Highlight from Indy PopCon 2018: Chester Rushing Panel

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Panels are a big reason why many attend conventions. However, circumstances can prevent a planned panel from happening. When things change, sometimes panelists decide to cancel. Chester Rushing is not such a person.

Chester Rushing came out on stage alone. No other actor. No moderator. Just him and us. And he was delightful.

During the panel, we learned that Rushing is a fan of a lot of the media con goers are too – video games, genre film and TV, anime (such as Fairy Tail and Blue Exorcist), and any Studio Ghibli film (Howl’s Moving Castle is one of his all-time favorites). He got personal as well, discussing growing up in Texas as a theater kid and the backlash he faced because he wasn’t into football, which is basically a religion in the Lone Star state.

Acting is a difficult occupation to pursue; jobs are not guaranteed to come at a regular pace, even if you have an agent, so Rushing, like many other actors, had to work non-acting jobs to pay the bills. While working at a Mexican restaurant attached to a gas station, he sent in an audition for a Netflix show. A few weeks later, he got a call. He didn’t land that job; instead, he got an opportunity to audition for another show – as long as he could make his own way to Atlanta. Rushing went. When he came back after three days, his job at the Mexican restaurant was gone. The former employer called about a week later for him to get his last check, which was one dollar. He drove back home, and that was the day they called him for Stranger Things.

Season three of the show has started filming, but he obviously couldn’t talk about it. Rushing shared his appreciation about how every detail is important in the creation of Stranger Things. The costumes, props, and set pieces are beautiful and well-made, even the Upside Down is an actual set. “You actually feel like you’re in a world. No matter where you go on that set, it literally [feels] like you [are] in a living, breathing world.”

Chester Rushing

Chester Rushing

An audience member asked if working on a Netflix project was different than on a typical TV show. Rushing answered, “Whenever I do a network show, you really shoot one episode a week. Stranger Things, they do an episode a month. So, I’m there shooting like a long movie. It’s insane. Netflix, I feel like, or Hulu, my new show’s on Hulu, they give you a little more freedom. Not only as from the writing, directing, creating standpoint, which I knew the Duffers were excited about, but as an artist and as an actor as well. Because you want to be able to experiment and sometimes go a little bit out of it more.”

Another asked if he was nervous working on Stranger Things. “No, I was excited. I was really nervous in the fact that it was something so big that I really wanted to work on it. I wanted to do a good job because this was the first time in my life where I knew I was going to be seen on a world stage with people that I had looked up to my whole life. It was that wanting to do good in my craft.”

I asked him if he liked that people don’t like his character or if he was hurt by it. “I think the fact that people hated my guts means I did a pretty great job. That was my job. My job was to be a bully, my job was to be that kind of guy because, in real life, there are those people. And playing those people, I think those characters are as important in the story, in my opinion, as Eleven. You have to have something to fight against. Question is – would Steve have learned to be good if it wasn’t for my example of being horrible? Cause he was my best friend for like years and years; Tommy was his best friend. And he did everything he did until all of a sudden it wasn’t cool anymore. I like the fact that people hate my guts.” After describing how many people come up to him to tell him that he makes a great douchebag, Rushing concluded, “My hope is that somebody watches this show and sees Tommy and goes, ‘I don’t want to be that. I do not want that. Ever.’ That’s my hope because he’s a bully and that’s against everything I believe.”

Chester Rushing enjoys meeting people at conventions and hearing what they think of his work. What I appreciate the most is his infectious joy. He radiates positivity and believes we can improve ourselves and the world around us. The next day, I went to his booth. I was surprised he remembered me; in fact, he hugged me. I told him how much I respected his behavior during the panel and thanked him for not cancelling and for not “phoning it in.” If he keeps this kindness in his heart, he will definitely be one to watch.

If you need a fix of Chester Rushing before season three of Stranger Things, then log into Hulu and watch All Night. The 10-episode teen comedy is about a group of graduates attending a party that lasts all night. Rushing portrays Cody, a guy who uses one event in his past as an excuse for his current situation. The series has a modern John Hughes-esque vibe that explores themes of repressed anger, power balances in relationships, loss of structured daily life, and revelations of the heart.

You can keep up to date on all of his projects, including his music, by visiting his website – https://www.chesterrushing.net/

Michelle Ealey gets a hug from Chester Rushing

Michelle Ealey gets a hug from Chester Rushing


Highlight from Indy PopCon 2018: Cosplay!

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A convention is a convention with or without cosplay, but cosplay makes things a lot more fun! While I was walking around Indy PopCon, which was June 8th – 10th, I politely asked cosplayers if I could take their picture (this is proper convention etiquette), and many let me. Here are some of my favorites.

 

This is the first time I have seen One Punch Man cosplay!

One Punch Man Cosplay

 

Mary Poppins looking very delightful.

Mary Poppins Cosplay

 

Just a flesh wound! King Arthur and the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

King Arthur and the Black Knight cosplay

 

Lucille says hello. Negan from The Walking Dead.

Negan

 

I admire the attention to detail in their Game of Thrones outfits.

Game of Thrones cosplay

 

Many video games were represented, such as Bloodborne

Bloodborne cosplay

 

 

Krieg the Psycho and Tiny Tina from BorderlandsKrieg the Psycho and Tiny Tina cosplay

 

Princess Zelda from Breath of the Wild

Princess Zelda cosplay

 

Princess Peach and Bowser getting married. Where’s Mario?

