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As Endgame looms, we rank the previous 21 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

As Endgame looms, we rank the previous 21 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe


In a few days, Marvel Studios will finally pay off the agonizing cliffhanger of last summer’s Avengers: Infinity War with the culmination of 11 years of comic-to-screen storytelling. How will the hotly anticipated Endgame measure up to the 21 movies that have come before it, going all the way back to Iron Man in 2008? Conventional critical wisdom holds that the floor and the ceiling of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are not so far apart—that in devising a recipe for success, the company has managed to avoid any outright disasters, even as its principle of quality-without-risk also more or less negates the possibility of a true pop masterpiece of the genre. Still, as anyone who’s sat through both a boring Iron Man or Thor sequel and last winter’s Oscar-winning zeitgeist phenomenon Black Panther can surely attest, there is a range of quality within this franchise of franchises. Which is to say, while every MCU movie has been a hit, they are not all created equal. Below, The A.V. Club has offered its ranking, from worst to best, of every Marvel movie leading up to this week’s new one. Like the studio, we wouldn’t dream of spoiling our endgame. Okay, here’s one little hint: Ed Norton fans, this won’t be your day of vindication.


Despite what its position at the very bottom of this list may imply, Iron Man 2 is not completely devoid of fun. For example, the suitcase armor is still a very cool concept, and Tony Stark activating it while staring down Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko is a great moment. Speaking of which, who could forget Rourke’s weird pronunciation of the word “bird”? That’s all good stuff. Unfortunately, everything else is less good. The movie features the introduction of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, and while she would eventually go on to become a core pillar of this series, here she’s practically just an object to be gawked at like that portable gear. Then there’s the big final battle, with Tony fighting an army of faceless Iron Man clones and then taking out a newly armored Vanko in a matter of moments, neither of which are particularly cool or satisfying. [Sam Barsanti]


Even back in 2008, the then-nascent MCU’s new version of The Incredible Hulk was something of a hedge. It recast and rebooted the character just five years after Ang Lee’s divisive (and memorable!) take on the character, yet left enough wiggle room for less attentive audience members to assume it was some form of sequel. When the role was recast again for The Avengers, this Universal release was further consigned to also-ran status, and with good reason. Though Ed Norton is well-cast as both soft-spoken Bruce Banner and his furious alter ego, and director Louis Leterrier knows his way around pulpy action, this watchable, forgettable movie’s brain-to-brawn ratio is all out of whack, perhaps in part due to Norton’s squabbles with the filmmakers over the movie’s tone. At the time, this was considered part and parcel with the actor’s difficult reputation. Years later, though, Edgar Wright, Joss Whedon, and others had their own behind-the-scenes struggles with the Marvel machine to relate. [Jesse Hassenger]


Chris Hemsworth spoke for all of us when, with a withering “meh,” Thor himself dismissed The Dark World as “the second one.” Sandwiched between Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the entry benefits from its clean, handsome direction, but stagnates thanks to a toothless villain, a perfunctory romance, and oodles of mythological mumbo-jumbo. Its greatest sin, though, is in not capitalizing on the straight-faced levity Hemsworth flexed in the God Of Thunder’s first outing and doubled down on in The Avengers. Here, Hemsworth’s Thor feels more dutiful than dashing, and not even Tom Hiddleston’s reliably sly Loki can subvert the film’s self-seriousness. Speaking of Loki, though, The Dark World does deserve credit for helping transition the trickster god from villain to wild card, an archetype he’d play to perfection in Thor: Ragnarok. [Randall Colburn]


18. Thor (2011)

How is the movie that introduced one of the MCU’s best bad guys and one of its most consistent goofball delights such an easily forgettable slog? Maybe Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespearean aspirations just didn’t gel with the fun-first Marvel model. Maybe the negative chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman tossed a big, heavy hammer right through the movie’s heart. Maybe it’s Hawkeye’s fault. (Hands up if you remembered that this was Clint Barton’s big cameo debut. No? That’s what we thought.) And maybe Asgard is just boring as fuck—full of simplistic, dopey characters who are nowhere near as interesting as Thor and Loki themselves, whose ongoing, lived-in sibling rivalry remains the film’s most enduring contribution to the MCU. Thor, ironically, is at its best as a small-scale, Earth-set comedy, with Kat Dennings stealing scenes from the sidelines and Hemsworth getting to show off his comic timing instead of his dull, overly self-serious side. But then, just when you’re getting comfortable, here comes another big, computer-generated robot to smash those good times to bits. [William Hughes]


The first Avengers was a monumental feat of blockbuster filmmaking, assembling the stars of its five precursors and making good on the gigantic bet placed on a humble Samuel L. Jackson cameo. The second, while nearly as huge at the box office, almost proved the folly of such a massive endeavor: It’s a swollen, globe-trotting expedition that’s more important for what it sets up—vibranium and Black Panther, Vision’s tragic role in Infinity War—than for anything having to do with the Avengers battling a rogue AI voiced by James Spader. Age Of Ultron’s production was tortured enough to drive Joss Whedon out of the big-screen superhero game, but at least he gave us those scenes of Earth’s mightiest heroes hanging out like drunken co-workers before he went. [Erik Adams]


If you’re going to alienate Edgar Wright from making your Ant-Man movie (despite him being the only reason anyone wanted to make your Ant-Man movie), you could do a lot worse than hiring star Paul Rudd and his Anchorman collaborator Adam McKay to work on the script, or hiring Peyton Reed (Bring It On, Down With Love) to direct. This snappy team explains why Ant-Man is entertaining and light on its feet, while Wright’s departure helps to explain why the whole thing isn’t ever quite as clever or hilarious as it should be. Part of the problem is the movie’s soft-pedaling of Rudd’s likable career criminal-turned-superhero Scott Lang. Lang never really registers as a bumbling ne’er-do-well, just as Ant-Man never really registers as the heist picture it’s supposed to be. It’s just a bit of MCU ephemera, enlivened by Michael Peña’s delightful sidekick turn. As a whole, Ant-Man is good enough to get by, but it feels like some kind of indictment that Rudd is funnier in Captain America: Civil War. [Jesse Hassenger]


