“Knives Out” Second Trailer Review!

In an attempt to resurrect the “cozy” murder mystery genre, director Rian Johnson may have opened the door to something far bigger. The mystery he has crafted in Knives Out looks engaging, twisty, and very much in the style of Agatha Christie – so much so, that it makes one wonder how Kenneth Branagh will respond, in his upcoming adaptation of an actual Christie work: Death On The Nile. With so few of the classic detectives of literature being moved to the big screen (even Sherlock has been suspiciously absent from the scene recently), and with Knives Out looking to be a surefire hit as it lands a Rotten Tomatoes score high in the 90’s, there’s inevitably going to be conflict between Branagh’s Hercule Poirot and Daniel Craig’s new addition to the scene, the enigmatic Detective Benoit Blanc, both with critics and audiences.

There’s also a large possibility that Knives Out is only the first in a slew of Benoit Blanc mysteries: though Johnson would be hard-pressed to match the prolific mystery-writers of days gone by, he might not have such a difficult time at all surpassing the competition in theaters: gritty crime thrillers are popular, as are courtroom dramas on TV, but when was the last time you actually saw a cozy mystery movie?

The only significant difficulty I could see arising is that Johnson’s movie, as of right now, looks to be either intentionally satirical of, or unintentionally derivative of the classics. Leaving aside the dapper British detective with an oddly outdated name (and a killer green suit, with a bold purple tie), we also have:

The Real Estate Mogul – a staple of mysteries, here played by Jamie Lee Curtis in a blue velvet pantsuit (and absolutely rocking that pantsuit, by the way). Her husband, played by Don Johnson, is the Desperate Son-In-Law, drink in hand, dressed as a Texas oil-tycoon version of Professor Plum in all purple attire.

The Playboy – a foul-mouthed Chris Evans, with an amazing fashion sense. Seriously, where do you even buy a scarf like that? Where do you buy pinstripe pants in this day and age?

The Lifestyle Guru – Toni Collette, looking like a Twitter-savvy parody of Democratic Party candidate Marianne Williamson. Again, dressed to perfection in high-waisted purple balloon pants.

And so on and so on; an entire cast of familiar tropes and archetypes spiraling outwards from their dead patriarch (who might as well be Mr. Body from Clue). In fact, speaking of Clue, each of the character posters is deliberately color coded in what appears to be a nod to the classic murder mystery game. They’ve even got a giant mansion with secret passages and the like – and, for whatever reason, they’ve also got something that looks like Game Of Thrones‘ Iron Throne set up in their living room. In fact, if you’d like to see the posters (I could stare at them all day), you can see them all here.

I assume Johnson will subvert expectations and turn these tropes upside-down and inside-out, because he likes doing that – The Last Jedi speaks volumes about his bravery as a filmmaker. Perhaps he’s pulling a Neil Simon and writing a parody: though it looks serious, and the mystery looks rich with detail and layer, even if it appears quite simple on the surface. But while I don’t know whodunnit, I know this much: whoever Johnson’s costume designer is deserves an Oscar nomination at the very least, because…wow.

What did you think of the trailer? Will you see Knives Out in theaters? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 8/10

“Loki” Update!

AVENGERS: ENDGAME SPOILERS! (have you seriously not seen the movie yet? What is taking you so long?)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been suspiciously quiet these past couple of days: no Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D episode last week, a disappointing trailer for Jessica Jones Season 3 on Netflix, and only a few stray behind-the-scenes images of Scarlett Johansson filming the Black Widow movie. As the release date for Spider-man: Far From Home draws closer and closer, we’re looking towards an uncertain future for the MCU, one populated by largely unfamiliar faces – such as the Eternals, and Shang-Chi, both set to make their film debuts in the next couple of years. Characters like Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange are expected to become the next “holy trinity” of Marveldom, replacing beloved heroes like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor – well, maybe not Thor: the God of Thunder is still very much alive after the events of Avengers: Endgame, and has jetted off to S P A C E with the Guardians of the Galaxy.

It’s Thor’s brother Loki whom we’re discussing today, however. Loki’s familiar face is now just cosmic ash floating in the space between stars, ever since Thanos strangled him in Avengers: Infinity War, and then snapped his neck, and then blew up his spaceship using the Power Stone – the chances of him ever coming back to life are slim to none at this point. Unless, like many, you believe that Loki got off the spaceship just in time, and it was one of his clones that met a horrible fate at the gloved hand of giant purple Josh Brolin.

