Culture on My Mind – The 2021 LEGO Marvel Advent Calendar

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The 2021 LEGO Marvel Advent Calendar
January 13, 2023

2021 SW Marvel Advent CalendarApparently, the latter days of 2021 and early days of 2022 were chaotic. So chaotic, in fact, that I completely forgot to post my summaries of the 2021 LEGO Star Wars and Marvel advent calendars. So, January 2023 will bring you some late (and even later) gifts as I take a look back at four separate calendars.

Last week, I looked back at the 2021 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar. In the coming weeks, I’ll cover the 2022 sets for Star Wars and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. This week is about the 2021 LEGO Marvel Advent Calendar.

My family has been doing these LEGO advent calendars since 2015 and I chronicle the daily builds on Instagram. Each of the annual box sets has been spotlighted on this site. These boxes contain twenty-four unique small builds, many of which are abstract, along with exclusive mini-figures and whimsical winter-themed spins on franchise staples. The Marvel characters made their debut with this holiday line in 2021, and there was no better way to kick it off than to highlight the Avengers from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

At this point, the MCU was settling into what would become Phase Four. The Infinity Saga (Phases One, Two, and Three) ended in 2019 and, of course, 2020 put everything on hold due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. By the end of 2021, we had four new films and five new television series to crack open the multiverse concepts that would define the next three phases, but the pandemic had definitely thrown a wrench into plans at Marvel Studios.

Thus, celebrating the Avengers was a strong choice.

The 2021 Marvel-themed box focused on themes and characters from The Infinity Saga, including minifigures for Tony Stark/Iron Man, Black Widow, Spider-Man, Thanos, Captain Marvel, Nick Fury, and Thor. Those minifigures were also outfitted differently to make them exclusive to this set, which presents a challenge to “gotta-have-em-all” collectors.

The Marvel set differed from the traditions set by the Star Wars sets by building a world for these characters (and kids of all ages) to play in. The scene was set for an Avengers-style holiday party, including presents and decor to compliment the typical abstract micro-builds. It’s a neat concept, but it also comes across as filler in some cases, such as the barbeque grill and present wrapping station.

I did really like the idea of presents, however, particularly how they were linked to each character’s style and cinematic gags. Spidey gets a churro and an arachnid-themed box while Tony gets the arc reactor under glass as proof that he has a heart. I also really enjoyed the helicarrier, Stark robot, and Avengers Tower builds, and the finale with an Infinity Gauntlet was an elaborate one. It came with enough extra Infinity Stones to reenact the paperweight scene from Loki.

It’s a good debut for the Marvel brand, and while I expected something closer to the Star Wars boxes, the world/scene-building aspect isn’t a terrible choice. For every barbeque grill and Christmas wreath, I have to remind myself that children are building these sets with their parents. The fun they have and memories they build together is worth it.

Now, on to the countdown:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15

Day 16

Day 17

Day 18

Day 19

Day 20

Day 21

Day 22

Day 23

Day 24


Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Debrief: ATL Comic Convention + Fandemic World Tour Atlanta 2022

Debrief: ATL Comic Convention + Fandemic World Tour Atlanta 2022
Atlanta, GA – March 18 through March 20, 2022

Atlanta Comic Con was (shall we say?) interesting.

As mentioned in my announcement post, Atlanta Comic Con joined up with the Fandemic World Tour to create an earlier and larger event. It’s typically been a smaller affair with various celebrities and fan panels, but linking up with Fandemic brought a bit more star power to bear.

Honestly, I think that it dampened some of the spirit. More on that in a minute.

I teamed up with Mike Faber and Michael Gordon of The ESO Network for three panels – Doctor Who, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Podcasting 101 – and took some time around those events to take in what this new convention experience had to offer. In fact, that’s what Fandemic offers on their website: Fandemic Tour – A New Comic Convention Experience.

ACC 2022 Panels

The panels were pretty awesome. The Podcasting 101 panel was very interactive and well-attended for the size of this convention. We had a lot of input from the audience and spent some time afterward chatting with people who wanted to learn more.

Mike Faber and I have been doing these 101-style panels and classes for a while, and my metric for success has always been that if even one person learns something new, then we’ve done our jobs well. The Atlanta Comic Con panel went above and beyond that measure.

The Doctor Who panel was also pretty engaging with a lot of questions and speculation, and the hour pretty much flew by. The MCU panel was quite a bit less engaging, and a lot of that can be attributed to the timing. When we did a similar panel at Atlanta Comic Con, it was right after Infinity War so there was a lot to talk about. If we had done this in July as planned, we’d also have a lot to talk about, but doing this panel right now leaves us in the infancy of the MCU’s Phase Four with a whole lot of questions and not much else.

But, overall, the panels were fun.

So, the rest of the convention…

The rest of the convention is where I feel like the spirit of Atlanta Comic Con has been lost. Fandemic is geared toward the fans and genre of The Walking Dead, and that does not lend itself to a general sci-fi/fantasy kind of event like Atlanta Comic Con has been.

The vendor booths were geared more toward the genre and toward the general fan. There were very few comic and book booths and very few specialized toy booths. There were a lot of vendors who specialize in Funko Pops, but even the offering they brought leaned heavily into the Fandemic genre. In fact, it’s disappointing to note that I wasn’t tempted by a lot of the offerings.

