The Witcher 3: How To Find The Viper Sword Gear During Open Sesame

Here’s how to find the Venomous Viper armor and sword gear during the “Open Sesame” quest of The Witcher 3 DLC Hearts Of Stone. The Witcher franchise began with a series of novels by Andrzej Sapkowski, which follow the adventures of monster hunter Geralt of Rivia. The books were adapted into a Polish movie and TV series called The Hexer in the early 2000s, but fans of the series and even Sapkowski himself hated these live-action versions.

The franchise broke out in a major way thanks to 2007 video game The Witcher. The game has players guiding an amnesiac Geralt during a quest for the King and proved to be a perfect introduction to the story for newcomers. The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings was a big improvement on the original’s gameplay, however, and was able to flesh out the world and characters in more detail. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from 2015 is considered the crowning achievement of the series, however, combining everything that worked in the first two games whilst providing an addictive experience.

Related: All Of The Witcher 3: Blood And Wine Endings Explained

The popularity of the series and Geralt himself is only set to continue, with Henry Cavil (Mission: Impossible – Fallout) taking on the role for Netflix’s upcoming Witcher series. The Witcher 3 also received two expansion packs, titled Hearts Of Stone and Blood And Wine. Hearts Of Stone found Geralt escaping execution by helping a mysterious man collect a debt from a cursed nobleman. It’s a fun adventure and any excuse to spend more time in The Witcher’s world is a good thing. The Witcher 3: Hearts Of Stone comes with lots of new weapon and armor to find, with the Venomous Viper gear set being some of the best. Most of the diagrams needed to obtain this gear can be found during the “Open Sesame” quest, but they can be easy to miss entirely.

To obtain the Viper armor, Geralt needs to go to the auction house and find Countess Mignole. Speak with her until the option to buy the four Viper diagrams – including boots, gauntlets, trousers, and armor – presents itself. Speaking with Mignole is entirely optional so a lot of players can miss it the first time. Among the benefits of this Witcher armor is resistance to piercing damage and a whopping 50% resistance to poisoning.

For the Viper Venomous Steel Sword diagram, play through the rest of “Open Sesame” until Geralt comes to the vault at the end, where players can loot to their heart’s content. There’s also a chest next to an alter that continues the sword diagram. Geralt will need to be at Level 39 to actually wield this sword, but among its benefits is a 75% chance of critical hit damage and a 15% chance of inflicting poison damage.

Picking up these pieces during the “Open Sesame” quest will make Geralt quest a little smoother during The Witcher 3: Hearts Of Stone. Plus the Viper gear set itself is just quite stylish.

Next: Why Fallout 4 Survival Mode Is The True Way To Play The Game


2019-04-26 02:04:40

Padraig Cotter

Supernatural’s Season 14 Finale Unleashes A Hell Of A Final Villain

Caution: Spoilers ahead for the Supernatural season 14 finale

Supernatural delivered a shocking season 14 finale that not only wrapped up the current run, but unleashed the ultimate villain ahead of the show’s forthcoming final season. Life is never simple for Sam and Dean Winchester, and the brothers’ recent adventures began with them facing down the apocalypse-world version of the archangel Michael, who had nestled himself among the pies and Led Zeppelin riffs of Dean’s mind.

Faced with an impossible villain, the Winchesters’ only hope was Lucifer’s nephilim son, Jack. The boys had taken the devil’s half-human spawn in as one of their own but, ironically, the battle against Michael made Jack himself turn bad and the rogue youngster went on to kill Sam and Dean’s mother – a big no-no in the world of Supernatural.

Related: Supernatural Characters We Need To Return In Its Final Season

Supernatural season 14 was also punctuated by the shocking news that Supernatural is ending after season 15. A message from the central trio of actors – Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, and Misha Collins – confirmed the show’s conclusion was imminent, and after the latest episode, viewers now have some idea of what that final chapter will look like.

The Supernatural season 14 finale picked up where last week’s installment left off, with Jack popping out of his box in a rage, knocking back Castiel and the Winchesters and flying off into the unknown. Clearly in a state of angst-fueled confusion, the nephilim takes a cue from Liar Liar and compels the world to only ever tell the truth. Naturally, this causes chaos but as Sam and Dean frantically search for Jack, Castiel’s message to God from earlier this season is finally answered.

God, just like Dean, wants Jack dead and creates a firearm that’s powerful enough for the job, albeit at the expense of the user’s own life. Sam and Castiel, meanwhile, still believe the boy can be saved. This all leads to a dramatic climax where Jack realizes the error of his ways and kneels down ready to be executed, only for Dean to solemnly toss aside the gun. God reacts badly to this turn of events and it quickly transpires that the omnipotent creator of everything has been playing the Winchesters and Jack for his own amusement all along – and could have resolved the situation easily had he chosen to. God’s desire for a good story – from his human life as “Chuck” the writer – led to him engineering a dramatic real-life situation at the Winchesters’ expense.

Never ones to be messed with, Sam and Dean are none too pleased at God’s heartless attitude and Sam even goes so far as to try and shoot the Almighty one. Needless to say, it doesn’t work and God closes out Supernatural season 14 by killing Jack and emptying the contents of Hell onto Earth, as Motorhead’s “God Was Never On Your Side” plays out in the background. Fascinatingly, this isn’t the first time that the song has been used by Supernatural, suggesting this twist was always part of the overall plan.

Obviously, the Winchesters’ immediate problem when Supernatural season 15 begins will be fighting back the various ghosts, ghouls and undead that have seemingly been released – no doubt coming across some old foes in the process. Beyond that, however, it appears that the show’s final villain will be none other than God himself. Logically, it could be argued that this was the only possible ending for Supernatural – a show that has previously featured the Devil, God’s sister and every variety of demon imaginable in the role of villain. The final season is expected to be the most dramatic, high-stakes story yet, so God is perhaps the only logical choice for an antagonist.

Dean’s refusal to kill Jack could also offer a hint as to how season 15 will play out. A major running theme throughout Supernatural has been a constant dissent between Sam and Dean, with one brother usually taking an overly-aggressive stance and the other acting as a voice of reason. Dean’s realization that he couldn’t shoot Jack without any input from Sam or Castiel is a strong sign that the whole team will be on the same page in Supernatural‘s final season. There will be no time for brotherly bickering or arguments over whether or not the end justifies the means; this will be a unified battle against the most powerful being in existence.

Luckily, it appears the heroes will have a little help from beyond, as Jack wakes up alongside both the Empty and Death, who God had earlier prophetically accused of meddling where she didn’t belong. Whether this mighty team-up will be enough to topple God himself remains to be seen, but the battle will no doubt make for a thrilling conclusion to the Supernatural story.

Next: Why Supernatural Is Ending After 15 Seasons

Supernatural season 15 is expected to premiere in late 2019.


2019-04-26 01:04:34

Craig Elvy

The Guardians of the Galaxy Look A Bit Different After Avengers: Endgame

WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame.

Avengers: Endgame might be the end of a decade-long story, but it also results in a new beginning, especially for the Guardians of the Galaxy who now have Thor on their team. After a seemingly never-ending emotional roller coaster, the original Avengers came together to form a plan to beat Thanos and get back those that he took away. For that to happen, a few characters had to pay with their lives. Those losses will now affect the surviving Avengers and their allies among the galaxy.

Each character dealt with PTSD following the Mad Titan’s snap. Some handled it more harshly than others. Clint, for example, shed his Hawkeye identity to turn into a deadly assassin known as Ronin. Thor’s grief took him a different route. He lost most of his Asgardian people at the start of Avengers: Infinity War. After failing to take out Thanos the first time, the Norse god became overcome with even more guilt. He constructed New Asgard but let go of his muscular, god-like appearance, transforming into an unkempt, overweight shell of his previous self. Without a sense of purpose, Thor preferred drowning himself with beer and self-loathing.

Related: Avengers: Endgame’s Ending & Marvel Movie Future Explained In Detail

Thankfully, the Hulk and Rocket convinced Thor to assist in their new mission. The quest re-teamed Thor and Rocket to go back to Asgard in the hopes of retrieving the reality stone. The journey served as a wake-up call for the God of Thunder. Not only did he realize his importance to the Avengers team, but also that there’s more than one way to be a hero.

