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My Top 10 Films of 2016

A trio of great musicals, a pair of harrowing dramas, a superhero spectacle— these were my cinematic highlights of 2016.

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First of all, yes, I know: it’s almost the end of February 2017. We’re already two months into 2017, so it’s pretty damn late to do an “end-of-the-year wrap-up” list. And, to that, I say…you are completely right, reader. But look, I’ll be entirely honest: I don’t do these lists for you. I do them for myself, so that years from now, I have a “record” of sorts about what the year in pop culture really was. So yeah, maybe this isn’t exactly timely. But I feel obliged to do it anyway and, if you’re reading this, I hope you get some type of value out of this very untimely list. And, c’mon, cut me some slack here — I still beat the Oscars to the punch, so doesn’t that count for something?

And it wasn’t like I spent the last few months just twiddling my thumbs — the reason I didn’t write out my Top 10’s of the year sooner was because I had so much stuff I had to catch up on first. The way I do Top 10’s isn’t “the best things I saw in the last 365 days” — if it was, most of the best things in 2016 would make my 2017 list. Every year I spend my January going through the quality things I missed out on in the year, all in an effort to make as through a list as I can.

Which of course is still an impossibility: I’m sure I’ll end up seeing something months from now that I think was good enough to retroactively make my list. But hey, two months into the new year is already late enough: I couldn’t wait until June now, could I? In any case, here it finally is: my Top 10’s of 2016. Today I’ll be closing things out with my favorite movies of 2016. Kicking off the list at number 10 is…


10. Hardcore Henry



Yes sir, I am indeed starting this list out with class, aren’t I? But, look: as I said around the time the film was first released, you will know pretty much right off the bat if Hardcore Henry is the type of movie you will love. I certainly did, as the film’s unique action style and off-the-wall craziness is present within minutes of the film’s start. This is the kind of movie that has a telepathic Russian baddie for like no reason, and has an exciting action shootout in a seedy strip club for like no reason. But the reasons for why Hardcore Henry did pretty much everything it did was pretty simple in my mind: cause it’s REALLY freaking cool.

At the time of its release, Hardcore Henry was very much compared to a video game, and I do think the comparison is pretty apt. Like a video game, you kind of have to accept some puzzling plot progression, and a lot of things that don’t really add up. But once you do that in a video game, the sense of utter fun and joy that can be had with the thing knows no bounds.

Hardcore Henry operates much in the same way, with its crazy unique first person style creating some of the most striking, energetic action sequences released in years. And though the story might be silly, there are little strokes of cleverness to be had within the broad strokes. First and foremost is the character played by Sharlto Copley, who is not only the best use of the actor’s talents since District 9, but also an incredibly fun and rather interesting plot device. To say anything more is probably a spoiler, but just know this: as weird as it is to say on a list like this, I truly believe there’s a strong likelihood you will not love this movie. But you know what? I sure as hell did.


9. Hacksaw Ridge


Upon creating this list, I decided that I could only include one “Andrew Garfield suffers for his faith at the hands of the Japanese” movie, and boy was it a hard choice between Hacksaw Ridge and Silence. But at the end of the day, I have to give the edge to Hacksaw Ridge, for primarily one reason: I’m a war movie junkie, and I don’t think I’ve seen a war movie as brilliantly realized as this one since Saving Private Ryan. The latter film is one of my Top 10 movies of all time, so, you know…I was a prime audience for this one.

And though at lot has been said about its somewhat preachy opening act, I think it was necessary to spell out Desmond Doss’ beliefs, and just how much it has impacted his life and time in the army. I am personally always interested in well-told stories about belief, even as a pretty un-religious person. And once again, when the film gets to the nitty-gritty of the massacre that occurred on Hacksaw Ridge, having the first half to back it up really does make it land all the better.

And, honestly, I loved Hacksaw Ridge just because it was so god damn refreshing. Well much has been said about the innate brutality of the film, one thing that I feel hasn’t been mentioned enough about the movie is how it idolizes a legitimately good person, a hero with very little flaws to put aside. War movies are often about heroes to some extent, but never have I felt it so profoundly than with Hacksaw Ridge. Because this is a movie about the heroism that comes from saving others through healing, not through harm. And regardless of the politics of it all, I would argue we need more films like this right now.


8. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping


Look, I already wrote about the joys of Popstar back in my “Best Movies of Summer 2016” list, so I’m just going to re-quote what I said about the film there right here, since it still all completely applies today.

Not a day went by this summer when my heart didn’t hurt just a little bit for how hard Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping bombed at the box office. I was lucky enough to see Popstar at an early screening a month or so before it came out, and fell in love with the comedy almost instantly. It has humor, it has heart, it has like a dozen catchy songs — what more could I possibly want from it?

The best thing I could say about Popstar is that it reminds me of the very best Will Ferrell comedies, from Anchorman to Step Brothers, and that Andy Samburg does an exquisite job of playing the Ferrell-esque fool at the center of the film. But when the film isn’t being outrageously funny, it also does a stellar job of telling its central story in a surprisingly sweet way. Popstar is the type of film that SHOULD have been an early summer break-out, and the fact it didn’t catch on has me supremely bummed. At the very least, I hope Popstar is set to become a buzzed about cult comedy classic like a decade down the line. Considering the quality of the final project, it at least deserves that much.

Popstar was the funniest comedy of 2016, without a doubt.


7. Kubo and the Two Strings


Oh hey, I also wrote about Kubo on that list too so, y’know, might as well re-quote it! Even in a competitive year for the form, Kubo is the best animated motion picture of 2016. I just wish it saw nearly as much success as all the others…

I have been a fan of Laika since the very beginning, and have championed the studio as doing things with animation that very few others (including Pixar!) would dare to do. Laika truly takes chances with their storytelling and animation, and is not afraid to delve into the uncomfortable, gross, spooky, or what have you. Those have been aspects of all three of their previous efforts (Coraline, Paranorman, and The Boxtrolls) to various degrees, and they are quickly getting to the point as a studio that I completely believe whatever films they make will be worthy of my time. Not only did this summer’s Kubo and the Two Strings cement that trust, but it also raised my expectations for the company to even grander heights.

To say that Kubo and the Two Strings is Laika’s grandest accomplishment is no small thing: like I said, this is a studio that has up until this point ONLY made great movies. But Kubo somehow manages to top all of them, combining jaw dropping effects, a delightful sense of adventure, and a fascinating story into probably the best animated film of the year. Unfortunately this is another one that isn’t getting its proper due (even with Laika’s low standards, the film is a bit of a disappointment at the box office with a gross so far of just $40 million), but in time I desperately hope that a big fandom will surround Kubo — if any film from this summer deserves such a thing, it would be this one.


6. Moonlight


Ah, Moonlight. What more can be said about this movie that hasn’t already been said before? It truly is a gem of a movie, one that does an astounding job at making you empathize with its main character. It’s also excruciating beautiful, brilliantly acted by a lot of great talent, and put together with such fine procession by writer/director Barry Jenkins.

I really wish I had more to say about Moonlight, but really the lack of things I have to say about it speaks volumes on its own — the film is just undeniably great, with the type of craft that only the best films can speak to. I don’t know what the film’s Oscar chances are come Sunday night, but even with the competition that “ranks” better in my list, I couldn’t possibly begrudge any praise that this film gets. Because it more than earns it.


5. Manchester by the Sea


From one heart-breaking drama to another, I guess it’s time to talk about the most notoriously depressing film of 2016: Kennether Lonnergan’s Manchester by the Sea. At this point, it’s almost become a gag: the film is pure misery, and everyone who tries to describe it comes away echoing the same basic thought.

And look, I’m not going to argue that Manchester by the Sea isn’t emotionally draining: it definitely is, and at no point does the film seem intent on “apologizing” to the audience for making them feel the way they are. But that in and of itself is why I loved Manchester — it’s incredibly true to life, and almost procedural in its portrayal of depression and crippling grief. Despite Lonnergan’s background, there’s never a point in Manchester by the Sea that feels overly theatrical, or emotionally manipulating. It’s just so matter-of-fact, and Lonnergan is such a brilliant writer that he can still devastate the audience with such relative simplicity. Add in some astounding performances from everybody involved (Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams especially), and you have the recipe for perhaps the best pure drama film of the entire year.


4. Sing Street


And now for something completely different! While Manchester by the Sea might be the most depressing film of 2016, John Carney’s Sing Street might just be the happiest.

