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Culture Movies/TV

Everything You Need to Know About ‘The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’

As Marvel Studios continues their quest towards world domination (only kind of kidding here), they are set to drop the next installment of the MCU, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, on March 19th. Arriving on Disney+, the series will follow Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) as they attempt to stop the evil machinations of Baron Zemo and the Flag Smashers.

The new series follows the first entry in Marvel’s new slate of TV shows, Wandavision, and looks to emulate that show’s immense success. While it took a few episodes for viewers to gravitate towards that particular series due to its absurdity, Marvel hopes that The Falcon and Winter Soldier will have fans hooked from the jump.

With all that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about The Falcon and Winter Soldier so that you’re fully caught up before March 19th.

Premise

Per Disney+, the official synopsis for the show is:

“After being handed the mantle of Captain America at the end of Avengers: Endgame, Sam Wilson teams up with Bucky Barnes in a worldwide adventure that puts their abilities to the test as they fight the anti-patriotism group the Flag-Smashers.”

Sam Wilson, The Falcon
Disney+

A former Air Force rescue operative, Sam Wilson, aka ‘The Falcon,’ first appeared in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where he fought alongside Steve Rogers, Nick Fury, Black Widow, Maria Hill, and Sharon Carter to prevent Hydra from killing millions of people.

Following the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Sam became a full-fledged member of the Avengers, eventually siding with Captain America when the team fell apart during Captain America: Civil War.

He would continue to stick by Steve Rogers while the two were on the run along with Black Widow and helped fight Thanos’ army in Wakanda during Avengers: Infinity War. Unfortunately, he was amongst those who were “snapped” by Thanos, being erased from existence for five years.

Thankfully the superheroes that survived “The Snap” were able to reverse it, and Wilson helped defeat Thanos’ massive army at the end of Avengers: Endgame.

At the end of that film, an elder Steve Rogers (who had chosen to live in the past with Peggy Carter) gave his shield to Sam, entrusting him to carry on the legacy of Captain America.

Bucky Barnes, The Winter Soldier
Disney+

Like his best friend Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes aka ‘The Winter Soldier,’ is a man out of time. First appearing in Captain America: The First Avenger, where he was seemingly killed, but actually was captured by Hydra and brainwashed to become their most lethal assassin.

Over the decades, he was repeatedly cryogenically frozen and awakened in order to carry out the evil organization’s most dangerous missions. Barnes was, in fact, responsible for the assassination of Tony Stark’s parents, a revelation that led to the fracturing of The Avengers.

Barnes reemerged in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where he was assisting Hydra. He would eventually be thwarted by Steve Rogers and reminded of who he was in the past, leading to his path of redemption.

He was framed for an attack on the United Nations by Baron Zemo (which resulted in the death of King T’Chaka, the father of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther.) He was cleared of wrongdoing thanks to the help of Captain America, but following the aforementioned revelation that he murdered Tony Stark’s parents, Iron Man sought revenge against him and Steve Rogers.

Stark was defeated by the duo, but the Avengers were fractured thanks to the arrest of Ant-Man, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye, forcing Rogers to break them out and go on the run.

Barnes sought the help of Black Panther and the Wakandans, who cured him of the Hydra brainwashing and he would join the fight against Thanos. Like Wilson, he too was vaporized by Thanos at the end of Infinity War but would reemerge in Endgame and help to defeat the Mad Titan.

Supporting Cast
Disney+

Rounding out the show’s cast will be Daniel Brühl’s Helmut Zemo, who was the main antagonist in Captain America: Civil War, who seems to be continuing his quest to purge the world of superheroes. A man with allegiance to no one and no country, Zemo is one of Captain America’s most recurring villains in the comics and will be donning his signature purple mask in this show.

Also returning will be Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, one-time SHIELD agent, who helped Captain America in both Winter Soldier and Civil War. According to VanCamp, her character has been on the run since Civil War, and the show plans to explore what she has been doing since then.

Also making appearances in the show will be UFC legend Georges St-Pierre, who played Georges Batroc in Winter Soldier; Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/ War Machine; and Erin Kellyman as Karli Morgenthau, a member of the anti-patriotism group the Flag-Smashers.

Finally, Wyatt Russell will portray John Walker, aka U.S. Agent, a pseudo-successor to Captain America, who is much more jingoistic and nationalistic than Rogers ever was.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is set to premiere on Disney+ on March 19th, and will run for six episodes. You’re not going to want to miss this one.

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Culture News

Manga vs. Anime: A Brief History of the Two Mediums

Following an explosion in popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s, both anime and manga have become a beloved niche hobby in the West amongst pop-culture nerds, avant-gardists, and fashionistas alike. On TV, anime for both kids and adults have become more commonplace; in the high art world, Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara have spun anime’s popular tropes into existentially challenging, postmodern masterpieces. 

That being said, both anime and manga are still pretty specialized interests, so we’re here to walk you through the basics. What defines anime? What’s the difference between manga and comic books? How did they get popular, and what artists are making these works?

What is Manga?

The short answer: Manga is the Japanese analog of comic books and graphic novels in the West. The art form uses illustrated images and text on a page to tell a coherent narrative. The subject matter of manga is so diverse in themes, style, and content that it’s difficult to provide a much more comprehensive answer beyond this simplistic description. Although comic books in the States have been traditionally thought of as media made for kids and teens (this has less so been the case in the 21st century), manga for both children and adults has existed since the medium’s inception, and — like any form of literature — there isn’t really a limit on what can or can’t be included.

There are a handful of popular genres of manga. Shonen manga is usually geared towards teenage boys and often features plucky heroes fighting off oversized enemies while learning new abilities throughout their journey. Shojo manga is usually geared towards teenage girls and frequently features stories about young women finding romance. Seinen and Josei manga are the more adult styles and feature more emotionally complicated storylines and sometimes include graphic depictions of violence and sex (Seinen is usually read by men, women more often read Josei). Kodomomuke is manga geared towards children: like media for kids in the West, these are more simplistic stories featuring bright and colorful characters learning simple life lessons. Manga stories draw from a wide range of genres and subgenres, including sci-fi, romance, adventure, horror, and realism. There’s also a sizable erotica sector of manga that has maintained steady popularity over time.

Japanese manga, in its original (non-adapted) form, is usually read from right to left. There are now manga produced outside of Japan — manga produced in the West is sometimes condescendingly referred to as “Amerimanga.”

Origins of Manga
Getty Images

Narrative visual art in Japan had existed in the 12th and 13th centuries, according to Widewalls. Books of sequential drawings, influenced by the traditional ukiyo-e style, date back to Japan’s Edo period (1603-1867) have been considered early examples of manga’s origins.

Manga, as its own distinct art form, really rose to popularity in the wake of World War II, as Japanese art became more influenced by occidental cultural products under American occupation. Western superhero stories and cartoons from Disney began influencing Japanese artists, who explored new styles that combined more traditional imagery and themes with poppier aesthetics. Magazines and newspapers dedicated to publishing serialized stories began popping up around this time. Artist Osamu Tezuka garnered massive popularity for his stories which explored both spiritual and science-fictional themes in tales told for both adults and children.

What is Anime?

Anime refers to a stylized (and usually Japanese) form of two and three-dimensional illustration and animation. Anime was officially recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Education as an important Japanese form of artistic expression in the year 2000, according to The Anime Art Museum

The term “anime” comes from a shortening of the word “アニメーション” (animēshon), which is itself a loan word from the English “animation.” In the West, the phrase “anime” had for a while been used as a way to distinguish Japanese cartoons from products made in the USA but has more recently been used to more broadly describe a certain style of hyper-expressive animation rather than to denote its country of origin. 

It wouldn’t be entirely correct to say that “anime” and “cartoons” are the same thing: “cartoons” implies a certain thematic and stylistic simplicity, whereas anime ranges vastly in its subject matter and sophistication.

Anime as its own distinct style has some notable features: people are usually not drawn in realistic proportions, characters usually have oversized eyes and exaggerated hairstyles and facial features. Anime stories are often (but not always!) fantastical, romantic, and over-the-top.

