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Freshly Popped Culture Presents: The 2018 Summer Box Office Game of Death

A.K.A. How badly can we judge the purchasing decisions of mainstream audiences this time?



The concept of a Summer Movie Wager is simple: assemble a bunch of people, have them create a list of what they predict will be the 10 highest grossing films of 2018, and bask in how wrong everybody was so far down the line when nobody can remember what the fuck we said to begin with. Shamelessly cribbed from the concept popularized by the /Film crew, we here at Freshly Popped Culture very much wanted to get in on the fun of looking foolish in hindsight, so our fab four (Matthew, Jared, Justin, and Jeremy) are doing just that, and seek to defeat them. May the odds be in our favor.

At the end of the summer movie season (a.k.a. Labor Day), we will return to tabulate the scores, and determine who reigned supreme. That is the brilliance of the Summer Movie Wager: you’re either wrong, super wrong, or least wrong. There is no right. There is only the person who screwed up the fewest times, and is therefore the victor.

Without much further ado, here’s how our internal point keeping system works. We run things a little bit differently than some of the other Summer Movie Wagers out there, so pay close attention. It might seem completely arbitrary but, trust me, it totally is.

The scoring system is thus:

  • 10 points for hitting a movie dead-on on the list
  • 7 points if your pick was only one spot away from where it ended up
  • 5 points if it was two spots away
  • 1 point if your pick is anywhere in the Top 10
  • 3 points for each dark horse that makes it into the Top 10
  • 5 points if your prediction on total domestic box office is within $10 million dollars

The winner gets to force the rest of us to play truth or dare on Twitter, and you don’t want to be caught revealing your darkest secrets online (at least not intentionally). I heard Matt committed arson once, he’s a firebug!


Dark Horses:

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies — Teen Titans Go! is insanely popular for Cartoon Network, but will that translate to huge box office success? Ask The Simpsons Movie or The Lego Ninjago Movie, and you’ll get widely different responses. It’s a coin toss, really.

SkyscraperIf recent years have taught me anything, it’s that betting on Dwayne Johnson is rarely a bad thing. The man is a star, and throwing him into his very own Die Hard could end up being insanely lucrative….or just do okay. Hard to tell, really, making it a perfect Dark Horse.

Christopher RobinCall me crazy, but I think this movie is going to do huge, simply because the trailer alone nearly brought me to tears. This might end up playing really well come August, but considering the timeframe of the wager, it would have to make that money VERY fast in order to crack the Top 10.

10. Ocean’s 8

Predicted Gross: $110 million

Ocean’s 8 is a bit of a mystery to me, if I’m being honest, just because I think it has the potential to breakout in a way that is pretty much unpredictable. That being said, anticipation seems soft for this one so far, and the film could easily get lost in the summer shuffle. Granted, 15 years ago this was EXACTLY the type of movie that would do well in the summer months (see: Ocean’s Eleven, 12, 13, etc.), but the time’s have changed. Then again, don’t count out Sandy Bullock. She’s still America’s Sweetheart somewhere!

9. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Predicted Gross: $125 million

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is not for me. But, for the crowd it is aiming for, it’s pretty much the Incredibles 2 of Summer 2018. The first film made nearly $150 million back in July of 2008 (up against The Dark Knight, no less!), and I expect this one to do about as well. Like My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, I don’t expect it to do quite as well, but I think the gap won’t be all that wide between the two. Meryl Streep is singing ABBA songs, and our parents are still totally into it.

8. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

Predicted Gross: $150 million

Hotel Transylvania is actually a decently performing franchise for Sony Pictures, and I don’t expect that to change with the third installment of the series. The summer is light when it comes to animated family fare, and with a story tailor-made to the season (AND a prime July release date to utilize as well), expect families to show up for this one just as much as they did the last few. Which, eh, whatever. I’m just happy Genndy Tartakovsky has a well-paying gig, and will use the remainder of this blurb to remind people that we got a conclusion to Samurai Jack last year, and it kicked ALL THE ASS. Hopefully Tartakovsky can make some money here, and return to that kind of stuff in due time.

