Here’s What Critics Have to Say About Fifty Shades Darker

Catherine Shoard, The Guardian:

“A few leather cuffs do pop up, but they’re unbuckled fast so the missionary position can be better adopted. In many moments he looks as if he wished he could just tiptoe away and let some other actor with a similarly flawless mouth, nose and brow step in. Not even Olivier could do it. Reviewers are not charmed by the film’s leading man. The new film, based on E. James’ book of the same name, made some major changes after its predecessor’s director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, allegedly clashed with the books’ author over creative differences. Nipple clamps put in an appearance, but only on fingers.”

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:

“Ana calls Christian’s desires ‘kinky fuckery,’ but where the hell is it? is that a pommel horse?”

Alex Abad-Santos, Vox:


Fifty Shades Darker wants to turn you on. Audiences will be in ecstasy alright—from hysterical laughter. Very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, boring, actually.”

Max Weiss, Baltimore Magazine:

“They should’ve called this one
The Fifty Times I Yawned.”

… when it doesn’t have audiences in stitches, that is. The film would surely have benefited from being gaudier, more kitsch and transgressive.”

Liz Braun, the Toronto Sun:

“Not to put too fine a point on this or anything, but
Fifty Shades Darker, sequel to
Fifty Shades of Grey, is very boring. Chris Hunneysett, the Mirror:

“If you want to watch a movie about a billionaire playboy with a penchant for darkness, inflicting violence and dressing up in masks, you’re far better off seeing
The Lego Batman Movie.”

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:

“What an incredibly, indelibly idiotic movie.” Instead, it will make you cackle.”

Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune:

“[I]t’s hard to find anything all that arousing when laughing this hard. Stephanie Merry, Washington Post:

“Christian does offer, at least, a lot of unintentional comedy, such as when he walks away from a helicopter crash with nothing more than an artfully torn T-shirt or when the billionaire playboy does his morning workout routine on his… Very, very boring. But critics don’t seem too impressed by the movie’s new director, James Foley, nor the screenplay penned by James’ husband, Niall Leonard, nor Jamie Dornan, who plays lead Christian Grey, nor … you know what, let’s just read some reviews, shall we? (Or maybe he did, if you count Heathcliff.) But Dornan, with his brooding frat-boy demeanor, seems to sap energy away from Johnson, an appealing performer who has some of her mother’s saucy dazzle.”

Stephen Whitty, NJ.com:

“Dakota Johnson tries hard—or, at least harder than Jamie Dornan, who mostly acts with his stubble.”

Tom Gliatto, People:

“Dornan remains puzzling: How could he be the world’s most magnetic serial killer on
The Fall, and yet so uncomfortable in the comparatively run-of-the-mill role of a wealthy sadist? Stephanie Zacharek, Time:

“Dornan is just a dud. Confronted with Christian’s Red Room of Pain, Ana can only gaze at the array of whips and chains and wonder, ‘Does the maid dust in here?’”

Robbie Collin, Telegraph:

“It’s an alleged 18-rated, adults-only filth-fest that behaves like a flustered PG. “

In fact, the whole movie is a bit of a snooze …
Geoffrey Macnab, the Independent:


Fifty Shades Darker is an ordeal to watch not because of its gothic eroticism but because of its utter blandness. L. The problem may have more to do with the conception of the character than anything else: How do you play a self-described sadist who’s really just a misunderstood cuddlebunny underneath? Henry Cavill, maybe.”

Andrew Lapin, NPR:

“Dornan remains as charismatic as an ironing board.”

The sex scenes are more vanilla than you might expect. The second installment,
Fifty Shades Darker, is pure camp.  
The critics have spoken on Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel to BDSM-flavored romance Fifty Shades of Grey, and what they’re saying is: Yikes. While decidedly not a comedy, there are times when you have to wonder if the film is in on the joke.”

Honestly, you should probably just go see something else.

