Spider-Man: Homecoming at last a superhero film for millennials

With an authentically awkward star turn from Tom Holland, the latest outing for Marvels web-slinger is perfectly tuned for a teenage audience

Comic books arent for children any more, and neither are comic-book films. Yes, you can take the kids to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but the parents next to me, who had brought their five-year-old along, should start setting aside some cash for therapy. The Marvel cinematic universe has a lighter tone, but in the past decade big-screen superheroes have been aimed more at eternal adolescents rather than actual ones the people who can now afford the toys their parents never bought them, who lived to see the secret passions of their youth become studio tentpoles and newspaper thinkpieces.

This is a big part of the reason why Spider-Man: Homecoming, despite being the sixth Spider-Man film in 15 years, feels so fresh and lively. Its the first costumed caper in what feels like forever to be aimed squarely at the high-school crowd it so vividly portrays, replete with an actor who was actually a teenager when he pulled on the tights. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Millennial Spider-Man.

The quiet genius of Jon Watts film is the way it casts Marvels cinematic cash cow, the Avengers, as uncool grownups who just dont get what the kids are up to. Robert Downey Jrs Tony Stark can break the sound barrier in his Iron Man suit, but cant avoid or understand the daddy issues that come into sharp focus around Peter Parker. Chris Evans Captain America makes an appearance, hilariously memefied into a public service announcement in which he tells kids to keep fit and stay in school precisely the sort of paternalistic patter regarded as white noise by anyone under 18.

As Spider-Man, however, Tom Holland feels far closer to the average teenager, smartyet insecure, and with a mouth that just wont stop. Yes, hes as awkward in the suit as he is out of it, but Spider-Man: Homecoming never sets up a hackneyed nerds-v-jocks scenario. Instead, it depicts high school in a way that most people in their teens would see as being perfectly normal.

Its not Peters playing in a band or other school activities that make him uncool, its his decision to quit them. His longtime nemesis Flash is part of the same academic decathlon team as Peter, but hes also the go-to DJ at parties. The characters diversity is presented casually and without comment, and is certainly closer to real-life New York than the monochrome casting of previous Spider-Man outings. The film even opens with an extended nod to teen YouTube culture something that may well seem alien to the sort of people (like me) who are surprised to learn that the scene-stealing Zendaya has 8 million Twitter followers.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is a superhero film for a generation that isnt mine, and that is what makes it special. Yes, it is also a cash grab by a studio keen on milking as many demographics as it can, but there is something joyful in seeing a baton passed as nimbly as this, in seeing the characters and archetypes that mean so much to me take on a new lease of life. Its a film that is funny but never ironic, as sweet as it is silly, with characters who can shrug off injury but cannot avoid heartache. I cant wait to see it again.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2017/jul/10/spider-man-homecoming-tom-holland-superhero-film-millennials

How Fast is the Flash? Here’s the Comic Book Hero’s Top Speed

In all of comics, there are certain questions that will never have definite answerspartly because its more fun to speculate and partly because its just a smart business decision. Who would win in a fight? Whos the smartest person on the planet? Whos the strongest? And whos the fastest?

Theres no easy answer to any of these. There have been enough contradictions, crossovers, and comic book catastrophes to give a wide variety of characters a fighting chance in all of these discussions. As youll soon see, if you try to narrow the scope, there are still a ton of different factors to consider. But with that in mind, heres an in-depth look at how fast the Flash really is, and how he stacks up against other comic book speedsters.

Who is the Flash?

To start, there isnt just one Flash. As far as most fans are concerned, there are four primary characters who donned the scarlet and gold over the years: Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West, and Bart Allen. Have other people gone by the name of Flash? Yep. Some of which were even women. But these four did the most with the title for the longest time. Knowing the differences between these four will be very important going forward.

Jason Jay Garrick | the Originator

The first Flash debuted in 1940. Jay Garrick was a college student studying chemistry and physics in Keystone City when an experiment went wrong. While unconscious, Garrick got mixed up with some chemicalsagain, this is 1940and went into a coma. When he woke up, he had super speed.

You can always tell Jay apart from his successors because he has the most unique costume. Instead of the full-body spandex look, he wears a long-sleeve red shirt, outdated skinny jeans, and a metal helmet with Hermes-inspired wings on its sides.

