Warner Pushing Majority of DC Superhero Movies to Theaters in 2022

Despite the relative success of simultaneously releasing Wonder Woman 1984 to theaters and HBO Max, Warner Bros. Pictures plans to return the bulk of its DC comic book-based franchise back to theaters in 2022.

In an interview with The New York Times, Walter Hamada, president of DC Comics and DC Films, said the plan is to return four of franchise’s biggest moviegoer draws back to the big screen, with two lesser heroes’ movies debuting on HBO Max. Each movie will also feature a TV series spin-off for Max.

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“With every movie that we’re looking at now, we are thinking, ‘What’s the potential Max spinoff?'” Hamada said.

Indeed, the spin-offs plan to focus on alternative universes for the same movie superhero played by a different actor, who could be either good or evil. Current DC-themed movies include a Suicide Squad sequel;  Tenet co-star Robert Pattinson in The Batman, and Dwayne Johnson playing a villain in Black Adam. Finally, The Flash, which hits theaters in 2022, will feature two Batman characters, one played by Ben Affleck and the other by Michael Keaton, who played the Caped Crusader in 1989 and 1992.

Pending TV series based DC Comics movies headed to Max include ones based on The Suicide Squad and The Batman, while Warner Bros. Television reportedly has 25 live-action and animated superhero shows such as “Superman & Lois” in production —- the latter earmarked for The CW, which WarnerMedia co-owns with CBS Entertainment Group.

“I don’t think anyone else has ever attempted this,” Hamada said. “But audiences are sophisticated enough to understand it. If we make good movies, they will go with it.”

 

Wonder Woman 1984

STREAMING REVIEW:

Warner/HBO Max;
Action;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of action and violence.
Stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal.

The 2017 Wonder Woman movie is pretty commonly regarded as the best of the otherwise mediocre DC Comics shared movie universe. The sequel might have some fans wondering if the first one was a fluke.

Probably not. But while Wonder Woman 1984 unmistakably shares the DNA of the original, it certainly isn’t a retread.

Taking place in a stereotypical movie version of 1984, 65 years after the World War I setting of the first one, the film finds the ageless Diana (Gal Gadot) now working in the antiquities wing of the Smithsonian while going out as Wonder Woman on a lark to stop local crimes. One, a jewelry heist, uncovers a black market smuggling ring that brings Diana into contact with an ancient stone inscribed with the power to grant wishes by an ancient trickster god of lies (one who isn’t Loki, since he plays for the other team).

Diana’s wish is for the return of her lost love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and sure enough he pops up in a way that raises some questions the movie isn’t interested in answering.

However, the stone attracts the attention of Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a con man selling shares in a phony oil company. He wants the power to wish himself into greatness, but as we are told in a flashback prologue set during Diana’s time as a young girl participating in the Amazonian sports of Themiscyra, “greatness is not what you think.”

Diana’s attempts to stop him put her at odds with a co-worker named Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a wallflower whose wish to be more like Diana inadvertently imbued her with superpowers she’s now unwilling to give up on her path to becoming the supervillain Cheetah. However, tying such a seminal Wonder Woman villain’s origins to this story almost seems like a waste.

On the flip side, Diana discovers the price of her wish is the gradual decline of her own abilities, and as the wishing power spreads, plunging the world into chaos, she is forced to make the difficult decision most movie superheroes have to make at some point: love or duty.

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The film is visually dazzling and offers some moments that will make any superhero movie fan smile, and Wonder Woman fans in particular. For example, the film finds a neat way to work in the invisible jet that isn’t just a transparent plastic model with a doll in it.

But the film runs a bit long at two-and-a-half hours, and the over-reliance on wishes as the central plot device gets rather tedious after a while.

Even in a universe where magic is already established — Diana is the daughter of the Greek god Zeus, after all — the presentation of the wishes being granted just seems a step beyond the plausible since the movie only pays the slightest lip-service to how they are supposed to work. In a screenplay underlined by progressive misunderstandings of Reagan-era politics, the wishes serve whatever basic story points the writers require, and stand up to little scrutiny beyond that.

Which is all a means of saying the individual elements of the story as assembled don’t quite result in a completely satisfying whole. The two-villain team up is practically a superhero sequel tradition at this point, even when their pairing doesn’t seem to make sense. Tonally this type of plot wouldn’t seem too out of place in the 1970s “Wonder Woman” TV show.

The 1980s setting would seem to suggest the story is intended as a screed against the kind of selfishness and greed that are often attributed to the ’80s but are pretty universally present in any time period. But, really, the film’s message of honest work over shortcuts to achievement, and not expecting everything you want to just be handed to you, is an easy one to embrace.