I’m not sure there was a single moment where I wasn’t beaming in this glorious little musical comedy, and it truly was a perfect antidote for a year that was, well, not very fun to behold. And Carney’s talent for music really shines through here, with a litany of 80’s-inspired songs that are still getting a lot of play on my Spotify playlist (try not to get “Riddle of the Model” stuck in your head. Come on, I dare you.)

But more than anything, Sing Street is a movie about the joy of creativity, and the wonder and fun that comes with creating something artistic. It’s upbeat and happy, and truly fits that whole cliche of “you’ll want to start dancing in the aisle with it!” Not literally of course (I was at home on my recliner, so there was no aisle to speak of anyways, but you get my point.) As I put on Twitter the night I saw it, Sing Street is just delightful, and no other film this year earns that adjective nearly as much.

Plus, it made Mr. Statutory Rape from Transformers: Age of Extinction one of the coolest and most likable screen presence’s of the entire year. That’s practically a miracle!


3. Captain America: Civil War


Though I technically also wrote about Captain America: Civil War in my Best of Summer 2015 list, I’ll go ahead and write something different here, since I just recently re-watched the movie, and all the great things I felt watching it the first time very much came back.

Captain America: Civil War is going down as my favorite movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and in the Top 3 of my favorite superhero movies of all time. The fact I can still say that about the MCU a dozen films in speaks to how spectacularly Marvel is at what they do, and how their trust in strong filmmakers continues to benefit them. Civil War has all of the whizzbang action excellence that has made superhero films so fun in the past, but also doesn’t back away from exploring a more dramatic, thought provoking side of the universe. It’s huge in scale but deliciously intimate, to the point that you really do feel intense pain when you see the heroes of the brand go at it.

Civil War is the kind of film you can only get after 10 odd films of build-up, and is a fantastic culmination of what Marvel has been doing with their universe building so far. But even just in terms of big blockbuster entertainment, I can’t remember the last time I’ve had so much fun watching a film like this, with Civil War besting everything else in the past half decade at least. Civil War is indeed the new benchmark for how great comic book movies can be, and the fact that the same people behind it (and the also great Captain America: Winter Soldier) are currently in production on Avengers: Infinity War couldn’t have me happier. They pulled off one hell of a hat trick here, and I’m beyond curious to see if they can pull it off again.


2. Hunt for the Wilderpeople


Above I called Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping the funniest comedy of 2016, but you might notice that I didn’t call it the best. No, that honor confidently goes to Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the comedic gem that premiered at Sundance back in January 2016, and opened in limited release during the summer.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is one of the most charming movies I’ve seen in years, enlivened by two great performances by its two main stars (breakout Julian Dennison and Alan Grant himself, Sam Neill) and one heck of a funny script. But what put Hunt for the Wilderpeople over the edge is truly its direction from Waititi, who helms the film with the kind of self-assuredness you would never expect from a man on his sophomore feature. The film is energetic and stylish, with a sort of Wes Anderson vibe that bounces well off of the beautiful New Zealand vistas.

Though a comedy first and foremost, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a really enjoyable adventure romp, with its fair share of exciting moments and small scale action scenes. It’s also incredibly sweet, with an ending that makes you feel the kind of euphoria that only a great film with wonderful characters can truly manage. Watching Hunt for the Wilderpeople was one of the most delightful moments for me in 2016, and its one of the few films on this list I would recommend whole-heartedly to pretty much every person I know.


1. La La Land


Yes, yes, I know — you don’t “get” La Land Land. You don’t see why the film is getting all the acclaim it is getting, and you just see it as another “overrated” piece of Oscar bait. And as I’m going to elaborate on in a latter article, that’s totally okay. But here’s the thing: I loved La La Land. With every fiber of my being, I love this goddamn movie.

I listen to the soundtrack everyday, with it being the rare musical in which EVERY song is great. I loved the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and honestly could give two shits about whether the two can actually sing or dance or whatever. I loved Damien Chazelle’s direction, who after this and Whiplash, has proven himself to be perhaps the most talented young filmmaker in Hollywood. And I love the ending, which is a breathtaking experience to behold, and a fascinating place to end its characters on.

