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To Infinity and Beyond: The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Nich

infinity got my back
(he/him)
It's a huge gut punch. I personally think Black Panther is the best movie of the MCU, and knowing that he filmed it (and other movies afterward) while terminally ill is almost literally unbelievable.
 

WildcatJF

I will not be stopping
(he / his / him)
It's a huge gut punch. I personally think Black Panther is the best movie of the MCU, and knowing that he filmed it (and other movies afterward) while terminally ill is almost literally unbelievable.
This is almost verbatim what I was going to write
 
For a month or so now, I have spent my nights mellowing out watching old favorite movies of mine, seeing how they hold up and also seeing how they look in 4K. I worked through most of the modern DC movies, then the modern FOX movies, now I'm starting on the Disney ones. I'm almost done with Phase 1. Some big takeaways here:

X-Men: First Class - is still an excellent movie and a great re-imagining of the X-Men mythos. It's a wonderful blend of modern sensibilities, the now ancient origins of these characters, a modern perspective on history, and a delightful period-piece. And just a really solid origin story. Most origin stories in movies tend to be boring and awful, and this one wasn't. 9/10 gucci man.

X-Men: Days of Future Past - Despite loving First Class, I somehow never saw any of the X-Men movies (besides Deadpool) that came after it. This one was fine. It's definitely not the direction I would have taken a sequel to First Class, and it made a lot of iffy choices and undid a lot of things I thought was really cool about First Class. But it was still as solid, watchable, alright movie. I read up later that the got the director for X-Men 1&2, and the writer for Last Stand to do both this and the Apocalypse and... uh... I would not have made that choice. This movie definitely *felt* like an old X-movie, and that's really unfortunate. Because it felt like First Class was this great revival of the franchise and instead they decided to take a few steps back instead. Oops! Professor X having a drug problem was mildly interesting, but also a little on the nose for a movie set in the early 70s, and also conforms a little too much to BS interpretations of history as well. 7/10 it was good not great.

X-Men: Apocalypse - Not as bad as people would have had me believe, but also a rather dull film too. The best parts of this movie were the period piece parts dealing with the A-listers being teenagers in the 80s. The worst part was everything having to do with Apocalypse and his horsemen. Which is a sizable chunk of the film. I dunno how you can take a character like Fassbender's Magneto and make him boring, but they found a way. 5/10 very average/mediocre.

Dark Phoenix - Also a way better movie than word of mouth would have had me believe, but it was also not good. It was a better try at the Dark Phoenix story line than Last Stand was, but it also just fell flat in a lot of ways that are hard to describe. Mostly, I just don't know why they keep trying to do this story anyways. I know it's a fan favorite, but it's also just inherently a really bad story too and most comic book fans are either dumb, or like dumb things. I think there's just no good way to do it and that everybody should just wipe this one from the history books. Taking the world's most powerful psychic and NTR-ing her for manpain is just really awful stuff. It's completely disrespectful to the character since it robs her blind of her agency, and it's just a gross story in general. Oh, and it even failed as a period piece, which was the best thing these reboot movies had going for them, since none of this really felt like they were in the 90s or made good use of it as a setting. Better try next time! Oh wait. 3.5/10 - Bad pls no more.

Logan - Oof. Conversely, this one was significantly worse than others would have led me to believe. I think I described it to a friend while watching that it was, "simultaneously the best and the worst thing I've ever seen." There's a lot of interesting things going on and happening here, and the acting jobs by Jackman and Stewart are award-worthy. But "Let's make Wolverine into Lone Wolf and Cub" feels like low hanging fruit on a conceptual level. The future portrayed in Logan is realistic but also disturbingly bleak and kinda not the kind of optimism for the future/humanity that I expect/want out of X-Men. (At least, without a macguffin to undo it all at the end.) And watching Patrick Stewart play a geriatric actually wounded my on a psychic level. I don't want to watch my TV-dad be like this. And I especially didn't want him to go out the way he did. Now I understand why some Star Trek fans were so apprehensive when Stewart said he wanted to do for Picard what he did for Xavier in Logan. 6/10 murderous preteens

