Jason Momoa Joins the Fast & Furious Franchise, and More Movie News

This week’s Ketchup brings you more headlines from the world of film development news, covering new titles such as Batgirl, Fast and Furious 10, and Masters of the Universe.


This WEEK’S TOP STORY

JASON MOMOA JOINS THE FAST & FURIOUS FRANCHISE

(Photo by Samir Hussein/Getty Images)

Ten movies in (including Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw), the Fast & Furious franchise has featured a revolving door of action stars that has included Idris Elba, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron, and perhaps most controversially at this point, Dwayne Johnson. Instead of returning for any future Fast & Furious projects, Johnson is focusing on the DC Comics movie Black Adam (7/29/2022) and his various projects for streaming services. As it turns out, however, Vin Diesel, director Justin Lin, and Universal Pictures have enlisted the help of another DC Comics star, as Jason Momoa is now in talks to join the Fast & Furious family as possibly the franchise’s next big villain (though that hasn’t been confirmed yet). Momoa is the 10th movie’s first big casting announcement, and there might be more, as filming won’t start until later in the spring of 2022, aiming for a May 19, 2023 release date (two weeks after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on 5/5/2023, and one week before Disney’s remake of The Little Mermaid on 5/29/2023).


Other Top Headlines

1. JAMES GUNN CONFIRMS GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 TO BE “BIG AND DARK” FINALE

Guardians of the Galaxy

(Photo by ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Once upon a time, Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was supposed to have been released nearly two years ago on May 1, 2020, but that was before a Twitter controversy led to director James Gunn being fired, which then led him to Warner Bros. and DC Comics to direct The Suicide Squad (Certified Fresh at 90%), before eventually landing back at Marvel again. Gunn’s detour on The Suicide Squad ultimately led Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 to be pushed back almost exactly three years to next year, on May 5, 2023, but with all of the team members returning, along with the long-awaited debut of Will Poulter as the galactic messiah Adam Warlock. We still don’t know exactly what the third film will involve, but Gunn gave up one fairly big reveal this week on Deadline’s “Hero Nation” podcast. In the interview, Gunn confirmed that “This is the end for us. This is the last time people will see this team of Guardians,” and that “It’s big. It’s so big and dark and different from what people might be expecting it to be.” The finality of Gunn’s statement seems to suggest that at least one of the MCU Guardians of the Galaxy (Drax, Gamora, Groot, Mantis, Rocket Raccoon, and Star-Lord) might be killed off in the third and final film. As for the future beyond Vol. 3, the MCU’s members are just a handful of the dozens that have been in the Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics, so there are still plenty of future possibilities.


2. THE OFFICE STARS STEVE CARELL AND JOHN KRASINSKI TO REUNITE FOR FANTASY IF

Steve Carell and John Krasinski

(Photo by Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)

After most recently directing two sci-fi thrillers in A Quiet Place (Certified Fresh at 96%) and its COVID-19-delayed sequel A Quiet Place Part II (Certified Fresh at 91%), John Krasinski is next shifting to a completely different genre with a fantasy comedy called IF. Believed to be the project formerly called Imaginary Friend (before it was ultimately shortened to IF), the film already had John Krasinski also starring, along with Ryan Reynolds (possibly as the imaginary friend), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), and Fiona Shaw. As of this week, we can also now add Steve Carell (making IF a reunion project for two stars of NBC’s The Office), Louis Gossett Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman, HBO’s Watchmen), Alan Kim (Minari), and Cailey Fleming (The Walking Dead). Paramount Pictures has scheduled IF for release on November 17, 2023, as part of next year’s big pre-Thanksgiving holiday season start (Universal’s Trolls 3 is also scheduled for that same date).


3. KEVIN COSTNER TO DIRECT HIS FIRST FILM IN ALMOST 20 YEARS

Kevin Costner in Yellowstone

(Photo by Danno Nell/©Paramount Network)

Kevin Costner has obviously stayed quite busy as an actor in recent years, but another aspect of his career has been on something of a hold. Despite winning Academy Awards for both Best Picture and Best Director in 1990 for Dances with Wolves (Certified Fresh at 83%), it has now been 19 years since Costner’s last film as director, the 2003 Western Open Range (Certified Fresh at 79%). Nearly 20 years later, Kevin Costner is finally ready to direct another Western, called Horizon, which will start filming this summer on August 29, 2022 at locations in Utah. Kevin Costner will also star in and produce Horizon, which is described as a sprawling epic spread across the 15-year period of expansion that started before the Civil War and continued after it ended (which suggests a setting in the 1850s and 1860s, and possibly early 1870s). Given the implied ensemble scale of Horizon, we can probably expect to hear more casting announcements soon.


4. IVORY AQUINO MAKES HISTORY BY JOINING DC COMICS’ BATGIRL MOVIE

Ivory Aquino in 2018

(Photo by Elizabeth Goodenough/Everett Collection)

Both Marvel Studios and Warner Bros./DC Comics have been making efforts in recent years to introduce more diversity in their films. Marvel’s Eternals and Hawkeye both had deaf characters, for example, and Warner Bros.’ new Supergirl (Sasha Calle in The Flash) and Batgirl (Leslie Grace from In the Heights) are both going to be portrayed by actresses of Latina heritage. Leslie Grace won’t be the only groundbreaking performer in HBO Max’s Batgirl, however, as trans actress Ivory Aquino has joined the project as Alysia Yeoh, who writer Gail Simone introduced in the comics in 2011. In Batgirl, Alysia Yeoh will be depicted as the roommate of Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl. Other cast members in Batgirl will include Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne, J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, and Brendan Fraser. There is no release date yet for when Batgirl will debut on HBO Max. Before Batgirl, co-directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah most recently directed the sequel Bad Boys for Life (Certified Fresh at 76%).