The Abominable Mr. Seabrook

This strict formal repetition mimics, in a way, Ollmann’s intentional restraint as a writer. He even ate human flesh once, for research purposes (apparently it tastes like veal). Only as Ollmann discusses Seabrook’s rediscovery does the wind blow that tower away, revealing Seabrook in his late middle-age shabbiness. For the most part, The Abominable Mr. This is Seabrook’s greatest and, prior to the recent efforts to rediscover his work, only legacy, yet the book avoids any serious discussion of what scholars of Vodou make of Seabrook’s work (it’s controversial), how his depiction of half-catatonic agricultural slaves transformed into Hollywood’s flesh-eating undead, or whether Seabrook was simply misled and used by his sources. Read the rest of the pieces in the Slate Book Review. Art Spiegelman’s Maus and David B’s Epileptic do this through using frequent symbolism to make it clear we are not reading literal truth. Thus his impulsive nature, eschewing of normal life, and genuine curiosity about the world become addiction, arrogance, and solipsism. While Ollmann’s rough-hewn drawing style is wonderfully evocative and frequently quite funny, nearly every page is divided into nine, evenly sized, cramped panels. The result of that fascination is The Abominable Mr. In the foreword to The Abominable Mr. —
The Abominable Mr. The Seabrooks claim in the essay that, “the fact of a God-given organ too large for comfort … took Willie through years, a lifetime of increasingly imaginative, fantastically complicated sex practices.” Ollmann, in a discussion four times the length of and far more complicated than his wrestling with The Magic Island, is more skeptical, calling the idea an “oversimplification.”
Ollmann clearly admires Seabrook’s writing and adventuresome spirit, the ways he was both the fearless boy reporter Tintin and the inept but noble drunkard Captain Haddock at the same time. Seabrook fails to take advantage of the possibilities of comics as a form. In an evocative and powerful epilogue, Ollmann ponders the contradictions of Seabrook’s life and work in text boxes (“He wrote without shame of his bondage practices, though he seemed compelled to legitimize them in the guise of psychic research”) while the ghost of Seabrook builds a tower of loose paper to hide behind. Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home is organized as a series of chronologically scrambled, thematically linked episodes, as if the page is mimicking both obsessive research (which she draws herself doing) and the searching qualities of memory at the same time. Drawn and Quarterly. His eyes are heavy-lidded. The book comes to much fuller life in its second half. And Ollmann has found some other curiosities along the way, like the letters and telegrams Seabrook sent to try to win back his second wife, Marjorie, or the revelation in an unpublished essay (co-written with his third wife, Constance) that Seabrook was so well-endowed that he could not get conventional pleasure from intercourse. Seabrook, a comic-book biography of Seabrook that Ollmann says in a forward he was “kind of obligated to make.”
Ollmann presents Seabrook’s life as a series of escape attempts—first from his mother, then from various jobs and marriages, then from bourgeois norms, then from alcoholism, and finally, with his death by suicide in 1945, from himself. That’s what comics do best: Drawn by an artist’s hand, comics make the author’s subjectivity inescapable. Journalist Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza becomes an investigation into whether or not the truth of historical events is even knowable. The Abominable Mr. He profiled Bedouin tribes in the Middle East and introduced the concept of the zombie to American culture. Yet, other than a few recent reprints, this best-selling Lost Generation journalist is mostly lost to us today. Reading The Abominable Mr. But Seabrook’s depiction of these rites in his 1929 book The Magic Island gave American culture the zombie and helped shape the United States’ pop-cultural relationship to Haiti in ways that endure to this day. He is probably drunk, and all he wants is to be remembered. Ollmann’s cartooning is at its best when it eschews this restraint and instead engages more actively with its subject. Seabrook, though it’s afraid to stake out a clear interpretation of the man, his life, or his legacy, will certainly help this poor ghost get his wish. Yet he remains sanguine throughout about Seabrook’s numerous faults and sympathetic to Seabrook’s dawning understanding that he could not escape his problems. In Ollmann’s telling, the very things that make Seabrook successful curdle (or, given his drinking, pickle) into the very qualities that ruin him. Seabrook’s second and third wives were both writers, and Ollmann’s research into their work and archives pays off in providing contrasting views of Seabrook’s exploits. Seabrook, Ollmann writes that he wanted to let Seabrook (and his peers) largely speak for themselves and that he wanted to “put as little of my own editorial bias on it as possible.” While this temptation is understandable—Seabrook’s life was so colorful, why bother embroidering it?—biographies often draw their power from the tension between author and subject, and the ways they wrestle with the very editorial “bias” that Ollmann wishes to avoid. The question of whether or not Seabrook’s account of Vodou sensationalized and misrepresented religious practice in Haiti, for example, is confined to three panels, and largely takes Seabrook’s view as a given. When you consider his infamy during his life, William Seabrook’s present-day obscurity is baffling. Seabrook by Joe Ollmann. Seabrook feels at times like watching a film in which every shot is held for the same number of frames, whether it’s a drab establishing shot or a crucial close-up. Not only does this lend a story of adventure and world travel an unremitting claustrophobia, but with everything given equal formal weight, it’s hard to discern what has more thematic weight. Seabrook vividly wrote about his own stays in insane asylums, his alcoholism, and his love of sadomasochism. In the first few chapters of the book, which are drawn almost entirely from Seabrook’s writing about himself, there’s little evidence that Ollmann is interrogating Seabrook’s version of events. In one of Abominable’s best sections, Ollmann contrasts the now-successful Seabrook traveling through Africa in 1929 with the enthusiastic upstart who had traveled with the Bedouin and through Haiti in earlier years:
This page draws its power not only from Ollmann’s clear point of view but from the way he deploys word and image (and the tension between them) to create a third kind of meaning in our minds. In nonfiction comics, all of these dynamics are heightened because these visible ways of making meaning are applied to real-life subjects. (What Ollmann calls “bias,” most readers think of as interpretation.) This is even truer when the subject was, like Seabrook, a serial memoirist and, on at least one occasion, an admitted fabulist. Every nonfiction comic must find a way to tackle this tension between the need to tell a true story and render a personal work of art in both image and text. Other contemporaries—particularly Man Ray, who collaborated with Seabrook on a series of photos and wrote quite frankly about Seabrook’s sexual sadism—help flesh out the picture as well. Cartoonist Joe Ollmann first came across Seabrook’s writing a decade ago and soon found himself fascinated with Seabrook’s openness about his own flaws and search for something—anything—that could replace the religious faith of his childhood.