One complaint frequently lobbed at the Marvel movies is that they operate by a rigid, tried-and-true formula. But Doctor Strange may be the first of the studio’s blockbusters—various sequels included—to feel explicitly like a rerun. In forging a grand introduction for surgeon-turned-wizard Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), director Scott Derrickson and his cowriters essentially stuff the original Iron Man in a magic cape, offering the conspicuously similar origin story of a goateed, wisecracking egomaniac getting in touch with his selfless side. And yet if Doctor Strange dutifully, sometimes dully hits some very familiar plot points, it breaks the Marvel mold in at least one welcome respect: The special effects are uncharacteristically amazing, for once applying those Mouse House resources to the creation of some jaw-dropping set pieces, from Strange’s psychedelic head trip through the multiverse to a city-bending showdown that does new wonders with the dream physics of Inception. Maybe the inevitable sequel will marry that visual wizardry to a more magical story—or at least a less derivative one. [A.A. Dowd]


As it turns out, people aren’t all that enamored of an Iron Man movie without much Iron Man. Iron Man 3 can be great fun, thanks to a snappy script and fleet direction by writer-director (and embodiment of an action-comedy pro) Shane Black. But it also spends the majority of its running time with Tony Stark out of his super-powered suit. True, that’s the whole point of the narrative—strip Tony of his toys, and he’s still Iron Man on the inside, a resourceful hero—but it means the film is less a superhero movie and more a Shane Black vehicle, even turning into a rough approximation of one of the writer’s Lethal Weapon films for the middle act. Add to that a fire-breathing Guy Pearce for a villain, and you’ve got a tonally odd Marvel release, one that still counts an excellent sense of humor among its strengths, but that didn’t deliver what many fans were hoping for in the wake of The Avengers. [Alex McLevy]


Ant-Man And The Wasp is the rare sequel that surpasses the original, thanks to the increased importance of Scott Lang’s new partner—Evangeline Lilly as The Wasp—and the refinement of the Paul Rudd-as-superhero slapstick strategy pioneered by its predecessor. While the first Ant-Man was a fun, light-hearted romp, Ant-Man And The Wasp takes that frivolity further; it’s basically a comedy threaded through a superhero movie. Even the nominal villain (Hannah John-Kamen’s Ghost) is sympathetic, leaving most of the drama to rest on the heartfelt reunion between Hank (Michael Douglas) and Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) in the Quantum Realm. Meanwhile, Rudd hams it up as Scott plays pranks on the cops who want to keep him under house arrest and name-drops “Cap,” and Lilly’s Wasp gets her own size-changing set-pieces, adding another ass-kicking woman to the testosterone-heavy Marvel roster. It’s a small but bright spot in the franchise. [Gwen Ihnat]


Having one massively successful Marvel movie under your belt tends to earn a director a little more leeway to shrug off the conventions of the studio’s house style and pursue their own vision in the sequel. (At least it normally does.) After the critical and box-office success of the first Guardians, James Gunn returned to his motley assemblage of outer-space weirdoes with diminished but entertaining results. The story of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) discovering his father is a literal living planet, only to learn he’s also trying to basically replace all existence with himself, is surprisingly sentimental, with Gunn delving deep into the ersatz family dynamics of Star-Lord, Ego (Kurt Russell), and Peter’s pseudo-adoptive dad, Yondu (Michael Rooker). Guardians Vol. 2 possesses a warped wit and Day-Glo-absurdist imagery that keeps it fun and engaging, but the whole endeavor ends up feeling strangely weightless. Perhaps it’s the literal lack of gravity? [Alex McLevy]


The MCU was extremely overdue for its first woman-led production—Black Widow remains one of the only main Avengers without their own movie. So Captain Marvel had a lot riding on it. Brie Larson was fortunately up for the challenge, matching Skrull battle cry for Skrull battle cry. The space travels, battles, and feline hijinks are fun, alongside Carol Danvers’ relaxed banter with a digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson (as Nick Fury) and the ’90s-rock soundtrack. But at its heart, Captain Marvel is a movie about identity: Who are we if even our memories are suspect? We meet Carol as Kree warrior Vers (her repeated line is “You don’t know me”), only to discover that she’s actually a brave American test pilot who’s had to get up off her feet after being knocked down again and again, mostly by men. That inspiring montage aims to lift the heart of every woman and girl who sees it, and by the end-credits scene, it’s obvious that if anyone can defeat Thanos, it’s the as-yet-unnamed but all-powerful Captain Marvel. [Gwen Ihnat]


Quite possibly the most expensive exercise in wide-scale furniture-moving ever brought to screen, last summer’s massive multi-hero pile-up Infinity War occasionally stumbles into moments of humanity and warmth, almost in spite of itself. There’s an undeniable crossover spark to seeing, say, Tony Stark and Stephen Strange get into a metaphysical dick-swinging contest, or watching a newly one-eyed Thor trade quips with Rocket Raccoon. But not even Infinity War’s cleverest touch—constructing the entire story as a slow-burn hero’s journey for Josh Brolin’s would-be finger-snapping conqueror, Thanos—can fully overcome the sheer drowning tide of excess that threatens to overwhelm the movie at every turn. Too many fights, too many “shocking” character deaths, and too many generic CGI baddies all conspire to turn Infinity War into a sludgy, big-budget waiting game—even if individual performers like Robert Downey Jr., Tom Holland, and Zoe Saldana do everything in their considerable powers to elevate the film above the flood. [William Hughes]