Iron Man - This was as dull and bad as I remember. Probably one of the worst origin story movies I've ever seen. Literally the only thing that saves this movie is that Robert Downy Jr is a Elder God Tier actor and I could watch him ad lib forever. Which is essentially what this movie is, with some CGI robutts spliced in between. It's also interesting to me how much the SFX have not held up over time, especially in 4K. I couldn't help but notice how glaring the digital splicing of RDJ's face onto the digital Iron Man suit always looked. I don't remember it looking this bad in theaters twelve (!) years ago. 3/10 - ResidentSleeper

The Incredible Hulk - Just kidding, I'm didn't watch this one. I actually liked Ang Lee's take on Hulk a lot, and I found this movie so bad that it literally bored me to sleep back in the day. I did though, skip to the end to see whatever tie-in for other Phase 1 Marvel stuff they squeezed in, and uh. Totally not worth it. It's pretty obvious in retrospect that Disney had no idea what they were doing with the franchise as a whole at this point, when Tony Stark shows up to recruit Banner into the Avengers despite that clearly not jiving with the rest of the later Phase 1 stuff.

Iron Man 2 - I never watched this movie when it came out because I hated the first one so much. Aaaand this turned out to be about what I'd expect from a sequel of that movie. Which is to say, it was still bad. It had a bit more of a plot and a coherent theme, but it also was uh, not good. Iron Man 1 was at least about Tony Stark having a coming to god moment and realizing he was the baddie and trying to make amends. Iron Man 2 was about... Tony thinking he's dying. So how does he deal with it? In the way a shallow privileged manchild would. I guess that character growth from the first movie didn't take him very far. In retrospect, it's actually kind of a decent juxtoposition to have versus how we see Tony in Endgame. Because here he really doesn't know yet how to be a hero, and he mostly shrinks in the moment when confronted with his mortality. But as an individual movie, it reminds me of all the reasons why I dislike Tony Stark/Iron Man as a character/hero. Also just like Iron Man 1 - weak/boring villains. 3/10 babysitter-secretaries that love the playboy jackass billionaire for no reason

Thor - Another movie I never watched before. It was fine. Thor is an entitled brat who gets a wake up call sounds good on paper, but it's executed poorly here. Thor should have probably leaned into the dbag bit more, and instead he's just pretty bland. Everything about this movie was bland. I honestly barely remember what happened, and that was only like two nights ago. It honestly should have just been a Loki movie, because he's the best thing going for it (and Thor in general). I think Black Widow showed up at one point? Also a terminally boring character. This movie is also effectively the beginning of The MacGuffin Saga, which also brings it down a peg for me since the Infinity Stones are really really really really dumb, and not even in a good/fun way. 2/10 - two points for every meow

Captain America: The First Avenger - As aggressively mediocre as I remember. Probably the best Disney origin movie next to Guardians of the Galaxy. (Don't really count BP or Homecoming as an origin movie when they were in other movies previously.) There really isn't much to say about it. It's a paint-by-numbers, conventional origin story. I'm a lot more forgiving of this one when I love Captain America as a character way more than the rest of the Avengers, and Cap is still great and still Cap in this movie so it's always going to be enjoyable on that level. But everything surrounding him in the film was mediocre. Buckey is boring/I don't really know why he's even friends with Rogers, and then he's just gone I guess. The love story with what's her face is bad and disposable. I don't know why Tommy Lee Jones was in the movie. Agent Smith was brilliant as Red Skull, but he was also barely in the movie/not allowed to chew at the scenery enough. I liked the Japanese-American guy in Cap's squad, but I'm also sitting here wishing the movie didn't whitewash history with him being there either. (The military was segregated back then, and that guy would have never been allowed to be a part of Cap's squad, and at least acknowledging that fact would have been nice instead of pretending America was perfect good guys forever.) It's probably the only decent Phase 1 movie aside from Avengers, I'm kinda impressed Disney managed to turn this into the franchise it is given how bad most of these were. 6/10 vibranium shields to the dome

Next up is the first Avengers movie. I remember really liking it for what it was - which is a bunch of personalities bouncing off of each other and few big set-piece fights. I'll be interested in seeing how it holds up!
 
