckily, the latter seems to be moving forward well.

Scarlett Johansson’s signature Marvel character will finally take the spotlight in her own movie, with a team coming together for the developing project. Cate Shorltand has been tapped to direct the upcoming blockbuster, with an official director and producing team also assembled to craft the Black Widow movie. Now Star Wars: Episode IX art director Jim Barr has been revealed to be doing the same job for Black Widow.

This latest report comes to us from HN Entertainment, and shows that Marvel Studios is really working to get Black Widow‘s team together for the upcoming solo movie. While its setting and plot are still a mystery to the general public, every new crew announcement proves that the highly anticipated solo flick is truly coming together, and is poised to become a reality. The question is: when?

Jim Barr is just the latest crew member that has signed onto the Black Widow movie, with the Art Director’s job helping the movie’s visuals make their way to the silver screen. He’ll be joining Lore director Cate Shortland, who is helming the project written by Jac Schaeffer (Captain Marvel). This trio will make up the backbone of the upcoming blockbuster, and finally give Black Widow the solo adventure she deserves.

Aside from his work as the Art Director for Episode IX, Jim Barr has a variety of credits within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He was actually the art director Avengers: Infinity War, helping to bring the massive ensemble project to theaters. He also worked on Doctor Strange, which is just as challenging in regards to the ambitious scope and visuals of the trippy blockbuster.

By comparison, the Black Widow movie might be far less challenging for Jim Barr. Natasha Romanoff doesn’t have superpowers, and her solo movie might give Marvel Studios the opportunity to pull back after CGI-heavy projects like Infinity War and Captain Marvel. While the public has no semblance of what Black Widow will be about, Phase Three has proven that ambitious and original new installments really resonate with audiences. Just look at the massive success of Black Panther, which has even earned a handful of Oscar nominations since its release.

The mystery of Black Widow‘s contents will likely continue for some time, at the very least until Avengers: Endgame finally hits theaters. Marvel hasn’t reveled its plans for Phase Four, and it looks like Natasha will have a major presence in the upcoming blockbuster. Let’s just hope she makes it out alive.

Black Widow will return to the MCU when Avengers: Endgame arrives in April 26th. In the meantime, be sure to check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.