Avengers: Endgame’s VFX Artists Took A Lot Of Lessons From The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy

Lord of the Rings cast

Weta Digital has been in the digital effects game for over 25 years, and the company’s most recent contribution to the cinematic landscape was in Avengers: Endgame, specifically through the explosive final battle. During my recent interview with Weta visual effects supervisor Matt Aiken, I asked him whether there were any non-Marvel movies Weta had worked on that inspired the work done on Endgame, and he informed me that there were quite a few parallels between the final chapter of the Infinity Saga and what he and his team had done on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Aiken explained:

A bunch of us, myself included, go all the way back to Lord of the Rings at WETA Digital. That had giant battle sequences, predominantly CG battle sequences as well. It was interesting, we really felt like we were back in the territory of Helm’s Deep and the Battle of Pelennor Fields at times on this film, which was fun for a bunch of us who’d worked on those films as well. And we’re using some of the same techniques and software in Lord of the Rings. We’re using MASSIVE, which is the crowd-simulation software that we developed in house at WETA Digital to do those battle scenes for Lord of the Rings to do the crowd simulation work for Endgame as well. It’s a way more developed version of that, but it’s still plenty of the same software.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has delivered some amazing battles over the last 11 years, but for now, Avengers: Endgame’s final conflict ranks as the biggest yet. All the major MCU heroes, from the ones we’d followed along with since the beginning of the movie to those who were dusted in Avengers: Infinity War coming back to life, as well as their armies of allies, fighting the 2014 versions of Thanos and his forces. Who knows if/when we’ll ever see a clash like this again in the MCU.

While a battle of that scale is novel for the superhero franchise, for Matt Aiken and his team, it was familiar territory for them, because even though it’s been nearly two decades since the Lord of the Rings trilogy launched, they were using the same software to create these large crowds back then as they did for Avengers: Endgame in the last year or so, albeit with many improvements.

However, the trick with creating these kind of fights isn’t just plopping large crowds onto a battlefield; it’s also ensuring that the combatants can stand out amidst all the action. What’s the point watching two sides duke it out if everyone’s actions look the same? That would be boring. Matt Aiken and his Weta team figured that out during their time on Lord of the Rings and incorporated it into Avengers: Endgame. As Aiken put it:

And then things we learned from Lord of the Rings that we were able to bring to bear here as well. The one thing we always like to do is when we have these big battle scenes is not to just treat everybody the same, so in Endgame, we’ve got multiple different flavors of army on both sides, both Thanos’ side and our heroes’ side. We’ve got Wakandans, Asgardians, Ravagers, sorcerers on the heroes’ side, and we’ve got Chitauri, Outriders, Sakaarans, the Black Order on Thanos’ side. And we want to preserve the individual fighting styles for each of these sub-armies, if you like, so that when we have a clash, we can tell if it’s a bunch of Outriders dealing to some sorcerers, or maybe we’ve got some Wakandans who are able to take on a whole lot of Chitauri.

The MCU and Middle-Earths sagas are incredibly different from one another, but when it comes to VFX work, as Matt Aiken laid out, a lot of the same methods were applied to both franchises. Given technological advancement, obviously these methods were more refined for Avengers: Endgame, but overall, it’s like the old saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

While Weta Digital handled VFX for all the Lord of the Rings movie and the subsequent Hobbit trilogy that followed a decade later, Avengers: Endgame marked just the fifth MCU movie the company worked on, the previous ones being The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Avengers: Infinity War. Given what Weta pulled off in all those movies, Endgame especially, I suspect Marvel Studios will continue relying on its services for future installments.

Avengers: Endgame’s final battle definitely gave viewers a lot of moving pieces keep track of, from Captain America finally wielding Mjolnir to the women of Marvel coming together to transport the Infinity Gauntlet to Scott Lang’s van. Even with the good guys getting that surge of reinforcements, Thanos nearly succeeded in destroying the universe and replacing it with a new one, but Tony Stark managed to swipe the Infinity Stones and channel their power to turn all the Mad Titan and his minions to dust, though it came at the cost of his own life.

As for the Lord of the Rings franchise, obviously its time on the big screen has come and gone, but the Middle-Earth mythology will soon be explored on the small screen. Amazon has a Lord of the Rings TV series in the works, although instead of just adapting the original novels again, it will tell new stories set before The Fellowship of the Ring. Given that Weta primarily works on movies, as well as Amazon probably wanted its series to look different from the movies, it’s unlikely the New Zealand-based company will be brought in to work on this show, but I suppose anything is possible.

Avengers: Endgame is still playing in theaters, so be sure to read CinemaBlend’s review of the movie and stay tuned for more coverage on it. If you’re curious about what the MCU has coming up, check out our Marvel movies guide. As for the Lord of the Rings series, it doesn’t have an official premiere date, although it might be ready by 2021.

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The 7 Best And Most Realistic War Movies

Platoon

War is a rough subject that’s very hard to fully grasp if you haven’t been there. With that being said, the world of cinema has managed to get the horrors and humor of war right a handful of times, according to the accounts of actual veterans who were actually present for the conflict. Is that all it takes to create one of the best war movies?