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Zef

Find Your Reason
(He/Him)
The Incredible Hulk - [...] when Tony Stark shows up to recruit Banner into the Avengers despite that clearly not jiving with the rest of the later Phase 1 stuff.
Heh, he actually tries to recruit General Ross--who's apparently all the way down on his luck after this film, what with him being responsible for the Harlem disaster from every imaginable angle. Which makes it all the more ironic and hilarious that Ross's career somehow recovered well enough by the time of Civil War to become Secretary of Defense.

He probably donated to the reelection campaign of the guy who was president in Iron Man 3.

Thor - [...] I think Black Widow showed up at one point?
She didn't, but would you believe this film introduced us to Hawkeye?
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
They also retconned it a bit in a short film where Coulson and Sitwell intentionally pick Tony to talk to Ross about Blonsky because they knew he would fail
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)


hey what's up I've watched all of these in less than two weeks, most of them for the first time, at least one of them while totally dehydrated and completely incapacitated by giving myself heatstroke and throwing up a bunch of times. I gave my thoughts sporadically on Discord at the time but I'm not doing writeups for 23 movies so you get a hastily considered "at the end of the day do I have good memories about watchin' this one" instead.
  • Iron Man (y)
  • The Incredible Hulk (...okay I skipped rewatching this one, but it barely counts and you know it)
  • Iron Man 2 (n)
  • Thor (n)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (y)
  • The Avengers (n)
  • Iron Man 3 (y)
  • Thor: The Dark World (n)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (n)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (y)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (n)
  • Ant-Man (y)
  • Captain America: Civil War (n)
  • Doctor Strange (y)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (y)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (n)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (y)
  • Black Panther (n)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (y)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (n)
  • Captain Marvel (n)
  • Avengers: Endgame (y)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home(y)
The favourites: Thor: Ragnarok, Ant-Man
The unfavourite: Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 2
Widest gulf between low expectations and high results: Ant-Man, which is around where I said "no more" last time because I was sick of these, but turned out to be exactly what I needed: something comparatively low-stakes and intimate with a character who isn't particularly special or heroic.
Widest gulf between high expectations and low results: Black Panther, which was fine but had kind of been built into this huge thing that I completely realize I am not the audience for and don't have to be the audience for. Obviously this feels pretty lousy to dunk on given recent events but I just wasn't feeling this one.
Character who most deserved a better movie: Captain Marvel, who I really hope is just outright gay in future movies
Character who least deserved to be in these at all: Hawkeye, who really should have died

(that's a 50/50 (y)/(n) split by the way. You can thank the Hulk movie for not bringing the average down)
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)
Oh, and one thing I realized mid-way through these: I never really appreciated before that they picked one representative character for each of the three core subgenres of pulp fiction that have historically made up comics: Iron Man is science fiction, Thor is fantasy, and Captain America is the mundane (for whatever measure "mundane" is in comic books). DC's historically done this too with the Superman/Wonder Woman/Batman trifecta, but didn't do a very clean job of it in the more recent movies. In contrast; Iron Man's movies are definitively science fiction, Thor's definitively fantasic, and Cap's are all about some measure of comparatively mundane war. It's no coincidence that these three are the ones that appoint successors in Endgame in the form of Rescue, Valkyrie, and Falcon. Also Rescue is a stupid name and she should have been called like, Iron Maiden or something.

It's not especially clever, it's just a thing I noticed that I like.
 
Hey Teg, you're feeling like a kindred spirit right now since most of what you've written is basically what I wanted to write with regards to my own experience with these movies. Good writeups!

I'm done with Phase 2 now and onto Phase 3. After being so thoroughly bored by the Phase 1 movies, I mostly skipped the Phase 2 ones when they came out. So a lot of these I watched for the first time.
Marvel's The Avengers - this movie was exactly how I remembered it, which was a very serviceable action film. But it hit differently now, a good 8 years later. Mostly, a lot of the Whedon-isms that I found mildly humorous the first time around have just kinda become... insufferable? I dunno if it's because I'm an old fart now, or if that style of humor doesn't hold up to repeated viewings. But it always felt weird to have such blatant zingers so frequently undermine dramatic moments for negative effect. I don't really got a lot to say about this one, it's a bunch of empty calories. It's a good time, and it still mostly looks gorgeous, and the set-piece battles still rock. But the actual act of the Avengers assembling in this film was rather boring/not very convincing. 5/10 average popcorn schlock.