Cover by Sheldon Moldoff

Flash Comics #1 (January 1940)

Bartholomew Barry Allen | the Poster Child

Barry Allen is the most widely known Flash of all. He debuted in 1956 and is the main character used in most on-screen depictions of the character. Justice League/Justice League Unlimited? Barry. The CW? Barry. The DC Extended Universe? Barry. If youre watching the Scarlet Speedster on TV somewhere, its safe to assume its Barry.

Barr got his powers after being struck by a bolt of lightning while working in his crime lab with the Central City Police Department. Again, chemicals got mixed in and when he woke up, he could move at blinding speeds. His look would inspire every Flash that followed in his wake. Barry was the main Flash for nearly 30 years until he sacrificed himself in 1985 during DCs Crisis On Infinite Earths event.

Cover by Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert

Showcase #4 (October 1956)

Wallace Wally West | the Innovator

If youre under the age of 40, chances are Wally West is your favorite Flash. Even if you love Grant Gustin on the CWs Flash, its probably because hes named Barry Allen but has the personality of Wally West.

In most adaptations, Wally is the nephew of Iris West and her husband, Barry West. He got his superspeed powers after he visited his uncle at work one day andyou guessed it!he got struck by lightning while being surrounded by chemicals.

After learning the ropes, Wally took over the mantle of Flash. He enjoyed a solid 25-plus-year run, and he revolutionized what it means to be the Flash. For example, he was the first Flash to dive deep into the science and discover the Speed Force, a massive energy force that only a handful of people have been able to tap into.

Cover by Jackson Guice

Flash vol. 2, #1 (June 1987)

Bartholomew Bart Allen II | the Footnote

For a brief time period, Wally West was out of commission as the Flash. Fortunately, hed been training a sidekick named Bart Allen, who was Barrys grandson who traveled back in time from the future and donned the codename of Impulse.

Bart got his powers genetically and had the knowledge of future advancements to help him during his 13 issues as Flash. Sadly, hes mostly remembered as a placeholder in this regard and most fans think of him as a hyperactive teenage sidekick.

Cover by Mike Wieringo

Flash (vol. 2) #92 (July 1994)

How fast is the Flash?

This is where things get complicated. The short answer is this: The fastest Flash is whoever the hell DC is using to headline the series at the time. (Its probably Wally and definitely not Jay.)

Now, get ready for the long answer.

Its not as simple as determining which Flash is the fastest because they all get their powers from the same source. When it comes to how fast they each can run, the answer is simple: infinitely fast. With the right motivation and circumstances, they could each run at speeds that we cant even measure or comprehend. Its more about whos the most well-versed in their use of the Speed Force and can push their limits the most, which is why the fastest Flash is definitely Wally West.

Need further proof? Here are some of his most incredible accomplishments at the Flash:

1. Racing Black Flash (Death)

We all know the Flash eventually gets so fast that he can travel through time, multiple dimensions, read up on architecture and construct entire within minutes and even phase 747s through solid objects. While all of that is cool, it’s only the tip of the Flash iceberg.

Illustration via Final Crisis #2 by J. G. Jones

Barry Allen returns to the DC Universe, fleeing from the Black Racer.

One of Flashs most impressive stunts involved his race against the Black Flash, an embodiment of death. During their race, Wally West ran so fast that he jumped forward in time by millions of years until nothing existed, resulting in death no longer being a concept. As a result, the Black Flash was no more. The Flash literally outran death.

2. Saving half a million people in .00001 microseconds

In JLA #48, Jonn Jonnz had his body taken over by a supervillain and sent a nuclear warhead flying towards a city in North Korea with a population of over half a million people. To save all of those lives, Wally rushed to Chongjinpost-blastand carried over half a million people to safety 35 miles away. One at a time. Maybe in pairs. In .00001 microseconds.

The Flash ran back and forth across 35 miles at least 250,000 times in less than a second. Thats INCREDIBLE. Some even speculate that this would measure up to moving 13 million times the speed of light. But still not the ceiling for how fast he can go.