There were a handful of artists with tables, but they weren’t engaged with attendees. In fact, one interaction that I saw was telling: The artist physically walked someone through his portfolio because the name was familar in passing but the attendee had no idea who he was beyond that.

This felt like a convention for people at the 30,000-foot view. Fans who have a general idea of what’s out there, but aren’t specific on any one thing. Don’t get me wrong: That level of fandom is perfectly okay, but it didn’t feel like there was much engagement for anyone on a deeper level.

It’s also a celebrity-heavy event with a ton of space dedicated to photos and autographs, but only for the genre. Lines for photos and signatures were packed, which is good for fans who dig that, but I certainly missed the old-school/retro caliber of guests that Atlanta Comic Con used to attract. 2019’s show brought a variety of actors and talent – Cam Clarke, Kevin Conroy, Val Kilmer, Rob Paulsen, James Arnold Taylor, and Bonnie Wright, just to name a few – and I expected this variety to be mixed into the Fandemic attractions a bit more. Instead, it was all pretty much Walking Dead and similar.

It felt like Atlanta Comic Con was completely replaced by Fandemic.

The entrance fees for normal attendees were a bit shocking: $50 or $60 per day on the weekend and $85 for a three-day pass. That’s not something that attracts someone who’s interested for the day. I don’t have historic information for Atlanta’s show, but the similar convention in Tampa Bay runs $20-30 per day with a $45 three-day pass, and that’s with guest lists similar to Atlanta Comic Con’s previous offerings.

I was also surprised that there was no program of events being distributed. Atlanta Comic Con used to offer a poster with a schedule of events. On that note, the schedule of events wasn’t even solidified until a couple of days before the show, which is something I’d expect from an extremely large five-day event like Dragon Con, but not from a three-day lightly attended event like this.

I don’t want to see Atlanta Comic Con become absorbed into something else.

With the loss of so many smaller conventions in the area due to money and staffing concerns, we need conventions and events for people who want to get together and celebrate pop culture.  If this was truly a merger instead of a takeover, I’m hoping that 2022 was simply growing pains leading to something bigger and better.

I don’t want to lose Atlanta Comic Con’s unique voice in the process.


Culture on My Mind – The Earth Station One Podcast: The MCU, What’s Next?

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The Earth Station One Podcast: The MCU, What’s Next?
March 29, 2022

This week, you get a bonus Culture on My Mind post!

I recently attended Fandemic Tour Atlanta 2022 and guested on a live recording for the Earth Station One podcast. For this recording, we discussed the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Phase Four continues to develop.

For nearly fifteen years, The Marvel Universe has been gracing us with fantastic adventures on screens both big and small. As the MCU enters the next phase, Mike, Michael, and Michael Falkner offer potential answers to the question “What’s Next?” Plus, Mark Maddux assists writer Julian David Stone to bring life to the Geek Seat. All this, along with Angela’s A Geek Girl’s Take, Ashley’s Box Office Buzz, Michelle’s Iconic Rock Moment, Creative Outlet with Austin Janowsky, and Shout Outs!


You can find this episode on the Earth Station One podcast’s website and wherever fine podcasts are fed. You can also find the ESO Network on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram


Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

ATL Comic Convention + Fandemic World Tour Atlanta 2022

ATL Comic Convention + Fandemic World Tour Atlanta 2022
Atlanta, GA – March 18 through March 20, 2022

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a few years since I have visited Atlanta Comic Con. It’s one of Atlanta’s smaller conventions but it’s also a fun escape in the middle of the summer before Dragon Con rolls in.

This year, Atlanta Comic Con changed course, moving from their typical mid-July schedule to something a little closer to the Vernal Equinox.

Hey ATL friends,
July was too far away and we couldn’t wait that long to see all our amazing ATL Comic Convention attendees, so we joined forces with our friends at Fandemic World Tour Atlanta to bring you an even BIGGER and BETTER show! Fandemic is happening March 18-20, 2022 at the Georgia World Congress Center Building B.

So, next week, you can find me at the Georgia World Congress Center on the Saturday and Sunday of the event. I don’t have a definite schedule yet, but I plan to be there on panels with Mike Faber and Michael Gordon of The ESO Network as we talk about Doctor Who, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Podcasting 101.

UPDATE (3/18/22): The tentative programming schedule has been added to the website. 

So You Want to Start a Podcast? – Saturday 1:30PM – 2:15PM, Room B203

Doctor Who: Out With the Old, In With the New – Sunday 12:30PM – 1:15PM, B203 [Recorded for Earth Station Who]

The MCU: What Now? – Sunday 2:30PM – 3:15PM, B203 [Recorded for Earth Station One]

The convention will also have quite a few celebrity guests, including Sebastian Stan, Norman Reedus, Michael Rooker, James Marsters, John Barrowman, Jeffery Dean Morgan, Pom Klementieff, and more. More information, including ticketing information, can be found on their website.

I hope to see you there!


Culture on My Mind – Disney+ Day 2021

Culture on My Mind
Disney+ Day 2021
November 15, 2020

You get a bonus edition of Culture on My Mind because I’m thinking Disney.