Realism is important, of course, but it may not mean a ton if a movie itself isn’t a must-watch drama that civilians and those curious are looking to years in the future to understand just how grizzly these conflicts can be. The following are a list of films that hit that mark of best war movies in terms of realism and quality, listed in chronological order.

Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Arguably the most famous war movie on the list, Francis Ford Coppola’s tale of a Vietnam soldier tasked with terminating a rogue officer “with extreme prejudice.” The story starts off pretty standardly, and slowly devolves into something much darker and different as the film goes on. This has led to some criticism from veterans, many of whom say the first third of the movie is a far more realistic depiction of war than the parts after. Still, the early stuff seems to be spot on and this is, of course, an enduring movie.

Part of this is due to Francis Ford Coppola’s vision, which was to adapt the famous 1899 novella Heart of Darkness into a story about Vietnam. Luckily, the film’s engaging story and iconic moments have made it a classic amongst war movie aficionados and certainly a contender for the best war movie of all time.

Das Boot

Das Boot (1981)

Das Boot was a German drama that was based on the novel of the same name and the efforts of a real German submarine, the U-96. The movie was created using a mock-up replica of the actual ship, in an effort to effectively capture the mixture of inaction and action German submariners went through during WWII.

Though the novel’s author criticized Das Boot for its glorification of war (the book was meant to be anti-war), American and German audiences responded well to the movie. That’s likely thanks in no small part to this best war movie’s painstaking recreation of the boat, which was also rented by Steven Spielberg during production for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Platoon

Platoon (1986)

There are several great films about the Vietnam War, although Platoon tends to stand out as one of the leaders of the pack in terms of realism. This “best war movie” is often mentioned by Vietnam veterans of one of the most accurate depictions of the war, thanks in no small part to its Vietnam veteran director, Oliver Stone.

Unlike other popular war movies like Apocalypse Now, Stone’s screenplay meshes his experience with the accounts of other Marines who were in the conflict. The result was a graphic and powerful performances by talented actors and a depiction of war that won’t soon be forgotten. It’s even hard to find a criticism on inaccuracies it shows, which speaks both to its realism and quality as one of the best war movies.

Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

When one thinks of the best war movies, Saving Private Ryan may and definitely should be at the top of the list. The Omaha landing sequence is frequently referenced as one of the most accurate war scenes of WW2 in cinematic history which, quite frankly, is a terrifying thought. What’s more impressive is the scene did not get a storyboard, and Steven Spielberg opted instead to direct his camera toward more spontaneous moments.

There are a few less factual parts of the tale, but Steven Spielberg explained that he let realism fall by the wayside for a couple of scenes for dramatic effect, to better speak to the emotion of the story. Perhaps more so than any other entry on this list, Saving Private Ryan walks the line between fact and fiction the best.

Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down (2002)

Black Hawk Down is Ridley Scott’s telling of The Battle of Mogadishu with an all-star cast that includes the likes of Ewan McGregor, Josh Hartnett, and Tom Hardy. The story follows three special forces units, all tasked with capturing Mohamed Farrah Aidid. Things go south, and result in an event that ended in the death of 1000 Somali and 19 American soldiers.

While Black Hawk Down is often lauded as one of the best war movies for its accurate combat depictions, it has found criticism for being a fairly one-sided account of the conflict. In reality American soldiers were aided by Malaysian and Pakistani forces, neither of which are represented in the movie. Additionally, Somali advocacy groups have noted the depiction of Somalis in the film is inaccurate, and it’s worth noting no Somalis were cast in the film.

We Were Soldiers

We Were Soldiers (2002)

Mel Gibson’s We Were Soldiers is a more modern film that chronicles the Vietnam War, and specifically, the Battle of la Drang. It’s spot as one of the best war movies is backed by the numerous efforts made to maintain realism and recall the events of Hal Moore’s memoir We Were Soldiers Once… And Young.

For all the movie gets right, it does bend the truth in showing the final charge by American forces. There was no such event, and the North Vietnamese were not destroyed. It’s one of the big glaring differences, but for the most part, the rest are simply details that seem trimmed for the sake of shortening the story. Perhaps if a TV series was made, the full depiction of events could be brought to life.

Hacksaw Ridge

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Speaking of atypical depictions of war, Hacksaw Ridge tells the mostly true account of Desmond Doss, who went through his service in WW2 without a weapon. Despite his lack of a firearm, Doss saved numerous lives in The Battle of Okinawa at the cost of severe injuries that inevitably affected the rest of his life.

Surprisingly, the factual inaccuracies of Hacksaw Ridge are not on the field of battle, but in the stories outside of Desmond Doss’ service. Doss’ wife didn’t become a nurse until after the war, and the family fight that encouraged him to never use a weapon was between his uncle and father, not his father and mother. Doss was never actually court martial-ed, but was threatened many times. It makes for a great story nonetheless, hence its place on the list.

There are plenty of great war movies and plenty of other realistic war movies out there, so if there are any that have been left off the list that deserve mention for an exceptional mix of quality and realism, drop it down in the comments below. We’re always looking to add to our binge-watching lists anyway.

