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6 Ways That Blade Runner 2049 Improves Upon The Original

In this Blade Runner naysayer’s point of view, Blade Runner 2049 is everything I ever hoped for from this franchise.

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There’s something absolutely euphoric about coming out of a movie and knowing that it’s one for the ages. Well the term “modern classic” is in and of itself a bit of an oxymoron (you can’t really know a film is a classic until it’s no longer modern, right?)…it’s a rare thing when a film ends and you’re absolutely confident it will go onto to become one for the ages. A movie talked about and endlessly discussed for decades, featured in Top 10 articles for years to come, and that inspires a whole generation of film lovers to cherish (and lend their own contributions to) the medium. Mad Max: Fury Road was that kind of film. Toy Story 3 was that kind of film. Baby Driver was that kind of film. And, somehow, Blade Runner 2049 is now that kind of film.

It’s a movie that absolutely floored me, and in ways that were pretty surprising too. Because, simply put, I am not a Blade Runner superfan. I am very much in the camp that the first film, well undeniably influential in terms of science fiction filmmaking, is in and of itself not a great movie. It’s not one of my favorites, it’s not what I consider “a masterpiece,” and it just leaves me cold no matter how many times I’ve rewatched it (I’m up to four now, and my opinion has not been improved with any of the revisits.) I like the film fine and find it a decent watch, but I want so bad to be one of those people who find the movie to be brilliant. But no matter how many times I see it, I just can’t.

But Blade Runner 2049? I am completely on board that hype train and, in fact, found it to be everything that I always hoped (and knew other people felt) Blade Runner could be. I love this film so much and, even with its few flaws, found it to be an absolute wondrous cinematic experience. I truly feel it does make the Blade Runner universe in its entirety better, and does it in ways that the first film could never do. So, with that being said, here are the improvements I think Blade Runner 2049 made that, ultimately, makes it a more rewarding experience than the first. Be warned, though: from this point forward, this article will feature FULL SPOILERS FOR BLADE RUNNER 2049. Read on at your own peril.


A Compelling Mystery At Its Center

At its very core, the Blade Runner universe is just one big giant sci-fi noir. And since I love both those genres immensely, such a thing should be pure cinematic candy to me. But the only problem is that, with the original Blade Runner, the noir elements never felt whole to me. Sure, there were the trappings: the lead detective, the femme fatale, the dark and shadowy angles piercing every corner of its cityscape. But in creating its detective noir flavor, the first Blade Runner was missing something essential: the mystery.

There is none to speak of in the first Blade Runner. Despite being a story about a detective on a case, everything about the story is pretty much revealed to you rather fast. Deckard’s entire investigation is based upon finding a group of rogue Replicants…a group whose whereabouts we are constantly reminded about throughout the entirety of the film. We are always one step ahead of Deckard and his mission in the first film, and for that reason, there was little propelling me through the actual story of the piece. Such fascinating themes and incredible atmosphere, all built to support a plot that just kind of…happens.

But right off the bat, Blade Runner 2049 was quick to change that. It presents a very compelling mystery in the first act (who is the Replicant child, and how was it created?), and follows Officer K’s journey in finding the answers to such a mystery. And in doing so, we actually get to see K do something that Deckard rarely did: actually act like a detective. He investigates leads, interviews sources, travels to new locations in search of answers–and starts to unlock a puzzle that is far beyoud what he initially thought it would be. Perfect, perfect noir, and simply keeping the audience engaged in finding pieces to the puzzle helps the nearly three hour long film never feel long. The experience never drags…which is unfortunately something I couldn’t say about the first film.


A Stronger Protagonist

I’m sorry, all you Rick Deckard fans out there: taken on his own, he is not that compelling of a protagonist. Paired with the problems with storytelling illustrated in the last point, Deckard is a frustratingly static character throughout most of the original Blade Runner. Yes, you have the whole question of whether or not he was a Replicant, which was somewhat interesting (although not nearly as compelling as some make it out to be.)