Can Julie Andrews Singlehandedly Save the Arts With Her New Netflix Kids Show? Not Without Some Help.

In addition to assistant Giullian Yao Gioiello, Andrews has enlisted the likes of Carol Burnett, Alec Baldwin, Idina Menzel, Josh Groban, Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Sara Bareilles, and Chris Colfer to help teach kids about singing, dancing, acting, comedy, magic, and more. Julie’s Greenroom premieres on Netflix on March 17. OK, so maybe we’ve never actually heard that one before, but if the Queen of Genovia says it, it must be true. Was there every anyone better suited to hosting a children’s show than Julie Andrews? Hugo the Duck—and the rest of the “Greenies” on the show—are the products of the Jim Henson Co., with whom Andrews has worked for a long time. Everyone’s favorite nanny (and dream grandmother) will do just that on Julie’s Greenroom, the upcoming Netflix series that plans to teach a new generation to love the performing arts—and not a moment too soon, it seems. With the arts under attack, even Andrews, with her decades of experience on Broadway and the big screen, will need reinforcements to keep get kids inspired. Julie’s Greenroom also honors the time-honored thespian saying: “Every theater ought to have a duck.” Wait—what?

Shia LaBeouf’s Controversial Anti-Trump Museum Installation Has Been Shut Down

“Over the course of the installation, there have been dozens of threats of violence and numerous arrests, such that police felt compelled to be stationed outside the installation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” The museum added that the stream was viewed by over a million people worldwide. Operating 24 hours a day beginning on Inauguration Day, “HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US”—created by LaBeouf with Rönkkö & Turner, just like 2015’s #ALLMYMOVIES—was established in response to Donald Trump’s election. In unfortunate contradiction with its messaging, the installation became a political battleground, as clashes between Trump supporters and opponents turned violent—an ugly distillation of what’s currently playing out on a much larger scale around the country. Days after the project began, LaBeouf ended up in a heated situation with a uniformed white supremacist yelling “1488” into the webcam; while no punches were thrown in this particular scenario, several confrontations around the new installation did turn dangerous after that initial encounter. “While the installation began constructively, it deteriorated markedly after one of the artists was arrested on the site of the installation and ultimately necessitated this action,” MoMI’s statement on the installation closure said. It was mounted on a wall outside of the museum in Astoria, Queens, offering passersby the opportunity to say “He will not divide us” into a live-streamed webcam. Shia LaBeouf’s controversial participatory art installation at the Museum of the Moving Image has been shut down. LaBeouf himself was arrested days later at the site, on suspicion of misdemeanor assault and harassment, while neighbors complained about increased instances of loitering, according to Page Six.