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How Brightburn Helped James Gunn Get Through His Guardians Of The Galaxy Firing

It’s no secret that superhero movies are everywhere. The genre has proven itself endlessly popular, and it seems every studio wants to get in on the action. And while superhero fatigue is a valid concern from fans, director/writer/producer James Gunn has been crafting wholly unique additions to the genre. The first two Guardians of the Galaxy movies were critical and box office successes, although Vol. 3 was put on hold after Gunn was fired by Disney.

James Gunn has since been reinstated to direct Guardians 3, in addition to nabbing the directing job for DC’s The Suicide Squad. But before either of those movies arrive, we have the horror-inspired Brightburn. Brightburn will bring something new to the genre with a twist on the classic Superman origin story, and Gunn recently revealed how the upcoming movie helped him work through his unceremonious Marvel departure. He said:

James Gunn’s career came to a screeching halt when he was fired from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Despite completing the script for the threequel, Gunn was removed from the property after controversial tweets from a decade ago resurfaced. And after apologizing for these poor jokes, Gunn was pulled from Guardians of the Galaxy for a series of months.

It’s during this time that James Gunn put his focus on Brightburn, which he worked on as a producer. In his same conversation with USA Today, Gunn said the horror inspired superhero flick was “definitely something I could focus on” during one of the more difficult time in his life. And while everything ultimately worked out, perhaps Brightburn will benefit from Gunn’s contributions and hunger for distraction. It’s already got a interesting concept and strong marketing campaign behind it.

Brightburn is going to be totally unique take on the superhero genre, especially where Clark Kent/Superman are concerned. While the last son of Krypton is usually a symbol for good, that’s not exactly how it’s all going to go down for Brandon Breyer in Brightburn. Instead, we’ll watch as a superpowered young man turns to the dark side, and uses his abilities to exact his dark childish whims.

James Gunn’s contribution to the superhero genre has already been significant, as Guardians of the Galaxy has become one of Marvel Studios’ most beloved franchises. Gunn’s perspective is critical to that formula, as his sense of humor, taste of music, and even dance moves have been woven into the tapestry of the first two Guardians movies.

It’s James Gunn’s artistic vision that will hopefully bring another big screen success with Brightburn. And we’re just days away from its release, so Gunn’s return to the theaters is imminent. That, along with The Suicide Squad and eventually Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Brightburn will arrive in theaters on May 24, 2019. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

What It’s Like To Work With Sylvester Stallone On Rambo V: Last Blood

Sylvester Stallone will be returning to one of his classic action hero characters later this year in Rambo V: Last Blood. It will be the first time in over a decade that Stallone has played the character of John Rambo, but based on the testimony of his co-stars, the actor hasn’t lost a step. In fact, quite the opposite, Stallone is a consummate performer and ever the professional.

Dimitri Thivaios is one of those costars and according to him, he learned more about acting watching Sylvester Stallone work than by actually taking classes. According to Thivaios…

Sylvester Stallone shares a screenplay credit on Rambo V: Last Blood in addition to starring as the lead, so he’s much more than simply an actor here. However, it seems clear based on Dimitri Thivaios’ comments that Stallone had almost a director’s perspective on the film, paying attention to everything that was happening on set. While Stallone isn’t the director here, he’s had more than his share of experience in the job, and thus probably uses those skills at all times.

Dimitri Thivaios is fairly new to acting, having made his career in the music industry under the name Dimitri Vegas. He’s had a few roles in film and on TV in the past but they’ve been pretty small parts up until now. Exactly what role he’s playing in Rambo V: Last Blood has not been revealed so it’s unclear if it’s another bit part or something more substantial.

While the Rambo franchise doesn’t have quite the passionate fan base that the Rocky movies have had, it is still a well loved character. Dimitri Thivaios himself says he has a particular attachment to the film as tells Variety that First Blood, the original film in the series, was likely the first action movie he ever saw as a kid.

He had to see it behind his mother’s back, which isn’t surprising. First Blood isn’t just a bloody and violent action movie, it’s fairly disturbing one, as, while John Rambo is the hero, he’s also a man dealing with some serious issues as a result of his service in Vietnam.

Based on the title of the fifth installment, it doesn’t feel like a stretch to believe that Rambo V: Last Blood will be the final part of this series. We’ll see how John Rambo ends his story September 20.

Forget John Wick, Detective Pikachu Dominated The International Box Office

After three weekends atop the domestic box office charts and plenty of broken records, Avengers: Endgame finally fell from its perch as John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum took first place with an incredibly impressive performance. But while John Wick was catching bodies and the attention of domestic audiences, our friends overseas were still trying to catch ‘em all helping Detective Pikachu to dominate the international box office.

Over the weekend, Detective Pikachu made $53.8 million from 72 foreign markets, giving it the top spot at the international box office for the second straight weekend, according to Variety. A nice $17.2 million chunk of that came from China, where Pikachu and friends have done particularly well with a $70.3 million total. Detective Pikachu also added $2.25 million from Mexico, $3.5 million from the United Kingdom, $2.1 million from Germany and debuted in Russia to $4.3 million.

Detective Pikachu’s weekend performance overseas brings it to $193.4 million internationally, which, combined with its domestic performance, totals out to a solid $287.4 million worldwide. That is testament to the power of the Pokémon brand all over the world and its viability as a future franchise/cinematic universe. Given the interest of those involved, the myriad possibilities and this continued box office success, those outcomes seem more and more likely.

