Good Night, Meat Prince

Illustration for article titled Good Night, Meat Prince

Illustration: Angelica Alzona

Bryan Menegus is one of the most frustrating editors I’ve ever worked with, which is to say he had annoying feedback like ‘Do you have a source on this?’, ‘This paragraph is complete gibberish’, ‘Did you forget to end this sentence?’, or ‘This is just totally factually wrong’. He also changed the structure of sentences and various words so as to massively and dramatically “improve” my writing and make it “make sense.” Who’s this guy think he is?

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So while I am officially sad to report that Bryan and Gizmodo dot com have recently experienced what lawyers call “loss of consortium,” his departure came just soon enough to prevent several members of the G/O Media Group staff from fleeing his editorial oppression and starting an unedited Substack about cancel culture. Or maybe that’s just me. Several of Bryan’s colleagues asked to roast him per the Gizmodo tradition, instead mentioned things like him being an amazing reporter who has shed light on appalling labor abuses by some of the world’s most powerful corporations, a genuinely good person who does things like volunteering to deliver groceries to vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic, one of Gizmodo’s funniest headline writers, and a pretty baller amateur stick-and-poke tattoo artist. I suspect that last tidbit is selection bias, as anyone who died of bloodborne disease or ink poisoning did not respond to requests for comment.

Anyhow, as much as I might take issue with these positive depictions of Bryan’s character, I’m obligated to reprint them. All of them. There’s a lot. I’m not jealous or anything, I swear.

Gizmodo forever. And please tell Bobbo the cat I love him for me. Also, you still owe me a stick and poke of this. – Tom McKay, staff writer at Gizmodo

Zucker-san... You’re so.... KAWAAAAIIII!

Zucker-san… You’re so…. KAWAAAAIIII!
Illustration: Bryan Menegus

Kelly Bourdet, former Editor-in-Chief of Gizmodo

Bryan is one of the best writers I’ve edited. He is genuinely smart and fearsomely skeptical of those in power. There are few people so absolutely unimpressed by and disgusted by the wealth and trappings of the Silicon Valley rich who tech journalists often cover. This is a credit to him.

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Alex Cranz, former Senior Consumer Tech Editor at Gizmodo

When Gawker was broke it took a bunch of money to make Facebook Live videos, but because it was broke it did not actually spend money to make good Facebook Live videos. Which is how, for a few months in 2016, Bryan found himself frequently ingesting the absolutely most repulsive things on camera. I watched him make, and drink, Cheeto-infused tequila (it was greasy), Marmite-based beer (also not good), and joined me in tasting ranch dressing-flavored soda (it tasted, as I would assume, a very sweaty and unclean gentleman’s taint would taste after he attempted to bathe in a chemical spill at a feedlot). Bryan would do anything for the blog Facebook Live.

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While I would like to remember Bryan for is the time people begged Facebook Lives to end so Bryan would stop having to consume so much weird shit, or for the way he went from the guy hired to post viral videos he found on the internet to the guy who kind of created the whole tech labor beat and first made everyone pay attention to the outside political power of redditors, I mainly remember him for the time we were both in the office, no one else had come in, and we decided to vape coffee grounds and see what happens.

Don’t do that.

Alex Dickinson, former Executive Managing Editor at Gizmodo Media Group

I have the sneaking suspicion that Bryan is one of those people without a bad bone in their body. That’s despite him never asking me to play guitar, Overwatch, Warzone, or anything with him, really. I was always impressed with his ability to get his hero Elon Musk to drop into Gizmodo’s DMs, and he would take my edits with only the occasional flashes of blinding white-hot rage. He would also prowl the GMG offices listening to this. 

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Good night, sweet prince.

Hudson Hongo, former Culture Editor at Gizmodo

I’m told that Bryan is a dogged labor reporter, bringing to light shocking revelations like “work sucks.” I have also personally observed his tragic nice-guy-ness, like when he urged co-workers to join a mutual aid network after he got covid(!) while volunteering for one. Based on those qualities alone, you might think he’s like any other Brooklyn-based rose emoji type. You’d mostly be right, but know this: He’s also incredibly tall.

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This tallness is notable because he has actively forsaken his phenotypical destiny. A consummate indoor kid, I watched Bryan spend years hunching a basketball star’s frame over a computer screen like a giraffe eating from a dumpster. He did this in pursuit of a much higher calling than journalism. From his humble beginnings click-laundering YouTube videos for Sploid, to the heights he reached reporting out shit-posts like “No One Wants My Hot Dog Salad” and “New York City to Sex-Havers: 😉,” Bryan is a true internet garbageman—one of the last.

Sure, frustrated editors often sent me his drafts because they had “no idea what this [guy] is trying to say.” And more than once I had to remind Bryan to mention the actual subject of his stories in the first 1,000 words. But these were ultimately symptoms of the digital neurocysticercosis he contracted by exposing himself to raw, untreated online. Who else would log onto Tumblr dot com for the sake of readers?