7. Mission: Impossible — Fallout

Predicted Gross: $180 million

Mission: Impossible is one of the few non-comic book franchises left in Hollywood that dependably makes money, and six installments in, I’m not expecting a huge drop-off or anything. Tom Cruise is still dangling from buildings n’ shit, and audiences (including yours truly) will still show up to see it. Plus, Henry Cavill back in spy mode should entice some of that big, lucrative Man from U.N.C.L.E. fans into the theater as well. There’s dozens of us. DOZENS!

6. Ant-Man and the Wasp

Predicted Gross: $200 million

Ant-Man ranks as one of Marvel’s lowest performers, only managing to scrape up $180 million back in July 2015. That was still apparently enough to warrant a sequel, however, a decision that was primarily influenced by its relatively low budget ($130 million) and decent performance overseas. That being said, I think Ant-Man and the Wasp has a good chance of being one of the few blockbusters to outperform its predecessor. The original turned out to be a decent crowd-pleaser, and the character’s appearance in Civil War probably did a lot to boost his popularity. And between you and me, blog reader, I have a sinking suspicion that Ant-Man and the Wasp is stealthily going to be more important to the MCU than it may appear, and that Avengers: Infinity War might even tease things for the character that will leave people VERY curious to see his follow-up film. But groundless speculation aside, Ant-Man and the Wasp should play well come July.

5. Deadpool 2

Predicted Gross: $255 million

I get Fox needed SOME kind of big release for their Summer 2018 calendar, but I can’t help but feel releasing Deadpool 2 smack dab in the middle of May isn’t going to end up being the most fruitful of decisions. Deadpool did so well back in February 2016 because it had a lot of room to breathe, and was truly the only blockbuster of its kinds for weeks on end (also see: Black Panther.) But the competition from Infinity War and Solo is going to cannibalize Deadpool – not enough to make it bomb or anything, but enough to make the possibility of it even approaching the original’s huge $363 million haul a shifty prospect.

4. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Predicted Gross: $320 million

Solo: A Star Wars Story is riding little buzz, soft marketing, and overwhelming reports of behind the scenes turmoil, which is enough to make me believe it will be the worst performing live-action Star Wars movie in a while, maybe even of all time (once adjusted for inflation, of course.) But as much as I want to go truly crazy here and peg it with a haul of like $200 million or something…at the end of the day, it’s still Star Wars. The ceiling of this franchise is still rather high at this point, but Disney better watch themselves. If the film A) turns out to not be very good and B) exhausts audiences ultimate interest in the brand, than that ceiling might start shrinking rather fast. For now, don’t expect anything less than $300 million.

3. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Predicted Gross: $375 million

Jurassic World ended up screwing over my list back in 2015, taking away the expected crown from Avengers: Age of Ultron and grossing an absolutely insane $652 million at the domestic box office. But I very much believe that Jurassic World was an aberration, and that its sequel will suffer quite the heavy drop off once the “wow” factor of a new Jurassic Park movie dissipates. After all, that’s what happened to its forbearer’s first sequel (The Lost World made half of what Jurassic Park made – still GREAT at the time, but not the sensation that was the first.)  The film will obviously still be a huge success, but more squarely in the “well-performing sequel” category than the WHAT THE FUCK LOOK AT ALL THAT MONEY one.

2. Incredibles 2

Predicted Gross: $400 million

Does The Incredibles 2 have a shot at being the highest grossing film of the summer? The answer is very much yes, and I was honestly 50% of the way there to predicting that very eventuality. After all, if it can happen to Finding Dory, it can happen with something as eagerly anticipated as the long awaited Incredibles 2…right?

Well, it’s complicated. The first film was a big hit in 2004, but it still topped out in the high $200 million range at the time of its release. To do as well as I’m predicting, the film would have to perform Toy Story 3 numbers, which could very much be out of range for it. But time is on Incredibles 2’s side here, with the first film becoming a classic in the decade and a half since its release. Incredibles 2 also has the luxury of virtually NO animated competition until more than a month after its initial release and, in fact, is facing little competition overall in the month of June. I don’t know, I’m going to bet high on this one. Never count a long-awaited Pixar sequel out. Even A Bug’s Life 2 would probably make like $700 million domestic.