John Wick may not have been able to outgun Pika power, but the hitman still collected his share of gold coins from overseas moviegoers. In the United Kingdom, John Wick 3 opened to a cool $4.6 million, followed by Russia with $3.8 million, Austalia with $2.8 million and Mexico with $2.1 million. All in all, John Wick 3 debuted in 66 markets over the weekend and made $35 million.

That puts the international opening weekend for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum at $92 million. That’s pretty impressive considering that the first John Wick didn’t hit that number in its entire worldwide run and 2017’s John Wick: Chapter Two’s final domestic total was just over $92 million.

It may not have been enough to topple a Ryan Reynolds-voiced Pikachu with international audiences, but this is illustrative of how the organically grown John Wick franchise, which didn’t have the benefit of existing IP, is still getting bigger for Lionsgate.

Elsewhere on the weekend charts was, of course, Avengers: Endgame, which added another $46.8 million overseas to its absurd run to bring it to $1.88 billion internationally and $2.6 billion worldwide. It has now passed Avatar to become Number 2 on the domestic charts (Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ $936.6 million is almost certainly out of reach) and now trails only James Cameron’s film for the all-time international and worldwide box office crowns.

You can catch both John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and Detective Pikachu in theaters now. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to see all of this summer’s biggest movies and for all the latest box office coverage, stay tuned to CinemaBlend.

Toy Story 4 Producer Teases Woody Will Be Changed Big Time

Woody looking sad in Toy Story

The journey of the first three Toy Story movies has certainly been emotional for the audience that has been along for the ride, but it’s also been quite the journey for the characters as well. It’s also one that’s not quite over yet for Woody the cowboy. In the end, the Toy Story movies have really been all about Woody’s journey. He’s gone through major changes in the previous films, and now it looks like the biggest change of all may be coming in Toy Story 4.

While many have felt that Toy Story ended perfectly with its trilogy, the fact is that, for Woody, the third film ended with the biggest change yet to the character’s life. He now has a completely different owner. It’s all part of the larger story of change in Woody’s life. As Toy Story 4 producer Jonas Rivera puts it…

All of these movies are about how Woody changes: From going selfish to selfless in the first one, the second one is him understanding that things don’t last forever. The third one is about letting go. These are big changes.

With such massive changes having taken place already, what could Toy Story 4 possibly add to the story? While Rivera isn’t going into too many specifics, he tells THR that the return of Bo Peep into Woody’s life will be the catalyst for another major change…

We thought, if we’re going to do this, we need to think about, ‘What is the biggest change?’ What if [his relationship with Bo] was the thing that really changed him?

Bo Peep disappeared after Toy Story 2, and was only briefly referenced in the third film. It’s not made clear where she went or why, though those details have been revealed through footage in the new movie that was shown at CinemaCon. We know that Bo Peep had a very close relationship with Woody, so it’s not surprising that her return would be important to him, but she’s clearly been leading a very different life than he has these past several years, and that will seemingly influence Woody in some way.

Bo Peep was never a major part of the Toy Story films, even the ones that she was in. While the relationship between her and Woody was made clear, we’ll certainly get a much stronger look at her as a character in Toy Story 4 than we ever have before. We’ve already seen in trailers that her life away has caused her to go through major changes, it’s likely these changes which will then have an impact on Woody.

We also know that Woody won’t start the story in quite the same place that we might expect. While the toys now have a new child as their owner, it doesn’t mean that everything has simply returned to the status quo. As Jonas Rivera told me when I visited Pixar last month.

What that was, was just that idea of like, what if you took Woody, and [had] gone through everything that he’s done, tracked it, and he’s always landed on his feet. He literally gets a second chance. What if we could dramatize something about that second chance and show that it wasn’t the same, he’s didn’t land in the same spot. It is different. It is upending his life in ways he hasn’t experienced before.

I described my impression of Toy Story 4 to the director Josh Cooley as Woody’s mid-life crisis story. It looks he will be dealing with some really conflicting emotions and begin to really consider what his life is all about. What is his true purpose as a toy and what does that mean, not only for the children, but for him personally.

Josh Cooley told me that Woody is suffering from something of an “empty nest” feeling. While Woody may be nothing more than a toy that Andy played with, in the context of the story his relationship to the boy is actually more like that of a parent. Having successfully protected and cared for Andy to the point where he moved away, Woody is now wondering what to do with the rest of his life, a life which, as far as we know, is essentially forever.

One thing that does seem quite clear is that Toy Story 3 certainly wasn’t the ending that many of us thought it was. While it wrapped up Andy’s story nicely, the movies were never about him. They were always about Woody. The next chapter actually makes Woody’s story more interesting because so much in his life has already changed.

As somebody who likes, but doesn’t love, the Toy Story franchise, I may be more excited for a fourth film than some, as I don’t feel any sort of need to close the story down after a trilogy. As the Toy Story films have grown, they’ve matured with their audience. And now that the fans that fell in love with the first story as children may have children of their own, the new film looks to be telling a story very much geared toward the adults in the audience.