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Since we’ve seen present-day Diana in Batman v Superman and Justice League, a sequel set before those films could have been a story about what brought her back to dabble in superheroism before retreating from humanity’s problems again before BvS. As it stands, WW84 doesn’t necessarily knock against the established DC movie timeline per se, but the two “Wonder Woman” movies definitely stand on their own apart from the greater franchise (though it will be interesting to see the character’s expanded role in HBO Max’s upcoming “Snyder Cut” of Justice League).

While some of its logical issues are hard to ignore, Wonder Woman 1984 does play better on multiple viewings. And really, whatever problems the movie has are almost an afterthought to the pure joy of a mid-credits cameo that should serve as the basis of the just-announced third film.

Wonder Woman 1984 is in theaters and streaming on HBO Max through Jan. 24, after which it will be available exclusively in theaters until its traditional home video run.

Animated Movie ‘Batman: Soul of the Dragon’ Arriving on Blu-ray and Digital in January

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the animated movie Batman: Soul of the Dragon through digital sellthrough Jan. 12, and on Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Jan. 26.

The Elseworlds tale is set in the 1970s and finds Bruce Wayne in martial arts training alongside other students under a master sensei must confront a deadly menace. Batman, joins forces with Richard Dragon, Ben Turner and Lady Shiva, and their mentor O-Sensei, to battle the monsters of this world and beyond.

The primary voice cast includes David Giuntoli as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Mark Dacascos as Richard Dragon, Kelly Hu as Lady Shiva, James Hong as O-Sensei, and Michael Jai White as Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger, reprising his live-action role from “Arrow.” The cast also includes Josh Keaton, Grey Griffin, Chris Cox, Erica Luttrell, Robin Atkin Downes, Patrick Seitz, Jamie Chung and Eric Bauza.

The 41st entry in the DC Universe series of animated superhero movies, Batman: Soul of the Dragon is rated ‘R’ for some violence. The film is produced by animation veteran Bruce Timm and is dedicated to longtime DC writer Dennis O’Neil, who co-created the characters Richard Dragon, O-Sensei, Bronze Tiger and Lady Shiva. O’Neil passed away June 11, 2020.

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The Blu-ray combo pack will include the film on a high-definition disc and a digital copy. The 4K combo pack includes the film on 4K with HDR and regular Blu-ray discs, and a digital copy.

Extras include:

  • “Batman: Raw Groove” — a featurette that looks at how martial arts cinema of the 1970s influenced Batman: Soul of the Dragon.
  • “Producer Jim Krieg’s Far Out Highlights” — a supercut of one of Krieg’s funniest in-character appearances.
  • A sneak peek at the next DC Universe movie, Justice Society: World War II, plus featurettes about earlier Elseworlds movies Superman: Red Son and Batman: Gotham By Gaslight.
  • From the DC Vault: “Batman: The Animated Series” episodes “Day of the Samurai” and “Night of the Ninja.”

 

Superman: Man of Tomorrow

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 9/8/20;
Warner;
Animated;
$24.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence, some bloody images, suggestive material, language, smoking and brief partial nudity.
Voices of Darren Criss, Alexandra Daddario, Zachary Quinto, Ike Amadi, Ryan Hurst, Brett Dalton, Neil Flynn, Bellamy Young, Eugene Byrd.

The latest DC Comics animated movie takes a look at young Clark Kent’s early days as Superman as a fresh-faced potential journalist newly arrived in Metropolis.

This version of Clark, while aware of his powers, has no clue about his Kryptonian origins. He begins attracting the attention of the press through a series of heroic deeds, though he has yet to be branded Superman or even don his iconic costume (though his reasons for needing the costume provide one of the film’s biggest laughs)..

However, his exploits also get noticed by the notorious intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo, who comes to Earth looking for a fight. Though Clark finds an ally in the mysterious Martian Manhunter, his battle with Lobo ends up unleashing a deadly creature known as Parasite, who grows stronger by absorbing energy and draining the life force of his victims.

To stop Parasite’s rampage, Clark (voiced by Darren Criss) must enlist the help of Lex Luthor (Zachary Quinto), a man destined to one day become his sworn enemy. But this story occurs before all those pieces fall into place.

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The movie also gives some attention to the young Lois Lane (Alexandra Daddario), a recent graduate looking to establish herself as the top reporter at the Daily Planet, where Clark has been working as an intern bringing everyone their coffee.