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His life at Gizmodo might be over, but the folktale of Bryan Menegus will live on forever. In 20 years, when his former colleagues are huddled around burning e-scooters in the shadow of a fallen world, they will tell the tale of the Jersey Angle, Sadsquatch, the Tiredest Giant in the World. Good night, sweet bud.

Hamilton Nolan, former Senior Writer at Splinter

To a true soldier of the tech labor movement, I salute you.

Catie Keck, Staff Reporter at Gizmodo

To the best of my knowledge, some of the funniest, most unhinged headlines to run on the website Gizmodo dot com in the last few years have been the handiwork of Bryan Menegus. Like the rest of the sickos at this website, Bryan has an absolutely twisted sense of humor. That said, he’s as gifted as a labor and policy reporter as he is at editing your copy into something legible and maybe even interesting. I was always grateful when I was able to put my copy in his capable hands because it meant he would make the piece much stronger than the shape it was in when I filed. Any newsroom would be lucky to have him.

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Sophie Kleeman, former News Editor at Gizmodo

I initially figured it would be difficult to roast Bryan for two reasons: he is a big sweetie, and he is my ex-boyfriend, so it might be kind of awkward. But then I remembered his hot dog salad blog and almost puked, so fuck it.

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I met Bryan when he was still known around here as “Sploid Boy” (RIP Sploid). He soon proved he was capable of much more than that, including blog hits like this, this, and this (but not this, and, sadly, not this either).

It quickly became clear that he was one of those rare people who really, genuinely knew and appreciated the weird corners of the internet. Better still, his appreciation wasn’t some gross cornerstone of a try-hard personality like it is for so many Online People — he’s just really good at finding and cataloguing weird, repulsive, and otherwise horrifying internet ephemera, for no reason other than it makes his friends laugh (or cry). Similarly, unlike performative Internet War Reporters, he didn’t cover online extremism for personal glory, but rather because he wanted to call out the platforms implicitly encouraging it before it was too late. (Ah, well.)

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The only story I can think of that comes close to roasting Bryan is extremely boring (I asked him to take care of my plant for 3 months while I was overseas and he almost killed it because he left it in the dark), so instead I will share my favorite Bryan story: On Valentine’s Day in 2017, we got drunk and went to see Fifty Shades Darker. He stood up and looked around the theater to make sure none of our coworkers had the same idea, and lo and behold, our boss Katie Drummond was sitting in the back with her husband. This would have been way more mortifying, but Katie was also seeing a 50 Shades of Grey movie on Valentine’s Day, so really, we all just owned ourselves.

Anyway, Bryan is good, and I hope whoever was responsible for running him out of here dies on the vine.

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Alex Brook Lynn, former Video Producer / Live Broadcast at Gawker Media

Bryan Menegus was probably way too nice to me.

When I arrived at Gawker Media to spearhead the Facebook Live initiative, which was another way in which the monolith social media network attempted to siphon content from newsrooms by granting each the start-up capital to hire someone like me, I was a pain in the ass for almost everybody. It was my job to take a bunch of deadline-driven, blogging journalists and haunt them to participate in experimental video productions that would stream live from our office.

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In trying to enlist some of the voices across all the Gawker brands, there were a few reactions that weren’t overwhelmingly avoidant: some wanted desperately to be on camera, as they may have had ambitions for a future on the smallest screen; some just drew the short straw, as every Gawker brand had to provide talent for some kind of content per week; some… like Bryan, were just really nice. I was never sure if he felt bad for me, or if he thought it was easier to do what I ask than dodge my requests for the next day or so. I like to believe that he enjoyed some of the antics I would enlist him in, like an on-camera deep dive into the merits of Cheerwine, or one full Power Hour of Super Mario Smash Brothers.

Illustration for article titled Good Night, Meat Prince

Photo: Alex Brook Lynn

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I left Gawker Media, now Gizmodo Media Group or GMG G/O Media, in 2017. I am grateful that he was one of the people I actually stayed in touch with, not just because we share an interest in boxing but also because I am now the proud owner of one of his famous stick n’ poke tattoos which took up residence on my outer calf in the form of a coffee cup and saucer. I can only imagine he is on his way to bigger and better.

Matt Novak, Writer for Gizmodo and Paleofuture  

Bryan is one of those internet renaissance people who can do everything. He’s a writer, editor, and artist. He can work on serious pieces, funny pieces, and everything in between. His versatility is what made Gizmodo a destination site, and he’s sorely missed. But wherever he winds up will be better for it. We miss you, Bryan.

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Rose Pastore, Science Editor at Gizmodo

Bryan, you are so much more hardcore than me, and I’ll really miss your influence.

