Film Features

7 Iconic Filming Locations You Can Rent for Your Next Vacation

Because we all need an escape from reality now and then.

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Since lockdowns and social distancing have taken over the world since spring, we've had to become more creative about vacations.

For some people that means going on a camping trip or renting a cabin in the middle of nowhere to escape the city and pretend the world doesn't exist for a while. But for those of us who aren't up for roughing it, there are some options for a different kind of escape.

If you would rather relax in luxury, pretending to be a celebrity, or a character in your favorite movie or TV show, these vacation rentals may be right for you...

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CULTURE

Win a Virtual Date With All Your Favorite Avengers—also, Jeremy Renner

Chris Evans' All In Challenge offers fans a chance to hang out with the stars of the Avengers movies (also Jeremy Renner)

In the latest—and maybe the most exciting—installment of the All In Challenge, Chris Evans (AKA Captain America) is offering a virtual hang out with himself and four of the other A-list celebrities who played the original Avengers.

And Jeremy Renner will also be there.

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FILM

The "Hamilton" Disney Movie Will Be Truer to Its Message Than the Musical

Lin Manuel Miranda's smash hit Broadway musical is coming to the big screen.

"Hamilton" is officially coming to theaters. For the price of a movie ticket, fans will be able to experience Lin Manuel Miranda's smash hit musical for themselves.

The movie will be a live recording of the original Broadway cast, so fans will be able to see Lin-Manuel Miranda gallivanting around the stage as Alexander Hamilton, along with Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr, Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler, Jonathan Groff as King George III, and many more. The musical will be hitting theaters on October 15, 2021.

The Broadway musical became a smash hit partly thanks to its ability to mix American patriotism with progressivism, as well as its radically diverse cast and its innovative fusion of hip hop and musical theatre styles.

But the show—which is really about scrappy young working-class people fighting for their American dream—was never exactly accessible to the people it aimed to represent. Hamilton tickets went for hundreds to thousands of dollars and was only available to New Yorkers and visitors with the ability to go to the theatre.

To stay true to the show's mission and message, Miranda and the Hamilton cast made sure that the show focused on philanthropy. When Philippa Soo, who plays Hamilton's wife, discovered that the orphanage Eliza began in Hamilton's honor still existed, she created an organization called "The Eliza Project" to raise money and offer support for the Bronx-based Graham Windham facility.

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Hamilton dance captain Morgan Marcell has also done his part, helping to start The Eliza Project and launching "Share Your Stories," a pen-pal program that connects cast members and kids at the orphanage.

The show also hosts a series of matinees for 11th graders in public school, which go for $10 a ticket. "I can only imagine what the show would have meant to me as a 16 or 17 year old," said Leslie Odom, Jr. of the project. "I know what Rent meant to me in my life, how that show changed the course of my life, and we can only hope that Hamilton will have the same effect on a few kids. We get so much doing this glorious material, and we get so much from our audiences, and so when you're in a moment like that, you feel the responsibility very acutely to pay it forward."

Now, Hamilton will be lending its revolutionary sentiments to the big screen. "Lin-Manuel Miranda created an unforgettable theater experience and a true cultural phenomenon, and it was for good reason that 'Hamilton' was hailed as an astonishing work of art," Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger told Variety. "All who saw it with the original cast will never forget that singular experience. And we're thrilled to have the opportunity to share this same Broadway experience with millions of people around the world."

Certainly, Hamilton is a life-changing show. But will it be as effective as a film?

While movies can be impactful, there's nothing like the magic of live theatre. Still, as a movie, the show will be reaching far more people than it could've on the Broadway stage. Hamilton's spirit of populist energy, activism, and political fervor is something we could all use right now at the start of election season.