The film does a nice job of establishing Clark’s eagerness to fit in. He knows he’s an alien, but isn’t sure from where or who else knows, so he knows his heroic excursions come with an element of risk. In fact, one of the big motifs of the film is finding the humanity in beings who otherwise aren’t human, particularly as Superman tries to re-connect with the man Parasite used to be.

Man of Tomorrow, the 40th entry in the DC Universe series of animated superhero movies, is a standalone film, not connected to the brand’s recent string of interconnected movies, though it could very well prove a good jumping off point for a new continuity.

The animation is crisp and lively, and the colors pop in high-definition. The filmmakers have crafted some exciting action sequences, including the initial all-out brawl between young Clark Kent and Lobo. The third-act battle against Parasite takes on much of the flavor of a typical “Godzilla” movie, but for the most part this is a pretty entertaining Superman adventure. Fans of Lobo should get a kick out of finally seeing him in action in one of these DC movies.

The Blu-ray includes two Lobo-centric episodes from “Superman: The Animated Series,” plus a 10-minute featurette on the history and popularity of Lobo.

There’s also a nine-minute featurette about the legacy of the Martian Manhunter.

Rounding out the extras are a trailer, featurettes for earlier DC animated movies, and a 12-minute preview of the next animated DC movie, a kung-fu-style Batman adventure set in the 1970s.

Warner Releasing Animated ‘Batman: Death in the Family’ Interactive Movie Oct. 13

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Oct. 13 will release Blu-ray Disc and digital editions of Batman: Death in the Family, a compilation of animated shorts based on DC Comics characters that includes the studio’s first interactive film presentation.

The centerpiece of the compilation is the extended-length Death in the Family, based on the landmark 1988 Batman comic book storyline in which readers were given a chance to vote via telephone poll about whether or not to kill off the second Robin, Jason Todd.

Produced, directed and written by Brandon Vietti, the interactive Blu-ray presentation allows viewers to guide the storyline through their remote control, with numerous plot twists and several possible endings. Viewers can also choose to allow the story to tell itself, as there is an option to let the Blu-ray decide its own path.

Batman: Death in the Family

Batman: Death in the Family is essentially a comic book come to life,” Vietti said. “We’ve paid homage to the 1988 interactive experience of DC’s ‘A Death in the Family’ comics release by giving fans a unique opportunity to craft their own story through a branching tool that can lead in multiple directions. The viewer gets to choose these characters’ paths, and each choice paves an alternate future for all of the characters and, ultimately, the story.”

The animated Death in the Family short is based not only on the original comic book run, but also Vietti’s 2010 Batman: Under the Red Hood animated movie, which is based on a comic book storyline in which Jason Todd returns.

“From the very first navigation card, we wanted to give the audience an impression of what they’re getting into, but then also give them something unexpected — maybe even something they’ll regret, so they have to think twice about every future choice they make,” Vietti said. “Branched storytelling has to be stronger than just the gimmick of the choices — it has to be rewarding and offer new and worthwhile insights into the characters. It needs to involve you, and keep you searching for the next twist. So we sought to subvert expectations and do something very different.”

‘Batman: Death in the Family’ interactive menu

The digital version of Death in the Family is presented in a non-interactive format pre-assembled under the title Under the Red Hood: Reloaded, and three other non-interactive versions as bonus features: Jason Todd’s Rebellion, Robin’s Revenge and Red Hood’s Reckoning. Considering the various configurations, the Blu-ray also offers approximately five minutes of story content not included in the digital version.

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The Death in the Family Blu-ray and digital editions will also include four additional “DC Showcase” animated shorts that were previously released in 2019 and 2020 as bonus material with earlier DC Universe animated movies: Sgt. Rock, Adam Strange, Death and The Phantom Stranger.

Originally attached to Batman: Hush, Sgt. Rock finds battle-weary Sgt. Rock (Karl Urban) thinking he has seen everything that World War II can dish out. But he is in for the surprise of his life when he is assigned to lead a company consisting of legendary monsters into battle against an unstoppable platoon of Nazi zombies.

Inspired by Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman,” Death tells the story of Vincent, an artist with unresolved inner demons who meets a mysterious girl who helps him come to terms with his creative legacy and eventual death. Death was originally included with Wonder Woman: Bloodlines.

Attached as a bonus feature on the release of Superman: Red Son, The Phantom Stranger finds the enigmatic DC mystery man (voiced by Peter Serafinowicz) simultaneously playing both omniscient narrator and active character in a story of supernatural comeuppance for evil doers set in the 1970s.