3. Running faster than instant teleportation

In issue #138, Wally gets recruited for a competition of speedsters from infinite dimensions held by some ultra-dimensional beings with some major gambling problems. The losers home worlds would be destroyed if they lost. Seeing this entire game as an unnecessary loss of life, the Flash upped the ante.

He bets the alien gamblers that he can beat them in a race back to Earth. Given that they can teleport, it looks like a guaranteed loss because, conceivably, nothing is faster than instant transmission. However, the Flash gets all 5 billion people on the planet to agree to run so that he can borrow their kinetic energy and beats the space overlords in record time.

Well give Barry Allen all of the credit he deserves for creating the Speed Force and running so fast that hes changed the entire fate of the world more than once. Maybe he wouldve accomplished the same feats as Wally if he wasnt dead for more than 20 years. But he didnt get that opportunity. So, Wally gets the win here.


The science behind the Flash

Comic book writers have done a good job of staying away from specifics when it comes to measuring Flashs speed. When they do pinpoint it somehow, its some astronomically large number that we cant even begin to fathom. This point was made perfectly clear in this classic meme of Flash telling Superman exactly how fast he is.

Screengrab via DC Comics

Its been theorized that, in our reality, the Flashs speed would actually destroy the entire planet. Moving millions of times faster than the speed of light doesnt come without consequences. Some speculate that the kinetic energy created with that kind of movement creates more energy than a barrage of nuclear warheads and could rip reality to shreds, atom by atom.

Im not a physicist, and Im not the best with numbers (reason #45 why Im a writer), but if you want a serious breakdown into how fast the Flash can go, heres a great video to look at. It even breaks down E = MC^2 for those of us who fell asleep during that day of class.

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/how-fast-is-the-flash/

Jim Galton, The Man Who Kept Marvel Comics Alive

Jim Galtons tenure as the president of Marvel Comics got off to an alarming start. He was just settling into his new desk when his predecessorwho had never been informed of his own firingreturned from vacation, walked into the office and demanded, Who are you? A stunned Galton immediately ushered him to lunch at the Players Club to break the news, whereupon the outgoing president clutched his chest and fell to the floor.

Such was the daunting work culture cultivated by Galtons abrasive boss, Sheldon Feinberg, CEO of Marvels parent company, Cadence Industries. From the start, Feinberg made it clear to Galton that Marvels future was uncertain, unless its performance could be turned around in two years.

Within months, the solution serendipitously appeared when Marvel editor Roy Thomas pitched an adaptation of an upcoming science-fiction movie that was in preproduction in Tunisia. Galton hesitantly approved, and it turned out that making a Star Wars comic book was a good decisionin fact, he would later say, it saved the struggling Marvel.

Galton, who died on June 12 at the age of 92, was in charge of Marvel from 1975 to 1990, a stretch in which the company attained corporate respectability, expanded from newsprint to graphic novels, and broke industry sales records. He relentlessly pursued merchandising deals, and steered Marvels first major forays into Hollywood.

When Galton arrived at Marvel, from the paperback publisher Popular Library, he hadnt looked at a comic book since the Captain America adventures of the 1940s, and still regarded them as kids stuff. After he learned that Marvels magazine arm was publishing titles like Stag and Male, he recoiled, and then quickly sold them off, deciding that the corporate proximity to Spidey Super Stories was inappropriate. Well into his tenure, he continued to consider comics a medium that was a few rungs down the ladder, an outlook that sharply contrasted with that of Stan Lee, who often invoked Shakespeare and Picasso. When a Los Angeles Times reporter asked Galton if comics were literature, he replied: I think you have to define literature. Is Judith Krantz literature? Then comics are literature.

Perhaps, as they say in politics, his thinking on the issue evolved. Galton was smart and flexible enough to eventually shepherd the company into an era of higher-quality printing, graphic novels, and placement in bookstore chains. He strove to establish independence from independent newsstand wholesalers, and embraced the so-called direct market, in which dedicated comic shopslargely a domain of adult consumerswould purchase product at a greater discount in return for waiving the option to return unsold inventory.