Disney+ Day marks the anniversary of the Mouse House’s streaming service, and the second anniversary was on November 12th. The event served as a teaser for new content and features as well as a premiere day for new titles.

New Arrivals

To celebrate the second anniversary of Disney+, several new titles were added to the service, including:

  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Home Sweet Home Alone
  • Marvel Assembled: The Making of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Marvel Studios’ 2021 Disney Plus Special
  • Under the Helmet: The Legacy of Boba Fett
  • The Making of Happier than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles
  • Entrelazados
  • Enchanted (2007)
  • Spin
  • The World According to Jeff Goldblum: Season Two
  • Fancy Nancy: Season Three
  • Olaf Presents (a series of animated shorts)
  • Ciao Alberto (a Luca short)
  • The Simpsons in Plusaversary

The list also included an assorted collection of Walt Disney Animation Studios shorts.

IMAX Enhanced Films

Select Marvel films have been upgraded on the service to include their IMAX presentations. A typical theater presentation is in either the 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 aspect ratio, which means that for every inch tall, a movie is either 1.85 inches or 2.35 inches wide. IMAX uses a 1.90:1 ratio, which offers up to 26 percent more screen space.

The films included in this lauch are:

  • Iron Man (2008)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Black Widow (2021)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

The IMAX presentations on Disney+ do not include the IMAX Enhanced DTS sound, but there is a possibility of adding it down the road.

Star Wars Teases

Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022) – A teaser is available on Disney+.

Obi-Wan Kenobi Logo

Marvel Teases

  • X-Men ’97, a revival of the beloved 1997 Fox animated series (2023)


  • Moon Knight, based on the Marvel Comics series. For more information and a peek at the First Look footage, check out the New Rockstars video.
  • She Hulk, based on the 1980s Marvel Comics series created by Stan Lee and John Buscema. For more information and a peek at the First Look footage, check out the New Rockstars video.
  • Ms. Marvel, based on the Marvel Comics series. For more information and a peek at the First Look footage, check out the New Rockstars video.


  • Spider-Man: Freshman Year (an animated series)
  • I Am Groot (an animated series)
  • Ironheart, an original series based on the Marvel Comics character.


  • Agatha: House of Harkness, a spinoff from WandaVision


  • Marvel Zombies, an animated series based on the Marvel Comics series
  • Secret Invasion, an original series based on the Marvel Comics series and presuambly playing off all of the Skrulls that we keep seeing in the MCU. Once again with the breakdown, I present New Rockstars.

New Rockstars also recorded a discussion on all of the titles from the presentation today.

Pixar Teases

  • Cars on the Road (an original series based on the films, coming 2022)
  • Win or Lose (an animated series about baseball in Fall 2023)
  • Behind the scenes feature-length documentaries are also coming in 2022 for Turning Red and Lightyear.

Disney Teases

  • Zootopia+, a short form series based on Zootopia (coming in 2022)
  • Tiana, a new long-form musical series continuing 2009’s The Princess and the Frog (2022)
  • The Ice Age Advenures of Buck Wild (a spinoff of Ice Age, coming January 28, 2022)
  • Baymax! (an original series based on Big Hero Six, coming Summer 2022)
  • Cheaper By the Dozen (a movie presumably based off the 1950 and 2003 films, premiering in March 2022)
  • Disenchanted, the sequel to 2007’s Enchanted (Fall 2022)


  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid (which is getting yet another revision) (December 3, 2021)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
  • The Beatles: Get Back (November 25, 2021)
  • Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (Spring 2022)


  • Better Nate Than Ever (Spring 2022)
  • Hocus Pocus 2 (Fall 2022)

  • Pinocchio (the next live action reimagining, coming Fall 2022 with Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis)
  • Limitless with Chris Hemsworth (from National Geographic, coming 2022)
  • Welcome to Earth (a National Geographic series with Will Smith, coming December 8, 2021)
  • America the Beautiful (from National Geographic, coming 2022)
  • Sneakerella (an original movie, coming February 18, 2021)
  • The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder (February 2022)
  • High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: Season Three (2022)
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles (a new live-action series)
  • Willow, a series following the 1988 film (2022)

We’ll probably get more information at the Disney Investor’s Call, but it’s good to see what’s in the hopper for many of our favorite franchises and properties. Also remember what came from last year’s investor call. All of those things are still on the horizon, including more Marvel and Star Wars content.


Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Disney Investor’s Call 2020

Culture on My Mind
December 18, 2020

This week, I’m thinking Disney.

It’s been a weekend since the Disney Investor’s Call, but it’s taken a few days to parse all of the news from the four-hour long presentation on all things Disney, including Star Wars and Marvel Studios.

It was almost like a mini-D23 Expo to close out a troubling year. But it did come with news that the Mouse House was planning on expanding their streaming offerings within the next few years, including around 10 Marvel series, 10 Star Wars series, 15 additional series under the Disney banner (Disney animation, Pixar, and live action), and 15 completely new movies under those same banners.

There will be a price hike on Disney+ to cover it. The service is going to $7.99 a month in the United States, coming from the 86 million subscribers they picked up in the first thirteen months as well as anyone else who wants in on what the House of Mouse has in store.