Adam Strange, originally released with Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, tells the story of a rugged asteroid mining colony where the town drunk turns out to be legendary space adventurer Adam Strange, whose heroic backstory is played out in flashbacks as he struggles to save the very people who have scorned him for so long.

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The ‘R’-rated Blu-ray Disc will include audio commentaries by “DC Daily” hosts Amy Dallen and Hector Navarro on Sgt. Rock, Adam Strange, Death and The Phantom Stranger, plus the Under the Red Hood: Reloaded version of Death in the Family.

Warner Slates Animated ‘Superman: Man of Tomorrow’ Movie

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the animated movie Superman: Man of Tomorrow through digital retailers Aug. 23, and on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Sept. 8.

The latest entry in the DC Universe movie line from Warner Bros. Animation deals with young Daily Planet intern Clark Kent (Darren Criss) in his early days as Superman, as Metropolis is introduced to a new age of heroes. As the budding hero fights for good, he confronts the intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo (Ryan Hurst) and the power-hungry alien Parasite (Brett Dalton).

The cast also includes Zachary Quinto as Lex Luthor, Alexandra Daddario as Lois Lane, Ike Amadi as Martian Manhunter, Piotr Michael as Perry White, Neil Flynn as Jonathan Kent and Bellamy Young as Martha Kent, plus Cristina Milizia, Eugene Byrd, April Stewart, Cissy Jones and David Chen.

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Blu-ray and digital extras include the featurettes “Lobo: Natural Force of Chaos” and “Martian Manhunter: Lost and Found,” the “Superman: The Animated Series” episodes “The Main Man” parts one and two, and previews of other DC Universe animated movies.

Animated Movie Based on DC Comics’ ‘Deathstroke’ Coming in August

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the animated movie Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons through digital retailers Aug. 4, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Aug. 18.

The film offers a new take on the DC Comics character Deathstroke, a mercenary and master assassin named Slade Wilson. The film finds him living two lives, one as a relentless killer, the other as a dedicated family man. When his worlds are forced together by the terror group known as H.I.V.E., the killer in Slade must fight to save his loved ones.

The voice cast includes Michael Chiklis as Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, Sasha Alexander as Wilson’s wife, Chris Jai Alex as The Jackal, Faye Mata as Jade/H.I.V.E Queen, Griffin Puatu as Joseph/Jericho, Imari Williams as President Nichols, Asher Bishop as Young Joseph, Colin Salmon as William Wintergreen, Delbert Hunt as Bronze Tiger, Panta Mosleh as Lady Shiva, Noshir Dalal as Kapoor, Castulo Guerra as General Suarez, and Minae Noji as the Secretary of State.

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The latest entry in the DC Animated Movies line was produced by Warner Bros. Animation, DC and Blue Ribbon Content, Warner’s specialty arm for digital platform programming. Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons was originally presented as a series of animated shorts that appeared on CW Seed. The movie version includes 50 minutes of never-before-seen footage, including the climax.

The Blu-ray combo pack will include a digital copy and the featurette “Deathstroke: One-Man Death Machine.” Bonus material is also offered with the digital edition through select retailers.

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Indonesian Superhero Feature ‘Gundala’ Coming to Digital and Disc July 28 From Well Go

An Indonesian comic book superhero and his alter ego enter the cinematic universe in the actioner Gundala, debuting on digital, Blu-ray and DVD July 28 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Based on a popular comic book first published in 1969, Gundala is the first film in a proposed eight-film franchise launching a new superhero cinematic universe (in the vein of Marvel). In the origin story, Sancaka (Abimana Aryasatya) is a security guard who was struck by lightning, giving him superhuman powers and turning him into the superhero Gundala. An Indonesian orphan, Sancaka spent his life on the streets trying to attract as little attention as possible, but when greed and violence reach a fever pitch in Jakarta, it soon becomes clear that he is the people’s only hope for peace.

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Written and directed by Joko Anwar (Impetigore) and based on the comic by Harya Suraminata, Gundala stars Abimana Aryasatya (12:00 A.M.), Tara Basro (Impetigore), Bront Palarae (Belukar), Ario Bayu (Java Heat) and Lukman Sardi (Abracadabra).

Gundala had its international premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, and the release features an all-new English dub, in addition to its original subtitled soundtrack.

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 5/12/20;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $84.16 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence and language throughout, and some sexual and drug material.
Stars Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco, Chris Messina, Ewan McGregor.

The most significant aspect of the 2016 Suicide Squad movie was undoubtedly the popularity boost it gave to the character of Harley Quinn, as played by Margot Robbie. While she had always been a fan favorite, the film made her a pop culture sensation, as Harley Quinn cosplay dominated the comic book convention circuit more than ever before, and there was little doubt the character would be popping up in her own movie soon enough.