But, due to the events of Endgame, Loki doesn’t need to be alive to still be around in the MCU. When the Avengers went back in time to the 2012 Battle of New York, looking for the Space, Time and Mind Infinity Stones, they inevitably ran into 2012 Loki, who had just been defeated by the 2012 Avengers, and was being escorted into S.H.I.E.L.D custody along with the Space Stone. While Captain America was able to snatch the Mind Stone from…himself, and Bruce Banner persuaded the Ancient One to relinquish the Time Stone, the Space Stone wasn’t so easily won. In fact, it wasn’t won at all: due to the present-day Avengers interfering with the 2012 Avengers, Loki ended up grabbing the Space Stone and escaping in a flash of blue light, forcing Tony Stark and Captain America to go even further back in time, to 1970, to get the Space Stone from Tony’s father Howard Stark.

But that’s where things get tricky. At the end of Endgame, Captain America heroically volunteers to go back in time once more and replace all the Infinity Stones they stole, to the exact moment at which they were taken: thus erasing all the messy alternate timelines that had been opened due to the time traveling. The Time Stone will be easily returned to the Ancient One; the Mind Stone can be quietly snuck back into Loki’s scepter; the Space Stone can be put back into its safe in S.H.I.E.L.D HQ, circa 1970…

But Loki’s escape still happens. Captain America would have no way of returning the Space Stone to 2012, because he didn’t take it from the 2012 timeline: he and Tony took it from 1970. In this elaborate game of alternate realities and dimension-hopping, the 2012 Loki is still out there, somewhere in the universe, armed with the Space Stone. And this is a feral, unreformed Loki; one who still wants to kill his brother Thor, and is possibly still suffering from the effects of 2012 Thanos’ mind-control. In other words, this Loki is still a villain, and he has an Infinity Stone, and he needs to be stopped, or else bad things are going to happen.

I’ve already covered in a previous post how the Russo Brothers have suggested that Captain America might take it upon himself to hunt down this rogue Loki and wrestle him back into his proper timeline – but seriously, how is that going to work? We’re talking about Loki, the Trickster God, here. He’s not going to go down easily, and that’s presumably why we’re getting a Loki miniseries on the Disney Plus streaming platform. While the series, titled Loki, has not yet begun filming, it would appear that actor Tom Hiddleston is outfitted, styled and ready to go. Marvel President Kevin Feige was at a meeting for Disney investors and shareholders when he unveiled a picture of Hiddleston looking dark and suave, standing on a city street in full Asgardian costume, in front of a marquee for…Steven Spielberg’s Jaws?

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Now…that’s completely in line with the earliest rumors we had about the show, that it would be a prequel focusing on Loki’s meddling in human history. But the events of Endgame and the hints offered by the Russo Brothers, have suggested that Loki will be using the Space Stone to evade capture and try to make his way back into our present timeline. The Space Stone, however, only gives its user the ability to travel…well, through space. Not through time. There are a few possibilities for why this image shows Loki comfortably situated in the year 1975 – one is that he also has the Time Stone, somehow; by stealing it from the Ancient One? Or from Captain America, when he comes to return it to the Ancient One? This theory seems unlikely. It’s possible that the Space Stone has the power to travel through time as well as space, but that somewhat negates the whole purpose of it being the Space Stone to begin with. Then again, maybe Loki has the power to travel back in time? He’s never had that power before, but maybe. The image could also dispel all those rumors about Loki being about 2012 Loki at all: maybe the things we saw in Endgame were just a cruel misdirect, and the Russo Brothers were lying about Cap’s involvement. Maybe this is from a flashback scene, and the majority of the series isn’t set in the past: but it seems peculiar to tease time travel if it’s not the focus of the show.

We don’t know anything for certain, yet, but we are expected to get more details about Loki and all upcoming Marvel projects at San Diego Comic Con and Disney’s D23 in August. Stay tuned for more information!

“Black Widow” Begins Filming!

Marvel’s highly-anticipated Black Widow solo movie was expected to begin filming next month, at Pinewood Studios in London, but apparently things have been moving quicker than anticipated, as leaked photos show that Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson has arrived in Norway.