Let us first thank Spider-Man: Homecoming for leaving the radioactive spiders in the past. Jon Watts’ reboot, the character’s third in 15 years, catches up with Peter Parker in the months after he gained his signature powers, when he’s as awkward at slinging webs as he is at asking girls on dates. Truly, Homecoming’s best scenes have nothing to do with action—the CGI is boilerplate and Vulture (outside of that scene) feels way too familiar—and everything to do with friendship, parties, and coming of age, be it as a teenager or a superhero. Tom Holland’s excitable energy gives Peter a boyishness his predecessors lacked and, as such, the danger is felt that much more when, say, we see him legit crying beneath a stack of flaming debris. Consider also his parting words at the end of Infinity War; they wouldn’t have spawned a thousand memorial memes if Peter weren’t, first and foremost, just a kid. [Randall Colburn]


There’d be no MCU if Marvel hadn’t nailed Iron Man, but the MCU wouldn’t be what it is today if the studio hadn’t also struck the right tone with Captain America. Frankly, it’s a miracle that The First Avenger works as well it does, especially since it rejects the tongue-in-cheek snark of the Iron Man movies and the weirdo tone of Thor in favor of a simpler superhero story about an absurdly skinny kid in the 1940s who is desperate to join the war—but not, as Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers explains to Stanley Tucci’s Dr. Erskine, so he can kill Nazis. He just doesn’t like bullies. The movie works because of the big-hearted way that Evans plays Cap, but not enough credit goes to its supporting characters—especially Hayley Atwell’s brilliant Peggy Carter, who deserved even better than the two-season show on ABC she did get. [Sam Barsanti]


With its great cast, tight pacing, and sharp humor, Guardians Of The Galaxy is basically an Avengers movie. You’ve got your cocky would-be leader (Chris Pratt), a sly and deadly assassin (Zoe Saldana), and the remaining “muscle/tech whiz/smartass” roles filled by Dave Bautista and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. This team of space misfits assembles to track down the latest MacGuffin and fight off a world-ending threat (Lee Pace as Ronan The Accuser, temporary lackey of Thanos), becoming a family along the way. Director James Gunn, who’s officially back in the saddle to wrap up the trilogy, makes the first foray into the Marvel Cosmic Universe worth the trip. There’s no shawarma-chomping button, but there is dancing, a kaleidoscopic palette, exceptional chemistry among the cast, and one of the most moving moments of self-sacrifice in all the MCU. Guardians Of The Galaxy also sets a new bar for use of music in comic-book movies, starting with an early scene that’s the perfect mix of whimsy and rollicking action. [Danette Chavez]


Origin stories can be a drag; as the argument goes, they’re everything that happens before the fun begins. But Iron Man proves that they don’t have to be. The very first MCU movie finds a lot of humor and drama in the prelude portion of a superhero saga, building a sterling pre-armor character arc for Tony Stark, the sardonic playboy-mogul whose brush with death jump-starts his conscience. What director Jon Favreau really has going for him is Robert Downey Jr., whose witty, sneakily complex performance provides the film—and the universe it launched—with a glowing fuel cell of movie-star charisma. Iron Man, of course, is also the origin story for a whole franchise, establishing some of its strengths (humor, good acting) and weaknesses (boring villains, serviceable action and effects). But it remains, a full decade later, one of the studio’s most satisfying and well-rounded entertainments, mostly for how it privileges the man over the iron, and finds the fun in where those two sides meet. [A.A. Dowd]


There’s no greater action sequence in a Marvel movie—maybe in all comic-book cinema, in fact—than the big airport tussle that arrives late into Captain America: Civil War, pitting one half of the studio’s ever-growing superhero population against the other. More than just a playful, extravagantly orchestrated blast of splash-panel fisticuffs, the scene also serves as a microcosm for the larger feat of multitasking achieved by directors Joe and Anthony Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. An Avengers movie in everything but name, Civil War somehow manages to juggle a dozen characters, shortchanging none of the regulars even as it introduces new players like Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and a newly teenage Spider-Man (Tom Holland), all while racing to a painfully personal, mano a mano climax. Some have insisted that Civil War is too long and too serious for its own good, but this big-budget ensemble soap opera handles its long list of obligations with grace. Certainly, it’s a more elegant crossover event than the actual Avengers movie its creative dream team would tackle next. [A.A. Dowd]


The best Marvel movies are the ones that find their own niche within the larger framework, whether it’s putting Captain America in a gritty ’70s thriller or dropping Spider-Man into another coming-of-age-story. With Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi gave the MCU its best comedy to date, buddy or otherwise. The What We Do In The Shadows director plays up the deadpan humor and awkward interpersonal dynamics, finding killer pairings in Chris Hemsworth and every single one of his co-stars, from Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk to Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie to Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, who is at his most charming here. That would be enough to make it the strongest film in the Thor trilogy, but Waititi also delivers some of the most striking visuals in all the MCU, creating a blacklight-poster aesthetic for this apocalyptic tale. Thor: Ragnarok pushes further still, intermittently setting aside its screwball energy to tell a poignant refugee story. So although he was tasked with bringing Asgard to an end, Waititi ended up breathing new life into Thor and his solo series. [Danette Chavez]


The rare Marvel film that’s as much a triumph of aesthetics as character or action, Ryan Coogler’s Oscar-nominated Afrofuturist blockbuster derives vibranium-assisted levels of power from its jaw-dropping, perfectly realized setting, in a way that the MCU’s usual assemblage of generic secret bases and random New York streets never could. Everyone who sees the African paradise of Wakanda instantly recognizes it as a utopia worth fighting for—and so they do, spurred on by one of the best-written, most understandably motivated villains in the franchise’s long, troubled history with antagonists. But to single out Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger would be to gloss over the sheer volume of scene-stealing talent—Letitia Wright! Winston Duke! Danai Gurira! Angela Bassett! Sterling K. Brown! Martin Freeman! Lupita Nyong’o!—that Coogler has surrounded Chadwick Boseman’s King T’Challa with. Black Panther set a new standard for what a stand-alone, “smaller” Marvel film could look like, employing razor-sharp world-building and casting to mine individualistic glory from the wider MCU rock. [William Hughes]


