1. Captain Marvel rescues Tony and Gamora
Who else would do it? Tony and Gamora are trapped on a crippled Guardian’s ship. Captain Marvel can blast through space effortlessly. She tracks their emergency beacon and brings the ship back to Earth. This one is quick, easy, and gets Iron Man back with the gang to help solve the Thanos problem.
2. A battle with take place within the Soul Stone
I don’t really know how this one would work. But if all the snapped souls are contained within the stone, you’d have to get them out somehow, right? Could the Avengers use the Quantum Realm to travel into the stone and free everyone who was snapped? We’ve seen Thanos inside the soul stone talking to a young Gamora after the snap. So the idea that the stones contain their own dimension isn’t unheard of. The soul stone could be a paradox or a theoretical wormhole where it’s bigger in the inside than on the outside. Or it’s just a movie so shut up, Joe.
3. Captain Marvel travels back in time and steals the infinity gauntlet from Thanos during the Battle of New York
I know… I know… The Infinity Gauntlet is massive. It’s not proportional to Captain Marvel at all. It’s designed to fit the hand of an 8-foot eternal, not Carol Danvers. That’s where this theory doesn’t hold much weight. But the point is if Captain Marvel travels back to the Battle of New York, she could zip through the tesseract’s opening, find Thanos, and steal the Infinity Gauntlet before he has the chance to collect any stones. Thanos would then follow her back to Earth where Captain Marvel and the surviving Avengers are waiting for him. Which brings in my next theory...
4. We’ll get one gigantic battle with all the Avengers against Thanos
The Avengers use time travel to bring Thanos back to right before the snap. But instead of Thanos having the Infinity Gauntlet, Captain Marvel controls it. And because the timeline sifted, Captain Marvel has all the stones instead of Thanos. Every Avenger is present (some script magic would have to be sprinkled in to get the Guardians, Spider-Man, and Dr. Strange back but that’s for fancy Hollywood folks to figure out.) This theory is littered with holes. But you have to imagine with how loved the Civil War airport battle is, and how retweeted the Thor entrance in the Battle of Wakanda is, there’s going to be a massive battle involving nearly every MCU hero.
5. Professor Hulk doesn’t play a big role in reversing the snap, but Bruce is stuck in that form forever.
This is my cynical marketing side here. I think Marvel Studios got the George Lucas playbook and are only changing Hulk’s look to sell more toys. I’m not familiar with Professor Hulk and what purpose he serves in the comics. All I know is he has the physical side of Hulk, but the personallity of Bruce Banner. He’s basically a green Dolph Lundgren.
While Professor Hulk hasn’t been confirmed or seen in the trailers, stills have leaked that suggest he's in Endgame. It would also give reason for Bruce’s Hulk-tile dysfunction in Infinity War. Plus Bruce Banner has admitted to being afraid of turning into Hulk and never coming back. Maybe the tradeoff for balancing brains and braun is Professor Hulk as the permanent state of Bruce? I don’t know what purpose that serves the movie other than an extremely baritone Mark Ruffalo explaining science to the gang followed by punching aliens? I’m very intrigued by Professor Hulk. I hope I’m wrong. But I feel like his only purpose is to push more Endgame merch.
6. Captain Marvel kills Thanos
This is this most obvious guess. Maybe not exactly Carol Danvers turning the stones on Thanos, but it’s the idea that she is the only one strong enough to kill him.
With the all the stones in his possession, Thanos is essentially immortal. Any injury he sustains can easily be reversed with the Time Stone. Then bingo bango bongo, he’s back at full strength. However, in Infinity War when Thor throws Stormbreaker and hits Thanos in the chest, his last words before the snap were, “You should have gone for the head.” Going back to my earlier prediction, Captain Marvel now controls the Infinity Stones. Thor yellls for her to aim at his head as a callback and she’ll blast his face to hell with the full power of the stones.
7. Maybe nobody kills Thanos
I don’t think Thanos is getting out of this alive. But a fate worse than death is endless isolation on Thanos Farm knowing he failed at his destiny. We know time travel is part of Endgame. So do the Avengers travel back to the Battle of New York and destroy the tesseract? That would prevent Thanos from teleporting through space to collect the other stones. It’s possible, but would be pretty underwhelming for the audience.
8. Gamora and Nebula get their revenge
I would be shocked if this one happened because it’s too obvious for the Russo brothers. But they focused a ton on the broken relationship of Thanos and Gamora during Infinity War. Endgame would be weird if it breezed over him killing his own daughter in the last movie.
It’s a popular theory that Gamora’s spirit lives in the Soul Stone. So if the Avengers could get the Soul Stone from Thanos, and reverse the snap, Gamora would rejoin the living. Then her and Nebula attack a weaker Thanos, killing him with the balancing blade he once gifted Gamora. It would be an opportunity to wrap up the subplot of Infinity War, but it’s too predictable for a cinematic universe this complex.