Johansson touched down in the Ørsta Municipality in a private plane, but cameras still managed to catch a glimpse of her (or, at least, someone who looks identical to her) being driven around the picturesque Norwegian landscape. However, it seems like the actress is here, not for sightseeing, but for filming, as other photos show signs with Black Widow‘s working title “Blue Bayou” written on them in a distinctly Cyrillic typeface. The Russian assassin Natasha Romanoff is clearly on her way to Norway.

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There’s no good reason as to why, just yet, but it’s easy to imagine that Norway, with its fjords, mountains and miles of uncharted wilderness, could be the perfect place for some impressive action sequences, or a secret KGB hideout. Norway is also, notably, where Thor builds New Asgard in Avengers: Endgame, but it seems unlikely that there’s any correlation – Black Widow is expected to be a prequel, set before the events of Romanoff’s first appearance in Iron Man 2. Other rumors, yet to be confirmed, suggest that the movie will take place in between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, following Romanoff as she flees from the law and the restrictions of the Sokovia Accords, helped by a rogue Steve Rogers. The problem with that scenario is that the film would kind of need…Steve Rogers, not to mention Falcon, and possibly Scarlet Witch and Vision. Those would be all great additions to the film’s cast, admittedly, but this is a solo film, not a team-up, and Captain America’s time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is supposedly over. It’s probably best to keep the focus on Widow herself, and have it be a prequel, where we can finally learn the truth about the Red Room program, and maybe even see some classic comics characters like Yelena Belova (expected to be portrayed by Florence Pugh, of Fighting With My Family).

That doesn’t rule out the possibility of characters like Hawkeye and Nick Fury appearing, since both had close relationships with Black Widow. And it seems likely that we’ll finally see what happened in Budapest. Rumors have been circulating like wildfire – most recently, some speculation that star David Harbour will be playing The Thing, one of the Fantastic Four, in Black Widow…despite the fact that this (a) makes no sense, and (b) wouldn’t work due to the timing of the Disney/Fox merger.

One last thing to note is that Scarlett Johansson was wearing the red braids she sported in Avengers: Endgame, not the iconic short red haircut seen in earlier films, or even her curly hairstyle from Iron Man 2. While it’s possible that this was Johansson’s own stylistic choice, it’s definitely an intriguing one, one that might bode well for the many people who want this movie to be a sequel. The behind-the-scenes video showing Johansson’s hairstyle can be found here.

With filming having now begun, expect more updates, castings, and theories to follow!

New Details About “Loki”!

Disney’s upcoming streaming platform/Netflix competitor Disney Plus is set to debut in November, with a whole bunch of old and original content: a Lady & The Tramp remake with music by Janelle Monáe, a Toy Story spinoff based on the adventures of Little Bo Peep, a Frozen 2 documentary, and a National Geographic show hosted by Jeff Goldblum (which actually sounds really interesting). Of course, a treasure-trove of original Marvel content is expected to premiere on Disney Plus as well, including three six-episode miniseries: starring Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Wanda Maximoff and Vision, and Loki – and quite inventively titled Falcon & The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, and Loki, respectively. These three shows will likely be joined by an as yet unconfirmed Hawkeye show.

While filming for WandaVision is set to begin in the fall, plot details about these shows have been scarce: aside from some “plot leaks” that may or may not be true. Today, however, Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo revealed something about the Loki show that might give us a clearer idea of what to expect.

Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame ahead!

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If you recall, when the Avengers went back in time to the Battle of New York in an attempt to capture the Mind, Space and Time Stones, they almost succeeded, but not quite. Captain America was able to wrest the Mind Stone from…Captain America, and Bruce Banner convinced the Ancient One to give up the Time Stone under the condition that the Stones would be returned to their proper timelines after the Avengers had used them – but Iron Man and Ant-Man had a lot more difficulty on their end.

Their mission was to intercept the past versions of Iron Man and Thor as the two Avengers victoriously escorted their prisoner Loki and the Space Stone into S.H.I.E.L.D custody – unfortunately for the present versions of Iron Man and Ant-Man, their attempt to send past Iron Man into cardiac arrest, causing a distraction, failed massively: the Incredible Hulk smashed into present Iron Man accidentally, sending Tony and the Space Stone flying across the room – and the Space Stone came to rest right at Loki’s feet. The trickster god being the trickster god, he wasted no time grabbing the Stone and teleporting himself away from his current predicament – and that is where his story in Avengers: Endgame ends, but apparently it’s just the beginning for Loki.