Anime is often separated into the same sub-genres as manga, like the aforementioned shojo and shonen genres. Like with manga, there is anime geared towards adults and children that spans aesthetics ranging from horror to sci-fi to action to romance. Like with manga, there is also a robust erotic subindustry.

Origins of Anime
Getty Images

The first recognized example of anime, titled Katsudō Shashin, is from 1907, according to The Milford Public Library. Around 1917, artists began working with cutouts in experimental animation techniques inspired by American and French cartoons, according to Nippon.com.  These were originally described as “manga-film.” Toei Animation, considered the first anime studio, formed in 1958 with the goal of becoming “the Disney of the East” — Japanese animation up until that point had been prohibitively time-consuming and expensive to make, meaning that it was far less popular than products created in Europe and the Americas. Toei would eventually go on to produce several influential series that would garner massive international popularity in the 1980s and 90s. This included classics like Sailor Moon, Digimon, and Dragon Ball, and One Piece — most of which were based on manga. However, it was Osamu Tezuka’s TV series Astro Boy, which debuted on January 1, 1963, that really catalyzed an anime boom and led to anime becoming recognized as its own distinct and legitimate art form.

Manga vs. Anime

Although the comparison is overly simplistic, the easiest way to explain the difference between anime and manga is to compare it to the difference between comic books and cartoons. Anime is animated, manga is drawn on a page. A lot of anime shows and movies are adaptations of manga in the same way that a lot of movies and TV shows are adaptations of books — although, of course, some anime is entirely original.

These days, anime is frequently funded by Westerners with a specific interest in idiosyncratic Japanese aesthetics; manga is much more what actual Japanese people consume (although both art forms have garnered global audiences in the 21st century). 

Because it’s possible to explore subjects in far more depth in literature than in cinema, manga is often (but not always!) more detailed and emotionally sophisticated than anime.

Popularity Today
Getty Images

Both anime and manga experienced a major boom in popularity in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Cartoon Network began airing chunks of anime for kids and teens on their “Toonami” programming block starting in 1997, while their late-night [adult swim] showcase premiered programs aimed at young adults. A sub-culture of tape traders, cosplayers, and convention-goers sprang up around these imports. It was through Cartoon Network that an American audience was exposed to both fun action and adventure stories (Cowboy Bebop, Inuyasha) alongside avant-garde masterpieces (Neon Genesis Evangelion, FLCL, Paranoia Agent). These shows’ popularity led to fans investigating the manga on which many of these programs were based — suddenly, major bookstores like Barnes and Noble and Borders were investing in hearty manga and graphic novel sections.

In both Japan and America, anime and manga in the mid-’90s were thought of as a bit of a shameful habit for socially reclusive nerds. In the 2000s, the recognition of the artistry of anime masters like Satoshi Kon and the Oscar-winning director Hayoa Miyazaki from Western reviewers and highbrow critics alike helped elevate both anime and manga in the eyes of the mainstream. Meanwhile, postmodernist Takashi Murakami helped legitimize anime and manga to the high art and fashion world through his superflat movement. Murakami’s collaborations with Kanye West and the Louis Vuitton label solidified anime and manga as major cultural influences. Nowadays, anime and manga remain popular across socioeconomic classes and subcultures, often appearing alongside superhero media at pop culture conventions like Comic-Con. Hugely popular rappers and streetwear hypebeasts can often be seen sporting anime-influenced clothes or dropping bars about their favorite ninja warriors — Megan Thee Stallion, for example, is famously obsessed with My Hero Academia. The LGBTQ+ community has embraced hyper-colorful anime aesthetics and the nostalgia around the medium’s queer coded characters — many drag queens cite anime as a stylistic influence and anime-themed drag shows have become commonplace.

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Culture Movies/TV

Meet the People Who Created Spider-Man

When you think about superheroes, a certain few stand above all the rest in terms of popularity and impact on pop culture; one of those heroes is undoubtedly the wall-crawler himself, Spider-Man. Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962, Spider-Man came about when Lee was trying to think of new ideas for superheroes following the success of another Marvel Comics franchise, the Fantastic Four. 

Ditko dedicated his life to illustrating and creating comics and did so right up until his death in 2018 at the age of 90. After a long and storied career in not just the comics industry but film and TV, Stan Lee passed away in 2018 at the age of 95. 

Though they have since passed away, Ditko and Lee’s legacy will continue to live on through Spider-Man as well as the dozens of other comic book characters they have helped create.

Spider-Man and Marvel
The Daily Beast/Marvel
Steve Ditko at work

The two men behind Spider-Man, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko began writing and illustrating for Atlas Comics (the precursor to Marvel Comics) in the 1950s, with Lee mainly writing for genres like Westerns and Science Fiction. Ditko would work closely with Lee throughout the decade, and despite achieving some success, it had become clear that Lee was not satisfied with the creative direction he was heading in. 

By the early 1960s, thanks to the efforts of companies like DC Comics, Marvel’s future rival, the superhero genre was becoming popular again after a fall off during the 1950s. Lee and fellow artist Jack Kirby teamed up to create the Fantastic Four, who became known as ‘Marvel’s First Family,’ comprised of Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Human Torch, and The Thing.

The Fantastic Four was a huge success, and from there, Lee began thinking about what his next character should be. There had been a recent surge in comic book sales by teenagers and young adults, so Lee had the idea of creating a superhero that not only resonated with that audience but was also a part of it as well. 

Thus the idea of Spider-Man was born.

Getty Images
Stan Lee

Taking influence from a pulp-fiction hero of the 1930s and 40s named The Spider, Lee began toying around with the idea of a superhero that had the powers of a spider. Peter Parker, an average teenager from Queens, New York, was bitten by a radioactive spider, imbuing him with all the powers of a wall-crawling arachnid such as super strength, a spider-sense, superhuman reflexes, and speed. He also created a special web fluid that he could shoot from his wrists to stick to surfaces.

While coming up with the ideas for potential stories, Lee had originally approached his previous collaborator Kirby for help on the project. Still, the two didn’t see eye to eye on things, with Lee once quoted as saying, “I hated the way he was doing it! Not that he did it badly—it just wasn’t the character I wanted; it was too heroic,” he said in The Steve Ditko Reader.

Lee turned to Ditko, and he would serve as the primary artist on Spider-Man, while Lee was the main editor and writer of the character.

Spider-Man was and continues to be a massive success for Marvel, with readers almost immediately falling in love with the character, with a lot of the success being owed to Lee’s idea of making the hero a teenager. Peter Parker not only fought off his Rogues Gallery of supervillains like the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus, but he also dealt with problems that the reader did: He struggled to pay the bills, he grieved over the death of loved ones, and dealt with the fact that “with great power, comes great responsibility.” 

Who Owns The Rights to Spider-Man Now?
Sony Pictures

In 2018, we touched a little bit on this exact topic, at least when it comes to Spider-Man’s film rights. As of right now, Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios both have a piece of the Spidey pie, with Sony getting all revenue from Spider-Man solo projects, while Marvel maintains creative control over the character, ensuring he (and she, if potential Spider-Woman rumors are to be believed) fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s overall narrative.

Despite some bumps in the road (Disney/Marvel actually lost the rights to Spider-Man in 2019 briefly, after a dispute with Sony), the deal has worked out great for both sides.

Marvel Comics still owns the rights to any Spider-Man comics and all publishing rights to the artwork, audiobooks, etc. Given that this is one of Marvel’s best and highest-selling properties, that is not likely to change any time soon. 

Until a few years ago, Activision held the exclusive rights to Spider-Man video games, but this became murkier when a few years ago, Insomniac Games announced a new Spider-Man video game. Given that Sony owns Insomniac, the game was an exclusive release for the Playstation 4. However, neither Sony nor Insomniac owns the character’s rights in video game form, which belongs to Marvel. So, in theory, Spider-Man can appear on all video game platforms, but as of now, he’s stuck with Sony.

How Much Is the Spider-Man Brand Worth?

According to a variety of sources, including The Licensing Letter, Box Office Mojo, and Comichron, when adding up the revenue earned from all the iterations of Spider-Man such as film, comic sales, video games, TV shows, etc., it has been estimated that the brand is worth around $30 billion. Yes, that’s billion with ‘B.’ 