The first all-hands-on-deck superhero team-up film in the MCU is still the best, and the bar by which all future ones will be judged. The balancing act pulled off by writer-director Joss Whedon is a marvel (no pun intended) of blockbuster moviemaking: He manages to service the story of every titular hero from previous standalone films, create character arcs that feed into the larger plot, and provide a beginning, middle, and end to the story of Earth’s mightiest heroes coming together for the first time. And he does it all with a breezy wit and meaningful emotional stakes that keep you engaged for the entire two-and-a-half hours. Under the one good eye of Nick Fury, the story unites Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor, and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton (admittedly, Hawkeye gets the short end of the stick, serving as the brainwashed pawn of Loki for most of the film) in a battle against the God Of Mischief, who plots to lead a Chitauri invasion of Earth. From the character-based humor to the actually great epic final fight, it’s everything a Marvel fan—or even casual moviegoer—could want. [Alex McLevy]


Much has been made of the way Captain America: The Winter Soldier drops unfrozen war hero Steve Rogers (a soulfully sincere Chris Evans) into its own modern version of a 1970s political thriller. That element is definitely there in the paranoia that colors its trust-no-one narrative, to say nothing of Robert Redford’s appearance as a shady politician. It’s just kind of an accent—a genre flavor. The Winter Soldier refines, rather than shatters, the MCU mold, which is key to why it’s the franchise’s rip-roaring highpoint. The Russo brothers, in their first gig for the studio, deliver fully on their mandate, offering all the team-building rapport (between Cap and Black Widow, Nick Fury, and The Falcon) and future-sequel setup required of a post-Avengers installment. But they also augment the usual CGI fireworks with some truly exhilarating practical stunt work, and push the company’s character-first ethos even further, locating multiple dimensions in their title Avenger, a rah-rah, fish-out-of-water anachronism grappling with our troublesome political now. The Winter Soldier isn’t the funniest or the most extravagantly shot movie in this forever franchise, nor does it boast the scariest villain or strongest performances. But it might be the platonic ideal of a Marvel movie: the kind of exciting, propulsive Hollywood thriller the studio is capable of creating when firing on all cylinders. Hopefully, there’s still room for its (relatively) leaner brand of superhero spectacle in the aftermath of Endgame. [A.A. Dowd]



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Barry Season 2: Bill Hader on Episode 4 and Crafting Sally’s Arc

Barry Season 2: Bill Hader on Episode 4 and Crafting Sally's Arc


Real-life can often provide the best inspiration for art, but tackling sensitive subject matter often requires a certain degree of maturity and understanding on the part of the artist. That’s why Barry showrunners Bill Hader and Alec Berg reached out for advice when crafting the arc of Sally (Sarah Goldberg), who in the show’s second season is confronted by her abusive ex-husband.

In Barry Season 2 Episode 4, Sally’s ex-husband Sam asks her to come to his hotel room to retrieve an item. Despite her best instincts, Sally goes—but it’s made clear throughout the entire ordeal that she’s aware what she’s doing is dangerous, and by the episode’s end she has refused Sam’s request to keep his abuse private.

When I spoke to Hader about the crafting of the episode, he revealed that he and the show’s writers reached out to women to see if Sally’s actions tracked. Hader even reached out to women he knew personally who had suffered abuse, as it was important to him that the show was remaining true to life. Indeed, while Barry may be a half-hour comedy about a hitman trying to become an actor, each and every character motivation and action is rooted in truth. The show’s writers try to remain honest to what an actual human being would do in the increasingly precarious situations.

In the below episode breakdown with Collider, Hader talks about creating Sally’s arc this season and how Sam forces her to confront the lies she’s been telling herself, and then how Barry then tries to convince Sally that creating your own truth is the way to go. He also discusses the writing process on the show overall, and why a subtle change in blocking made Barry’s scene with Gene (Henry Winkler) even more emotional.

Check out the full interview below, and definitely check back next week when Hader breaks down the jaw-droppingly great fifth episode of Barry Season 2—which he directed himself. Trust me, you do not want to miss that one.

barry-season-2-bill-hader

Image via HBO

First thing’s first, I have to know who came up with the great “My name’s Barry.” smash cut to titles gag.

BILL HADER: I think that was in the script. I can’t remember… Either me, Alec or Duffy Boudreau came up with that.

That one really got me.

HADER: (laughing) I’m glad it worked. I thought it came on too fast. While we were in the edit I was like, “Is that happening too fast?”

I didn’t see it coming because you’re so focused on like, “Oh God. What’s gonna happen?” with Sam and everything.

HADER: Yeah. And then we just do a weird joke and then go right back to the serious.

Yeah. I mean, the episode is incredibly tense and it’s dealing with very sensitive subject matter. How did those conversations about Sally’s abuse and her reaction to seeing her abuser again manifest in the writers room, and then how did they evolve or change once you get Sarah involved and get on set?

HADER: I have people very close to me in my life who’ve been victims of domestic violence and so I was able to talk to them. One of them actually works with women who have been abused so it was kind of like sending them the Sally story and going, “Does this track? Does this make sense?” Some of the stuff we got out of that was this thing of somebody saying when you see [the abuser] it’s not like they run away or they’re really strong. They actually just try to be cool with them. That person has a weird power over them. And look, Alec and I are just two white guys. We don’t know much about this, so we asked a lot of women what they thought and everyone had different experiences or different ideas, but the consensus was that this was pretty honest.

And then bringing Sarah over, she’s incredibly tuned and incredibly smart. I really like this scene that Sarah came up with where she’s about to go see Sam and she looks in the mirror, starts to check her hair and stops and is like “What am I doing?” I really liked that scene, but we had to cut it because of time, because we wanted to keep the pacing up. But that was a really, really tough one to lose and Sarah had come up with it and I really liked it.

barry-season-2-sarah-golberg

Image via HBO

As long as it just is feeling honest, and the fact that she goes back up there and I think, immediately, regrets it, and is like, “Why the hell am I up here?” Some people might say, “Well who cares if she lied about how she left him?” I mean we have Barry go, “You still left.” Her thing is saying “No, but I lied.” For her and how she feels about herself, she wants to be strong. She wants to see herself as someone who’s strong and you, in this episode, realize how much she had made up this character of Sally, of herself, by coming to L.A.