But take that mystery out, and you have a man that bumbles his way to his culprits, has his ass kicked by then, and is only spared due to the kindness of the film’s truly compelling character (one Roy Batty.) And well the bones of Deckard’s story is there (the hitman gains empathy for his target, essentially), I never found it presented in the first Blade Runner in a way that was all that compelling. It doesn’t help that Harrison Ford seems weirdly detached in the lead role, almost sleep walking through the entire thing in a manner that just doesn’t make for the most involving of characters.

But, once again, Blade Runner 2049 comes out on top in this department. Not only does it make Deckard a more interesting character (Ford thankfully brought his A-game with this one), but the actual protagonist, one Officer K, has an extremely compelling story, and rewarding character arc. At the center of this arc was the fantastic decision to, from the get-go, confirm that our lead character is actually a replicant. Making him an android leads to so many interesting story developments, developments that the first film could only really make in passing, simply because, even with this one, it’s hard to say whether or not Deckard is actually a replicant.

And so much of K’s story here is based around the idea of what a replicant really is: he might not be human but, ultimately, does it matter? Is he lesser for not being “born?” K himself ends up asking these question when his origins are put to the test, with he ultimately believing he is the birthed child of Deckard and Rachel. This in and of itself makes K such a unique character, but what Blade Runner 2049 does so brilliantly is yank the rug right under the audience AND K (or Joe, if you prefer) by saying that he ISN’T Deckard’s child. He is really just a replicant and, in the universe of the film, that makes him nothing more than another cog. He isn’t special at all…until he decides that he is, giving his life meaning by saving Deckard’s.

If Blade Runner is the story of a man who starts to question if he is a robot, Blade Runner 2049 is the story of a robot who begins to question if he is man. And when he finds out he isn’t, he decides that it doesn’t matter anyways: like Roy Batty before him, K realizes he can still matter regardless of his creation. It’s his DECISIONS that give his life meaning, not the nature of his existence. It’s a beautiful, complex, and ultimately fulfilling story arc for K, and seeing the character go through all of it (and Ryan Gosling so perfectly portraying it) is one of the huge joys of Blade Runner 2049.


A Touching, But Unique Love Story

Adding even more fuel to K’s already excellent character development is his main relationship in the film. I didn’t expect at all for Blade Runner 2049 to turn into basically an even heavier sci-fi sequel to Her, but man if it didn’t completely work for me. Gosling and Ana de Armas have a very warm chemistry, and the question it raises about the “reality” of such love just adds even more thematic tissue for the film to chew on as it races towards its endpoint.

…Which is in stark contrast to the love story of the original Blade Runner, which admittedly never worked for me. Well it’s interesting to think about (and is essential for the plot of this film to work), I never really FELT anything for Deckard and Rachel, and wasn’t exactly cheering their love on as the film progressed. In the first film, the relationship felt more like a device in which Deckard could start to question his reality, and gain empathy for the people he was assigned to terminate. And 80’s kinda-sorta-sexual-assault aside (I’m sorry, but this scene does not age well at all) the passion and warmth was just not there for me between Deckard and Rachel.

But the fact it is with K and Joi helps the film gain such a fabulous emotional center. And having Joi not even be sentient (maybe?) just adds a bitter-sweetness to the entire relationship. It is simultaneously sweet AND thought provoking, and brings up issues of our relationship with technology in ways that I love to see done in modern filmmaking. Basically, it felt like a mini Black Mirror episode squeezed into my Blade Runner movie, and what a wonderful thing to have indeed.


An Extremely Varied Design

One thing that even I can’t deny when it comes to the original Blade Runner is how absolutely gorgeous the film is. The effects and overall design of Blade Runner still hold up today, and creates one of the most fascinating and vivid sci-fi universes every put to film. That being said, due to the restraints of the period and the budget of the first project, there’s a certain “limited” quality to the effects on display. Yes, the production design of the futuristic Los Angeles, with its noir tinges and cyberpunk aesthetics, is incredible. But throughout the first film, that was all you saw, with the action being set entirely on the streets and in the buildings of 2019 LA.