The Spider-Man films alone have earned over $7 Billion at the box office, a truly astounding feat that is only surpassed by merchandise sales, which total over $15 Billion. 

In fact, Spider-Man is the most profitable superhero, besting The Dark Knight himself, Batman, by a billion dollars (estimated.)

Spider-Man is (thankfully) not going anywhere. The third movie in Tom Holland’s Spider-Man film trilogy has been swirling with rumors about a possible live-action Spider-Verse movie that would bring back Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s versions of the characters. With villains from those movies, including Jamie Foxx’s Electro and Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus, confirmed as joining the cast, the possibilities are truly endless. 

Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to play a little more Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

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Culture Movies/TV

How Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield Could Appear in ‘Spider-Man 3’

Picture this: Tom Holland, in the next Spider-Man film, is fighting the latest villain that is hell-bent on destruction and committing all sorts of villainy. Peter Parker is nearly beaten, and all hope seems lost when all of a sudden, he is rescued by not just one, but TWO…Peter Parkers. 

Wait. What?

If the current internet rumors are to be believed, that exact scenario may play out on the big screen, and it isn’t as implausible as it might sound. The next Spider-Man film may be bringing back two of the actors that once helped bring the wallcrawler to the big screen: Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.

If you’re confused, don’t worry because you aren’t alone. From both a story and business perspective, here is how Sony and Marvel might be able to pull this off.

The Dr. Strange Factor

It was recently announced that Benedict Cumberbatch would be reprising his role as the Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange, in the, as of yet, untitled third Spider-Man film. 

We’ve seen that Dr. Strange was responsible for helping transport heroes from all over the galaxy to help defeat Thanos at the end of Avengers: Endgame, so needless to say, his powers are pretty extensive. But how about different universes? Is Dr. Strange powerful enough to do that?

Given the fact that Strange has already toyed with different dimensions in his own standalone film, fighting off the villain Dormammu and preventing the end of the world (a pretty common theme in Marvel movies) traversing universes seems like a regular day for Dr. Strange.

The Dr. Strange sequel’s title was revealed last year to be Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, so a multiple universe storyline has been in the works for a while. With the addition of the Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen, who in the comics is one of the most powerful characters in all of Marvel, it is certainly possible for both of these characters to open the doors to multiple universes.

This idea of multiple universes would also help explain the addition of a few characters, including one that has already made an appearance in Spider-Man: Far From Home. J. Jonah Jameson, newspaper editor, conspiracy theorist, and Spider-Man’s number one hater, appeared at the end of that film to not only accuse Spider-Man of committing the crimes perpetrated by Mysterio but also revealed his secret identity. Jameson was portrayed by the legendary J.K. Simmons, who also played the character in the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films, so the connection is already there. Is this an alternate version of that J. Jonah Jameson? Could it be the Jameson pulled from the Maguire universe? The possibilities are endless.

It was also revealed that Jamie Foxx would be reprising his role as Electro, one of the villains from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the second film that had Andrew Garfield playing the wall-crawler. The movie and Foxx’s character were both panned by critics and audiences, but clearly, there was enough interest (not to mention Foxx’s star power) in Electro to bring him back.

He is the second character after J. Jonah Jameson to enter the MCU after appearing in a non-MCU Spider-Man movie. How will Marvel explain the return of both these characters? We’re thinking (and seriously hoping for) a multiverse!

Let’s Get Down to Business

In 2018, ONE37pm talked a little bit about how the Spider-Man character’s film rights are a little complicated, to say the least. For a long time, Sony exclusively held the rights to Spider-Man following Marvel’s sale of the rights in the 1990s, which led to the Tobey Maguire films. For a while, the Spider-Man films were really the only superhero movies worth watching, until Christopher Nolan kicked off his Dark Knight trilogy. 

When Iron Man was released in 2008, beginning the MCU, it soon became clear that Marvel Studios had a possible goldmine on their hands. They made movies featuring some of their big names like The Hulk, Thor, and Captain America, but their most popular characters, such as the X-Men and Spider-Man, were out of their reach due to film rights issues.

As the MCU’s popularity and financial success continued to skyrocket and Andrew Garfield’s films were critically underwhelming, Marvel Studios and Sony reached an agreement that allows Spider-Man to appear in the MCU. Since then, Spider-Man has appeared in five MCU films (Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home), and his future in the MCU truly seems limitless.

This relationship has not been without its speedbumps, as there was a brief dispute between Sony and Marvel in 2019 that threatened to remove Spider-Man from the MCU altogether. Thankfully, that dispute was resolved.

From a business perspective and what type of contracts Maguire and Garfield actually have with Sony is unknown, but they have both hinted that they are at least open to returning as the characters. 

Is there truth to these rumors? Would you like to see Maguire and Garfield return? We say yes, but that might just be us being greedy.

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Style What To Buy

How Japanese Cartoons Have Influenced Streetwear Brands

With the advent of streaming services, channel surfing has become a lost art form. Children stuck at home on sick days or before bedtime don’t scan the airwaves looking for stimulation, as they’re now privy to endless on-demand content of any genre or style. Although the plethora of choices available at a moment’s notice is certainly an embarrassment of riches, there was something magical about the discovery of a new, unexpected television show—stumbled upon in moments of bored desperation.

Back in the early ’00s, Cartoon Network began broadcasting Japanese animation in the Toonami scheduling block and airing adult-oriented cartoons during the late-night [adult swim] block, providing a sharp contrast to the usual colorful kids’ media. These series were often darkly apocalyptic, deeply surreal or comically hypersexual. While we’ve come to expect certain kinds of highbrow twists on the small screen in the current Golden Age of prestige TV, this kind of cerebral entertainment was somewhat unheard of at the time, especially when packaged as hand-drawn artworks.

[adult swim] and Toonami were how many Americans discovered the existence of anime—the genuinely bizarre aesthetics of post-modern Japanese cinema were suddenly shown to teens and tweens acting as their first exposure to avant-gardism. While some shows were silly adventure capers with motifs of existential woe (like Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Inuyasha and Big O), others explored Y2K-era fears of technology and the emergence of cyberspace (like Paranoia Agent, Serial Experiments Lain, Neon Genesis Evangelion, FLCL and Ghost in the Shell). The artistic statements behind these works were far more dense and inaccessible than American sci-fi at the time—the latter favored big-budget special effects and celebrity name power over intellectual exploration.

Entire subcultures began forming around young people obsessed with Japanese media, sometimes called otakus (taken from a quite derogatory Japanese term for perverted nerds)—or, more recently, called weeaboos. Because more obscure and hardcore content wasn’t available on TV, communities began to form and share their wares, not so dissimilar from the tape traders of pro wrestling culture.

“At the time it felt niche—it was a secret that made you feel seen,” said Katie Rose Leon, who runs the Ballin’ Out SUPER podcast that covers nostalgic anime faves from a distinctly feminist and leftist political viewpoint. “You had to know where to find it. Communities and friendships were built around it. It also offered a visual alternative to Western cartoons during the late ’90s and early aughts, which were largely angular and masculine. Good aesthetics go a long way.”

For LGBTQ audiences, anime was particularly meaningful in that it was many young queers’ first exposure to sexuality that wasn’t strictly heterosexual—outside of pornography. Although these days, Japan remains somewhat behind the times when it comes to LGBTQ politics (same-sex marriage is not legal in Japan), queer and queer-coded characters frequently popped up in anime of that era. Although a lot of the overt LGBTQ stories were heavily censored, fans could see through the veil. These sexual minority characters were often three-dimensional and fully realized. Sometimes, they were even the protagonists, which was unfathomable, given the more significant cultural landscape. No wonder millennial LGBTQs have such an affection for anime—and why cosplay drag (sometimes called crossplay) has become its subcategory of queer performance art.

“Most anime protagonists (especially in the shonen genre) are underdogs who usually have to fight against the odds for survival,” says Blvck Laé D., a Brooklyn-based drag performer whose looks are heavily inspired by Japanese sci-fi. “I think the theme of surviving resonates with a lot of queer babes.”

