No matter how hard life gets there are always reasons to live, and at Pop Mythology we find that pop culture alone gives us more than enough reasons to endure. And so with 2014 coming on fast, we thought we’d share some of our most anticipated new (or in some cases continued) media scheduled for our next trip around the sun.
While we’d love to include more independent or underground materials in this list however most such products aren’t provided the advanced buzz or definite release date that more mass market releases are, which is part of what can make them such a pleasant surprise. To paraphrase Ben Parker, with great buzz comes great responsibility and we fully expect some of these products to fall short of our hopes. That’s part of what makes them exciting. Quality or not, we’re eager for the potential of the New Year and all the goodies it may hold.
We’d also love to hear what readers are looking forward to. If you’ve got an order in advance, money reserved for purchase, a release date alarm programmed on your phone, or have planned a couple days off to stand in line, please add it to the comments below. We likely share the sentiment.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Sure, Days of Future Past has one of the most loaded casts in memory along with the return of director Bryan Singer, whose absence from the series directly lead to its descent in Last Stand and X-Men Origins, but the intriguing Trask Industries website, propaganda posters and alternate history videos show an effort and care that’s been largely absent from the series since X2. The sentinel posters alone are enough to sell us on this one.
Guardians of the Galaxy
An unusual choice for Marvel’s Phase Two given the relative unpopularity and bizarreness of the Guardians of the Galaxy series, but that’s exactly what makes this project so intriguing. Will it be an unexpected smash, like Iron Man, or an overly ambitious foray into cosmic nonsense, like Green Lantern? With the characters’ various connections to Thanos, chances are great that Guardians could play a huge part in Phrases Two and possibly Three of Marvel’s plan (to master all of entertainment).
Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1
Sure, it’s the least of the Hunger Games books, but after the surprisingly strong Catching Fire the film series definitely has enough to carry the story through two more installments. Besides, any chance for more Jennifer Lawrence is good (see also, X-Men: Days of Future Past).
Yes, another Marvel movie, but at this point, the studio has created enough good material that we’re willing to give it the benefit of the doubt (Incredible Hulk notwithstanding). Cap’s momentum from the better-than-expected First Avenger, into Avengers and his (spoiler) cameo in Thor: The Dark World has us interested in seeing where the character goes within our modern, technological, paranoid era.
Yeah, Roland Emmerich’s attempted reboot in 1998 was mediocre at best, but this year’s Pacific Rim proved there is still life in the giant monster genre. Director Gareth Edward’s previous film, the British indy sci-fi flick Monsters, has us looking forward to what he can do with a bigger playground. Further, although it can’t possibly match his most famous role, some extra Bryan Cranston never hurts.
Thus far all we’ve seen is cast list, a brief plot description about wormholes and food supplies and a trailer consisting primarily of stock footage, but the phrase “directed by Christopher Nolan” is enough to make us eager to see what’s coming one year from now.
Game of Thrones - Season 4
After the events of Season 3 not only do we see why our series-reading friends were not-so-secretly pointing cameras at us during the Red Wedding (link has dirty words), but we have to wonder where the fight over Westeros heads next. Even as we wait so patiently for the dragons or the zombies or the zombie dragons to finally arrive, Game of Thrones continues to prove that it’s not afraid to shake its foundation at any moment.
Community – Season 5
During Season 2 Community was the funniest, most imaginative show on television. During Season 3 it added ambition. Then the darkest timeline arrived as creator/showrunner Dan Harmon was fired leading to Season 4 which… was. Except for a few very good episodes that were still below the previous standard, that’s about the best thing you can say about the season; it existed. Now, in an unprecedented move, Harmon is back. While we’re saddened by Donald Glover’s imminent departure, we’re excited to see if the funny, imaginative, ambitious show we loved returns as well.
Mad Men – Season 7
The upcoming final, season of Matthew Weiner’s superb period piece will hopefully draw to a satisfying conclusion the story of suave, complicated Madison Avenue advertising executive Don Draper. Beautifully made and exquisitely written, Mad Men will be a huge miss once its run is complete. The first batch of seven episodes, collectively titled “The Beginning” will be followed later in the by the final seven, rather aptly titled “The End of an Era”.
It’s impossible to expect any of his forthcoming work to ever match the scope of Breaking Bad but if the quality of Vince Gilligan’s new detective series, one he reportedly thought up while working on The X-Files, is even half that of his previous masterpiece, it will be more than worth watching.
This new television series produced by Guillermo Del Toro, based on the book series that he co-wrote with Chuck Hogan, could finally pull the vampire genre away from the mopey teenage girl/middle-aged woman melodrama of Twilight and the pulpy clusterf*ck of True Blood and back into the horrifying, blood-sucking hellspawn we all love. Or its vampirism as virus conceit could just be a metaphor for abstinence.
With Skyrim still sucking hours of life away even two years after initial release, developer Bethesda’s move toward a massively multi-player version of Tamriel promises to keep anyone who dares to play from ever again having a job, a relationship, a good meal or a shower. On the plus side, vitamin D sales should spike.
WoW may never reach 10 million subscribers again but that hasn’t stopped Blizzard from making exciting additions to their ten-year-old juggernaut, like turning every player character into the leader of their own army. When NASA robots overthrow humanity, splicing our DNA into trees to make walking furniture which will understand their telecommunication via implanted biowave network chips, they will spend their freetime playing WoW.