The Unreleased Songs in Prince’s Vaults May Finally See the Light of Day

albums suffer from the tinny mastering common to early CD releases, and whie 1993’s The B-Sides and 1998’s Crystal Ball put a few cracks in the dam, there’s a lot more where they came from. Prince’s classic Warner Bros. catalogue will finally make its debut on non-Tidal streaming services during Sunday’s Grammys, but there’s even bigger news in the works. contract, but the contents of his vaults, which could potentially include hundreds of unreleased songs. The New York Times reports that the artist’s estate has signed a deal with Universal Music Group that covers not only the 25 albums released after the end of his Warner Bros. Prince’s unreleased recordings, housed in two literal vaults in his Paisley Park complex, have been the source of intense speculation for decades, although the announcement the deal said only that future releases might include “outtakes as well as live and demo recordings.”
Due in large part to ongoing disputes about the control of his back catalogue, Prince’s oeuvre has been uniquely ill-served in the expanded reissue era: His Warner Bros. At what speed and in what form they’ll be released is still very much up in the air, but given that Prince’s estate seems a whole lot less picky about how his songs enter the world than he was,  chances seem good we’ll be seeing more soon. Last fall’s 40-track Prince 4Ever collection included a grand total of one new song—albeit a corker: 1982’s “Moonbeam Levels”—leaving only untold hundreds more to go.

Seth Meyers Needs a Stiff Drink to Get Through the History of Trump’s Ridiculous Tweets

Among them: “Ronda Rousey,” “haters and losers,” and perhaps best of all, “Gary Busey’s mechanical dog.” An infinite scroll of Trump Twitter topics just kept scrolling, leaving Meyers no choice but to take a stiff drink to cope—a pretty apt summation of where we are right now. Meyers specifically took issue with one comment from Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway, who in response to Jake Tapper’s question about why the president had nothing to say about the recent terrorist attack on a Quebec Mosque said “He doesn’t tweet about everything.” Was it a joke? He then shifted to Trump’s bogus claims of the media ignoring terrorist attacks, at which point he got serious about just how ridiculous our president seems to be.  “Just in the past few days, he’s used his status as president to slam a private company, threaten a local lawmaker, and attack the courts of the free press,” Meyers explained, before delving into the specifics behind each disturbing story. Meyers wasn’t sure—but just to get the facts straight, he listed the many, many topics Trump has seen fit to comment on via Twitter while staying silent on Quebec. With the week (mercifully) winding down, Seth Meyers took a step back to observe how President Trump’s recent actions have revealed his reckless, abusive attitude toward executive power.

