Wednesday, September 30, 2020

5 Disney Movies that Deserve a Remake

 Here's my issue with the latest run of Disney live-action remakes: Why? At one point I'll make a scale of the remakes from best to worst, but suffice it to say I don't get why these particular movies got a remake. Beauty and the Beast: Perfect the first time. Lion King: Perfect the first time. Sleeping Beauty... Okay Malifecent just rocked so I'm fine with that, but there's a few Disney movies that could use a second try, not necessarily live action but another attempt to help some amazing ideas reach their full potential. 

5: Hunchback of Notre Dame

Fun fact 1: Victor Hugo wanted his original novel to be a big hit musical like Les Miserables, but it didn't take off that way. 

Fun fact 2: Disney made a stage musical of this film that was spectacular but sadly did not catch the public's interest like Disney's other Broadway babies. 

Fun fact 3: This is one of my favorite Disney movies, I even have a Disneyland artist drawing of Quasimodo and Funko Pops of Quasimodo and Esmeralda. 

Fun fact 4: While the book didn't turn into a huge play it did help to get Notre Dame cathedral renovated instead of the original plan to tear it down and started a revolution of saving and restoring old buildings instead of demolishing them. 

Fun fact 5: This needs to be remade so bad it hurts. 

4: Meet the Robinsons

Nobody knows about this 2007 film, and frankly seeing the slightly janky animation I don't blame them. The film has all the great Disney tropes, including a great villain, the definition of family, and an orphan gets a happy ending. This film had some parts that made my mother and I cry, something which is hard to do with our jaded Sinicism. Check this out on Disney+ and please please PLEASE pressure Disney into taking another swipe at it. 

3: Brave

A lot of people like Merida from Brave, but ask anyone what Brave was actually about and you'll get a few blank stares. The issue is that the script was rewritten after half the animation was done, so the movie has some issues. They had to do something similar to Frozen, but the rewrites came much earlier in the process so the film was far more coherent. A better script and Merida could get the film she deserves. 

2: Treasure Planet

Scriptwise I wouldn't touch much (Except the annoying robot in the third act, kill him). The live action budget for this one would be out of control, so even an animated remake would be understandable and acceptable. This was another that had a long production history but didn't get it's just due. If the heart could be preserved and the fun world even slightly replicated I would be right there to see it. 

1: Sword in the Stone

Watching this thing as an adult is a sad disappointment. The film is a weird psuedo-magical science lesson based in King Arthur's time. It's just Merlin turning Wart into animals and talking about how they live. I'd want to see something with more story, more characterizations, and just... More... movie. 

Also picture Tim Burton directing this thing and casting Johnny Depp as Merlin. 


Monday, September 28, 2020

Sorting Disney Princesses into Hogwarts Houses (1/3)

If you’ve been following my posts for any stretch of time, you’ll know that I love many things. In particular today, we’re going to indulge my love of Disney, Harry Potter, and mash-ups. Previously I’ve done Hogwarts sorting posts about Arrow, Friends, Once Upon a Time, and the Avengers. Today is the first in a three-part post about the Disney Princesses (including three honorary princesses). So let’s jump in and see our first six Disney Princess Hogwarts students.

Snow White - Hufflepuff

Our first princess is the original Disney Princess. Hufflepuff is the obvious choice, but it’s not for any lack of bravery or wit. Just like when I sorted the Once Upon a Time version of Snow into Hufflepuff, the 1930s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs portrayed a princess with patience and kindness. In addition, she also displayed the trademark Hufflepuff trait as a hard-working individual. Heck. Even before she met the dwarfs, she was cleaning their house. Side note: Next time you're at Disney World, make sure you meet this pleasant Hufflepuff in Epcot Germany.