In the mid-1970s, Marvel licensed several characters for live-action television; Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, and Captain America made it to the air. After Warner Bros. Superman movie became a blockbuster hit in 1978, Marvel began a campaign of full-page ads in Variety, attempting to entice potential licensees (The Man Called Nova is but one of over 100 exciting Marvel characters ready right now) or to farm out its creative powers (Would you like us to create a character for your next motion picture or TV production?)

Eventually, Galton and Stan Leewhod been a vocal, almost solitary booster of the idea that the Marvel Universe was perfect for Hollywoodconvinced its parent company, Cadence Industries, to invest money in launching a Los Angeles animation studio. Galtons instinct, again, was in putting comics where the children wereand in the early 1980s, that meant Saturday morning television. Decades before there was a Lego movie franchise, Marvel was using comic-book storytelling skills to build fictional universes for toy lines like G.I. Joe and the Transformers. But the movies would have to wait. Outside of the 1986 disaster that was Howard the Duck, and low-budget, direct-to-video Captain America and Punisher movies, nothing escaped development hell.

Galton was one of a half-dozen Marvel co-owners from 1983, when Cadence privatized to avoid a takeover from the investor Mario Gabelli, and 1986, when it was sold to New World Pictures. He stayed on as President throughout New Worlds tenure, before retiring in 1990, shortly before Ron Perelmans Andrews Group took the company public.

A few months earlier, Jim Galton claimed one parting victory: the first issue of a new Spider-Man series sold more than two million copies. It was the best-selling comic book in history.

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/jim-galton-the-man-who-kept-marvel-comics-alive

‘Wonder Woman’ whips ‘The Mummy’ at the U.S. box office, but Tom Cruise rules the world

Gal casts a pretty big shadow, Tom.
Image: Mashable composite/warner bros./Universal

Sorry Tom Cruise, but Wonder Woman is just too powerful.

Patty Jenkins’ juggernaut had the best week-over-week hold for a modern superhero film at the domestic box office, dropping only 45% for $57.2 million in its second week and casting a dark shadow over Universal Studios’ attempt at launching its own “cinematic universe” with The Mummy.

But if we’ve learned anything from Tom Cruise over the years, it’s to never count him out.

The Mummy did a sickly $32.2 million in North America for its opening weekend, according to estimates provided by ComScore, but its overseas haul of $141 million is one of Cruise’s best ever. Critics may have hated it and U.S. audiences aren’t fooled by whose name is on the marquee, but around the world, it’s been proven time and again that movie stars still sell tickets.

Universal is launching its monster-mashup “Dark Universe” with The Mummy next up, the still-uncast Bride of Frankenstein in 2019 in an attempt to build what Marvel and DC have for their men (and now women, praise Zeus) in tights. Turns out it’s not that easy to do in reverse: The Mummy couldn’t even beat 1999’s The Mummy ($43.3 million), 2001s The Mummy Returns ($68.1 million), 2002s The Scorpion King ($36 million) or 2008s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, ($40.5 million) which is even worse if you factor in inflation.

But that global haul for The Mummy should have Universal executives breathing a little easier.

Meanwhile, with weekday returns, Wonder Woman is now at $205 million in North America alone, and its strong hold bodes well for a long, prosperous run over many weeks. Its $57.2 million second frame outright beats the sophomore sessions of both Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, giving it a real chance to overtake both films by the time it’s played out in theaters.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/11/wonder-woman-the-mummy-box-office/

J.K. Rowling’s tweets about the London attacks mix solemnity with snark

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock – composite by mashable

J.K. Rowling had some choice words to share with her followers in the wake of Saturday’s cowardly terrorist attack on London citizens.

She was tweeting in response to a New York Times post that characterized the United Kingdom as “reeling” in the wake of its second terror attack in two weeks. Saturday’s incident followed a May 22 suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

The NYT tweet in question links to coverage of the Saturday attacks, noting that they “hit a nation still reeling from the shock of the bombing in Manchester almost 2 weeks ago.”

She even fended off a troll who accused her of being disconnected and out of touch. In response to a derisive tweet that scoffed at her commenting on the news from the safety of a “walled off secure compound,” Rowling issued a corrective.

Then, when the same troll corrected her surname spelling of Superman’s arch-nemesis it’s “Luthor” in the comics Rowling went all-in on the snark.