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Andrew Couts, Deputy Editor for Gizmodo

By the time I arrived at Gizmodo, Bryan had moved on from his Spolid-y, Facebook Live-y days and was firmly into his I Am a Very Serious Journalist Who Is Taller Than You phase, which is something I just made up but is at least partially true on multiple points. Anyway, it became immediately clear to me that Bryan’s superpower is calling out bullshit—Amazon’s, mostly, but he applied it to anyone who thought they could slip one past him, and watching him rip apart some PR person’s nonsense was one of my favorite parts of the job. Thing is, he’d apply the same argumentative rigor to get out of doing work he thought was stupid. I cannot tell you how many times I assigned a blog to Bryan only for him to spend as much time as it would have taken him to write the damn thing explaining to me why the story was simply not worth covering. Sure, he was often right, but I’m still mad about it.

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The stories Bryan did decide to write, however, are excellent. And as an editor, he made every story he touched better. He’s that rare journalist with an equal capacity for deep, investigative reporting and deranged, hilarious shitposting. He’s profoundly empathetic and brutally honest. He’s a caring and loyal friend and a talented artist. He makes lovely baked goods. On top of all that, he is as tall as I assume most rich people are but without all the ghoulish parts and has a fantastic cat. Gizmodo is poorer without you, Bryan. Please send cookies.

Yessenia Funes, former Reporter for Earther

Bryan!! You always looked so tired. I hope you’re getting some time to rest. Or at least to stream some cool weird shit.

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Ryan Mandelbaum, former Senior Writer at Gizmodo

I never had a dirtbag coworker before Bryan. But now that I’ve had one dirtbag coworker, I wish I had more dirtbag coworkers. Also fuck you for the hot dog salad post.

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Victoria Song, Consumer Tech Reporter at Gizmodo

I’m mad that Bryan runs faster than me—it’s probably because he’s a skinny beanpole but it’s infuriating considering how hard I have to try to be a whole minute or two slower per mile. I’m also mad that whenever he edited my blogs, he knew exactly what to cut and add where to make it a better piece. Further, I’m mad that Bob is no longer in Cat Slack and that aside from being good with words, Bryan does rad tattoos. It’s incredibly rude to be talented on multiple levels AND have a cute cat. I’m mad that I didn’t get to have more of my blogs edited by him. I’m MADDEST, however, that he inflicted the hot dog salad upon the world. Eat shit, my dude.

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Jill Pantozzi, Deputy Editor at io9 

Bryan is so talented at a ridiculous number of things it’s hard to believe he’s a real person that exists. But he once brought me baked goods when I really needed them and that’s why he’ll forever be in my heart. Also Bob. Bob is aces.

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Shoshana Wodinsky, Staff Reporter at Gizmodo

Bry is an incredible reporter, a damn good editor, and a (surprisingly!!!!!) decent tattoo artist. He’s smart, funny, and one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met on the Gizmodo team. That said, he was also the one who convinced me to watch The End Of Evangelion on, like, my first week here, which was undoubtedly the worst prank anyone’s ever played on me. No amount of thoughtful, patient editing will make up for the fistfuls of brain cells I undoubtedly lost after waking up at 3 a.m. for the fifth day in a row from flying killer robot nightmares. In short, fuck that guy.

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Brian Kahn, Managing Editor at Earther

In the three-plus years of Earther’s existence, Bryan maybe wrote one or two blogs for us. it just so happens that one of those blogs is perhaps the most beautifully deranged piece I have ever had the pleasure of editing. It was about New York’s styrofoam ban. A normal person would look at the topic and deploy facts and figures to argue that styrofoam has no place in society, and that throwaway culture is strangling the planet. Bryan chose to write a piece entirely in NYC Guido Voice. In a world of intractable problems, we need more problem-solvers like Bryan.

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William Turton, former Reporter for Gizmodo

Bryan is a total sweetheart and a really talented guy. He’s also good-looking.

Veronica de Souza, former Head of Audience and Social at Gizmodo Media Group

Illustration for article titled Good Night, Meat Prince

Screenshot: Veronica de Souza

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This makes me feel insanely old but I have known Bryan for over 10 years. We met as two little (yet obscenely tall) shits in college, when Bryan’s hair had roughly the same diameter as an astronaut’s helmet and mine was a questionable shade of “box red.” We went on to work together at *two* jobs, meaning we’ve been bitching about work to each other for over half a decade. Bryan is the first person I text when I encounter something truly vile online, knowing I can send these things to him without warning or context. He is funny, kind and smart, although he *did* once “vape coffee” for a story for some reason. I cannot find this story but I am in possession of the vaporizer he used for his research.

If I were to roast Bryan, I’d probably share a video of the time he ate an entire lemon, including the skin, at his desk while insisting he’s “never thrown up where he’s not supposed to.” I’d also maybe share a screenshot of the time he thought the movie Ford v Ferrari was about tennis.

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Illustration for article titled Good Night, Meat Prince

Screenshot: Veronica de Souza

The thing is, I don’t want to roast Bryan, because he is a great writer and editor and a great person. I’d rather roast the various [REDACTED] who run [REDACTED], and continue to hold the very competitive top spot for dumbest [RDACTED].