But, more than anything, I love what La La Land IS, by the pure nature of what it’s exploring. It’s a film about two artists growing off of each other, a subgenre that I am admittedly a sucker for. It’s a beautiful theme that I always love to see shown in art, even if it can get a little bit self-important sometimes. But once again, I don’t care — as a fellow dreamer, it’s uplifting and beautiful to see such a perfectly realized take on how two people can so profoundly impact each other. As an artist, as a romantic, and as just a lover of damn good cinema, I’m going to paraphrase the words of famed poet Sir Mix-A-Lot here when I say that I LOVED La La Land — and I cannot lie about that fact. So, umm, deal with it, I guess? Yeah, that sounds right.


And there you have it — my extremely late choices for the 10 Best Films of 2016. Check out my similar list of the best TV shows of 2016 below:

https://freshlypoppedculture.com/my-top-10-tv-shows-of-2016-7cfb3f46d7a0


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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Disney Is Rebooting The Muppets (Yes, Again) And A Whole Bunch of Other Dormant Properties For Their New Streaming Service

Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Father of the Bride, The Parent Trap, the concept of time itself. You know, the usual.

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Disney has conquered mainstream Hollywood. That is an undeniable fact, if you ask me — between their Marvel and Star Wars output (not to mention their live action remakes, animated films, and projects from Pixar), Disney seems to be the only big studio thriving in the modern age. But as much as that seems like a compliment to Disney, it’s also something of a dour note for the industry overall — things are rough for theatrical film, for a variety of reasons. But perhaps the most substantial one is competition from the world of cable, Broadcast, and (especially) streaming outlets. When you are routinely getting things of the same (if not better) quality out of TV and streaming, why even go to the theater? The question is baffling to me (because it’s a movie theater, that’s why!), but not for the majority of Americans — ticket sales are the worst they have been in decades, as people would rather get their entertainment fix by staying at home and watching Netflix.

And Disney knows this. They are content with having conquered the ashes of traditional Hollywood, but they aren’t idiots — the media landscape is changing, and they want to be just as viable in the new one as a Netflix or HBO. So they are creating their own streaming service, and taking the battle for entertainment supremacy to Netflix in a big way.

But in building their new streaming outlet, I was rather curious how Disney planned to convince people to subscribe to their service when there were dozens more out there competing for the same eyeballs (and monthly set of dollar bills.) Well, today we got a pretty big hint in how Disney plans to build out their streaming portfolio and, no surprise, it’s taking advantage of their biggest asset: all the well-liked shit they have made and/or acquired over the last century. Brands are king for Disney, and they very much seem to be putting those at the forefront as they dive into this new frontier. Call it a safety blanket if you want (I will: it’s a safety blanket), but it has served Disney well in the last decade, so
…reboot time it is!

Of course, many of Disney’s bigger properties have already been rebooted or remade on the big screen, leading the selections for their streaming stuff to be a bit lower tier. The biggest property announced today for the potential reboot treatment is The Muppets, who Disney acquired from The Jim Henson Company back in 2004, and have since been left scratching their heads at what exactly to do with it. Things seemed great at first when the Jason Segal-led reboot film managed to enliven the love for the franchise, and perform pretty great at the box office to boot. But then Muppets Most Wanted came out and, despite being a whole lotta fun, underwhelmed at the box office. It seemed The Muppets would not be the blockbuster franchise Disney was hoping for.

Rebooting The Muppets

So they transferred the property back to TV, relaunching a new series simply entitled The Muppets. This series had a promising hook (basically The Muppets meets 30 Rock, through the mockumentary lens of The Office) but it failed to get an audience on ABC and, quite frankly, wasn’t even all that good to begin with. Then a whole controversy broke out when longtime puppeteer/Kermit the Frog voice actor Steve Whitmire was fired from working on the property. He argued that Disney’s plans for the character was against what Henson would have stood for. They argued he was a shitty worker who didn’t play well with others, and everyone else was glad to be rid of him. The truth probably rests somewhere in between the two stances, but that didn’t make the controversy anymore crippling for The Muppet brand. They laid low for a year or so, only popping up to make wacky promotional videos and the like for the franchises’ various social media pages.

But apparently, Disney still thinks they can make this thing work in a big way, as The Hollywood Reporter confirms the Mouse House intends to bring the property to their new streaming service. Which, by the way, could use a name pronto. I’m tiring of just calling it “their new streaming service.” Judging by what they seem to want to put on it, maybe simply “Reboot” will do?