As usual, she saved her most withering blast for a favored and ever-deserving Twitter punching bag: Donald J. Trump.

Responding to a tweet from 45 that brazenly chastised the mayor of London for trying to rally the spirits of his constituents in the hours after the attack, Rowling issued another snarky corrective.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/04/jk-rowling-london-attacks-tweets/

The Spider-Man: Homecoming poster was very bad, but look the options they rejected

The other day, we finally got our first look at the new Spider-Man: Homecoming movie poster. And it was pretty bad.

Nothing really makes sense here. The colors are all over the place and Iron Man is on there twice. All the trailers have been electric, and all the previous posters have looked really good, so what happened on this one?

That’s right, budget issues. They blew their entire budget on the first few posters and had little to nothing left to spend on this poster. They commissioned six very inexpensive, novice graphic designers and the one they went with was the best one by a mile.

Just check out the other five right here and you’ll see what we mean.

Image: mashable composite; Stu Forster/Getty Images


Image: mashable composite; Shutterstock / Donna Ellen Coleman

Uh oh! Looks like they only gave this designer the subtitle and forgot to tell them it was a Spider-Man movie. They did the best they could.

Image: mashasble composite; jamie mccarthy/Getty Images for NBC

This one is just way off. Jimmy Fallon isn’t in the movie and there’s no mention of our lead actor Tom Holland anywhere.

Image: mashable composite; mike pont/Getty Images

Kind of confusing.

Image: mashable composite; Jason merritt/Getty Images

Not even close. Marvel, next time make sure you save some budget for the posters.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/28/rejected-spiderman-homecoming-posters/

Making Arnold Schwarzenegger Great Again

By any reasonable measure, Arnold Schwarzenegger doesnt need a comeback. Over the course of his illustrious five-decade career, the Austria-born actor has become the worlds all-time greatest bodybuilder (courtesy of seven Mr. Olympia titles), arguably the biggest movie star of the 80s and 90s, the two-term governor of California from 2003 to 2011, and one of the most recognizableand popularpublic figures during the second half of the twentieth century. At 69 years old, his Teutonic accent, still-impressive physique and gigantic smile make him known, and beloved, worldwidea Hollywood force of nature with a last name as larger-than-life as his biceps, and the living embodiment of the American Dream.

And yet here we are in 2017, with his latest film Aftermath having just arrived in theaters, and something feels slightlyamiss.

Its been a tumultuous twelve months in the public eye for Schwarzenegger, largely thanks to his decision to preside over NBCs corporate-boardroom reality series The Celebrity Apprenticea post previously held by Donald J. Trump. With their roles reversedformer Republican governor Schwarzenegger hosting Trumps TV show, while Trump runs the free worlda feud felt inevitable, and it wasnt long before the two were sparring openly with each other in the media. Schwarzenegger may have come out of this squabble looking more presidential than his rival, but it did little to alter the fate of his Celebrity Apprentice stint, which likely thanks to audience fatigue with all things Trump-related, crashed and burned, prompting its replacement host to swiftly exit the franchise.

A brief, unsuccessful venture into reality TV could hardly derail Schwarzeneggers larger fortunes. However, it comes on the heels of a string of big-screen misfires that have, to a greater extent, marred the mans once-impenetrable winning streak.

In terms of box office power, the actor hasnt participated in a $100 million-grossing film since 2010s The Expendables (in which he delivered a glorified cameo). And the last time he actually headlined such a hit was 2003s Terminator: Rise of the Machines. To be sure, Schwarzeneggers fruitful foray into politics limited the number of movie projects he took on during the early part of the new centurybetween 2003 and 2013, he only had bit parts in Around the World in 80 Days, Terminator Salvation, and the first two Expendables installments. Yet having returned to acting full-time over the past few years, hes found it increasingly difficult to regain his prior king-of-the-world form.

The young, insanely strapping Schwarzenegger cut a literal superheroic pose in early kill-em-all classics like The Terminator (1984), Commando (1985), The Running Man (1987) and Predator (1987)the last of which remains the actors finest achievement, and not just because its handshake between Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers epitomizes everything outsized, corny and awesome about 80s genre cinema. He was a living, breathing action figure; an incredible hulk demolishing bad guys with ease and delivering eye-rollingly perfect one-liners in the process.