1. Avengers: Infinity War

Predicted Gross: $670 million

Every year, I predict the big Marvel movie that opens the season is going to end up ruling the summer, and every year I am proven absolutely wrong. All that being said…c’mon, I gotta go with Infinity War here. Disney is doing an absolutely slam-bang job of marketing this one as the event film to end all event films, and the anticipation in the air for the film’s release is palpable. Combined with residual Black Panther fever and my pretty high faith the film will deliver big time (The Russo Brothers haven’t let me down yet), and I just can’t reason myself away from choosing any other film as the de facto box office champ of Summer 2018. But check back a few months from now when I’m proven wrong again, though.


Dark Horses:

Christopher Robin — This is the only movie of note coming out in August, and honestly, I just threw it in here for the morbid curiosity of seeing that bear come to life in such a creepy way.

Uncle Drew — This is the pick that I had at number 10 for a while, then switched out, then back in. I have no idea of what to make of this one honestly, and I want it to do really well because it just looks like the sort of fun to take us all away from the fact that a second rate reality TV star has the nuclear codes, and is being enabled by a collection of conspiracy theorists, hack Fox News personalities, con artists, crooks, criminals, liars, frauds, phonies, cronies, and the scum of the earth known as the republican party.

Basketball is very good, and I hope this is too.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! — Well, Mamma Mia, here we go again indeed. This could make just as much money as the original, or close to nothing, and I wouldn’t be surprised either way. There is always a random dark horse that makes it into the top ten, and screws up some lists, and last year it was Girl’s Trip and before that was Central Intelligence and before that was Straight Outta Compton and I think you get my point here, people.

10. Skyscraper

Predicted Gross: $110 million

The Rock is such a magnet for money, it’s not even funny. It’s just a fact, written in stone (or rock) and considering San Andreas did like $150 million domestic, this was the toss up for that ten spot that I wrestled with (get it) before going with Skyscraper and its Super Bowl ad instead of Uncle Drew. They don’t play those commercials anymore, and the Rock is in everything. Sorry Kyrie, the world revolves around Dwyane Johnson because the EARTH IS FUCKING ROUND YOU STUPID TROLL, YOU ARE A ROLE MODEL AND IDOL TO CHILDREN, DO NOT MAKE THEM ANTI-SCIENCE YOU DIRT BAG.

9. Hotel Transylvania 3

Predicted Gross: $125 million

No one has actually seen any of these movies. They are a myth, they do not exist, and any reports to the contrary are fabrications. Somehow, a global conspiracy has laundered money through ticket sales at abandoned movie theaters to generate massive amounts of cash using these “films”, and therefore I expect another 100+ million dollar run. Robert Mueller should investigate this, after he’s done.

8. Ocean’s 8

Predicted Gross: $150 million

I so wanted to put this higher, and I really want this to not only be amazing but a smash hit so I can inject more Ocean’s movies into my veins. Heists where you root for criminals to pull a Robin Hood on some evil rich people are my heroin, and I’m addicted to feel good action comedy team ups. But this summer has stiff competition, all packed into May and June, and everything I predict to make more is a direct sequel and not a reboot. As much as I want this to surpass expectations, $150 million is nothing to sneeze at, and would be a welcome success.

7. Mission Impossible 6: Fallout

Predicted Gross: $175 million

I hate the use of fallout in the title. That bothers me so much. Anyways, all of these MI movies are fantastic and they do better in the box office every single time, but at some point there is fatigue, a ceiling on how much old man Tom Cruise and who-gives-a-shit Superman Henry Cavill alongside the same director and cast as the last one. Not that the masses and general audiences notice these things, but the remaining heavy hitters are going to put a damper on what would be otherwise $200+ runs.

6. Ant-Man and the Wasp

Predicted Gross: $200 million

I cannot believe how little the previous Ant-Man made, and that it has to be ranked so low on this list (not that this is set in stone, in fact this will all be wrong come September). But around the middle of the top ten it’s going to be a slugfest, and every single factor goes into who comes out on top; release date, word of mouth, marketing budgets, if anyone still cares about Marvel movies post Infinity War or if the hunger still exists, etc. This could be way less or way more and I have no clue where it will end up landing, but all hail Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas.

5. Deadpool 2

Predicted Gross: $275 million

For some reason, Disney’s new Salacious B. Crumb FOX is releasing this sequel at the worst time imaginable, sandwiched between two of the biggest entities on the planet: the Avengers and Star Wars / Han and Chewie. What a stupid move, this is going to hamstring what would have otherwise been a runaway success. Black Panther stole the February release date that proved to make Deadpool 1 a smash hit, and now it’s going to suffer for it. No wonder why FOX is being sold to Disney, morons work there. Nothing is in August! Just take that whole month! What are you people doing?