Princess Peach and Bowser cosplay

 

Here’s Mario! And he’s with Waluigi.

Mario and Walugi cosplay

 

Of course, there were many from comics.

Wonder Woman!

Wonder Woman cosplay

 

SHAZAM!

Shazaam cosplay

 

The Summers family and a Sentinel

The Summers family and a Sentinel Marvel cosplay

 

Carnage Gwen Stacey

Carnage Gwen Stacey cosplay

 

Hela and Loki

Hela and Loki cosplay

 

Captain America and a USO girl

Captain America and a USO girl cosplay

 

Mantis

Mantis cosplay

 

Star-Lord – before The Snap

Star-Lord  cosplay

 

I have to admit the following is the best Star Wars cosplay I’ve seen at any convention.

Who knew a Stormtrooper and Jawa could be friends?

Stormtrooper and Jawa cosplay

 

An Imperial TIE pilot

Imperial TIE pilot cosplay

 

A cold weather assault Stormtrooper

A cold weather assault Stormtrooper cosplay

 

Bounty Hunters in Mandalorian armor

Bounty Hunters in Mandalorian armor cosplay

 

It’s a trap!

Admiral Ackbar and Rebel pilot cosplay

 

That’s not how the Force works, Finn.

Finn and Jedi cosplay

 

Count Dooku

Count Dooku cosplay

 

Darth Vader

Darth Vader cosplay

 

I was going to end with Lord Vader, but I couldn’t. Not when I saw him:

Pickle Rick cosplay

It’s Pickle Riiiiick!!!!!!!

 

Always ask a cosplayer permission before taking their picture. If they said yes to the person next to you, you still don’t have permission to take their picture. After the other person has taken their picture, ask nicely if you can take their picture too. Remember, cosplay is not consent. These tips will make the con fun for you and everyone else.

Thank you to everyone who let me take their picture at Indy PopCon!

 


Star Wars: A Journey Through the New Canon – Part 9: Solo: A Star Wars Story

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A long time ago, a girl’s parents took her to see a science fiction film called Star Wars. On that day, she fell in love with all things Star Wars, even the extended universe that began with Timothy Zahn’s 1991 book, Heir to the Empire. But in 2012, Disney purchased Star Wars and proceeded to erase the majority of the extended universe she had come to know. With much of her Star Wars knowledge no longer applicable, she begins a journey through the new canon. Her goal – to travel the path of the new canon, experiencing as much of the new material in story order as best as she possibly can.

Warning: Spoilers

Yes, it has been almost a year since the last installment. What happened? Life. Let’s just say I pulled a Luke Skywalker and retreated to my personal Ahch-To.

Who knew a flyboy and a Wookie would pull me back in?

I didn’t.

When the project was announced, the collective Star Wars fandom did an epic eyeroll followed by a whiney, “Why? Why would anyone want to replace Harrison Ford? We have our Han, we don’t need another.”

I must admit that I was skeptical. Actually, I was more in the “Why Han when there are more interesting and non-white male characters money could be thrown at and, hey, if we’re getting this, then can we get Underworld and/or 1313?” camp.

Did we need Solo? No. Am I glad we got Solo? Yes.

One of the internet’s favorite activities is fantasy casting, and Donald Glover has a vocal fanbase. People lobbied for him to be the next Spider-Man (remember #Donald4Spiderman?), and when the whispers of Lando Calrissian possibly appearing in any cinematic form started, the internet screamed, “WE WANT DONALD GLOVER. DON’T YOU DARE CAST ANYONE BUT DONALD GLOVER!”

And when Glover was cast, there was much rejoicing.

Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. Perfect casting.

For Han, the man chosen could not live up to the majority of the fandom’s expectations. Many of us grew up with Star Wars, myself included, and many of us are guilty of clinging to our visions of what the Star Wars universe should be. I had to wait years between films, and now we are swimming in a deep pool of content, with more on the way.

Our response? Complain. And we need to stop. We need to judge each new arrival on its own merit.

Alden Ehrenreich is not replacing Harrison Ford. There have been different versions of Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and Spider-Man. We must accept that those in charge of Star Wars want to tell stories from all parts of the timeline. Solo: A Star Wars Story, written by Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan, is the origin tale of our favorite stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder; someone was going to portray him, and Ehrenreich does a fine job.

Ehrenreich’s performance shows that Han has always been a quick thinker. In the scene with Lady Proxima (voiced by Linda Hunt), the smirk and bravado are a distraction from what Han’s doing – scanning his environment and scheming a way out. If anyone notices Han’s wheels turning, they would be prepared. Lady Proxima assumes Han bluffs about having a thermal detonator, and she’s right; the detonator is a rock Has uses to break a window, causing the light to harm Lady Proxima, creating the opportunity for Han to escape. Noticing Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his crew pretending to be Imperial troops, the crack in the post that allows him to escape with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), and the card up Lando’s sleeve prove Han sees the details, a skill necessary to survive in a galaxy besieged by tyranny, corruption, and greed.

At first, I was disappointed that Ehrenreich’s Han lacked the suave swagger of Ford’s Han, but the escape from Lady Proxima with Qi’ra (Emilia Clark) revealed that young Han was a romantic dreamer, a quality I didn’t think Han ever had. Young Han is similar to young Luke Skywalker; both dream of flying away and seeing the wonders of the galaxy. Instead of whiney like young Skywalker, Han constantly seeks opportunity. Ehrenreich’s Han cannot hide his obvious joy as he runs from one failed expectation to another. Young Han’s confidence and swagger are not genuine because it can’t be; he’s a “fake it till you make it” type, and he hasn’t made it until he has a best friend, Chewbacca, and a ship, the Millennium Falcon.

Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) take command of the Millennium Falcon.

Another knock against Solo: A Star Wars Story was the director drama. The first directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, were fired and replaced by Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard. Yes, Howard is talented, but many wondered if the man behind A Beautiful Mind and all of those Da Vinci Code movies could deliver a coherent Star Wars film in less than a year. He did. If you are surprised by how well he did the action, you need to remember that Ron Howard directed Rush, the 2013 film based on the rivalry between Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, Far and Away, the 1992 film with the huge land rush scene with numerous horses, and Backdraft, the 1991 film with lots and lots of fire.

All of Howard’s skills are best displayed when the film lands on Kessel. Character and action combine during the entire sequence. L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge) wants equal rights for all droids, so she removes restraining bolts, inadvertently causing a rebellion. Qi’ra kills Quay Tolsite (Dee Tails) using a technique she learned from Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), making what she does to Vos later a natural development in her arc. Lando sits in the Falcon until the fight matters to him when L3-37 is in danger. In the middle of the combat, Han’s true nature is revealed. Chewbacca and Han are in charge of obtaining the coaxium, but Chewbacca sees other Wookies being harmed. Acting like Beckett, he tells Chewbacca to follow the plan; Chewbacca resists, and Han realizes who he is – he can’t deny Chewbacca the chance to help. Also, Han doesn’t demand or expect Chewbacca to stay with him. The mission to Kessel shows us that Han has a code and knows what it means to be loyal.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a fast-paced and fun film. The train mission is a bit too long, but afterwards, the film hits its stride. I could watch Glover’s Lando play sabacc and explain the significance of his capes for hours. Ehrenreich did the impossible; he gave us a Han full of romanticism and joy, and his performance makes me wonder what happened to Han during the time between Solo and A New Hope. Han and Chewbacca have great chemistry. If there’s a sequel and it’s just them gallivanting across the galaxy outfoxing the Empire, I’d be happy.

All I’m asking you to do is take a deep breath, relax, take off the jaded glasses, and watch the film. Solo deserves a chance. Give it one.


Indy PopCon 2018 is Just Around the Corner!

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Indy PopCon is not a typical geeky convention. Instead of focusing on one area of geekdom, the event celebrates a wide range of interests: gaming, streaming, comics, cosplay, and celebrities. PopCon celebrates its 5th anniversary this year and takes place June 8th – 10th at the Indianapolis Convention Center.

In a statement from the press release, Carl Doninger, president of Indy PopCon said, “At its core, Indy PopCon is a celebration of Indianapolis and everything our great city has to offer. Unlike other conventions that visit Indianapolis, PopCon originated right here in our city, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to host the event for the fifth year in a row. Indy PopCon prides itself on being open and accepting of everyone, which is why we focus on a variety of different fandoms. There truly is something for everyone at PopCon.”

The list of guests backs up Doninger’s claim. Guests scheduled to appear are personalities from YouTube and Twitch such as Frost Prime and Girbeagly, WWE stars Kevin Nash and Lisa Marie Varon, professional cosplayers Mogchelle and Vraskaa Cosplay, Overwatch voice actors Lucie Pohl (Mercy) and Carolina Ravassa (Sombra), and a variety of artists including Chrissie Zullo, Christopher Uminga, Sara Richard, and the legendary Jim Steranko.

Want bigger names? Well, PopCon has several this year: Kristian Nairn and Isaac Hempstead Wright from HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones, LeVar Burton from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Reading Rainbow, Wil Wheaton from Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Big Bang Theory, Pom Klementieff from Avengers: Infinity War and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Elizabeth Henstridge from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Tara Reid from American Pie and Sharknado.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://indypopcon.com/

For a taste of Indy PopCon, you can read my coverage from 2017:

HIGHLIGHT FROM INDY POP CON 2017: STAR WARS CELEBRATION PANEL

HIGHLIGHT FROM INDY POP CON 2017: MATT RYAN PANEL

HIGHLIGHT FROM INDY POP CON 2017: COSPLAY CHAMPIONSHIPS


Highlight from Indy Pop Con 2017: Star Wars Celebration Panel

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The Indy Pop Con, July 7 – 9, hosted many different entertainment guests, and one of the biggest panels was the Star Wars Celebration Panel. Garrett Wang (Ensign Henry Kim, Star Trek: Voyager) moderated the panel, and he told the audience when he first saw Star Wars at the age of eight he “fell in love immediately with sci-fi because of Star Wars, which started [his] life-long career as a big nerd.” The panel included Roy Thomas, comic writer who helped bring the Star Wars franchise to Marvel; Timothy Zahn, author and creator of Thrawn; and Greg Grunberg, who played Snap Wexley in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The panel was fan-focused, so questions came from the audience. For obvious reasons, Greg couldn’t comment on future Star Wars projects.

As someone who has been a character in the influential franchise, Greg was asked many questions. The first film had a huge impact on his childhood. He saw the film with his good friend J.J., as in J.J. Abrams, director of small films such as Super 8, Star Trek, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. About Star Wars he said, “It was the first movie that I saw as a kid where it changed everything for me; up until this point I hadn’t really left a movie and talked about the characters and talked about the world, and just felt so immersed in something so different and it got me and it locked me in as it did a lot of people.”