At the end of Endgame, Captain America is the hero who decides to go back in time once more in order to return all the Infinity Stones to their correct timelines: how he does this is not explained, but we know that Cap did his job and then decided to take some extra time off so he could spend an entire lifetime with Peggy Carter, the woman he loved in the 1940’s. This raises a whole bunch of timeline-questions and conundrums, but none of them are relevant to the topic of Loki.

According to the Russo Brothers, Peggy Carter wasn’t the only thing that distracted Cap from his mission: apparently he also felt it was his responsibility to track down the escaped Loki in that alternate timeline and follow him across the vast expanses of space – the timeline-questions and conundrums that this raises are most definitely relevant.

For instance, does this mean Loki and a younger version of Cap are still out there somewhere? We know from the Spider-man: Far From Home trailers that holes can open in between dimensions, allowing people from one reality to enter another: so could Loki and Cap abruptly appear out of nowhere in the present day MCU? If not, then what is the point of a Loki show if we know from the outset that Loki will be captured by Cap and all the things he does in the show will simply be undone? If alternate Loki shows up in the present timeline, would he still have the Space Stone? – it wouldn’t be surprising: the Space Stone, or Tesseract, has always been a key element in MCU movies, including Captain America: The First Avenger. Cap is no stranger to the Space Stone’s powers – maybe in order to track down Loki, he has to go back to his 1945 duel with the Red Skull, to take the Space Stone from him…but then where does Red Skull go, and what ramifications could that have for the events of Vormir, and the death of Black Widow? You see, time travel and reality-hopping are pretty complex ideas, and in a six-episode miniseries how much can you really do to explain them?

Does this also mean that the earlier rumors that Loki would depict the god traveling through time, influencing historical events, are untrue? As far as we know, the Space Stone does not have the ability to send the user through time. Which is kind of disappointing, because those rumors sounded awesome. Loki on the run from Captain America does sounds pretty intriguing, especially if it opens the door for Loki eventually returning to the MCU – considering how lame his Infinity War death was, for such a cunning character. It might give us a glimpse at planets and galaxies on the far side of the universe, and it just might explain once and for all why the Space Stone is so vitally important. The Russos did not say whether Tom Hiddleston and Chris Evans would reprise the roles of Loki and Captain America, but it seems likely at this point.

“Avengers: Endgame” Spoilers! Who Died?

Obviously, massive spoilers lie ahead, so turn away now if you haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame. Like, right now, because we’re going to start with the most unexpected – and thus the most shocking – death of the entire movie.

That’s right, Russian spy Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, is the first Avenger to bite the dust in Endgame, in a heart-wrenching scene that sees her and her former partner Clint Barton (Hawkeye) travel to the cold and desolate planet Vormir, looking for the Soul Stone. Marvel fans will already know that the Soul Stone requires a sacrifice in order to be won: it stole Gamora, the fiercest woman in the galaxy, from us in Avengers: Infinity War, and now it’s taken Black Widow as well. Both Clint and Natasha try desperately to commit suicide and prevent the other from dying, but in the end Natasha is the one dangling precariously off the edge of a cliff, while Clint grips her hand, telling her he won’t sacrifice her. Natasha, however, reminds him that he has a family, while she has nothing to live for and no family to go home to – though, interestingly, Natasha gets an interesting hint about her own parents here on Vormir, when the Soul Stone’s guardian Red Skull names her “daughter of Ivan”. More on that in a moment.

Clint lets go, Natasha falls to her death, and the Soul Stone is won. But the question remains: was it worth it? Natasha’s entire character arc has been about her loneliness – she doesn’t have a family, and called herself a “monster” for being unable to have children. She believes she’s nothing but a cold-blooded killer, incapable of love. And, sadly, she dies like this too, sacrificing herself because she has nothing left. Rather than having a triumphant character arc, Black Widow dies in tragic fashion, far from her home, so that Hawkeye can get the Soul Stone. Yes, the Stone helps to save the day in the end, but Natasha’s sacrifice feels like a crushing blow, not just to the other Avengers, and to the audience, but to her own character: Natasha’s death is sad, but it’s also infuriating. She died without ever realizing that she was valuable in her own right. She died without ever truly fulfilling her arc.

The good thing is, there’s still a chance she’s coming back. Of course, a Black Widow movie is already moving into production and will be released next year, but it is a prequel, set long before Endgame. But there’s more evidence than just that: look here.