Avengers: Endgame set up a number of storylines that could be investigated in future MCU installments. It also provides gaps in the timeline that can be explored through the various projects in development through Disney+. The Avengers have been through a lot since they were first introduced as an official team in 2012. It’s time for a new chapter for the Avengers and the fellow heroes present in the MCU. By the looks of it, the Guardians of the Galaxy will be getting their own changes with the addition of a new member.

The Avengers successfully defeated Thanos using time travel and undid his galactic destruction, but it was a costly feat. Now down a few members, the original heroic squad will never be the same. But that doesn’t mean the MCU won’t feature epic team-ups in the future. Endgame closed out with Thor joining the Guardians of the Galaxy in what could be a perfect setup for an upcoming movie.

The God of Thunder went through a very emotional realization throughout Endgame. In the end, he took his mother’s message to heart, forgetting who he is supposed to be. Instead, Thor must succeed as the person he already is, even if that means taking more time to find himself again. To follow that path, Thor handed off the reins as the leader of New Asgard to Valkyrie and jumped aboard the Guardians’ ship.

Related: Every Marvel Movie Releasing After Avengers: Endgame

Thor clearly felt a bond with members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, specifically his “rabbit” and tree friends, Rocket and Groot. Thor spent much of Endgame as a lost soul overcome with grief and failure. Rocket was a major factor in helping the hero snap out of his self-loathing behavior. It makes sense why Thor would feel a kinship to Rocket. Now that he regained feeling worthy enough, it’s no surprise that Thor would want to assist on new quests.

Even though Thor’s addition would greatly help the Guardians on their missions, some members seemed more welcoming than others. Peter Quill and Thor quipped at one another regarding the leadership of the group. Drax and Mantis hilariously suggested that the two should solve their disagreements with a knife fight. As fun as it is to see the two powerful egos to banter back in forth, it’s obvious that they would have each other’s back when necessary. So could this be the official introduction to the Asgardians of the Galaxy in the MCU?

While Thor joined his new group on the ship, he referred to them as the “Asgardians of the Galaxy.” At first, it seemed like Thor was just having a laugh at the pun he came up with, combining the Guardians’ title and his own Asgardian identity. The line was probably added in there as a joke, but there’s actually a team known as the Asgardians of the Galaxy in Marvel Comics.

The team first debuted in September 2018 in Asgardians of the Galaxy #1. The series, which is still in publication, was created by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Matteo Lolli. The band of Asgardians includes some very interesting characters. Here’s a breakdown of the Asgardians of the Galaxy team:

  • Angela – The long lost sister of Thor who brings together the team that goes on to call themselves the Asgardians of the Galaxy. She was also a previous member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Valkyrie – The warrior is also known by her Asgardian name, Brunnhilde. In the comics, Valkyrie was a part of the Defenders and a founding member of the Secret Avengers.
  • Annabelle Riggs – A scientist on Earth that shares a connection with Valkyrie allowing them to switch places through a host body.
  • Throg – Also known as Puddlegulp, Throg comes from a community of frogs living in Central Park. It’s later revealed that he’s actually a human named Simon Walterson who was turned into a frog by a witch. He eventually finds a shard of Mjolnir and becomes the Frog of Thunder. And yes, he wears a Thor costume.
  • Thunderstrike – Kevin Masterson is the son of Eric Masterson, a man who served as a host body for Thor. Kevin gets his powers from a mace left by his father.
  • Kid Loki – A reincarnation of Loki who encompasses all the traits as the God of Mischief.
  • Destroyer – A magical suit of Asgardian armor that is remotely controlled by Kid Loki.
  • Skurge the Executioner – The former villain is tricked by Kid Loki into leaving the afterlife to join the misfits who call themselves the Asgardians of the Galaxy.

Related: Every Returning Character In Avengers: Endgame

It’s safe to assume that Throg, Kid Loki, and their friends won’t be featured in the MCU, but what does Avengers: Endgame mean for the future of the Guardians of the Galaxy? With Thor 4 still up in the air, it now remains possible that Marvel Studios intends to combine a Thor sequel with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Director James Gunn has been reinstated after his controversial firing following his Twitter debacle. Even though adding Thor to the Guardians might not be Gunn’s decision, it could have been something Marvel Studios planned all along.

When looking back, Thor: Ragnarok matches the tone of both Guardians of the Galaxy installments. The character of Thor had a notable amount of chemistry with the Guardians and Chris Hemsworth’s comedic persona as the God of Thunder fits perfectly with Star-Lord and his crew. Considering Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has been delayed for quite some time, this gives the creative team plenty of time to add Thor to the Guardians’ equation.

This also gives the MCU an opportunity to feature one of the galaxy’s mightiest heroes without having to delve into another solo story. The Gamora from Infinity War is still dead but there is now a past version of Gamora lurking around in the present timeline. Since she has no memories of the Guardians, she felt no allegiance to joining them after taking out Thanos. Quill clearly wants to search for her which provides evidence to the plot of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Whatever option they decide, it’s safe to say that Thor will be a part of that new mission.

Next: Everything We Know About Avengers 5


2019-04-26 01:04:10

Kara Hedash

How To Watch Lord Of The The Rings: The Two Towers Online

It was the second part of the epic trilogy that really raised the stakes, so where can fans watch The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers online? Prior to The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson made a name for himself as the director behind gory horror comedies like Braindead. Jackson was initially torn between developing a Lord Of The Rings adaptation or directing a King Kong remake and ultimately opted for the latter. When that project was canceled in 1997, Jackson turned back to working on a two-film Rings adaptation with Miramax.

Miramax later attempted to shrink the entire saga down to a single, two-hour movie, something Jackson felt was impossible. The director then shipped the project to other studios, with New Line Cinema agreeing to make a three-movie Lord Of The Rings adaptation. This was seen as a big risk on the studio’s part since if the first movie bombed, they would have been left with two movies that either would have been shelved or sent straight to video. Luckily, the gamble paid off and the entire franchise proved to be a critical and commercial triumph.

Related: What To Expect From Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV Show

Jackson would later return for The Hobbit trilogy, which lacked the acclaim that greeted its predecessors but still proved a financial success. Fans often debate which entry of the original trilogy is the best, and a strong case could be made for The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers. It fully introduced Andy Serkis’ iconic Gollum, it expanded the scope of the Middle Earth and it ended on the famous Battle of Helm’s Deep. It’s a great movie, simply put, so where can fans who want to revisit it – or seek it out for the first time – find The ord Of The Rings: The Two Towers online?

Sadly, it appears The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers currently isn’t available to stream on platforms like Netflix or Hulu. The movie is available to rent or buy from a number of services, however, including iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Prime Video, and Vudu. Rental prices typically start from $3.99 while it can cost anywhere between $9.99 to $17.99 to purchase a copy online.

UK fans are in luck, with the entire Lord Of The Rings trilogy currently available to stream on Netflix. With Amazon’s Lord Of The Ring’s series currently in development, it’s likely their streaming service will be the next place to host the movies in future. For fans seeking The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers online, it appears renting or buying is currently the only option in the U.S.

Next: Ranked: Every Major Death In Lord Of The Rings


2019-04-25 12:04:25

Padraig Cotter

Every Marvel Movie Releasing After Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame may be the culmination of the MCU so far, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of upcoming Marvel movies on the way. Marvel Studios is currently keeping their long-term plans under wraps, with Marvel visionary Kevin Feige confirming no Phase 4 announcements would be made until after Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Avengers: Endgame is the swan song for the OG Avengers, but the future is bright for the MCU, with a range of new and diverse heroes – including Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel – ready to take center-stage. What’s more, now the Disney/Fox acquisition is complete, it’s only a matter of time before the Fantastic Four and the X-Men join the shared cinematic universe.

Related: Every Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie, Ranked Worst To Best

All that said, we still know a fair bit about the future MCU slate. Avengers: Endgame is the second of three Marvel blockbusters to drop in 2019, and a number of other projects are in development, expected to release between now and 2021. Sequels to the likes of Captain Marvel, as well as another outing for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, are certainly expected, but these are the ones that are confirmed.

Spider-Man: Far From Home – July 2, 2019

Spider-Man: Far From Home is the last film in Phase 3 and first after Avengers: Endgame, and will serve as an extended epilogue to Avengers: Endgame. “So much happens in [Avengers: Endgame], as you can imagine,” Kevin Feige explained, “and so much is affected by it that we felt what better person to hold your hand and lead you into the next incarnation of the MCU, in a grounded, realistic manner, than Peter Parker?” The plot will see Spider-Man head to Europe on a summer vacation with some of his classmates, and he’ll team up with Nick Fury in order to take on the threat of Mysterio and the monstrous Elementals who are tearing through the continent.