Of course, Greg was beyond ecstatic when he was cast in The Force Awakens. Security was tight, but, feeling emboldened by being besties with the director, he secretly snapped photos of the Millennium Falcon with his cell phone. “I geek out about that stuff just as much as anybody else.”

Greg Grunberg

Greg was enamored and excited to work with the legendary Carrie Fisher, and he feels honored and lucky to have worked with a professional who was full of energy and life. He told a wonderful story about working with her. “One of the first things that I shot was I was off camera, Carrie’s there, and she’s kinda berating Snap Wexley, so she’s like, ‘C’mon, Snap, pay attention,’ blah, blah, this whole thing, and then you cut to me, and I kinda roll my eyes and follow her. And I think they cut it out, I know they cut it out, it’s on the DVD I think. Anyway, so the camera’s here [puts a hand by his face], so I’m right next to the matte box, and she’s doing her side. And she does it, and I’m just trying to get my stuff right, and I’m so excited to be working with her. I’d met her, but it was just very briefly. She says her lines, and then she was just supposed to cross right to me; she says her lines and then she crosses right at me, wraps her arms around me, and grabs my butt.” Afterwards, J.J. walked up to Greg and whispered, “Welcome to Star Wars.”

Roy had the best story about seeing Star Wars for the first time. He saw a rough cut in George Lucas’s editing room. It was two or three months before release, and the film had no special effects. World War II footage was in place of TIE fighters. When people fired ray guns, there were arrows, and James Earl Jones had not recorded his lines. “It was just David Prowse with a heavy Scottish accent and speaking through a helmet. I could not understand a single word he said.”

Timothy was asked many questions about Thrawn, and he revealed that the name is Scottish for “twisted”. He went in knowing that every word belonged to Lucasfilm once it was written, but he was never forced to include certain characters, places, or events. During the process, he submitted outlines and received notes, slowly melding his world with the existing Star Wars universe. He said it is “extremely cool” to see his creations, such as Thrawn and Coruscant, used in other works, but he has no input with how they are used and isn’t told when they are used; when they do appear, there’s no extra money, just bragging rights.

Timothy Zahn

When asked about Thrawn being canon again, he replied, “It is beyond awesome, it is wonderful, it is exciting. The only downside was that we found out Thrawn was going to be in Rebels eight months before it was announced, and we had to tap dance madly around questions for eight months.” He was required to keep things under wraps because Lucasfilm’s non-disclosure agreements are strong; he even joked that the company might take a kidney if he broke the NDA.

A fan asked the panel what their favorite thing about Star Wars was.

“My favorite thing is the family dynamic,” Greg said. “For me, it doesn’t matter what you’re watching as long as the characters are engaging and identifiable, and you want to spend time with them. This more than anything else has just gripped me like nothing else and so for me, that’s what I gravitate towards, and I think most people do. Who’s related to who? And of all that. Look at the world that they created and yet we’re asking such a simple question. The characters, how beautiful they’re portrayed and written and crafted.”

“I think what George really hit with me was the lived-in look of the universe. Everything is a little scruffy, worn down, comes apart, maybe goes back together, maybe it doesn’t go back together correctly. It was just a far cry from my earlier science fiction standard Star Trek where everything was right out of the box and nothing is right out of the box in Star Wars,” Timothy said.

Roy answered, “Star Wars made a different kind of movie possible that really hadn’t been possible before, which led very quickly to Superman, and the superhero movies starting in the last decade or two, to the Marvel movies, so I’m really happy to have that universe and that bunch of movies to go to and, since Marvel does pay residuals, making my old age a lot happier.”

Roy Thomas

On the topic of Roy’s time at Marvel, he discussed being a part of one of the first spin-off properties. In the beginning, he was frustrated because his ideas for doing a story with Luke and Leia, or Darth Vader, or the Clone Wars were off the table. His favorite characters are Han Solo and Chewbacca because they remind him of the old space opera characters and pulp stories he used to like, and, eventually, a Seven Samurai style story with them was approved. However, not all aspects of the story succeeded. “I became the first person to offend George,” Roy said. According to Roy, George Lucas did not like Jaxxon, the tall, Bugs Bunny looking guy in a space suit. “The word came down George did not like the rabbit, and he was to never appear again in the comics. They tried to use him once again in the comics later, but the word came down, ‘no.’”

Many were disappointed when Disney decided to wipe the majority of the extended universe aside. When Star Wars started to expand into other media, Roy asked George how the inevitable inconsistencies and plot holes were going to be dealt with. Even back then, George had a plan and told Roy, “My feeling is this – the movies are gospel, everything else is gossip.”

After the panel, I looked up Jaxxon, and he seems like a fun character and a lot more interesting than Jar Jar Binks. In honor of the piece of gossip created by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin, I’ll leave you with this so-called offensive image:


Highlight from Indy Pop Con 2017: Matt Ryan Panel

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The Indy Pop Con, July 7 – 9, hosted many different entertainment guests, including the star of Constantine, Matt Ryan. During his panel, he discussed early roles, working on a video game, and returning to Constantine.

When an actor starts their career, the parts available may not be stellar. The moderator started the panel with questions about Blood Monkey. From his reaction, we can tell he doesn’t consider the 2007 film to be quality cinema. Matt remembers he thought it would be an amazing experience because he would be working with Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus), but the cast ended up running around a jungle in Thailand chasing a monkey that wasn’t there. “It’s probably not worth your time watching or downloading,” Matt said. “It’s about an hour and a half of your life you’ll never get back.”

