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ECCC of years' past. (Image: Sy Bean / Seattle Refined)
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A Geek's Guide to 2021 in the Pacific Northwest

2021 will hopefully mean the eventual return to cinemas and convention centers to celebrate the heroes and villains we love. Due to the pandemic, some of my 2020 picks shifted to 2021, making it a year absolutely packed with superhero movies and shows. The new year will bring big films, streaming series and a new Batman?

Here's my month-by-month geek guide to the new year in comics, sci-fi and cosplay, starting with a prediction.

'WANDAVISION' (streaming series)

  • Jan. 15

The most unusual romance in Avengers history made it to the big screen in AVENGERS films. Wanda and Vision's love story continues in the first series from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to hit Disney+. Like their comic book counterparts, Scarlet Witch/Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) had a rocky romance thanks to cosmic chaos and supervillains. Have the reality-warping heroine and android found true love in a show partly inspired by classic television family comedies?

Watch for a grown-up Monica Rambeau (you saw as a little girl in CAPTAIN MARVEL) who becomes a hero in the comics. How will this show tie into the next phase of the Marvel movies? Scarlet Witch is scheduled to appear in DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. This series kicks off Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

DC FUTURE STATE (comic book event)

  • January - March

Oscar-winner John Ridley gives us a new Batman for a new era. Tim Fox will inherit the famous cape and cowl, making him the first Black Batman. Tim is the son of Lucius Fox, Bruce's mentor at Wayne Industries and inventor of many Bat-gadgets and vehicles. Tim's brother Luke fights crime as Batwing. The new Batman fights for justice in a Gotham City where heroes are outlawed, and Bruce Wayne is dead. DC Comics will take readers into this near future in 25 miniseries for two months. See the destiny of a new Wonder Woman, Superman, Teen Titans, Justice League and the Dark Knight. All DC books take a break, and fans jump to the FUTURE STATE in January and February. Then in March, watch for INFINITE FUTURE #0. This massive one-shot launches the next era of DC Comics with new creative teams on classic heroes, new heroes.

'X-MEN LEGENDS #1' (comic book)

Marvel mutants are enjoying a massive resurgence after the events of Dawn of X, and now fans can dive back into classic stories by some of the biggest creators in comics. After decades there are some “whatever happened to” or “oh yeah, did they ever answer that question” loose storylines. The launch issue explores one of the biggest mysteries of the 90s era: The Third Summers Brother! Cyclops, Havok and the mutant mystery that reaches into deep space will be revealed by Fabian Nicieza and Brett Booth. Watch for more big stories from titanic X-Men alumni, including Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson.

'THE JOKER' (comic book)

The Batman villain steals the spotlight in his own new ongoing comic book series. After an attack on Gotham City, The Joker becomes the world's most wanted. Jim Gordon puts off retirement to track down the Clown Prince of Crime, but Gordon isn't the only one hunting the Joker. Current BATMAN writer James Tynion IV and Guillem March team up to launch the arch villain's new series. But that's not all! Punchline goes to prison! The breakout star of Joker War becomes the new inmate of Blackgate Penitentiary. Harper Rowe suits up again as Bluebird to save her brother from falling under Punchline's spell. Tynion IV will be joined by artist Mirka Andolfo on this series within a series.

'FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER' (streaming series)

  • March 19

Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are back as Captain America's allies fighting for the Star-Spangled Avenger's legacy when an old enemy returns. Steve Rogers gave Sam Wilson the shield, but both heroes will reunite when Baron Zemo from CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR returns with a vengeance. Watch for the return of Emily Van Camp as Agent Sharon Carter and Wyatt Russell as John Walker, who becomes U.S. Agent – the soldier recruited to replace Cap.

In the comics, Sam/Falcon and Bucky/Winter Soldier both took the Captain America title but will one of them wield the shield in the next AVENGERS movie? The Disney + series arrives March 19. It's also the 80th anniversary of Steve Rogers. Look for the CAPTAIN AMERICA ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE comic book also in March.

'MORBIUS' (movie)

  • March 19

Vampire vigilante unleashed. A Spider-Man villain turned anti-hero gets his own film after the success of VENOM. Jared Leto plays Dr. Michael Morbius, a scientist who tries to cure himself of a rare blood disorder with bat blood. The experiment gives him vampiric powers. Villain? Hero? Monster? Morbius, The Living Vampire is one of my favorites from Spidey's rogues gallery.