Read More: Spider-Man: Far From Home – Every Update You Need To Know

Black Widow – Likely May 2020

There’s been clamor for a Black Widow movie since Scarlett Johansson was introduced playing the character in 2010’s Iron Man 2. The film is finally becoming a reality after Avengers: Endgame in Phase 4, however, with filming due to start in June. Johansson is rumored to be netting a $15 million paycheck for the movie, with Florence Pugh, David Harbour and O-T Fagbenle recently joining the cast.

Read More: Black Widow Movie – Every Update You Need To Know

The Eternals – Likely 2020

Marvel has always liked to toss in a curveball now and then, and The Eternals is definitely one of their most unexpected projects after Avengers: Endgame. Created by the legendary Jack Kirby, in the comics the Eternals are an evolutionary offshoot of the human race created by ancient, powerful aliens known as the Celestials. Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani are reportedly in talks to star, and there are rumors the film will introduce the MCU’s version of Hercules.

Read More: Marvel’s Eternals: Every Update You Need To Know

Black Panther 2 – Likely 2021

Black Panther 2 is a natural priority for Marvel Studios after Avengers: Endgame, given the first film was the highest grossing domestic film of 2018 and earned them an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Ryan Coogler is set to return as both writer and director, but so far he hasn’t dropped any hints about the plot.

Read More: Black Panther 2 Movie – Every Update You Need To Know

Doctor Strange 2 – Likely 2021

Doctor Strange played a major role in Avengers: Infinity War, and seems to have been set up as a major player in the future of the MCU after Avengers: Endgame. After years of rumors, at last Marvel is pressing ahead with Doctor Strange 2. C. Robert Cargill will reportedly return as writer, while Scott Derickson is on board as director. Benedict Wong has suggested filming could begin later this year, essentially confirming this for a 2021 release.

Read More: Doctor Strange 2: Every Update You Need To Know

Shang-Chi – Unknown

Another unexpected priority for Marvel after Avengers: EndgameShang-Chi will be a martial arts movie directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. No details have yet emerged about this project, but there are rumors it could be heading to Sydney’s Fox Studios to shoot in Australia.

Read More: Casting Shang-Chi In The MCU

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 – Likely 2023

One of Marvel’s most troubled productions, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 looked like it may never happen after writer-director James Gunn was fired over social media messages he posted back before he worked for Disney. Convinced he was truly repentant, Disney rehired Gunn, but the result is a significant delay; Gunn has committed to shooting Warner’s The Suicide Squad before returning to Marvel. Production of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is expected to begin in 2021, which essentially confirms this for a 2023 release.

More: How The MCU Will Look Completely Different After 2019


2019-04-25 12:04:12

Thomas Bacon

Will There Be A Gotham Season 6?

Gotham season 6 may be something fans want after the show finally turns Bruce Wayne into Batman and gives Jim Gordon a mustache, but will there end up being more to the DC-based story? Premiering in fall 2014, Gotham spent part of its run as one of FOX’s highest-rated dramas. While live viewership has fallen off quite a bit in the last few years, Gotham maintains a loyal fanbase, one that was very happy when FOX opted to give the series a proper final season instead of simply canceling it on a cliffhanger as they’ve done with so many past shows.

It was officially announced in May 2018, just shy of FOX airing season 4’s finale, that Gotham would get a fifth and final season designed to wrap up the Batman prequel series. Gotham season 5 ended up consisting of a mere 12 episodes, much less than the 22-episode orders of past seasons. Still, any Gotham fan would agree that getting 12 episodes is much better than ending after season 4, with Selina Kyle shot in the stomach, Ed Nygma and Lee Thompkins bleeding out from knife wounds, and Gotham about to turn into a lawless wasteland.

Related: Gotham Became A Comic Accurate Batman Show (Eventually)

Now it’s all over, fans will be hungry for more Bat-action. Here’s what we know about the highly unlikely possibility of a Gotham season 6.

Gotham Season 5 Was The End

Gotham season 5 allowed fans to see the No Man’s Land story play out, and to finally witness Jim Gordon evolve into the mustachioed lawman found in most DC comics. Bruce Wayne also finally became Batman, the heroic protector Gotham was destined to rely on. With season 5’s finale giving fans a glimpse at Gotham after a large time jump that finishes its origin goals, there’s really nowhere left for the series to go. The finale was clearly designed to bookend Gotham’s story, leaving no real room for a Gotham season 6.

Gotham Was Jim Gordon’s Story, Not Batman’s

Once it was made clear that Gotham season 5 would end with a fully-formed Batman, many fans suddenly found themselves wishing for a Gotham season 6 that could focus on Batman’s adventures taking down bad guys. The problem here is that everyone knows that story, and Gotham was never designed to be a Batman-focused series. While Bruce Wayne played a major part in the journey, Gotham has always been Jim Gordon’s show, and was intended to chronicle his journey first and foremost. Batman’s path may well be just beginning, but Gordon’s story is told.

There Are No Plans To Continue Gotham’s Story

While quite a few shows over the years have ended only to be later revived, there’s little chance Gotham will be one of them. Gotham season 5 was crafted from the ground up to conclude the series, and there’s been absolutely zero mention of a Gotham season 6 happening. There’s also been no indication that any kind of follow-up program or spinoff is in the works. While Gotham creator Bruno Heller is shepherding Pennyworth, an origin story for Batman’s faithful butler, at EPIX, there are no plans to connect the two shows. For Gotham, this is truly the end.

More: 10 Times Gotham Strayed From Canon


2019-04-25 11:04:30

Michael Kennedy

Is Avengers: Endgame Suitable For Children?

Avengers: Endgame wraps up the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we’ve known it for almost the last 11 years – but is it suitable for kids to see? Anticipation of the final Avengers installment is at fever pitch, and everyone is clamoring to see it, including kids. For a lot of kids, Marvel movies have become a staple of their childhood. Even if they’ve not watched all the movies, characters like Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, and, more recently, Captain Marvel, have entered popular culture in such a way that even the very young know who they are and what they do.

Avengers: Endgame picks up where last year’s Avengers: Infinity War left off; with half of the universe eroded from existence thanks to Thanos’ deadly finger snap. Undoubtedly, the remaining Avengers and their superhero allies will be working to defeat Thanos and, hopefully, right the universe once more. As is the way with Marvel movies, there will be losses along the way. Avengers: Infinity War was considered to be the darkest MCU entry at the time of its release, but by its very nature, Avengers: Endgame will be darker still. So how suitable is it for kids? Endgame has a PG-13 rating in the U.S., which means that anyone under the age of 13 must be accompanied by an adult if they wish to see it, and a classification of 12A in the U.K. – thus meaning it’s about the same as Infinity War. But there are some things worth pointing out.

Related: Avengers: Endgame Doesn’t Have A Post-Credits Scene (But DON’T Leave)

The BBFC Guide warns of “moderate violence,” specifically “regular fantasy violence,” and “occasional bloody detail.” It also warns of mild bad language, but it’s not terrible enough to warrant more than a brief note. Broadly speaking, kids are able to deal with fantasy violence better than anything realistic. They know they’re unlikely to walk down the street and see Thanos coming after them. Equally, they know that Iron Man isn’t likely to come to their defense, either, and so they’re able to recognize, even subconsciously, that what’s on screen reflects no potential real-life threat. With regards to the cuss words, again, most kids know those words aren’t to be used day to day, but if you are the type who takes real issue with kids hearing mild swearing, stay away.

One important aspect of Avengers: Endgame to note when deciding to take children is that it’s an incredibly emotive movie, with at least two profoundly sad moments. These will be upsetting for adults (just take a look on Twitter to see how many people said they cried), and even more so for children. If you know your kids will have difficulty with sadness on screen, don’t take them. This movie is three hours long and you’ll end up having to leave if the kids in your care are too upset. Arguably, though, it may be good for children to experience sadness in a movie featuring characters they adore. Avengers: Endgame also has happy moments; it’s not all bleak and depressing, and that’s a pretty accurate representation of what happens in real life. Sad things do happen to good people, and we have to deal with it and carry on. In that regard, Avengers: Endgame can teach a pretty powerful lesson.