That personas mileage began to wane some time around Batman and Robin, the ill-fated 1997 Joel Schumacher sequel in which Schwarzenegger played villain Mr. Freeze as a cartoon-of-a-cartoon who only speaks in cold-related puns (e.g., Youre not sending me to the cooler!). His performance came off as self-parody, and though hes spent the ensuing two decades churning out functional action efforts2002s Collateral Damage, 2013s The Last Stand, 2013s Escape Plan (with Sylvester Stallone), 2014s Sabotageits often felt as if he never quite recovered from Mr. Freeze, insofar as that role fully tipped his big-screen mode of operation into the realm of camp.

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/04/08/making-arnold-schwarzenegger-great-again

Tim Pigott-Smith obituary

Stage and screen actor best known for his role in the TV series The Jewel in the Crown

The only unexpected thing about the wonderful actor Tim Pigott-Smith, who has died aged 70, was that he never played Iago or, indeed, Richard III. Having marked out a special line in sadistic villainy as Ronald Merrick in his career-defining, Bafta award-winning performance in The Jewel in the Crown (1984), Granada TVs adaptation for ITV of Paul Scotts Raj Quartet novels, he built a portfolio of characters both good and bad who were invariably presented with layers of technical accomplishment and emotional complexity.

Tim Pigott-Smith in the title role of Mike Bartletts King Charles III at the Almeida theatre in 2014. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

He emerged as a genuine leading actor in Shakespeare, contemporary plays by Michael Frayn in Frayns Benefactors (1984) he was a malicious, Iago-like journalist undermining a neighbouring college chums ambitions as an architect and Stephen Poliakoff, American classics by Eugene ONeill and Edward Albee, and as a go-to screen embodiment of high-ranking police officers and politicians, usually served with a twist of lemon and a side order of menace and sarcasm.

He played a highly respectable King Lear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2011, but that performance was eclipsed, three years later, by his subtle, affecting and principled turn in the title role of Mike Bartletts King Charles III (soon to be seen in a television version) at the Almeida, in the West End and on Broadway, for which he received nominations in both the Olivier and Tony awards. The play, written in Shakespearean iambics, was set in a futuristic limbo, before the coronation, when Charles refuses to grant his royal assent to a Labour prime ministers press regulation bill.

The interregnum cliffhanger quality to the show was ideal for Pigott-Smiths ability to simultaneously project the spine and the jelly of a character, and he brilliantly suggested an accurate portrait of the future king without cheapening his portrayal of him. Although not primarily a physical actor, like Laurence Olivier, he was aware of his attributes, once saying that the camera does something to my eyes, particularly on my left side in profile, something to do with the eye being quite low and being able to see some white underneath the pupil. It was this physical accident, not necessarily any skill, he modestly maintained, which gave him a menacing look on film and television, as if I am thinking more than one thing.

Born in Rugby, Tim was the only child of Harry Pigott-Smith, a journalist, and his wife Margaret (nee Goodman), a keen amateur actor, and was educated at Wyggeston boys school in Leicester and when his father was appointed to the editorship of the Herald in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1962 King Edward VI grammar school, where Shakespeare was a pupil. Attending the Royal Shakespeare theatre, he was transfixed by John Barton and Peter Halls Wars of the Roses production, and the actors: Peggy Ashcroft, with whom he would one day appear in The Jewel in the Crown, Ian Holm and David Warner. He took a parttime job in the RSCs paint shop.

At Bristol University he gained a degree in English, French and drama (1967), and at the Bristol Old Vic theatre school he graduated from the training course (1969) alongside Jeremy Irons and Christopher Biggins as acting stage managers in the Bristol Old Vic company. He joined the Prospect touring company as Balthazar in Much Ado with John Neville and Sylvia Syms and then as the Player King and, later, Laertes to Ian McKellens febrile Hamlet. Back with the RSC he played Posthumus in Bartons fine 1974 production of Cymbeline and Dr Watson in William Gillettes Sherlock Holmes, opposite John Woods definitive detective, at the Aldwych and on Broadway. He further established himself in repertory at Birmingham, Cambridge and Nottingham.

