Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider Not Likely to Return in Agents of SHIELD

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“That’s as far as we’re going to take that part.”

Warning: full spoilers for Agents of SHIELD below!

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD wrapped up its Ghost Rider arc with Robbie Reyes currently stuck in another dimension with his evil Uncle Eli. But with Robbue gone, the show never answered the question of the whereabouts of the original Ghost Rider, who was strongly implied to be Johnny Blaze.

During the episode “The Good Samaritan” we see an unidentified Ghost Rider pass on the Spirit of Vengeance to Reyes. We never see his face or hear him speak, but given that he was wearing a leather jacket and riding a motorcycle, logic says it’s Blaze. Further proof it was Blaze was in the episode “Lockup” where a Quentin Carnival poster and some stunt performer gear is seen in the basement where the Darkhold is found. (The Quentin Carnival is where Blaze performed motorcycle stunts for a living in the comics, so it’s a pretty clear indicator that he’s the Rider in question.)

Don’t expect answers about Blaze any time soon, because according to Agents of SHIELD executive producers Jed Whedon and Jeff Bell, we shouldn’t expect to see more of Blaze. IGN visited the set of Agents of SHIELD along with a group of press where Whedon and Bell explained.

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“There is a tradition within the comics that there’s been many Ghost Riders and our take on that was they’re not simultaneously a tribe of Ghost Riders but that it’s passed. The Spirit of Vengeance is passed from person to person. In that respect, at least our intention was that the Spirit of Vengeance was passed from one person to another,” said Bell. “And who passed that on, there are suggestions within the storytelling … That’s as far as we’re going to take that part.”

Though that strongly suggests Blaze won’t be back, those comments clarify two things. First, that Blaze passed the Spirit of Vengeance on to Reyes in full. There are not two Ghost Riders now; Reyes is the only one. In “Deals With Our Devils,” the Spirit jumped out of Reyes and into Mack, leaving Reyes powerless, which reinforces how the Spirit takes on new hosts.

And second, Bell points out that while they put in “suggestions” to the identity of the original Rider — those suggestions are assumedly the poster, gear, and motorcycle — they are not going to further explore or involve him in the story.

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Now yes, Marvel does like to be secret about these things, and they’re always sure to leave room for any possibility should they change their minds, but for now it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing anymore of Blaze on Agents of SHIELD. That being said, showrunner Jed Whedon included the somewhat joking caveat, “If we find a story where that’s not true, we are going to go back on that in an instant.”

Fans can still take solace in the fact that Blaze is all-but-confirmed as being out there somewhere in the MCU. He’s powerless, sure, but he’s still got that sweet ride and his head no longer erupts with hellfire, so maybe things aren’t so bad for him.

Also check out our talk with the EPs about how this Ghost Rider is based in science, not magic. Say what?!

Joshua is IGN’s Comics Editor. If Pokemon, Green Lantern, or Game of Thrones are frequently used words in your vocabulary, you’ll want to follow him on Twitter @JoshuaYehl and IGN.

Facebook's Zuckerberg Appears in Court Today in ZeniMax Case, Here's What He Said

[UPDATE] The New York Times attended the first day of the trial today, reporting that Zuckerberg wore a suit instead of his tradem hoodie and jeans. He also blasted the ZeniMax lawsuit and its claims.

“We are highly confident that Oculus products are built on Oculus technology,” the Facebook founder said. “The idea that Oculus products are based on someone else’s technology is just wrong.”

“It is pretty common when you announce a big deal or do something that all kinds of people just kind of come out of the woodwork and claim that they just own some portion of the deal,” he added. “Like most people in the court, I’ve never even heard of ZeniMax before.”

Here are some other highlights from today’s proceedings, as relayed by NYT reporter Mike Isaac:

Lawyer, incredulously: “Your plan was to begin legal diligence on Friday, and sign the deal on monday.”

Zuckerberg: “Yep.”

— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) January 17, 2017

in evidence, pretty bad-looking text exchange between Zuckerberg and Amin Zoufounoun, his top deal maker.

— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) January 17, 2017

Amin to Zuck: “There are things they told us that are simply not true.”

— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) January 17, 2017

Zuck:”keep pushing forward until we have something we can sign on a moment’s notice, then we can figure out how long we wait for diligence.”

— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) January 17, 2017

Plaintiff’s Counsel: “How much did Carmack get from the deal?”

ZUCK: “A lot of money.”

— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) January 17, 2017

heated exchange.

Lawyer: “If you steal my bike, and you paint it and put a bell on it, does that make it your bike?”

Zuck: “No.”

— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) January 17, 2017

The original story is below.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, is set to appear in court today, January 17, to defend his social media company and its subsidiary Oculus against claims they stole virtual reality technology.

The accusations come from ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Fallout publisher Bethesda and Doom developer Id Software. ZeniMax is suing Oculus and Facebook for $2 billion, the same figure Facebook bought Oculus for in 2014.

According to the BBC, Zuckerberg will argue that “ZeniMax was slow to appreciate the potential of VR–and that it was Oculus’ own work that made it the valuable technology it is today.”

Facebook's Zuckerberg Appears in Court Today in ZeniMax Case, Here's What He Said
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

An Oculus spokesperson told the BBC, “We’re eager to present our case in court.”

“Oculus and its founders have invested a wealth of time and money in VR because we believe it can fundamentally transform the way people interact and communicate.

“We’re disappointed that another company is using wasteful litigation to attempt to take credit for technology that it did not have the vision, expertise, or patience to build.”

ZeniMax’s argument revolves around revered game programmer John Carmack, who had worked for ZeniMax from 2009, when the corporation acquired his studio Id Software for $405 million. In November 2013, he resigned to join Oculus full-time.

But for several months before his departure from Zenimax, Carmack was effectively working for both companies. A year prior to this, he was also helping build a virtual reality version of Doom 3 for Oculus VR.

ZeniMax alleges Carmack “copied thousands of documents from a computer at ZeniMax to a USB storage device.”

“He never returned those files or all copies of them after his employment with ZeniMax was terminated,” states the lawsuit (via Game Informer). Zenimax lawyer Tony Sammi has said the case is “one of the biggest technology heists ever.”

Facebook's Zuckerberg Appears in Court Today in ZeniMax Case, Here's What He Said
Oculus chief technology officer and ex-ZeniMax employee John Carmack.

In a statement to Ars Technica, the Id and Bethesda parent said, “ZeniMax and Id Software welcome the opportunity to present substantial evidence of the Defendants’ misappropriation of our Virtual Reality (VR) intellectual property.

“That evidence includes the theft of trade secrets and highly confidential information, including computer code. ZeniMax will also present evidence of the Defendants’ intentional destruction of evidence to cover up their wrongdoing. ZeniMax and Id Software are the visionary developers of breakthrough VR technology and look forward to the vindication of our claims.”

Carmack testified last week, reportedly calling the case “absurd.” His comments reflect those of previous statements by Facebook and Oculus, who previously branded ZeniMax’s arguments as “ridiculous.” They later said it was ZeniMax’s attempt to rectify a “massive missed opportunity.”

The case is taking place in a Dallas, Texas court, and it is expected to last three weeks.

Disclosure: Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of GameSpot parent company CBS, is a member of the ZeniMax board of directors.

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Nintendo Switch: Questions We Still Don’t Have Answers To

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Hopefully we’ll find out before launch.

Nintendo’s Switch conference answered a lot of important questions we had about the platform since it’s reveal trailer last year, but there are still some things we still really want to know.

Here are 10 of our biggest remaining questions:

What’s this about a new online infrastructure?

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Online services for the Nintendo Switch will let you invite friends to play games online, set “play appointments,” chat, and more. We know this will include a free trial and will be a paid service starting in Fall 2017, but we don’t know exactly what we’ll be paying for. We’ve heard about a dedicated smart device app that connects to the Nintendo Switch Console, but that really only raises more questions; is a mobile app really the only way we can have multiplayer voice chat, how much is it going to cost us, and how will friends lists work?

If we’re paying for it, what’s new?

Since we’re expected to pay for the online service, we naturally have higher expectations for it. Are we finally going to be able to sign in with one account on multiple consoles to access previous game purchases? If we can, we need to know how many accounts we can use without resetting the console and how many different Switches can use one account.

We’re also curious about how existing services such as My Nintendo will function, especially since Miiverse and Street Pass aren’t going to be on the Switch. We’re certainly interested to see some new eShop features, as well as the potential introduction of a Nintendo equivalent to account-wide Achievements or Trophies. Maybe an expansion of Nintendo’s badges?