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Whitney Kimball, Current Reporter at Gizmodo

Great to see so many formers back on the blog! We should all just prewrite our roasts at this point, amirite? Ha ha ha.

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Anyway, there’s a scene in the movie Children of Men in which Michael Caine repeatedly tells a gunman “pull my finger,” even after getting his finger blown off. Bryan is like that. Hardcore til the end. Solid dude.

Marina Galperina, Gizmodo Features Editor

First time I edited Bryan he had just returned from a miniature horse convention in Lexington, Kentucky. He was very dedicated to communicate this specific equine enthusiasm as an understandable thing, kind of relatable actually, but also with its own very distinct qualities. Culinary shitposting aside, Bryan bringing back the atmosphere was always fun to hear secondhand, even when he didn’t have that much fun in the field itself because sometimes he’d go to awful places like the DeploraBall. I wish for Bryan to now be getting into terrible situations for journalism, banging out good funny headlines, coming up with more weird ways other people can fix bad things, and bullying rich nerds. His cat is suspicious.

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Christina Warren, former Senior Writer at Gizmodo

There are so many things I could write in a roast to BryBry, our bloggy boy who went from writing up sploids and doing deep, wonderful investigations into the weird internet and transitioned into being an amazing labor and investigative reporter and editor, but I’ll start with the solemn and the obvious: Bryan deserved and deserves better.

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Frankly, all of you do. But I just want to put it on the record that Bryan, you deserved better.

Being your friend and colleague was such a joy. Watching you work, so exciting. I’ve never seen someone who *gets* internet culture quite like you, and tho those days are mostly behind you, it’s the weird shit I’ll always remember. Because I’m also a citizen of the internet and we recognize each other when we see it.

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Sure, you made us look at a lot of bad stuff. And the internet has deeply broken your brain, but you somehow made it worth it.

I’m very mad that you weren’t able to blog this video as your final blog.

You got this stupid song from second grade stuck in our heads one day and Dicko almost let you blog it, but we all agreed it would be the perfect final blog to inflict upon the world. I’m so angry that was taken away from all of us. So there it is for the readers. This is the shit Bryan would just drop into Slack.

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I was in a car the other day with other people because that is allowed now and that fucking song was on some Spotify playlist. And all I could think of was the repetition of that third verse. Over. And over. And over. And now I’m writing this, knowing this will be stuck in my head for hours if not days.

If you want to call me “baby”

Just go ahead now

And if you like to tell me “maybe”

Just go ahead now

And if you wanna buy me flowers

Just go ahead now

And if you would like to talk for hours

Just go ahead now

Just go ahead now. Fuck off for this, buddy. But also I love you.

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In Sci-Fi Short Muse, an Android Finds Good Reason to Rebel

Taj Atwal as Kay.

Taj Atwal as Kay.
Screenshot: YouTube

Kay (Taj Atwal) may be an android, but her moral compass proves stronger than the increasingly unstable artist (Paul Ready) who claims she’s his muse—even though his eerie paintings hint at something far darker lurking behind his methods. That’s the set-up for Muse, a new sci-fi short by Azhur Saleem.

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Saleem sent io9 his short, which was recently posted on sci-fi YouTube channel Dust, and noted that it deals with “themes of technology and creativity and how we as humans fit into the middle of that.” Watch it here!

Among the Muse cast, Atwal (who recently appeared on Amazon’s Simon Pegg-Nick Frost supernatural comedy Truth Seekers) is particularly notable as Kay. Her subtle performance, enhanced by faint but effective sound effects, shows her transformation from dutiful servant to someone who’s not entirely self-aware, but is still able to realize that—between all those visitors who keep vanishing and those weird gaps in her memory—her owner is up to some very bad business.


For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.

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Supergirlifragilisticxenalidocranz

Gif: Gizmodo/Getty (Getty Images)

If Alex Cranz were a participant in this post, she would almost certainly include a photo of the “bye bitch” vape she has or any number of GIFs that are surely criminal in at least half a dozen states at whoever was being roasted. Unfortunately for all of us, after five years, she is not a roaster but the roastee. Her talent at sharing cringeworthy GIFs was surpassed only by her skills as a journalist. Scroll Cranz’s archive is like whiplash from anything related to consumer tech to a shockingly wide range of fantasy and sci-fi coverage to a post inexplicably headlined “I Thought It Was an Ugly Titty Purse.” That, in essence, is Cranz. Incredibly focused energy and dedication to a number of beats, punctuated by something that makes you chuckle, shake your head, and then want to learn all about it. To say Cranz is only a good journalist with a mild obsession with Xena, Warrior Princess would still fail to capture the essence of Cranz. She was one of the leaders of the newsroom, someone who built a diverse consumer tech team and empowered them to tell the story they wanted to. Roasting her is at once easy, and impossible given the huge positive impact she had. While nobody has a vape emblazoned with “bye bitch” and the pickle dog has been banned in GIF form, we nevertheless gather to do our best to send off Gizmodo’s inimitable former consumer tech editor.