And now, everything old is new again. “Retro” fashion always works in entirely predictable 20-year cycles, and as we dip into 2020, our favorite niche hobbies from the beginning of the new millennium are coming back. The current cultural fixation on cyberpunk was foreseeable for these reasons. One of the biggest influences on cyberpunk? Anime.

“Shows like Yu Yu Hakusho and movies like Akira set the tone for a lot of the trends we see today,” Laé added.

Tumblr fashionistas have long been observing the similarities between couture designs and anime fashions, but in 2019 and beyond, there’s an increasing parallel between the fantasy looks of anime and readily available streetwear. What once was a sort of shameful hobby has now fully entered the domain of cutting edge style. Anime-influenced design now takes both the tropes of the late ’90s and early ‘00s Japan or directly lifts imagery from the most beloved cartoons. Streetwear designers are taking cues from the characters in animated psychodramas, who sometimes donned normcore clothing (lots of school uniforms, loose-fitting button-downs and pleated skirts), but would transform into superheroes, clad in sexy fantasy gear.

“The demographics who dictate fashion trends are usually hip POC or LGBTQs,” Leon says. “These groups were specifically influenced by anime because it offered representation in an entertainment void where they otherwise couldn’t see themselves at all. The internet has sped up nostalgia, and it’s super profitable. That’s Disney+’s whole model; people no longer watch cable TV, but it’s easier to find anime to watch than ever [on demand]. It’s no longer relegated to nerds. The best rappers sample anime; Goku is all over streetwear. Everyone can easily access it, and the gatekeeping is gone.”

Ironically, it’s mostly non-Japanese designers who are interested in resurrecting anime classics for the sake of fashion—although the genre has gotten “cool” in the United States, anime is still a shameful hobby in the country where it was invented. Takashi Murakami’s designs for Louis Vuitton and Kanye West are perhaps the notable exception to the rule, although Murakami’s so-called superflatist visual style was created to critique the affective deadness of easily consumable luxury objects. Instead, it’s usually Western urban populations that find themselves fixated on the visual imagery of anime. The reach goes well into Latin America, where anime characters quite frequently populate the T-shirts and accessories of the hippest trendsetters. 

The rise of anime in streetwear is also politically prescient: Although every genre of anime exists (horror, romance, sci-fi and drama), it was specifically the dystopian and apocalyptic cartoons that attracted a bulk of viewers. Although the predictions of doomsday wound up being wrong, it’s no surprise that people are drawn to end-of-the-world scenarios like those posed in Angel Sanctuary or X/1999 as we approach an impending climate crisis and tumble headfirst toward fascism. 

Below, we’ve gathered ten streetwear brands that mine the visual language of anime as inspiration for their cutting edge styles. From high-end to DIY, these brands are bringing our darkest Y2K fantasies into the future. Take a look.

1. Supreme x Akira

Katsuhiro Otomo’s 6,000-page sprawling manga imagined the devastation of Japan following the awakening of the eponymous mysterious entity, Akira. Playing on post-nuclear anxieties and satirizing the fatality of the nation’s youth culture, the books were adapted into a 1988 animated film, which is universally considered to be an absolute masterpiece. During its long production, every animation studio in Japan had worked on the movie, meaning that the work was literally a national endeavor.


Although Supreme has become synonymous with desperate hypebeasts and con artists, the capsule collection, featuring isolated frames of the devastatingly violent series, was a stark departure from their more playful pop art.

2. Mishka

A longtime staple of the indie rap world, streetwear brand Miska has always flirted with anime-influenced designs. Still, some of their more recent collections lift the imagery of both obscure and well-known video games and cartoons. Their designs have featured box art from PlayStation classics like Final Fantasy 7 and Silent Hill, with their logo slapped on top. Who needs subtlety when the media their referring to is so profoundly beloved?

3. Public Space

Public Space came to prominence during vaporwave’s most influential moments and has waned in popularity a bit since. Still, their nostalgic clothing celebrating the look and feel of Web 1.0 remains lovable as ever. The evocative and moody Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh designs are a step above what you’d get at the Nintendo World store and come in color gradients reminiscent of the MS Paint and Word Art era of computing. There’s a strange melancholy to some of these looks, but then again—there’s this campy Kool-Aid onesie.

4. HVY BLK

HVY BLK reimagines the cherished characters of series like Sailor Moon as superheroic BDSM bank robbers, totally reinterpreting the kid-friendly program as a kind of message on women’s liberation. The anti-fascist imagery makes sense, given the overtly feminist themes of many of the original shows that the designs inspired.

5. Sotogang

Tattoo artist Manuela Soto’s drawings of curvaceous anime women became her calling card as she rose to prominence on Instagram. Her unique style takes heavy cues from hentai (animated Japanese pornography) graffiti, nu-metal, skater and raver culture. Now, she’s selling some of her signature drawings printed on a plethora of hoodies, shirts and sweatpants. You’ve probably seen her work on at least one social media influencer—either in ink or as apparel.

6. Adidas x Dragon Ball

The sci-fantasy series Dragon Ball is widely considered an original of the shonen sub-genre, having influenced almost every series that came after it. The show told the story of magical fighters defending the earth from alien invaders while making lifelong friends—and enemies—on the way. Adidas issued a series of sneakers inspired by the color palettes of the main characters in a smartly understated nod to the classic cartoon, which had sparked interest in so many young anime fans.

7. Kikillo

Takashi Murakami’s genius was in his abstracting of anime tropes into surrealist art, and Kikillo continues this tradition on their crewnecks, sweatpants and pillowcases. They warp and distort familiar characters into glitchy and melting messes. There’s a sort of Warholian sensibility in the repeated imagery, and the clothes are as dizzying as they are stylish.

8. BAPE x One Piece

The expansive anime series One Piece tells the story of a mischievous shape-shifting pirate on an endless search for whimsical treasure. Super-deformed and chibi styles were present in anime long before the same kinds of cutesy artists and icons became abundant in the United States, and BAPE’s take on the series turns the colorful cast of fantastical marauders into simple miniatures.

9. Wet

Far more understated than much of the bombastic and colorful brands elsewhere on this list, designer Lee Kobayashi’s minimalist designs have whiffs of the eroticism and grotesquery characteristic on display in most anime. The medical-themed looks are a bold statement, but the soft and boyish Akira designs sort of sidestep the overt violence of its source material.

10. Dumbgood

Dumbgood has spammed Instagram and Facebook with an endless slew of sponsored posts, making their ’90s and ’00s pop culture-inspired apparel essentially unavoidable. Their design ethos isn’t exactly sophisticated: They’re normally just slapping a screenshot on a T-shirt and calling it a day. But the pangs of nostalgia are undeniable, and there’s a certain unapologetic brashness in the lazy pandering that’s almost admirable. Although much of their clothes are inspired by horror, they’ve debuted capsule collections featuring artwork from Neon Genesis Evangelion and Cowboy Bebop.

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

The 8 Best Fight Scenes in the MCU, Ranked

Since the advent of the superhero genre, fight scenes have remained the crux of what draws people into the movie theater. And nobody does fight scenes better than the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

As the franchise has grown and the movies have gotten bigger, the fight scenes have, naturally, followed suit. We’ve gone from watching Iron Man take on the Iron Monger in Iron Man to seeing every single hero assembled on the same screen all at once to take down the Mad Titan Thanos. It is a narrative progression, as well as a technical one, that we are all lucky to have had a chance to witness. The battles are bigger, more explosive, and more eye-popping and they’re guaranteed to sell tickets. 

Even as the MCU’s action scenes have grown in scale, they have managed to maintain an emotional impact that few franchises are able to duplicate. As the franchise has moved forward and the stories have evolved, the writers have been able to expertly weave action and storytelling together to ensure these scenes pack a punch (no pun intended).

With that, we’ve picked the action scenes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that stand above the rest.

8. The Fight for Asgard in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’

Until Thor: Ragnarok, the God of Thunder had a rough go of it when it came to solo movies. His first two movies, Thor and Thor: The Dark World, are consistently ranked on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to overall MCU films. However, that all changed with Thor: Ragnarok.

