SEASON 2 DELIVERS SOME WELCOME CHARACTER DEVELOPMENTUrban’s Butcher, so single-minded and reductive in season one, finally gets to start digging into some ambiguities with his grizzled antihero, teasing out the guy’s darker side while finding ways to reveal some weaknesses. — Alex McLevy, The AV ClubJack Quaid and Erin Moriarty are the heart of the show as Hughie Campbell and Annie January (aka Starlight), two characters yet to have their moral compasses bashed entirely out of alignment. That said, both have been forced to evolve in order to survive their toxic surroundings, pushing them in interesting new directions. — David Craig, Radio TimesKripke expands The Female s story with some new elements that we won t go into too much detail on here for fear of spoilers. But Fukuhara s emotive expressions and body language effectively communicate the nuanced emotions she s feeling throughout. Her friendship with Frenchie continues to develop and is one of the more tender-hearted relationships in this otherwise-cynical take on superheroes. — David Griffith, IGNBut Homelander (Antony Starr) has more important things on his sociopathic mind. Now that he knows he has a son, he can’t wait to provide the kid with the father figure he never had, and his simmering, unpredictable bouts of ultra-violence have never been so pronounced when faced with his own failures in the family department. — Jon Negroni, The SpoolTHE PRODUCTION VALUE AND SPECIAL EFFECTS GET AN EPIC UPGRADEThe action scenes are tight, smart, and surprising, there are delightful moments of dialogue that deliver both character, humor, and heart, and there are world details so skillfully embedded into the backgrounds of certain scenes that they almost at times serve as spoilers. — Liz Shannon-Miller, ColliderWith so much hype surrounding this second batch of episodes, we re sure you ll be glad to know that it doesn t just live up to what came before, but exceeds it with a bigger, crazier, and more violent season. — Josh Wilding, ComicBookMovie.comAYA CASH INJECTS EXCITEMENT AND DANGER AS SUPERHERO NEWCOMER STORMFRONTAya Cash s Stormfront has all of the edgy humour and some of the best jokes of the season. — Brian Lloyd, entertainment.ieSeason 2 introduces a new member of The Seven named Stormfront (Aya Cash), a social-media savvy supe who pokes fun at the stiff and overly-produced nature of her colleagues and infuriates Homelander with the way she so easily pulls the spotlight away from him. — Hannah Lodge, Screen RexShe s the livewire that creates chaos wherever she goes, and that chaos is a big reason why the season works so well as a whole. Trust me, you ll hate her plenty by season s end, and I couldn t envision the season working so well without her. — Matthew Aguilar, Comic BookFINAL THOUGHTS?With a higher budget, they’ve polished the special effects that were glossed over in the first season, the romance between some of the characters has improved strongly, and the villains are still, well, super. Here’s hoping The Boys really will return in Season 3. — Jon Negroni, The SpoolIf the rest of Season 2 stays on the same path as the first three episodes, it s going to prove the perfect commentary for the tense times in which we live. — Michael Rougeau, GameSpotRude, crude and ultra-violent; The Boys are back with another hugely diabolical but enjoyable outing! — Nicola Austin, We Have a Hulk
(Photo by Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection)All Joaquin Phoenix Movies Ranked by TomatometerAfter making three movies in the 80s credited as Leaf and then disappearing, Phoenix returned to the public eye, this time under his birth name Joaquin, for 1995 s To Die For. In that Gus Van Sant erotic thriller, Phoenix plays a high schooler seduced by Nicole Kidman to murder, thus beginning the actor s penchant for performing disturbed, frequently mordant characters, carried further through the 90s in movies like Clay Pigeons, 8MM, and U-Turn.Phoenix became a near-household name after playing sword-and-sandal scumbag Commodus in Best Picture-winner Gladiator, in which he got his first of three Oscar acting nominations. But for several years after, Phoenix remained in character actor mode, taking supporting roles if he found the movie compelling (Quills, Hotel Rwanda, Signs), in between lead star parts such as in Buffalo Soldiers and The Village.In 2005, Phoenix broke into that echelon of truly transformative actors, owning the Johnny Cash role in Walk the Line, which walked him right into a second Oscar nomination. A long period of reunion collaborations has followed, working frequently with clearly favored directors: To Die For s Gus Van Sant (Don t Worry, He Won t Get Far on Foot), James Gray (Two Lovers, We Own the Night), Rwanda s Terry George (Reservation Road), and P.T. Anderson for Inherent Vice and The Master, the latter marking the most recent time he became an Oscar nominee.His last film, Joker, rampaged into theaters riding a wave of controversy and buzz, all the way to become the biggest-grossing R-rated movie ever. So put on that smile as we rank all of Joaquin Phoenix s movies by Tomatometer!