4. The Incredibles 2

Predicted Gross: $325 million

So far, all of these picks are really tough calls, not just because we know what the main 8 movies will be in the top ten, but this entire game will come down to a matter of splitting hairs; Avengers and Jurassic Park seemed locked at one and two respectively, and three – four – five are also somewhat locked, but in what order and how much they make will likely decide this contest. Pixar films make money, the original didn’t in comparison, although that was fourteen years ago, but inflation……..yeah I have no clue with this one, and it could do double the predictions and I wouldn’t be shocked.

3. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Predicted Gross: $375 million

I cannot fathom a Star Wars film coming out in May again. I cannot believe it is a Han Solo prequel story. I do not expect any of the bad press or rumors to affect its box office because nobody actually gives a shit, and word of mouth will barely impact its gross. I am mystified at the aggressive release date after the reshoots, and I am thoroughly pessimistic about everything this film stands for and represents. Yet I cannot deny it’s cultural imprint, and while I am completely Star Wars fatigued, and it’s only months after Last Jedi over-saturation / outrage, I ended up placing this one behind the remaining juggernauts below, and Rogue One’s domestic total is not indicative of how this will perform; Donald Glover will be. Not the dude who doesn’t look or sound like Harrison Ford / Han Solo, who should have been cast like 10 years younger so it wouldn’t be a huge deal. Donald motherfucking Glover.

2. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Predicted Gross: $400 million

Fuck this movie, fuck the previous one, fuck the other two that were made after 1993, fuck everyone who made Colin Trevorrow rich and famous, and fuck the absolutely preposterous $1.6 billion that this movie made which could have gone to ending world hunger instead of masturbating our nostalgia of dinosaurs. I so want this to do worse, and really wanted to be bold about its placement, but I cannot deny the simple fact that Jurassic World is a top ten all time blockbuster in terms of global box office, and I wish I was dead.

1. Avengers: Infinity War

Predicted Gross: $650 million

This is going to be among the biggest movies of all time and is such a no-brainer. Therefore, it reigns supreme over the course of the entire summer plus the giant weekend coming up IN FUCKING APRIL. If this isn’t the #1 on everyone’s list, then they are idiots who I will enjoy beating. This movie had the balls to move up to late April and start the summer whenever the fuck it wanted to. Disney owns the world and you will pay any amount to see this movie, and you probably have already bought your tickets (you read this website and if I know who our core audience of readers truly are, then I am right). The question becomes how much exactly domestically Infinity War ends up with, and you could go lower than Black Panther ($675 ish), or higher to around $700 million, but I’ll put it at a moderate $650 million. Just think about that for a moment, the sentence I just wrote. Moderate…followed by that much. Moderate amount. Bananas.


Dark Horses:
BlacKkKlansman — What a title! It’s more awkward than the original one, Black Klansman, but it still demands attention. Given that it’s coming from Spike Lee and Jordan Peele, it should have plenty.
The Equalizer 2 — They made another one. Call your dad.
The First Purge — Each new installment in this series has made more than the last. Will the upward trend continue? Probably not!

10. Uncle Drew

Predicted Gross: $100 million
Every time I’ve watched the trailer with an audience, it’s killed. That enthusiasm might not span
the country, but considering Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa pulled in $100 million five years
ago, I think a similar idea, applied to a sports film that stars Kyrie Irving and Shaq, could be a
home run.

9. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

Predicted Gross: $120 million
This is a light summer for animation, as both Warner Bros. Animation and Illumination Entertainment
are holding their big releases until the fall (though Warner Bros. also has Teen Titans Go! To the
Movies in July). I’m totally ignorant to what interests kids these days, but the computer tells me
that the previous Hotel Transylvania films each made around $150 million. Animated series
usually see a drop off around this point, but the dearth of options could work in Hotel
Transylvania 3’s favor.