Originally scheduled for this year but delayed until next, Ubisoft’s open-world action hacking game promises players unparalleled methods of moving and interacting within gaming environments, or, if you play it with a Kinect, a chilling reminder that you can’t escape.
Despite positive reviews and solid sales, the last generation was not kind to the once dominant RPG series. As others like Elder Scrolls and Mass Effect moved players into open worlds and visceral styles of gameplay, FF stayed with on-the-rails narratives and turn-based tradition. Meanwhile, KH vastly expanded beyond its FF-meets-Disney beginning and then disappeared long enough for Haley Joel Osment to get fat, get thin again and get a DUI. These two releases will say a lot about whether Square can adapt to modern demands or if it’s time for the final fantasy.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Sequels are supposed to continue and expand the story of its predecessor, instead Dragon Age 2 relegated the epic story and world-shattering decisions of Origins to a few quests and NPC remarks. Inquisition looks to finally continue the story after the Grey Warden, including a feature to edit decisions made in previous games: relationships, political stances, and even who lives and dies. If only life included such a feature.
Another band tasked with following up a well-recieved debut in 2014 are indie-rock four-piece Warpaint, whose 2010 record The Fool won many over with its atmosphere of Siouxsie Sioux-inflected gloom. If lead single “To Love Is to Die” is anything to go by, promises of a more minimalistic, keys-driven sound aren’t far wide of the mark.
The Avalanches – Title TBA
Thirteen years after their cracking debut Since I Left You, supposedly composed using around 3500 vinyl record samples, rumors of a second Avalanches record have become almost an urban myth among music geeks. This year, it seems, could actually witness the long-gestating follow-up seeing the light of day.
The Roots – & Then You Shoot Your Cousin
The Roots’ talent and constant innovation has made every album, with the possible exception of The Tipping Point, an expansion of the group’s capabilities culminating in Undun’s cohesive sound and reverse narrative, thus there’s simply no telling the surprises coming with their next collection. Plus, with Jimmy Fallon taking over Late Night in February, more people will be treated to more great music than ever before.
The Horrors – Title TBA
Three albums in and The Horrors just keep getting better. 2011’s Skying was hands down their best record yet, and a world away from the garage-goth of their debut. With band members describing the upcoming fourth record as “danceable” and “different”, it will be interesting to see if Faris Badwan and company are able to maintain their upward trajectory.
Tool – Title TBA
The legendary Tool returns in 2014 and are due to release only their fifth studio album in a career spanning twenty years, their first since 2006’s excellent 10,000 Days. Always an exciting prospect, a new Tool record will see Maynard James Keenan returning to his day job as frontman for one of the finest rock bands on the planet after time spent with A Perfect Circle and Puscifer.
Sun Kil Moon – Benji
Mark Kozelek follows up two outstanding albums released in 2013 (the collaboration with Desertshore making Pop Mythology’s top ten albums of the year) with a new record under his Sun Kil Moon moniker. Dealing with themes of family, love, and loss, Benji is further evidence that Kozelek’s rich vein of songwriting is set to continue.
Daredevil, everyone’s favorite blind superhero, has been around forever, and while Marvel’s been mightily progressive lately, it’s disheartening that there remain few deaf or hard-of-hearing superheroes (although an honorable mention for Anthony Smith aka Blue Ear). Hawkeye is the rare exception. Although deaf in his 1980’s solo run, he is not deafened in Matt Fraction’s series until issue #17 (published this February). It will be interesting to see how Fraction’s dry wit and sarcasm translate when his lead character can’t hear them.
Sex Criminals #4
The only comic you will have to search for along with the writer or artist’s name unless you want some interesting Google results. Sex Criminals, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s sci-fi comedy gives time travel the finger as Suzy and Jon use their mutual power to stop time post-coitus to commit crimes with often hilarious results. Definitely a mature read (as the back cover of each comic warns) but witty, thoughtful and leaving us eager for more. This makes two reasons on this list to go on living that Matt Fraction has given us.
Although DC’s Vertigo imprint had made Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Overture the centerpiece of their late 2013 catalog, there’s been a delay causing the second issue to be pushed back to early 2014. The reason for the delay isn’t clear but, hey, if it makes a better comic, by all means take your time, Neil and co. See, we hardcore Sandman fans have already waited years for another Sandman comic anyway. We’re just happy it’s really happened.
Yes, we will be the first to admit that none of the Dune novels since Frank Herbert’s death can match the eminence and raw power of, say God Emperor of Dune. The later installments have, however, fleshed out provocative back stories and characters. We look forward to more about the formidable Master of Assassins, Thufir Hawat, and his reasons for believing the Baron’s lies about the Lady Jessica. And, of course, the tale of the twisting of Piter De Vries into a loathsome sadist is bound to be riveting.
Like most of geekdom, we can’t get enough of George R.R. Martin’s epic tale, and this latest graphic novel adaption will have to tide us over until we can find out how things shake out north of the wall in The Winds of Winter (A Song of Ice and Fire #6), which is due in 2015. Although, when it pertains to George R.R. Martin, as we all know these release dates are firmly in the realm of GOK (God Only Knows).