Over the course of the movie, Thor finds himself marooned on a mysterious planet, while his sister Hela, the Goddess of Death, conquers Asgard with the help of an undead army. Thor escapes the planet along with his brother, Loki, and then the Hulk, along with new allies Valkyrie, Korg, and Miek, joins with Heimdall to take on Hela and her forces to save Asgard.  

At long last, Thor realizes his true power and in a moment that made fans of the MCU stand and cheer, Thor decimates Hela’s soldiers while Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” narrates the action. Meanwhile, the Hulk is in the middle of a duel with Hela’s pet, a giant wolf. 

Upon realizing that even with this new power he cannot defeat Hela, Thor and Loki are forced to literally cause Ragnarok and in perhaps the most metal scene in Marvel history, call forth the giant demon Surtur to destroy Asgard, robbing Hela of her power and saving the day. 

7. Battle of Wakanda in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

Avengers: Infinity War was what literally everything in the MCU had been building toward. Well, part one at least. 

Attempting to stop Thanos’s forces from capturing one of the Infinity Stones that is powering the android Vision, many of the world’s greatest heroes gather in Wakanda to protect their fellow Avenger at all costs. What follows is a battle of epic proportions, with heroes like Captain America, Black Panther, Black Widow, and numerous others fighting for their lives in what looks like a futile effort against a seemingly endless horde of enemies. 

Thankfully, Thor, along with Groot and Rocket Raccoon, arrives in the nick of time to provide some much-needed backup. The Avengers, as well as the armies of Wakanda, rally to beat back Thanos’s army. 

This battle is essentially nonstop action that keeps you at the edge of your seat. It’s made tenser by the very real fact that some of our favorite heroes could die, given this movie is a conclusion to many character arcs. 

Unfortunately, it was all in vain, as Thanos himself arrives to capture the final stone and, in what is now an iconic moment in pop culture, snap half of all living things out of existence.

6. Highway Fight in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

In what would become just one of many action scenes to cement their place as the best directors in the MCU, the Russo Brothers oversaw one of the most technically impressive fights in the entirety of the Marvel franchise.

The Winter Soldier, the villainous Hydra’s top assassin, ambushes Captain America, Black Widow, and the Falcon on a highway, aiming to kill Jasper Sitwell, who was providing information to our heroes. The Winter Soldier succeeds in his mission, and while trying to escape, as well as protect innocent civilians, Captain America fights the Winter Soldier in one-on-one combat.

Trading blow after blow, the two super soldiers fight to a standstill until Cap manages to knock off the Winter Soldier’s mask, revealing the unthinkable: The Winter Soldier is actually Bucky Barnes, Captain America’s long-thought-deceased best friend. 

It is the emotional crux of the story, with Rogers attempting to stop Hydra from murdering millions as well as save his best friend from a lifetime of servitude to an evil organization, and he eventually does just that. Bucky goes on to become an extremely valuable ally to the Avengers, but the finale to Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not the last time Steve and his friend are forced to fight each other. 

5. The Battle of New York in ‘The Avengers’

In the sequence that proves this whole “shared universe” thing is actually possible, the Battle of New York, pitting the Avengers against Loki and his army, is a pure spectacle. Iron Man flies through the skies of Manhattan as Hawkeye fires arrows, Thor calls down the lightning, Captain America and Black Widow fight hand to hand, and Hulk…well, smashes. 

This battle is what everyone who bought a ticket in 2012 was waiting for, the moment when the Avengers finally assemble to take on a threat too big for any of them to conquer alone. Ending with Iron Man carrying a nuclear bomb that threatens to destroy New York City through a wormhole in time and space, the Battle of New York is an adrenaline rush from start to finish. 

The true highlight of this entire fight is the one-shot, which despite being filmed almost entirely on green screen, showcases all six Avengers doing battle in one long continuous shot. It also features groups of the Avengers teaming up, with Iron Man firing his lasers off Cap’s shield, and Thor and the Hulk fighting off numerous enemies on the back of a gigantic alien. 

Not to mention, it contains the now-iconic “circle up” shot, where all six of the original Avengers line up, ready to fight and save the day.

4. Berlin Airport Fight in ‘Captain America: Civil War’

Captain America: Civil War, the third movie in the Captain America trilogy, serves two purposes. One, it helps set up the reason that the Avengers are split up at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War, and two, it tells a self-contained, emotional story that further develops the characters of Captain America, the Winter Soldier, and Iron Man. While the movie could be described as essentially Avengers 2.5 given the cast size, it’s very much a Captain America story. 

Following the signing of the Sokovia Accords, which require the Avengers to fall under the jurisdiction of the United Nations, the team is split. One faction, led by Iron Man, is in support of oversight, which the other, led by Captain America, is very much against it. The “war” culminates in a showdown at the Berlin Airport, leading to a battle that takes its place as one of the best in the entire MCU. 

Captain America fights Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Black Panther. Ant-Man becomes Giant-Man. The Scarlet Witch has a showdown with Vision and War Machine. Need I say more? It is a testament to the direction of the Russo Brothers that they were able to pull off such a feat and treat us to the visual spectacle that is this fight.

3. Iron Man vs. Captain America & the Winter Soldier in ‘Captain America: Civil War’

One of, if not the most emotionally compelling fights in the entire MCU, is without a doubt the final fight of Civil War. Iron Man learns that Bucky, under the control of Hydra, was responsible for the death of his parents. 

Iron Man, in a fit of rage, attacks both Cap and the Winter Soldier, leading to a final confrontation between the former friends. It’s a slugfest with the Winter Soldier destroying the chest piece of Iron Man’s suit and Iron Man responding by destroying the Winter Soldier’s metal arm. Cap and the Winter Soldier emerge victorious, but at the cost of a friendship that had helped save the world on more than one occasion. 

In one of the more poignant moments (well, as poignant as one can have when a man in a robotic suit is attacking an assassin with a metal arm), Iron Man asks, “Do you even remember them?” Bucky responds, “I remember all of them.” Bucky is the definition of a tortured soul, one that has been forced to commit horrific acts against his will, and the impact it’s had on him is driven home with a single line.

2. Battle of Titan in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

The Battle of Titan, where half the Avengers and half the Guardians of the Galaxy first do battle with Thanos, is a testament to the writing and directing of Avengers: Infinity War. Beginning with Thanos, fresh off securing the Soul Stone, having a conversation with Dr. Strange, the Mad Titan explains his motive behind trying to commit universal genocide. 

“With all six stones, I could simply snap my fingers and it would all cease to exist. I call that…mercy,” Thanos explains. Needless to say, things devolve from there, with the Avengers and Guardians springing their trap to defeat him. 

In a moment that had Marvel fans geeking out (the Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers were finally on the same screen together!), Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, and the Guardians try their hardest to get the Infinity Stones but ultimately come up short. 

Thanos almost kills Iron Man (nearly giving audiences everywhere a heart attack) but stops only when Dr. Strange offers up the Time Stone to spare Tony’s life. 

This battle is the first time where Thanos’s power with the Infinity Stones is truly demonstrated. If for some reason you thought he wasn’t all that powerful, Thanos throws a freaking moon at Iron Man. Yes, a moon.

Lesson learned, ladies and gentlemen: Don’t mess with a Mad Titan in control of the objects that literally control the universe.

1. Final Battle of ‘Avengers: Endgame’

In a ranking that should surprise no one, the final battle of Avengers: Endgame, taking place at the destroyed Avengers facility in New York, sits firmly at the number one spot and is the best battle in the entirety of the MCU.

Everything leads to this moment: The Avengers literally travel through time in order to bring half the universe back to life. True to form, however, Thanos shows up with all his armies to decimate the Avengers headquarters to secure the Infinity Stones again. Only this time, he plans to destroy the entire universe and create a new one with him as, essentially, God. 