Definitely.

HADER: She says in Episode 2, “Do you think I play weak women because I was weak in my marriage? No. I’m not that fucking person. I’m independent.” And I love that scene in this episode because then Barry’s like “We can lie together.” Like you can be whoever you say you are. Come over to the dark side with me.

I was gonna ask about that because that scene, I thought, was really striking. What was your experience shooting that scene and working with Sarah? Because you both seem very emotionally vulnerable there.

HADER: She’s amazing in that scene.

She’s so good. And there’s a lot of Barry and Sally both basically lying to themselves out loud this season. And then here Barry’s trying to help her and say like, “Look, I’m fine. Do like me.”

HADER: Yeah. “I’m Barry Berkman. I’m an actor.”

Yeah.

HADER: And, yeah, he’s not. (laughing) But he’s telling himself he is. I think the whole season is about people just trying to escape their nature. It’s what Cousineau says at the end of the episode, “I think we can change our nature and if we can’t, then God help us.” I think Sally’s trying to change this nature with this guy in it and trying to be vulnerable, because it’s terrifying for her to be vulnerable. That was the thing. To talk about that is terrifying. To admit that is a very terrifying thing and that was something that people that I know in my life who’ve gone through this said. It’s not an easy thing to talk about and then just to admit it to yourself and then to admit it to the person that you’re dating. And now Sally’s gonna have to get up on stage and talk about it. It’s what being an artist is supposed to be I guess, when you share these really awful traumatic things, you have to cut through all the shit to get to who you actually are and doing that can be terrifying. And is it worth it in the end? Those are the kind of questions that are interesting to us and that’s kind of like what Barry’s saying. “You don’t have to. Just lie.”

But Barry’s a perpetrator of violence and Sally’s a victim of violence and they’re dating and they’re both lying to each other about it. They’re trying to tell themselves this thing and it gets into a bigger question of “Do we do that all the time in everyday life?” And is that easier? You know, the whole truth exercise that Cousineau wants to do, is that even a real thing? Can you actually do that?

barry-season-2-henry-winkler

Image via HBO

Well, that’s one of the things that I thought was really interesting, too. So much of the thematic arc of the season and the show, in general, was kind of about the effects of trauma and violence, but also how art can be a cathartic way of working out issues. You’re a writer, you’re an actor, you’re in a room of writers; do you personally find that to be true?

HADER: Yeah. Sometimes the writers room can feel like a group therapy session when you’re trying to get to the root of something. And writers rooms are its own special, weird place that people say things that they don’t mean. As you’re trying to just get to the truth of something, it can get really emotional, it can get very fired up in there. Also, I’m someone that I will be very open about myself in a writers room, more than I ever would around certain friends and things like that because I’m just trying to figure out what the truth is of this thing. And it’s not gonna be true for everybody. It’s not saying, “Oh, we’re foolproof. People are gonna watch this episode and be like, ‘Yep. That’s it.’” That’s impossible. But it’s attempting that. I think all the stuff I like, at least, always is attempting to do that.





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Game of Thrones: White Walkers Explained

game-of-thrones-white-walkers-explained


game-of-thrones-white-walkers-explained

Game of Thrones is going strong (thank the Old Gods, the New Gods, the Lord of Light, the Many-Faced God, and The Drowned God), so it’s time for a refresher on one of the most important elements of the show: The White Walkers.

These ancient, terrifying, mummy-like antagonists with their ice zombie army are becoming increasingly vital as Game of Thrones races towards its inevitable conclusion. As everyone and their mother (i.e. Cersei) is vying for the Iron Throne, a desperate few know that the true threat lies beyond The Wall… and that it’s coming for the world of men.

Here’s everything you need to know about The White Walkers:

Who are the White Walkers?

The White Walkers are leaders of an ice zombie horde known as “wights” seemingly intent on destroying the world of men. They come from the far North, deep beyond The Wall, but have been organized under the rule of the Night King and are making their way south to Westeros as we speak.

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Image via HBO

Not that anyone besides the wildings, Jon Snow, the Night’s Watch, and Ser Davos are taking the threat seriously, though. In the first trailer for Season 7, we hear Davos tell someone: “If we don’t put aside our enmities and band together, we will die. And then it doesn’t matter whose skeleton sits on the Iron Throne.” Listen to the man, dammit!

Where did the White Walkers come from?

The White Walkers were created by the Children of the Forest thousands of years ago as a form of protection against the First Men who were cutting their sacred trees and slaughtering their tribe. (Rude). The White Walkers were originally First Men themselves, before being captured by the Children of the Forest to be changed into weapons. The Children of the Forest pressed dragonglass daggers into the chests of these First Men to create the first White Walkers.

Eventually, the White Walkers rebelled, Cylon-style, from their lives of forced war-making and decided to make war on their own terms, attacking the living indiscriminately and becoming the most feared creatures in all of Westeros. Or so the legends say. We’ve yet to hear the White Walkers’ side of the story.





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Endgame TV Spot Gives First Look At Valkyrie

Endgame TV Spot Gives First Look At Valkyrie



Thor’s friend from work is back! Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie debuted in Thor: Ragnarok but was not seen in Avengers: Infinity War. It was later confirmed by the Russo Brothers that she escaped with other surviving Asgardians. Apparently she survived The Decimation, too. She got her own Avengers: Endgame poster, and it was in color like the other lucky 50%.

And now one of the many new Avengers: Endgame TV spots has given us a very quick glimpse of Valkyrie, live and in color. She’s actually the first one we see in the promo:

Nice! Looking forward to seeing more of her role in Avengers 4. It was suspected that she would return, especially when she was spotted with Ragnarok (and Men in Black: International) co-star Chris Hemsworth in September 2018, joining him when he flew to Atlanta for Avengers 4 reshoots.