'BLACK WIDOW' (movie)

  • May 7

Scarlett Johansson suits up again in this prequel as Natasha Romanoff takes on the evil agency that turned her into an assassin before she became an Avenger. Black Widow's solo mission will introduce her family: Red Guardian – Russia's version of Captain America, her sister and “mother” figure. Black Widow is on a collision course with the classic supervillain, the Taskmaster.

This film is reportedly set after the events of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. After the events of AVENGERS: ENDGAME (no spoilers!), will this new film mean Black Widow will swing into action again with Scarlett or a new actress with the infamous code-name?

'LOKI' (streaming series)

Just when you thought Thor's brother, aka God of Mischief (Tom Hiddleston), was killed again, Loki made off with an Infinity Stone in the past. The fan-favorite villain fans love or love to hate is back with his own Disney + series. The Prince of Lies escapes the events of The AVENGERS movie but lands in the custody of a mysterious man (Owen Wilson) working for the TVA – the Time Variance Authority. As seen in the trailer Loki is on trial and sent on missions, including what looks like the infamous D.B. Cooper caper. And was it just me, or did I see Black Widow on alien landscape? With an Infinity gem, who knows what cosmic mischief Loki will cause.

'VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE' (movie)

  • June 21

Why have one symbiote when you can have two? Another classic Spider-Man villain makes its movie debut. Tom Hardy is back as the anti-hero bonded to the alien entity. A rival symbiote clings into serial killer Cletus Kassidy giving birth to Carnage. This sequel is directed by a man who knows about villains and creatures – Andy Serkus – the actor who brought Gollum in LORD OF THE RINGS, Caesar in the PLANET OF THE APES trilogy, Kong in KING KONG and played Black Panther villain Klaw.

'SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS' (movie)

  • July 9

The Master of Kung Fu makes his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut. Simu Liu plays the iconic hero in the first Marvel movie with an Asian lead. Tony Leung plays The Mandarin, leader of the Ten Rings - the terrorist organization seen in the first Iron Man film. The cast includes Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh and Florian Munteanu as the super-powered assassin Razor Fist.

'WHAT IF?' (streaming series)

  • Summer 2021

The comic book that asks the craziest questions becomes an animated series! What if Peggy Carter was a Super Soldier instead of Captain America? A mysterious alien known as The Watcher shows altered realities in the new show based on the classic comic.

'THE SUICIDE SQUAD' (movie)

  • Aug. 6

Bring on the bad guys! Based on the DC Comics book, this film is s soft reboot starring villains working for a secret government team. Margot Robbie is back as Harley Quinn. Viola Davis returns as the boss, Amanda Waller. Idris Elba, Pete Davison, John Cena, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker and Sylvester Stallone are among the cast of villains in the new film by director James Gunn.

ROSE CITY COMIC CON (live event)

  • Sept. 10-12

Mark your calendars and start thinking about your cosplay! After taking a break due to the pandemic, the Portland con is rescheduled for its usual time of year next fall. Tickets are already on sale. RCCC is a big draw because so many popular comic book creators and two major publishers call Portland home. Watch for updates on celebrity guests as we ease out of the pandemic.

'DUNE' (movie)

  • Oct. 1

I absolutely love DUNE. I've read the original books by Frank Herbert and all the prequels and sequels based on the extensive notes he left behind. This science-fiction classic is part space soap opera, good versus evil on an intergalactic level with messages of environmentalism, religion and politics. This epic by Washington native Herbert is based in part on a real-life experiment on the Oregon coast. In DUNE, the greatest source of power is a spice only found on the desert planet, also called Dune. Imagine the spice as oil, miracle cure – it's the basis of life extension, expanding the mind and all transportation and commerce. Control the spice, control the universe. Two rival families clash for control of the desert world while the natives think their messiah has arrived to unleash a crusade that will change humanity. DUNE inspired a big-screen film in the 80s and later a television mini-series. This new version is directed by Denis Villeneuve with a cast of stars including Timothee Chalemet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem. Star-crossed lovers, sci-fi action with themes of environmentalism, the dangers of religious fanaticism and feminism – the Dune story is epic, and expectations are galactic for the new film.