8. Ocean’s 8

Predicted Gross: $130 million
I was tempted to put this at $147.65 million (80.5% of what Ocean’s Eleven made), but wasn’t
confident enough to risk a win on a joke. The cast is strong and the trailers are sleek, and there
hasn’t been any #NotMyOceans talk that could affect the stride in this movie’s step. This could
actually perform better than I’m predicting, but looking at the descending grosses of Ocean’s
Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen has me feeling pretty good about where this is at.

7. Mission Impossible 6: Fallout

Predicted Gross: $190 million
Tom Cruise spent a few years on the skids, and then he started punishing himself for our
entertainment like Edward Norton’s character in Fight Club. Now, we’re obligated to buy a ticket
to each new Mission: Impossible film, because otherwise, he’s punching himself in the face in
an empty parking lot. Cruise seems to have continued doing riskier and stupider things with this
summer’s installment, so it should fall in the same $190-$210 million range as the last two.

6. Ant-Man and the Wasp

Predicted Gross: $200 million
This really should have come out in the fall, as Avengers: Infinity War is hitting theaters before
Black Panther is even available to rent. However, Ant-Man did well following Avengers: Age of
Ultron, so maybe there’s nothing to worry about. Fatigue or no fatigue, Marvel seems incapable
of making below $200 million domestic on each film. But given my uncertainty, I’m placing this
one right on the line. If Ant-Man really shines in Infinity War, though, the sequel could be giant,

5. Deadpool 2

Predicted Gross: $250 million
This may be too low, but I can’t see this being as big a sensation as the first, especially since it’s
coming out in a packed summer and not February. But I said something similar about Guardians
of the Galaxy Vol. 2 last year, so what do I know?

4. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Predicted Gross: $350 million
I can’t get a read on the public’s interest in this. Will people make the effort to see this in
theaters, or will they wait? With Star Wars in the title, does it even matter that nobody asked for
this? I’m betting on the brand and going with this performing well, but the high placement could
be a Wookie mistake.

3. Incredibles 2

Predicted Gross: $375 million
Someone who saw The Incredibles theatrically while in kindergarten can now see the sequel
during the break between college semesters. Fun, right? The delayed approach to sequels has
consistently worked well for Pixar, as it doesn’t just appeal to people who saw the original – it
also appeals to the kids they’ve had since then. The Incredibles was the Pixar film best suited
for a sequel, but it’s one of the last to receive one. Instead of coming after audiences have
moved on, though, Incredibles 2 seems right on time. People seem excited to revisit the world
and the characters, especially after the changes in superhero films since 2004.

2. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Predicted Gross: $400 million
It seems like every comment section for every Jurassic Park related story posted on every
website includes at least one person saying that regardless of the series’s quality, they’ll show
for every sequel, because dinosaurs. And look – I get it. Dinosaurs are rad. I don’t have the
same blind, eternal love for this series as most of the population, but I get that they like seeing
dinosaurs eat people and destroy stuff, and as long as each Jurassic movie offers that, most will
be satisfied. I expect nothing different from Fallen Kingdom, so I expect nothing different from

1. Avengers: Infinity War

Predicted Gross: $525 million
 ‘nuff said.


Dark Horses:

For my Dark Horses choices, I went with three films that from one of the most unpredictable categories, adult leaning comedies. Some times the flop, some times they’re a hit, and occasion, sometimes they become a phenomenon.All the films I have chance to be something because they have built in demographics.

Action Point
Crazy Rich Asians

10. The Meg

Predicted Gross: $125 million

It’s a really big ass shark attacking things and Jason Statham says stuff like “Oh My God, It’s A Megalodon”. If doesn’t at least $100 Million+, what we even doing here?

9. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

Predicted Gross: $150 Million

Small human beings like these films and are taken to them by large human beings.

8. Ocean’s 8

Predicted Gross: $165 Million

I’m fascinated to see how this turns out. It looks slick, has a great cast, and it’s got popular franchise name. But it’s been a while. My thinking is this Girl’s Trip type numbers but you add some because its going to be PG-13 and then you add a little more because people kind of know what they’re getting here.

7. Mission Impossible 6: Fallout

Predicted Gross: $215 Million

You have Tom Cruise fight a Mummy, meh. You have Tom Cruise smuggling cocaine for CIA, okay? You have Tom Cruise playing Ethan Hunt, let’s go! Despite the fact this sixth film in this franchise, the series is thriving under J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot. Action packed, great locals, and the maybe the last movie star left, these film generally have domestic ceiling around $200 Million and I don’t imagine much change.