You can watch a trailer of the film, featuring Matt with glorious long hair, hereCurrently, Blood Monkey is available on Amazon.

Matt Ryan at the 2017 Indy Pop Con

After more TV and film projects, Matt got the role of Edward Kenway in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. When he first auditioned, he was told the project was a TV show about pirates. Matt made it to the second round, and he was told the truth – this was a video game, and he would be expected to do the voice and full motion capture. In film and television, actors usually get full scripts, but that is rare in video games because the script can be hundreds of pages long, which was the case for Black Flag. Armed with portions of the script, Matt put his trust in the director and creative team. About the experience, Matt said, “Now it’s become this amazing medium which so many actors want to work in, but at the time the whole mo-cap industry wasn’t that big. But it’s great. It’s like doing theater and television at the same time because there’s cameras all around you, but, unlike television, you can’t stop doing a take; you have to do the take all the way through because of the way the cameras work. Now maybe this has changed because this was a few years ago, and I know they’ve gotten much better at it. But it’s a kind of weird hybrid in terms of technique of acting of between stage and screen. And to do something that I’ve never done before was a real challenge that I was really looking forward to.”

In 2014, Matt starred in NBC’s Constantine, a DC comics character. John Constantine, created by Alan Moore, first appeared in Swamp Thing #37 as a spiritual advisor. Over time, the magician has morphed into a hard-smoking con-man with an immense ego who is always on his own side. In 1998, Constantine starred in his own series, Hellblazer, which was rebooted as part of DC’s Rebirth event in 2016.

Matt had to jump through multiple hoops to land the part. During the audition process, he starred in a play in London, and with long hair and a beard, he didn’t look the part. Fortunately, after seeing over a hundred actors, the role was available. Matt hopped on a plane, a friend in LA got him a trim and a shave, and after more auditions, the role was his. To research the role, a friend told him to bypass the Keanu Reeves film and dive into Dangerous Habits, a story arc (issues 34-46 of Hellblazer) written by Garth Ennis with art by Will Simpson.

Matt Ryan as Constantine

The comics were a valuable resource during filming. Matt described carrying the comic with him; when he needed a reference, Constantine was there on the page, all the physical mannerisms and speech patterns. He read as much as he could, and he trusted the writers because they knew the characters very well. Matt said Constantine was a “dream role, such an iconic role.”

Unfortunately, NBC didn’t like Constantine as much as the fans did. Matt was disappointed the show got cancelled, but relieved the fans enjoyed his performance. For Matt, the love of the fans “has been the most amazing thing about this whole experience,” and the fans’ appreciation is why he returned to portraying Constantine on Arrow, Justice League Dark, and the upcoming CW Seed animated series.

Going back to Arrow was unexpected. Matt was starting a play at the time, so the producers rearranged the production schedule. They flew him in, dyed his hair, and flew him back to New York; in between takes, he learned the play. Matt admitted it took him time to find Constantine again and thought he walked like a duck during the scene where he held Oliver at gunpoint. Constantine appeared in the fifth episode of season four, “Haunted.”

Justice League Dark was released this year. The animated film has John working with Deadman, Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Jason Blood/Etrigan, and Batman to fight against a supernatural threat. Matt jumped at being the voice of Constantine, “It was great doing that movie because in the live-action television show, we didn’t get to interact with characters like Batman and Zatanna and Deadman and Swamp Thing and all these great characters. There are all these different relationships that John has with these characters so to explore that was brilliant.”

Justice League Dark

We got a clue about the upcoming CW Seed series when a fan asked him about speaking various languages on the show. Matt said about learning languages for the show, “That was probably one of the most difficult parts of it and one of the most time consuming as well in terms of learning your lines or the preparation you have to do to get the episode to the place where it’s ready to shoot.” He doesn’t remember any of the spells he learned for the show, but all the work prepared him for the new animated series, “I do a big voodoo spell in that. That was cool.”

Another fan asked Matt if he would be willing to voice Constantine if the character ever appeared in Injustice 2, a fighting game developed by NetherRealm Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The game, which is a sequel to Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013), is set in a dystopian timeline; multiple DC characters are in the game, but not John Constantine. Matt would be willing, saying Constantine can take on others by using spells. During his answer, Matt asked the audience, “Has Constantine ever interacted with the Joker?” The crowd couldn’t think of any such event. Matt went on, “That would be interesting, right? I mean, what would happen?  Constantine could just like bind him with a spell or something, but I don’t think he would; I think they’d probably get on a little bit in some weird way or they’d certainly have a laugh before John went, ‘No, sorry, out.’”

By the end of the panel, it is clear Matt Ryan has enjoyed playing Constantine multiple times and experiencing the different takes each creative team has brought to the character. “For me, I think, it’s just been such a pleasure and honor to play a character like John Constantine, and for all you guys to like me playing him, that’s the great thing, so if I have a chance to play him again, I would probably jump at it.”

And your fans hope you get that chance again.


Highlight from Indy Pop Con 2017: Cosplay Championships

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For three days, pop culture was celebrated during the Indy Pop Con (July 7-9) in Indianapolis, Indiana. On Saturday, several competed in the Cosplay Championships.

Here are some of my favorites.

Not one, not two, but three Hellboys!