But, like all great sequels, Blade Runner 2049 dramatically expands the scope. Due to its far higher budget, Blade Runner 2049 has the freedom to visit a ton of unique, equally realized locations. Sure, the film still takes place primarily in Los Angeles (and still looks amazing there), but pretty much every single scene gives us a wildly different location. There’s the crazy design and beautiful lighting of Niander Wallace’s headquarters (pictured above.) The trash covered wastelands of San Diego. The bombed out desert fog of Las Vegas. The rained out and flooded beach of LA’s outskirts. All of them look absolutely amazing, which is to be expected — Roger Deakins directing a science fiction film is pretty much a dream come true, as my favorite DP in all of history might have designed his magnum opus here.

But equally as important with the new locations is keeping things moving in a way that never feels boring. As I said previously, it’s a miracle that I never felt the length of Blade Runner 2049. With a running time that is over an hour longer than the original (and a pace that is nearly as lethargic too), Blade Runner 2049 should have felt like a slog. But because the film is always offering a new and breathtaking look at something I have never seen before, it had my rapt attention throughout every moment of its 164 minute runtime.


A Couple Very Fun Action Sequences

Blade Runner is not an action movie, and it’s something I’ve never really held against the film either. The only moment it truly indulges in “action” is the ending, and even then, its more of a cat and mouse chase between Deckard and Batty than a full on, action packed battle. You don’t go into this universe expecting something like The Matrix which, admittedly, is something that is probably keeping Blade Runner 2049 from really catching on with mainstream viewers. But I digress.

Though the film features a lot more violence and action than the first film, I still really wouldn’t qualify Blade Runner 2049 as a full on action movie either. But compared to the first film, it’s The Raid. The action might be limited, it’s also VERY good. I didn’t really need Dennis Villenueve to prove his action chops or anything here (he’s so good at so many things that he didn’t really need to), but he and Deakins still deliver in some big ways.

The action could have felt perfunctory and against the core concepts of the film (like it does in way too many other blockbusters), but it works surprisingly well in Blade Runner 2049. It’s used sparingly in moments where its needed, never feeling shoehorned in and ALWAYS feeling like an exciting change of pace. I’m especially a fan of the film’s final big set-piece, which does an excellent job of showing what a fight between two Replicants would really feel like. And does it in a way that is big, unique, and bold, with rain effects and underwater sequences that would make James Cameron blush. Even the small moments, like Joe fighting off Wallace’s henchmen as they come to capture Deckard (pictured above), is brilliantly realized, utilizing the same silhouette badassery that Deakins mastered in Skyfall. Blade Runner 2049 never lets the action overshadow everything else but, when it decides to work in that vein, is just as masterfully done as everything else in the movie.


Harrison Ford Has A Dog In This One

I mean, come on — did Harrison Ford have a dog in the last one? Nope, not at all. In fact, there were NO dogs in the original Blade Runner, just a stupid snake and owl who were both totally fake anyways. The question of whether Deckard’s dog is a replicant or not is brought up (because he’s that important to the movie, of course), but we never get a concrete answer on it. But, come on, he has to be real. Because he is super cute and drinks whiskey from the floor and IS A GOOD DOG, YES HE IS, YES HE IS.

The whereabouts of Deckard’s dog is unknown by the end of the film, but I chose to believe he’s out there. Just waiting to come back for the next sequel…35 years from now.


There you have it, five serious and one EXTREMELY SERIOUS reason why Blade Runner 2049, in my mind, is finally the cinematic experience people always tried to convince me the original was. I don’t dislike the first Blade Runner by any means, and still think it’s important as a piece of film history. And if you disagree with me, that’s fine — to me, the difference is like the original Terminator vs. T2: Judgement Day. Like with T2, I think Villanueva took what Scott was trying to do in the original and just made it bigger and better. But there will always be people who prefer the smaller scale charms of The Terminator. And there’s absolutely noting wrong with that! I’m just glad that, finally, I can say I personally love a Blade Runner movie. After all this time, it feels pretty damned good.


Also published on Medium.

Matthew Legarreta is the Editor and Owner of Freshly Popped Culture. A big ol' ball of movie, TV, and video game loving flesh, Matthew has been writing about pop culture for nearly a decade. Matthew also loves writing about himself in the third person, because it makes him feel important (or something.)