Iron Man 3 - Having never seen it previously, I'm pretty surprised by how much I liked this movie? I expected it to be awful based on cultural osmosis. But it managed to do a better job of being a compelling character study of Tony Stark than the previous Iron Man movies, and it gave Iron Man better opportunities to evolve and be a bonafide HERO, which is a big leap from his previous outings which always seemed more informed by Tony's narcissism versus anything altruistic or truly heroic. The false flag, manufactured terror threat was a good story line. But the film's villains were (characteristically) the weakest part of the film. Tony's youthful arrogance and indifference creating problems that come back to haunt him is a great idea in theory, but the execution here is beyond lacking. Having a caricature of a nerd, and a one night stand be the ultimate bads was just not very compelling. 7/10 pleasant surprises.

Thor: The Dark World - I fell asleep in theaters on this one. And at that point in my life, it was one of three movies I'd ever fallen asleep in a theater for. It was honestly as boring and dull as I remember. I think I just don't really care about Thor or his setting. They're dull and bland and offer no personality or compelling anything. Thor movies really feels like they wanted to make a Lord of the Rings style epic fantasy adventures, but ended up making something as compelling as the Warcraft movie instead. 2/10 at least Loki is a cool character.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Not sure why I skipped over this one before when I love Cap so much. I think it's because I both hate Bucky as a character, as well as SHIELD as a concept. Neither are interesting! It's a good thing then that neither matter as much to this film. I mean, they're very important for the plot, but the minute-to-minute action is Cap dealing with being on the run as a consequence for his unwavering morality. All the fight choreography with Cap in these movies are golden, but it's particularly good here. The only thing I really didn't like about this movie are the facts that 1) Black Widow here in a supporting role just feels disappointing. Because as much as I think the character is a snoozefest and her storylines forced, I thought she had real chemistry with Rodgers, is a very interesting mirror for Captain America, and she deserved co-billing on the movie. I also think that 2) Falcon is a top 3 most boring character in these movies and every minute used on him is a minute wasted, but that's just me. 8/10 vibranium frisbees to the dome

Guardians of the Galaxy - I liked this movie a lot when it came out, and in retrospect it's probably the movie I found myself most disappointed with so far. It's still fun nonsense, but I... kinda hate all these characters?? They're all bad people. Which, isn't necessarily a deal breaker on its own. A good Star Wars movie has to have a Han Solo character to spice things up. Han Solo is a fun character, despite being a bad person! But when every character is Han Solo it's just ends up accidentally being dull in other ways. I think part of this intolerance is also attributable to Infinity War. Because I really really grew to dislike Star Lord after that movie, and I kinda can't look at him the same after it. Still a great finale though. 5/10 - Power of Friendship Saves the Day Pls Stop Asking How They're Even Friends to Begin With.

Avengers: Age of Ultron - This movie was the movie that originally broke me. That turned me fully against Marvel movies and led to me to stop watching them proactively of my own volition. And it's still bad in all the ways I didn't like it originally - bad villain, poor pretext for conflicts, disposable setting, story designed to be a middle point between more interesting stories, etc. I still don't like what this movie does to the concept of Mutants, and it seems silly to me that despite all the character development Tony Stark went through, that he would both do the boneheaded shit he did in this film, as well as not receive any repercussions for his disastrous actions. And all the Whedon-isms are out of control in this one. That said... I... liked it more than I remembered? Which is a really low bar to clear, but still. 3/10 - better than expected but still not good.