6. Ant-Man and the Wasp

Predicted Gross: $225 Million

Marvel fever will be at epidemic levels after Avengers: Infinity War. Destruction, death, and wondering what next’s will give this franchise a bump from it’s first go around. I don’t know if the comedic tone of this franchise is really the best move after political nature of Black Panther and board shuffling that will occur in Avengers 3 but I’m not really going to argue with The Mouse on how they’re handling Marvel Cinematic Universe.

5. Incredibles 2

Predicted Gross: $255 Million

I have absolutely no idea what to make of this film. First, I thought first The Incredibles was an awful film with a terrible message, and secondly, Pixar’s name doesn’t ring bells anymore. Pixar’s most heralded film in nearly a decade, Coco, barely made $200 Million. I know this is supposed one of Pixar’s most storied properties but the keyword there is “storied”, The Incredibles came out November 5, 2004. I know they’ve seen success despite long layover’s, Toy Story 2 was released in November 1999 and Toy Story 3 was released in June 2010 but A. Toy Story 3 is a masterpiece and one of the greatest animated film ever made and B. Toy Story 3 was the tail end of the Golden Age of Pixar where it was one of the best movie studios in the world at the time. Last year, Cars 3 topped out at $152.9 Million, I’ll add 100 Million to that because people have fond memories of these characters.

4. Deadpool 2

Predicted Gross: $300 Million

Oh, I get it, he uses profanity and tells meta jokes. Sign me up! Deadpool was an awful film but it made $360 Million , so what were getting is probably more of the same. So I’m imaging much of the same box office except that the following weekend, a Star Wars film comes out, so this film is not getting that 360 Million again. Or maybe I’m wrong and this ends up being best superhero film of the year “Looks at Camera & Winks”. There, that was my attempt at one of those third wall breaking jokes.

3. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Predicted Gross: $500 Million

There’s a lot going on here. On one hand, we’re getting a story centered around one of the most iconic characters of the 20th Century and someone who is adored by an entire generation. But the rumors around the re-shooting and rewrites are something to consider, yes the production problems are something known to “Film Twitter” and not largely known to the general public but the question still remains, what is this film going to be? A dramatic shift in tone, as it was reported, could lead this film to be “whispers in soft tones” bad. Or maybe it doesn’t matter because everything Star Wars is “critic proof” at this point. But, one thing is assured, this film is going to take a little hit because, this is the first modern Star Wars film to be released in the summer so it has more competition then the previous three film who all saw a December release and whose only competition was the holidays and award films. Lastly, I know this supposed to be a star making performance for Alden Ehrenreich but whatever charisma he’s showing in these trailers is getting dunked on by the swagger Donald Glover is giving us as Lando.

2. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Predicted Gross: $525 Million

Two things: 1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a real dope title, I just wanted to take a moment to say that. 2. I have no idea how Jurassic World ended up as one of the ten highest grossing films of all time. That being said, there’s going to be a serious regression for Fallen Kingdom, this rebooted series lacks the hype for Fallen Kingdom to do numbers near Jurassic World.

1. Avengers: Infinity War

Predicted Gross: $575 Million

There really isn’t an argument about this film not being #1 Film of Summer. The question is does it get Black Panther levels, I say no. I don’t think this film has cultural resonance to get there but I think because of a post Black Panther wave of enthusiasm for Marvel this film surpasses Age of Ultron $459 Million Dollar box office but falls short of first Avengers film by a wide margin.

And there you have it, our picks for the biggest films of Summer 2018. Check back in a few months to see just how massively we all missed the mark.


The Captain Marvel Teaser Trailer Is Here, And…It’s The First Trailer for A New Marvel Movie, All Right

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.



The release of the Captain Marvel teaser trailer has been pretty hotly anticipated, arguably more so than many of the other Marvel movie trailers that have come before it. The primary reason for the excitement is of course due to the conclusion of Avengers: Infinity War, which I’m going to spoil because come on now, you’re reading this article, I know where your interests lie. Suffice to say, the downer ending of Inifinty War, in which seemingly all of Marvel’s newest characters up and fade away into nothing, has fans buzzing to see what is coming next. And with the trailer for Avengers 4: Titles Are Dumb still many months away, Captain Marvel represents our best shot yet at seeing just what Marvel intends to do with this universe going forward, and how the titular character will ultimately factor into it.