Ultimately, you know the kids in your care. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend this movie for kids under 7, and certainly not in theaters owing to the length of it and also its intense nature. For those age 7-11 (ish) exercise caution if your kids are particularly sensitive or anxious. Those age 12 upwards should be fine, but you may want to warn them that it’s likely they will cry. If you’re in any way concerned, we would recommend you watch Avengers: Endgame by yourself, first, in order that you can make a more informed choice.

Next: You Only Need To Rewatch ONE Marvel Movie To Understand Avengers: Endgame


2019-04-25 10:04:47

Becky Fuller

Why There Are Four Dragons In Game Of Thrones’ New Opening Titles

The new opening credits for Game of Thrones contain various clues for season 8, but what do the four dragons on the golden ring mean? As the series has evolved, so have the opening credits sequence. With only a handful of episodes left, there are still many questions that need answering. The Game of Thrones opening sequence could indicate which mysteries will finally be solved in the final season.

Dragons were first introduced in season 1 when Daenerys Targaryen was given three petrified dragon eggs as a wedding gift. By the end of the season, the dragon eggs miraculously hatched and the species was re-established into the world of Westeros. From then on, the dragons – Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion – became integral pieces to Dany’s story arc. The trio of fire-breathing dragons also gave her an advantage over her various enemies, especially on the battlefield. That stood true until they met the Night King.

Related: Game Of Thrones Theory: The Night King is at King’s Landing, Not Winterfell

Dany’s connection to the majestic reptiles goes much deeper when considering her family history. The Targaryens had the last surviving Valyrian dragons before the species were thought to have gone extinct. Dany’s ancestor, Aegon I Targaryen, used his dragons – Balerion, Vhagar, and Meraxes – to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. The skulls of those dragons are still kept in the Red Keep as the story continues to be passed down to generations. There have been various other dragons kept by members of House Targaryen; it’s the theme of their sigil, after all. But could there be other dragons alive in Game of Thrones?

On one of the gold rings within the credits (1:33 mark in the video below), three small dragons can be seen in front of a much larger dragon. Considering only three dragons have made appearances in the series, the addition of a fourth on the gold ring is very intriguing. More than likely the large dragon represents Daenerys, who is also known as the “Mother of Dragons.” Even though Viserion is currently a member of the Night King’s undead army, all three of Dany’s dragons are imperative to the final season. There could also be other meanings behind the message shown in the credits.

The mystery surrounding “The Prince That Was Promised” will hopefully be solved by season’s end. The prophecy suggests that a character will emerge as a savior with a sword called Lightbringer to fight the impending darkness. In the book series which the show is based, the prince is thought to be the reborn version of the legendary figure, Azor Ahai. The prophecy specifically uses the word “prince,” but in High Valyrian, the word translates to “prince” or “princess.” Many viewers suspect that Jon Snow is the prince described in the prophecy, but it could very well be Dany. The shooting star that can be seen above the dragons on the gold ring even matches with a quote by Melisandre in the books, adding more evidence that Dany is Azor Ahai.

When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone.”

If the prophecy doesn’t become a focal point in the final season of Game of Thrones, it’s still possible the image of the fourth dragon has implications for the final episodes. There has been speculation that other dragons could be hiding in Westeros, possibly even in the crypts of Winterfell. In the books, there are rumors that a dragon laid eggs deep in the crypts by the natural hot springs. Seeing as the crypts are an enormous labyrinth of caverns and passageways, who knows what could be hiding in there. If any dragons are in there, now would be the time for them to come out.

Next: Game of Thrones: Where Melisandre Is (& Why She Has To Return)


2019-04-25 10:04:27

Kara Hedash

Every Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie, Ranked Worst To Best (Including Endgame)

Here’s our complete ranking of the MCU movies ahead of Avengers: Endgame. Marvel Studios has become the biggest force in Hollywood, earning $18.5 billion at the global box office in little over a decade and revolutionizing how studios approach blockbuster franchises. And while there’s a litany of reasons why, one of the most fundamental is that their films are, for the most part, really good.

It’s not that long ago that good superhero movies were exceptions that proved the rule about comic book movies, and even those shining examples – Superman: The Movie, Batman 1989 – eventually gave way to extinguished returns in sequels. Even after the triple-tap of BladeX-Men and Spider-Man at the turn of the millennium gave the genre a sense legitimacy, the scales were still tipped against costumed heroes; the third entries of each of the series those movies formed were duds that ended the trilogies or led to reboots.

Related: The Original Marvel Studios Plan Would Have Led To A Very Different Infinity War

Marvel Studios brought a sense of consistency, almost by accident. When the company moved into film production, they lacked the rights to many of their major characters (before 2008, all Marvel movies had been licensed) so had to build icons out of then-B-list characters like Iron Man and Captain America. The focus had to be on the storytelling as much as spectacle, something that allowed audiences of all creeds – from die-hard comic fans to those discovering the likes of Thor for the first time – to embrace these characters. That it was all interconnected in one world where heroes eventually started crossing over only compounded the excitement.

Typically, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is broken down into its chronological narrative Phases: Phase 1 (six movies released 2008-2012) shows the formation of the original Avengers; Phase 2 (six movies released 2013-2015) the impact of superheroes on the world; and Phase 3 (ten movies released 2016-2019) circles the Infinity War against Thanos, along with introducing a new generation of heroes. This idea of narrative blocks has been at the core of the series since the very start, doubling as a way to hyper-focus audiences on what’s important in the immediate future.

But it’s also legitimate to take a look at them from a more critical perspective. These films do tell a narrative tapestry, but each one needs to work on its own. And, while the overall quality is uniformly high (few are out-right bad, and most are at least above-average), MCU movies can be broken into clear strata of quality, ranging from the sure-fire classics to misfires. With Avengers: Endgame bringing an end to the full scale experiment, here’s our ranking of the MCU movies from worst to best.

22. Iron Man 2 (2010)

All of Phase 1 displays signs of a studio struggling to find its edge, but nowhere do you feel the strain of the shared universe as much as with Iron Man 2. Primarily, Jon Favreau’s sequel seems to exist to move Tony Stark backwards from where he was left by the two post-credits scenes of Iron Man and The Incredible HulkThe Avengers plan changed and having Stark at the forefront of the team was no longer the starting status quo – which requires a lot of confused setup for the future, none of it very interesting. But if you strip out the big picture wheel-spinning (which included not only Avengers but nods to Black Panther, Captain America and Namor), then it’s not got much to offer besides.

It’s really a half-dozen different stories all pulling in different directions. Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., Black Widow, Whiplash, War Machine, Justin Hammer and Pepper and Stark Industries all have their own subplots alongside Tony’s demon in an arc reactor plot, and they’re so disconnected that at one point Fury has to put the hero under house arrest so he can unlock enough power to get to the boss fight. So much of what made the first film work is undone, with confidence in the characters making way for repeated winking – Don Cheadle’s first line is “I’m here, deal with it“, Coulson draws attention to what may or may not be a prototype Captain America shield – and the distinct feel replaced with a visual style that jumps between generic late-2000s blockbuster and Bay-esque militaristic fetishism (and leery camera).

Robert Downey, Jr. and co. anchor the whole thing well, the Iron Man design and implementation is still amazing, and the goals are admirable enough, which is enough to make it passable, but it still pales compared to the rest.

Related: Every MCU Movie Iron Man 2 Set Up

21. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

While it’s often cited as an out-and-out bad film, Thor: The Dark World‘s real problem is that it’s bland. The story is – like other low-ranking MCU sequels – multiple different threads all undernourished. The tone never embraces the full-on Kirby cosmic side to the extent the movie thinks yet neither passes as a knockabout comedy either. And there’s so little ingenuity that its finale where all of reality hangs in the balance is set in one square at the University of Greenwich

Its relation (read: disregard) of the past is a particular problem. Alan Taylor took the broody, high-contrast style of Kenneth Branagh’s original and replaced it with clean CGI, expanding Asgard in a superficial way that comes across as cheap Star Wars; and if that’s what it was going for, the inconsistent story flow, set blocking and editing are more Attack of the Clones than The Empire Strikes Back. The director was allegedly picked to apply a Game of Thrones style to Marvel’s mythic franchise, but there’s no verve here and just a couple of bar scenes to pay lip service. Even the once good stuff doesn’t really work; Anthony Hopkins’ Odin performance is shocking and while Hiddleston is still fun as Loki, his arc and weird betrayal fake-out on Svartalfheim is amateurishly written. Later efforts from Taylor – equally unimaginative Terminator Genisys and Game of Thrones‘ dire “Beyond the Wall” reveal him as the likely core issue here.

