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Glen Weldon

By now you've likely heard.

He's queer now.

Yep: Superman, Champion of the Oppressed, the Man of Steel, the Man of Tomorrow, the Last Son of Krypton, the Big Blue Boy Scout, Mr. Not-A-Bird-Nor-A-Plane Himself.

Queer. All of a sudden.

And at 83 years old, no less! Bless his heart.

But that's not what's happening here. Comics being comics, the truth is a lot more granular.

1. His name's Phastos

You've never heard of him. He's an Eternal — one of a band of super-powered immortal beings who have lived among us for over 7,000 years, tasked with protecting humanity from their evil counterparts, the Deviants.

No, he's not exactly a household name. Neither, for that matter, are any of the Eternals, which you might think would have Marvel worried. But it's not the first time they've sunk a lot of money and marketing into a film starring deep, deep-bench Marvel characters/raccoons/barely-talking plant creatures.

Let's get this out of the way: It's uneven.

There.

Any anthology series has episodes that work better than others. Star Wars: Visions is an anthology series; some of its episodes work better than others.

Which episodes work better for you will depend entirely on what you come to the Star Wars franchise for.

It's time to find something good to watch.

Maybe you didn't have exactly the hot vaccinated summer we were all hoping for. While we can't fix the big stuff, our critics do have good news about staying entertained — and challenged, and invigorated, and curious.

Q-Force is nicer than Archer.

By "nicer" I mean exactly what you think I mean: It's warmer, kinder, more interested in showing how much its characters care about, and look out for, one another.

If that surprises you, you're not alone. Come sit here by me.

In Hulu's Only Murders in the Building, two veteran comedians bring to the table the clearly defined personae that they've firmly entrenched in the public mind: Steve Martin often plays men who are self-impressed, even pompous, and a bit uptight, while Martin Short plays smarmy show-business phonies turned up to 11.

At first, the actors slot easily, even predictably, into their respective roles: Martin is Charles, a washed-up actor living off the royalties from his old cop show, and Short is Oliver, a flailing theater director who hasn't had a hit in decades.

The trippy, lurid and defiantly weird Netflix series Brand New Cherry Flavor wears its influences on its blood-flecked sleeve. Scenes involving a character periodically vomiting up spoilers, or discovering a new orifice on their torso, aspire to the exultant body horror of David Cronenberg.

Whenever Catherine Keener's mysterious witch Boro suddenly appears — grinning, watchful, still — amid crowds of people at parties inside swanky art galleries or Hollywood Hills homes, you are meant to recall David Lynch's Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway.

Well. That's over, at last.

After 80 long years, the fusillade of sneers, slurs and innuendos are finally done with. For decades, homophobes looking to land cheap jokes and queer fans aching to see themselves in the comics they love have shared an unlikely common goal — to shove Robin, Batman's trusty sidekick, out of the closet.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

On the excellent, very silly yet dry-as-vampire-dust series What We Do in the Shadows, a bunch of vampire housemates are constantly followed by a documentary crew capturing their mundane everyday (everynight, technically) existence. WWDITS hews closely to the established, familiar mockumentary format — handheld camerawork, a sense that the subjects of the series are only too aware of how they're being perceived, and frequent cutaways to "talking head" interviews with isolated characters.

Summer is well underway now, with big movies — such as Black Widow -- opening, summer songs blasting out of car windows, and books accompanying vacationers to beaches. We're listening, watching, reading and otherwise absorbing everything we can.

A guy so incensed that his boss scheduled a meeting on his lunch break that he shoves a hot dog up his jacket sleeve so he can sneak bites of it during the presentation ... because he thinks he can get away with it.

A guy who interprets a tour guide's throwaway line about the tour being "for adults" as an excuse to ask wildly filthy sexual questions ... because he thinks he can get away with it.