 

Rita Repulsa and her Putties

 

Warrior Queen Tiana

 

Why so serious? The Joker from The Dark Knight

 

Big Sister from Bioshock 2

 

Chaos Space Marine from Warhammer 40,000 – The gun rotated!

 

Who runs Bartertown? Master Blaster!

 

Wonder Woman

 

Dark Magician Girl from Yu-Gi-Oh

 

Commander Shepard from Mass Effect – Yes, this was her favorite event on the Citadel.

 

This Warcraft cosplay is favorite solo cosplay.

 

Reinhardt and Mercy from Overwatch. Yes, every joke about Reinhardt was made. Mercy won the main prize.

 

Most entertaining group – The Ravagers from Guardians of the Galaxy. They won an award, which they fought over.

 

This team really looked like they stepped out of the movie.

 


Star Wars: A Journey Through the New Canon – Part 8: Revenge of the Sith

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A long time ago, a girl’s parents took her to see a science fiction film called Star Wars. On that day, she fell in love with all things Star Wars, even the extended universe that began with Timothy Zahn’s 1991 book, Heir to the Empire. But in 2012, Disney purchased Star Wars and proceeded to erase the majority of the extended universe she had come to know. With much of her Star Wars knowledge no longer applicable, she begins a journey through the new canon. Her goal – to travel the path of the new canon, experiencing as much of the new material in story order as best as she possibly can.

 

Warning: Spoilers

 

Revenge of the Sith (2005), written and directed by George Lucas, marks the end of the Prequel Saga. All the moments in each film, TV series, and book reach their crescendo and reveal the fate of Anakin Skywalker and the resolution of the Clone Wars.

The galaxy has been at war for years. Both sides claim they battle for order and peace. A segment of the population, feeling ignored and disenfranchised, broke away from a bloated Republic run by a corrupt Senate and formed their own government. The Separatists see themselves as rebels, clamoring for freedom. The Republic demands the galaxy stay as one and label the Separatists terrorists who threaten to weaken the Republic for selfish gains.

However, both sides are unaware of the presence of a masterful puppeteer, one who has played the long game to perfection – Chancellor Palpatine. To the Republic, he is a humble man working hard to restore peace and stability to the galaxy. But the Separatists only see Count Dooku, a leader against corruption. They don’t see the man behind Dooku; the one who is Dooku’s master is Darth Sidious, Palpatine’s Sith name.

The turmoil in the galaxy is mirrored in the turmoil of Anakin’s soul. The innocent boy we met in Phantom Menace has grown into a man who questions the ways of the Force, the policies of the Senate, and the actions of the Jedi. This anointed Chosen One is strong with the Force, but his emotions are raw, and his fear of loss often lead him to act impulsively. The Jedi way stresses no attachments and patience, but Anakin violated those principles when he slaughtered the Tusken Raiders because they killed his mother and when he married Padme Amidala.

Anakin has never had the opportunity to learn during a time of tranquility. After he was burdened with the fate of bringing balance to the Force, the Clone Wars began. The Jedi were transformed from being peacekeepers into generals, tasked by the Senate to lead armies of clones into battle. Many see the Jedi as dogs of war, quick to do the bidding of the Senate and betray their role as guardians of the galaxy. Throughout the TV series The Clone Wars, this issue is brought up repeatedly, and even some Jedi, including Anakin, question if they are on the correct path. Anakin’s faith in the Jedi started to crack during the last four episodes of The Clone Wars season five. Anakin’s Padawan Ashoka Tano was accused of murder. Anakin came to believe her and was upset when the Jedi Council abandoned her by kicking her out of the Order. Anakin discovered evidence and cleared her name, but she refused the Council’s offer to rejoin the Order. As she walks away from the Jedi Temple, Anakin’s heartbreak is clearly etched on his face.

Anakin painfully watches Ashoka walk away from the Jedi

 

Revenge of the Sith begins three years after the onset of the Clone Wars. The war has come to Coruscant; Separatist and Republic forces battle above the city-planet, and Chancellor Palpatine has been taken hostage. Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi are on a mission to rescue Palpatine. They find him. Dooku enters, and this time Anakin agrees to fight the Sith Lord together with Obi-Wan instead of charging in like he did in Attack of the Clones. Anakin declares that his powers have doubled since the last time they met, and Dooku senses the Jedi’s arrogance. Dooku knocks Obi-Wan out, leaving Anakin to fight him alone. They duel. Anakin cuts off Dooku’s hand and catches his lightsaber. When Dooku is on his knees, Anakin holds both lightsabers – the blue Jedi and the red Sith – to Dooku’s neck. Palpatine tells Anakin to kill Dooku. Of course, this surprises Dooku because Palpatine is his master. But the Sith crave power, and only the strong deserve to be Sith. Without Obi-Wan’s guidance, Anakin obeys the wishes of the other father figure in his life. Palpatine is pleased at the sight of Dooku’s head rolling away. Anakin is confused; this isn’t the Jedi way. Palpatine tells Anakin that vengeance is natural and reminds his young friend that he has acted as judge and executioner before. There is a glimmer of hope that all is not lost with Anakin when he disobeys Palpatine and insists on bringing the injured Obi-Wan with them.