Fifty Shades Darker

Each time he offers up a new morsel from his backstory, she gratefully straddles him. Once again, for every inventively choreographed bedroom caper, there are three that are about as sexy as a Geico ad. Here we are again: watching two anatomical marvels writhe meaninglessly in the moonlight, like a burlesque performed by bots. The main difference between Anastasia and the string of dead-eyed “subs” from Christian’s past is that sometimes Anastasia says no before she says yes. Every twist and turn serves as a mere occasion to showcase the bottomless depths of Anastasia’s arousal. The best parts of the original—the piecemeal unveiling of Christian’s extravagant life, the reveal of the Red Room, the logistics of the BDSM negotiation—have been swapped out for an earnest tale of deepening mutual love that feels more far-fetched than the marriage in Chef between Jon Favreau and Sofia Vergara. And next year when Fifty Shades Freed is released, they might just be what I remember. One sequence begins with a helicopter crash and ends moments later with Anastasia cooing “I was so scared” into Christian’s ear. The movie is best when it leans into its smuttiness instead of trying to pad it out with pathos. His dark past—sketched via cursory flashbacks to his childhood with a drug-addicted mother—is revealed only as a pretense to make Anastasia want to bone him more. I forgot the nonsensical story, the leaden pacing, the tedium of watching Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson bloodlessly perform their synthetic lust. They portray BDSM as something that can apparently be consensual and fun even (or perhaps especially?) when it means having your legs force-spread by a rod. And two particular sex scenes are the highlights of the movie: one featuring two metal balls that Christian artfully places inside Anastasia (and then later removes); the other involving ankle cuffs attached to an expandable bar. Even as she eye-rolls and sasses Christian, there is no demand with which she ultimately declines to comply, from skipping out on her work trip to committing to spend her life at his side. And so I will admit that I was eager for the next installment. In my memory, Fifty Shades became a dim montage of blindfolds and bull whips, acquiring all the eroticism the movie did not have. At one point Christian grabs the bar and flips Anastasia onto her back like a hamburger patty. To be clear, nothing in this movie makes any kind of emotional sense; there is zero narrative foreplay. But as soon as Fifty Shades Darker kicked off to the opening strains of a whispery Coldplay cover, it all came flooding back. All the glimmers of self-consciousness are delightful, like when Christian ravenously throws Anastasia over his shoulder as they walk past his seen-it-all maid. It’s another equal-opportunity objectification fest with a camera that lingers just as avidly on each of Dornan’s abs as it does on Johnson’s nipples. The spectacle of kink has diminishing returns, particularly where these two are concerned. But Fifty Shades Darker is distinct in a few key ways. Their microdrama contains everything the movie overall lacks—momentum, suspense, an arc. But you do sort of have to admire the expediency with which each scene of Fifty Shades Darker hustles its protagonists through three minutes of rote dialogue, rips off their eveningwear, and arranges them on Christian’s silky sheets. These sequences are both outrageous and hot. That’s the mind-game these movies have mastered: Despite all the crap you have to put up with, you come back begging for more. The “how” and the “why” of Christian and Anastasia’s reunion is ruthlessly dispatched, in case you even remembered that at the end of the previous movie she’d dumped him for some boring reason. As they safari through the veldt of his billionairehood, lounging in his marble penthouse and attending masquerade balls and accepting house calls from hairdressers, Anastasia persists in her project of trying to get him to open up to her. Despite having a different director—James Foley, noted schlockmeister behind such psychosexual romps as Reckless and Fear, has replaced Sam Taylor-Johnson—Fifty Shades Darker is very faithful to its predecessor’s vision. Within the first 20 minutes or so of Darker, they’ve run into each other at a photo exhibition, he’s bought a bunch of photos of her face at said exhibition, they’ve had dinner, they’ve had sex, she’s stopped being mad, and they’ve embarked upon a serious monogamous partnership. The main problem with Fifty Shades Darker is one that afflicts Fifty Shades of Grey, too. Dornan’s Christian continues to have all the charisma of a butt plug. This movie wants to make sure we understand that she’s an independent lady who knows what she wants—we are reminded many times that she doesn’t “do as she’s told”—but in fact she always does as she’s told. And though the film now has a male director instead of a female one, its gender dynamics feel directly imported from Fifty Shades of Grey. That is to say, it is another terrible movie with just the slightest whiff of self-awareness about how terrible it is. Now gazillionaire dom Christian and plebeian sub Anastasia are in a committed relationship; in the absence of the will-they-or-won’t-they dynamic, the movie introduces clunky new obstacles like stalker submissives from Christian’s past and a creepy boss for Anastasia, who’s now an assistant at a publishing house. Sometime in the two years between the release dates of Fifty Shades of Grey and its boneheaded sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, I forgot what the actual experience of watching that first movie was like. And Anastasia, especially in light of Johnson’s considerable natural charm, is a real bummer.