How does Virtual Console work?

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Our curiosity about Virtual Console goes hand-in-hand with our questions about the paid online infrastructure. We do know there’ll be some free Switch Virtual Console games available every month (similar to PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold), but that you won’t be able to keep them once the month rolls over. On that note, we have no idea if any previous virtual console purchases will be honored on the Switch – will we have to buy the same Nintendo games we’ve bought multiple times before all over again? Is there a way to play Wii U or 3DS games on the Switch, or maybe some kind of discount if we purchase them again, and are we finally going to get GameCube games? And just how high quality is the Virtual Console emulation going to be?

How about third-party apps?

It’s pretty much expected that a media device that can connect to your TV will come complete with access to popular apps such as Netflix, HBO Go and Hulu, but we don’t have any  confirmation that these or other apps will be available on the Switch.

How will region-free be controlled?

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The Nintendo Switch is going to be “region free”, meaning people will be able to play globally released games on any console, regardless of where it was purchased. This often still has limitations and restrictions, though, including certain accounts not being able to buy from other regions’ stores for digital purchases. Are we going to be able to buy digital games that release in Japan just by making a Japanese account on a Switch bought in the United States, for example? We also don’t know if certain features might be locked away when you’re playing a game from one region on an account from another region, including online play.

Will existing controllers (like the Gamecube Adapter) work?

A lot of us are used to playing games like Super Smash Bros. with the Gamecube Controller, and while we’ve heard that the Switch’s Pro Controller is quite comfortable, it’s great to have options. We’ve been hearing rumors that the Switch might support the Wii U’s GameCube controller adapter in order to keep up to date with the demands of the eSports scene, particularly for Super Smash Bros. Melee, but we don’t have any confirmation.

What are the official specs?

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We know the Switch has a custom NVIDIA Tegra processor, and an “NVIDIA GPU based on the same architecture as the world’s top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards.” We still don’t know if it’s running off of Nvidia’s last-generation Maxwell graphics-processing architecture or their new Pascal architecture, though, which could make a huge difference to graphics performance. We don’t know much about audio either, including the quality of the built-in speakers, or if there’s Bluetooth for external ones.

Will it support USB storage via the USB-C port for external Hard Drives?

Since the Wii U allowed people to expand their storage space with external hard drives we hope the Switch will follow suit. A report on GameReactor says the Switch’s Dock is able to support external drives via the USB 2.0 ports, but that Nintendo hasn’t “activated” that feature.  Although the feature would obviously not gracefully carry over to handheld mode (who wants to drag a hard drive around with them?), it would still be nice to have the option, rather than relying solely on Micro SD cards for storage.

We’d also love to find out if we’re able to plug in third-party power banks to extend the life of a Switch while playing on the go.

Seriously, how about that UI?

Nintendo Switch: Questions We Still Don't Have Answers To

Outside of one brief glimpse (pictured above), we currently know very little about how the Switch’s User Interface is going to look, or even function. We know the console has multi-touch, but we’re unsure if that’s intended to be used for games or for the interface, or potentially both, and if using a stylus is still an option. From our friends lists, to the eStore, to managing game libraries and switching between accounts, we just really want to know how any of it is going to look, and whether or not it’ll be easy to navigate.

There’s plenty more we’re curious about. Are there reasonable repair options, if we accidentally crack the screen? Are Kirby, Metroid, or Star Fox games in the works? Who is the Mayor of NEW DONK CITY? Nintendo gave us a lot of answers last week, but these and more questions remain unanswered.

What else do you want to know about the Switch?

Why EA Is Supporting Nintendo Switch At Launch

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“Nintendo forces us to think differently.”

Last week, Nintendo finally showed off its new console, the Nintendo Switch. During the reveal event, Nintendo said more than 80 Switch games are currently in development from multiple publishers, both big and small.

Among those publishers is EA, which announced a new version of FIFA headed to Switch. In the wake of that reveal, IGN spoke to EA’s executive vice president Patrick Soderlund, a self-professed Nintendo fan whose son’s middle name is Luigi, about why EA is supporting Switch at launch.