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James Gunn Fired From Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Over Offensive Tweets…And Fuck If I Know How To Feel About It

Is it the right thing? Is it the wrong thing? Does it even matter? Who the fuck knows.

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Ever since Weinstein (or longer, really, with the Film Twitter outing of people like Devin Faraci and Harry Knowles feeling like the true kick-off in my mind,) I’ve become accustomed to seeing people I admire be suddenly and without much warning outed as bad people, and dropped like a hot potato from Hollywood at large. For a while there, it almost became something of a daily ritual: wake up, take a shit, find out someone I love is shit, put out a shitty response on a shitty certain network (you know the one), and continue with my day. It might hurt for a while, but ultimately I’ve viewed this entire #MeToo thing as a necessary pain for both the industry and our culture: bad people being outed and shamed for doing bad things, from Louis C.K. to Roseanne, was a necessary step in the betterment of our society. Even if things debatably went “too far,” (which I would argue was rarer than the alternative), I was pretty resolute in my opinion that everything going on was “right.”

I still feel this way, in regards to #MeToo. But today’s piece of Hollywood shaming is not about #MeToo, at least not directly. This isn’t an example of a person mentally or physically abusing someone, and getting away with it for years. Nor is it an example of a person saying something offensive or reprehensible, and facing swift punishment for it. No, James Gunn getting fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 comes in the form of tweets….really bad tweets…from over a decade ago.

The background, just in case you need it: James Gunn has been the writer/director of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise thus far, a task he has handled with aplomb. They are critical hits, audience hits, and box office hits. And perhaps more than any other current MCU series (give or take a Thor: Ragnarok), Gunn’s unique voice is clear throughout both films, in the musical choices (all his) to the jokes and gags (mostly his.) He puts one hell of a unique stamp on the MCU, and even if the Guardians movies aren’t my absolute favorite of the franchise overall (hint: you can see where they both rank here), they are dependably great in large part because of him. So regardless of the reasons for his firing, this would be a damn shame, and a massive blow to the future of the MCU post Avengers 4. 

But the circumstances of his firing turn things into, frankly, a clusterfuck of political and ethical and moral quandaries that I’m far figuring out my exact position on. I will make one thing completely clear though: the tweets in question that lead to Gunn’s firing are UNACCEPTABLE. They are in incredibly poor taste, stink of someone trying way too hard to be “edgy” (one of my least favorite character traits in a person, really), and are not even the slightest bit funny. Even just putting the morality of the tweets aside, everything about the ethos behind the tweets represents someone I would never want to encounter, nor want to support. Not just because the subject matter is bad, but because the sentiment behind it (SHOCKING and IN YOUR FACE and NOT AFRAID TO GO THERE humor) is so unbearable.

All that being said…this is a lot more complicated than simply being about bad tweets. The timetable for one is important, as pretty much all the tweets are from nearly a decade ago, and Gunn hasn’t exhibited the same penchant for that type of “humor” in the years since joining Disney and Marvel. Gunn also seems to be expressing remorse about the jokes, lauching a Twitter thread owning the horrid nature of the jokes, while still trying to explain how he has moved forward as a person and changed in the years since making them:

He was equally as remorseful in a written statement he released following Disney’s official decision to cut ties with him:

My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative. I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.”

“Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”

So yeah: the tweets were bad then, are bad now, and everybody involved is aware of this. But is Gunn’s stupid jokes from a decade ago enough to take everything away from him? Furthermore, the tweets were a matter of pubic record for years: did Disney really not search Gunn’s history to see examples of his past public behavior? Did Gunn really not consider, in his years of reflection, that these tweets were terrible and should be purged before they got him in trouble? Apparently not, although I’m sure both parties will consider that a high priority moving forward. We’ve seen people get in trouble for bad tweets, even ones that were many years old (I remember Trevor Noah’s sexist “controversy,” do you?), but this is the first time I can remember that a studio actually had to respond to it in such a strong manner. Like with Roseanne before him, Disney has shown they are willing to cut ties with people they deem to be even a little bit controversial…for better or worse, really.