Of course, since we’re talking about the Russos and the MCU, we have to leave room for misdirection. It would be cruel to give Valkyrie fans that glimpse of her in the new TV spot and only learn that it was another mislead. But it does sound like she’ll be back in some fashion, and Marvel did give her a new Endgame poster. Maybe we’ll also see the return of the rest of the Asgardians. Will they join the fight against Thanos?

One of the most exciting things about Avengers: Endgame is the number of new characters working together. Even Avengers: Infinity War didn’t cover every base. We have characters like Rhodey and Black Widow going to space for the first time, alongside Guardians Nebula and Raccoon, as Thor bonds with “new girl” Captain Marvel.

Speaking of Captain Marvel, actresses Brie Larson and Tessa Thompson are good friends off-screen, and they’ve been loving fans’ social media posts pairing Valkyrie and Carol Danvers. So maybe fans can expect to see their characters at least meet on screen? Thompson has brought up the idea of Marvel women getting together to fight folks and hang out in space. Maybe she’ll get her wish soon.

Continuing on that note, Marvel Studios also released another Endgame TV spot — it’s almost too much now! — and this one was heavy on the foreshadowing of endings and goodbyes. It also focused a lot on Black Widow finding a family for the first time with the Avengers. She has her own movie coming up, but will it be after she loses her Avenger “family”?

Avengers: Endgame isn’t quite the end of MCU Phase 3, as we initially thought, but it does seem to mark the endgames for some original stars and their characters. Chris Hemsworth may be on that boat, although he has said he’d be happy to return as Thor whenever they need him. If Valkyrie is in Endgame, she’d probably connect with Thor at some point. If the rest of the Asgardians return as well, will Thor want to leave to help start a new life with them, after they do whatever they do with Thanos? I have been avoiding any spoilers, so all speculation is valid to me.





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The Conjuring Universe Has Another Overperformer

The curse of la llorona Box Office April 19-21


The Conjuring Universe has unquestionably become one of the strongest brands in the Warner Bros. arsenal. Going back to 2013, every release has been an absolutely massive hit, with the $250 million-plus worldwide earnings for each title looking even more impressive when you consider that none of them have been made with a budget larger than $40 million. It’s a train that doesn’t appear ready to stop any time soon, and Michael Chaves’ The Curse Of La Llorona demonstrated that this weekend by earning the franchise yet another box office crown. Check out its opening weekend numbers – as well as the rest of the Top 10 – below, and join me after for analysis!

The curse of la llorona Box Office April 19-21
1. The Curse Of La Llorona*

$26,505,000 Total: $26,505,000

LW: N

THTRS: 3,372

2. Shazam!

$17,340,000 Total: $121,341,951

LW: 1

THTRS: 4,183

3. Breakthrough*

$11,100,000 Total: $14,606,925

LW: N

THTRS: 2,824

4. Captain Marvel

$9,100,000 Total: $400,026,133

LW: 6

THTRS: 2,653

5. Little

$8,451,000 Total: $29,380,410

LW: 2

THTRS: 2,667

6. Dumbo

$6,800,000 Total: $101,254,910

LW: 5

THTRS: 3,225

7. Pet Sematary

$4,850,000 Total: $49,583,075

LW: 4

THTRS: 3,146

8. Missing Link

$4,369,756 Total: $12,976,997

LW: 9

THTRS: 3,437

9. Us

$4,264,000 Total: $170,444,620

LW: 7

THTRS: 2,264

10. Hellboy

$3,880,000 Total: $19,676,271

LW: 3

THTRS: 3,303

It should be noted that The Curse Of La Llorona had the weakest opening of any Conjuring Universe movie thus far – with David F. Sandberg’s Annabelle: Creation previously holding that title with its $35 million take back in 2017 – but part of the reason why it can still be considered a victory is the fact that it still managed to exceed expectations. Last week prognosticators suggested that the film would struggle to make more than $20 million, with Box Office Mojo suggesting a $17 million start, but those estimates proved to be a bit too conservative. Instead, the horror flick managed to beat that number by nearly $10 million, which is pretty significant when you consider that the feature only cost a reported $9 million to make.

There is no question that it’s a step down for the brand, particularly after the record-breaking numbers put up by Corin Hardy’s The Nun last fall, but the performance certainly says something about the hunger for stories in this universe. Adding in numbers from foreign territories, the movie has already made $56.5 million worldwide, and it will likely be the sixth feature in the franchise to get a nine figure total by the end of its theatrical run. It might take an extra minute, though, as there are a few things working against it in the coming weeks.

The first and most obvious roadblock is the forthcoming arrival of what is unquestionably one of the most anticipated blockbuster releases of all time. Joe and Anthony Russo’s Avengers: Endgame is expected to have the attention of everyone in the world when screenings start on Thursday night, and there is probably little chance that folks are planning on doing a weird double feature that pairs the three-hour superhero epic with The Curse Of La Llorona.

Also, the film doesn’t have quite the same level of buzz that the previous Conjuring Universe efforts have received. Not only have professional reviews not been super kind to the release, but audiences don’t seem to be falling in love with it either. On CinemaScore, it doesn’t look so great when you compare its “B-” grade” to the “A-” earned by both Conjuring titles and the “B” that both of the Annabelle movies received.

All that being said, it’s already profitable after just three days, so Warner Bros. can’t complain too much.

The Curse Of La Llorona

Speaking of the studio, this weekend was actually a double win for WB, as another one of their big brands – the DC Extended Universe – crossed an important milestone. It took a few weeks, but David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! is now the seventh title in the franchise to join the century club. The movie only dropped about 29 percent in its third week, and while its still the slowest performer among recent DC releases (it’s still made only half of what Zack Snyder’s Justice League did in 2017), it has an ace up its sleeve: the fact that it didn’t cost nearly as much to make as your average big comic book adaptation. Put in perspective, it’s already made three times its budget worldwide – albeit before the cost of marketing and publicity.