Ant-Man - Wow! Actually a lot of fun. I endorse everything Teg said about it. Fun characters, a good setting, and old fashioned heist nonsense. Where it devolved at the end into a punchy actionfest was probably the worst part of the movie, but at least the size-changing shenanigans alleviated some of the inherent boredom of that by being something visually different and arresting versus the normal generic CGI Marvel action pieces. It's just too bad we have to wait a until the sequel to get to see some Wasp action, when she probably should have been the main character. I also didn't realize this was a film written by Edgar Wright, so that probably helped a lot. 7/10 ex-felons doing silly things.

Captain America: Civil War - This was probably the best Avengers movie to date, which is both the best and worst thing about it. Because as an Avengers movie, it's everything that Age of Ultron should have been but wasn't. It's a fantastic team-up movie. As a Captain America movie though, it was dreadful. I'm pretty sure characters like Iron Man and Black Widow had more lines of dialog than Cap himself. It's also beginning to suffer from OOPS All the Characters Syndrome. Characters like Black Panther and Spider-Man deserved more of a narrative focus for their introduction the MCU, and instead they have to settle for essentially being add-on DLC characters in this film. Which is just really really weird when both of them are probably more critical to the themes of the film than Cap and Iron Man are. And the logistics and execution of having the heroes turn against each other wasn't particularly convincing here when you subtract Mutants from the equation. Still, great choreography, Cap is the best, decent movie. 7/10 vibranium arms, disks, and full body suits to the dome.

Next up is Dr Strange and then Guardians Vol 2, which will complete all the holes I had in my MCU journey. Still gonna watch all of them instead of ending short though, because most of Phase 3 was pretty good IMO.
 

Bongo

excused from moderation duty
(he/him)
Staff member
The genre Captain America falls into is spy thrillers, I think.
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
Iron Man 3 rules.

Is this the thread to post about the X-Men movies I find myself watching through for the first time in a long, long time? I watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine for the first time last night and it is one of the worst superhero movies I've ever seen. The Last Stand also wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be? None of them are that great though tbh lol
 

Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
Marvel's The Avengers - this movie was exactly how I remembered it, which was a very serviceable action film. But it hit differently now, a good 8 years later. Mostly, a lot of the Whedon-isms that I found mildly humorous the first time around have just kinda become... insufferable? I dunno if it's because I'm an old fart now, or if that style of humor doesn't hold up to repeated viewings. But it always felt weird to have such blatant zingers so frequently undermine dramatic moments for negative effect. I don't really got a lot to say about this one, it's a bunch of empty calories. It's a good time, and it still mostly looks gorgeous, and the set-piece battles still rock. But the actual act of the Avengers assembling in this film was rather boring/not very convincing. 5/10 average popcorn schlock.
Y'know, I felt the same way when I first saw The Avengers. I think my exact words to a friend of mine was "like eating candy for dinner".
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Hmmm, maybe but only if it’s specifically one of those Jellybeans where half the flavours are “fart” or “mosquito” or something.


Avengers didn’t do anything for me until Thanos showed up to make a fool and nuisance of himself
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)
I really dislike that Spider-Man's introduction to the MCU is basically Tony Stark going to this poor kid's house, being low-key intimidating, and making fun of him for being too poor to make a better costume; and both Peter the character and we the audience are supposed to be won over by this.
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)
I guess "I'm here to conscript you into my personal beef with someone you deeply respect" wasn't enough?
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
To be fair:

He felt bad about that when the small child soldier he recruited was badly hurt fighting a giant, and later made it up to him by giving him the controls to an orbital weapons platform.

Standard Dad-Arc
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
So... did Stark will him that five years ago before Peter's death, after he died, or in the brief time they were both alive fighting an alien army?
 
He could have done it after solving time travel, in the event that it worked and Peter came back.
This is entirely possible and also within character, but it doesn't change the fundamental fact that wowowow what a dumb move, Tony. You're a fuckin' tool.