What follows is the moment every Marvel fan waited ten years to see: Every single Avenger, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the armies of their allies arrive, via Dr. Strange portals, to stop Thanos from accomplishing his goal. A 40-minute battle ensues, with all these moments happening:

  • Captain America proves he is worthy and lifts Mjolnir
  • Giant-Man single-handedly destroys a Chitauri Leviathan
  • Spider-Man rides the back of a pegasus with Valkyrie, carrying a fully loaded Infinity Gauntlet
  • Captain Marvel destroys Thanos’ mothership by herself
  • And finally, Iron Man gains possession of all six Infinity Stones and snaps Thanos’ army out of existence, including the Mad Titan himself. Ultimately, at the cost of his own life (we love you 3000 Tony).

It’s a battle that was a long time coming and one we couldn’t wait to see, and it certainly lived up to the hype and served as the perfect action-packed finale to the film.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About the MCU’s Future After Comic-Con 2019

Related: 4 Best Theories About the Future of the MCU After ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’

Related: 7 Post-Thanos Villains to Rule the Next MCU Phase

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

Everything You Need to Know About the MCU’s Future After Comic-Con 2019

You’d think we’d all be used to it by now. “Oh, Marvel Studios has made some major announcements and are going to dominate the box office for years to come,” we always seem to tell each other. 

However, Kevin Feige and Marvel continue to amaze us. 

At 2019’s San Diego Comic-Con—the Super Bowl for nerds—Feige anchored the panel that was full of announcements, teasers and surprises all about the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s future. The slate for the next two years of movies and shows was announced. While most, if not all, of the projects were already known to be in production, there were still some shockers. 

As evidenced by the panel, Marvel has big plans for the next two years and is riding high on the fact that Avengers: Endgame is officially the highest-grossing movie of all time. Feige and the team at Marvel basically have a license to do almost whatever they want to do and, true to form, they are going to do what they want, when they want and how they want. 

“Phase 4” of the MCU will take place over the course of the next two years, with five movies and five TV shows encapsulating the overall narrative, similar to previous phases. There was no announcement of an Avengers-type team movie at the end of this phase, confirming previous statements from Feige that the MCU would be changing things up. 

Also, one of the biggest bombshells that came out of the San Diego Comic-Con, although it didn’t get a release date, was the reveal that Mahershala Ali would be portraying the legendary character of Blade in a future MCU movie. Fans have been clamoring for a new Blade movie and now it looks like they’re going to get one. Blade’s primary enemies are vampires, so this is another brand-new direction that Feige and Marvel are taking themselves.

We’ll be seeing new actors and characters joining the fray and plenty of familiar faces as well. So with that, let’s break down everything that happened and what it all might mean for the future.

‘Black Widow’
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

What is it? The next project on Marvel’s calendar is 2020’s Black Widow. The character’s long-overdue solo movie will see the return of Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, one of the founding Avengers, as she fights the villainous Taskmaster.

Johansson will be joined by David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle and Rachel Weisz in the film. It will be directed by Cate Shortland. 

What will it be about? We know that this movie will be a prequel, given the fact that Black Widow sacrificed her life to secure the Soul Stone in Avengers: Endgame. At the Comic-Con panel, Marvel revealed that this film will take place in between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, so Romanoff will be operating outside of the law in this movie, as a member of Captain America’s “Secret Avengers.” 

The movie will also dive into Black Widow’s past in Eastern Europe, further fleshing out her backstory, and she will cross paths with Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova, a character who eventually did take up the Black Widow mantle in the comics. David Harbour will be playing the Red Guardian, described as the Russian Captain America and a presumed antagonist for Black Widow.

In the comics, the Taskmaster is a genius warrior who’s highly skilled in combat and strategy, as well as a master of disguise. Whoever plays him (or her, if some theories about who Rachel Weisz is playing are to be believed), the character should prove more than a match for Black Widow. Oh, and he has a pretty baller skull mask.


Black Widow will be released on May 1, 2020.

‘The Eternals’
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What is it? This movie is going to be a big one and not just in scope. The cast for this film is jam-packed will A-list actors as well as some up-and-coming stars. 

Directed by Chloé Zhao, the cast includes Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh and Don Lee. In what is a first for the MCU, the movie will feature a disabled superhero. Ridloff’s character, Macary, is deaf and Ridloff herself is deaf, a remarkable step in the right direction for Marvel.

What will it be about? In the comics, the Eternals are an ancient group of humans who were gifted with superpowers and immortality by the Celestials. For context, Peter Quill, the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, fights and kills a Celestial (also his father) named Ego the Living Planet in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

While little is known about the film’s plot, the Eternals will be fighting a major threat known as the Deviants. Although not confirmed in the movies, our old friend Thanos was actually a Deviant in the comics.

‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

What is it? Another milestone for Marvel, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will feature the franchise’s first superhero of Asian descent. Starring Simi Liu as Shang-Chi, Tony Leung as the Mandarin and Awkwafina as an undisclosed character (as of now), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. 

What will it be about? In the comics, Shang-Chi is a master martial artist who was originally trained to be a bad guy but decides to go good. He’s been a member of the Avengers, the Secret Avengers and the Heroes for Hire. 

He will be fighting against the Mandarin (the real Mandarin, not the Ben Kingsley/Guy Pearce version from Iron Man 3). The Mandarin is one of the more well-known, infamous villains of Marvel Comics. He wears ten rings that give him control over things like ice, fire, wind and lightning. Oh, and they also let him control minds. 

How far the movie leans into all of that remains to be seen, but the fact that we are getting a true Mandarin in the MCU is very exciting.

‘Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness’
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What is it? Returning as the Master of the Mystic Arts will be Benedict Cumberbatch, who has portrayed the character in Dr. StrangeAvengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame and made a cameo appearance in Thor: Ragnarok

This film will see Dr. Strange join forces with Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch as they battle the villain Nightmare. Director Scott Derrickson has described the movie as the MCU’s first “true horror” film, a brand-new direction for a universe that has leaned toward making movies that are lighter in tone. Derrickson has experience with horror, having worked on movies like Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, so needless to say he’s got the background to make a film like this work.

What will it be about? The fact that the movie will have a horror-themed tone opens up a world of possibilities for the writers. Nightmare is essentially Marvel’s version of Freddy Krueger, hence his name. He haunts people’s dreams, the ruler of a different dimension that is completely centered around dominating the minds of his victims. 

Yeah, that sounds pretty scary to us.

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

What is it? Prior to SDCC, it had been announced that Taika Waititi would be returning to helm Thor 4 (now titled Thor: Love and Thunder) after his stellar MCU debut with Thor: Ragnarok. After the character’s resurgence in popularity thanks to Ragnarok, people were ecstatic that the duo of Waititi and Chris Hemsworth would be teaming up again for another movie. 

Joining Hemsworth will be Tessa Thompson, returning as the heroic Valkyrie (and new King of Asgard). What fans weren’t expecting, and what proved to be one of the biggest surprises of the panel, was the return of Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. Not only will Portman be returning but she will find herself worthy of wielding Mjolnir and will take up the mantle of Thor. And not just Thor, but the Mighty Thor, according to Waititi

What will it be about? Love and Thunder will be debuting on November 5, 2021, making it the final installment of Phase 4. Now, at the end of Avengers: Endgame, Thor found himself riding off into space with the Guardians of the Galaxy. With Guardians director James Gunn recently confirming that Love and Thunder will take place before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, it remains to be seen how and why Thor will split from the Guardians. 

Thompson has described her character as a “king looking for her queen,” confirming the speculation that Valkyrie would be the MCU’s first openly LGBTQ superhero. With this storyline in play, as well as Thor and Jane Foster’s past, the “love” portion of the movie just might prove to be the most intriguing aspect of it.

‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’
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What is it? The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was one of the first Marvel shows that was announced for Disney’s new streaming platform, Disney+. Taking place after the events of Avengers: Endgame, we’ll see Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier and Anthony Mackie’s Falcon teaming up to take on Daniel Brühl’s Baron Zemo, the villain from Captain America: Civil War. In addition, making her return to the Marvel universe is Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter.

The series will be directed by Kari Skogland and will be premiering in fall 2020.

What will it be about? After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon, had officially taken up the mantle of Captain America following Steve Rogers’ decision to go back in time and retire in the past with Peggy Carter.

Now, the series will still be titled The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, so it doesn’t sound like Sam is using the Captain America namesake just yet. But he sure is running around with that fancy shield.