As for the rest of the Top 10 beyond the two biggest releases, it was actually a very strange weekend. First there is the disappointment of Roxann Dawson’s Breakthrough, which failed to make the $17-18 million that was expected in its first five days (screenings started mid-week). It was thought that the feature would get a nice boost from the religious crowd, and it actually earned better reviews than most god-centric releases, but apparently it couldn’t stir up too much interest.

That’s really the least of it, though, as the big theme for this weekend was unexpected ranking flip flops. For starters, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Captain Marvel seemingly got a boost from the aforementioned forthcoming release of Avengers: Endgame, as the blockbuster jumped from its sixth place position last week into fourth place. The $9.1 million it earned over the last few days now puts its domestic total over $400 million, and its only the seventh of 21 Marvel Cinematic Universe releases to hit that benchmark. To date it has made $1.1 billion worldwide, and while it looks like it won’t surpass the numbers put up by Joe and Anthony Russo’s Captain America: Civil War back in 2016, the performance is still nothing short of astonishing.

Another surprise this weekend was the performance of Chris Butler’s Missing Link – albeit the significance is relative. The stop-motion animated film got off to a depressing start last time around, as it started its theatrical run in ninth place, but this week it actually climbed a bit thanks to the fact that it only dropped about 26.5 percent. The movie has still only made about $13 million in North America, which isn’t exactly impressive, but it is trying to put up a fight.

The middle of the chart also saw some weird switches, as Tina Gordon Chism’s Little went from second place to fifth, and Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s Pet Sematary went from fourth to seventh. Those are far less noteworthy than what happened to Neil Marshall’s Hellboy, however. The panned Lionsgate release played in the exact same number of theaters this weekend as it did when it opened, but far fewer seats were filled in the last three days. Not only did it drop from third place to 10th, but it suffered a drop of nearly 68 percent. It failed to cross the $20 million mark, and things are looking seriously bad for the feature, which reportedly cost $50 million to make.

It was definitely a weird weekend at the box office, but things should change in a massive way next time around. It’s entirely possible that Avengers: Endgame will soon become the new record holder for biggest worldwide opening – and we’ll have all of the details for you next Sunday.

 



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The Lion King Director Jon Favreau Promises It’ll Surprise Audiences

The Lion King Director Jon Favreau Promises It'll Surprise Audiences



The Lion King has a tough job balancing expectations ahead of its July release. On one hand, some fans like the heavy nostalgia factor. They like the recognizable scenes. They don’t want many changes. On the other hand, why bother remaking The Lion King if it’s going to look so similar to the beloved 1994 movie?

So now it’s director Jon Favreau’s job to convince everybody that The Lion King movie he’s making is exactly the one they’ll want:

Jon Favreau told USA Today the humor has been updated from the original animated movie, but the iconic moments are still there. He reiterated that it won’t be a shot-for-shot remake.

Jon Favreau has earned some credit on this front, not just for directing The Jungle Book in 2016, but also from his previous successes with Elf and Iron Man. So if Happy Hogan says surprises are ahead, hopefully they will be pleasant ones.

So it’s really going to be a challenge to please everyone. That’s always the case, but these many upcoming Disney remakes are really putting themselves in a delicate position. Then again, it worked for The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Maleficent.

Sometimes copying the past works, sometimes going in a very different direction works. And sometimes it just doesn’t quite click with audiences, like the new Dumbo. The upcoming Aladdin movie is in a similar boat. Will Smith’s Genie has been the focus of early criticism, but maybe most fans will end up loving the result. After all, the internet does not offer a full representation of the fandom, young or old. It’s the box office that will be the true judge.

In one very good sign for The Lion King, the first teaser it dropped back in November broke Disney’s record for trailer views. There’s a lot of interest out there, and that does come with high expectations and early criticism. It would be worse if people didn’t have anything to say at all.

The Lion King features the voice talents of Donald Glover as Simba, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala, James Earl Jones back as Mufasa, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, Billy Eichner as Timon, Alfre Woodard as Sarabi, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar. The movie opens in theaters July 19, as one of the many films — both Disney and non-Disney — headed to theaters in 2019.



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Why Shazam! Reshot Mark Strong’s Intro As Sivana, And How It Originally Looked

Why Shazam! Reshot Mark Strong's Intro As Sivana, And How It Originally Looked



Reshoots are pretty commonplace in filmmaking, especially for blockbusters. Big studio films are almost guaranteed to reserve a block of time for reshoots. Sometimes things change in the editing room and filmmakers decide they need to get the cameras back out. For example, that very same thing happened on Shazam! The fun superhero film reshot the intro scene for its villain, Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong), because the room he was in was a bit too sterile.

In Shazam!, Dr. Sivana is a man obsessed with breaking into the Rock of Eternity and freeing the Seven Deadly Sins, a group of demons who symbolize the worst traits in humanity. Technically, the first time we see Sivana is as a child in the opening minutes of the film, but the scene that was reshot was his intro as an adult.

The scene in question had Sivana overseeing the questioning of a person who visited the Rock of Eternity in the hopes that he could finally get a clue to return there. Originally, the room he was in was much more sterile with blank white walls, but director David F. Sandberg felt that this wasn’t quite the right way to introduce his baddie.

Replying to a comment on Twitter, David F. Sandberg revealed that there wasn’t enough extra footage to do a director’s cut of Shazam! The footage on screen is exactly what he wanted and all of the unused footage is really just alternate takes of scenes in the film. As an example, he showed a pic of the original introduction for Sivana. It’s still the same scene, it just takes place in a different room.

While I can’t remember for the life of me what this conference room looked like in the actual movie, I think it was a good call to change the room. It’s pretty boring looking, and while I’m sure it could have been spruced up in post-production, that wouldn’t likely change much.