The show also makes a powerful statement about immigrants and how they shaped America. "I just recognised that guy," said Miranda, describing his connection to Alexander Hamilton. "When you see Hamilton as an immigrant story, it becomes universal to me because I grew up in a largely immigrant neighbourhood in New York and we just knew the deal was: we have to work three times as hard. I don't remember a time when my parents had less than three jobs each. That is just the immigrant story and in Hamilton's case, he ends up shaping the nation. He gains the trust of George Washington and he ends up shaping our financial system, inventing the coast guard, creating the New York Post and a million other things."

Hamilton the Musical hasn't been without criticism, especially among those who criticize the show for exploring white history and emphasizing a "bootstraps" immigrant narrative, which blames any immigrants' failures on their lack of hard work rather than systemic forces of oppression. "The assertions here, that Hamilton worked harder and was smarter, true or not, imply that other immigrants who have not experienced success in their new nation are somehow at fault. They either do not work hard enough or, simply, are not smart enough. Such logic neglects and obscures the material obstacles and violences (structural racism, predatory capitalism, long-burned bridges to citizenship) imposed on racialized immigrants within the United States in order to celebrate the (false) promise of the American dream and the nation-state," writes James McMaster for Howlround.

All that said, Hamilton is still a powerful tale that strikes more than a few meaningful chords. Now audiences across the country can decide what they think of the ten-dollar founding father and his musical origin story.

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CULTURE

"Captain Marvel 2" Is Slated to Trigger Low-Performing Dudes All Over Again

Low-performing men are no longer "the real fans" of comic book movies.

Disney

It's impossible to read anything related to Brie Larson's Captain Marvel without tripping over hives of low-performing Internet men.

You know the ones––the kind of men who genuinely believe they're entitled to debates, who pretend to love facts and logic while simultaneously believing everything they hear on YouTube, who couch their racism and sexism in poorly constructed jokes and then rage about how nobody has a sense of humor anymore when everyone else wants them to go away. They're everywhere, swarming the comment sections of every YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook post even mildly related to the character, whining and crying and soiling their britches. It's almost like these low-performing Internet men have nothing better to do than breathlessly scan social media for mentions of Brie Larson so they can regurgitate something akin to, "REEE BRIE LARSON BAD!"

Thankfully, their furor has died down quite a bit since Captain Marvel's release. They still show up in the Rotten Tomatoes Audience Reviews every now and again to leave thoughtful commentary like, "10yrs of a good job destroyed for PC reasons" with no punctuation, but by and large, they've moved on to actively hating other women elsewhere. But as comic books have taught us time and time again, peace can only last so long for a superhero.

Captain Marvel short hair This image really upsets low-performing dudes.Disney

Now that Captain Marvel 2 is officially in development, one thing is certain: Low-performing Internet dudes are going to get triggered all over again.

Collective triggering of the world's least eligible bachelors can largely be traced back to Brie Larson's speech at the 2018 Crystal + Lucy Awards (an awards show for women in communications and media). There, Larson spoke out against the lack of diversity amongst film reporters and critics, the majority of whom are white and male.

"I don't want to hear what a white man has to say about 'A Wrinkle in Time,' said Larson. "I want to hear what a woman of color, a biracial woman has to say about the film. I want to hear what teenagers think about the film."

Naturally, the suggestion that their opinions didn't matter––"they" being the specific variety of men who would hear a statement like that and get vein-poppingly red about it––triggered these dudes so hard that their moms probably wished they could get postnatal abortions. These men were so angry that they made it their mission to virtually follow Brie Larson around like the lowest-performing heat seeking missiles, screeching their bad takes whenever and wherever they could.

Brie Larson Speech Women In Film 2018 Crystal and Lucy Awards - Show, Beverly Hills, USA - 13 Jun 2018 Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Of course, Brie Larson was right to say what she said. White men have been the primary cultural tastemakers throughout the entire history of Western media. It's only recently that fresh, non-white, non-male voices have started to gain major traction on such a global scale.