Raya and the Last Dragon

Raya and the Last Dragon

Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra in ancient Asia, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the last dragon in order to finally stop the Druun for good. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than dragon magic to save the world—it’s going to take trust as well.

This computer-animated adventure film stars Kelly Marie Tran as the titular Raya and Awkwafina as Sisu, the last dragon. It is directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, co-directed by Paul Briggs and John Ripa, produced by Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho, written by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim, and scored by James Newton Howard.

This film was originally set for a November 2020 theatrical release, but due to COVID-19 it was pushed back to late March 2021. The investor call revealed that it will be released to Disney+ on March 5th alongside a theatrical release. The streaming release will be on the Premium Access side of Disney+, meaning that it will require an additional fee to access. If it follows the Mulan model, it will likely become widely available around three months afterward.

Star Wars

Ahsoka LogoThe Star Wars news started with what might have been a no-brainer after this season of The Mandalorian.

There are a lot of dark clouds surrounding Rosario Dawson at the intersection of Star Wars fandom and the LBGTQ+ community, and she has a lot of work to do to regain trust given the allegations against her. I don’t discredit anything that the LBGTQ+ community has to say about it. Disney has made many strides forward in representation and diversity, but the casting of both Rosario Dawson and Gina Carano has told many people that there is still a long, long road to travel.

That said, given her status, I would have been very surprised if Disney had let Dawson go after a one-shot appearance as one of the most famous modern characters in the franchise.

There are not a lot of details surrounding the Ahsoka Tano limited live-action series, but Dave Filoni is slated as showrunner. Which, of course he is, because she is his creation.

I am excited about this for many reasons. I’ve loved Ahsoka since her premiere in 2008’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars, even if my fellow fans were not. Trust me, despite what franchise detractors claim now, they were certainly not fans of her twelve years ago. But in that time, she has expanded the philosophy of the Force beyond the Skywalker films, and has been an avatar for Dave Filoni to take the reins of the Star Wars universe after literally studying at the feet of George Lucas for the animated series that followed the 2008 film.

I just wish someone else was in the lead acting role, y’know?

Rangers of the New Republic Logo

The Ahsoka series is apparently going hand-in-hand with Star Wars: Rangers of the New Republic, a live-action series from executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni that will intersect with future stories and culminate into a climactic story event.

Whatever that means, anyway. I’m guessing that either we’ll get some clues as The Mandalorian wraps its second season, or maybe we already have with that golden badge that Cara Dune received from the New Republic.

Obi-Wan Kenobi Logo

Last August, Lucasfilm and Disney announced that Ewan McGregor was returning to his prequel trilogy role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in a series set on the Tatooine dunes. We found out from the call that the series will take place approximately ten years before A New Hope, or effectively halfway into his self-imposed exile after Revenge of the Sith. The series will be helmed by Deborah Chow, who directed in season one of The Mandalorian.

The big news here is that Hayden Christensen is returning to the role of Darth Vader for the series. It’s only been relatively recently that Christensen has warmed up to Star Wars fans after the fire and venom they flung at him after the prequels. Seriously, if you want to see how bad some supposed fans can be, read up on the troubles that Jake Lloyd, Ahmed Best, and Hayden Christensen have had in light of the nastiness of fan letters.

It’s not clear if Christensen will be in flashbacks or in the Vader suit, but I’m eager to see how the story goes because I loved Ewan McGregor’s interpretation of Kenobi.

After that, they talked about the next feature film.

Patty Jenkins, director of Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984 will be directing a Rogue Squadron film.

Coming to theaters in December 2023, this film will follow the next generation of starfighter pilots in the Star Wars universe. It also fulfills a dream since Patty Jenkins, the daughter of a fighter pilot, has always wanted to make a fighter pilot movie. She’s also a Star Wars fan. It’s a match made in heaven.

We’re also getting a film directed by Mandalorian and Marvel alum Taika Waititi, but no details are available.

Star Wars logo bundleFinally, we have a last bundle of television series.

Lando Calrissian’s getting a show, but we have no idea if it’s Billy Dee Williams, Donald Glover, or another actor in the svelte capes.

The Cassian Andor (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) series is finally being talked about. The Tony Gilroy spy thriller will star Diego Luna as Cassian Andor with Stellan Skarsgard, Adria Arjona, Fiona Shaw, Denise Gough, Kyle Soller, and Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma.

Leslye Headland, Emmy Award-nominated creator of Russian Doll, is in charge of a Dark Side mystery-thriller called The Acolyte, which is set in the final days of the High Republic era. That’s well before The Phantom Menace.

Star Wars: Visions will present ten short films in an anthology from the world’s best anime creators.

A Droid Story will take us on an epic journey with a new hero guided by R2-D2 and C-3PO.

And, last but not least, The Bad Batch will continue the Clone Wars story with the elite and experimental clones introduced in The Clone Wars: Season Seven as they navigate the turbulent times just after the fall of the Republic. This one might be the hardest for me to watch since I’m not a fan of the clones who executed Order 66. It all depends on what happened to the Bad Batch as Palpatine gave the order and what happens to them afterward.

I have seen people complain already that it’s too much, too soon. First, this is a plan for years, not months. Second, everything but Rogue Squadron and Taika Waititi’s film will be behind a paywall so you need to pay to play. Third, this is nothing compared to Marvel Studios.

