We Need To Talk About Jennifer Walters.

TV  Just briefly and spoilers for the first two episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law on Disney+.  Here's a picture of Tatiana Maslany on one of the few occasions when she's categorically not playing a Leda clone to provide a gap for you glance away if necessary.

Still here?  Ok, like said this is just brief.  One of the side effects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's everything's connected ethic is that the merest hint of a storyline leads to endless content across YouTube and news sites with theories, theories, theories, paragraphs and hours worth of near identical clickbait.

Here we are again with the Shulky series.  As soon as the Sakaar spaceship buzzed in during the first episode, the YouTube content creators burst into action collectively suggesting the series is setting up a Planet Hulk film, blah-la-la-la, even though Disney still do not have the distribution rights to solo Hulk movie projects.

Well, here's my theory.  The Planet Hulk storyline or something like it will happen.  But it'll be in the background.  Jen will phone Bruce or vice versa now and then and we'll receive glimpses of some epic storyline but it'll just remain as that, tantalising glimpses.

Since Jen's decided she doesn't want to be a superhero or at least an Avenger, we'll finally see what life's like for those who make that choice and like the Buffy episode The Zeppo, in which Xander dodged fighting in an apocalypse, she'll be defending low level hoodlums while Bruce is fighting to save Sakaar (or whatever).

Of course, if we don't see Planet Hulk or some such, there'll be the usual effluent from disappointed "fans" about how their imaginary expectations haven't been met which means this whole series has been a failure and the MCU is over.  But the key to the survival of the franchise is to slow down now and then.  Look around.

Across The Omniverse Revisited.

Film  Back in January, just after the release if Spider-Man's No Way Home, I wrote a theory of how to rationalise how fictional multiverses work and how they're interconnected.  After seeing Doctor Strange's Multiverse of Madness and Everything Everywhere All At Once and thinking about the back and forth between Ms Marvel star Iman Vellani and Kevin Feige about the designation Earth-616 (which is now being used for both the comics and cinematic universe), I've realised, rather like this sentence, I've over complicated things.

As in that previous post, I still think that there's a nested system at play.  That there's an omniverse which contains multiverses which then contain universes (or realities).  The mistake I made was in essentially creating two tiers of multiverses, in suggesting that MARVEL is its own multiverse which contains multiverses which I was calling universes and basing the mechanics on IP rather than media and so forth.  Using a similar structure and some of the same text, here's how it should actually be rationalised:


An infinite collection of all stories ever.  As the Marvel article lists,  "not only Marvel Comics, but also DC Comics, Image, Dark Horse, Wildstorm, Archie, Harvey, Shueisha, Boom Studios, Rebellion, Dynamite, IDW, Graphic India, Derby Pop, Vertigo, Oni Press, Udon, Valiant, and every universe ever mentioned or seen".  Basically, this is everything.  Every film, tv show, comic, advert, every piece of fiction ever created.


A single discrete multiverse within one of those stories.  In other words, the comics DC multiverse, CWverse, whatever's happening with DC's cinematic stories, alongside the Marvel Comics, the various animated series and crucially the MCU not to mention us.  If the many-worlds theory is true and there's an infinite number of them it stands to reason that somewhere out there, these fictional universe are actually happening.  Doesn't it?

The reason Iman and Kevin are at odds is because the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe gave the MCU a designation of Earth-199999 to make it distinct from the main comics universe, Earth-616 and so on also sitting alongside it (there's a big long list of them here).  But if you ignore the whim of whoever wrote that back in late 2008 in the afterglow of Iron Man's success, it makes more sense to say that the comics multiverse and the film multiverse are two different realities that run alongside each other.

The beauty of this is that it also means that all of these different multiverses can have their own localised rules about how they exist as multiverses, they can all contradict one another.  So if the MCU has one way of working out why the prime universe is 616 and the comics have another, that's ok.  Just as its fine that DC comics oscillates between having an infinite number of universes and fifty or so.  

But they can also connect (see the two Flashes meeting in the CW's Crisis) and from the point of view of the characters or even the writer in such a way that it feels like they're in the same multiverse from their point of view, even if they're quite separate.  So the Doctor doesn't exist within the comics universe, he just travelled there to drop off Death's Head before returning to the Whoniverse, which itself has its own multiverse.