9. The post-credit scene will be our first look at the X-Men introduced into the MCU
This one is a huge stretch. The Disney acquisition of 21st Century Fox was only completed on March 20th of this year. That is an impossibly tight window to film and edit a famous Marvel post-credit scene. If you’re not familiar with the deal, Disney now owns the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool franchises. Deadpool is the only one making the cut, but X-Men and Fantastic Four are getting total reboots. People would lose their goddamn minds if the post-credit scene was something like this:
The shot pans across a snowy Canadian forest. The snap has been reversed and we see a pile of ash start to coalesce. The shot zooms in and we see the shape of a hand. The shot zooms in even further. Then out of the resurrected hand, three metal claws quickly extend and the screen goes black.
It’s possible, but highly unlikely. My guess is there’s probably some legal challenges that kept the Russo brothers from working on any 21st Century Fox IP until after March 20th. But what else could the post-credit scene be? We see Peter Parker get his passport photo taken at CVS? Every post-credit scene in the MCU has lead to Endgame. Spider-Man Far From Home is the only MCU movie in post-production. Everything else hasn’t even begun filming yet.
Endgame is probably going to make $2 billion and Disney knows it. They’re not going to end the most ambitious crossover event in cinematic history with an underwhelming post-credit scene. Whatever they give us, it’s going to create so much speculation for the next phase of the MCU.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHICAGO – Oct. 9, 2018. Today marks a monumental leap in cinematic history. After a weekend of careful deliberation, prayer, and reflection, I have decided that Bradley Cooper is a better actor than Matt Damon. The question of “Are we sure Bradley Cooper isn’t better than Matt Damon?” in an extremely Bill Simmons voice originated while I was driving home after a Thursday night viewing of A Star is Born with Mrs. Kenyon. Originally, the ranking of best male actors in Hollywood was lead by Mr. Damon, with Mr. Cooper climbing his way up the AP polls. After nailing the perfect triple threat performance of actor, singer, and director in A Star is Born, Mr. Cooper has triumphantly knocked Matt Damon off the mountaintop. The sudden shift in power has left me hopeful for this bright future, but undoubtedly depleted. I ask the media to respect my privacy at this time of rest and recovery. All further questions can be referred to my attorney or spokesperson, Mrs. Kenyon.
The one criticism I've always had against ESPN Films has been their lack of documentaries about the Chicago Bulls. There was Jordan Rides the Bus, which is excellent, but that's such a weird footnote in Jordan history. Obviously not everyone cares about the Bulls. Duh. But, fan or not, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were cultural titans during their perfect six-for-six championship run. They're the only NBA franchise to own a decade. How could ESPN neglect our airness like by not gifting the world a documentary about his career?
Well, the answer is, because Michael and the Bulls' story can't be condensed into one documentary. It needs a 10-part-mega-docu-series-extravoganzia! To pull it off effectively, it requires a Herculean coordination effort to sit every willing/living participant and recount the cultural and historic impact the '90s Bulls made on this planet. So I guess I can forgive ESPN since that is a ton of work and deserves the necessary effort to accomplish a project of such significance.
Today ESPN Films and Netflix announced a joint production called "The Last Dance" that will debut in 2019.
ESPN Films and Netflix today announced a joint production “The Last Dance,” a 10-part documentary series that will chronicle one of the greatest icons and most successful dynasties in sports history, Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls. Directed by Jason Hehir (“The Fab Five,” “The ’85 Bears,” “Andre the Giant”) and produced by Mike Tollin, the anthology will examine the simultaneous rise of Jordan and the NBA during those years.
This is monumental. My guess is The Last Dance will become the must-binge series when it airs next year. What I'm most excited for is the promise of never-before-seen footage. That's usually marketing code for content that was never all that interesting to air originally. However, I find it hard to believe that within all of this unseen footage, there won't be a moment where we suddenly see Michael in a lens we're not used to.
There's often a verbal asterisk when discussing Michael. The "yeah but" of the conversation circles around the fact that social media didn't exist during his championship runs. What was Michael like with the pressure of winning a sixth NBA title in his final season on the Bulls? Were the wildly dramatic storylines of today's NBA around in the '90s or is the Durant vs. Westbrook tension a product of today's Twitter environment? Will this documentary series forever change the way we compare Jordan to LeBron?
Until 2019, I'll keep rewatching the trailer hoping time speeds up. I can't wait for The Last Dance.
I was expecting aliens...
I mean, there were aliens. Two of them, in fact, that never left one of the twelve, multistory tall ships that landed throughout the globe. Named heptapods for their radial seven arm symmetry, but affectionally dubbed Abbot and Castello, the aliens were hardly the stars of the movie.
Originally, I thought Arrival was going to be a film that followed the all-time classic alien movie formula. It would start with the first encounter of alien invaders followed by inter-planetary war with humankind coming together to prevail in the end but not without the only black character getting killed off shockingly early and an overload of catastrophic explosions.