Marvel Studios

The investor call brought the final trailer for WandaVision, a series dealing with Wanda Maximoff, Vision, the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, and the dawn of Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It premieres in January.

The series will also include Teyonah Parris as a grown-up Monica Rambeau (Captain Marvel), Kat Denning as Darcy Lewis (Thor and Thor: The Dark World), and Randall Park as FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Ant-Man and the Wasp).

We also got a first look at The Falcon and the Winter Solider, a post-Avengers: Endgame and post-Spider-Man: Far From Home series with the new Captain America (played by Anthony Mackie) and Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier as they take on Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl, Captain America: Civil War).

They briefly addressed Chadwick Boseman and the Black Panther legacy: Black Panther 2 is definitely happening with Ryan Coogler back at the helm, but they will not recast the role of T’Challa. I’m still pulling for Letitia Wright’s Shuri to become the new Queen of Wakanda.

Disney also announced a few new surprise titles for Phase Four.

Marvel logo bundle

Secret Invasion will star Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury as he battles a (ahem) secret invasion of Skrulls with shapeshifting Skrull ally Talos (Captain MarvelSpider-Man: Far From Home). This is probably going to be loosely based on the comics event of the same name.

Ironheart stars Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams, a young black girl from inner city Chicago who reverse engineers Tony Stark’s armor to become the protector of her neighborhood. I am definitely onboard for this.

Don Cheadle will return as War Machine/James Rhodes in Armor Wars as Marvel explores what happens when Iron Man tech falls into the wrong hands. We got a taste of that in Iron Man 2.

We’ll also get a “live action holiday special” with the Guardians of the Galaxy cast (written and directed by James Gunn) and a series of shorts featuring new characters in the Marvel universe via I am Groot.

F4Ready for another surprise? Just over a year after regaining the rights to Marvel’s First Family, director Jon Watts (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far from Home, and the third Spider-Man MCU film) will be in charge of Fantastic Four.

The Fantastic Four have been notoriously difficult to capture on film, but with Watts in charge, I’m expecting about the same level of levity and charm as he’s shown through the two Spider-Man films so far.

We got a first look at What If…?, which explores stories of alternate Marvel Cinematic Universes where one little thing changed the whole world. What if Peggy Carter was the super soldier instead of Steve Rogers? What if T’Challa was taken by Yondu, thus becoming Star Lord? What if…?

There’s also a first look at Loki, a series that looks like a ton of multiverse-bending madness. It also features Atlanta’s famous Marriott Marquis hotel. I’d know those elevators anywhere.

Oh, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania! Peyton Reed is returning to direct, Kathryn Newton is taking over the role of Cassie Lang, and Jonathan Majors is Kang the Conqueror.

Is that enough? Of course not. Marvel still has Black Widow on May 7th, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on July 9th, The Eternals on November 5th, and the third MCU Spider-Man film on December 17th.

Thor: Love and Thunder (enter Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (which just announced newcomer Xochitl Gomez to portray America Chavez!), the Black Panther sequel, the Captain Marvel sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and a Blade movie are still in the wings for 2022 and beyond.

We also have Hawkeye (Hailee Steinfeld is Kate Bishop), Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani is Kamala Khan), She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany in the title role with Tim Roth and Mark Ruffalo returning as Abomination and Hulk), and Moon Knight being developed for Disney+.

And… breathe.

Disney Live-Action

Love ’em or hate ’em, Disney’s still revamping their back catalog in live-action/computer animated form. However, given the tumult presented by COVID-19 on the motion picture industry, the upcoming remakes of Peter Pan and Pinocchio will join Lady and the Tramp and Mulan on Disney+ instead of theaters.

Peter Pan and Wendy will star newcomer Ever Anderson (the daughter of Milla Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson, who also plays a young Natasha Romanoff in Black Widow) and Alexander Moloney. Yara Shahidi will play Tinker Bell and Jude Law will play Captain Hook.

Yes, a black Tinker Bell. Prepare yourself for a whole new crop of close-minded bovine excrement from that particular sector of the internet.

Pinocchio will star Tom Hanks as Geppetto and Alan Cumming as Honest John, with Robert Zemeckis at the helm. Tom Hanks is a universal treasure, so I’m excited to see what he does with this.

Jungle Cruise and The Little Mermaid will still be released in theaters, and we’re also getting sequels to Enchanted and Hocus Pocus. I get the former, but I’m hesitant about the latter.

Disney Animation

On the success of the DuckTales reboot, Disney is breathing new life into Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers, this time in the hybrid live-action/computer generated format. John Mulaney and Andy Samberg are the chipmunk brothers in a world where cartoons live side-by-side with humans. So, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? style?

Lin-Manuel Miranda is coming back to Disney animation with Encanto, a new animated film set in Colombia dealing with “the dangerously wonderful chaos of family” combined with elements of magic. Encanto will be the studio’s 60th animated feature film.

Princess Tiana (The Princess and the Frog) and Moana will be returning in their own respective musical animated series, and Baymax (Big Hero 6) and the characters of Zootopia will also be getting their own shows. Disney also announced that they’re teaming up with the Pan-African entertainment company Kugali to develop a science fiction animated series called Iwájú, which showcases a gorgeous, Afro-futuristic world.

