Thanos isn’t coming to Earth alone. He’s accompanied by his adopted “children,” the Black Order, and each one of them will be a terrifying threat for the Avengers. Three of the four voice actors are now known; Carrie Coon is Proxima Midnight, Terry Notary is Cull Obsidian, and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor is Ebony Maw. The final member of the Black Order, however, has remained a mystery. A brief clip released last week left many fans believing the part was played by Peter Dinklage.
In an interview with Cinema Blend, Joe and Anthony Russo finally revealed the truth. The actor in question is one Michael James Shaw. Shaw isn’t exactly a household name, and is more experienced working on the small screen. He has done a little work in the superhero genre before, though, playing Papa Midnite in NBC’s short-lived Constantine TV series. According to Joe Russo, “We cast a wide net for these characters.” Anthony Russo stressed that every mo-cap character had been created using the same process that will bring Thanos to life.
“In the same way we were approaching Thanos with Josh Brolin to bring sort of a very grounded, realistic performance, we wanted to do that with everyone in the Black Order. So we cast very, very good actors for those. And we had Terry Notary, so Terry worked very closely with every one of them to help them understand, including Josh, to help them understand movement, what the relationship between their body and their characters’ bodies are, almost like a puppeteer.”
The reveal is something of a relief. Dinklage has been connected with Infinity War since January 2017, and viewers are eager to see the popular actor play a major role. The most popular theory is that Dinklage is actually playing Eitri the dwarf, an important character in Thor mythology. Eitri is the one who forged Thor’s hammer. Given Thor gains a new weapon in Infinity War, Jarnbjorn, it would make sense for the dwarf to be involved in forging that too. Regardless of whether this theory is accurate or not, it would certainly be disappointing to find Dinklage essentially playing a voice-only role. Meanwhile, this casting choice marks the moment Michael James Shaw steps on to the big screen in a major way.
Corvus Glaive is arguably one of the most important of the Black Order. In the comics, he’s celebrated as a skilled military leader, architect of Thanos’s greatest triumphs. It’s unclear how the character will be adapted for Avengers: Infinity War, but he’s sure to be a terrifying threat. And now it’s finally confirmed who’s playing this key role.
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Instead, the films have largely ignored the television side of the MCU, while the TV series – spanning ABC, Netflix, and Hulu, and soon branching out – do most of the heavy lifting in terms of keeping the sprawling superhero universe connected. Still, fans have been wondering for years when the Avengers would learn that their fallen friend is back amongst the living. Many hoped to see some kind of payoff in Avengers: Infinity War, since the film is set to unite all the major movie heroes. While those at Marvel Studios have tried to temper expectations about any kind of TV crossover, one of Infinity War’s directors may have dropped a hint.
As reported by BuzzFeed News’ Adam B. Vary, co-director Anthony Russo was asked whether Coulson will appear in the movie during the press conference for Avengers: Infinity War this weekend. At first, Russo joked about wanting to talk about bass fishing (Chris Pratt had previously dodged a potentially spoiler-filled question by discussing bass fishing), but then spoke about the process of constructing the story of Infinity War. He said, “We thought about everybody in the MCU, and how they could play a role in the story.” Russo didn’t confirm Coulson will appear in Avengers: Infinity War, but he also didn’t flat out deny the character would return somehow in the movie. There’s infamously a disconnect between Marvel Studios and Marvel TV, with the divisions answering to different leadership despite both being under the Disney/Marvel umbrella. However, Gregg is undoubtedly the biggest bridge between the film and TV sides of the MCU. Not only did he start out on the film side, but his story continued on TV. Most importantly, though, he’s set to return to the movies with a role in Captain Marvel.
Of course, Captain Marvel is set in the ’90s, meaning it takes place before Iron Man and The Avengers, so it’s quite different than Coulson appearing in Infinity War. It’s been argued that acknowledging Coulson’s resurrection in the MCU would undermine the narrative importance of his death in The Avengers. But him living on in the universe without the Avengers knowing is arguably one of Marvel’s biggest unanswered questions. So having it addressed in Infinity War would undoubtedly please fans.