Of course, I can’t ignore the political angle of this, which adds just another shit nugget to the entirety of the proceedings. The main reason these tweets came to light in the first place was due to a concentrated effort of right-wing trolls (led by human diarrhea bag Mike Cernovich) to basically knock Gunn down a peg, and show that the outspoken director was guilty of his own bad behavior in the past. I want to make it clear: nothing that Cernovich or his ilk do, in my mind, is “right.” But the unfortunate, ugly truth of the matter is that this outcry had the desired effect — Gunn lost his job, and has been Publically Shamed on the Internet™. This counts as a gross win for them, but should we just pretend this is better than it is, because it benefits a bunch of people who are awful?

While there’s certainly a part of me that wants to rally against the forces that conspired to take down Gunn, it’s a lot harder to do that when actually looking at some of the tweets that he made. Would it not be hypocritical of me to cheer on the collapse of Roseanne Barr, while at the same time trying to defend Gunn and his actions? One of my least favorite things in the whole goddamn world is hypocrisy, and there’s plenty of that all-over today. Case in point: the alt-right cheering on the public shaming of an “enemy” over the “jokes” he made, when the same fuckers probably would be bemoaning about policial correctness and “social justice warriors” if it was someone they viewed to be on their side. Equally as hypocritical is some of the response I’ve seen from more left-leaning people: now they are the ones using the tactics of “it was a long time ago!” and “they were just jokes!” and a myriad of other ways of rationalizing Gunn’s behavior. That shit hasn’t excused past people celebrities who were Publically Shamed on the Internet™, and I don’t think it’s right to give Gunn the benefit of the doubt just because we like him.

On the same token…they were tweets. From a decade ago. And I’m not comfortably completely crucifying the man over them. But if it was someone I disliked…would I be? Would we all be? This matter is complicated as hell, and I’m not sure who is right or wrong here, or even if there is a true right or wrong. This kind of situation requires more nuance than I, or probably anyone sounding off on Twitter and the rest of the internet, can probably muster. All I know is that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is going to suffer big time for this, and that Marvel is going to have to work hard on restoring the damage to the brand. I return to the business and fanboy matters because, honestly, that’s all I can rationalize without feeling like I am wrong in some way. Because when it comes to the mortality and ethics of what happened here today, I’ll reiterate:

Fuck if I know.


Also published on Medium.

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10 Other Members of The Americans Cast Who Should Be Put In A Star War (And The Roles That They Could Play)

Keri Russell should just be the start of alum from FX’s hit spy drama joining the Star Wars universe.

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The talk of the fanboy town this weekend was Keri Russell, a frequent J.J. Abrams cohort, joining the cast of Star Wars: Episode IX (or whatever it might end up being titled.) The think pieces came fast and furious from nearly the moment the casting was first announced, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise: when any new detail drops about one of these Star Wars films, people will inevitably spend way too much time theorizing about what is to come, for better or (mostly) worse. But when it comes to my initial reaction to the casting, I only had two thoughts: 1) oh my god what is J.J. Abrams going to do to Keri Russell’s hair this time and 2) it’s so damn great to see The Americans cast get work.

Coming off of five years of being perhaps the best dramatic ensemble on television, I truly would be happy to see all of the cast members of The Americans land roles in huge films following the conclusion of the show. And not just huge films, mind you — I’m talking Star Wars huge films. Truly The Americans cast is versatile enough to land any role they could want in the galaxy far, far away, and with Russell’s casting, all I could think about (aside from how amazing she’s going to end up being in the movie, of course) was what her fellow cast members could also bring to the extended franchise.

And I’m a silly person who happens to have a blog so, sorry, you have to be present for my ramblings on such niche, unasked subjects! So here are 10 other members of The Americans cast who deserve a shot at a Star Wars gig and, for the hell of it, the character archetypes they would be great for in the universe. Thank me later, Kathleen Kennedy!


