While we’re all  charged up over the new Shang Chi teaser trailer today, a lot of other stuff has been happening in the MCU! Get a hot beverage — this one has everything, including Avi Arad!

§ Most important of all, pics of a SHAVEN-HEADED Christian Bale on the set of THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER have emerged! Since the actor has already gained and lost stones of weight for movie roles, shaving his head is but a trifle for such a dedicated thespian.


Luckily, Bale has a shapely cranium, and the effect is pleasing. At first, in the photos it looked like Bale was wearing some kind of fetching denim smock but it’s actually cargo shorts and a plaid shacket. One assumes this is what his character, Gorr the God Butcher, will be wearing in the film, which is currently filming in Australia with director Taika Waititi. In the comics the character has a different style drip:

Although come to think of it, this could be a shredded denim smock.


§ There is nothing more forbidden in the MCU than LOOSE LIPS. MCU mastermind Kevin Feige has perfected being a Sphinx-like oracle of vague statements and artfully dropped hints. And actors who even come close to beans-spilling are sent out with more mindful helpers. Darling Tom Holland is reportedly so bad at keeping his mouth shut that they sent out Benedict Cumberbatch as a chaperone on the Infinity War press tour.

What then to make of the reckless chattering of Alfred Molina, who is returning as Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man: No Way Home? Molina was unforgettable as Doc Ock in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, generally considered one of the greatest superhero films of all time. But I recall that the Oscar-nominated Molina — who was something of an art house actor at the time — didn’t seem to enjoy the rigors of a superhero press tour all that much, or the whole nerdlebrity thing. He made one signing appearance at a Wizard World but was reportedly cranky about it and hasn’t been back since.

And indeed this headline indicates that he still hasn’t learned the drill:

Alfred Molina Details Doc Ock’s Return in ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’: ‘The Tentacles Do All the Work’ (EXCLUSIVE)

You might think this is just clickbait hyperbole but no…Molina is all in on revealing as much as he can!

When Alfred Molina was first invited to reprise his role as the villainous Otto Octavius in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” — the forthcoming third installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man films, led by Tom Holland — he said he was told to keep it quiet.

“When we were shooting it, we were all under orders not to talk about it, because it was supposed to be some great big secret,” Molina said with a laugh during an interview with Variety about his role in the Oscar-nominated “Promising Young Woman.” “But, you know, it’s all over the internet. I actually described myself as the worst kept secret in Hollywood!”

Instead, not only did Molina confirm his involvement in “No Way Home,” he happily detailed his experience making the movie, and returning to a part he first played in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2” in 2004.


And that is just the start!
In their early conversations, Molina said, Watts told him that the movie will pick up Doc Ock’s story from “that moment” in the river, which in a franchise that include multiverses, time-travel and diverging timelines seems…plausible enough.

Molina’s concerns were more practical. He said that he asked Watts how they were going to deal with the fact that at 67, he’s aged since the 2004 film.

“He just looked at me, and said, ‘Did you see what we did to Bob Downey Jr. and Sam Jackson?’” Molina said with a laugh. In 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” Marvel Studios used CGI to de-age Robert Downey Jr. to look as he did in 1991; and in 2019’s “Captain Marvel,” also set in the 1990s, a de-aged Samuel L. Jackson played a younger version of his character, Nick Fury.


Better call the Coast Guard for that spill! One can only imagine the reactions around MCU headquarters at Molina’s blab session — one that he almost certainly broke all his NDAs for. Next thing you know he’ll be revealing who plays Mephisto in Spider-Man: No Way Home!
What we DO know about the next Spider-Man film is that it seems to be setting the stage to follow up on all those alternate worlds that Mysterio was talking about in Far From Home, and that Jamie Foxx is RUMORED to return as Electro, just as Molina was RUMORED to return as Doc Ock. And both Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire are RUMORED to appear as well. I guess we can take all those rumors as truth now!
In all honesty, I prefer to go into the theater (or Roku remote) and enjoy the surprises that Feige has planned for us. Alfred Molina, what were you thinking!

Embed from Getty Images

Avi Arad (far left) at a Spider-Man 2 press conference.

§ But speaking of the Spider-Man films from Sony/Disney, a very odd rumor sprang up last night on the Twitters. If you stay up late, as I do you’ll see a lot of weird things trending that are gone by the morning, at least East Coast timewise.  But when I saw the name Avi Arad trending I thought something juicy was coming up! Instead it was just a reminder of how gullible people on the internet can be.

In fact, I almost hesitate to dignify these rumors with a story, but it’s bound to come up again since it’s out there, and it’s relatively harmless fun, so let’s go!