Cinderella - Ravenclaw

Before re-watching the animated movie Cinderella in preparation for this post, I’d have put her in Hufflepuff because she’s one of the stereotypically less “heroic” princesses (that’s a discussion for later). In fact, I would have sorted Tim Burton’s Cinderella into Hufflepuff. However, the animated film showed a version of Cinderella overflowing with ingenuity and creativity. She thought her way through the problem of getting to Prince Charming’s ball. That was impressive. And remember to find this Ravenclaw in Magic Kingdom during your next Disney trip.

Belle - Gryffindor

Unlike Belle from Once Upon a Time, I felt like Gryffindor was a better fit for the animated Belle. Both loved their books and reading. However, the 1991 Belle cared more about her books because it got her out of her “poor provincial town”, even just for a moment in her mind. She cared more about the adventures in her books than the books themselves. Like Snow White, Belle can be found at Epcot, but in France.

Moana - Gryffindor

Mixed in with the first princesses, I have one of the newest princesses sorted into Gryffindor. She had a restless, adventurous spirit. Unable to sit still, she tested her father’s patience. Her courage, nerve, and daring got the best of her and sent her into the ocean unprepared, all to save her people and have an adventure. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that she’s donning red as a Gryffindor.

Tiana - Hufflepuff

She’s not the stereotypical Hufflepuff, but it’s where she fits. As I watched Princess and the Frog recently, I waited to be proved wrong about her house. However, her whole character speaks to the hard-working, fairness, and dedication that Hufflepuffs are known for. So despite Naveen being more like a Slytherin or Gryffindor, his princess is definitely a Puff. She can be found at Disney World in Fantasyland (Magic Kingdom)

Kuzco - Slytherin

My honorary princess for this post is none other than Emperor Kuzco. I sorted Mesoamerica’s favorite diva into Slytherin for obvious reasons. He may have reformed by the end of the movie to be less of a jerk, but that doesn’t change his ambitious and cunning nature. He’s a born leader, even if he abused that power at first. And he’s definitely no stranger to self-preservation. So despite being a Hufflepuff myself, my favorite Disney protagonist definitely goes in Slytherin.

Still eleven princesses to go in the coming months. Where would you place our remaining Disney heroines? “Dig a little deeper” and let me know in the comments. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Monster Has To Die In The End

The monster is chased into the windmill by the scared villagers, its immense strength and terrifying visage defeated entirely by the fear it has for the villager's simple torches. As the doors close the windmill is set on fire, quickly becoming a towering inferno of the monster's worst fear. Inside the monster screams in pain, as the soft music plays and the ending card flashes over the screen. Frankenstein's monster has succombed to the fate of all movie monsters at the time, the Hays code stating that by the end of the film, all monsters have to die. 

So then why does it hurt when the 1931 Frankenstein monster dies? 

Gentle Giant

1931's Frankenstein tells the story of the titular scientist and his monster, who has been named Frankenstein in popular culture but is only referred to as the creature in the film. We all know the story, the mad scientist brings the creature, an amalgum of corpses sewn together to resemble a man, to life with the use of lightning and a strategically placed sheet, the creature escapes, everyone freaks out, and then windmill scene. 

The thing is, this didn't need to happen. 

Let's take a look at the creature from the eyes of the outsider. Here's a creature who is in a sense born different than everyone else (We'll count the lightning sheet stuff as birth), and instead of being welcomed into the world with excitement he's welcomed in with fear. His own father, Dr. Frankenstein, doesn't even really see him as a person, exclaiming "It's alive!" when the process is complete. To him, the creature is not a person, it's a thing, a science experiment. 

Now the creature is shown early on to be instinctively afraid of fire, which makes sense since fire burns. When it's presented with fire it flips out and escapes the lab to wander the countryside searching for... Well anything. The creature at this point doesn't know anything, except fire bad. He comes across a little girl who is throwing flowers into a stream, which, not knowing to be afraid, she teaches him to do the same. In a controversial scene that was originally cut from the film, the creature ends up throwing the girl into the stream accidentally drowning her, which enrages the village and leads to windmill BBQ. 