What Thor: The Dark World does mark is the point where Marvel bias began to take hold. Thanks to the success of The Avengers and promise of growing inter-connectivity (this was the first movie to explicitly confirm the Infinity Stones), there was a lot of goodwill directed at Thor 2 upon release that feels incredibly in the moment and oblivious to its many flaws.

Related: How The Thor Movies Secretly Introduced The Multiverse To The MCU

20. Ant-Man And The Wasp (2018)

Ant-Man and the Wasp is the Marvel movie everybody who dislikes the MCU sight-unseen thinks Marvel movies are. It’s an unimaginative stringing together of multiple random plot strands that never fully pay off (the third act involves six different sets of characters and yet they barely connect up), instead repeatedly falling back on the charisma of its leads for quick laughs. The result is the most out-and-out boring entry in the series, one that does very little with its characters and is instantly forgettable.

With the production issues that restricted Ant-Man in the past and a cast family well-established, this could have been a real step up. It wants to be the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids family comedy of the MCU, yet Peyton Reed all-too-often falls back on formula meaning ideas are repeatedly left hanging: most applications of the Pym Particle size-changing are variants of “small thing becomes big” or “big things become small”, and when things are a bit different, there’s no story purpose (Scott Lang shrinks to the size of a child in a high school and nothing comes of it). It plays like a superhero movie of the 1990s, and not in an intentional way; at one point, the villain calls in motorbikes like he’s Mr. Freeze trotting out another piece of plastic merchandise.

Viewed in the context of Avengers: Infinity War, the film weakens further. Far from the palette cleanser promised, Ant-Man and the Wasp is lacking any substance at all, with the only moment that really captivates being the post-credits scenes that show the effects of Thanos’ snap. When the most exciting moment of a film is a reminder that a previous, better film happened earlier that summer, you know something’s gone wrong.

Related: Ant-Man And The Wasp Was The MCU’s Biggest Missed Opportunity

Page 2 of 6: Avengers: Age of Ultron & More Of Our MCU Ranking

19. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Avengers: Age of Ultron remains the biggest disappointment in the MCU. It was admittedly the most hyped entry up until that point also, carrying the weight of the 2012 original and the many excellent standalones since, but that doesn’t make the fall any less painful. Whereas with most Marvel films you can at least understand what the intent was, here many ideas feel misguided; this was positioned as Whedon’s Empire Strikes Back (bigger, deeper, darker) yet doesn’t have the plot urgency or consequence to make the new themes, characters or threats have any proper impact, while the bolder moves it does make – the twins, Nat and Bruce’s relationship – are interchangeably underserved and insulting.

It’s easy to nitpick the narrative (Scarlet Witch’s dream-visions are so ambiguous in intent it hurts) but that’s only because the filmmaking is overall considerably weaker. While it’s common to claim this is better directed than The Avengers, that’s only on a superficial level; the original looks a little too like a TV show at points, sure, but its sequel doesn’t offer much more beyond a more experienced CGI team with its considerably weaker script. What really stands out is the editing – scenes have no placement and most are cut down to the point big moments don’t land because they have no setup or breathing room. All this together leaves a disjointed experience, one all the positive elements – Vision (especially his origin), the core three, Andy Serkis, the Hulkbuster fight – are struggling to combat.

One the one hand, Avengers: Age of Ultron is very much the result of the infamous Marvel Creative Committee, who by most accounts were meddling with the film’s direction to a damaging degree. On the other, many of its missteps have come to define the MCU going forward: comedy undercutting sincerity (see: Ultron’s “children” line); slow scenes filling in for genuine character development (see: Hawkeye’s farmhouse); and a disregard for the continuity (see: the mid-credits scene with a totally new Infinity Gauntlet).

Related: Avengers: Age Of Ultron Is The Moment Marvel Gave Up On Their Continuity

18. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

It’s not the worst MCU film, but The Incredible Hulk is undoubtedly the black sheep. The only actor who’s returned so far is William Hurt as a changed General Ross in Captain America: Civil War, and the primary event referenced later by Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner is a deleted opening scene (that thanks to a Captain America Easter egg is patently non-canon). Despite that, The Incredible Hulk is a solid piece of world-building. It’s full of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Stark Industries Easter eggs that build on Iron Man, roots Hulk’s origin in Captain America’s super soldier serum three years ahead of Steve Rogers’ debut, and directly builds to the Avengers with its ending and immediate credits scene (even if the idea of Iron Man recruiting a team against Hulk was canned).

All of that is great flavor to an otherwise generic 2008 blockbuster. Louis Leterrier’s direction is off the shelf, with high contrast, sweaty night-time scenes style du jour, and its story is any werewolf narrative turned action movie. Edward Norton may have had grander plans in mind, but The Incredible Hulk is lacking anything unique.

The MCU connections actually highlight a lack of identity. For all the aforementioned setup, the movie is also trying to honor the 1970s TV series; Lou Ferrigno gets an ingratiating cameo, the theme tune plays throughout, and the ending appears to be almost indicating this is intended as a quasi-remake. Worse, it betrays one of the biggest rules of Marvel Studios: it doesn’t explain what the Hulk is and how he could work in a wider context.

Related: The MCU Didn’t Have A Good Plan At First – And Incredible Hulk Proves It

17. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor: Ragnarok is the epitome of Marvel fun. It’s an entertaining but flippant movie, one that prioritizes in-the-moment laughs over anything of greater weight; its subtext – how colonizers hide their dark pasts – is given brief mention before being relegated to background references. That is fine enough as mid-tier entertainment, but it can’t help but feel a little lacking considering where the MCU had reached at this point.

Comedy is Thor: Ragnarok‘s best and worst quality. Being from Taika Waititi, the jokes have slightly more edge than standard Marvel and set the tone differently, but it’s a shame so much improv led to rather static scene blocking and unrefined editing. What’s really lacking from the director, though, is his trademark balance of emotion with his comedy: both What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople used their wit to accentuate tragedy, but none of that’s here. In fact, Thor: Ragnarok actively bypasses letting sadness sink in: Odin’s death was reshot to be blandly spiritual after it made test audiences feel too sorry for him, and the loss of Asgard is undercut by both a lack of connection with its people and a Korg joke immediately after.

With all that said, there’s plenty that works. Both Thor and Hulk are well-defined enough at this point to thrive in this new environment and, while most new characters are a little exasperating (see: Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster), Valkyrie is a fully-rounded delight. The less-improv heavy moments bring that Kirby style to the fore without much resistance. It’s just hard to not want something a little more balanced given how impactful it feigns to be.

Related: Why Thor: Ragnarok Was A Divisive MCU Film

16. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has a lot going for it. It looks absolutely incredible and there’s a cast of likable, offbeat heroes to provide a string of great moments. It’s just a shame the movie doesn’t have a proper story. The movie begins with the team on the run from Sovereign, then they’re saved by Ego, then Ego reveals he’s bad and they have to stop him. That’s pretty much it, and it leaves a film with plenty of style but no momentum; once Ego arrives, everything grinds to a halt for 30 minutes where there’s no direct threat (something that makes Hawkeye’s farmhouse look positively riveting). It highlights the problem Marvel has with first sequels, wanting pure character development but not knowing how to realize that beyond a string of scenes where characters explain how they feel.

If you break it down, on paper Guardians 2 is about fathers absent and adoptive, and the nature versus nurture debate. Unfortunately, while plenty of sides to this are raised – every single character has a part to play in the theme, one way or another – it never comes together to be anything more than individual. There’s a sense Baby Groot was supposed to be the uniting aspect given his hugs at the end, but his role for most of the film is that of comic relief.

As already mentioned, the characters keep James Gunn’s head above water. Star-Lord gets a payoff to his backstory that honors a lot of seeds in the first movie, although Rocket comes across the best by far, his personality painfully laid bare without having to lean too heavily on the whole scientifically-altered raccoon thing, and gets the fair share of great moments; were it better set up “I’ve lost too many friends today” would be an all-timer.

Related: Should Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Have Had More MCU Connections?