Tim Pigott-Smith as the avuncular businessman Ken Lay in Lucy Prebbles Enron at the Minerva theatre, Chichester, in 2009. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

He was busy in television from 1970, appearing in two Doctor Who sagas, The Claws of Axos (1971) and The Masque of Mandragora (1976), as well as in the first of the BBCs adaptations of Elizabeth Gaskells North and South (1975, as Frederick Hale; in the second, in 2004, he played Hales father, Richard). His first films were Jack Golds Aces High (1976), adapted by Howard Barker from RC Sherriffs Journeys End, and Tony Richardsons Joseph Andrews (1977). His first Shakespeare leads were in the BBCs Shakespeare series Angelo in Measure for Measure and Hotspur in Henry IV Part One (both 1979).

A long association with Hall began at the National Theatre in 1987, when he played a coruscating half-hour interrogation scene with Maggie Smith in Halls production of Coming in to Land by Poliakoff; he was a Dostoeyvskyan immigration officer, Smith a desperate, and despairing, Polish immigrant. In Halls farewell season of Shakespeares late romances in 1988, he led the company alongside Michael Bryant and Eileen Atkins, playing a clenched and possessed Leontes in The Winters Tale; an Italianate, jesting Iachimo in Cymbeline; and a gloriously drunken Trinculo in The Tempest (he played Prospero for Adrian Noble at the Theatre Royal, Bath, in 2012).

The Falstaff on television when he played Hotspur was Anthony Quayle, and he succeeded this great actor, whom he much admired as director of the touring Compass Theatre in 1989, playing Brutus in Julius Caesar and Salieri in Peter Shaffers Amadeus. When the Arts Council cut funding to Compass, he extended his rogues gallery with a sulphurous Rochester in Fay Weldons adaptation of Jane Eyre, on tour and at the Playhouse, in a phantasmagorical production by Helena Kaut-Howson, with Alexandra Mathie as Jane (1993); and, back at the NT, as a magnificent, treacherous Leicester in Howard Davies remarkable revival of Schillers Mary Stuart (1996) with Isabelle Huppert as a sensual Mary and Anna Massey a bitterly prim Elizabeth.

In that same National season, he teamed with Simon Callow (as Face) and Josie Lawrence (as Doll Common) in a co-production by Bill Alexander for the Birmingham Rep of Ben Jonsons trickstering, two-faced masterpiece The Alchemist; he was a comically pious Subtle in sackcloth and sandals. He pulled himself together as a wryly observant Larry Slade in one of the landmark productions of the past 20 years: ONeills The Iceman Cometh at the Almeida in 1998, transferring to the Old Vic, and to Broadway, with Kevin Spacey as the salesman Hickey revisiting the last chance saloon where Pigott-Smith propped up the bar with Rupert Graves, Mark Strong and Clarke Peters in Davies great production.

He and Davies combined again, with Helen Mirren and Eve Best, in a monumental NT revival (designed by Bob Crowley) of ONeills epic Mourning Becomes Electra in 2003. Pigott-Smith recycled his ersatz Agamemnon role of the returning civil war hero, Ezra Mannon, as the real Agamemnon, fiercely sarcastic while measuring a dollop of decency against weasel expediency, in Euripides Hecuba at the Donmar Warehouse in 2004. In complete contrast, his controlled but hilarious Bishop of Lax in Douglas Hodges 2006 revival of Philip Kings See How They Run at the Duchess suggested he had done far too little outright comedy in his career.

Tim Pigott-Smith as King Lear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2011. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

Television roles after The Jewel in the Crown included the titular chief constable, John Stafford, in The Chief (1990-93) and the much sleazier chief inspector Frank Vickers in The Vice (2001-03). On film, he showed up in The Remains of the Day (1993); Paul Greengrasss Bloody Sunday (2002), a harrowing documentary reconstruction of the protest and massacre in Derry in 1972; as Pegasus, head of MI7, in Rowan Atkinsons Johnny English (2003) and the foreign secretary in the Bond movie Quantum of Solace (2008).