So with all that, if we didn't know the whole corpse and looking iconic scary thing, what we have is a person with lower motor functions and a struggling IQ being punished for never learning how to properly interact with the world around him. In some ways this is an identifiable situation, especially when one is an outsider to a situation and is expected to either already know or figure out how to navigate the situation without any prior help. 

High school, anyone? 

Heck, adulthood, anyone? 

The Real Tragedy

So then the real tragedy comes at the end, when the monster is punished by being burned alive in the windmill. Why did this have to happen though? Well like I said, we can thank the Hayes code for that. 

Little historical background: Back before the rating system films used to have a series of rules they had to follow or they wouldn't be shown in mainstream movie theaters. This included stuff like not showing sexual acts or nudity, not making fun of clergy, not showing blood and guts, and as stated above, all monsters have to die by the end of the movie. 

And thus the creature's fate was sealed, despite it surviving in the novel. Oh, yeah, you know there was a novel, right? In it the creature learns how to control his body, learns to talk, read and write, and even figures out what he is. He's still rejected by Dr. Frankenstein, who faints every time he sees his face, but he learns. The creature in the novel ends up striking up a deal with daddy dearest: He'll leave him and the rest of humanity alone if the doctor makes one more creature: a female, so that he doesn't have to live in solitude. The doctor agrees but chickens out at the last second, even tearing up the lady monster corpse in front of the creature. This causes the creature to get vengeance by killing the doctor's new bride and the two proceed to chase each other, vowing death on the other until the doctor dies up in the north pole. 

In other words, the creature was not supposed to die. 

For those of us who identify with Frankenstein's monster and his difficulties in life, it's a sharp turn when the creature has to die by his own worst fear. It means that those who are different will never be accepted by mainstream society and that our mistakes will always be remembered no matter how much we try to repair them or didn't even know they were made. 

The monster has to die in the end. 

But does it though? If you're familiar at all with the Universal Monsters films, you know that Frankenstein's monster showed up at least half a dozen times during his career. While the code clearly stated that the monster had to die in the end, it never said that it had to STAY dead or REALLY be dead. In the sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, it turns out the creature didn't die in the windmill, but fell into a convenient underground cave and escaped. In others the creature is hit with lightning or was just always hiding since his last death, meaning that no matter how hard the society at the time tries to kill the monster, tries to show hatred towards the monster, he always finds his way back. He cannot be killed as long as they're are those who still love him. 

To conclude this diatribe on Frankenstein's monster, I want to point out one last thing: Through the film we never see the monster ever actually hurt anyone intentionally. The drowning of the poor girl was him thinking that it was part of the game, and others who he interacts with usually run away screaming. At worst he damages property but his intention is never to hurt anyone else, even when he's being driven away with torches. This is what makes the monster the true hero, because despite all the pain and sorrow he's suffered he never turns it outward on anyone else, even if they arguably deserve it. The real monster, as always, is the unaccepting society that created him. 


Monday, September 21, 2020

Michael Scott's Cringiest Moments

With The Office leaving Netflix at the end of the year, I figured it was time for me to finally watch the show. I’d never seen the show start to finish before; a large reason for that is how much Michael Scott makes me cringe. But I’ve recently reached the end of Michael’s tenure. So in honor of Michael Scott, here are some of his cringiest moments. Obviously this is not a comprehensive list of his worst moments and it's in no specific order.

Breaking up with Pam’s mom
Is there anything worse than breaking up with a girl on her birthday? How about when it’s because of her age (which you should have already known)? How about when her daughter had been begging you to not date her in the first place? There are so many reasons I struggled with Michael in that scene and I was just so frustrated with him.

Kissing Oscar
It all started because of an inappropriate joke (per the usual with Michael) but then things got out of control with Michael trying to get people to accept Oscar’s sexuality. Would it have been so hard for Michael to just apologize to Oscar like a normal person? Instead he got involved in a sexual harassment case for kissing Oscar without his consent.

