walterWell, here he is. That guy over there is Walter, the new Muppet character who will be featured in the new Muppet movie, which is now filming and which will be in theaters in just 415 days. That gives us plenty of time to buzz with anticipation, and to speculate and complain and laugh and cry and spin around in circles and get dizzy and fall down.

Walter can be seen, along with the rest of the Muppets and the movie’s co-writer Jason Segel, in a two-page “First Look” photo spread in the brand-new issue of Entertainment Weekly (the one with Harry Potter making a tough-guy face on the cover). You can click here to see the whole thing. There’s not really a full-fledged article to go along with it, but there is some accompanying text with quotes from Segel and director James Bobin. So what can we glean from this?

  • That’s what Walter looks like. What do you think? I have to say, he’s not what I expected. When we heard that there would be a new puppet character who dreams of joining the Muppets, I was picturing something less cartoony and more distinctly humanoid. Walter doesn’t even have a nose. (Then how does he smell? I suppose that depends on whether he’s bathed recently. HA!) But if the rumors are true about Michael Cera providing the voice of Walter, I can easily imagine Cera’s voice coming out of this guy’s fuzzy face.
  • ew-segelThe title (for now) is The Muppets. After all our confusion as to whether this thing would be called The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time or The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made or Muppets Spinning Around in Circles and Getting Dizzy and Falling Down, the Entertainment Weekly article refers to it simply as The Muppets. I won’t be surprised if it changes, and I’m kind of hoping it will, because that’s a pretty bland title… and it could lead to a lot of confusion. If the movie disappoints, we’ll find ourselves saying, “Oh, I love the Muppets! But I really hate The Muppets.” Then again, if the goal is to relaunch the franchise to introduce it to a completely new generation of fans, the simple title might work.
  • Amy Adams and Chris Cooper are in it. We pretty much already knew that, but it’s nice to have it reported by a reputable source. (Or at least to the extent that EW can be called reputable when they put Twilight on their cover every other month.)
  • Walter is us. I had assumed Jason Segel’s character Gary, the human lead who’s described as a Muppet fan, would be written as the character we geeks could identify with. ‘Cause we like the Muppets too. But I’m not so sure now, with Segel commenting, “Walter has a little bit of a self-confidence issue because he’s the only person like him that he’s seen aside from the Muppets. His dream is to meet the Muppets and be around people who are like him.” Is it just me, or does that resonate with your Muppet fandom? We lovers-and-dreamers-and-you types tend to recognize the Muppets as kindred spirits, and it sounds like Walter is that type of fan, taken a step further. It’ll be interesting to see how they play things, though, as few Muppet productions have even acknowledged that the Muppets have fans. Presumably Gary and Walter are fans because they grew up watching The Muppet Show like we did, so I’m curious to see how meta things get.
  • Gonzo likes Twizzlers. But then again, who doesn’t?

And now I think I think I’ve written about as much commentary as can be written about one photograph. But it’s exciting to see Kermit and Piggy and Fozzie and those guys getting hype in a major publication, isn’t it? My cautious optimism is burning pretty brightly right about now. How’s yours?

Click here to express cautious optimism or reckless pessimism (your choice!) on the Tough Pigs forum!

by Ryan Roe –

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