Plus, Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb has said that the question of an Avengers and Coulson reunion would be “resolved” in some way, but that it would be surprising. (Though with Coulson’s death set up as a major plot point this season on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s possible it may be resolved with him simply dying again.) Still, Russo dodging the question about Coulson at the Avengers: Infinity War press conference is sure to get fans wondering whether the character will be referenced in the upcoming movie. Thankfully, with Infinity War set to hit theaters this week, fans won’t have to wait long to find out if he does, in fact, return.
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Dialogue in a new Solo: A Star Wars Story TV spot seems to allude to Jabba the Hutt, clearing up some of the finer details of the spinoff’s plot. Since his introduction in A New Hope, Han has always been connected to Jabba, spending most of the original trilogy in debt to the crime lord after a smuggling job went wrong. Their pasts are so tied together, it seemed borderline impossible to make a movie like Solo without including Jabba in any capacity. And yet, as marketing heated up with trailers and TV spots, it looked like the Hutt would be missing from the action. He hasn’t been seen in any footage, and there aren’t any official hints he’s in the film… until now.
The last few weeks have been an onslaught of Solo TV ads, highlighting fun character interactions and franchise Easter eggs. This latest one, however, appears to bring narrative specifics to greater focus. The spot heavily features Dryden Vos, the “big shot gangster” who’s organizing a mission to Kessel. As he lays the stakes for Han and Beckett, Vos warns them that failure will leave them with no further options. “You know who I answer to,” he says. Since Solo is set in the galactic underworld, there are only so many individuals that could be in reference to.
Before getting choked to death by Leia, Jabba was one of the most powerful gangsters in the galaxy, running a criminal empire that operated in the Outer Rim (multiple Solo planets are located there). Though Jabba’s home was on Tatooine, his influence was felt across a plethora of worlds. Jabba even cut a deal with the Galactic Empire when the Imperials looked to eliminate Outer Rim crime; this allowed Jabba to conduct his business as usual, without having to worry about any competition. Since Solo is set in the pre-Rogue One heyday of the Empire, all signs are pointing to Jabba being the one Dryden is talking about. He essentially had a monopoly on Outer Rim criminal activities. This isn’t just wild conjecture. Shortly after Ron Howard took over Solo directing duties last summer, rumors about Jabba’s involvement first popped up. It was uncertain exactly how the Hutt would factor in (initial reports had him playing a significant role), but now it sounds like he’s going to be more of an offscreen threat – similar to Emperor Palpatine in A New Hope. In all likelihood, Jabba will be mentioned by name to illustrate the severity of Han’s situation, but he may not physically appear in a scene. This would allow Jabba to have a presence in Solo and still give Howard the opportunity to spend more time with new characters. Additionally, one of the director’s famous social media set photos was an obscure Jabba reference, incorporating old Ralph McQuarrie concept art into the production design. Since new Star Wars canon has integrated some of McQuarrie’s work into projects before (most notably Darth Vader’s Rogue One castle), it wouldn’t be out of the question for Solo to tip its hat to the legendary artist.
The TV spot also makes it sound like the Conveyex vehicle Beckett and Han rob belongs to Dryden (and by extension Jabba), meaning the crew is recruited for the Kessel job as a means of repaying any debt they owe Vos. It wouldn’t be entirely shocking if things go south along the way, putting Han and Chewbacca at the mercy of Jabba to save their skins. Hence, Han’s smuggling career under the Hutt’s employment begins until he drops a shipment at the sight of an Imperial cruiser and gets a bounty on his head. This reads as a smart way of fleshing out Han’s complicated history with Jabba without leaning on the classic villain as a nostalgia crutch. If the goal of the Star Wars anthology line is to enhance the episodes, tying everything back to Jabba should almost be expected.
Backing up, the movie was always going to be shedding light on the smuggler at its core. From showing just how extensive Han’s “special modifications” to the Millennium Falcon are to potentially retconning his personality across the original trilogy, it’s become abundantly clear that screenwriters Lawrence and Jon Kasdan and director Ron Howard weren’t just wanting to tell a basic “How he got to the Cantina” tale, but probe Han and the galaxy.