The biggest problem for a lot of the men who are angry at Brie Larson is that they've spent their entire lives massively overestimating the value of their own opinions. To be clear, even the most entitled, low-performing Internet men are welcome to hold whatever opinions they want on absolutely anything. But many of them, for the first time ever, are being faced with a collective cultural dismissal of the value those opinions hold. In other words, these men are facing the same exact thing that they've been telling underrepresented people since the beginning of time: Nobody actually cares what they think.

And it's true. The opinions of angry Internet men, especially the ones who have a tendency to refer to themselves with phrases like "the real fans," don't matter nearly as much as they used to. Captain Marvel was the 9th highest-grossing movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the 11th highest-grossing superhero movie ever made. Regardless of whether or not these men made good on their words and stayed home from the theaters (if they would have even gone in the first place), Captain Marvel was an objective box office hit.

Captain Marvel 2 Disney

As marketing efforts for Captain Marvel 2 begin to ramp up, so too will the vitriol of low-performing dudes. But at some point, assuming they really do love facts and logic as much as they claim, they'll need to stop denying reality and face the truth. Captain Marvel 2 will be another hit for Marvel because low-performing men are no longer "the real fans" of comic book movies. They're just voices screaming into a void like everyone else, and their box office dollars are insignificant to the brands they once worshipped.

Like it or not, their opinions have already been canceled.

FILM

Marvel To Feature Its First Transgender Superhero

Fans think the character will be an angel.

Here's some good news to start your new year off right: A trans superhero is coming to Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Kevin Feige confirmed the news in a Q&A at New York Film Academy. When asked if the studio would ever have a transgender character, the Marvel Studios president said, "Yes, absolutely. Yes," adding that a trans character is appearing "very soon, in a movie that we're shooting right now" and clarifying that more trans and LGBTQ+ characters would be making an appearance.

It seems that Feige and Marvel are finally understanding that representation matters—and pays. "You look at the success of 'Captain Marvel' and 'Black Panther.' We want the movies to reflect the audience and we want every member of our global audience to see themselves reflected on the screen," he said.

While it's unfortunate (although expected) that Marvel's decision to increase diversity in its casting is connected to whether or not these choices will make a profit, the decision to create a trans superhero is an important step in normalizing the trans identity.

Most likely, Marvel's trans character will appear in Thor: Love and Thunder, as last summer the film's cast list included a trans woman. Fans believe that the character will be the angel Sera, who "descends from a group of all-male angels but who has transitioned to a female identity," according to MSN.

Marvel's History of Transgender Representation

Regardless, Marvel's new trans characters won't technically be the franchise's first trans superhero. That honor belongs to Rebekah, a child transgender activist who was the subject of a recent Marvel documentary, which aired on Disney Plus as part of their Hero Project series. They turned Rebekah, a Christian and a transgender girl, into a hero named "Mightly Rebekah."

Marvel's Hero Project Clip: Mighty Rebekah www.youtube.com

Whoever plays Marvel's first big-screen trans character also won't be their first trans actor. In 2019's Spider-Man: Far From Home, trans actor Zach Barack played one of Peter Parker's friends, though his gender identity didn't feature into the plot.

In an interview, Barack emphasized the importance of trans representation onscreen. He explained that superhero movies, in particular, always "felt like [trans stories] because [they're] talking about identity." Superhero films, he explained, are "about separating what people know about you and what they don't. And I think that's something I kind of live with every day. And on top of that, I don't see a lot of trans-masculine people on television or trans men specifically, and getting to be part of that is beyond unreal."

What Is Your Origin Story? | Zach Barack | TEDxBoulder www.youtube.com


Ramping Up Representation: The Eternals and Representation Firsts

The MCU's first trans character is just the latest in a series of firsts for the company in terms of LGBTQ+ representation. The franchise will also feature its first gay character in the film The Eternals, which will star Richard Madden as Ikaris, "a levitating immortal with teleporting and vaporising powers and abundance of cosmic energy," who also happens to be in a committed and loving gay marriage.