The Company Picnic Skit
To be fair, half the blame for this goes to Holly. All the same, why did they think it’d be appropriate to make a joke out of a branch closing down? Even if the Buffalo branch knew they were being closed down, why would you make a joke about it?

Phyllis’s Wedding
I’m not sure which part of Phyllis’s wedding was the worst. Was it when Michael insisted on being in the wedding party? Was it when he pronounced them man and wife? Or was it when he gave his speech? They’re all awful and it was such a hard episode to watch for that reason.

Pizza Boy Hostage
Oh my gosh. Why was this even a thing? As irrational as Michael is, why did it make sense to him to refuse to let the pizza boy leave? Sure he wanted the discount, but it was literally kidnapping. I know Michael is dense, but I didn’t think it was possible for him to be that dense.

Spanking His Nephew
There were a lot of reasons why this episode was cringey, because of how Michael tried to defend his nepotism to the office. Again, how did Michael get so ignorant (even worse than usual) to think there was nothing wrong with nepotism? And then to start spanking his estranged nephew in front of everyone? I can’t take it.

As much as Michael has made me cringe over the past seven seasons, I’m going to miss him when he’s gone. I’m not sure it’ll even feel like The Office anymore for those last couple seasons (though I am looking forward to seeing Catherine Tate, as she is one of my favorite celebrities ever).

Friday, September 18, 2020

Hogwarts Legacy - Maneuver Through The Hype

Okay watch this trailer then we will discuss. 

Finished? Are you pumped for this game? 

Calm down. 

While the graphics look admittedly amazing, I have to point out the one thing missing from this trailer before the hype overruns everyone like the annoying internet troll that I am: 

There is no gameplay. 

We don’t even get a hint as to what kind of game it is. Presumably it’s some sort of open world affair akin to Bully, but for all we know it could be a Cooking Mama clone with a Bejeweled style minigame and microtransactions to unlock eye color. My point is that all this trailer really gives us is that it’s Harry Potter and it presumably takes place long before the books, so it doesn’t have to deal with a lot of cannon stuff, a la Knights of the Old Republic, but that it. 

What I Want To See

Okay so maybe I just want them to rerelease Bully, because honestly that game was a perfect school-based sandbox, so I basically want Bully but with magic, but let’s get technical. 

*Open World

Open world Harry Potter games have been tried before with mixed results, the best probably being the Lego Harry Potter games, but if we’re going to go open world with this thing then I want open world. I want a layout of Hogwarts castle with secrets, collectables, and fun easter eggs as far as the eye can see. I want Hogwarts to feel like a place not just a box painted to look like Hogwarts. 

*Limited Combat

The trailer shows the Harry Potter brand zombies and a bunch of Hagrid’s favorite pets, but honestly if most of the game is fighting I’m out. One thing about the Harry Potter series is that while combat is important it’s not the focus of magic. Being able to figure your way through a combat with a variety of spells, like levitating an enemy onto a nearby chandelier, turning them into a ferret, or animating a nearby suit of armor to fight for you would be far better than the standard shoot spells until the bad guy falls down. 

*Character Customization

There’s arguments for and against custom characters in video games. Established characters like Nathan Drake and Aloy let the player experience that character’s story, making a potentially rich story driven narrative as we see a character change and grow throughout the game. However, as I’ve argued many times before, I don’t read Harry Potter because I’m interested in what happens to Harry Potter. The world Rowling created is to me a far more interesting character than most of her mains (Except of course Snape who is straight up Shakesperian). I then would want to play a custom hero, a self-insert to see how I’d personally do in the hallowed halls of Hogwarts, what decisions I’d make and how I’d create my own story. As my contemporary Spencer indicates in his 5 Additional Harry Potter Story Ideas, this world has so much potential to be explored, so many untold stories, that it would be fun to tell one of our own. 

Please do it right.