Did the universes in Doctor Strange 2 exist before Loki in the MCU?  I honestly don't know.  If He Who Remains is to be believed, there was a multiverse which was then destroyed to make way for the sacred timeline, but the events of Loki have repeated the cycle.  In which case, once Sylvie killed He Who Remains, it's as though the multiverse has always existed and no one knows any different, Watchers and all.  Phew.

The other possibility is that the sacred timeline is a con-job.  That there was always a multiverse and that all He Who Remains was trying to do was stop off-shoots from the Earth-616 timeline for some reason or other.  So Earth-838 was always out there, as well as all the universes featured in the What If? animated series.  But I don't think we've been given enough information either way.  Yet.


One of the universes within a multiverse.

Although confusingly a lot of those multiverses are also referred to as "universes" which is why I tied myself up in knots last time.  It should really be the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse, MCM, but its a bit late now.

Music  Great interview with the Sugababes from Dazed which includes Keisha telling us what she really thinks about some of the songs from the later albums: "There was actually a fan favourite from that time called ‘Ace Reject’. I once said I really hated that song and the backlash I got was insane. I was like, ‘you like that?!’. Now I have more of an appreciation for it. I still feel like it’s got the longest verse you’ve ever heard in your life."

Life   The Commodore 64 at 40: back to the future of video games is a short love letter by The Guardian's Keith Stewart to the second computer I owned.  Outside of school, it's practically all I did in my teenage years even if I was never very good at playing games and usually ended up resorting to the Action Replay.

"For much of its life television was an ephemeral media."

TV   Yet another creator reacts to their work being trashed by HBO Max.  Two whole completed seasons of Young Ellen will not now be seen by the public and the rest of its been pulled by the service.  What's so interesting to me, apart from the fact that Ellen Degeneres only spoke once and briefly to the showrunner of a cartoon about the talk show host's own childhood, is how technological development has changed the expectations of creators and viewers.

For much of its life television was an ephemeral media.  Creators would work for months or years on a project which would be seen only once, perhaps twice and then either wiped or disappear into a vault.  If a viewer wasn't there to watch when it was broadcast, it was gone and even if you were lucky enough to see whatever it was, it only then existed in your hazy memory.

It wasn't until new agreements were made with various creative unions did the programmes become viable again, either for repeat or release on the consumable of your choice and even then only when it was considered commercially viable.  There are hundreds of thousands of hours of television which are still inaccessible and although this has changed somewhat at the BBC for people at educational institutions, for the general public, nothing much has changed (legally at least).

But if you've lived in a world were the media which is important to you has always been just there both as a creator and viewer, this ephemerality feels like a pretty alien concept not least because unlike the days when the first time you'd read about a new drama was in the Radio Times a week before transmission, we're constantly bombarded with pre-publicity for these shows for months in advance.

None of which should be seen as McMillaneaque rant about how some of us have misplaced sense of entitlement.  There's every right to be outraged because the expectation has been put in place, because the technology now exists and if you're paying for a service on the expectation that what was once promised will be delivered, especially in the advertising, you're entitled to ask questions.

Nevertheless, it's still worth stopping now and then to glance at where we were then and where we are now.  Of course in an ideal world, the streaming of films and television would be treated the same way as music and everything would be available on a single service for a single fee with film and television studios leaving the technology for others to deal with.  But that's another discussion.

 Film  ShaderGlass is an "overlay for running GPU shaders on top of Windows desktop" and so has the ability to turn a PC screen into an old style CRT.  But the killer element is that any app can be fed through ShaderGlass as though its a separate screen which was mainly designed with retro gaming in mind but also means you can return the lines to DVD films running through VLC making them far crisper than usual.  I've most recently watched the non-anamorphic versions of the OG Star Wars films using the "crt-hyllian" shader which returned the analogue warmth of the image and looked amazing when I hooked my large television up to my PC via an HDMI cable.

Music  Doctor Who composer Segun Akinola was a guest on Friday's BBC Four Proms broadcast which included a Danny Elfman commission.  Watch here.