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Ryan Mandelbaum, former senior reporter, Gizmodo

First off, you should all know that there was a several day (week?) period last year where Cranz and her dog, Igloo, were being attacked by a mockingbird. That continues to be extremely funny to me. Also, I still have her blowtorch I borrowed for this story and I am sorry about that and hope to return it one day in the distant future.

But anyway, I am (mostly) so thankful to have gotten to work with Cranz. First off, she is just so extremely smart, and understood the workings of consumer technology better than anyone I knew. Cranz knew when a product was good, when it sucked, and encouraged us to dig deep into the tech we were reviewing so that if it did suck, we had the ammo to say why. Also, Cranz really pushed the limit on what a consumer tech review could be, so I’m thankful for that. Cranz was also one of the chillest people ever who could talk to anyone about anything, which was especially fun when we’d occasionally end up on the same subway home together. Finally, Cranz had several horrible masks that she would occasionally wear around the office. These were terrifying and I am not thankful for that.

But overall, most of the writing Cranz touched at Gizmodo were awesome, Igloo is an extremely good dog, and I think I would have a lot less respect for the state of Texas if not for Cranz’ well-thought-out opinions about the state, its pluses, and its flaws. Cranz is the best and will surely improve (and terrify) whatever office she works at next.

Victoria Song, consumer tech reporter, Gizmodo

I suppose this means I get a reprieve from nightmare-inducing gifs peppering my Slack channels and unhinged blogs about extremely expensive mechanical keyboards that no one with common sense should ever buy. Also that Sonic mask, though I believe I did get compensated $1 for wearing that cursed thing for a whole minute. It smelled so bad.

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Cranz is the reason I reported on the taint bandaid, a few other brain-poisoned blogs that pissed off readers, and maybe a few good ones sprinkled in there, too. I guess I could say I’m deeply appreciative of having had an empathetic editor who always encouraged me to do both my best—and most cursed—work, on a team of incredibly whip-smart consumer tech bloggers. I could go into how I never had that opportunity to really write what I wanted before Gizmodo, and how I know Cranz was a big reason why I currently do. And that wherever she lands, I know she’ll foster that same kind of environment and help so many journalists be their best selves. But that’s some real mushy shit, so bye bitch and thanks for letting me scan your CES badge for 25% off at Planet 13.

Rose Pastore, science editor, Gizmodo

Love you, Cranz. You should have named your dog “Pigloo.”

Catie Keck, staff reporter, Gizmodo

Alex Cranz is one of many wonderful editors I’ve had the great privilege to work with during my time at Gizmodo, and it was Cranz who assigned one of the first product embargos I ever wrote during my time as a nights and weekends editor over two years ago. It was an embargo that, frankly, I did not pull off particularly well and that she ultimately rewrote for me—a traumatizing experience that I still recall distinctly as a result of the wit and accessibility she so easily brought to the piece upon reworking. It was for this reason that I was terrified of Cranz for most of the time I worked in this role—never mind her encyclopedic understanding of technology or her frankly disturbing sense of humor, both of which made me admire and fear her in equal measure. That all changed when I was brought on as a staff writer six months later. I can’t adequately capture what a powerful influence Cranz has had on me personally in the time since. Working on her consumer technology team has been one of the great joys of my career, and she quickly became not only a wonderful boss and leader but someone I now consider a close mentor. She is also a fierce advocate of diversity in the workplace—Cranz built one of the largest women-inclusive consumer technology teams in media—and a vocal and ardent proponent of her colleagues and employees.

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With all of this said, Cranz is one of the most deranged people I’ve ever encountered. I’m likely not the first to mention her infamous and egregious use of the “pickle gif,” which I remember, specifically, our boss Kelly Bourdet loathing but nonetheless remaining a reliable fixture of Slack when the discourse got weird (which was often). This is a person who had a vape company customize a product at CES that literally read, “bye bitch,” a picture of which she would share at virtually any opportunity, namely and reliably any time anyone would depart this pirate ship for their next great adventure. Cranz is a truly beloved, one-of-a-kind human being who I’m confident will be cherished no matter where she lands next. But for the love of god, do not ask Cranz to show g*f, sweetie.

Yessenia Funes, former senior reporter, Earther

I didn’t think it was possible to be both inspired by and disturbed by the same person. Alex Cranz proved me wrong. We didn’t get many opportunities to work together during my time at Gizmodo, but we got plenty of time to become homies. Cranz’s chaotic Slack messages of the hot dog pickle or other Really Gross Thing were both a highlight and a low point of my days. How she found these images, I’ll never know. Why she shared them, I can only guess. I’m pretty sure bringing us joy and laughter was at the heart of it, though.

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And that’s the thing about Alex Cranz. She is fucking hilarious. She loves to make other people laugh. And her humor bleeds into her writing. You can tell she’s having a fun time writing a story just as you’re having a fun time reading it. (Unless you’re the company she’s shitting all over.)