We don’t know what else was changed in the film during reshoots, but maybe some of these alternate takes will be available on the digital and home release of Shazam! The movie has been enjoying a pretty healthy run at the box office, earning $322.8 million worldwide at the box office. That’s pretty good for the first film in what is sure to be a franchise, and DC’s hot streak still lives on.

If you missed out on Shazam! or just want to kill some time before Avengers: Endgame later this week, you can still catch the superhero film in theaters. For everything else DC has coming down the pipeline, here’s our DC movie guide. If you’d like to know what else is coming this year to plan out all your upcoming theater trips, here’s our 2019 movie release guide.





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Weekend Box Office: Curse of La Llorona Tops Slowest Easter in 14 Years

Weekend Box Office: Curse of La Llorona Tops Slowest Easter in 14 Years


It was a very quiet weekend at the box office as moviegoers appear to be saving up their hard-earned money for multiple trips to see Avengers: Endgame next weekend. The Warner Bros./New Line horror film The Curse of La Llorona topped the weekend with a solid $26.5 million—above expectations—but overall it was the slowest Easter weekend since 2005, when the Ashton Kutcher-led Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner remake topped the charts. Remember that one? No? Alrighty then.

La Llorona is a 70s-set horror thriller produced by James Wan with tangential ties to The Conjuring universe, but while it suffered pretty negative reviews, audiences didn’t seem to mind all that much (see also: The Nun). The R-rated film cost only $9 million to make, and hails from director Michael Chaves who next helms The Conjuring 3.

shazam-zachary-levi-jack-dylan-grazer

Image via Warner Bros.

Coming in second place was Shazam!, dethroned in its third weekend but still performing strong with $17.3 million. That brings the DC superhero movie’s domestic total up to $121 million and its worldwide total has surpassed $322 million. The film will no doubt dip next weekend when Avengers: Endgame arrives, but given that Shazam! is neither a major comics property nor a movie star-led vehicle, these numbers are impressive.

In third place was the faith-based drama Breakthrough, a Christian-oriented film that drew $11 million on Easter weekend to bring its five-day total to $14.5 million. The movie hails from 20th Century Fox, but marks the first Fox film to be released following Disney’s acquisition of the studio.

Speaking of which, these low Easter numbers are (hopefully) due to the arrival of Avengers: Endgame next week, the highly anticipated Avengers: Infinity War sequel that’s being touted as the culmination of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far, since 2008’s Iron Man. A consequence of this could be a solid bump that Captain Marvel received this weekend, which pulled in a surprising $9 million over a month and a half after its initial release. The Brie Larson-led superhero movie has grossed over $1.09 billion worldwide and surpassed The Dark Knight Rises this weekend to become the #8 global superhero movie of all time. Domestically, Captain Marvel has now become the seventh MCU movie to cross $400 million.

How high will Avengers: Endgame soar, and how long will it reign? The runway is fairly clear throughout May unless something like Detective Pikachu surprises big time, and Disney itself has staked out May 24th—a month after Endgame’s release—for the live-action remake of Aladdin. Of course that was the strategy employed for Solo: A Star Wars Story after Infinity War last year and we saw how that panned out, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Will Smith-led film performs.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, check out the weekend box office estimates below, and be sure to come back next weekend for a rundown of the sure-to-be-record-setting totals for Endgame.

Rank Title Weekend Total
1. The Curse of La Llorona $26,505,000 $26,505,000
2. Shazam! $17,340,000 $121,341,951
3. Breakthrough $11,100,000 $14,606,925
4. Captain Marvel $9,100,000 $400,026,133
5. Little $8,451,000 $29,380,410
6. Dumbo $6,800,000 $101,254,910
7. Pet Sematary $4,850,000 $49,583,075
8. Missing Link $4,369,756 $12,976,997
9. Us $4,264,000 $170,444,620
10. Hellboy $3,880,000 $19,676,271

 





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Watch Keanu Reeves Show Off His Duke Caboom Toy Story 4 Poster

Watch Keanu Reeves Show Off His Duke Caboom Toy Story 4 Poster



You didn’t forget Keanu Reeves was going to be in Toy Story 4, did you? Yes, right after fighting for his life in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum in May, Reeves is going to shrink down for his mighty role as new motorcycle daredevil character Duke Caboom in Pixar’s 2019 Toy Story movie.

Disney has been gathering the new Toy Story 4 stars to show off their special character posters, so here’s Keanu Reeves unveiling “the man, the myth, the legend — Duke Caboom!”

YES! That’s Ally Maki with him, and she voices Officer Giggle McDimples in Toy Story 4. She reposted Disney’s Duke Caboom video with her own very relatable fangirl gushing over Keanu Reeves, adding that “he is so hilarious in this movie”:

Keanu Reeves may not be known for comedy post-Bill & Ted, but just go find a copy of I Love You To Death and enjoy it because his comic timing is perfect. He really should be in more comedies, and I’m looking forward to what he does with Duke Caboom.

Duke Caboom was actually first introduced as an Easter egg in Incredibles 2, although fans didn’t know that toy in the background would be showing up in Toy Story 4 — and voiced by none other than Keanu Reeves.

Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear) is the one who first told fans Keanu Reeves would be playing a role in Toy Story 4:

Keanu Reeves later explained he got a call out of the blue “from the lovely people at Pixar” and they pitched the character to him. They let him “kind of riff on it,” he said, and it was a lot of fun.

Keanu Reeves later added to EW that he figured Duke should love what he does, since he’s the greatest stuntman in Canada, so he wanted Duke to constantly be doing poses on his bike while he was talking. A motorcycle enthusiast himself, Reeves teased more of his character’s story in the movie:

Speaking of failure, Keanu Reeves said he wanted Duke to be an extrovert, but also have a bit of a sad backstory. (That appears to be going around in the Toy Story world.) Every kid has their toy, and apparently Duke let his kid down when he couldn’t do what a commercial said he could do:

Director Josh Cooley told EW Keanu Reeves added a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and ideas for the character:





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