Hulu's horror film False Positive aches to evoke the sick, helpless, enveloping dread into which Mia Farrow's character so famously descended in Roman Polanski's 1968 classic Rosemary's Baby. And there's a lot it gets right, in the early going anyway, as it forces us to watch as the young, pregnant Lucy (Ilana Glazer) gets treated with polite but determined condescension by everyone around her.

Updated June 22, 2021 at 6:23 PM ET

In an interview with Variety last week, the creators of the HBO Max adult animated series Harley Quinn revealed that a scene depicting Batman performing oral sex on Catwoman was blocked by DC Entertainment because "heroes don't do that."

This Saturday, May 22, on or around 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, you may sense a diffuse but palpable shift in the global marketplace of finite resources. At that time, vast stockpiles of sequins, lasers, dry ice and fireworks scattered around the world will dry up spontaneously—only to reappear all at once, en masse, on a stage in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Yep: It's Eurovision time.

M.O.D.O.K. is a Marvel Comics villain. He is goofy. Defiantly so.

Comics are a visual medium, and M.O.D.O.K. has always been all about his visuals: He's a guy with a great big giant head who toodles around in a flying metal chair, zapping folk with mental blasts and whatnot (M.O.D.O.K. stands for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing, of course).

Personality wise, he's not much, historically. Shouts a lot. Vows vengeance a lot. Plots world domination a lot. Goes to the "puny-minded fools!" well ... just really a whole lot.

There exists, in some alternate universe, a version of the new HBO Max series Hacks that is spikier, faster, meaner — and as a result, considerably thinner, less generous and less rewarding — than the one that premieres today.

Happily, this one's pretty great, because it achieves and maintains a delicate balance born out of: 1. Knowing its subject and 2. A determination to treat its two lead characters fairly.

You'd be forgiven for wondering how Netflix's Jupiter's Legacy compares to other recent entries in the glut of "Wait, what if superheroes ... but, you know, realistic?" content currently swamping streaming services. (To be fair, this "realistic superheroes" business is something we comics readers have been slogging through for decades; the rest of the culture's just catching up. Welcome, pull up a chair; here's a rag to wipe those supervillain entrails off the seatback before you sit down.)

So here's a cheat sheet. Netflix's Jupiter's Legacy is ...

American animated films strive to serve two masters: Kids, who are generally up for anything bright and colorful and noisy, and their harried Adult Caretakers, who just want to plop said kids in front of a piece of entertainment that's bright, colorful and noisy enough to keep them occupied for a couple hours.

Knowing that adults often experience these movies alongside kids, the big producers of US animated films (Disney/Pixar, Dreamworks, Warner Bros. and Sony) attempt to thread the "Fun for the Whole Family!" needle, with mixed results.

Let's get the cheap joke out of the way right at the top, just so we don't have it hanging over our heads for the entire review:

Do not be misled by its title. Shadow and Bone does not, in this instance, refer to the two things James Bond does in every movie.

Ok, good, that's out of our systems, lets move on.

Unfocused and overstuffed, the first four episodes of HBO's The Nevers provided to critics lack a sufficiently strong narrative backbone to support the surfeit of characters, subplots, themes and familiar storytelling tics thrown at the viewer. The series pairs all this tumult with a frustratingly incremental approach to disclosing What Is Really Going On; as a result, allegiances shift, plots twist and characters take actions for reasons we can only guess at — provided we're willing to bother.

When we asked our trusty Pop Culture Happy Hour listeners to vote for the Best Muppet, we knew they'd come through. Over 18,000 votes were cast; over 150 different Muppets received votes.

Yes. Some brave, beautiful, misguided soul voted for H. Ross Parrot. As Best Muppet. That is a thing that happened.

Much will, and deservedly should, be made of the setting of the gorgeously wrought Disney film Raya and the Last Dragon: A fantasy world drawn from a variety of Southeast Asian cultures.

No reasonable filmgoer came away from a screening of Guillermo del Toro's 2013 film Pacific Rim or its 2018 sequel (directed by Steven S. DeKnight) thinking, "You know what that needed? More lore."

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