EW's Fandom Week Must List: Umbrella Academy, Lovecraft Country, and more
Comic-Con may be going virtual this year, but that can’t stop fans from getting excited about news and sneak peeks from their favorite TV shows, movies, comics, and games. EW’s Fandom Week Must List below has 10 things to look out for.
1. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is having the time of its life as it moves closer to the finish line. For its final season, the ABC drama sent Daisy (Chloe Bennet), Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), and the rest of the titular spies who fight the MCU’s secret wars on a rollicking journey through time to stop evil aliens from destroying S.H.I.E.L.D. Do we understand all of the show’s time-travel rules? At the moment, not really. But that doesn’t matter, because the series has never been this fun. Moreover, it’s finding interesting ways to interact with the shared universe’s history, from recruiting Agent Carter’s Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) for this timey-wimey mission, to revisiting an element from Captain America: The Winter Soldier in the ’70s. “We really approached this last season as a love letter, both to the characters and the fans,” co-showrunner Maurissa Tancharoen previously told EW, with co-showrunner Jed Whedon adding: “It was an emotional thing for all of us, and I think that’s found its way into the story. The characters were reflective of what we were dealing with behind the scenes.” Coming up on July 22, Jemma Simmons’ portrayer, Elizabeth Henstridge, makes her directorial debut with a time-loop episode. And who doesn’t love a Groundhog Day story? —Chancellor Agard
2. The Umbrella Academy
The second installment of Netflix’s adaptation of the Gerard Way/Gabriel Bá comic takes one sequence from the second volume, Dallas, and blows it out into a season-long period adventure that showcases the show’s unique strengths. Allison, for instance, is depicted as white in the comic but is portrayed by Emmy Raver-Lampman on the show, which changes her experience of the civil rights era. “She came from a place where she was adored and celebrated. Then she plops into the ’60s, where she’s hated and hunted because of the color of her skin,” Raver-Lampman says. “I was really emotional starting the season because it did feel like a big honor, but also a challenge, to take on this time period as a Black woman.” In another change from the comics, Ellen Page’s Vanya finds herself attracted to Texas housewife Sissy (Marin Ireland), helped by a bout of amnesia that stops her from remembering her violent acts from season 1. “She’s now much more confident and more in touch with her emotional self,” Page says. “Then she begins a whole other journey of growth.” —Christian Holub (Read more on season 2 of The Umbrella Academy.)
Having unlimited time to play your favorite game is both the ultimate kid fantasy and the worst nightmare, as the characters of the Image Comics series Die can attest. As teenagers they ended up trapped, Jumanji-like, inside the world of their D&D-style role-playing game, and paid a great price to escape. Reuniting years later, they get sucked back in and now have to inhabit their youthful fantasy versions of themselves from the viewpoint of the sad, failed adults they’ve become. Writer Kieron Gillen masterfully deconstructs the tropes of fantasy fiction, while artist Stephanie Hans creates a wholly unique world. You’ve never seen dragons or swords like this. —CH
4. Star Wars: Squadrons
Disney made clear that the (near) future of Star Wars isn’t in film, it’s in TV. Apparently, that also extends to videogames. Electronic Arts, the longtime gaming publisher of titles involving this vast galaxy of Jedi and the Force, is hoping to up the amount of releases since dropping the best-selling Jedi: Fallen Order in 2019. Next up is Star Wars: Squadrons, a first-person space dogfighting title that puts players in the cockpit of an X-wing and a TIE fighter. There are online multiplayer options, yes, but there’s also a brand-new original story set during the final days of the Galactic Empire after the events of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. —Nick Romano
Janelle Monáe describes “Veronica Henley, the author, the mother, the activist, the educated Black woman” — her first starring film role — as “a modern-day superhero.” As a beacon of hope for her community, “her voice is very powerful, and that’s why she’s a threat to white supremacy, the patriarchy, and systems that want to oppress Black women.” Through Henley’s entrapment on a violent plantation, the film draws parallels to what Monáe, 34, explains is “the burden that Black women carry to deconstruct white systemic racism every single day.” The actress recognizes the hesitancy around movies centered on enslaved persons, noting that “this film will trigger some, this film will make people angry, and this film will also make us fight through that fatigue.” However, in a time where conversations around racial inequality are peaking, she hopes Antebellum puts the continued oppression of Black Americans “in the faces of those who can end this madness.” Referencing Nina Simone, Monáe feels it’s indeed an artist’s duty to reflect the times: “If we don’t address these things in entertainment, we just continue to make people look better than what they were and erase history, erase Black women’s voices, and not give us those strong female leads that are superheroes that don’t need white saviors. We’re doing a disservice and we’re actually a part of the problem.” —Marcus Jones
6. Lovecraft Country
With Lovecraft Country, HBO boldly explores racism through horror and pulp lenses. An adaptation of Matt Ruff ’s 2016 novel, the 1950s-set series follows Korean War veteran Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors), his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance), and their activist friend Letitia “Leti” Lewis (Jurnee Smollett) as they leave Chicago to find Atticus’ missing father (Michael K. Williams). In addition to dealing with excessive force by police and other forms of bigotry, the trio must contend with terrifying Lovecraftian creatures and other fantastical forces along the way. “Horror is my favorite genre, but it works best for me when it’s a metaphor on top of something we can all relate to that’s all universal,” says showrunner/executive producer Misha Green (Underground). That thrilling mix of tones is what drew Smollett to the project. “It’s this radical imagining of our story. It’s centering Black voices in a genre where we’re rarely being centered,” says the 33-year-old Birds of Prey star. “The story is so ancestral. Our heroes are going on an adventure, essentially, to bring down white supremacy, and yet there’s magic involved and all these supernatural elements, and it was just incredibly ambitious and exciting.” —CA (Read more from Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors about Lovecraft Country.)