“We’ve been with Nintendo for a very long time,” Soderlund told IGN, pointing out both EA’s history with Nintendo platforms and his own. “I’m a Nintendo fanboy since I grew up. Nintendo is the reason I got into gaming.”

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According to Soderlund, Nintendo’s consistent pushing of boundaries is what draws him to the company, and why he thinks they’ve continued to stand out.

Unless you’re willing to think about something unconventional, it’s going to be hard to break ground.

“What I like about Nintendo is that they come to the table with a slightly different approach,” Soderlund explained.

“They’ve done that in the past to great success, and sometimes not so much, but I think unless you’re willing to think about something unconventional, it’s going to be hard to break ground.”

“Nintendo forces us to think differently,” he continued, adding that Switch “challenges conventions,” and, “as game makers, makes us think about the platform in a different way.”

As for why EA chose to start with FIFA specifically, Soderlund explained that he feels it’s the brand with the widest appeal.

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“It’s our biggest brand,” he said. “It’s the brand that spans across the most markets. It’s the brand that spans the biggest age demographic. It’s a mass market proposition. It’s a game a lot of people want to play.”

Still, Soderlund says FIFA may be just the beginning, adding, “this is our way of showing we’re going to be there. We’re supporting the platform. We are not announcing anything [else] yet, but you can expect us to be there once the platform launches and takes off.”

“We have the benefit of being a platform agnostic company,” he continued. “We will be at whatever platform the consumers are. New hardware is always a positive for our industry. It allows us to push forward.”

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This is our way of showing we’re going to be there. We’re supporting the platform.

When asked if he thinks Switch could bring back interest in dedicated handheld gaming even as mobile continues to dominate that market, Soderlund said he’s optimistic.

“I think it can, I hope it will,” he told us. “There’s no denying [smartphones are] the biggest platform today. That’s not going to change in the foreseeable future. But I think the types of game experiences you can get on the Switch will be different than what you can get on a smartphone. The power of it and the types of games will, I hope, bring a renewed interest in portable gaming. That’s what I hope.”

Soderlund said, aside from FIFA, the game he’s most looking forward to playing on Switch is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

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“It’s on the top of my list for 2017 as one of the games I’m looking forward to the most,” he said. “I’ve played every single Zelda since the first one. And having completed all of them, even if I forget about my job, just as a gamer, from what I’ve seen and what I’ve played, I can’t wait to get my hands on it.”

Nintendo Switch is set to launch on March 3, with FIFA planned for “later this year.” For everything else announced during the Nintendo Switch event, including a full Nintendo Switch pre-order guide, check out our wrap up of all of the big Nintendo Switch announcements.

Andrew is IGN’s executive editor of news and can’t stop pre-ordering Switch accessories. You can find him rambling about Persona and cute animals on Twitter.

Split Review

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An engaging, stylish new psychological thriller from M. Night Shyamalan.

THIS IS A SPOILER-FREE ADVANCE REVIEW.

After emerging in the ’90s and early 2000s as one of the top directors to watch thanks to films like The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, it’s no secret that M. Night Shyamalan’s career began to experience an unfortunate downward spiral starting with 2004’s The Village leading up to the truly irredeemable Last Airbender and the absurd After Earth. Then, after more than a decade of disappointing outings, something strange happened when Shyamalan released The Visit in 2015. Not only was it unlike any other film that he had released up until that point, but the horror tale about kids visiting their disturbing grandparents for the weekend seemed to show the first signs of a possible comeback in the making from Shyamalan.

But if The Visit was Shyamalan’s first hit single in years, then Split – his latest psychological thriller which played ahead of its January release date at AFI Fest on Tuesday, November 15 – is his long-awaited welcome home tour. A stylish and enthralling thriller about a group of teenage girls being held captive by a man with dissociative personality disorder (DID), Split is not only Shyamalan’s best film since Signs, but it’s also one of his best films – period.

Starring James McAvoy as its terrifying lead, Split opens with Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor Joy), a high school loner, at her classmate Claire’s (Haley Lu Richardson) birthday party. Clearly different than the rest of the girls in her school, Casey ends up scoring a ride home from the party with Claire, Marcia (Jessica Sula), and Claire’s dad (Neal Huff). Things take a turn for the worse, however, when Claire’s dad is attacked outside of the car, and the three girls are each kidnapped by a mysterious man named Kevin (James McAvoy), who keeps them all locked in a strangely pristine basement to be preserved as “sacred food,” while they wait for “The Beast” to arrive and take them.