After crash landing, Obi-Wan and Anakin have a quippy exchange about who has to deal with the politicians. Moments like this have been rare during the Prequel Saga. Anakin is full of rage, anger, and fear, and he is capable of love and compassion. Just as there are two sides battling for control of the galaxy, two opposing forces are warring inside Anakin. Each side is represented by a man: Palpatine and Obi-Wan. Both men influenced Anakin after he left Tatooine, but these relationships developed off-screen, leaving few clues to help us understand Anakin’s descent into darkness. The best way to fathom how a promising Jedi transforms into a Sith is to examine how each father figure teaches young Skywalker how to deal with the possible death of the woman he loves.

Anakin dreams of Padme dying during childbirth. These dreams are similar to the ones he had about his mother. The possibility of Padme dying for any reason triggers his fear of losing those closest to him. Obi-Wan is the sum of all the Jedi teachings, and Obi-Wan instructs Anakin to follow those teachings and obey the Council. While Obi-Wan is an individual, he willingly allows his voice to be joined by Master Yoda and Mace Windu. Yoda tells Anakin that dreams might be premonitions or they could be the manifestations of fear. Giving into fear can lead to the dark side. According to the Jedi, one must meditate the dread away and work on severing personal attachments. Yoda, Windu, and Kenobi offer no viable method of saving his wife. Anakin isn’t satisfied.

Enter Palpatine. He sympathizes with Anakin and pretends to reluctantly tell the tale of Darth Plagueis, a Dark Lord of the Sith so wise and powerful he could manipulate midi-chlorians to create life and to cheat death. Anakin wants to know if he could be taught this power. Of course, he can. All Anakin has to do is be willing to open his mind and to accept that there is more to the Force than the Jedi admit.

The moment Palpatine knows he has successfully tempted Anakin

Anakin’s a man of action, so he is tempted by Palpatine. Sensing he has Anakin on the hook, Palpatine gives Anakin another thing the Jedi enjoys – approval. Palpatine brings Anakin into his confidence; he needs Anakin to be his eyes and ears on the Jedi Council because the Chancellor is concerned the Jedi are not acting as nobly as they should be. However, the Jedi Masters, especially Windu, are not pleased Palpatine has forced Anakin on to the Jedi Council. While he is on the Council, Anakin is not given the title of Master, a rank all members of the Jedi Council have. Obi-Wan refuses to stand up to the Council and insist Anakin be promoted, frustrating Anakin even more.

Because Palpatine understands Anakin’s need for attention, he succeeds where Obi-Wan fails. Obi-Wan and the other Jedi assume Anakin will follow their lead, accept their criticisms, and do their bidding, even if it’s shady. Palpatine told Anakin that he feared the Jedi and others are plotting against him, wanting to take control of the Senate. Anakin doesn’t want to believe it, but he knows the Jedi haven’t been on their best behavior during the war.

Anakin does his best not to fall, but a series of small events trigger his descent into Palpatine’s hands. Obi-Wan and the Jedi Council want Anakin to spy on Palpatine. This is lying, an act that should be beneath Jedi, and is evidence proving Palpatine’s conspiracy theory. Knowing he has the Chancellor’s ear, Padme asks Anakin to convince Palpatine to pursue peace. Anakin is visibly hurt by this request. Padme is the woman he loves, the symbol of all that is right and compassionate, and she too is willing to use him for her own gains. She tries to convince him that her intentions are pure, but he accuses her of wanting Palpatine removed so she and the Jedi can control the Senate. Anakin does the right thing and informs the Council that Palpatine uses the Force. Instead of including him on the best course of action, Windu excludes Anakin. Palpatine told Anakin the Council feared how powerful he could be, and being shut out by Obi-Wan and Windu is more proof Palpatine is correct.

At the end of the fight between Palpatine and Windu, Anakin bursts in. Anakin is ignorant of the facts, but it’s not his fault. Standing over a weaken Palpatine is Master Mace Windu, the man who has been the most critical and untrusting of Anakin. When Palpatine claims that Windu wants to kill him and take over the Senate, Anakin believes the one who has been there for him most of his life, giving him opportunities, sharing information, and placing his trust in him. Anakin sides with Palpatine and tosses Windu out the window.

Anakin is no longer torn. With the gates wide open, his fear, anger, and grief erupt, transforming him from Jedi to Sith. Blinded by the Dark Side, Anakin willingly becomes Darth Sidious’s apprentice and carries out Palpatine’s commands, including the cold-blooded slaughter of Jedi younglings. On Mustafar, Anakin kills the Separatists leaders. Padme arrives and tries to convince him this dark path is wrong, but her argument is cut short when Obi-Wan appears, making Anakin conclude that Padme conspired against him. He chokes her as punishment.

Look how far our innocent podracer has fallen

The volcanic planet of Mustafar is the perfect backdrop for the epic lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin. The erupting lava is visual representation of Anakin’s new worldview: using the dark side can bring peace and justice to a war-torn galaxy, and just as lava hardens to form new land, his powers can forge a new empire to rule all.

Anakin hasn’t been a Sith for more than a week, and he already dreams of being in charge. But his dream is cut short when Obi-Wan severs Anakin’s organic limbs and leaves the man who was the Chosen One, his brother, to burn.

Obi-Wan gets Padme to safety, but they are in hiding because Palpatine has executed Order 66, a command implanted into the Clones telling them to kill all Jedi. Allies of the Jedi, like Senators Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, have been sent into exile or killed. Palpatine spun his fight with Windu from being arrested into surviving an assassination attempt. The Senate, tired of years of war, eagerly ate up the tale and applauded when Palpatine brought peace by disbanding the Republic and establishing a unified Empire.