I’ll forever miss reading your Hot Takes on Gizmodo and already miss your barbaric Slack gifs. I’ll cherish our holiday party memories of shooting shots and hitting your vape. Can’t wait to do it all again when we’re all vaccinated!

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Brian Kahn, managing editor, Earther

Working with Cranz was a deeply unsettling experience. One reason was her taste in gifs​, which ​​​​she ​trolled​d​ staff with​ on the regular in Slack. You never knew when the pickle hot dog would appear, but appear it would. There was also the weird Sonic mask that appeared in the office​ and creeped me ​out if I was the last person in the office on a given night. Despite never having watched The Mandalorian, her post about eating baby yoda (in which she described baby yoda as likely having the “texture of mochi​”)​ haunts me to this day.

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The other reason was her ability to know everything about seemingly everything. Cranz’s preternatural ability to be able to seamlessly drop knowledge about factory farming, rare Earth mining, ​​cowboy hats and boots, any number of TV shows, books, movies, or video games, and countless other topics m​eant I could bug her in Slack about just about anything, and she’d have an answer.

Of course, both are the best types of unsettling. ​Hearing yells of “Cranz!” at random points in the day were both a dreadful reminder to check Slack, and also to find something you love as much as she loves trolling. And her ability for endless recall made her an absolutely brilliant editor and writer.

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Mario Aguilar, former deputy editor, Gizmodo

Within a month of working together, Alex Cranz proposed that I be shot with a taser on video.

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I feel like I must have refused, but the idea in some form went far enough that we actually ended up communicating with the company about doing a video, and the only reason it didn’t happen was that they were pissed at us. Can you imagine writing that email? “Hello, please shoot my new colleague with a taser.” That’s something Cranz would write with no shame.

More than anything, it says a lot about what the world of consumer tech reporting looked like circa 2016. The enthusiasm that drove the first waves of gadget blogging had lost its charm, and we were all flailing around looking for a way to keep the damn thing going. That Gizmodo is still a potent force in the world of product reviews and commentary is a testament to the dedication and talent that Cranz brought to the team. She became an indispensable leader, editor, and writer. I said this multiple times behind her back: It would’ve been impossible for me to do my job without her, and my biggest fear was that a bigger publication would steal her away. Gizmodo’s loss!

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Harrison Weber, former senior news editor, Gizmodo

Cranz and I don’t agree on everything, like flimsy cardboard desk furniture and hurricanic showerheads blessed by Tim Cook. But Cranz is the best, and anyone with a brain should see that by now.

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Sam Rutherford, senior reporter, Gizmodo

While Alex is an occasional troll and has questionable taste in movies and TV shows (including ye olde films from the silent era), she was one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. Alex’s passion for tech made her a great resource to bounce ideas off of, or someone to ask when troubleshooting goes south. I still don’t know how things end up like this, but Alex and her creepy collection of pop-culture Halloween masks will be missed. Yub Yub.

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Kelly Bourdet, former editor-in-chief, Gizmodo

For whatever reason, many of the staff of Gizmodo, in succession, were obsessively drawn to The Witcher 3, a video game released in 2015. Each person, newly set out on their journey as Geralt of Riveria, would turn to their predecessors in the newsroom for guidance.

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Alex Cranz had the misfortune to be the person I turned to, often daily, to discuss my current quests and contemplate my in-game decisions. I recall one time explaining in exacting detail my interactions with Kiera, a powerful witch. “Ah, I don’t really remember that battle,” Cranz said. “It’s been a really long time since I’ve played the game,” she politely hinted. Undeterred by her obvious disinterest, I continued to DM her constantly throughout my 150 hours of gameplay.

Since that time, I have transitioned to constantly DMing her about Valhalla and every interior design choice I make.

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She was patient with me, as she was with her staff and her colleagues, in matters work-related and beyond. Under her guidance, the consumer tech team was fun, smart, thoughtful, and very, very busy. I was always impressed by how adept she was at every part of the job—she could review, write, edit, manage—and how deftly she moved from one task to another—one minute she was reviewing an iPhone, the next she was planning literally all of CES coverage. Though some of her obsessions are too nerdy even for me (the e-ink thing…), I appreciate her passion and her depth of knowledge.

She is an excellent journalist, editor, and manager who is free of a place that no longer deserved her.

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Marina Galperina, features editor, Gizmodo

Cranz is a friend, a comrade, a hot-dog gif terrorist, a technology genius, and is secretly flourishing in a million different creative directions as we speak. I look up to her and am excited for her future. Cranz has inspired me on a professional and personal level on a daily basis and held us together at our most precarious and strained states. She has ideas, or obsessions perhaps, and an opinion (usually correct or unfathomable) about literally everything, because she knows everything about everything. This too talented motherfucker inspired and terrorized me on a daily basis, primarily like so:

Illustration for article titled Supergirlifragilisticxenalidocranz

Photo: Gizmodo

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Christina Warren, former senior writer at Gizmodo, now Microsoft

Anyone who knows me knows I have the palette of a five year old, which is to say, I largely subsist on Chicken McNuggets and diet soda. So it’s a true testament to Alex Cranz’s Cranzness that she managed to get me to eat so much weird shit on camera. There was some sort of pumpkin spice beer or cocktail, some weird meat she made in an easy bake oven that cost $600, and of course, she once made me eat a jalapeño on camera (worst day of my life).