Kidding aside, The Muppets isn’t the only reboot Disney plans to anchor the service with. Also in the mix according to THR is film properties like Honey I Shrunk the Kids (you, know the Rick Moranis movie about shrinking kids), Father of the Bride (you know, the Steve Martin movie about being the father of the bride), and The Parent Trap (you know, the Lindsay Lohan movie about trapping parents.) This is in addition to previously announced reboot fodder like High School Musical and The Mighty Ducks which, yeah, were all certainly things at one point in time. They have name value, and that’s all that matters to the house that Micky Mouse built!  At least there will be some top shelve franchise extinctions from brands like Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar’s Monster’s Inc. And, who knows, maybe an original property might sneak its way in there!

…But no promises.


Also published on Medium.

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Let’s Speculate Wildly: Is Marvel Laying The Groundwork For A Thor Crossover In Black Panther 2?

The endings of Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther could open up quite the intriguing storyline for Black Panther 2…if the studio chooses to explore it.

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***This post contains spoilers for the end of both Thor: Ragnarok AND Black Panther. Don’t read this if you haven’t watched either film. You have been warned.***

I had a lot of thoughts floating through my head as I watched Black Panther this weekend. First and foremost was awe — Marvel pulled off another great movie, which is increasingly becoming the norm for that company. Secondly was tremendous respect for Ryan Coogler, who managed to not only deliver an incredibly fun superhero movie, but a blockbuster with something important and fascinating to say. Third was a simple wish to have Letitia Wright as my new best friend which, c’mon, shouldn’t be that hard, right?!

But one thought that was in the back of my mind throughout most of Black Panther was, admittedly, a rather geeky one. And the kind of geeky thought that stems from nothing more than the rather childish instincts of having all my favorite toys playing together. Sure, that is a major part of the fun that the Marvel Cinematic Universe represents, but it doesn’t make the instinct of “oh, what if these two met and became BEST FRIENDS?!” any less of a reductive thought. All that being said…wouldn’t it be super awesome if Thor: Ragnarok’s Valkyrie met the Wakandians?! I mean, she would LOVE it there, right? A warrior culture of advanced lifeforms who are primarily protected by a troop of badass, all-female fighters? She would have SO MUCH fun! And since she was the undeniable MVP of Thor: Ragnarok (next to Korg, at least), it would be a lot of great to see her hang out with the great ensemble that was built up in Black Panther. 

…Which got me thinking.

The way Thor: Ragnarok ended left a huge question mark in that particular area of the MCU. Choosing to literally destroy all of Asgard, leaving its occupants in flight and in search of a new home, was kind of a ballsy choice for the sequel. And then when Thor suggested immigrating to Earth in the final line of the film, I couldn’t help but stifle a chuckle. The world can barely handle the people it has — Thor is in for a rude awakening if he thinks that they will just invite a whole crop of alien refugees to share their resources. In a post Brexit, Syrian refugee crisis world, the idea of the Asgardians just coming to Earth and being welcomed with open arms is (sadly) laughable.

But, regardless, the question still remained: what would become of the Asgardians as they made their way to Earth? Clearly, Marvel has a plan here, as it would be very unlike them to set up this plot point without ever addressing it again in the future. If they had no plan for the ship full of Asgardians, why even save them? Well, I have a theory: they were saved because they will serve an important purpose in a future MCU installment. Namely? Black Panther 2. Or whatever it will end up being called. Marvel doesn’t like numbers anymore.

But that’s beside the point. Let’s now shift focus to the aforementioned Black Panther, which concluded with King T’Challa finally realizing (through the inactions of his ancestors) that Wakanda could no longer be a nation of isolationist. That, in the modern world, Wakanda could just not turn its back on people who need aid. He spoke to the UN about creating “bridges” rather than barriers to outside countries, which made for a rather rousing and uplifting message for the film to conclude on.

But what made Black Panther a great movie is how it didn’t rely on moral absolutism, even for things that seemed obvious (i.e you should help those that need it.) Killmonger was one of Marvel’s best villains because he had a point, and was correct in many of his stances towards how Wakanda was doing a disservice to the world. But opening the doors to the outside world has its fair share of potential issues and problems too, which the film briefly addresses as light rebuttals to Killmonger’s main points. If Wakanda shared its advance knowledge with the world, how much of it would be used for ill? What responsibility does Wakanda even have towards the world at large? Should it take precedence over their well being as a singular culture? The film wisely doesn’t provide clear-cut answers for these issues and, though what T’Challa does is ultimately the “right” thing, the right thing can often lead to consequences of their very own.