Palpatine is a Sith Lord, but his real power was playing the long game. He knew how to manipulate the few, rile up a base, and shred democracy before everyone’s eyes. Revenge of the Sith is the best film of the Prequel Saga. While we knew the ending, watching Anakin crack, shatter, and break hurt my heart.

The film ends with two rays of hope. Padme gives birth to twins, but dies from some unknown reason that couldn’t be treated by a medical droid in this world full of advanced technology. Anakin is a Sith Lord now, so Yoda decides the children need to go into hiding.

The girl, Leia, goes with Bail Organa to Alderaan. The boy, Luke, is taken to Tatooine and given to Anakin’s stepbrother, Owen Lars and his wife, Beru.

Wait a minute. Anakin is told by Palpatine that Padme and the babies died, so he doesn’t have an immediate need to investigate the situation, but hiding a baby with his family on his home planet and watched over by Obi-Wan Kenobi might raise a few red flags. They better be careful.

 

 

Up next: Kanan: Last Padawan (comic book)


Join Us at the Indiana Comic Con!

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We at GonnaGeek enjoy sharing our experiences about podcasting with others. During the Indiana Comic Con, GonnaGeek Vice President of Network Development Stargate Pioneer, whose podcasting credits include the GonnaGeek.com Show, Better Podcasting, Legends of S.H.I.E.L.D., LoS Long Box Edition, and The Starling Tribune, and co-host of The Starling Tribune Michelle Ealey will host three panels about finding co-hosts, podcasting productively with others, and general podcasting tips.

The 2017 Indiana Comic Con is in Indianapolis and runs April 14 – 16.

On Friday, their panel, “FILLING THE EMPTY PODCAST CHAIR,” will be in Room 131 from 2:00 to 3:00 PM.

On Saturday, their panel, “FINDING CO-HOSTS FOR YOUR PODCAST,” will be in Room 131 from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM.

On Sunday, their panel, “HOW TO PRODUCTIVELY PODCAST WITH OTHERS,” will be in Room 131 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

The three panels have the following description:

Do you want to start a podcast, but need help finding co-hosts? Have you started a podcast, but need help finding a new co-host because someone left? Join veteran podcaster and GonnaGeek Vice President of Network Development Stargate Pioneer along with fan turned Starling Tribune co-host Michelle Ealey for a discussion on finding co-hosts for your podcast and tips for becoming a co-host on an established show.

If you are at the Indiana Comic Con, Stargate Pioneer and Michelle Ealey would like to meet you!

Information about Indiana Comic Con can be found here: http://indianacomiccon.com/

Schedule of events can change. To keep up to date about panels and other events, check here: http://indianacomiccon.com/convention-events/


Star Wars: A Journey Through the New Canon – Part 7: Kanan – First Blood

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A long time ago, a girl’s parents took her to see a science fiction film called Star Wars. On that day, she fell in love with all things Star Wars, even the extended universe that began with Timothy Zahn’s 1991 book, Heir to the Empire. But in 2012, Disney purchased Star Wars and proceeded to erase the majority of the extended universe she had come to know. With much of her Star Wars knowledge no longer applicable, she begins a journey through the new canon. Her goal – to travel the path of the new canon, experiencing as much of the new material in story order as best as she possibly can.

 

Warning: Spoilers

 

Star Wars: Kanan Vol. 2: First Blood is a trade paperback collecting issues 7 – 12 of Marvel’s comic book series, Star Wars: Kanan. First Blood was written by Greg Weisman with art by Pepe Larraz and Andrea Broccardo and colors by David Curiel.

A young man is eager to learn more about the Force and advance his training, so he searches for ways to rush his progress.

Sound familiar?

This story isn’t about Anakin Skywalker. First Blood is a flashback story of Kanan Jarrus’s time during the Clone Wars, when he was known as Caleb Dume and training to be a Jedi.

The Separatists have gotten bold. A Captain of the Confederacy, Rackham Sear, attacks the Jedi Temple because he, like many in the galaxy, despises the Jedi for fighting in the war while claiming to be peacekeepers. He tells Caleb, “You’re on the wrong side here. The Jedi are the bad guys, fighting against freedom and self-determination.”

Star Wars: Kanan Vol. 2: First Blood is a trade paperback collecting issues 7 – 12 of Marvel’s comic book series, Star Wars: Kanan

Star Wars: Kanan Vol. 2: First Blood is a trade paperback collecting issues 7 – 12 of Marvel’s comic book series, Star Wars: Kanan

Caleb helps Master Depa Billaba stop the bombing. Because of his actions, Billaba makes him her Padawan, even though he is considered too young to be one. During his missions with Billaba, we see more of the horrors of the Clone Wars and meet more clones who know they are bred to die. Caleb forms a bond with 1157, who finally earns the name Stance after he protects Caleb. The intense battles and losses Caleb endures shatters his romantic view of war. Caleb is tempted to give in to the sense of revenge loss can bring, but he brings himself back and realizes there is no triumph in killing.

First Blood is an interesting look at another Master-Padawan relationship and how devastating the war is across the galaxy. One of the story’s strengths is that you don’t have to have seen The Clone Wars to understand what is going on. I enjoyed the story and the art, but I would have appreciated it more if the story wasn’t about another young Jedi complaining about being called a “kid” and willing to bend the rules.

I like Caleb, and I’m interested in reading the first volume to learn about how he went from young Jedi Caleb Dume to Kanan Jarrus.

 

 

Up next: Revenge of the Sith (film)