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On the plus side, she did help me eat like 2lbs of candy corn even though everyone else in the office said it was gross.

Alex and I sat next to each other the year I worked at Giz and as a result, I got to know her deeply hilarious and terrible television choices. Alex Cranz is the only person on the planet who is under 40 and who still watches Grey’s Anatomy. She claims she stopped watching, but something will happen and she’ll be back on her bullshit in the group text. She loves Xena more than any human being should, and has recently become obsessed with 60 Minutes and some show called 911 Lone Star. What I’m saying is that Cranz can never make fun of my love of ER reruns, because she’s just as bad.

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Alex Cranz is so Texas in the most unexpected ways. Need to know about the rodeo? Ask Cranz. Need to know what it was like growing up miles away from your neighbors, without Nickelodeon or MTV? Ask Cranz. Need to get into debates about barbecue? Ask Cranz. Cranz is peak Texas and it’s never not hilarious to hear her Texas twang while she tells a story about some shit with birds and treachery and her grandma’s house.

The last day of the world was normal, March 11, 2020, I spent the afternoon with Cranz. We went to Red Lobster (her first time!) and then saw Jagged Little Pill on Broadway (a matinee). She was the only person who I knew would want to see that musical (which we assumed would be terrible) with me. Regrettably, the musical was good.

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There is no one else I would be glad to spend that last afternoon of normalcy with, in that way, than Alex Cranz. She’s an amazing editor and writer, and a true friend. Even if she has terrible taste in melodramas. Cranz forever.

Katharine Trendacosta, former managing editor, io9

Cranz is… how to describe it?… a terrorist. I mean this in the best way possible. She loves nothing more than to drop the most horrible thing possible into a text and stand back and watch the emotional fallout. She has an unerring ability to figure out just what will upset a particular person—or many people—and pours time and money into it. For example, my last day at io9 was sad in many ways, but serendipitous in that it meant my last day was the day that Justice League would premiere, saving me from having to engage in the discourse of it or even of having to give my time to it. This was not to be, as my “going away present” from Cranz was… a ticket to Justice League.

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I have lost track of the number of texts I have received from Cranz that are just “you’re welcome” and something she knew I would hate. Or links with the text “I can hear Katharine screaming from here.” My cat offers me less disgusting things than Cranz does. I hate it all so much that my phone autocorrects her name to an all-caps “CRANZ” because of the number of times I have yelled at her. This company has brought me many friends with terrifyingly bad takes. Cranz often wins just with sheer volume. Her friendship is a war of attrition, and she WILL win that war.

Her terribleness as a friend is somehow not at all related to her goodness as a colleague. Supportive, endlessly hardworking, and a mentor to many. Willing to expand into whatever gaps exist. Having Cranz on board would improve many a publication, although you will hear endless takes about e-readers that apparently the Wall Street Journal actually paid her for? I do not understand the consumer tech world at all. Godspeed everyone. You CAN work without Cranz, but I speak from experience when I say it’s not as good as working with her.

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Emily Lipstein, former social editor, Gizmodo

Leaving Gizmodo last year was hard because it meant I would have to leave the incredible people I worked with every day, including Cranz. Luckily for me, her brother lives nearby and I stole one of her power tools for a good portion of the pandemic. It’s hard to describe why I’m so glad I got to work with and get close to Cranz, but I can probably attribute much of my current confidence in the newsroom to her support (and trolling, of course). It meant a lot to have another queer woman in tech in her role! Even if my ungrateful ass still hasn’t watched Xena… which I will… eventually. The place isn’t gonna be the same without her—it’s hard to figure out what to say in this roast/blog obituary because Cranz leaving just doesn’t feel real. Also thanks and sorry again for dealing with me that one time I barfed on the subway.

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Gizmodo forever. GMG Union forever. Cranz forever… ugh.

Eleanor Fye, former video producer, Gizmodo

Only someone as talented and unhinged as Alex Cranz could convince me to shoot multiple videos at her house as her (very cute but very gassy) dog Igloo emitted the most foul chemical-weapon farts I have ever smelled.

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In a comment that maybe was meant to be comforting, but definitely was not, Cranz said, “You know why farts smell bad? It’s particles of poop in your nose.”

Thanks??????

Cranz can always be counted on to drop something totally batshit in every single Slack channel she’s in. Overhearing someone exclaim, “Cranz!” or sigh “Cranz…” was an hourly event.

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I’m sure she’ll be snatched up soon by some great opportunity, but hopefully not before she pens the greatest Xena slashfic opus the world has ever seen. I know you have it in you, you creep.