5. KIRSTEN DUNST TO FIGHT CIVIL WAR FOR EX MACHINA DIRECTOR

Kirsten Dunst

(Photo by RCF/Everett Collection)

After credits as a writer or producer on movies like 28 Days Later (Certified Fresh at 87%) and Dredd (Certified Fresh at 79%), Alex Garland made his directorial debut in 2014 with the dramatic sci-fi thriller Ex Machina (Certified Fresh at 92%), which featured early standout performances by Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander, and which was followed in 2018 by Annihilation (Certified Fresh at 88%). Garland clearly enjoys working within the science fiction genre, and he will continue doing so with a project called Civil War, which is reportedly an action movie set in a near-future United States. Kirsten Dunst will star in Civil War alongside Wagner Moura, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Cailee Spaeny. Alex Garland is partnering on the film with A24, for whom he also worked on both Ex Machina and an upcoming project called simply Men.


6. CHRIS EVANS JOINS DWAYNE JOHNSON’S HOLIDAY MOVIE RED ONE

Chris Evans

(Photo by Jef Hernandez/Everett Collection)

Up above in our Top Story, we mentioned that Dwayne Johnson is focusing much of his time nowadays on movies for streaming services like Netflix (like Red Notice and its upcoming sequels). Coincidentally, Johnson also has another project with “Red” in the title for Amazon Studios. This week, Chris Evans, who continues to find new projects post-Captain America, signed on to co-star with Johnson in Red One. The premise is being kept secret, but it’s described as a holiday-themed action adventure comedy for family audiences, and the title suggests it might have something to do with Santa Claus. Red One will be directed by Jake Kasdan, who previously worked with Dwayne Johnson on Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Certified Fresh at 76%) and Jumanji: The Next Level (Fresh at 71%). Meanwhile, Johnson has also been talking lately about a mystery video game project based on “one of the biggest, most badass games,” which is expected to be announced later this year, whatever it is. As for Chris Evans, Red One joins a growing slate that also includes the Toy Story spinoff Lightyear (7/17/2002) and a film in which he will star as Golden Age of Hollywood dancing star Gene Kelly.


7. ONE OF THE JETS FROM WEST SIDE STORY IS YOUR NEW HE-MAN IN MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE

Kyle Allen

(Photo by Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)

Director Steven Spielberg has always had a talent for discovering young actors and elevating their careers (take a look, for example, at who all was in Saving Private Ryan back in 1998). So when he set out to make a new version of West Side Story (Certified Fresh at 92%), the promise was immediately there that some of the film’s stars would go on to join other exciting projects (Rachel Zegler, for example, will star in Disney’s live-action remake of Snow White). Spielberg’s star-making magic touch may even extend to the ensemble cast of “Jets” and “Sharks,” as one of the Jets, Kyle Allen, has landed the lead role as He-Man in the long-in-development live-action remake of Masters of the Universe. The adaptation of the popular line of Mattel toys (and its related TV shows) has been in development for over 10 years, first at Warner Bros. and then for most of the 2010s at Sony Pictures, but the project’s new home is on Netflix (which is also where you can find Kevin Smith’s new animated series). Netflix and directors Adam and Aaron Nee (whose next film is the Sandra Bullock/Channing Tatum adventure comedy The Lost City) are expecting to start filming Masters of the Universe in the summer of 2022, suggesting a release sometime in 2023. He-Man is obviously just one character in a large fantasy ensemble, so we can probably expect to hear casting stories for various characters like Skeletor, Man-at-Arms, Beast Man, and Evil-Lyn, soon.


8. MOON KNIGHT WRITER TAKING ON MORTAL KOMBAT SEQUEL NEXT

Poster art for Mortal Kombat (2021)

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

Although Moon Knight probably was not well known by many non-Marvel Comics fans until recently, we’re about to get an entire Disney+ series about the character (played by Oscar Isaac) on March 30, 2022. Ever since the Marvel/Disney+ line of shows began with WandaVision, the various writers and directors of those shows have been consistently getting work elsewhere. That trend continued this week with the news that Moon Knight head writer Jeremy Slater has been hired by New Line Cinema to start working on a sequel to their recent video game adaptation (and reboot) of Mortal Kombat (Rotten at 54%). Like most of Warner Bros.’ films in 2021, Mortal Kombat also debuted day-and-date on HBO Max, which may have impacted its box office, but it was still able to make over $83 million worldwide. No director or stars have been announced for Mortal Kombat 2 yet, but the first film teased that fan favorite Johnny Cage may join the martial arts jamboree in the sequel.


9. FIRST ANIMATED TRANSFORMERS FEATURE FILM SINCE THE 1980S IS COMING IN 2024

Poster for The Transformers: The Movie (1986)

(Photo by ©De Laurentiis entertainment Group)

Ever since Michael Bay gave us the first Transformers (Rotten at 58%) in 2007, there has been an assumption that future Transformers-related projects (like next year’s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, scheduled for 6/9/2023) would also all be “live action.” The first time the franchise was ever on the big screen, however, was 1986’s The Transformers: The Movie (Fresh at 62%), an animated feature that continued the story established in the popular TV series at the time. (It was also famously Orson Welles’ last film, not counting the long-delayed The Other Side of the Wind.) Paramount appears ready to return the franchise to its roots, though, as a mystery animated Transformers film has been scheduled for release on July 19, 2024. One possibility is that this animated film is the prequel that Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley had reportedly been working on, but conspicuously, no director was named for the 2024 film.


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Kenneth Proto

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