Not that there won’t be plenty for younger viewers as well. Toy Story 4 is still looking like it’s going to be a very funny movie, with new characters like Ducky, Bunny, and Forky that kids will almost certainly love. It’s also got a plot outside of the serious grown-up themes, involving a villainous dolly named Gabby Gabby. Even if the kids don’t “get” the broader themes for years, they’ll likely still love this one.

Of course, when people change, those changes effect others, and one question nobody has asked is what Toy Story 4 means for other characters. Woody’s best friend Buzz Lightyear will almost certainly have a part to play in what happens to Woody in this new film, but we’ve seen very little, beyond, some gags, of him in the trailers. One can only assume a major change to Woody will have repercussions.

All these questions will be answered soon. Toy Story 4 will be here before we know it, it’s only a month away, debuting June 21.

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Should The John Wick Franchise End With Chapter 4?

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum John walks through the rain in New York.

Warning: SPOILERS for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum are in play. If you haven’t seen the film yet, bookmark this page and come back once you’ve caught up.

If anyone had doubts about the John Wick franchise’s ability to print money at the box office, this weekend’s stellar performance of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum should be enough to put them to the side. Which is perfect, because as The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) and John Wick (Keanu Reeves) have now sworn to basically team up to take down The High Table, there’s going to be room for at least one more sequel that’ll keep the franchise going.

Of course, it’s moments like these where a franchise really has to take stock in where it is and where it’s going. With a solid story and tighter action so far, the John Wick story seems to be hitting its stride. However, how long can it keep running before it’s backed against the wall, with one too many plot assassins to contend with?

We’ve seen it with almost any iconic series that’s made it to the trilogy marker, and since John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum represents exactly that, that question should be asked right now: should the hypothetical John Wick: Chapter 4 should be the final installment of the well-favored series of action films that has reinvented Keanu Reeves’ career as an stuntacular superstar? Or is this an overreaction that seems rather premature? Let’s look at the pros and cons together and discuss.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum John and his dog sitting in The Continental lobby

Yes, John Wick: Chapter 4 Should Be The Finale

With The Bowery King and John Wick’s alliance serving the purpose of waging all-out war with The High Table, it could act as a proper and fitting end to the John Wick saga. For so long, this organization has ruled over the world of assassins with a strict code of rules that seems to reap a fresh current of blood with the passing of each film.

So having that expectation set for whatever John Wick: Chapter 4 may be titled, it feels like the great game should end with a blaze of glory. Maybe the film incorporates a time jump forward rather than continue right after the previous chapter, and sees John and The Bowery King worn down from an extended period of street warfare. Then, out of nowhere, a cunning strategy, some new alliances and a Hail Mary to end all desperation moves send the John Wick series out in a blaze of glory.

Though director Chad Stahelski has gone on record as stating he could make John Wick movies for the rest of his career, the story naturally has to end at some point. Why not make it the point where John takes the battle to his former overlords, shatters their grasp of power and either dies a hero or lives as a hermit, with his dog as his only companion?

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum John offers his token to The Director in the study

No, John Wick: Chapter 4 Should Be The Door To Something Bigger

On the other hand, an all-out war with The High Table is something that the John Wick series could definitely extend into at least two, maybe even three films. With all of the intricacies in the code of assassins, and the expansion of the lore that John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum added to the picture, things could just be getting started.

In fact, one of the John Wick franchise’s strengths is the fact that with each entry, there’s just enough lore to keep your mind occupied and enough action to satisfy the part of the audience that craves spectacle. Nothing is over explained, and everything seems to happen in its own due time, without too much retconning.

With no shortage of story, and an eager cast and crew ready to keep John Wick on his slow and steady descent into High Table Hell, the series doesn’t need to rush itself into a finite end. As long as there’s an exit strategy in mind, the John Wick series could continue for as long as it wanted. Maybe it could even go into a ninth installment, with just enough films to match the number of circles Hell itself contains.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum John looks at a photo in the library

Where We Stand On The Issue

While it’s tempting to try and walk away from the table while the streak is hot, it does feel like John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum sets up too big of a future story path to end with just one film. That’s not exactly an invitation to continue aimlessly over the course of unchecked sequel growth, as there should be a definite endgame for John’s quest to become a free man yet again.

Some franchises have amazing staying power, and if there are resources and enthusiasm to continue down a certain story path, then you really can’t keep a good franchise down. John Wick’s vengeance deserves to be seen, heard and felt in its due course of time, and rushing things would only water down the quality work we’ve seen thus far.

It’s not often you’ll see a franchise that builds such a compelling case for its own continuation as John Wick does. You really don’t know what’s going to come next, and the way the story has been told up until this point is not only deliberate in its pacing, it’s also still at a point where there’s unlimited potential for fun twists and turns.

This weekend’s box office result is only further proof that the viewing public is still in love with the series that started with a reluctant, but vengeful hero who’s now sworn to rip apart the world that’s only grown to torment him more as time goes on. Each time they’ve confronted him, The High Table has thought they’d cracked John Wick’s resolve, only to see him find a new way to reduce the competition’s numbers.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was it destroyed in that short a span of time. So if John Wick needs a couple passages past John Wick: Chapter 4, who can argue with that? Actually, if you’re looking to continue this discussion, you could, dear reader.