Have The Markovians Been the Real Problem All Along?Just ahead of Black Lightning’s first season debut, executive producer Salim Akil suggested the story would slowly expose the real corruption in Freeland. So far, we’ve gone from The 100 gang as pushers of a metahuman street drug, the ASA as a government agency responsible for developing the drug after a history of experimenting with a vaccine to keep the predominately black populace docile, and the suggestion that a metahuman conflict has been brewing between the US and the Eastern European nation of Markovia for decades.The country, which debuted in a 1983 Brave and the Bold issue, has strong ties to Black Lightning via the early ’80s Batman and the Outsiders comic book. Both Black Lighting and the prince of Markovia, an earth-bending hero known as Geo-Force, served on the team. The country’s political climate, which often veered toward an authoritarian bent, often became the focus of Outsiders missions. Most recently, the country was seen in the DC Universe series Young Justice: Outsiders as a hotbed of metahuman trafficking and experimentation. It is an interpretation which tracks with the Markovia teased so far on Black Lightning.But is it possible Markovia’s ties in Freeland are deeper than we know? While The 100 deal in Greenlight, the ASA is not their supplier – Agent Odell (Bill Duke) is more interested in the kids from the original 1980s operation in the stasis pods – which means they are either cooking the drug themselves or getting it from a well-financed source. Considering the Markovian interest in collecting metas as weapons for a future war, they would certainly want to make sure as many underprivileged Freeland kids as possible become powered assets they can later co-opt.Of course, that assumes Tobias was working the Markovian agents from both sides he planed to sell the Masters of Disaster and the other Pod Kids on the dark web arms market and not just making Greenlight himself. But considering the amount of connective tissue Black Lightning skips in regards to The 100’s operations and Tobias s direct involvement in them, The Markovian Connection is a strong possibility.It also tracks with Akil’s overall metaphor. Outside of the Pierce family, superpowers have been analogous with drug use. In the first season, the show made pretty strong allusions to the introduction of crack cocaine by the CIA in the 1980s. During the first year, it seemed the ASA would be more directly linked to The 100 and continue that allusion, but perhaps Akil’s greater point was always about a foreign power.Then again, the executive producer’s personal problems — he allegedly engaged in a 10-year abusive relationship with actor Amber Dixon Brenner and stole her script; re-purposing it into the OWN series Love Is — may eventually prevent his Black Lightning plan from coming to fruition.How Long Has Odell Been Reviving Kahlil?(Photo by Annette Brown/The CW)During the final montage in the second season finale, the viewer can clearly see Khalil (Jordan Calloway) encased in one of the stasis pods back at the ASA bunker. In the scene, Odell looks at his prized Pod Kids with considerable interest. While it is clear he has a plan for Khalil, we wonder how long he waited before digging the poor kid out of the ground.Since resurrection is a fairly easy thing on this show – just ask Lala – all that remains to be known is the timetable for Khalil’s return. As it happens, timelines area tricky thing on Black Lightning with large gaps in the story occurring constantly and new ideas paying off before they are really set-up (i.e. Lala s quest for revenge). While the show locked itself into a pretty clear timeline for “The Book of Rebellion across the winter break, everything following Khalil’s funeral happens across an imprecise span of weeks or months. Did Odell wait until he was sure Jennifer or Khalil’s mother wouldn’t be holding a vigil over the tombstone, or did he devise some late light grave robbing?Another issue is the nature of resurrection itself. It took Lady Eve’s bizarre undertaker Lazarus (Michael Wright) almost a year to regenerate Lala from a clump of flesh. Presuming Odell is using a similar method – if not employing Lazarus outright – is Khalil fully healed and just in suspended animation or is there more work necessary to revive him? In fact, if Odell is using Lazaurs, will Khalil face the same sort of pain Lala endures every time he comes back?What Is Grace Choi?(Photo by Carin Baer/The CW)Since right around the time the show debuted, it has teased comic book fans with Grace Choi (Chantal Thuy). She made a few early appearances before Anissa s (Nafessa Williams) journey to become Thunder dominated her part of season 1. In the second season, Grace’s absence – or, more to the point, Anissa’s neglect of her – became a story point and the two were once again taking tentative steps to becoming a couple.Then, over a handful of scenes dispersed across the last few episodes of season 2, we learned Grace Choi was not her real name and that she i