Marvel's Eternals (2020) Teaser www.youtube.com

Among other upcoming firsts: The Eternals will also feature the MCU's first deaf character, and Marvel's first Asian-American star will feature in the film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, set to debut in 2021.

The MCU character Valkyrie is apparently bisexual, according to actress Tessa Thompson, who stated, "In the canon, [Valkyrie] is bisexual. You see her with women and men, so that was my intention in playing her," she told Variety. "Obviously, at the forefront of most of these stories is not typically their romantic life. They have big stakes, like saving the world, so that tends to sort of trump." Even so, the film Thor: Ragnarok received some criticism for erasing Valkyrie's bisexuality.

In most superhero movies, in order to save the world, heroes have to learn to embrace their inner strength and the powers that make them special and exceptional. Maybe the parallels between trans narratives and superhero stories aren't exact—but they're certainly not mutually exclusive, and combining the two will likely only strengthen them both.

Let's hope that they continue this tradition and hire more diverse representation across all their teams, including their writing staff and managerial board. Marvel is incredibly influential in shaping ideas about masculinity, heroism, and cultural norms at large, and therefore their decision to question and challenge archetypal gender roles will likely ripple across culture in the way that no number of tweets or academic papers about transgender identities could.

Wakanda isn't real, but neither is direct democracy in America, so why not freely devote ourselves to the Black Panther nation, anyway?

Is the recently impeached president's administration even real? Is Trump real? In a true testament to how much facts don't matter in the time of the 45th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture "accidentally" listed Wakanda as a free-trade partner, alongside 10 actual trade partners, on a tariff-tracking tool. A spokesperson for the Department addressed the oversight in a statement, "Over the past few weeks, the Foreign Agricultural Service staff who maintain the Tariff Tracker have been using test files to ensure that the system is running properly. The Wakanda information should have been removed after testing and has now been taken down."

Yet the tool was a fountain of specific details when it came to trading with Wakanda. "There were hundreds of data inputs for Wakanda… Different commodity groups offered on drop-down menus range from fresh vegetables and unroasted coffee beans to essential oils and livestock," according to NBC News. "Yellow potatoes had to maintain a '0.5 cent/kg' base rate when shipped in from the fictional East African nation, while frozen Chinese water chestnuts were tariff free if the U.S. decided to import them from Wakanda. Cows were also tariff free."

It's far from the first time reality has blurred with fiction when it comes to geopolitics and basic geography. Who hasn't Googled "Is Agrabah" real?" at least once? Aladdin's beloved fictional city, sometimes based on the beautiful landscapes of Marrakech, was named by Disney director John Musker when he created an anagram of "Baghdad" (where the 1992 animated film was originally set).

And then there's the fact that democracy as a concept has always been oversimplified and mistranslated from theory to praxis. As sociologist Malka Older points out, "[I]t's hard to claim that the United States, at any point in its history, has been a democracy in the rigorous sense of the word. This is partly by design. The foundations of the United States were defined by a struggle over how much democracy should be mitigated. It was terrifyingly radical to suggest that the people — even a very restricted group of people — might have a say in government, and the founders cautiously padded the rails to limit the power of the masses." Even as we've tried to help our idea of democracy grow up from this nascent fear of authoritarianism (with policies that were truly radical to the founding fathers, such as giving non-white people the right to vote and speak and eat and breathe whenever they want), America's never been a true democracy.

Today, it's arguably not a democracy at all. In 2016, The Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index downgraded the U.S. from a "full democracy" to a "flawed democracy" due to "a further erosion of trust in government and elected officials there." In 2014, a Princeton study concluded that the U.S. is an "oligarchy" rather than a democracy, a fundamentally unequal political system run by the economic elite.

So between increasing voting restrictions and gerrymandering, political power aligning with soulless corporations rather than public opinion, and spreading pronouncements that democracy is dead, who says we can't have a vibranium White House? Marvel's fictional indestructible element is just as real as American democratic freedom.