But even removing the snap from the equation, there’s plenty of reason to be eager about Captain Marvel on its own merits. This has been one of those MCU movies that was seemingly announced forever ago, and to paraphrase Marvel’s other big female superhero with her name in the title, it’s about damn time we actually get to see Marvel Studio’s first female-fronted superhero project. It might come as a shock to no one that the trailer shows the answer to that being, well…a Marvel superhero movie. Whether or not that excites you largely depends on your attachment to the brand overall.

Myself? I’m already in the bag for this cinematic universe so, really, this trailer could have been two minutes of Kevin Feige jet-skiing on his bag of money while smoking a very well put together Dollar Bill Blunt™, and I still would have had the movie on my list of most anticipated films of 2019. And with the MCU on a hot streak of, like, ten good-to-great movies in row, I would feel no regrets at all about doing so. As I have written many times in the past, Marvel Studios has earned my trust, in pretty much everything they do.

But to dive into the nitty-gritty of the trailer itself? It’s perfectly fine. It follows the modern blockbuster teaser trailer to a T, with the loud symphonic music playing over a bunch of vague money shots of CGI and action moments, paired with an equally vague but well-delivered monologue about, well, anything really. The fact that said monologue is coming out of the mouth of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury (as they so often do in the MCU) is extra points, though. Paired on top of that is the fact that said Nick Fury is looking all young and two-eyed, with disturbingly little uncanny effect to speak of in digitally recreating a mid-90’s Samuel L. Jackson. Which I’m aware is ironic, considering that the Uncanny Effect in and of itself speaks to the idea of something being so photo-realistic that the human mind, in turn, perceives it as unnatural. This is so photo-realistic and natural in the moment that, only upon true reflection, do I get really creeped out. Call it the Uncanny Uncanny Valley Effect Effect.

Like he looks real but he shouldn’t look real, you know? Crazy.

Oh right, the Captain Marvel trailer! So yeah, it’s one of those things where the most noteworthy aspect of the trailer lies in how unnoteworthy it is. Really it’s hard for me to gauge what exactly this movie will be, with the two-minute teaser doing little to fill in the tone or mood of the piece outside of “new superhero movie.” There’s some weird stuff going on timeline wise which, in the movie, might be really cool and unique. In the trailer, however, it’s kind of so jumbled up in editing that I’m not entirely sure what’s going down (so Carol Danvers has amnesia, or…?) Even more disappointing is the lack of a real “trailer moment,” something big and memorable ala Thor’s reaction to Hulk’s arrival in the Thor: Ragnarok tease, or Black Panther’s car flip, or even the lie that was the Avengers running together in the Infinity War trailer. The closest this trailer comes to a noteworthy shot is Carol Danvers sucker punching an old lady which, really, is only memorable for the “WTFness?” alone. I did like the brief image of Captain Marvel running up the side of the train, though, and some of the rotation shots at least point to an interesting style that directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden could be employing. That’s really the only hint of a unique approach or style in this trailer, though.

Lack of style isn’t exaclty bad, really, but not exactly fodder for overwhelming excitement either. Compared to something like Guardians of the Galaxy’s first trailer (where the “Hooked on a Feeling” scored edit made clear just exactly what kind of film we were dealing with) or Avengers: Age of Ultron’s first trailer (which wowed through pure mood and imagery alone), Captain Marvel falls short. Not bad, just short.

But, seriously, how amazing is it that this scene made it into the trailer? As a Marvel person I get the old lady is probably a Skrull or whatever, but to general audiences, this just represents their newest superhero punching a nice old lady FOR NO GODDAMN REASON. Glorious.

All that being said, it’s not like being merely “good” puts Captain Marvel significantly behind the first looks of other MCU films. In fact, I would say the majority of first trailers for Marvel Studios films have only been good, with only a few really strong ones being truly excellent in my mind. And with all but a handful of those films being great at the end of the day, I have no doubt Captain Marvel has the goods to keep Marvel’s winning streak going. We’ll find out when the film hits theaters March 8, 2019.

Also published on Medium.

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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.



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.



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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