Now that we’ve talked out both sides to the John Wick: Chapter 4 issue, it’s your turn to get involved. Take our poll below, and tell us in the comments section about whether you feel the John Wick series has run its course or if it’s just getting started.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is in theaters now.

Should John Wick: Chapter 4 Be The Finale To The Series?

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Millie Bobby Brown Says Godzilla: King Of The Monsters Needs To Be Seen On The Big Screen

As far as film franchises go, there are none that go back quite as long as Godzilla. Dating back to 1954, the behemoth creature has been thrilling audiences for decades. And the big green guy will once again return to theaters with Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which is set to arrive in theaters in a matter of days.

The anticipation for Godzilla: King of the Monsters has been steadily building, as footage revealed the myriad monsters that will be battling for supremacy in the upcoming blockbuster. Fans are also excited to see Stranger Things favorite Millie Bobby Brown in the movie, and the 15-year old actress recently implored moviegoers to see it on the big screen. She said:

The Godzilla franchise focuses on larger than life creatures, and technology has made anything impossible in the past few years. King of the Monsters includes a number of beloved characters, and they’ll appear even bigger on a larger screen. According to Millie Bobby Brown, the end result is quite the theatrical experience.

Millie Bobby Brown’s comments to THR are sure to excite fans of the franchise. Rather than simply focusing on the title character or one adversary, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a true ensemble movie as far as behemoth creatures go. It’s a veritable whose who of Godzilla icons like Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidora. And watching it on your own TV just won’t do the scale of the movie justice.

Legendary’s MonsterVerse has been steadily building over the past few years, and seen some solid success at the box office. Gareth Edward’s 2014 Godzilla movie was a strong reboot to the franchise, and earned great reviews, on top of making $529.1 million. Kong: Skull Island performed similarly in both critically and financially, helping to set up the eventual clash of these titans.

But before Godzilla and King Kong come to blows, he’ll have to become the King. This will put him in conflict with some of the Godzilla franchise’s most beloved titans, as well as the impressive cast of actors that director Michael Dougherty assembled to play the human characters. Joining Millie Bobby Brown are Vera Farmiga, Ken Wantanabe, Charles Dance, Bradley Whitford, and Sally Hawkins.

We’ll just have to see how many of them make it through the conflict, and hopefully return for a future. installment of the MonsterVerse. Serialized storytelling has become commonplace since the inception of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and crossovers are clearly coming down the line in Godzilla Vs. Kong.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters will move the MonsterVerse forward when it arrives in theaters on May 31st. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

The Avengers Vs The Justice League: Which Is The Better Superhero Team?

Captain America versus Batman 2019

In Avengers: Endgame, the Avengers proved they could best the most powerful villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but could those characters take out their counterparts from The Justice League movie? At the box office, it’s not been much of a fight, Marvel and the MCU have been crushing DC and the DCEU.

Sure, Marvel got a head start on the competition when it kicked off Phase One of the MCU with Iron Man in 2008, but DC had previously been sucking wind trying to catch up, although it is finally starting to make great strides. While the MCU has had an outline and a playbook that that has been laid out and followed to a T, at times, it seems like the DCEU has been in total chaos and flying by the seat of the tights.

Still, none of this has anything to do with how powerful the characters are, and there’s nothing we love more at CinemaBlend than superhero hypotheticals. So, could The Avengers beat The Justice League in a fight between superheroes? Marvel’s Avengers may do better at the box office, but DC’s Justice League would give them one heck of a fight in the ring. Who would come out on top? We state the case below.

It should be noted, that just to keep this from spiraling out into infinity, we’re going to limit the argument to only six members of The Avengers and the six members of The Justice League introduced in the DCEU so far. On the Avengers side, it will be Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, Captain Marvel and The Hulk. So, that means no Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, or any of The Guardians Of The Galaxy. On the Justice League side, it’s Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg.

Captain Marvel versus Wonder Woman

The Avengers Versus The Justice League

The Avengers biggest strengths are their brains and technical skills. Tony Stark’s genius and engineer would have to be their biggest asset against any potential DCEU foes. Let’s face it, The Avengers are going to need Iron Man to come up with something big to help them stop The Justice League’s most powerful superhero, Superman. Superman is going to be the biggest problem for them and stopping him is almost impossible. Thor will also be critical here.

Superman is almost indestructible. The only chance The Avengers would have against The Justice League would be to somehow sideline him maybe using the power of Thor. Thor’s Mjolnir or Stormbreaker are the most powerful weapons in any universe and he’s going to need all of it. The Incredible Hulk’s incredible strength would also be important in isolating the biggest threats from The Justice League.

While this is going on, Batman and Captain America would probably face off in one of the most epic battles that superhero fans could ever wish for. They are pretty evenly matched too. That leaves the wild card: Wonder Woman. Could the Justice League gain the advantage over The Avengers here with Wonder Woman?

Of course, there other concerns too. Would The Hulk decimate the competition outside of Superman or could The Flash and Aquaman someone contain him? As with Superman, The Hulk is probably not going to fall in a one-on-one battle. If The Flash and Aquaman were distracted by The Hulk, where does that leave Cyborg? With a powerful superhero like Captain Marvel teamed with Black Panther, could Cyborg come out on top? He may be the biggest weakness in the Justice League in this fight. He’d be better matched with Iron Man, with his hacker skills, but he may not get the opportunity in this battle.