Rosie O’Donnell Fuels Speculation that She’s Playing Steve Bannon on Saturday Night Live

After Politico reported that what really irked Donald Trump about Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer impression on Saturday Night Live was the specter of his press secretary being played by a woman, the internet lit up with suggestions of which actresses should play the rest of his almost exclusively male cabinet. (We had our own ideas as well.) The most frequent suggestion by far was that longtime Trump nemesis Rosie O’Donnell should step into Steve Bannon’s battered sneakers, and now O’Donnell herself seems to be on board as well. Last night, O’Donnell changed the avatar on her Twitter account to a picture of herself as Bannon (actually a composite photo created by artist Johnny Smith). The mere possibility of O’Donnell turning up on Saturday’s episode—hosted by SNL Trump impersonator-in-chief, Alec Baldwin—will give the show a substantial ratings boost, and lay the groundwork for some truly fire presidential tweets. Saturday Night Live, which likes to keep its celebrity cameos close to the vest, isn’t commenting as yet, but it seems pretty safe to say she wants the gig.

Most Batman Movies Ignore the Legacy of the ’60s TV Show. The Lego Batman Movie Embraces It.

Lego Batman’s in-jokes come so thick and fast it’s hard to keep a solid count, but the TV show might be referred to more often than any other single artifact of Batmaniana. Neal Hefti’s theme song turns up in the score, and in Patrick Stump’s opening-sequence song, “Who’s the (Bat)Man?,” where it butts up against grinding heavy-metal guitars. Although this Bruce Wayne appears, like most versions of the character, to be somewhere in his 30s—or at least the yellow-faced, plastic-haired equivalent thereof—his arch-nemesis, the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) drops references to their 78-year feud. When the dark revisionism of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns caught the media establishment’s attention in the mid-’80s, the response was a slew of articles with headlines like “Bam! That brings us back to the TV show. Alfred the butler is worried about Bruce Wayne. But it’s that last reference, to 1966’s Batman: The Movie, and the TV series it was based on, that really sticks out. (Technically, the Joker wasn’t introduced until 1940, a year after Batman’s first appearance, but the math more or less checks out.) There’s no feasible way to reconcile every one of history’s many Batmans—the movies alone have given us four different takes on the death of his parents—but Lego Batman is intent on at least admitting that they exist. Then there was the episode he had in in 2012, the one in 2008, in 2005, in 1997, in 1995, in 1992, and in 1989, not to mention that really bad one in 1966. Maybe Lego Batman can join the Justice League in his stead. In an age of perpetual reboots, it’s rare enough to acknowledge the incarnations that have come before; Christian Bale’s Batman never tipped his hat to Michael Keaton’s or Val Kilmer’s or George Clooney’s. Superman: Dawn of Justice all the way back to the 1989 Tim Burton flim that established a beachhead for the new era of comic-book movie dominance. Comics Aren’t Just for Kids Anymore!” The condescension drove adult comics fans nuts, and ever since, the Batman series’ existence has been a thorn in the sides of more sober superhero fans. That’s essentially the central joke of The Lego Batman Movie as well, although it has to backtrack somewhat to allow the character an emotional arc. Pow! Although it could be a function of timing as much as anything else, even Ben Affleck has been distancing himself from the planned standalone movie devoted to this most recent, most grindingly monotonous version of the character. Blam!” appearance. He’s seen him at his wit’s end like this before—just last year, in fact. It’s not just in the dialogue. That unrelenting post-Dark Knight Returns grimness was roundly sent up in 2014’s The Lego Movie, in which Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) has the glowering countenance of an angst-ridden adolescent, blasting industrial music from his car—sample lyrics: “Darkness/ No parents”—and trying way too hard to show off his tortured soul. But Lego Batman, which begins with Arnett grittily commenting on the opening titles, is steeped in self-awareness, and that includes nods to the character’s long, complicated history—all of it. When Gotham City’s mayor, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), observes that Batman has been fighting criminals for a “long, long, long, long time,” each “long” is punctuated by a flash of an iconic comic-book image, from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight cover back to the caped crusader’ earliest appearance at the hands of Bob Kane and Bill Finger. There’s a pointed perversity to the movie’s insistence, a deliberate rebuke to the idea—kept alive nowadays by dogged fans of Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder’s movies—that Batman has always been an unrelentingly glum and humorless presence. This Batman pretends to be a tortured tough guy because he’s a tortured softie at heart, living a life of isolation because his parents’ death has left him afraid to form new relationships. That said, it feels telling that even The Lego Batman Movie’s otherwise all-encompassing embrace skirts the existence of Batman’s (brief) appearance in Suicide Squad. (Among other things, it reminds us that Batman’s rogues’ gallery includes a villain called Condiment King.) But it’s also an affectionately inclusive gesture, an implicit assertion that no one version of the character supersedes the importance of all the others. Prospective viewers of The Lego Batman Movie probably don’t need the accompanying visuals to get the joke: The dates of Bruce’s previous crises correspond to Batman’s previous appearances on the big screen, from Batman v. Even those nettlesome onscreen “sound effects” make a “Pow! Superhero comics have spent decades running away from the campy specter of the ’60s TV show, which hung over every attempt to establish comics as a serious artistic medium like a cloud of Egghead’s laughing gas. In other words, he’s a lot like every other recent version of the character. The Lego Batman Movie doesn’t just reference it; it practically fetishizes it.