Avi Arad, as you may recall, is Marvel president Ike Perlmutter’s former partner, a main player in saving Marvel from bankruptcy and the man credited with bringing the new Marvel to Hollywood with the Blade films and the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy. He left Marvel Studios under still mysterious circumstances back in 2006 (!) as detailed in a long ago Beat post.  Arad did a lot of good for Marvel, but is probably best known for insisting that Raimi put Venom in Spider-Man 3, with less than enjoyable results. He’s since moved on to other things but his name remains on many Marvel movies as Producer — a role that is somewhat hands on — or Executive Producer, a role which is generally more about finances than rolling up the sleeves.

Late last night a new Arad rumor floated up on Twitter in the form of a screenshot of some DMs from….someone???…claiming that Arad had been removed from the “hands on” role he had on Homecoming and Far From Home for No Way Home, meaning that “he wouldn’t be around to ruin Spidey 3.”

First off, it came as a shock to me that anyone thought Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home were not….good movies that everyone loved and hailed as a triumphant union of Spider-Man and the MCU? But over on Reddit it seems there is a strain of Feige/Sony Spidey rage over Uncle Ben erasure and Iron Man overkill or something? I dunno. It’s Reddit.

Intrigued, I dug around a little and quickly found out that the source of the DMs was a purportedly teen-aged writer for a film site that you probably haven’t heard of. Also — screenshots of a DM are a verifiable source now? Can someone please circulate a screenshot of a DM demanding that Elon Musk give me $100 million?

To be blunt: there is not a word of truth to any of the talk in the DM, and the the entire Reddit thread was shut down due to being based on a bad source. In fact, Arad was Executive Producer on both previous Sony/Disney Spider-Man films and a story in THR expressly states that he was removed from the decision making.

Among the winners are Pascal and Marvel’s Kevin Feige, who together will produce the next stand-alone Spider-Man for Sony, which will bow July 28, 2017, one year earlier than Sony had planned to bring Peter Parker back to theaters (in July, Sony moved a Spider-Man movie from 2016 to 2018). And though Spider-Man will first appear in an unnamed Marvel movie, Sony and Pascal will have more influence over the actor cast in the iconic role because Sony retains final approval. The studio is currently looking for an actor much younger than 31-year-old Andrew Garfield, who most recently portrayed the superhero, as well as a writer for its reboot.
In addition to Garfield finding himself on the outside of the franchise, director Marc Webb will not be back to complete a third Spider-Man (the studio originally envisioned its Amazing Spider-Man oeuvre as a trilogy with Webb and Garfield aboard for all three). Amazing producers Matt Tolmach and Avi Arad have been downgraded to executive producers, with no real say in the creative direction of the franchise.

Indeed, award winning producer/director Phil Lord, who produced Into the Spider-Verse, must have seen this one weird trend on Twitter and felt compelled to speak up in defense of Arad:

Avi was a huge part of Spider-verse and his enthusiasm and encouragement and intelligence made our movie much better than it otherwise would have been. He is a True Believer.

he wrote. But the Arad-haters would not be silenced, and that led to this delicious Into The Twitter-Verse exchange:Screen Shot 2021-04-19 at 3.19.56 PM.png

Look, the Venom thing (and firing Raimi from a potential Spider-Man 4) will definitely go down on the bad side of the ledger, but Arad has had a hand in some of the best Marvel movies ever (along with some not so good ones). He’s earned his place at the table….unlike certain 19-year-old film writers and Redditors.

My takeaway from all of this?

The fog of war on social media makes the truth hard to discern. And that goes for everything from matters of life and death to silly arguments over the ferry scene in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The problem is the energy it takes to discern the truth, and the echo chamber that tells us we don’t need to accept ideas we don’t like. The story I just wrote that you are reading now will never trend on Twitter or Reddit, but maybe someday, someone will read it and find it factual. And my work will have been done.

Oh, but one good thing did come out of all this! I discovered the work of Josh Nizzi, an artist who has done concept work on many many Marvel films, including Homecoming and 100830_OsCorpChase_Swat_v001_JNVultureVsSpiderman_v02_jnHe’s pretty good! Enjoy!



  1. Does anybody read these things anymore? I almost never see comments on the posts. I realize some sites
    no longer accept direct comments. Just curious…

    Also I’m excited that the new Thor movie has Gorr in it. I hope the story is similar to the comicbook series, as it was one of the best of the more recent storylines.

    And remember nobody beats the Beat! Touche

    Ta-ta, fer now! Rick

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