At the end of Endgame, Captain America goes back in time to replace all the Infinity Stones to the time and place they were taken from – in other words, the Soul Stone returns to Vormir. (This also means Captain America comes face-to-face with his old nemesis Red Skull, but that’s a story for another time). Anyway, Cap replacing the Soul Stone could negate Black Widow’s sacrifice and bring her back to life. But what’s the purpose of that?, I hear you ask. Why bring back a character who really doesn’t have anything to do in the next phase of the MCU?

Well, she could actually have a crucial part to play in the next phase, and here’s the evidence.

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The Black Widow movie will be the first film of Phase 4, for one thing (this was previously believed to be Spider-man: Far From Home, until Marvel President Kevin Feige revealed that Far From Home would be the final film of Phase 3). Black Widow also could have a newly-revealed connection to an upcoming film in the Marvel roster: The Eternals. In The Eternals, we will see a new character – the villainous space god Druig, who, in the comics, takes the identity of a Russian KGB agent and becomes leader of a Soviet state named Vorozheika. While living in Russia, Druig takes a new name – Ivan Druig.

That’s right. Black Widow could be the daughter of a god, even though she doesn’t know it. If her death is undone, Natasha will come back to life on the planet Vormir, far from her home planet and alone: imagine a scenario in which Druig, her father, comes looking for her. I would suspect a scene like this could occur as a post-credits stinger for Black Widow, which will probably focus on Natasha’s formative years. We’ve grown used to her being a baton-wielding martial-arts fighter, but what if she were to inherit some new powers from her father? This could open the door to many more Black Widow stories, and she could have a chance to live out the rest of her unfulfilled arc.

The next death is one that certainly seems more permanent – and to reverse it would be to negate a great arc that reached a satisfying and poetic conclusion in Endgame. Tony Stark, the Iron Man who started the MCU as we know it and has been Marvel’s figurehead for a decade now, sacrifices himself to wipe out Thanos’ army of killer aliens. He dies surrounded by his friends, survived by his wife and young daughter. It would be a mistake to reverse this death, in my opinion: however, that doesn’t mean we’ll never see Tony Stark again.

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You see, in the comics, Tony Stark has died before – but in one notable case, he was able to create an artificial intelligence hologram of himself before his death: we even saw this teased a little in Endgame, when Stark’s daughter Morgan watches a holographic video that Tony had prerecorded in case everything went wrong. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to suggest that Tony created an AI body for himself too, an artificial Tony Stark that could still be played by Robert Downey Jr, and could hang around Avengers HQ and make cameo appearances every now and again, or impart wisdom to the next generation of Marvel heroes. This seems like a fitting way to keep Tony around without reversing his incredibly impactful death.

The only death that I regard as “permanent” is Captain America’s. When Cap goes back in time at the end of Endgame to replace the Infinity Stones to their original timelines, as previously mentioned, he decides not to come back immediately. In fact, he goes all the way back to the 1940’s, and instead lives out a normal life with his old girlfriend Peggy Carter, before returning to the present timeline as an elderly man to pass on the Captain America mantle to his comrade Sam Wilson, also known as Falcon. We last see him sitting on a park bench, staring off across a lake, and it’s implied that his death is not far off, even though we don’t see it onscreen. In my opinion, this death can’t be reversed without a lot of time travel or a deep dive into the alternate realities that have been opened up by the events in Avengers: Endgame. While it seems likely that some of these new realities and timelines will be explored in some fashion, this is not one of them, I think. Any attempt to show Cap’s life with Peggy would be redundant and boring: his arc was concluded, and he can rest in peace now. I, personally, would have preferred a different end for the character, one that doesn’t involve Captain America messing up time and basically ensuring that Peggy and him end up together – whereas in the original timeline, Peggy had moved on with another man and had her own happy ending. It seems to suggest that Cap has some selfish intentions, and that’s not an implication I like (though one theory says that Peggy’s new husband was always Captain America, and that there’s actually two Caps, and always have been, and it’s just a really complicated and complex theory that I don’t have time to explain here).

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So those are the three main deaths of Avengers: Endgame (though not, in fact, the only deaths. A past version of Nebula, Thanos, and possibly a past version of Gamora all get killed off – in Thanos’ case, twice). I regard Black Widow’s death as temporary, Tony’s as permanent-but-with-a-loophole, and Cap’s as permanent. What do you think? Did you feel the character deaths in Endgame were satisfying or not? Share your thoughts in the comments and look out for more Endgame news in the days and weeks ahead.