Which is what I imagine the potential sequel will tackle. Just like how Iron Man 2 delt with the fallout of Tony revealing his identity to the world, and how Captain America: Winter Soldier dealt with the fallout of Steve Rogers being a man out of time, Black Panther 2 will absolutely have to tackle how the massive change in status quo for Wakanda impacts its people and their king. And what better way to do that then by actually showing Wakanda literally opening its doors to another people? Say another people with an equally strong sense of culture and traditions, who are currently floating through space without a home of their own? If my theory is even slightly correct, than Wakanda would be the perfect place for the Asgardians refuges to settle…and Black Panther 2 would be a perfect place to give such a move its due.

After all, such a migration would lend a Black Panther sequel a ton of interesting, relevant themes to dwell upon, themes that can build upon those of the first Black Panther, and can be just as politically relevant and insightful. What kind of conflicts arises when two ancient, powerful cultures are forced to share the same living space? What becomes of the nation of Wakanda when it actually puts its money where its mouth is and adopts a more multi-cultural approach to its civilization? Would doing so risk diluting the culture of Wakanda as it stands, erasing the identity of the people with it? And how would the Asgardians, previously a nation of conquerors and “protectors” over all others, move into a more submissive position in which they have to rely on another people for support? And how would the two kings caught in the middle (Thor and T’Challa) deal with such a cultural clash? Now normally I wouldn’t predict a superhero blockbuster to so strongly address a real-world issue (in this case, the Syrian refugee crisis), but I sure as hell didn’t expect Black Panther to address the themes it did either. So if any modern blockbuster series would, it would be this one. The themes are already baked into its DNA, after all, and the way the way the overall story is moving in the MCU itself would seem to lead to such a plot turn.

And while I can see certainly see a bit of cynicism to the concept of Black Panther 2 so heavily absorbing another branch of the MCU (“What, does Marvel not think Black Panther is a strong enough series to support itself without a big crossover?), I think the potential of the story outweighs the fear of this becoming a paint-by-numbers superhero team-up film. And recent Marvel history not only shows how open and willing they are to play with their characters in this way, but also gives them the benefit of the doubt to do it. Even if this hypothetical Black Panther includes Thor and his brood of supporting characters (who at this point are only Valkyrie and Heimdall, really — technically Loki is with him too but, let’s be honest, that dude is TOAST come Infinity War), I trust the people at Marvel can find a way to add these characters into the world while still allowing the movie to be a Black Panther sequel. Throwing in Hulk for Thor: Ragnarok never made that one feel like less of a Thor movie. And, despite what could have happened, Spider-Man: Homecoming remained a Spider-Man film, and didn’t ever become “Iron Man and His Amazing Web-Swinging Friend” as initially feared. Hell, Captain America: Civil War included nearly all the Avengers in substantial roles, and I still feel like the center of the story was on Steve Rogers and his overall arc. I see no reason why bringing in Thor, Valkyrie, Heimdall (and, of course, Korg) would take away from the focus of the story being on T’Challa, Shuri, Nakia, Okoye, W’Kabi, M’Baku, et al. And the dramatic potential this story could have on the Black Panther AND Thor characters far outweighs the potential negatives, in my mind.

Of course, I have to end all this blatant fan theorizing by stating the obvious: I have no idea whatsoever what will happen in future Black Panther installments, or the rest of the MCU for that matter. Everything I am writing here is pure conjecture, based on nothing, and I very well could be wrong about where this entire thing is heading. After all, Avengers: Infinity War is going to come and blow all my MCU theories out of the water anyways. What the shape of this universe will be post-Infinity War/Avengers 4 is anyone’s guess. For all I know, Infinity War might go full Alien 3, and begin with Thanos killing off every Asgardian aside from Thor. But, like I said, I have more faith in Marvel’s storytelling abilities than that.