Page 3 of 6: Ant-Man & More Of Our MCU Ranking

15. Ant-Man (2015)

Ant-Man was the first in a new type of Marvel origin film. Here was a character becoming a superhero in a world where the Avengers already exist, where namedrops and cameos were de rigor, and the formula was down to a tee. But this was also a movie where the production limitations (Edgar Wright was infamously fired three months before production began, replaced by Peyton Reed) and the high hit-rate of said formula made for safe choices. The result is actually the median Marvel film, overall competent but with little ambition, and where the character would only truly shine when part of the wider ensemble.

What Ant-Man gets unavoidably right is the casting. It’s a shame we never got an in-his-prime Hank Pym, but Paul Rudd as Scott Lang is an effective twist on the typical Marvel hero (this one is a real criminal, no questions) and Michaels Douglas and Pena add edge as aware mentor and hyperactive buddy respectively. There’s also a large, affable supporting cast (Bobby Cannavale as an upending of the step-father is an underrated highlight) that take audiences through the rather standard story and making a more overtly comedic movie pop.

It’s one the superhero side where Ant-Man struggles. The action, in particular, is a major let-down, with a constant uncertainty in how to shoot the micro-sequences. Are they told from Scott’s shrunken down perspective or a full-size human? With minimal pre-production, Peyton Reed doesn’t have an answer so goes for an uneasy blend of the two, which is disorienting and sometimes interesting, yet never that innovative.

Related: Ant-Man’s Spider-Man Reference: Who Else Was Luis Talking About?

14. Captain Marvel (2019)

Unlike most MCU movies where there’s a degree of consistency to the quality throughout, Captain Marvel is the one that varies the most. Some moments and long stretches of story are very strong – anything involving the Skrulls and their true purpose is fascinating – yet many decisions have more mixed reactions.

It’s all rooted in a welcome, non-linear change-up to the formula; Brie Larson enters as Kree Starforce member Vers and only gradually uncovers her past as Carol Danvers, eventually choosing the hero persona entirely of her own accord. It’s strong messaging, having the first solo female MCU hero emerge from a place of external restrictions to define herself, but also leads to unclear audience perspective – even at the end, viewer and star aren’t on the same page – and turbulent narrative. Not to mention some classic concerns aren’t adjusted; villain Yon-Rogg who earlier warned humor was a distraction is beaten in a gag beat.

Operating as the MCU’s first lore-heavy prequel, Captain Marvel does a good job of expanding the world. 1990s period details are mostly background (bar specific music choices), and the Marvel references are mostly organic and expand known ideas without contradicting (just don’t ask Nick Fury how he lost his eye or where the name Avengers came from). And, of course, with clear connections to Avengers: Endgame (which Larson shot first), it exemplifies origin stories as dry runs for bigger adventures; Brie Larson is more Hemsworth than Evans (strong, promising, not fully there yet) but it doesn’t matter because this functions as just one piece of a whole.

Related: Captain Marvel Points Out The MCU’s Biggest Problem (But Can’t Quite Fix It)

13. Thor (2011)

For a movie that every subsequent outing for the character seems to have been trying to somehow “correct“, Thor really is a forgotten MCU hit. The Dark World attempted to go more grounded, Ragnarok more all-out comedy, but they miss how Kenneth Branagh pretty much nailed the balance between both first time out. The story mixes the fish-out-of-water comedy with faux-Shakespearean drama (the plot as much as the dialogue is rooted in classical storytelling) well, the filmmaking choices (dark-lit sets and dutch angles) accentuate the otherworldly feel, and it was overall the most earnest embracing of comic weirdness up to that point.

Chris Hemsworth isn’t as out-of-the-gate perfect as Thor compared to Evans’ Cap or RDJ’s Tony Stark, but the sillier Earth-side of the story allows him to ease into the role. On the other side, Tom Hiddleston is a revelation as Loki, who’s never been more complicated than here, and the supporting cast like Anthony Hopkins as Odin is inspired. There’s no specific weak aspect, more a general sense of good-not-great; Jane Foster is a solid love interest but underserved, the same with the Warrior’s Three.

Thor is an overall affable movie, balancing big world building for the franchise and universe (the “magic as science” descriptive is non-aggressively pushed) with more internal character debates. It was only by Avengers: Infinity War where Thor truly became a worthy MCU lead, but you feel that if the ideas raised by his first movie had been followed through on, he’d have reached that point a lot sooner.

Related: Every MCU Character Who’s Lifted Thor’s Hammer

12. Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man 3 is far and away the most underrated movie in the MCU. Coming off The Avengers and returning straight to standalone stories with the odd nod to Thor and Captain America was a tricky ask, but Marvel went for broke with what will likely be the last Robert Downey, Jr-led outing. It’s a Shane Black movie through and through, from the stylish ephemera – framing narration, Christmas setting – to more fundamental aspects – the wry humor, the focus on buddy-cop escapades – and doesn’t fall into many of the Marvel formula pitfalls that later movies would (the Whedon influence was yet to sink in). Plainly, Iron Man 3 has one of the most distinct personalities in the series (even more so than Guardians of the Galaxy).

Much of the backlash rests at the feet of the Mandarin. The movie marketed itself on seeing Tony Stark showdown against a modern update of his archnemesis, and that’s exactly what it delivered; just not in the way many were expecting; the Osama Bin-Laden channeling Mandarin was just an actor, the Eastern-influenced Ten Rings all part of a terrorist front by vengeful Western tech genius Aldrich Killian. But while that’s not accurate to the comics, it is to the real world. Terrorism is a performance and the real threats to our society are at home, making the Mandarin as thematically rich as it is hilarious.

If Iron Man 3 has a villain problem, it’s everything else. Maya Hansen was the secret big bad in earlier drafts but studio rewrites make her character-less, the Extremis soldiers are vague goons without any clear weaknesses, and while Killian being a suave rich guy is accurate to what the movie is spearing, it’s doesn’t make for an interesting final battle.

Page 4 of 6: Doctor Strange & More Of Our MCU Ranking

11. Doctor Strange (2016)

It’s easy to be glib about Doctor Strange. An origin story for an arrogant, sarcastic, rich man with a goatee who suffers a life-changing injury but directly through that discovers new powers – on paper it transplants Iron Man‘s formula to Stephen Strange to a tee. Yet this is a wholly unique film that simply uses the tropes to tell a much more offbeat story than Marvel was used to. Benedict Cumberbatch is easy casting but gives his all, as do the often underutilized cast, while the humor that waylaid many Phase 3 movies is worked into the character beats more organically than most.

While this movie is often compared to Inception, the Christopher Nolan this Doctor Strange has most in common with is actually Interstellar: the idea that time is the true enemy and death the ultimate fear is a heady topic for a superhero blockbuster, yet it’s one that Scott Derrickson takes to its natural conclusion with the Ancient One’s reflective death and series high-mark “Dormammu, I have come to bargain.

Going from themes to visuals is where Doctor Strange loses itself a little. Derrickson certainly offers up some strikingly weird imagery, yet a lot of it is odder for the sake of it than having some greater visual purpose. Claims Doctor Strange was “like nothing you’ve ever seen” act like 2001: A Space Odyessy didn’t do it better almost 50 years earlier. This problem is most evident in the action, which are rather flat chase scenes with impressive CGI grafted on them; only Marvel would have a sequence where characters must defend against reversing time and set it in a bland alley set.

Related: Why Didn’t Doctor Strange Trap Thanos In A Time Loop?

10. Iron Man (2008)

It’s easy to heap a lot of importance on Iron Man for how it kickstarted the MCU, marking Marvel Studios out as a blockbuster force to be reckoned with and in its post-credits scene building directly to The Avengers. But all of that ignores that, at its arc reactor core, Iron Man is just a good movie.

At this point in time, critics were starting to question if superheroes were going out of vogue – the previous two years had dud third installments for trailblazing X-Men and Spider-Man franchises – only for 2008 to offer two rebukes. The Dark Knight got a lot of the spotlight for its high-end removal of all genre tropes in favor of a stripped back crime story (and indeed remains the superior film), but that doesn’t mean Iron Man was by the numbers; it took the basic origin story playbook but subverted much of it. Robert Downey, Jr. is an off-base superhero protagonist, Jon Favreau gave his cast freedom to adlib, and in its final moments undoes the entire secret identity trope (something not even Spider-Man could maintain for more than one movie in the MCU).

What’s so amazing about Iron Man is how so much of it holds up on a filmmaking level. The cinematography is clean, the CGI refined (the same can’t be said of that year’s Visual Effects Oscar winner The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), and even the pacing modern. Were this released today, audiences may question the lack of any fantastical elements, but they’d engage with it in much the same way.