Monday, September 14, 2020

5 Additional Harry Potter Story Ideas

During the height of lockdown, I started listening to a podcast called “Tales from Godric’s Hollow”. It’s basically a virtual book club for Harry Potter. It’s got the series on my mind again (not that it’s ever too far away). With the third installment of Fantastic Beasts creeping up (wayyyyy too slowly… ugh), I’ve got thinking about other potential stories from the Potterverse that could be developed after Fantastic Beasts ends in a few years.

Harry Potter wouldn’t be the first franchise with an ever expanding universe. Star Wars has been doing it with its cartoons and The Mandalorian and the MCU has done it with TV shows, movies, comics, and shorts. It wouldn’t be a far-fetched idea for JK Rowling to continue expanding this magical universe. So following in the pattern of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I’m going to choose titles from the Hogwarts library as the basis for these potential spin-offs.

Hogwarts: A History
The school of witchcraft and wizardry has a rich history and there are plenty of stories to tell. From the founding of Hogwarts, to Slytherin’s departure, or even the Blood Baron and the Gray Lady’s story, there are lots of stories to tell. We could easily get a movie or even a trilogy telling the stories of the early days of Hogwarts. How did Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin find each other? What was the story of their falling out? There’s a lot that could be expanded on.

Quidditch Through the Ages
There are a lot of options for this one. We could have a magical movie about the origins of Quidditch. Or we could have some sort of feelgood sports movie (but with Quidditch). I’m sure there are some adventures around the Quidditch World Cup that we could show. Maybe something about Ginny’s time playing professionally? Again, there are a lot of options of where this movie could take us.

The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
We’re bound to get more of Dumbledore’s backstory with the remaining three Fantastic Beasts movies, so this one might be a moot point. However, I'm sure there’s a lot more of the Dumbledore family’s story that we could develop. We could see Dumbledore Sr’s imprisonment, we could see Dumbledore and Grindewald’s teenage years (if we don’t see it in Fantastic Beasts), or we could see the in-between years after Grindewald’s defeat and Harry Potter’s birth.

The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts
There are any number of dark wizards we could choose from to do this story: Grindewald, Voldemort, or some wizard from centuries ago. The rise and fall of Voldemort’s empire during the First Wizarding War would be my ideal. We got bits and pieces throughout the Harry Potter books, particularly Half-Blood Prince, but the tension leading up to Voldemort’s defeat could be exciting. It would also give us a chance to see the original Order of the Phoenix, before the murder of the Potters.

Advanced-Potion Making
The story of Severus Snape. Even though I have a distaste for his obsession with Lily Evans, as I’ve stated before, seeing more of his story could be interesting. What was it like for him growing up with a witch mother and a muggle father? Could we get more in depth on his friendship with Lily Evans as kids? Most importantly, I’d love to see more of his time at Hogwarts and how things played out with the Marauders. We saw bits and pieces in The Order of the Phoenix and The Deathly Hallows, but that’s one small snippet that made James look bad. What was life really like for Snape?

The Tales of Beedle the Bard
It might be a book of unrelated short stories, but what if it wasn't? We know there was historical, factual basis for the story of the Deathly Hallows. What if Beedle the Bard's other tales have a basis in history too? Even better, what if they're intertwined? We could get a live action sequence of the Deathly Hallows story. Plus, we could get "Babbitty Rabbitty" and the others stories shown as well.

What Harry Potter stories do you want to see in the future? If you had your choice, which era would you want JK Rowling to expand on next? Also (I've said this before) can we please see Newt and Hagrid interact in a future Fantastic Beasts movie?

Friday, September 11, 2020

Muppets Now- What We Need Right Now

 If your house is still standing through the wind, earthquakes, fires and other natural disasters raining down on us, then it's probably a good time to celebrate. And what's a better way to celebrate not being dead than with the Muppets and their latest series Muppets Now on Disney+! (Seriously Disney, at this point why aren't you sponsoring us?)