We’re also getting another crack at A Diary of a Wimpy Kid, this time as a 3D computer animated series. Not my cup of tea exactly, but it will probably work for the fans. Blue Sky Studios is working on an animated sequel to Night at the Museum, which was a fun and chaotic trilogy.

Pixar also has some dishes for the table: We also get a Buzz Lightyear origin story and a Cars series. I’m skeptical about both of those, but they’re still working on feature films too, including Luca and Turning Red.


Willow LogoLucasfilm also chimed in with news of a fifth Indiana Jones film with Harrison Ford back in the fedora, James Mangold in the driver’s seat, and a target date of July 2022.

They added a Willow television series to the mix, including Warwick Davis returning as the great sorcerer Willow Ufgood in a story set decades after the 1988 Ron Howard film.

Finally, Lucasfilm will be adapting Tomi Adeyemi’s New York Times bestselling novel Children of Blood & Bone, which features a young African girl in a coming-of-age adventure to restore magic to her forsaken people, the Maji.

Untitled Alien Series

FX Alien LogoTo wrap this all up, the call also contained news of a television series coming to Hulu via FX based on the Alien film series.

Noah Hawley, the writer and producer known from his work on Fargo and Legion, has been tapped to run this series. Rumors abound that Ridley Scott, director of 1979’s Alien and sequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, is being courted as executive producer.

All we have so far is that this series will take place on Earth, a first in the franchise if you ignore the two Alien vs. Predator films. And, honestly, most people do.

That’s a lot to cover, but it’s also a bright future for Star Wars, Marvel, and Disney/Fox properties. Keep an eye out because the next few years are going to be packed.

I know I’m excited. If my social media feeds are any indication, I’m not the only one.


Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Quarantine Con, Episodes IX and X

Culture on My Mind
June 26, 2020


This week’s “can’t let it go” is yet another panel from the Classic Track Irregulars!

Well, really, two panels. And a bonus feature.

Still broadcasting from their respective socially distant quarantine bunkers, the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track panelists have returned. First, the panelists put their suits back on and swear under oath that Krull, Lost in Space, Doom, and Starship Troopers are okay to watch and enjoy. This week’s avocados at law are Sherman Burris, Kevin Eldridge, and Darin Bush.

As an added bonus feature, Classics Track co-directors Joe Crowe and Gary Mitchel offer a blooper reel of sorts with the lost thirteen minutes from a crossed wire. This is what happens when you think you’re streaming live to Facebook, but the panel is broadcasting to YouTube instead.

Here are thirteen minutes of fun that were had when the panel thought everyone was watching.

The tenth entry in Quarantine Con is a celebration. It was Joe Crowe’s birthday, so Gary Mitchel and Dr. Scott Viguie arranged an Ask Me Anything party where the Classics Track’s fans could ask Joe… well… anything.

There’s even a surprise phone call from Joe’s mom! “Lord have mercy,” she says.

That’s a lot of content for a week, but if there’s one thing that a track dedicated to the entirety of science fiction media greater than ten years old understands, it’s an embarrassment of riches.

They have a lot more fun discussions planned in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to the YouTube channel and the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook.


Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Quarantine Con, Episode VIII

Culture on My Mind
June 12, 2020


This week’s “can’t let it go” is yet another panel from the Classic Track Irregulars!

Broadcasting from their respective socially distant quarantine bunkers, the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track panelists have returned to talk about the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

But, not the Marvel Cinematic Universe that you know. Rather, the one that might have been.

Classics Track co-directors Joe Crowe and Gary Mitchel are joined by Van Allen Plexico and Darin Bush to talk about what would have happened if we got the MCU in the 1970s!

As before, Joe and Gary will be hosting more of these, so stay tuned to the YouTube channel and the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook.


Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Dragon Con 2019

Dragon Con 2019
Atlanta, GA – August 29 through September 2, 2019


Dragon Con!

It’s an annual tradition for me, and a family reunion of sorts as I catch up with dear friends from around the world. This year will be my eleventh time attending and my fourth year as an attending professional. If you plan to be there, these are the places where you will be able to find me over Labor Day weekend.

I have fifteen scheduled program events in five days, and I’m sure more will pop up over the course of the con. Come find me and say hi!

The convention app is available now – look for Dragon Con by Core-apps in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store – and contains the current schedule of events. The list of confirmed guests, performers, artists, and attending professionals is available on the official Dragon Con site.

Dragon Con itself takes place in downtown Atlanta spanning five hotels (Sheraton Atlanta, Hilton Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, and Westin Peachtree Plaza) and the AmericasMart Atlanta exhibition center. The convention draws approximately 70,000 to 80,000 attendees annually and showcases one of the city’s most popular parades on Saturday morning at 10am.

Dragon Con prides itself on contributions to charity and the community. You can find more information about those efforts on their webpage. Each year, the convention partners with a local charity organization and this year’s partner is the Atlanta Affiliate of the American Heart Association. It’s a personal selection for the convention and the donations are in honor of long-time Comics Director Thom Trainor, who lost his battle with heart disease in July of 2018. Dragon Con will match all donations made this year up to $100,000.