Matthew Rhys (Philip Jennings):

I’ll let my first post-Keri Russell casting tweet speak for itself here:


Holly Taylor (Paige Jennings):

Rey’s previously unmentioned bestie/roommate back home on Jakku. They stay up all night chowing down on dehydrated bread and talking about desert problems, as you do.


Noah Emmerich (Stan Beeman):

Maybe it’s recency bias, but I can’t help but imagine Emmerich playing a tough bounty hunter character. That being said, it will be pretty tragic when he realizes his co-pilot and best friend was his target the whole time. What a dramatic scene they will end up having in the Star Wars equivalent of a parking garage, though.


Brandon J. Dirden (Dennis Aderholt):

Brandon J. Dirden holds himself up with such calm and levelheaded prestige as an actor…making him a perfect choice to play a hapless senator trying to do the right thing, but missing the fact that OOPS an electric wizard is in control now. Bummer!


Costa Ronin (Oleg Burov):

I can definitely see Costa Ronin playing the cool, confident gangster type. He’ll also have a robot arm, for some reason. And he should keep his Season 6 beard, because DAMN does he rock the hell out of it.


Alison Wright (Martha):

Padme in a set of prequel remakes. Because if anyone could sell the anguish of being betrayed by someone they deeply loved for years, only for them to end up being a completely different person than who they thought they were, it would be her. Poor Martha…


Margo Martindale (Claudia):

It’s Character Actress Margot Martindale! Let her be whatever she wants! A Jedi master, a Sith Lord, a crime boss, a droid, a wookie, a gungan — she can do it all, dang it!


Frank Langella (Gabriel):

Let him be the kindest Jedi master ever. OR the most evil Sith Lord to ever exist. Frank Langella is somehow capable of channeling both.


Mail Robot (Mail Robot):

The new official droid mascot of Star Wars, duh! NEXT.


Keidrich Sellati (Henry Jennings):

…He can also be present.


Also published on Medium.

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Avengers: Infinity War Crushed My Dreams in the Dumbest Way, and I’m Okay with it

We might never see Secret Wars properly adapted to the big screen, and I am at peace with that now.

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Spoilers ahead, so be forewarned. Although at this point it’s impossible for this article to spoil what could possibly be the biggest blockbuster of all time, on a website nobody reads, but consider yourself warned. And a loser, let’s be real here.

So first and foremost: I very much liked this movie, and so did most of you, from what the box office tells us. I very much look forward to seeing it again to crystallize my real thoughts on it, because time ends up being the best critic of them all. It’s too soon for the test of time to enlighten us on where this thing ranks amongst the pantheon, but most of what has been said and written about is true; it’s a landmark, a milestone, impressively crafted and a miracle to watch. The ending has emotional stakes (though not real ones),  and it really leaves an imprint. And yet…

https://film.avclub.com/infinity-wars-ending-packs-a-wallop-if-you-dont-think-1825658641

The link above is a terrific examination about what I’m talking about, but I’m only really here to somewhat facetiously let you into my head beat by beat as the characters we love turned to ash and floated away. Mouth agape, I thought “they can’t be seriously doing this”. And most of you did the exact same thing! But I was referring to something else entirely, and as the screen cut to black, and Thanos’ big dumb expression still lingering fresh in our minds, my fellow audience members and space travelers all collectively gasped. Everyone did it for reasons that seem normal, “oh no our favorite heroes are dead and we have to wait a whole year to find out what happens!”. Except me, because I have a one track mind and was somewhere else entirely (and I’m not going to get suckered into believing anything that happened in that film actually has any consequence whatsoever, in terms of plot or story or the ability for Disney to make money and sign actors to long-term contracts).

No, I gasped because I actually thought Kevin Feige had the balls to go where I didn’t think they would ever go, and I yelled out in the crowded theater, in the pitch black surrounded by strangers, at the screen with credits rolling slowly:

IF THIS END STINGER DOESN’T TEASE SECRET WARS THEN THERE IS NO POINT IN HAVING A SEQUEL, BECAUSE IT WILL RENDER OUR MOURNING OBSOLETE AND MEANINGLESS.