7. Strange Adventures
Writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads’ much-anticipated follow-up to Mister Miracle has added Evan “Doc” Shaner as a second artist, creating a fascinatingly schizophrenic style for the story of Silver Age sci-fi adventurer Adam Strange. Shaner’s idealized sci-fi art depicts Strange’s adventures on the planet Rann, while Gerads’ glitchy, realistic art portrays Adam’s time on Earth, where he suddenly finds himself accused of interstellar war crimes and investigated relentlessly by the supersmart superhero Mr. Terrific. “This is a much more caustic book,” King says. “This isn’t about how we survive through love, which I love to write about. This is about how we react to evil. It reflects the emotional place I’m at now, where I’m done surviving. I’m ready to fight.” —CH
8. The Boys
Jack Quaid, who stars on Amazon's The Boys as "Wee" Hughie, can't say much about what's in store for season 2, which will launch with three episodes. What he can say is, “No one is ready. Really. No one is ready. I have done things this season I will never forget, [things] I’ve never done in my career and probably will not in the future. We just go above and beyond in terms of insane, jockeying moments.” That includes the latest member of the team of superhero-fighting vigilantes: Terror. In the comics, Billy’s (Karl Urban) pet pooch is “known as being a particularly horny dog,” Quaid explains. On the show, he’ll come out of retirement to, among other things, hump a pig. His attack word? “Boner.” “Not a real pig!” Quaid promises. “A stuffed pig.” There’s an even funnier story that goes along with that. “I had to be the one to give [Terror] the pig that he humps,” the actor recalls. “The trainers could not be in the room, so they left me with the responsibility of telling the command to the dog. And it didn’t work right away. It was just me in a room on camera going, ‘Boner! Boner!’” We hope that pig has a safe word. —NR (Read more on the "insane" season 2 of The Boys.)
9. Marvel’s Avengers
Marvel’s Spider-Man swung onto the scene in 2018 and became the biggest Marvel superhero console game so far — both in terms of the scale of the thing and actual money made. Now a different team of developers, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics, is hoping to do the same for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Marvel’s Avengers will let gamers play as some of the most recognizable figures — Thor, Captain America, Hulk, and the like — in a plot that pits them against the villainous MODOK. It also stars fan favorite Ms. Marvel, a.k.a. Kamala Khan, as the lead character. “Embiggen” news, indeed. —NR
Lucifer is living like there's no tomorrow in season 5. The fantasy procedural's forthcoming fifth season was crafted as the end, but then Netflix and Warner Bros. TV blessed it with an unexpected renewal. Split in two parts, season 5 will have all of the excitement of a final one, but without the sadness of an ending when the first eight episodes arrive. As the season begins, Lucifer (Tom Ellis) is stuck in hell lording over the damned, while Det. Chloe Decker (Lauren German) is heartbroken topside. But don’t worry, fans won’t have to wait too long for a Deckerstar reunion. “Lucifer might arrive sooner than you think, but later than you might expect,” teases co-showrunner Joe Henderson. From there you can expect a black-and-white flashback episode and a self-deprecating hour in which the arrogant producer making a show about the Devil solving crimes is murdered, as well as a musical episode in the back half of the cycle. “I think it’s our best season,” says Henderson. “It’s funny and dark and twisted and sad and joyous.” —CA (Read more about how Lucifer's season 6 renewal affects season 5.)
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