Related: Iron Man’s Most Important Moment Wasn’t Nick Fury

9. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

I had a date.” Few MCU moments have quite the same heartbreaking gravitas of Captain America: The First Avenger‘s final moments where the inescapable sacrifice of the man out of time comes crushingly real. That ending sequence is shared universe building done right, with an emotional payoff to the film’s core themes beelining into a tantalizing bigger picture, yet it only works so well because of everything that came before.

The best MCU origin movies get to the core of their titular character, but with Captain America, Joe Johnston goes one better and thoroughly deconstructs who exactly this former propaganda piece is and makes a detailed case for why he’s still relevant today. Whether it’s being crushed by his song-and-dance number or betraying orders to become a true hero, the delineation of the Captain from his namesake country is so effortless. Much of that praise has to go to Chris Evans, who is such perfect casting as the Star-Spangled Man that he almost single-handedly pivoted Cap as the lead of the franchise in place of Iron Man (and comes across fairly convincingly as a weakling despite the shrunk CG body).

Above all, Captain America is an Indiana Jones-style adventure, a fantasy World War II romp with a visual style straight off the cover of a Boy’s Own sci-fi collection. The Red Skull is a deliciously teased villain, the dancing-and-fighting montages captivating, and there’s a greater foreknowledge of where the story will go – the filmmakers know Steve isn’t making it out alive and Bucky’s death is done with knowledge of the future. Captain America has far-and-away the best standalone Marvel series, and while his Russo-directed efforts are stylistically different, the core of the character and themes are all in The First Avenger.

Related: Why Captain America Is Greatest MCU Hero (& What The Avengers Movies Miss)

8. Black Panther (2018)

Just because something works doesn’t mean that it cannot be improved,” Shuri says to T’Challa. She’s talking about his Kimoyo Beads, but is very much summing up the creative drive of the film. Black Panther is how to do Marvel right while evolving it. It presents the character full-on, building on the Captain America: Civil War introduction and deconstructing the ideas that define him, but goes a step further than even The First Avenger and adds on proper social commentary.

Ryan Coogler proves himself like no other breakout director has in the MCU, crafting a story that at every turn is using the superhero genre to explore the ills of colonialism and question what we can do today to correct the mistakes of the past. It’s rarely preachy or obvious, and builds to a rational conclusion in a tough manner. The chief stroke of brilliance is Killmonger. Marvel corrected their villain problem by developing them as if they were heroes, which for Erik means making him come from a logical place but then extend to an extreme level: Killmonger is right but his actions are wrong.

While the movie can’t totally escape Marvel formula – jokes are hit-and-miss, while the scale of the final action scene feels mandated – the next-level world-building, seamlessly creating an afro-futurist land that feels truly real (bar the recurring street set), marks Black Panther out as something beyond its ilk (and more than worthy of its game-changing Oscar wins). Franchise connections are light, but that’s only because that approach is the future of the franchise.

Related: With Black Panther, The MCU Finally Steps Out Of Iron Man’s Shadow

Page 5 of 6: Guardians of the Galaxy & More Of Our MCU Ranking

7. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

The narrative is that Guardians of the Galaxy was Marvel’s biggest gamble thus far, trying to sell a talking raccoon and a walking tree to general audiences. That’s true to a point, but it must be remembered that there was a point when a Norse God or World War II relic or robot suit named after a transition metal were similarly confounding to the mainstream; Marvel never had safe bets by nature of not having A-list characters. This reading does, however, highlight Guardians of the Galaxy‘s biggest strength – its swagger. From the moment Chris Pratt starts dancing to Redbone’s “Come And Get Your Love” as the title fills the screen, this is an incredibly confident, blended riff on Marvel superhero and Star Wars sci-fi tropes that has no interest in whether you’d heard of them before SDCC 2012 or not.

Much of the credit rightly goes to James Gunn, who melds his personality sensibilities with that of the cosmic Marvel comics and the MCU without sacrificing much of any individual part. If Star Wars was a used future, this is a casually-zany future. Everything is weird, but when everything is weird, nothing is: the vibrancy is charm, not in-your-face spectacle; the stilted yet straight dialogue is making for comedy without undercutting the scale of the story.

Where the movie does struggle a little is in its plotting, with the mix of team-up and origin story formulas buckling around the second act; the Knowhere sequence slows the pace, drops exposition and then needs characters to act out of sorts to get towards the final act. This problem would return in the sequel, but it doesn’t bring the movie down too much because of the effort put into making sure each character is defined and the MacGuffin has meaning way beyond purple whisps.

Related: Thanos’ MCU Introduction Doesn’t Make Sense – Here’s How We’d Fix It

6. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Sold as the culmination of the entire MCU (but really just Part 1 of 2 as Marvel always promised), Avengers: Infinity War is barely readable by any standard narrative means. It has two dozen heroes each with their own interlinked arcs, but even at 160 minutes long, the film can only develop them incrementally, with a handful getting anything approaching proper focus. It’s certainly entertaining to see Bucky and Rocket live out a meme or Steve Rogers meet Groot, but the only way to really parse down its story is from the perspective of villain Thanos, which may be the Russo brothers smartest decision in the entire MCU.

In direct contrast to Killmonger (right motives, bad actions), Thanos is misguided to the bone, his plan horrific and means distressing. Wanting to destroy half of all life in the universe is utterly insane, but it’s framed in something approaching a Campbellian hero’s journey that makes the drive understandable, if not relatable. And that is why, even when he and Thor, the closest thing the film has to good protagonist, come face-to-face, the Mad Titan still wins: he is a force of pure will, who is able to collect the Infinity Stones because at every stage he’s willing to do what none of the heroes are capable of.

Infinity War is a hard film to assess on its own merits considering its cliffhanger ending leaves everything up in the air ahead of Avengers: Endgame, but there’s no denying the audacity of the mass decimation at the end (even if a return is oh-so-obvious). It’s grim storytelling done on a scale only possible with blockbuster budgets and the sheer weight of what’s to come. Avengers: Infinity War ignores so much of the set up (Thanos is a different being) but it works because it fundamentally understands the core of the Marvel universe is character.

Related: Avengers: Infinity War’s Ending Was Very Different In The Comics

5. The Avengers (2012)

The Avengers is where the MCU truly became the mega-franchise it is today. Up until 2012, Marvel Studios had marked themselves out as being able to produce consistently “good” action movies with strong characters (Iron Man 2 notwithstanding) that challenged superhero norms of recognisability and marketability, but it was only with Joss Whedon’s team-up they truly became “great“. It released in May 2012, two months before highly anticipated conclusion The Dark Knight Rises, yet not only made more but ended up being the most influential. Many studios tried to build their own shared universes (none quite as successful) and Whedon’s blockbuster style became the norm for this franchise and many more.

But The Avengers wasn’t just bringing the characters together and riffing humorously on their differences. It could have been that sort of gimmicky movie, sure, and would have likely still passed $1 billion, but what really made it work was how energized and focused it was. There’s not really a plot, more a chase for the magical MacGuffin, yet the character interactions provide a story backbone – in the first 40 minutes or so, every scene transition connects directly to the previous one – that remains tight. And that allows the movie to do more than bring heroes together: it analyzes the notion of a team-up in a mildly-meta way, responding to preempting critics and making the eventual group shot a triumph even if you’d not seen a single previous film.

Even then, not everything works – some of the earlier action sequences are very televisual, Hawkeye’s entire arc is undone by a complete lack of setup – but those are overridden by the smart script (what seem like improv asides become emotive throughlines in stark contrast to Whedon’s reshoots on Justice League) and an explosion into three-dimensional action. And while the base thrill of the Avengers coming together is now part and parcel of any random MCU film, it’s been allowed to retain its special feeling by future films thanks to a careful honoring of its core ideas (and a movie-long tease of the purple alien behind it all).

Related: Marvel’s Original MCU Phase 1 Plan Ended With A Very Different Avengers

Page 6 of 6: Our Top 4 MCU Movies

4. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Much was made at the time how Captain America: Civil War was similar to Batman v Superman, from the macro – the shared universe is split in two as the major heroes duke it out – to the micro – the fights are dictated by characters’ emotions for dead mothers. But what’s so striking is that, when both movies landed on the May weekend, it was DC who balked, moving Dawn of Justice to a less competitive March. This was the moment where the MCU’s scale became next-level, where former B-list characters were a bigger draw than the World’s Finest.