'ETERNALS' (movie)

  • Nov. 5

Ancient immortals fighting to save humanity. Based on the Jack Kirby classic, the Eternals are immortal warriors created by The Celestials (you may remember seeing them in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) to protect humanity from the Deviants. For movie fans who may not know the comics – if THOR and the Asgardians inspired the Norse Gods of the Vikings, then Eternals inspired the Olympian Gods of Greece and other mythologies.

The cast includes Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani and features Lauren Ridloff as the first deaf actor in a Marvel movie. Kit Harrington plays Dane Whitman, the man who becomes the Black Knight and a member of the Avengers. Gemma Chan plays Sersi, an Eternal who joins the Avengers. Nerds note: Thanos, the big bad from the Marvel movies, is a Deviant in the comics, so could this mean a comeback of the supervillain?

'HAWKEYE' (streaming series)

  • Late 2021

A classic Avenger and young sharpshooter take aim at bad guys. Jeremy Renner reprises his role as Clint Barton as the Avenging Archer takes on a protege. Hailee Steinfeld plays Kate Bishop, the fan-favorite bow and arrow wielding teen hero. Kate was the breakout character of the Young Avengers comic book. Ant-Man's daughter Cassie grows up to be Stature. Will Kate and Cassie's other comic book cast-mates join them in the MCU soon?

'MS. MARVEL' (streaming series)

  • Late 2021

The upcoming Disney + live-action series stars Kamala Khan who made history as the first Muslim American her to lead her own comic book and captured the attention of a new generation of new fans. Created by Seattle's own G. Willow Wilson, Kamala is an Inhuman who takes the code-name once used by her inspiration, Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel.

EMERALD CITY COMIC CON (event)

  • Dec. 2-5

Seattle's home-grown con makes a comeback but a little later than normal. The four-day con will come just after Thanksgiving, so it will be a great time to Christmas shop for the comic fans on your list. No official word on ticket sales or guest announcements just yet, but save the date for the biggest gathering of geek in the Pacific Northwest.

'SPIDER-MAN 3' (movie)

  • Dec. 17

After titles like SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME, will this be HOME FOR CHRISTMAS? Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker with Zendaya as MJ. The big question is Jamie Foxx as Electro – the villain from Amazing Spider-Man 2 – the second film from the second reboot with a different actor as Spidey. With Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, could spell sequel with the Spider-Verse – meaning several Spider-Man and Spider-Woman fighting together against a multiversal enemy?

'PUNCHLINE' (cosplay)

The breakout comic book star of 2020 will be the biggest cosplay inspiration of 2021. Alexis Kaye, aka Punchline, made her debut in BATMAN. She was already an internet sensation before the book even hit shelves. Punchline was The Joker's twisted henchwoman and took on Harley Quinn, the Joker's former love and cosplay inspirational icon. The supervillain, created by James Tynion IV and designed by artist Jorge Jimenez will be featured in a backup story in a new series starring The Joker. With her black and purple suit, long black ponytail and signature makeup, Punchline is sure to inspire cosplayers who will hopefully attend comic cons later this year.

'JUSTICE LEAGUE THE SNYDER CUT' (streaming)

Director Zack Snyder helmed the current cinematic version of DC Comics Universe with MAN OF STEEL and BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE but had to step down from what would be his third film JUSTICE LEAGUE. A different director came in, shooting new scenes and a different film. Now four years later comes JUSTICE LEAGUE THE SNYDER CUT, in which the director returns with unreleased footage to create what will be considered his definite vision. This is the big one that brings Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash (Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher and Ezra Miller) together to fight the Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons. With reportedly new footage shot, will fans see the villain's master: Darkseid? Will this cut answer some of the clues seen in BVS where Batman fights a losing showdown with what appears to be an evil Superman and The Flash from the future gives Batman a warning about the fate of Lois Lane? Zack Snyder's JUSTICE LEAGUE is scheduled to hit HBO Max this year and sure to inspired fan debate.

We may still be streaming and getting comic delivered for a while, but here's hoping we will be heading to cinemas and joining fellow fans at cons later in the year. Keep wearing masks, social distancing and staying safe. Have a happier, healthier 2021.

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