Instead the star of this movie is not only Amy Adams but language itself. It is the first alien movie, that I know of, where the protagonist isn't military (although she is contracted by the military) or a biologist of some sort, but a linguist with the impossibly intricate task of translating dialogue between two very frightened cultures.
Now here's the thing...
This is the part in my post where I talk about the plot. Thinking back to my journalism school days when I wrote an A+ review for Notorious, I started off with a small bit of generic information about the storyline and its characters and now this is where I should transition into greater plot details but withhold any major spoilers.
However, that's become difficult for me to do. That's because Arrival is designed to confuse the living hell out of the audience. I've had a few days to let its entirety wash over me and I think I know less about the plot now than I did immediately after it ended. So I'm not sure exactly how to tackle summarizing the plot but I think that's the point.
This is because Arrival challenges you to consider time differently than how we understand it to work. We think of time as being continually linear. That means it has a beginning, a middle and an end and we're always moving from the past into the present and eventually into the future. Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity tells us that time can stretch and flex but it can't travel backwards and we've come to accept that as fact. So how do you tell a story with a beginning, middle and an end with a concept that time doesn't quite flow in that sequence?
Here's my best shot...
When twelve alien ships, dubbed shells, land at points scattered throughout the planet, the corresponding nations begin to panic as their purpose of their arrival is unknown. Members of the United States military show up at linguist Louise Banks' (Amy Adams) office asking for her help in deciphering the spoken language of two alien entities. Her reluctant agreement to help translate pairs her alongside theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) at the Montana location of a shell. Upon meeting the two heptapods, Louise writes the word "human" on a whiteboard which becomes the catalyst for a dialogue of written words and symbols between to two species. Unsure of how to translate, she considers how their concept of time may impact their symbols. That their written language of circles with slight alterations in serif is not supposed to be read from one direction to the other like ours. That perhaps its message is designed to be understood all at once. Plagued by recurring flashbacks of her daughter battling and dying from a rare disease, she fights through the effects of sleepless nights in order to fully understand the heptapod's language.
As her skills progress, she begins a more complex, albeit choppy, dialogue for the military's purpose of understanding why they've arrived on Earth. Her words are understood and the heptapod's message is simple. They want to deliver a weapon to humanity.
As the word of their intentions plasters itself across the planet, China gives the visitors an ultimatum. Either leave Earth or prepare to be fired upon. Louise unsuccessfully pleads with US Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) to explain to China that the heptapod's language is so complex that the word "weapon" could easily share a double meaning with the word "tool" and that perhaps their purpose is trade, not war.
As her knowledge of the heptapod's language expands, Louise begins to experience what is known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis where her cognitive state is altered by her growing fluency. Much like how a speaker of both English and Spanish may dream in both languages, Louise's view of time becomes more cyclical with points of ingress and egress rather than strictly linear. Slowly, Louise realizes that the visions of her child dying are not flashbacks but future memories of her life after the arrival. She is premembering events rather than remembering them.
As tensions grow, the heptapods allow only Louise the opportunity to converse with them. In her one-on-one meeting with one of the heptapods, the alien reassures her that the heptapods only want to deliver a tool. That is because in 3,000 years, they will need the help of humanity. The altering concept of time based on their language is their tool.
Using her understanding of how the heptapod's language works, she premembers into the future for the risks she needed to take in the present in order to prevent global war against the heptapods.
That is my honest and only slightly plagiarized attempt at the plot. There is so much more to this movie that I could divulge. I have so much admiration for director Dennis Villeneuve and the short story, "Story of Your Life" by author Ted Chiang, that Arrival is based upon. How do you begin to convey a linear story about time being cyclical?
Additionally, there are so many throwaway lines in this movie that piece the story together so wonderfully. Such as a "flashback" where Louise's daughter asks her what the scientific term for a win-win agreement is. Louise responds shortly with, "If you want scientific, ask your father." Then the memory ends and is never talked about again. It seems insignificant at first but, as the movie unfolds, you find out that this one little line happens to be a major point in the plot that was revealed nonlinearly. Lines like this are scattered throughout the movie.
Arrival is genius, unorthodox, gripping and perplexing. I loved this movie the same way I loved Interstellar. Both are the types of movies that I'll gladly fall down fan submitted theory rabbit holes and the ones that I'll find myself reciting lines from when I'm safe to be weird. My plan is to go see it in theaters one more time and then actually walk into a brick and mortar store to buy it on Blu-ray because I can't wait the two days for it to ship from Amazon.
If you have read this far into my review then I would hope you've already seen Arrival. If you haven't, then I'm sorry for the spoilers. However, what makes this movie so enjoyable is that while I have divulged the general plot, there are entire subplots within the movie swimming with complexity that I could not have possibly crammed everything into this already long review. So go see Arrival anyway. I promise that it'll be one of best movies of 2016.
I write the words I'm too uncomfortable to say.