The Setup

In Muppets Now we see the Muppets branching out into an internet streaming service type model, with small segments devoted to mini shows the Muppets are putting on. Miss Piggy has her lifestyle show, where you get to learn to be as fabulous as she is, the Swedish Chef has a celebrity cooking show, and so on, each bringing their own fun to the concept. Several of the segments are done in an online call-like format, giving it an authentic feel to the Zoom ruled world we live in now. Since the show was filmed at least a year ago, there's no way they could've known how things would be today, but like Animal Crossing New Horizons coming out just when people needed that type of game, I have my own conspiracy theories. 

The Muppets Back To Form

The last Muppets foray into TV, The Muppets on ABC, lead to some controversy around the Muppets making more adult jokes and spending time in bars (Okay but for real though, that show was delightful, check it out). In Muppets Now the titular Muppets are back to form making jokes for the whole family to enjoy, with both the zany silliness for the kids and the subtle jokes only the grown ups would understand. The Muppets have always been able to cross generations with ease, and here they do it in spades. 

Something To Look Forward To

Muppets Now has new episodes streaming every Friday on Disney+. With most sports cancelled, events put on delay and shows being put on hiatus for the foreseeable future, the steady drip of Muppet mayhem gives us something to look forward to weekly, which along with the laughs is something we can really use right about now. 


Monday, September 7, 2020

Pokemon Nicknames: Disney (Gen VI-VII)

Throughout this year I've been working on some Pokemon/Disney nicknames. Now it's time to finish off the Pokedex--minus the Galar Pokedex, since I've yet to play Sword. So without further ado, here is my last Disney/Pokemon mash-up.

Braixen as Marian

Froakie as Thaddeus

Pyroar (or Solgaleo) as Mufasa

Tyrantrum as Butch

Decidueye as Owl

Litten as Simba

Crabominable as Tamatoa

Rockruff as Bolt

Mudbray as Lampwick (or Pinocchio)

Friday, September 4, 2020

Insert Mulan Review Here

 There's a parallel universe where Disney's live-action Mulan came to theaters, was a huge hit, we reviewed it, bought the merch, and there's talks of Oscars next year. Sadly, we're in the universe where movies were pushed back, the Oscars are in question, and Mulan is coming to streaming for an extra $30. 

And that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

Why $30? 

It's hard to imagine dropping $30 for anything on an already paid for streaming service, but as a lot of things are this year, this is a special circumstance. It's probably not surprising to learn that it cost A LOT of money to make a movie, money which is hopefully made back with ticket sales and merchandise. Mulan was an exceptionally expensive movie, considering its cast of thousands, location shooting and hundreds of other extra expenses to make the film epic. With the parks closed and other big releases pushed back, Disney Studio has to be feeling the hurt from having this $200 million dollar baby sitting in their vault collecting dust. So the film had to come out somewhere to start making a return, hence why they decided to go with the $30 on Disney+ strategy, since if they could just make some of that money back it would be great. 

Now before the cries of "They're greedy corporate pigs!" start, let's remember that at the end of the day Disney is a business. The only way they're able to make wonderful things is if people pay for it, and even in a time of crisis they can't afford to give everything away for free. The early releases of Frozen 2 and Onward  on the streaming service were done after the films either made their public ticket sales or after ticket sales were no longer going to come in, so it made sense. Mulan though never had a chance. 

The next question is: Why not just release it in theaters since other films are currently releasing like New Mutants and Wonder Woman 1984? Again this comes down to Mulan's budget. which was higher than either film, meaning that the returns had to be more. With only 25% of theaters currently open and only at 50% capacity, Mulan was not going to make its money back there either. The streaming fee seemed like the best option. 

So Why Didn't We Get It? 

Now that I'm done defending Disney's controversial actions, let me explain why we don't have a formal review on here, since nobody on the blog ended up forking out the $30 to see the movie. 

The $30 price point is reasonable compared to the price of tickets one may spend when bringing their family (parents, kids, or maybe a Mushu loving cat) and when concessions are taken in it actually comes out to be a bargain. The thing is, nobody on this blog has that kind of family situation. For families consisting of two adults and maybe an infant, the price is just not worth it. $30 to see a film that'll be on our already paid for streaming service later this year anyway just does not work for us. So we all made the choice to not get it, based on our own economic situation. 