Those plans hit a bit of a snag, however, as the creative direction of the DC Comics shared movie universe began to unravel a bit following the disappointment of 2017’s Justice League. Subsequent projects would put more focus on the individual films while de-emphasizing the potential for interconnected stories.

And with that, Harley Quinn would end up fronting a loose adaptation of the “Birds of Prey” comic book that shined a spotlight on some of the female heroes of Gotham City. Being the girlfriend of the Joker, Harley was usually cast as an antagonist, but her popularity spurt resulted in her being positioned as more of an anti-hero.

As such, the film finds Harley (Robbie) having just broken up with the Joker, a change in relationship status that makes her an open target for every criminal in Gotham City with a bone to pick with her. In her efforts to establish herself as an underworld authority in her own right, and find a quiet moment to enjoy an egg sandwich, Harley finds herself protecting a teenage pickpocket (Ella Jay Basco) who stole a jewel encoded with the account numbers of a vast mafia fortune, attracting the attention of a mob boss nicknamed Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).

Along the way, and with nary a mention of Batman, Harley tussles with a hotshot cop (Rosie Perez) who treats her job like an ’80s action movie; the Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), a lounge singer with sonic powers; and Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a crossbow-wielding vigilante who seeks vengeance on the crime lords who killed her family.

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Described by one of the visual effects supervisors in the bonus materials as Pulp Fiction meets Clockwork Orange, the film seems trying to set itself up as something of a girl power version of Deadpool, intersplicing some decent action scenes with broad comedy in service of several story threads connected by narration from Harley that jumps back and forth through time. Also like Deadpool, the film tries to play in the ‘R’-rated playground, but the attempt seems more like an excuse for excess rather than anything intrinsically necessary for the characters, story or humor.

Unfortunately, in an effort to be quirky, the film was saddled with the mouthful of a title Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, which when shortened to the obvious Birds of Prey doesn’t speak much to Harley’s involvement in it. So, after the film’s initial disappointment at the box office (also not helped by limiting the audience with its ‘R’ rating), the studio tried to re-christen it Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey for marketing purposes (a move further made understandable by the fact that they couldn’t get the full name right in their own press release for the home video). They probably just should have called it Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey to begin with.

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With the coronavirus pandemic cutting the film’s box office run short, it made an early debut through digital retailers, which offered a variety of bonus features that also made their way to the Blu-ray edition.

The primary extra is the Birds Eye View Mode, a viewing option that plays the film with a mix of filmmaker commentary, pop-up trivia and picture-in-picture behind-the-scenes footage.

More behind-the-scenes details are offered in six featurettes that run a total of 42 minutes, with some repetition of material between them and with the viewing mode. Most of the emphasis is on the physical look of the film, such as the production design and the costumes. There’s also a significant amount of time devoted to the style of the characters and finding the right actors to play them. One of the more unintentionally funny clips involves Winstead heaping praise upon the talents of McGregor — who reportedly left his wife for her while they were co-starring on the “Fargo” TV show just before signing on for this movie.

Finally, there’s a two-minute gag reel that, while amusing, is hard pressed to make an impact given all the silliness that ended up in the movie.

‘Bloodshot’ on Disc May 5 From Sony Pictures

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release the comic book actioner Bloodshot on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 5. The film is available now through digital retailers.

Vin Diesel stars as the title character, a recently killed soldier brought back to life with nanotechnology that makes him an unstoppable force. But the corporation that created him has sway over his mind and memories, leaving Bloodshot unsure about what’s real and what isn’t.

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Based on the Valiant Comics character of the same name, Bloodshot earned $10 million during a limited theatrical run that was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Blu-ray, DVD, digital and 4K editions will include deleted and extended scenes, including an alternate ending.

The Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions will also include outtakes and a blooper reel; the featurettes “Initiate Sequence: Directing Bloodshot,” in which visual effects and video game artist Dave Wilson takes the reins of his first feature film and reveals all of the passion, creativity, and hard work that he and his team of artists employed in bringing the film to life; and the featurette “Forgotten Soldiers: The Cast of Bloodshot,” in which Vin Diesel takes center stage to unveil the compelling aspects of his approach to the comic book superhero, and Guy Pearce, Eiza Gonzalez, Sam Heughan and Lamorne Morris detail all aspects of the film’s ensemble.

The digital version will also include “R.S.T. Hack: Chainsaw,” a series of four animated in-world videos about Bloodshot.