In the last decade of his life he achieved an amazing roster of stage performances, including a superb Henry Higgins, directed by Hall, in Pygmalion (2008); the avuncular, golf-loving entrepreneur Ken Lay in Lucy Prebbles extraordinary Enron (2009), a play that proved there was no business like big business; the placatory Tobias, opposite Penelope Wilton, in Albees A Delicate Balance at the Almeida in 2011; and the humiliated George, opposite his Hecuba, Clare Higgins, in Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf, at Bath.

At the start of this year he was appointed OBE. His last television appearance came as Mr Sniggs, the junior dean of Scone College, in Evelyn Waughs Decline and Fall, starring Jack Whitehall. He had been due to open as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman in Northampton prior to a long tour.

Pigott-Smith was a keen sportsman, loved the countryside and wrote four short books, three of them for children.

In 1972 he married the actor Pamela Miles. She survives him, along with their son, Tom, a violinist, and two grandchildren, Imogen and Gabriel.

Timothy Peter Pigott-Smith, actor, born 13 May 1946; died 7 April 2017

  • This article was amended on 10 April 2017. Tim Pigott-Smiths early performance as Balthazar in Much Ado About Nothing was with the Prospect touring company rather than with the Bristol Old Vic.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/apr/09/tim-pigott-smith-obituary

Pepe the Frog creator kills off internet meme co-opted by white supremacists

Matt Furie concedes defeat after months of attempting to wrench back his peaceful frog-dude who had been appropriated as a racist hate symbol

The creator of Pepe the Frog has symbolically killed off the cartoon frog, effectively surrendering control of the character to the far right.

Matt Furie, an artist and childrens book author, created the now-infamous frog as part of his Boys Club series on MySpace in 2005. Pepe took on a life of its own online as a meme, before being eventually adopted as a symbol by the alt-right in the lead-up to last years US election.

In September, Hillary Clinton identified Pepe the Frog as a racist hate symbol, and Pepe was added to the Anti-Defamation Leagues database of hate symbols.

Furie launched a campaign to Save Pepe, flooding the internet with peaceful or nice depictions of the character in a bid to shake its association with white supremacy and antisemitism.

But he now seems to have conceded defeat, killing the character off in a one-page strip for the independent publisher Fantagraphics Free Comic Book Day. It showed Pepe laid to rest in an open casket, being mourned by his fellow characters from Boys Club.

Furie had been attempting to wrench back his peaceful frog-dude whom he has often said he imagined as an extension of his personality for more than six months. Pepes passing has been interpreted of his ceding control of the character.

Shaun Manning wrote in Comic Book Resources that the rehabilitation of Pepe was always going to be a struggle, and its hard to imagine Furie taking much joy in creating new Pepe strips knowing that, whatever his own intentions, the character would be read through tinted lenses.

While its unlikely Pepes official death will stop extremists from co-opting his image, this was, perhaps, the most effective way for Furie to reclaim his character; Pepes soul has returned to his creator. Rest in Peace.

Angela Nagle, a writer and academic whose book on the culture of the alt-right will be published at the end of next month, told the Guardian Furies campaign to reclaim his creation, while understandable, had been misguided.

I can see why he must be dismayed that his own creation is being used in this way, so I dont blame him for trying. In general though, I think its a dead end, yes.

One of the ways the alt-right resisted easy interpretation was through the kind of subcultural elitism and vague ironic in-jokey tone that Pepe represents well, she wrote.

Critics of the alt-right have a tendency to try to outdo them at their own game by trolling the trolls. This should be rejected in its entirety and not reclaimed in any way … There are many wonderful ideals for us to reclaim like beauty, utopianism, internationalism. Let them have their tedious nihilistic juvenile symbols.

Furie wrote in Time magazine last October that the experience of having his copyrighted creation appropriated as a hate symbol had been a nightmare.

Fantagraphics issued a statement denouncing the appropriation of the mellow, positive-vibed frog that he is in the hands of his creator, which had led to it being categorised as a hate symbol, causing Furie significant emotional and financial harm.

Having your creation appropriated without consent is never something an artist wants to suffer, but having it done in the service of such repellent hatred and thereby dragging your name into the conversation, as well makes it considerably more troubling.

Furie and Fantagraphics have been contacted for comment.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/08/pepe-the-frog-creator-kills-off-internet-meme-co-opted-by-white-supremacists