If you’re new to the convention, consider stopping by the Dragon Con Newbies group on Facebook. It is run by Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony, and me, and is an in-depth community resource for information about this massive (and sometimes overwhelming) event. Memberships (tickets) for this year’s convention are also still available.

If you want a printable copy of my schedule, I have a convenient PDF.

Note: All Dragon Con schedules are tentative until the convention ends on Monday. Even then, things are a bit suspect. As things change before the convention, I’ll update this post.
Revision History:

    • Rev 0 – 23 Aug 2019: Initial post.

I will be around starting Wednesday. Pretty much the standards of wandering the hotels, picking up my Hard Rock Dragon Con gear, and catching up with some friends.

1:00p-5:00p: Dragon Con Newbies Walking and Rolling Tours (4 hours)
Main Programming
Marriott Marquis, Atrium Level, A601-A602
Want to get a ‘lay of the land’ and find your way around the hotels? Did you know there’s a food court? Meet others new to Dragon Con and get a tour with some veteran con-goers. Groups leave every 30 minutes. Last tours will leave approximately 4pm.
Panelists include: Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony

5:30p-6:30p: Dragon Con Newbies Q&A (1 hour)
Main Programming
Marriott Marquis, Atrium Level, A601-A602
First Dragon Con? Confused or overwhelmed? Savvy con attendees will share tips and tricks.
Panelists include: Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony

Other Events of Interest
10:00p-12:00a: The ESO Network 2019 DragonCon Meet & Greet (2 hours)
Westin, Bar 210
Hosted by the ESO Network

10:00a: Dragon Con Newbies 101 (1 hour)
Main Programming
Hyatt, Regency V
First Dragon Con? Confused or overwhelmed? Savvy con attendees will share their tip and tricks for making your experience an awesome one.
Panelists include: Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony

2:30p: Captain Marvel: Blast from the Past (1 hour)
American Science Fiction and Fantasy Media
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M302-M303
From her beginnings as a female foil to her own place in the MCU as a pre-eminent powerhouse, we’ll consider just how Carol Danvers and her story work in the MCU and her future as a stand-alone hero and Avenger.
Panelists include: Bethany Kesler, Casi Hamilton, Jenna Johnson, Kelley Harkins

5:30p: New Series Doctor Who (1 hour)
Hilton, Crystal Ballroom
With Series 11 over, this panel discusses what Chibnall did in his inaugural series as show-runner & the impact of the Doctor & her companions.
Panelists include: Angela Hartley, Robert Bowen, Allison Lane, JM Tuffley, Robert Lloyd

7:00p: Battlestar Galactica Anniversary Panel: The End…? (1 hour)
Military SciFi Media
Westin, Chastain DE
It’s the 15th anniversary of the start, and the 10th anniversary of the end of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica…are we ready to talk about it? What is the verdict? Where might a future reboot of BSG take us?
Panelists include: Andrew E.C. Gaska, Kevin R. Grazier, Van Allen Plexico

8:30p: Classic Sci-Fi Charity Theater: Mac and Me (2.5 hours)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
Witness the 1988 kid-meets-alien movie that totally was not an, um, homage to E.T. It’s this year’s movie watch for charity — you have to donate to the Dragon Con charity TO GET OUT.
Panelists include: Darin Bush, Gary Mitchel, Joe Crowe, Chris Cummins

Other Events of Interest
11:30a-12:30p: David Tennant (1 hour)
Marriott, Atrium Ballroom

10:00a: Classic Sci-Fi Roll-a-Panel: Batman’s 80th Anniversary
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
We can’t possibly cover all Batman movies & TV shows & cartoons in one panel. So we’re doing TWENTY in one hour, with audience members choosing the Bat-topics on our one-of-a-kind Bat-d20 (we auction it for charity at the end of the panel!)
Panelists include: The All-Star line-up from the American Science Fiction Classics Track

1:00p: Earth Station Who Presents: Deconstructing Doctor Who (1 hour)
Hilton, Galleria 5
What are the essential elements of one of the most popular science fiction series for over 50 years? The Earth Station Who crew lead an in-depth discussion on the what, why, and how of Who.
Panelists include: Mike Faber, Michael Gordon, Mary Ogle, Tara Newman

5:30p: Farscape Anniversary Fan Panel (1 hour)
Military SciFi Media
Westin, Chastain DE
Farscape was a monumental show for its weaving together of intricate stories, compelling characters, practical effects in puppetry, and strong visual storytelling. Come aboard Moya as we look back on 20 years of this fan favorite.
Panelists include: Amy J. Murphy, Amanda, James Henson

Other Events of Interest
12:00p: Doctor Who Trio
Epic Photos

2:30p-3:30p: David Tennant (1 hour)
Marriott, Atrium Ballroom

11:30a: Bond, James Bond 007, Anniversary Edition (1 hour)
Hilton, Galleria 5
The Bond Film Franchises has a number of anniversaries this year including the 50th Anniversary of “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” the 40th of “Moonraker,” the 30th of “License to Kill,” and the 20th of “World is Not Enough.” This panel discusses these films and more.
Panelists include: Mike Faber, John L Flynn, Bob Nygaard, Caro McCully