7 Important Questions The Good Place Season Two Needs to Answer

One key component of Michael’s diabolical scheme was that he took two seemingly mismatched couples and declared them “soulmates,” in order to watch them suffer as they pretended to be happy with each other. It’s like carbon offsets: The rich can be jerks in their daily interactions, so long as they compensate with cash. How will that happen, though, if they don’t even know each other? The reason why became clearer once viewers saw that nearly every episode contained flashbacks, little snippets of how the main characters had lived on Earth. Claire’s fate suddenly seems unreliable, too. In season two, perhaps we’ll get to compare what we’ve already seen of faux-heaven with the real deal (and also learn more about what goes on behind the scenes). How long will it take for Eleanor to figure out what’s what? Based on the philosophy of Michael’s faux Good Place, someone with enough money to launch a charitable foundation has a big advantage over someone who can only be kind on a small scale. In the end, Eleanor saw through Michael’s ruse, and he responded by wiping his victims’ memories and restarting the experiment. We have every reason to believe that Trevor’s Bad Place and the many others like it do indeed conform with our common cultural conceptions of Hell, based on what Michael said to his colleagues in the finale when he proposed his new design, and based on how the unfailingly honest humanoid-computer Janet has described it. 2. That’s more or less where we left off at the end of season one—so now that we know we’ll get to see more, what can we expect next? Then, toward the end of the first season, we saw the dying moments of Eleanor, Jason, and Chidi—almost all of the big four, save Tahani—which would seem to indicate that the story of their earthbound lives has been pretty much told. And was this all part of the larger ruse to make Eleanor feel miserable? In the closing minutes of the finale, a riled-up Eleanor blanks out and then reawakens back in Michael’s lobby, in a repeat of how the pilot episode began. And given that this series is taking place in a realm where the writers can throw in just about anything they imagine, it’ll be fun to see what they dream up next. 6. Spoilers ahead for season one of The Good Place. What if these people actually are meant for each other? Now that we know the truth about Eleanor’s situation, everything we’ve learned about Mindy St. Judging by Schur’s previous sitcom creations Parks and Recreation (developed with Greg Daniels) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (developed with Dan Goor), he tends to build out his comic universes after season one, adding characters and concepts until they’re as richly populated as any science-fiction/fantasy mythology. Before her memory was erased, Eleanor wrote a note to her future self—“Find Chidi”—and then stuck it the mouth of Janet, who delivered it back to her after the reboot. 7. And yet, by pairing Eleanor with Chidi, Michael inadvertently wrecked his own plans: The ethicist’s lessons in how to be a good person pushed the show’s heroine into making choices that exposed the whole charade. How does Mindy St. Are the other Bad Places as bad as we’ve been led to believe? Perhaps there’s some sublime order underlying even Michael’s apparent malevolence. Granted, it would be nice to learn more about Tahani, and the finale’s look at Michael toiling away in the Bad Place office suggested that there are other ways to keep this flashback pattern in play. With that as a precedent, it’s highly unlikely that season two will wait too long before Eleanor again unravels the big mystery of where she is. And maybe the show will be more openly critical of the cultural and class biases inherent in the Good/Bad system. Claire fit into all of this? How will Michael’s reboot work? Now that we know Eleanor and her pals aren’t actually in the Good Place, that raises one big question: What is the Good Place actually like? Before The Good Place debuted, Schur compared it to Lost. 4. Claire,” which introduces a woman who’d fallen through the cracks of the universe’s filing system and ended up living by herself in what Eleanor hopefully referred to as “a Medium Place.” Once we actually met Mindy, though, it was clear that she had it pretty rough