Civil War uses that growth and development very much to its advantage. Threads established in as many as nine previous movies (Iron Man 1-3, Captain America 1-2, Avengers 1-2, Ant-Man and The Incredible Hulk) are brought together to tell a story that grapples with the real world applications of having superheroes leveling cities outside your window, and the more personal story of Bucky that’s been simmering for the past two Cap films. And this is a Captain America film first and foremost; Steve Rogers’ responsibilities and guilts power the narrative and resolve the identity exploration of the previous films by having him desert the Avengers and the shield, yet remain the hero. Not that the solo movie arc means the Russos don’t elevate every other character; Tony Stark’s arc is extended, Hawkeye gets more development than in Age of Ultron, Ant-Man gets the showcase he deserved, and in Black Panther and Spider-Man two major heroes are introduced fully formed.

That said, it would be a lie to say some of the shine hasn’t worn off Captain America: Civil War over the past few years, inevitable for such a sprawling tale. The Sokovia Accords are really a plot device and characters – Black Widow especially – choose sides based on narrative requirements, not their past, which means the film doesn’t have as much to say as it thinks. But considering the scale Marvel was now working on, in stark contrast to the twin movie, that didn’t really matter.

Related: What Sides Marvel Heroes SHOULD Have Taken In Captain America: Civil War

3. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

The MCU is greater than the sum of its parts, but if there was any one movie that best represented that sum, it would be Avengers: Endgame. It’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe in microcosm, with all the good and bad that brings. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s messy, it has a very confusing approach to micro-continuity, but it’s ultimately incredibly character driven and delivers an emotional catharsis beyond what any solo movie could do.

Being the ending – at least as close to an ending as a movie with seven movies confirmed in development for the next few years can be – Avengers: Endgame has a massive advantage in when it comes to stakes; so much of the legwork has done before a single frame of new footage. But the Russo brothers do not slack. The opening and closing scenes of Endgame eclipse anything in Infinity War (yes, even the snap), and the in-between journey is so sprawling yet focused in intention that moment after moment hits. Fan service is laid on thick yet feels earned and rarely Tumblr-bait, there’s no green screen flubs, and the ability to pull back from the jokes and let the darkest scenes land delivers what some previous films were missing.

But it’s not perfect. Some of the choices made to get to the ending are rather perplexing, doubly so considering how they seem so opposite to how things were set up in Avengers: Infinity War, a movie written and filmed alongside it. And long-predicted story turns are just as lacking in plot logic as feared. This may be the worst movie to introduce someone to the MCU with, but it’s the perfect one to express what’s made it so great.

2. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

After the second act of Spider-Man: Homecoming, it feels like Peter Parker has finally found some balance in life. His superheroics are taking a backseat and his life is together to the point he’s taking his senior year crush to the dance. He rings her doorbell… and then Vulture opens the door, crashing both sides of his life together. The greatest twist ever in a superhero film – the villain was the love interest’s father is a well-worn trope, but Homecoming buries it deep – that this happens purely on a character level, devoid of MCU or Spider-Man franchise context, is a shining example of just how well balanced Jon Watts’ film is.

Rebooting Spider-Man for the third time that was at once faithful and new was a tough order. Marvel decided to strip the character of what had been overdone before and built him up from what was left. This is a version of Spidey rooted most in the early Stan Lee and Steve Ditko comics, but transplanted to Generation Z to enable a modern-day deconstruction akin to what Phase 1 did for Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. And Homecoming certainly nails his balance of youthful, neighborhood vigilantism with the instantly relatable troubles of leading a normal teenage life, thanks to Tom Holland’s semi-awkward performance and a heavy dose of John Hughes referencing.

Eight years later aside (likely a result of needing Liz to be young enough to draw a picture of theAvengers in crayon), the movie’s placement in MCU canon is elegant as well. Tony Stark is a fitting father figure, the cameos are worth your patience, and, best of all, Peter (and Ned’s) wide-eyed passion brings “heroes outside your window” to life.

That all these three aspects – movie, character, universe – work so well results in one of the most satisfying Marvel movies, and one that has already aged better than its contemporaries (even if it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2).

Related: The Biggest (And Best) Change The MCU Has Made To Spider-Man

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Some of what makes Captain America: The Winter Soldier so effective was a complete accident; its story of modern espionage and invasion of freedoms lines up so well with the Edward Snowden NSA leaks that it’s amazing the film was in production before his story broke. However, that real-world caveat does nothing to take away from what the movie does with the character of Steve Rogers. If The First Avenger was about divorcing Captain America’s patriotic values from his propaganda origins, its modern-day follow-up is how you apply that to a morally-ambiguous, ostensibly peace-time landscape. This is there from the discovery his government bosses are corrupted to that the big villain is his former best friend.

This was the Russos brother’s first entry in the MCU and much of what made their subsequent team-ups so epic yet satisfying is rooted here. The action has proper heft – bullets wound and falls hurt – and there’s a deft balance of character and story, with every single player getting a proper arc that has a tangible impact on the plot; astounding as juggling two-dozen heroes in Avengers: Infinity War is, here there are still more than 10 essential characters interlocking. The core of it, though, is that Steve-Bucky relationship: the Winter Soldier twist is clearly signposted (and spoiled by anybody who was redirected to Bucky’s Wikipedia page pre-release) but that’s all effective setup for an emotional climax.

The weakest part about The Winter Soldier as an MCU film can hardly be blamed on the movie itself: its consequences are mostly meaningless. The Hydra-is-S.H.I.E.L.D. twist should have been seismic, yet Avengers: Age of Ultron not only mops up the fallout before the opening title but it has Nick Fury once again flying a helicarrier. In that regard, it highlights what a great Marvel movie should do – be as good as you can on your own.

Next: Every Upcoming Marvel Movie


2019-04-25 09:04:42

Alex Leadbeater

How To Find Vault 13 On Fallout 2’s Map

Here’s how players can find the elusive Vault 13 on the vast Fallout 2 map. Fallout is a franchise that casts players as the survivor of a nuclear war, who emerges from an underground vault decades later and must learn to survive the bleak new world. The series is typically made up of role-playing action, where players have to explore a vast open world and battle raiders, mutated creatures and the unforgiving landscape itself.

The original Fallout was released in 1997 and the series has branched out in unique – and bizarre – ways ever since. There have been action heavy spinoffs like Fallout: Brotherhood Of Steel and the multiplayer shenanigans of 2018’s Fallout 76. Bethesda Softworks (Skyrim) took over the franchise starting with 2008’s Fallout 3. This title proved to be somewhat controversial, as while it introduced a bigger audience to the franchise, the changes it brought to the series irritated fans of the original games.

Related: Ranking The Fallout Games, From Worst To Best

Fallout 2 was released in 1998, the year after the original. The game was considered a big improvement on the first Fallout, telling a more ambitious story, in addition to gameplay improvements and a larger map. While a rushed development period led to some bugs, the sequel also introduced the franchise’s warped sense of humor. The sequel takes place 80 years after the first game, where The Chosen One – the descendant of Fallout’s original hero – is tasked with finding Vault 13 to retrieve a device called the GECK that could save their dying village.

Of course, the first thing players need to do is actually find Vault 13, which isn’t displayed on the Fallout 2 map. There are a few ways to unlock its location. The first method involves giving a drink to a character called Saltbeef Bob at Roger Westin’s ranch. Bob will reveal Doc Jubilee stole his map to Vault 13, so The Chosen One can later talk to the doctor and if he buys his Elvis painting, the map will be found hidden inside.

The second is to work for Sheriff Dumont and accept the quest to stop the brahmin raids. If players have 100% on their Outdoorsman skill, they’ll be able to hunt down the Deathclaws behind the raids straight to Vault 13. The final option is to go to Vault 15, where a computer room on level 3 can be hacked – so long as players have a high enough science skill. Finding the location of Vault 13 is one thing, but what players find inside opens up a new world of craziness.

Sadly, players can’t just stumble onto Vault 13’s entrance by exploration, and it has to be added to the Fallout 2 map first. Part of the fun of a Fallout game is exploring the vast world and having adventures, so there’s no need to rush to get to Vault 13 anyway.

Next: What Is The Best Faction In Fallout 4?


2019-04-25 09:04:07

Padraig Cotter