A new year brings new questions about the flood of new and returning TV shows and wannabe blockbuster films. Is there still magic in Indiana Jones’ fedora? Can Yellowjackets top itself? What’s the next beloved show headed for the exit? Will people flock to Barbie? And what, exactly, is going on with DC? Thoughts and theories on all of the above can be found here with Uproxx writers Jessica Toomer and Jason Tabrys debating the finer points of these big questions as we kickstart our month-long 2023 entertainment preview.
What’s The Deal With DC?
Jason Tabrys: So we know a few things: Black Adam is not in James Gunn’s plans. Henry Cavill is also not in James Gunn’s plans. We’ve got Shazam, Blue Beetle, Aquaman 2, and Flash coming this year (I guess). But it’s hard to know what matters in the overall architecture of what’s next for DC since we don’t know the plan yet; we don’t even know how the plan’s going to be introduced. Blue Beetle is a film James Gunn has promoted. So maybe that one has an inside track to being a part of whatever’s next, especially if Booster Gold is a part of it — which feels like a very James Gunn character. And then there’s the Flash, and everything with Ezra Miller. How do you determine what matters and what doesn’t with the DC universe at this point?
Jessica Toomer: I think it’s safe to just assume nothing matters. I would hope that fans who like these movies will enjoy what will probably be the last run of a lot of them. I mean, I think DC is unloading Flash just because it doesn’t want to lose money. I think they’ll wash their hands of it. I think Shazam might have a place because it is a kind of weird character that does connect some different universes. But I don’t think James Gunn is going to be able to do his quirky, off-beat bit with every new superhero and movie DC is trying to introduce in this next phase. I think he’s going to be limited in that a little bit because they are trying to build basically what Marvel has
Tabrys: That might not be a glitch. That might be a feature for him to keep expanding the idea of what he’s able to do. Which is something he’s done before. Guardians Of The Galaxy has a lot more heart and sentiment than Slither. I guess the bigger question that I have is, can these films change the course of whatever’s coming next? If people are like ‘Hot, damn, we’ve got to throw some Avatar money at Shazam,’ is that going to change things?
Toomer: Based on the rumors and what’s been confirmed, I don’t think anything’s going to change the plan that they’re brewing at this point.
Will The Reboot Boom Take Off In 2023?
Tabrys: We’ve got a lot of franchises that are eager to jump back to the forefront this year. There’s a new Transformers movie coming, there’s a new Hunger Games prequel coming from Francis Lawrence, the Wonka film with Timothée Chalamet is en route, Indiana Jones 5 is also dropping. Are these films going to be able to have the same popularity that preceeding iterations have had?
Toomer: No. I’m being very negative right now, but no, I don’t think so. I think Indiana Jones might have a good chance only because that franchise is so beloved. Harrison Ford is a bona fide movie star and then they’re adding Phoebe Waller-Bridge, so it does seem exciting where they’re taking it. I don’t think people have cared about Transformers in a hot minute. I think that’s the same issue with this Hunger Games prequel, plus they’re making the weird choice to focus on the origin story of the villain of that original trilogy. At the moment, nothing has built the kind of excitement it needs to cut through the noise, save Indiana Jones. But hey, there’s still time.
Tabrys: I’ll admit, I am very curious about Indiana Jones. I’m a huge fan, but I don’t know that the movie is going to be a gargantuan hit. It’s going to need Top Gun: Maverick buzz, where people are blown away by how broadly appealing the story is, and by how much of a crowd-pleaser it is. They can’t just lean on nostalgia here. They actually have to break the mold and tell a story.
The last time they made a truly great, celebrated Indiana Jones film was in 1989. So I have a little anger toward the Indiana Jones franchise. I feel like in a lot of ways they’ve let it just sort of rot on the vine for 30 years. So I’m curious if this film is actually going to captivate large swaths of people. I don’t think you can just market a film that’s going to appeal to 40-year-old and 50-year-old guys anymore. I don’t know that this isn’t going to just rest on that built-in audience. Top Gun was fighter jets and shit blowing up versus, what, an old dude with a hat and a whip? I feel like I’m going to burst into fan hell flames here saying all this, but I don’t feel like it has the same visual pop. I’m hopeful that I’ll be proven wrong.
Toomer: As am I, but then, I am always hoping you’ll be proven wrong.
Should We Get Ready To Say Goodbye?
Toomer: I think I would like for us collectively to be a bit more critical about when the right time to end a show is. I think the Ted Lasso team has said they had a number in mind and I hope that they stick to that number. I’m for shows going out on top. I appreciate that. I want them to stick the landing and not just kind of leave us on a cliff or linger until we lose interest. I think with something like Barry , I know you’ve said to me you don’t know where else they can go.