In the comics, Baron Zemo is a longtime enemy of Captain America—oh, and he also wears an awesome purple mask that will be making an appearance in the series.

Baron Zemo was shown in Civil War to be a master manipulator, and one could make the argument that his plan that tore the Avengers apart helped contribute to Thanos’s success in Infinity War. What sort of schemes could he have cooked up for Sam and Bucky?

‘Loki’
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

What is it? This Disney+ series will mark the return (yet again) of one of Marvel’s greatest villains, Loki. Played by Tom Hiddleston, this series will follow the God of Mischief in the alternate timeline that was created in Avengers: Endgame where he came into possession of the Tesseract. 



What will it be about? Not much is known just yet about the show, but we do know that it will follow Loki as he bounces around through different time periods, manipulating people along the way (supposedly). So this show will be a prequel of sorts, and given what we know about the character, the adventures he’s about to go on will be nothing short of crazy.

‘WandaVision’
Albert L. Ortega

What is it? Everyone’s favorite android-witch couple will be back in the Disney+ series WandaVision. You might be saying to yourself, “Hey! Vision died in Infinity War! How could he come back to life?” A great question that we, as of now, do not have an answer to.

Elizabeth Olsen will return as the Scarlet Witch, Wanda Maximoff, and Paul Bettany will also be coming back to play the Vision. The series does not have a director right now, but according to the panel, the show will premiere in spring 2021.

What will it be about? In the comics, the Scarlet Witch is one of the most powerful heroes in the universe. In one of the more famous storylines, The House of M, she literally depowered millions of heroes across the globe, all at once. 

The scope of her powers has really only been hinted at in the movies, but she has been getting progressively more powerful as time goes on. She destroyed an Infinity Stone in Infinity War and very nearly defeated Thanos single-handedly in Endgame. So it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that she is able to bring Vision back to life.

‘What If…?’
Albert L. Ortega

What is it? One of the more intriguing announcements from San Diego Comic-Con, What If…?, sees Marvel dipping into the animated world for another Disney+ series. The cast is extensive, with a good amount of Marvel stars, from Chris Hemsworth to Chadwick Boseman, returning to voice their animated selves. 

Jeffrey Wright, perhaps best known for his character Bernard from Westworld, will be voicing The Watcher, an alien observer that, well, watches all the happenings within the Marvel universe.

What will it be about? Marvel, not one to shy away from risks, is banking on the fact that enough of its fan base is interested in a sort of “alternate history” type show, one that will showcase what would have happened had certain events played out differently.

‘Hawkeye’
Albert L. Ortega

What is it? Jeremy Renner is back as one of the founding Avengers, Hawkeye, and is getting his own shine, albeit in a TV show and not a full-fledged movie. We will see Hawkeye’s continued adventures post-Endgame and perhaps a little bit more of the darker side of his personality, Ronin.

What will it be about? The biggest takeaway from the announcement of this series was the introduction of Kate Bishop, one of the characters that takes up the Hawkeye identity after Clint Barton. Will Barton be training Bishop to become a member of the Avengers? Will Barton finally get to enjoy retirement with his family? Guess we’ll have to wait until fall 2021 to find out.

Related: 5 Best Fan Theories About the Future of the MCU After ‘Endgame’

Related: 4 Best Theories About the Future of the MCU After ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

4 Best Theories About the Future of the MCU After ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’

Spider-Man: Far From Home is absolutely crushing it at the box office—Forbes reports it has crossed the $600 million mark worldwide—and fans are already speculating what will happen next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

*Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home follow*

Spider-Man: Far From Home was an important film for the MCU, not just story-wise but also as a closure point for the “Phase 3” slate of movies. With this movie, the Infinity Saga that the first 23 films created has officially come to a close. In Avengers: Endgame, Thanos is finally defeated and the universe is forever altered, thanks to “the Decimation” or “the Blip.” Some of our favorite heroes, like Iron Man and Black Widow, give their lives in the effort to stop him, and Captain America decides to go back in time to live out his life with his true love, Peggy Carter. In these heroes’ absence, other characters are going to have to step up to fill the void, thus laying the groundwork for some very interesting possibilities.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is full of Easter eggs and clues as to what Marvel has up its sleeve. Hell, the post-credits scenes alone are enough for all of us to spend months theorizing on what they actually mean

What happens next is anyone’s guess, but here are some of our favorite theories on what Marvel might have planned.

Setting Up the Next Villain(s)
Marvel Comics

In the comics, some of Spidey’s rogues’ gallery of villains, tired of being defeated time and time again by the wall-crawler, decide to form their own supergroup (think the Avengers but evil) in order to finally beat him.

The original lineup of the Sinister Six consists of Doctor Octopus, the Vulture, Mysterio, Kraven the Hunter, Electro and Sandman. Despite their combined strengths, Spider-Man defeats them and they disband. 

In the MCU, we have already seen the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton, in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Jake Gyllenhall’s Mysterio in Far From Home. While these are just two of the original members, two other supervillains who have appeared in the MCU, Scorpion and the Shocker, do fight against Spider-Man in Homecoming. And with the director of both films, Jon Watts, stating that he’d like the villain of the next movie to be Kraven, the foundation for a Sinister Six appearance has already been laid. 

Mysterio does appear to die at the end of his fight with Spider-Man in Far From Home, but his death is far from confirmed and the door is certainly open for him to return. In addition, with one of Far From Home’s post-credits scenes revealing Peter Parker’s secret identity to the world, it’s almost a guarantee that numerous criminals will be hunting Spider-Man.

Hunting Spider-Man, you say? Sounds like a job that’s well suited to someone named Kraven the Hunter!

Silver Surfer Tease
Marvel Comics

This theory might be part wishful thinking, part based in reality. Well, the MCU’s reality, that is.

With the Disney/Fox deal closed and Marvel getting back the rights to use the Fantastic Four and all the characters associated with them, like the Silver Surfer, it’s only logical that the studio would begin hinting at the first appearance of the superhero team.

It’s important to note that Far From Home had completed filming before the Disney/Fox deal had become official, but Marvel has retconned certain storylines in order to fit future narratives before. For example, Tony Stark saving a young Peter Parker in Iron Man 2.

In Far From Home, Happy Hogan has a coded conversation with Nick Fury: “Apparently, Mr. Stark was going through his belongings and there was a surfboard you left behind.” Fury responds, “The surfboard isn’t mine. Don’t ever call this number again.”

Sony Pictures

So, yes, just the mere mention of a surfboard isn’t exactly a confirmation or teaser of the Silver Surfer, but this is something Marvel could easily retcon at a later date as the first hint of this particular superhero.

In the comics, the Silver Surfer originally serves as the herald of the world-eating being Galactus. Yes, you read that correctly: This supervillain literally eats planets in order to survive. It’s been theorized that Galactus might serve as the next “big bad” of the MCU now that Thanos has been defeated, and bringing the Silver Surfer into the mix would only serve to lend more credence to that theory.

Let’s Get Cosmic With It

The big reveal of Far From Home’s post-credits scenes, other than J. K. Simmons making his triumphant return to the role of J. Jonah Jameson, is that the Fury we’ve been following the whole movie is actually Talos—the leader of the shape-shifting Skrulls who first appear in Captain Marvel—in disguise. In addition, Fury’s second-in-command, Maria Hill, is actually Talos’s wife, Soren. We then see that the real Fury is actually aboard a spaceship full of other Skrulls, who he is seemingly in command of. There is also a passing mention by Fury of “Kree sleeper cells” on Earth, thus alluding to the fact that the Kree-Skrull War is still being fought.

More and more cosmic stories are definitely planned for the MCU’s future, and these teasers have only served to hammer that point home. How these alien races will actually come into play remains to be seen, but the possibilities are endless.

Another big cosmic Easter egg in the film comes when Peter Parker, on his flight over to Europe, flips through documentaries to watch and sees one with a name that is familiar to comic book fans: Nova.

Nova is another intergalactic superhero who has worked with the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes on numerous occasions. Sure, this connection is a tad bit flimsy, but a Nova film has been rumored to be in production by Marvel for a while now, and with the MCU heading farther into space, this tease is certainly plausible.