I really dislike that Spider-Man's introduction to the MCU is basically Tony Stark going to this poor kid's house, being low-key intimidating, and making fun of him for being too poor to make a better costume; and both Peter the character and we the audience are supposed to be won over by this.
I guess "I'm here to conscript you into my personal beef with someone you deeply respect" wasn't enough?
It's definitely leaked into my writing a bit, but I *loathe* Iron Man, and these movies have only made things worse. Iron Man is actually a really interesting and fascinating character, but he's also a really terrible, shitty, awful Super Hero. And it's just a really weird juxtoposition that I'm supposed to be rooting for this guy and thinking he's a bad ass when all he ever does is really mess things up hard and act like a douchenozzle. Like, not in a cute, spaghetti falling out of my pockets kind of way, but oops I'm an accidental terrorist w/e time to go bang some models kinds of ways. The part that makes it interesting is that he's self-aware of this, and he works to better himself, but it's just never quite good enough because he'll forever be a fuck up. Even how he goes out in Endgame is just really fascinating. Because on the one hand, it's this big shining redemptive moment where he's finally taking responsibility and living up to being the hero that other people think he is and that he could have always been. But on the other hand, it's still a massive fuck up and driven by his ego. There's like a dozen other people there that could have better handled the Infinity Gauntlet without getting themselves killed, but Tony has to go and make himself a martyr. It's my head canon that the reason why everyone stands around and cries instead of instantly using the time stone on him to revive him, is because everyone there was in silent agreement that the world is better off with Iron Man dead.
 

Zef

Find Your Reason
(He/Him)
Tony, start of Captain America: Civil War: "We dropped a building on a college kid and we didn't notice because we were kicking ass."

Tony, mid-Captain America: Civil War: "I'm going to basically blackmail and guilt-trip a 15yo to come with me to Germany in absolute secrecy and dump him in the crossfire between super-people."

Tony, start of Captain America: Civil War: "We need to be put in check!"

Tony, at some point prior to Avengers Endgame: "I'm going to build an orbital weapons platform loaded with countless drones capable of orbital and atmospheric flight, armed with everything from gatlings to vulcans to sonic cannons to flamethrowers, keep it secret from everyone in the government, and control it via an extremely flimsy natural-language user interface attached to a pair of sunglasses, which anyone can operate with just an oral transfer of admin rights."

Tony, offscreen during Captain America: Civil War: "I'm going to sign these Accords."

Tony, as per his actions in Captain America: Civil War: "I'm also going to secretly hire this middle-schooler, whose identity only Happy knows, and keep him as my covert side-project without any authorization from anyone, including his legal guardian or the guy who broke Harlem but still became SecDef because no one has to account for their collateral damage as long as it's done officially."

I get the feeling that he wants to do right, but he slides back into narcissism and egomania faster than most people drop a New Year Resolution gym membership.
 
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Bongo

excused from moderation duty
(he/him)
Staff member
The Iron Man series consists of twenty-three (and counting!) movies about a billionaire arms dealer struggling simultaneously with the dangerous world he created and his late-onset development of a rudimentary conscience, or various thematically resonant spin-offs from the same. They ought to be way more provocative than they are.
 

Beta Metroid

At peace
(he/him and such)
Iron Man 3 rules.

Is this the thread to post about the X-Men movies I find myself watching through for the first time in a long, long time? I watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine for the first time last night and it is one of the worst superhero movies I've ever seen.
It’s far from the movie’s biggest or most consequential problem, but what amuses me most is that they confused the namesake of its title character with an entirely different animal. A major emotional beat of the movie (that pops up multiple times) is centered on reciting an old legend about what is clearly a wolf, but they choose to call a wolverine.
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
What are you talking about, wolverines totally howl at the moon!

God that movie was awful.
 
Let’s be real for a few secs. Everyone in America knows what a wolf looks like. I bet maybe 5% knows what a wolverine actually looks like, and maybe 25% know that wolverines are actual animals. It also jives better the characters origins in Canada. Also, FOX clearly has tried very hard to launder the height of Wolverine into not being a manlet. Wolves are big and terrifying. Wolverines are like, cute angry badgers.

I have a special place in my heart for Wolverine. It represented a golden age of piracy for me. My roommate downloaded a stolen work print version of the film that was missing several scenes and most of the CGI. It was utterly incredible to be watching a major motion picture before it was even in theaters. And it was fascinating to kinda see how the sausage was being made, as well as know how shit the movie always was when it was that awful all along. What an incredible time.
 
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