That being said, we're not saying that it's wrong to purchase Mulan for $30 if that's what you and your family want. Even if it's just for yourself or you and the spouse, if you feel it's worth it then more power to you, make it rain. At this point the film is releasing like a free-to-play video game, like Pokemon Go releases. You can play for free to your heart's content, but if you want to pay the option is there, and on the back end enough people are willing to pay that it keeps the lights on at the company and allows more content to be produced. It's not a new business model, it's just the first time we've really seen it applied to film, and it needs to be the individuals choice weather or not they want to or can pay the entrance fee. 


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Black Widow Binge List

We're finally nearing the release of Black Widow.Barring another pandemic, we're set to see Natasha's solo adventure on November 6--possibly with a Disney Plus release like Mulan. If you need a refresher on Black Widow before the movie gets released, check out this list. I posted it to Facebook back in March when it supposed to have a spring release. But since it was delayed, here we go again!

Iron Man 2 (2 hours 4 min)
Obviously the film mostly focused on Tony's issues (and he has lots of them) but Natasha was slipped in there to help him out/keep an eye on him. While Iron Man 2 tends to be associated with general distaste among fans, it did give us the introduction of Black Widow and War Machine. So despite the lack of focus on Black Widow, pull this one out and give it a watch.

The Avengers (2 hours 23 min)
Black Widow gets a bit more spotlight in this movie. The general focus ends up being on Cap, Thor, Iron Man, and Hulk. All the same, Black Widow gets a decent spotlight and we get a glimpse into her past when she talks to Loki. The movie also gives Natasha her new family, the Avengers.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2 hours 16 min)
Again, she's not the focus of the movie, but she gets more screen time than before. Black Widow teams up with Cap to fight against Hydra's infiltration of SHIELD. Like in Avengers, we get some small glimpses of her past. Nothing specific, but we see how big of a deal it is for her to reveal all of her covers when she spills SHIELD's secrets.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2 hours 22 min)
Unlike Avengers and Winter Soldier, where we only got verbalized references to Widow's past, in this movie we get some glimpses of her past when Wanda messes with her head. It's here that we really start to see how much the Red Room messed with her head. Finger crossed we get more of that in her solo movie.

Captain America: Civil War (2 hours 28 min)
Avengers 2.5, as they call it. Screen time is split pretty well between all the major heroes in the movie, but we get some good moments of Natasha still. Compared to when she was so secretive just a few years prior, this movie gives us a chance to see how much Black Widow has grown to care for her fellow Avengers, especially Cap; she shows up at Peggy's funeral and she lets Cap and Bucky pass in the end.

Avengers: Infinity War (2 hours 40 min)
Technically this one and Endgame take place after her solo movie, as we've been told, but I'm guessing they'll do some sort of tie-in. Even if it's just to lead us into how she teamed up with Cap and Falcon. I have some doubts that they'll show Cap and Falcon, but I'm guessing we'll get the connecting link.

Avengers: Endgame (3 hours 2 min)
Can't do a Black Widow prep list without showing her end. I'm guessing I'm not the only one that got thrown off by this. We probably all guessed that Black Widow was going to take place after Endgame, but since she died getting the Soul Stone, we got thrown for a loop. Endgame showed a great ending to her arc, in my opinion. She went from being a solo agent in Iron Man 2 to being a "family" woman in Endgame.

Agent Carter Season 1 (8 episodes - about 40 minutes each)
For optional, additional viewing, check out Agent Carter on Disney Plus. It takes place in the 1940s, so obviously you won't get any appearances of the Widow herself. However, you will see the Red Room where Natasha was trained, as well as the appearance of a spy they sent to face off against Peggy and her team.

Which movie do you think will be most important for your Black Widow prep? What do you hope to see in the movie? Any big tie-ins you're predicting?