S.H.I.E.L.D. to S.W.O.R.D.?

Since the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, S.H.I.E.L.D.—the government agency that has essentially handled all this superhero stuff—has been dismantled. Various pseudo-incarnations of the agency have existed since then (like Phil Coulson’s team on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), with Fury involved in some capacity in support of the world’s superheroes. 

In the comics, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s space counterpart is named S.W.O.R.D., and it serves as Earth’s first defense against galactic threats. With Fury in space with the Skrulls, it looks as if he is either setting up some sort of new defense for Earth or maybe just vacationing among the stars. After all, if anyone deserves a good break from the action, it’s Fury. 

As Marvel transitions to more space-based threats, the establishment of S.W.O.R.D. in the MCU only makes sense. Not to mention, getting a massive space station for the Avengers to hang out on like in the comics would be too cool.

Related: 7 Post-Thanos Villains to Rule the Next MCU Phase

Related: ‘Avengers’ Fashion: 5 Stylish Survivors and 5 Fashionable Fallen Ones

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Culture Movies/TV

7 Post-Thanos Villains to Rule the Next MCU Phase

The Snap has been reversed, the Infinity Saga is over and the current phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will soon draw to a close with Spider-Man: Far from Home. What now? We’ve already gathered five fan theories about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


But we have a wait ahead of us before the next slate of sequels to Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther and Captain Marvel, not to mention The Eternals, which Marvel Studios is pinning its hopes on as the successor to The Avengers. Little is known about plans for Phase 4, and after a decade of stories dominated by Thanos’s pursuit of the Infinity Stones, whichever villain Marvel introduces next will have some big boots to fill. Here are a few contenders who could be up to the task.

1. Mephisto
Marvel

Inspired by the figure of Mephistopheles from Faustian lore, Mephisto is a malevolent demon with a rich history of causing trouble for heroes in the comics. With more and more mystical and magical elements being woven into the MCU as of late, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see Mephisto positioned as a foil for Scarlet Witch or Doctor Strange.

2. Morgan le Fay
Marvel

The Thor movies mined adventure and excitement out of the Norse mythology that the comics were based on, and Marvel could do the same here with Morgan le Fay, who is based on the character from Arthurian legend. Half human and half fairy, Morgan is immortal and magically gifted, with aspirations of world domination. It took Marvel long enough to release a female-fronted movie, so maybe the next villain to span multiple chapters of the MCU should be a woman?

3. Hood
Marvel

If Marvel Studios wants to bridge the earthly and esoteric elements of its universe in the next phase, then Hood might be a perfect villain. Parker Robbins is a human criminal who encounters a Nisanti demon during a heist. After stealing the demon’s hood and boots, Parker finds himself imbued with the ability to levitate and become invisible. He uses these powers to commit increasingly heinous crimes, eventually becoming the head of a vast, evil syndicate.

4. Kang the Conqueror
Marvel

A future descendant of the Fantastic Four who travels back in time to take over Earth, Kang has had multiple clashes with the Avengers and Guardians throughout his character’s complicated history in the MCU. Unlike other super-villains, Kang has no powers, but he is still a genius armed with sophisticated technology from the 31st century, making him a formidable opponent.

5. Annihilus
Marvel

The MCU has explored alternate worlds before, from Asgard to the Quantum Realm. But one reality that has yet to be mentioned is the Negative Zone, an anti-matter universe ruled by Annihilus. Nicknamed “The Living Death That Walks,” Annihilus is a ruthless despot who has attempted to invade Earth many times.

6. Vulcan
Marvel

Now that the X-Men are coming back into the Marvel fold, what better way to incorporate them into the main timeline than by having Cyclops and Havok’s younger brother be the next big bad guy? Gabriel Summers was born off-world with the ability to fly and emit and absorb energy blasts. He is also an Omega-level mutant, the most powerful of their kind, meaning he is more than a match for superpowered characters like Captain Marvel.

7. Galactus
Marvel

This planet-devouring, cosmically powered being is one of the most iconic villains in Marvel comics. One of many characters created by Stan Lee, Galactus is set apart from other super-villains because he is evil not by nature but by necessity. In order to sustain his life and powers, he must consume the energy of living planets. Over the past 50 years, the character has clashed with the Fantastic Four, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-Men, meaning there is half a century of source material to draw from. Galactus previously appeared in one of Fox’s Fantastic Four movies, but now that those rights have returned to Marvel, Galactus could be a worthy antagonist to reintroduce to the main continuity.  

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Culture Gaming

8 ‘Game of Thrones’ Alternatives Now That ‘GoT’ Is Over

Well, here we are. After eight seasons and almost a whole decade, Game of Thrones has aired its final episode and closed the book on Houses Stark, Lannister and Targaryen. If you’re feeling a bit lost now that the story is over, don’t worry; we’ve got some recommendations for you. This mix of epic comics, books and TV shows should just about sate your Game of Thrones cravings—at least until the prequel series comes along.

1. ‘The First Law’ Trilogy

If the grit, gore and grime of its pseudo-medieval setting was what drew you to Game of Thrones, then pick up The Blade Itself, the first book in Joe Abercrombie’s epic fantasy trilogy about kingdoms at war. Abercrombie’s writing, like that of George R.R. Martin’s, falls into the “grimdark” subgenre of fantasy, which focuses on moral ambiguity and dark realism. And if you’re ready to immerse yourself in a new fictional setting after leaving Westeros, then there are plenty of other books and short stories set in the same world.

2. ‘The Expanse’

Based on a series of popular science-fiction novels by James S.A. Corey, The Expanse could easily be described as “Game of Thrones in space.” Set in a future version of our solar system where the governments of Earth and Mars are locked in an interplanetary cold war, the show follows a detective, a diplomat and a handful of shipwreck survivors as they become increasingly embroiled in a far-reaching conspiracy.

3. ‘The Neapolitan Novels’

While on the surface these literary novels don’t have much in common with George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, Elena Ferrante’s fictional, multi-generational account of two women’s lives is just as rich, sprawling and detailed as any epic fantasy saga, complete with squabbling families, intense attention to detail and the kind of character development and narrative payoffs that can only happen when you’ve invested some serious page-turning hours. If this seems like too much of a commitment, HBO recently produced an adaptation, titled after the first book, My Brilliant Friend.

4. ‘Killing Eve’

If what gripped you most about Thrones were the twisted relationships and complex characters, then BBC America’s hit drama series Killing Eve is for you. Based on a series of novels by Luke Jennings and adapted by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, it’s the dark, compelling but surprisingly funny story of globe-trotting assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) and intelligence officer Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), who becomes increasingly obsessed with tracking her down.

5. ‘Saga’
“Saga”

Visually stunning and epic in scope, Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples is a comic series that follows the story of two aliens from warring races who are on the run with their newborn daughter. Fans of the series have described it as a colorful mash-up of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Romeo & Juliet.

6. ‘NOS4A2’

Based on the novel by Joe Hill, NOS4A2 is a new fantastical horror series on AMC about Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto), a kidnapper with supernatural powers, and Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings), the woman who escaped him as a teenager and who must now try to save her son. The title, an homage to the classic vampire movie Nosferatu, refers to the license plate on Manx’s car, which he uses to catch his prey.

7. ‘Watchmen’

There are two ways to go about this. You can dive into the graphic novel by Alan Moore, which functions both as a hyper-violent deconstruction of the superhero mythos and a near-perfect example of the form, or you can wait for the new HBO adaptation, which looks pretty great. Either way, you can probably give the 2009 Zack Snyder adaptation a miss.  

8. ‘Jade City’
“Jade City” / Barnes & Noble

If you are looking for your next fantasy fix but are tired of books that take place in realms that look like Europe and are populated entirely by white people, pick up Jade City. Author Fonda Lee drew inspiration from China, Japan and Taiwan when creating her fictional world, which features gangs, martial arts and magic. It’s the first book in the Green Bone Saga and is followed by Jade War.

Read next: The 10 Highest-Grossing Movies of All Time May Surprise You