Tabrys: With Barry, it’s not that they’ve run out of things. I just can’t conceive of where they’ll go from here, but I said that before last season and they delivered a magnificent season. Maybe their best while spreading the ball around to the entire cast in really inspiring ways. But I naturally wonder, with the way it ended (and I’m trying to be gentle and not spoil), if the end game is near. But I fully expect Bill Hader to make me look like a schmuck by dropping another 5 seasons of brilliance on us and/or by completely reconstructing what the show is a la Atlanta.
As far as the overall thing of less is more, I’m really mixed on the idea. People get joy from these shows. People get jobs from these shows. If there’s a reason to keep running them and people are still getting joy, then, screw it. If it’s the same core folks behind the scenes and in front of the camera and people are still loving it, I hope these shows run for as long as everybody still gets joy and a paycheck out of it.
Toomer: I guess we’re just different. I’m a story purist, Jason, and you are trash for ratings.
Tabrys: No, I am a bringer and celebrator of joy. You keep your art. I’ll keep my happiness.
Is Barbie Going To Be A Hit?
Toomer: I’m worried because I think Barbie is going to be a bit smarter than people think. Some people got the references in its first full-length trailer and some people didn’t. That’s why I worry about Barbie. I think it might be too smart for us. I think Greta Gerwig has more than proven she can make this kind of material work. She’s a pro at writing for women and her last two films have performed well at the box office, but both Little Women and Lady Bird were holiday releases. She hasn’t had a Summer blockbuster drop yet and that’s just a whole different beast. Barbie is going to be competing with the kind of wild action epics and superhero stories that want to be the next Top Gun so… I’m not saying ‘dumb things down’ but I think marketing this thing is going to be key. It’ll deliver either way but it’s got to be more than just, what did you call it Jason when we were planning this, ‘internet famous?’
Tabrys: Yeah, films like Barbie and Cocaine Bear are going to get so much attention on social and on film twitter that I worry that they’re going to be taken for granted or pigeonholed by the conversation (Barbie is camp! Cocaine Bear is chaos!). I’m worried marketing departments are going to see the buzz and assume these things are in the bag but these are films that, like you said, are going to maybe have a tougher time hooking people (no capes, no cowls!) to actually put money on the counter, which is a bigger ask than asking them to ReTweet or pass around a candy-colored meme of Ryan Gosling in a denim vest.
Will Yellowjackets Live Up To The Hype?
Tabrys: There are so many questions about Yellowjackets. This show came out of nowhere. Is it possible to live up to the hype and actually pull this off again?
Toomer: How dare you?!
Tabrys: I want it to! But is it possible?
Toomer: Of course it is. You know how I feel about this show. Do you want to end our friendship right here?
Tabrys: Fine, fine. And yes, I know you ride or die for this show. You were telling me it was going to be a hit well before it debuted.
Toomer: Girls’ soccer team, cannibals, survival drama. What’s not to love about that?
Tabrys: It’s become this pop culture phenomenon. Let me alter my approach. It’s not can they do it again, but how do they do it again?
Toomer: When I interviewed Juliette Lewis, it seemed like they had a clear idea of how many seasons they wanted and where they were going. I feel like they’ve plotted the story out enough that it’s not going to be impacted too much by people’s expectations. I guess I could always be wrong … but I never am and I don’t think that Yellowjackets is going to disappoint in season two. It’s got a lot of questions to answer. I think it will answer some questions and then pose even more. I’m just really proud of the nineties alt-girl casting and I’m excited to see the gang back together. Now, if you really want to ask a question, let’s talk about whether they’re going to eat that baby this season.
Tabrys: Let’s not. I am very much a believer that Yellowjackets will deliver. I think you hit on something very important though, and that is the problem of trying to exist in a vacuum when shows hit. It’s the biggest question about Yellowjackets. Can they avoid falling into that trap of listening to people on the outside? They nailed the formula in season one. They should stick with what worked and ignore any other outside advice about what did or didn’t work.
Toomer: I think you’re right. And that’s where sometimes a show like Lost fell off for me. At a certain point, there’s a conscious effort to create mysteries that fans couldn’t solve or that have twists that blow people’s minds. Some of the fun of shows like this is that fans get together on the internet and try to solve them and if they solve plot points, that should be okay. You don’t have to always be a hundred steps ahead of the audience. My only worry with Yellowjackets is that the need to keep audiences guessing, to be so much smarter than the audience, will eventually start to dictate its storytelling.