We learn sooner than the girls do that not everything about Kevin is as it appears, as the film suddenly cuts away from Casey and the other girls to the office of Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), a specialist in DID, who meets with Kevin following an out-of-the-blue email from him requesting an “urgent” meeting. When he arrives, he’s not the terse and deep-voiced captor keeping three teenage girls held captive either, but instead refers to himself as Barry, a high-end and kind fashion aficionado who’s been meeting with Dr. Fletcher for years. Wisely, Shyamalan doesn’t take much time before revealing that Kevin is in fact, one of Dr. Fletcher’s patients, who has 23 different personalities all living inside of his head, each created following an intensely traumatic childhood.

While Split’s treatment of mental health won’t be on the receiving end of much praise from those who have actually suffered from DID, Shyamalan uses the illness to his advantage here, telling the story of Casey and her friends trying to escape concurrently with the ongoing relationship between Kevin and Dr. Fletcher, who knows something is going on with her patient, but has to take her time and be careful finding out for sure what it is. As her investigation continues throughout the film, more and more gaps are filled in about Kevin, including insight into how each of his different personalities work, and who they actually are. These include the OCD neat freak that kidnapped Casey and her friends initially, Ms. Priscilla, a creepy motherly figure that harkens back to Norman Bates’ Mother persona from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Barry, Hedwig, a nine year old boy that has more power over Kevin’s psyche than you might initially suspect, and more.

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Once the girls learn of Kevin’s disorder, Casey quickly begins trying to manipulate it to her and her friends’ advantage, trying to befriend Hedwig and convince the little boy to let her and the other girls out. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game of epic, psychological proportions, packed to the brim with (surprise, surprise) more than a few unexpected twists and turns, as Casey and her friends try to escape before “The Beast” arrives and takes them.

Now, only a monster would spoil the film’s biggest twists and shocks, including one or two very spectacular ones that come near the end, but make sure to avoid any and all online discussions about the film nonetheless in the months leading up to its release. Having them spoiled won’t ruin Split for you by any means, but it’ll certain soften the film’s final impact.

While Shyamalan’s script, and the stellar camera work from Mike Gioulakis (who Shyamalan brought onto the project after seeing It Follows) help to give Split its exciting technical prowess, it’s the performances of James McAvoy and Anya Taylor Joy that help elevate it above being just another standard genre piece. Both actors treat the material with a sincerity and commitment that few others might have had the courage to do, balancing delicate emotions and tones like horror, sadness, regret, and even dark comedy with expert precision.

McAvoy will undoubtedly be on the receiving end of the most praise for the film, and justifiably so. He dances between each of Kevin’s different personalities with the kind of grace and scene-chewing bravado that makes this not only one of the best performances of his career so far, but also helps to make Kevin one of the better male villains of the genre to come along in quite some time, if you can even call him that.

After already proving herself in films like The Witch and Morgan earlier this year as well, Anya Taylor Joy shows us once again why she’s such an exciting young talent here. She brings Casey, a character that will likely become even stronger upon repeat viewings, to life with the kind of quiet and raw emotion that not many other actresses her age are capable of.

With the help of his actors and technical crew, Shyamalan has created a film that feels less like a standard horror kidnapping tale, and more like a legitimately moving story about self-discovery. His script is precise and calculated, unfurling each of the film’s mysteries carefully throughout like puzzle pieces, so while Split never quite becomes as scary or terrifying as fans of Shyamalan’s earlier work might suspect, it never loses its way either. This is more of a character study than it is a horror film in the end, about how the pain that we experience in our lives can go on to define us, for better or for worse.

It’s because of this attention to detail in creating his story and two lead characters, that he’s officially managed to climb back up as one of the more exciting directors working today. Make no mistake, Split will be one of the must-see films of next January, but more than anything else, it proves why you should never count a filmmaker like Shyamalan out.

The Verdict

While not perfect, and despite falling victim occasionally to some of the genre’s more frustrating tropes, Split is easily the most exciting, fun, and interesting film M. Night Shyamalan has made in over a decade. It doesn’t manage to be quite as noteworthy as some of his earlier work, but it comes pretty close.