And even if Black Panther 2 doesn’t have anything to do with the universe of Thor and its characters…I have to imagine there will be a grander purpose for the Asguardian refugees. And with the movie directly after Thor: Ragnarok concluding with a separate, powerful group deciding to open their borders and help those in need (including by taking in refugees, as directly stated by Nakia earlier in the film)…well? All I can do as a viewer is try to connect the dots.

…AND fanboy out about my favorite characters meeting some of my other favorite characters. Valkyrie and Okoye need to swap war stories about protecting kings. And share fighting tips. And just be awesome, in general. And since the MCU is built specifically to facilitate such team-ups, I argue: why the hell not? We might end up getting something pretty damn interesting out of it along the way.


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Thanks For The New Incredibles 2 Sneak Peek, Disney, But…Please, Sir, May I Have Some More?

Or just move the release date to tomorrow. You know, whatever works.

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Fourteen years. Fourteen goddamn years. That’s how long we’ve all been waiting for a follow-up to Pixar’s The Incredibles, and I quite frankly can’t wait another second longer. Unfortunately, the film isn’t coming out until this summer, so I’m left waiting many million seconds more. Approximately 10,398,000 of them, in fact. But, ha ha, who’s counting?!

Yes, the wait has been rough but, at this point, we’ve already waited nearly a decade and half…what’s another three months? That’s what I am telling myself, at least. And unlike in the previous years, we’re actually getting to see something from the film, and receiving concrete proof that yes, this sequel is real and coming soon. And though the initial teaser trailer and posters only gave us a quick hint at what was to come for the film, this new “sneak peek” aired last night during the Winter Olympics gives us by far our biggest glimpse yet of the superhero sequel.

Why is it referred to as a “sneak peek,” you ask? Honestly, it beats the hell out of me. At a minute and a half, this more than qualifies as a teaser trailer, even more so than the 55-second one released in November. And this trailer actually delves into the plot of the film, which is once again more than you can say for the first teaser trailer. But, for Disney, this is nothing but a mere “sneak peek.” Let’s just hope the semantics are only to serve the release of a full-length trailer in the not to distant future (maybe with Wrinkle in Time in March? With a final trailer in front of Avengers: Infinity War in May? I certainly hope so!)

But labeling of marketing material aside, let’s talk what actually happens in this “sneak peek.” The footage opens right from where the first one ended (with the attack of the Underminer), which is a nice little bit of continuity between the two films. But though the original Incredibles ended with the promise of the superpowered family being able to fight crime as public heroes, this footage quickly establishes that it wouldn’t be so easy. And considering the impressive world that was built in the first, that’s not too much of a shocker — the golden age of heroes making a comeback seemed like it would be an uphill struggle, and Mr. Incredible makes that quite clear in the opening of this footage.

Of course, it doesn’t take long before the superhero shenanigans commence once more, this time around led by Elastigirl/Mrs. Incredible, and bankrolled by new character Winston Deavor, very clearly (and delightfully) voiced by Bob Odenkirk. Of course Deavor will probably turn out to have interior motives in trying to restore the world of super-heroics (and working with Elastigirl to do it.) For now though, Elastigirl gets to have a cool motorcycle and cool grey outfit, which is enough for this sneak peek.

Other than that though, the brunt of the new footage rests with Mr. Incredible in stay at home Dad mode, first teased in the last trailer. As funny as some of this looks to be (I particularly laughed at Mr. Incredible’s rant about how math is different, both very much in character for him AND performer Craig T. Nelson), I will admit, this plotline runs the danger of being somewhat hokey. While I’m all for Elastigirl taking the lead (and essentially upending the status quo of the last film), I do think this story runs the risk of being the standard “ha ha, Dad’s can’t parent, what a buffoon!” storyline we’ve seen time and time again. I mean, do we really need Mr. Mom with superheroes? Eh, maybe. If anyone could make it work, it would be Pixar.

And, besides, fuck reservations — I’m supposed to be excited for this one, and this sneak peek mostly made me plenty. I mean, look, it’s Frozone! And Edna Mode! And the Demon form of Jack-Jack! Come on now, my excitement remains through the roof. And if I’ve learned anything from long in development sequels like The Phantom Menace, Ghostbusters, The Hobbit, and Tron Legacy, it’s that being unreasonably excited for something is a recipe for being completely, 100% satisfied. Always!

Incredibles 2 (no “The,” it’s cleaner) hits theaters June 15.


Also published on Medium.

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