In fact, things go much bigger than one Corellian scoundrel. We’re seeing the early days of the Empire, the canonization of Tag & Bink, and potentially even getting some of The Holiday Special elements thrown in. And, if a new clip is anything to go by, Solo may also explain some of the Star Wars franchise’s more minor quibbles. Let’s go back to the last time we saw Han Solo: The Force Awakens. The first movie of the Disney-era of Star Wars, this was both a continuation/restart of the classic story and celebration of the franchise returning after ten dark years (longer depending on your view of the prequels). As such, it was filled with references and callbacks. Some big (like the plot bearing a strong resemblance to A New Hope), some more subtle.
One such easter egg was the holochess table on the Millennium Falcon, which at one point Finn accidentally turned on. That’s not what we’re concerned with, however, rather the state of the game he restarts: the pieces were in the exact same position as they were when Chewie and Artoo played dejarik in A New Hope, only this time they were attacking the other way around. A treat for eagle-eyed fans, sure, it also raised some logic questions: forty years after the journey to Alderaan, in which time the Falcon had gone through several different hands, the game ended up in the exact same state? If dejarik is anywhere near as sprawling as chess, the odds are worse than those of successfully piloting an asteroid field.
Like a lot of Episode VII‘s fan service, it felt like something cool that nevertheless broke credulity… until now. In a new clip for Solo: A Star Wars Story, we see Chewbacca and Beckett, Han’s mentor figure, engaged in a game of dejarik: Chewie makes a move that allows Beckett taking his piece, leading to the Wookiee throwing a mild tantrum. The scene is essentially about learning to plan ahead – Beckett says to “anticipate your opponent“, potentially foreshadowing some subsequent double-cross – but the action in the game is what’s interesting. Chewie moves the orange, club-wielding brute, which is taken by the even-larger, rancor-looking behemoth: the exact same move and take that Chewie will experience with R2-D2 ten years later.
The implication here would seem to be that Chewie never was and never will be good at dejarik, incapable of getting into the mindset of a master chess player and think moves ahead. The result is that he makes the same mistake repeatedly. And if he does it against both Beckett and Artoo, he can do it to others much later in the timeline, making the game ending up in the same state a lot more understandable (and even suggesting he eventually gets the upper hand).
The question now is why this has been done by the filmmakers. Is this new scene a move by the Kasdans, Howard or the Story Group to address that niggle from Episode VII, or was this cyclical explanation, deepening a throwaway moment in the original Star Wars, always intended? Larry Kasdan did write The Force Awakens and was already working on Solo at the time: it’s possible, as with the gold dice originally intended to appear, he threaded more references between the two films. Of course, none of this may be intentional, and Lucasfilm has accidentally created and solved a weird logic gap.
Whatever the case, if they’re going to be resolving confusing easter eggs, we can only hope they’ll also explain the Millennium Falcon’s Revenge of the Sith appearance.
Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War is breaking all sorts of box office records – and it doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. The 2018 superhero team-up film – directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and based on a script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely – is undoubtedly one of the biggest movies ever to grace the silver screen. It’s billed as the beginning of the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first saga that began with the original Iron Man movie way back in 2008.
Although it’s technically the first part of a two-part story, Avengers: Infinity War successfully unites virtually every major MCU character from across the shared universe as well as intersects storylines that span more than a dozen movies. It’s a rather unprecedented feat in filmmaking and a true achievement in that regard, despite what one may think of the movie itself. Because of that – and because the movie unites the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Guardians of the Galaxy against the Mad Titan Thanos – Avengers: Infinity War has taken off and broken several records in its path at both the domestic and worldwide box office.
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR BROKE BLACK PANTHER’S PRESALE TICKET RECORD Avengers: Infinity War surpassed the last seven Marvel movies combined in terms of presale tickets sold. That meant passing Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, which was the previous record-holder for most number of tickets presold for a superhero movie on Fandango. Sure, that may seem like a specific record, but most tickets are presold on Fandango and the sheer number of superhero movies hitting the market means there are a lot of properties to compete with. Plus, AMC also stated that Infinity War‘s presale tickets had surpassed Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron by more than 1,000 percent, which itself was more than 250 percent than Black Panther.