I didn’t actually yell that, I said it quietly to the brunette in the college sweater next to me who I was trying to hit on before the movie started. There was a seven foot tall teenager in a business suit sitting in front of me, blocking the lower left quarter of the screen, and he turned around at the same time as his mother, who loved him very much and was proud of her son in that suit I tell ya, and they asked “what is Secret Wars? Is that the title of the next Avengers movie after this?” And I replied:

IF THEY DON’T SHOW BATTLEWORLD AFTER THESE CREDITS THEN ALL OF THESE CHARACTERS DEATHS ARE FOR NOTHING BUT THE SHEER AND BLATANT ATTEMPT TO SEEM EDGY AND BOLD AND DARING, BUT IN REALITY WE WILL ALL GET OVER IT IN TWO WEEKS WHEN THEY ANNOUNCE THE NEXT SLATE OF FILMS IN PHASE FOUR.

I didn’t actually say that either, but in the final moments of Infinity War I kept expecting the disintegrating bodies to reveal the truth: they weren’t dead, just going somewhere else, potentially the mirror dimension, or another parallel universe, or a representation of hell inside the Soul Stone. And then I realized that the only other gigantic crossover storyline not used so far in these movies is Secret Wars, which would have been the most amazing and ideal way to segue into next year’s Avengers 4: Secret Wars. Imagine, the most famous comic book story for Marvel (also seen on the 90’s Spider-Man cartoon) redone on the big screen: the possibilities endless, the potential for blowing minds unfathomable for fans.

But alas, no, they did not go there, and instead left the cliffhanger to just sit with us. In the dark, no answers, like a gut punch from the screen to our seats. I’m not going to explain why Secret Wars is worth doing, or what it’s about — the cover below says everything you need to know, really. Just look it up online after this, or read the original run, or the newer ones. It’s unreal they didn’t go for this, they had the chance and they blew it!

I like the ending in a vacuum, on paper, but we don’t live in a vacuum anymore. We live on the internet, where every production has leaked set photos and breakdowns, every project in development has casting choices ruined and surprises sold off to the highest bidder. The next five years are set in stone, the signatures already in ink, and it only lasted five minutes before I realized the head fake ending would have been better off being done without the obvious sign that A) the original team of old heroes and actors who should have died and said they’re about done all lived B) all the new characters and actors that are the backbone of Marvel’s future all died C) they already shot the untitled sequel so it’s not like they did that whole movie / marketing without Spider-Man and Black Panther and D) I’m going to end this run-on sentence being mad they didn’t finish the FOX merger fast enough to do Secret Wars.

Infinity War Crushed My Dreams

Secret Wars, the only way to naturally introduce a space alien getting stuck to Peter Parker’s suit so the symbiote travels back to earth to battle Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock. Secret Wars, the only way to seamlessly transition the X-Men and Fantastic Four into the MCU, by forcing them to battle on Battleworld for the enjoyment of the masses. But no, they didn’t show those characters on a new planet. They didn’t bring in Ant-Man and the Wasp and the original Wasp (Michelle Pheiffer) through the subatomic quantum realm. They didn’t hint at the Beyonder, or She-Hulk, or Spider-Woman, or Titania, or Absorbing Man, or Kang the Conqueror, or Molecule Man, or Silver Surfer, or Volcana, or the Wrecking Crew, or Galactus! They didn’t bring back older villains sans Red Skull (good job on that one, actually) to fight and die again against different heroes (how hard is it to just show Ultron fighting without him talking?).

Oh well. I’m not actually that upset, and the odds of that were low enough I’m not shocked. I just really thought they were going in that direction, and now they are not, and that makes me sad. A man can dream, though. Infinity War was pretty good all things considered, even if the stakes they focused on are really just not doable anymore, in this culture of capitalism and engineering fandom into capitalist milk udders. Just milking us nerds dry, with no regard for anything but the almighty dollar. What can you do about it, honestly? At least my favorite characters aren’t being handled by Warner Bros.

Tune in next time when I write an article about how Thanos was just stealing all of his ideas and motivations off of Bill Maher, thanks for reading true believers. Excelsior!

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