Most likely what would happen is that the six leaders of each team with battle it out while the three “lesser” members would be left facing each other. This makes the larger battle slightly more even, because, again, Superman really puts the Avengers at a major disadvantage. What can you do to stop him?

Thor, Iron Man and Captain America as The Avengers

Iron Man, Thor, And Captain America Vs. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman

The leaders of The Avenger and The Justice League would definitely need to face off with each other. This is the only way The Avengers would have a chance.

First, The Avengers would need to have made sure that Tony Stark had invented some kind of Kryptonite-shooting weapon to fire at Superman. With Superman weakened, a charge from Thor and healthy smack of his hammer would be the Avengers best chance to flip the script on The Justice League. Maybe Thor could somehow plant an unconscious Superman on the moon or something, giving The Avengers a chance.

This is all if the much-anticipated battle between Batman and Captain America keeps those two distracted. In all of The Avengers vs. Justice League possible match-ups, this is the one people should want to see most. They are pretty evenly matched and both are incredible in hand-to-hand combat. Whoever comes out on top in this fight could also swing the battle in one direction or the other as both are crucial to the success of their respective teams.

This leaves Wonder Woman. If Iron Man and Thor were distracted with Superman, it leaves an opening for Wonder Woman to take on one or both. She is pretty evenly matched with Thor, with both of them being gods and all. Plus – who wouldn’t want to see Gal Godot fighting with Chris Hemsworth — that’s a dreamy match up. Frankly, she might be pretty evenly matched with Iron Man too, as he was when he fought Thor in The Avengers.

It’s probably best she go for Thor though, and leave Iron Man to Superman, because that is the mismatch of the century. All due respect to Iron Man, but if Tony Stark failed to get the kryptonite shot off effectively, Superman would waste him. This pairing gives the Justice League a big advantage. But what about the undercard, could that change things?

Cyborg, The Flash and Aquaman

Captain Marvel, Blank Panther And The Hulk Vs. Aquaman, The Flash And Cyborg

This is where things get even more interesting. Captain Marvel is a huge X-factor here. As powerful as she is, Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg would need to find a way to contain her. That may not even be possible, and if they do somehow manage to do it, how do they stop The Hulk?

Another issue is Aquaman. How does the Justice League maximize his strengths? Is there a way for him to face off with The Hulk and come out on top? That could tilt the battle significantly. He might be the only Justice League member that could handle The Hulk one on one (besides Superman of course).

The Flash is the weak point for the Justice League here, there just isn’t a good match up for him among these Avengers. Maybe he can go after Black Panther but the more natural matchup for Black Panther seems like Cyborg, given both of their technology expertise?

But then that would leave Captain Marvel versus the Flash and that feels like a huge mismatch in favor of Marvel’s Avengers. So DC’s The Justice League will need to counteract that somehow.

Captain America, Thor and Iron Man as The Avengers

How The Avengers Could Beat The Justice League

In a fight between The Avengers and The Justice League, there is one clear way The Avengers could come out on top.

First, Tony Stark would need that kryptonite particle shooter. With Iron Man taking a shot at Superman, stunning and weakening him, one mighty clobber from Thor’s hammer could send him spinning into space. Knocking Superman out of the fight (and far away from Earth’s sun) is the only chance they have to get the upper hand in the battle.

From there, it would still be up to Captain America to take out Batman, and in hand-to-hand combat, both heroes are pretty evenly matched, which makes Captain America’s shield the most important weapon here. If Captain America can hold off an onslaught of projectiles that Bruce Wayne would have certainly prepared with and get in close, he should be able to deflect some those back towards Batman and hopefully knock him out.

With Superman out of the fight, Thor and The Hulk would need to team up to take on the powerful Aquaman. The only way The Avengers would be able to overcome his speed and reflexes is with an all-out frontal assault by their two strongest members. If Thor and The Hulk could bat Aquaman around and back and forth for a few minutes, he just might be down for the count.

Meanwhile, that leaves Iron Man and Black Panther to hold off the The Flash and Cyborg for the time being. This will be a tough ask from the two. Black Panther would need every bit of strength and his ancestor’s knowledge to take down Cyborg, but if Iron Man can serve as bait, Cyborg could get distracted by trying to hack Jarvis and take out Tony Stark’s technology, then Black Panther would gain the advantage in hand to hand combat.

The Flash is a big part of this. How do The Avengers slow him down? Carol Danvers of course. If anyone is prepared for the incredible speed of The Flash, it’s the fighter pilot Captain Marvel. If she can catch him, she can take him out.

That leaves Wonder Woman. Hardly a slouch, right? With the others out of the battle, The Avengers would need all hands on deck to take out the mighty Wonder Woman. Thor’s Hammer is the only weapon that I really believe could do the trick here. He would need to get in a solid shot with his powerful hammer and leave her vulnerable to attack.

In the end The Avengers would be in rough shape, but they could stand victorious over their rivals. But what about an alternate universe, one where The Justice League prevails?

Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman as The Justice League

How The Justice League Could Beat The Avengers

So, how do The Justice League prevail in this epic battle against The Avengers? Well, they have Superman, and that alone gives them a major advantage. Cyborg is the key though.

Superman could take mighty blows from Hulk and Thor all day if Cyborg is able hack Jarvis, preventing Iron Man from releasing a hail of kryptonite particles on Superman. If Superman is at full strength, he could easily do a rope-a-dope against Thor and The Hulk until the other Avengers were taken out. But how does that happen?

With Jarvis hacked, Iron Man would be easy to take out. Wonder Woman would be free to take on Captain Marvel in a classic head-to-head matchup of the two most powerful women in the Universe. Wonder Woman’s best chance here would be to land some heavy blows and count in The Flash to harass Carol Danvers enough to allow for Wonder Woman’s blows to take effect. Wonder Woman’s god-level strength would overcome Captain Marvel and leave her jetting the other direction.

After Iron Man and Captain Marvel were sidelined, Batman would need to win his one on one with Captain America. To do this, he would need to be stealth, something he can excel at. Batman would need to devise a plan to get around Captain America’s shield and to do that, he’ll need to use his combat knowledge. Attacking Captain America from behind would be his best chance. Once he does, he would wrap Cap up and force him to watch from the sidelines.

Once Batman has done this, he and Cyborg would need to face Black Panther together. Only their combination of brains and brawn could match the Wakandan’s brains and brawn. They might be able to get some help from Wonder Woman at this point. It would be an epic hand-to-hand fight, but three on one is probably too much, even for Black Panther.

Now the attention of the entire Justice League could turn to the two most powerful Avengers, Thor and Hulk. Superman would be able to focus all his attention on Hulk, in what would be the most epic boxing match of all time, while Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman and Cyborg would be able to focus on Thor. Cyborg would be a little out of his element, but in a battle of seriously powerful gods, Aquaman and Wonder Woman would be key to defeating Thor.

If Wonder Woman could deflect or even – gasp – catch Thor’s Hammer, Aquaman would have free reign to come down on the mighty Thor, meaning a God from the sea could sink the hero named for a Norse god.

With Thor out, it’s going to take all six members of Justice League to take out Hulk, unless Superman alone can demoralize him until he quits, which is probably what would happen.

Superman versus Thor 2019

Is This A Battle That Could Ever Really Happen?

Well, probably not. Sure, there have been some epic crossover issues between DC and Marvel over the years, including a big one in 2002, but those came at time when both companies were struggling financially, which is definitely no longer the case and, of course, there are real-world constraints to this too. Both imprints are owned by two different enormous media companies DC is owned AT&T through Warner Brothers and Marvel is owned by Disney.

If The Predator can fight The Alien, and Jason can battle Freddy, What are the chances those two rivals would come together allow this battle to happen, to determine the supremacy of one media world over another? About as good a chance as Ant-Man would have against a giant bottle of Raid, so for now, we’ll just have to live with speculation.

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Guys, The John Wick 3 Dog Action Scenes Are Much Harder To Film Than You Realize

The following story will get into spoilers for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum**. Do yourself a favor and turn around now if you haven’t yet seen the film**.

Hard-to-kill hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves) remains on the run at the start of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. He is declared excommunicado by the organization he used to call “home.” And there’s a bounty on his head, meaning every assassin in the greater New York City area is hunting him down. Wick needs allies… and some of his allies in the sequel are four-legged friends.

Director Chad Stahelski unleashes two ferocious dogs in several fight sequences for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, with Halle Berry commanding her two animals to defend her character, and John from attackers. During an appearance on the ReelBlend podcast, Stahelski explained in great detail the difficulty of shooting with the dogs, and the sheer amount of prep work that goes in to training a dog to attack – and the complications that come from that. He explains:

How does a filmmaker choreograph complicated long takes involving trained dogs who still are not really able to tell the difference between a fictional film set and a realistic fight? Especially when they are trying to complete the dog attack in the middle of an unbroken tracking shot, with loud gunshots and explosions going off all around them?

According to Chad Stahelski, speaking to the ReelBlend podcast, it requires an immense level of time commitment so that everyone involved with the stunts in the scene – from the actors to the stunt choreographers to the actual camera people – come to set months in advance to train with the dogs and familiarize themselves with the animals. He said:

Chad Stahelski goes on to say that a movie like John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum might five different dogs working with 10 different stuntmen, which requires each participant to spend two hours a day with the different dogs just so they know who to attack. As he explains in the interview, even though the stunt involving the dog doesn’t look massive, the amount of time it takes to get the dog to run from Point A to Point B and tackle the right person can take months to get right.

This is one of the many fascinating stories that Chad Stahelski told about the behind-the-scenes on the making of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. You really should give the whole interview a listen, as part of this week’s ReelBlend podcast:

This past weekend, the third John Wick movie finally dethroned Avengers: Endgame as the box office champ of the weekend, though the superhero ensemble adventure has banked more than $2.6 billion at the worldwide market, and can only go up from there. What did you go see this weekend? Did it involve dogs biting crotches? If so, then now you know how complicated those sequences were to pull off.