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR SET MCU THURSDAY RECORD Considering that Avengers: Infinity War broke all presale ticket records, it makes sense that it would also set the record for Thursday night previews for an MCU movie. Avengers 3 grossed $39 million on Thursday, April 26, which was then factored into its single Friday gross. That number easily puts Infinity War past Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s previous record of $27.6 million that it set in 2015. The next movie that would logically break that record, if it’s even possible, is the Russo Brothers’ Avengers 4, due out in theaters in May 2019. That would be a nice way to keep the record streak going for the Avengers films.
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR SETS SINGLE SATURDAY GROSS RECORD Avengers: Infinity War had the highest-grossing Saturday of all-time despite second for the highest-grossing Friday slot. Infinity War pulled in an astonishing $82.1 million on Saturday, April 28, which was technically its second official day of release in the United States. That number is significantly higher than the competition, too: Jurassic World ($69.64 million), Marvel’s The Avengers ($69.57 million), Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($68.29 million), and Black Panther ($65.99 million). Granted, none of these numbers take into account ticket price inflation, but even so, Infinity War has a comfortable lead above every other movie to not worry.
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR SETS SINGLE SUNDAY GROSS RECORD Avengers: Infinity War kept its record-breaking streak going over its opening weekend by taking the top spot on Sunday, April 29, as well. Infinity War grossed $69.23 million to pass Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ opening Sunday gross of $60.55 million. Again, even though box office records don’t take ticket price inflation into account for many, many reasons, Infinity War would still hold the record for highest-grossing single Sunday at the domestic box office if the numbers were adjusted for ticket price inflation, albeit not by as much as some people might think.
The death count hit an all-time high for the MCU in Avengers: Infinity War, so audiences are no doubt desperate to discover who will be killed off permanently in next year’s Avengers 4. With time travel playing an integral role in the upcoming Avengers assemblage, the deaths from Infinity War can be undone. This much is certain. However, that won’t likely save the remaining survivors in the battle’s finale—nor will it prevent any resurrected characters from making a swift return to the grave before the credits roll.
As tragic as the end of Infinity War might have been, everything is fixable. Not unlike other movies where the villain ends up succeeding in the end, Infinity War strips hope to the bone; but the heroes are essentially gifted with a do-over. They get the chance to pursue the comeback of all comebacks (resurrecting the lives of half the entire universe). That said, though, as is the case with all wars, permanent casualties are inevitable. In the same vein of Thanos needing to sacrifice something for the sake of “the bigger picture,” some Avengers may need to lay down their lives for the greater good.
So, seeing as it’ll be difficult saying goodbye to the MCU’s beloved characters (some who’ve been around for the past decade), it might help to be emotionally prepared. Nothing is certain (not only because the Avengers 4 script is so tightly bound in secrecy, but because there are no sure bets with time travel), and the surviving roster of Avengers may well meet their makers in the final fight against Thanos.
CAPTAIN AMERICA AND IRON MAN Though there is technically no way to know for sure what the ultimate fate will be for characters in the MCU, Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man) and Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America) have all but confirmed their respective ends with the franchise. Not only have neither of the two actors renewed their contracts for future films, they’ve publicly stated their wishes to call it quits. Downey Jr. stated that he might have room left for one more Iron Man movie, while Evans told The New York Times that it’s time he jumps ship. So, unless their statements are little more than attempts to throw people off, Avengers 4 could well be the end. And if that does turn out to be the case, how exactly might it happen? And is there a chance that their exits won’t result in death?
Tony Stark may have never been officially marked for death, but his end is almost certainly nigh. His entire character arc since the first Iron Man revolved around paying for the sins of his father (on account of war profiteering). Tony’s innovations saved a lot of people, but also killed plenty others as well (see: Wanda and Pietro Maximoff), and he’s been constantly attempting to make up for his mistakes. By the time he reaches Infinity War, he seems indifferent to his own survival—which is saying a lot for someone as inherently self-serving as Tony Stark. At the end of Infinity War, he experiences a near-death moment after Thanos stabs him, and even in the poster for Infinity War, Tony is positioned in the “Jesus pose,” which is to say the visual cues suggest that he might end up sacrificing himself in the end. Obviously, that didn’t turn out to be the case, but the battle isn’t over just yet…
As for Steve Rogers, his character arc was set in motion from the very beginning as well. Even before he’s beefed up with the Super Soldier serum, Steve displays a repetitive trend of selflessness (remember when he jumped on the dummy grenade in The First Avenger?), and his journey has only gotten significantly more complicated. He’s never fit in—not in the past and not in the future—and that’s given him the unique ability to remove himself from the equation, putting others before himself without a moment’s hesitation. Now, given the stakes of Infinity War, it’s fitting that his arc would pay off with the ultimate sacrifice (even though he tells Vision that the idea of sacrifices won’t even be entertained, which would lend itself to some lovely dramatic irony).