4:00p: The Amazing Sci-Fi Worlds of Steven Spielberg (1 hour)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
Our tribute to the creator who took us from sharks to dinosaurs to flying bikes to the Temple of Doom and back.
Panelists include: Michael D. French, Sue Kisenwether, Jessa Phillips, Jonathan Williams, James Palmer, JC De La Torre

10:00p: UHF: 30-Year Anniversary Sponsored by Spatula City (2.5 hours)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
See the epic Weird Al Yankovic movie — OR YOU GET THE FIREHOSE. Bring your own spatulas for a celebration where we don’t need no stinking badgers.
Panelists include: Kevin Eldridge, Shaun Rosado, Kevin Eldridge, Noel Wood, Beth Van Dusen, John Hudgens

Other Events of Interest
5:30p-6:30p: Catherine Tate (1 hour)
Epic, Imperial Ballroom

7:00p-8:00p: RetroBlasting Presents the Vehicles that Drove the 80s (1 hour)
Marriott, M103-M105

11:30a: Classic Sci-Fi Roll-A-Panel: 1979 & 1999
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
We have too many movies we want to celebrate and panels we want to have– so we’re doing 20 of them in one hour! It’s a lightning round crowd participation melee of geekiness that’s bigger than the Deep Blue Sea! This year we’re talking about sci-fi movies from 1979, and 10 movies from 1999, from Black Hole to Wild Wild West — Audience members roll a giant customized d20 to choose which movie we discuss, and then at the end of the panel, we auction the d20 off for Dragon Con’s charity.
Panelists include: The All-Star line-up from the American Science Fiction Classics Track

2:30p: Endgame: MCU (1 hour)
American Science Fiction and Fantasy Media
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M302-M303
For the final panel of the con, we’ll look at the final film of this part of the MCU. There was a lot of fan love, and some crazy timey wimey stuff, and the sad loss of some of our favorites.
Panelists include: Bethany Kesler, Lisa Manifold, Alison Sky Richards, Jenna Johnson

Debrief: Atlanta Comic Con 2019

Debrief: Atlanta Comic Con 2019
Atlanta, GA – July 12-14, 2019



Saturday night’s all right for geeking out! Atlanta Comic Con 2019 has come and gone and this year was a blast. My involvement was limited to the panels in one day, but it was a fun day to be there.

After a trip on MARTA and a short walk, everything started with a visit to DougPool7 who was lounging on a beach chair by the ticket lines. I have seen a lot of Deadpool cosplays over the years, but this one really made me laugh.

View this post on Instagram

Deadpool on Vacation! #AtlantaComicCon

A post shared by Michael Falkner (@womprat99) on

You can find some more of his vacation antics on his YouTube channel.

Most of my time and all of my panels for the day involved a Drop of Mikes, which you may remember after the Council of Michaels that we assembled at Dragon Con 2018. The first panel of the day was So You Want to Start a Podcast with Mike Faber and Michael “Howdy” Gordon.

We had a great discussion with the audience as we talked about how to start a podcast, why you’d want to in the first place, and the basics of Podcasting 101. Once again, I promoted Tee Morris and his fantastic reference book Podcasting for Dummies. We also fielded a simple question after mentioning that, in general, no one is going to get rich and famous as a podcaster: “Why bother?”

We were pretty unanimous with the answer: Podcasting is a hobby and a labor of love, and as long as it remains fun, it’s still a worthy pursuit.

All in all, the audience was content with our advice. We fielded a few questions and offered a few more tidbits after the panel was over, and then we joined up with Michael Bailey to walk the con floor for a bit.

The four of us reconvened for The MCU: What Now?, our panel on the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

We had a wonderful turnout for the panel, even after half a row left when we told them that we would be discussing the most recent Spider-Man film. It’s entirely fair that they left, but we knew that couldn’t have an authentic discussion about the future of Marvel in film without including the twists and turns in Spider-Man: Far From Home.

This panel was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a while. The questions were intelligent and engaging, especially from the kids in a pretty diverse audience. There was also a spirited discussion about whether or not Thanos could wield Mjolnir with was quite enlightening. They actually changed my mind after the panel.

From this point, we bid the Fabers adieu and settled in for the afternoon and evening. Mike Gordon, Michael Bailey, and I grabbed some lunch, caught up on all the events since the last time we had been together, and toured the show floor until it closed at 7pm. After that, we settled on a bench in the lobby area and waited for our 10:30pm panel.

It was fun to watch the cosplayers and chat about all things geek – Bailey’s expertise on all-things comics is helpful in filling the gaps in my knowledge – but we were certainly baffled about scheduling a Batman retrospective panel so late in the night.

Regardless, after the awesomeness that was this Black Adam cosplayer, it was time for Holy Pop Culture: Batman at 80.

The Batman panel was pretty fun. Based on the time, we were worried about having an audience, but fifteen diehard Bat-fans (and one dude who wanted a relatively quiet place to catch some shuteye) joined in the fun. Michael Bailey led the discussion from Batman’s origins in Detective Comics through his evolution and rise over the decades to the character’s unfathomable popularity today.

After that, it was time to head home.

I’d like to thank the staff at Atlanta Comic Con for their hospitality and hard work. I’m definitely looking forward to visiting (and hopefully participating) again in 2020. I also extend a huge thanks to the Michaels – Faber, Gordon, and Bailey – for a great day of camaraderie and geeky fun.