out on her own, with very little to do for all eternity. Below, Vulture considers seven unanswered mysteries that’ll keep fans excited for season two. See also: All the Clues You Missed About The Good Place’s Big Finale Twist 3. This article originally appeared in Vulture. When it debuted last September, The Good Place led viewers to presume that star Ted Danson played a benevolent but bumbling afterlife architect named Michael, who’d accidentally let Kristen Bell’s selfish dirtbag character, Eleanor Shellstrop, into a rational universe’s version of heaven. But the minute this show delivers its equivalent to Lost’s “origin of Jack’s tattoos” episode, beware. For example, Eleanor’s “secret” was widely revealed halfway through the first season, which necessitated a lot of rushed decisions and narrative development that made the last six episodes especially lively. It’ll be interesting to see an actual Good Place someday, and meet the kind of people who make it for real. If he could create a neighborhood where Jason finds happiness with Janet, and Eleanor and Chidi develop a real affection, then maybe there’s some good in him after all. One of the delights of The Good Place so far has been Schur and company’s willingness to accelerate plot twists that other shows would hold back for a finale. Up until the mind-blowing finale, the best episode of The Good Place’s first season was “Mindy St. If the architect’s original plan was to pair off Eleanor with Chidi and Tahani with Jason—with everyone else in the neighborhood a plant from the home office—then what, exactly, is his new plan? This week, NBC announced that it renewed its fantastical sitcom The Good Place for a second season—a decision that seemed inevitable after the show’s first 13 episodes ended with a doozy of a cliffhanger. Did Michael and his co-workers concoct the Medium Place as yet another means of torture? With the introduction of Trevor and Mindy and Michael’s skeptical colleague Shawn, the show has already deviated from its original “bad person tries to be better and makes everything worse” premise, with fruitful results. Still, we haven’t seen any other Bad Place with our own eyes. Looking back, that’s really what makes the news of NBC’s renewal so welcome. We’ve heard secondhand about the original recipe Bad Place, and we’ve met one of its most obnoxious architects, Trevor (played by a wonderfully douche-y Adam Scott). There’s a lot about the logistics of the afterlife that we still don’t know—including how groups of people are assigned to Places, be they Good or Bad—but the particulars of how this foursome ended up in same spot may be the most crucial to understanding how the universe works. The main idea is that these four condemned souls will torture each other for centuries, while the universe’s meanest pencil pushers observe with glee. But in the season finale, creator Michael Schur revealed that he’d been conning his audience all along: This so-called “Good Place” was actually the “Bad Place,” a bold reinvention of Hell where Eleanor and three other losers—a dopey Florida DJ named Jason (Manny Jacinto), an ethics professor named Chidi (William Jackson Harper), and a glamorous philanthropist named Tahani (Jameela Jamil)—would be tortured for 1,000 years, stuck in a fake paradise that they didn’t deserve. Throughout the first season, it seemed like Michael’s neighborhood was less than perfect, filled with irritating neighbors and way too many frozen-yogurt shops. 5. Will the flashbacks continue? But this time, when Michael introduces her to her soulmate, it’s not the annoyingly moralistic Chidi, but rather a distractingly hunky mailman who takes off his shirt just as Eleanor prepares to confess that she’s a fraud. Is every torture neighborhood as subtle in its cruelty as Michael’s? Will we get to see the Good Place? 1. It’s entirely possible that Schur and his writers consider the flashback structure to be an integral part of what makes The Good Place unique, but if so, they may want to heed the cautionary tale of Lost (and, more recently, the CW’s Arrow), which eventually ran out of entertaining ways to fill in more backstory. Michael may intend to restart this whole process from the beginning, but The Good Place isn’t the kind of show inclined just to repeat itself for 13 episodes, with minor variations.