All that aside, however, the end of Tony and Steve doesn’t necessarily have to result in death. In fact, given that time travel is a key component in Avengers 4 (which, by extension, opens the door for potential alternate timelines and dimensions), their ends could end up playing out like an episode of Doctor Who. The character Amy Pond and her husband are drained of their potential energy by the villainous Weeping Angels by way of being sent back in time in a wonky sort of paradox. So, if the MCU decides to send off the team’s original leaders, without killing them, this new foray into time travel could turn out to be literal life saver in the end. If the franchise does end up going down this road, it could even leave the door open for a potential return for these characters somewhere down the road. It’s long shot, for sure, but it definitely keeps the ball in Marvel Studios’ court.
THE ORIGINAL AVENGERS After Thanos snaps his fingers, wiping out half the universe, only a minor portion of the Avengers are left alive—specifically, all of the original characters from Phase One, as well as a few extras, like Rocket (and Ant-Man, if these behind the scenes photos from Avengers 4 are any indication). And though this was something worth celebrating at the end of Infinity War, it doesn’t come close to keeping them safe in the final showdown.
With Tony and Steve out of the way, that leaves Thor, Bruce, Natasha, and Clint. On one hand, Natasha seems like the safest bet, considering a Black Widow movie is in the works. Only, in the MCU, safe bets don’t exist. Since the standalone movie will most likely turn out to be set before Natasha’s induction into the Avengers, Natasha’s fate at the end off Avengers 4 is up in the air. In fact, the Black Widow movie could easily turn out to be a salute of sorts – honoring her memory, as opposed to continuing her story.
As for Bruce, it’s tough to say. He and his green alter ego have been mostly backseat drivers for the whole of the MCU up to this point, so their collective fate is difficult to grasp for the long run. Mark Ruffalo is contractually obligated to star in one more movie following Avengers 4, but that could mean one of two things: he renews his contract for more movies or he does, in fact, die in Avengers 4, only to show up in a flashback for a future movie. However, even though it’s unlikely Hulk will ever get his own standalone movie, his arc has finally started to pick up steam following Thor: Ragnarok; so unless he and the green guy round out a perfect sendoff in Avengers 4 before falling victim to Thanos, chances are he’ll stick around a little longer.
The same can’t be said for his Ragnarok sidekick Thor, unfortunately. Having rounded out a clean, if not imperfect, trilogy, it feels like the right time to pass the torch onto new Asgardian leadership—perhaps to Tessa Thompson’s Valkryie (who is still alive). Thor has lost everything in his pursuit of intergalactic peace, even explaining to Rocket in Infinity War that he has nothing more to lose. So, given that he has personal beef with Thanos, it’s borderline inevitable that he’ll try his hand at a Round 2 fight. And what better way for a soldier like Thor to perish than in the heat of battle? On the other hand, though, not wanting to divert attention from Tony and Steve’s individual deaths could easily be what saves Thor’s demise for sometime later in the franchise—assuming he renews his contract that ends with Avengers 4.
Last in line is Clint Barton (also known as Hawkeye, and returning as Ronin in Avengers 4). Though missing in action during Infinity War on account of being under house arrest post-Captain America: Civil War, Clint returns to the action in Avengers 4, likely on account of his family perishing due to Thanos’ finger snap. When he returns, he’ll be meaner and madder than ever, making him an integral re-addition to the team. And given the fact that Jeremy Renner has a standalone Hawkeye movie in his contract, expect to see him make it out alive in this outing.
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