Joanna Nelius, Gizmodo staff reporter, reviews

Oh Cranz, where do I even begin? I could riff on your weird obsession with posting hotdog-pickle gifs that made everyone in Slack freak out, but it’s not nice to kink shame. Instead, I just want to tell you how happy I am I met you at that one press conference where we were the only two female tech journalists in the room. I snuck a peak at your laptop and saw you writing a blog for Gizmodo and thought “WOW! She writes for Gizmodo!” like a star-struck fan. We got to chatting as we walked back to the L.A. Convention center, you gave me your business card, and to this day I still don’t know what I did with it. (Sorry!) But it all worked out because I’m here now. It sucks that you’re not, because you’re the reason I was able to dig deep into stories and reviews about graphics cards and processors. In a way it feels like I’m flying solo again before I met you at that press conference, but you also introduced me to a crap-ton of other female tech journalists, many of whom I now work alongside, and now I really feel like I belong in this space. That I deserve to be here.

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I’m terrible at roasting people, but if I managed to make you cry and you’re mad at me…good. You can text me a hotdog being inserted into other food objects if you wish, but you’re paying for my therapy.

Matt Novak, staff writer and editor, Gizmodo

Alex Cranz isn’t just an extremely talented writer and editor, she’s also just a decent person. Wherever Cranz is heading next will be very lucky to land such a highly ethical editor who always fights for her team. That combination seems exceedingly rare in a brutal industry these days. Sorry this isn’t a roast.

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Patrick Lucas Austin, former staff writer, Gizmodo

When asked to write about Alex Cranz, one might struggle to find the correct wording to describe such a magnanimous individual. You could mention Alex’s mastery of her craft, the humor and creativity she expresses as a writer, or kindness as a friend to paint a picture as pleasant as her. I’ll never forget…Oh, she’s not dead? Are you kidding me?

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Germain Lussier, staff writer, io9

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as well-verse in so many things in pop culture as Cranz. Want to know about the latest iPhone? Cranz. Want to talk about Marvel movies? Cranz. What projector should I get? Cranz. Xena? Like..ALL THE XENA? Cranz. Oh, and Supergirl too.

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Having Alex Cranz on the Gizmodo team was one of my most invaluable resources. She was someone I could go to with anything. A writing problem. A tech problem. My dad can’t program his remote. Okay, I didn’t go to Cranz with that last one but she’s so goddamned smart, I know I could have if I needed to.

Crazy is just incredibly personable and approachable and funny and just the best. I truly considered it a privilege to work with her and am glad that, though she doesn’t work here anymore for some reason, I at least know her. Because Dad will mess up his remote, trust me.

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She does need to buy posters for a movie that’s not Mulholland Drive though. Too many Mulholland Drive posters.

James Whitbrook, news editor, io9

I don’t know what to say about Cranz that can really capture just what knowing her is like, as a friend as a writer. The depth with which she can either explain the joy of Xena Warrior Princess, whatever’s happening in of the 37 terrible CW shows she’s watching, or some old-internet-dredged shitpost or fic idea she just so happened to want to share, at the drop of a hat, is terrifying. She’s funny as hell, which is in part what makes her chaos agent status so compelling, her ability to just weave into a conversation and disrupt everything—in incredible, disgusting, beautiful ways—both a nightmare and a welcome respite from the humdrum of reality.

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It reflected in her work, which gave us some of the most fucking incredible headlines I’ve ever read on the site, even if getting them often took constantly reminding her she owed io9 a blog, while she was pitching at least four others to us in the process. But maybe that is Cranz, really, in her essence: a messy whirlwind of complete, hectic chaos.

I’ll miss the 3am slacks about whatever random thought crosses her mind, except I won’t, because they’re twitter dm’s now. But I will miss the chaos. Mostly.

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Ed Cara, science reporter, Gizmodo

My nightmares have never stopped featuring Cranz wearing an oddly realistic Sonic the Hedgehog mask. And for that, I thank her immensely. She’s also one of the chillest people I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside, but that’s way down the list of notable things. Thanks for the blender I still haven’t picked up from the office!

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Dharna Noor, reporter, Earther

Cranz, as we’ve established, you don’t care about me, but I will find a way to change that. Meanwhile, I am so looking forward to seeing all the cool things you do!

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Shoshana Wodinsky, reporter, Gizmodo

Sure, Cranz was a great editor and had the biggest backlog of absolutely cursed GIFs that any of us have ever seen, but we can’t ignore that she’s also written some awful, awful takes. Like some what-the-hell-were-you-thinking, absolutely galaxy brained shit. Just objectively wrong. On one hand, I’m gonna seriously miss her and that slightly-too-realistic promotional Sonic mask that she kept around the office. On the other, I still don’t know if I can forgive her for dunking on Animal Crossing that one time. Like seriously, siding with Stardew Valley? Seriously???????

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Jill Pantozzi, Deputy Editor of io9

With some people, what you see is what you get. Others are varied creatures with many facets to their personality. There are a few sides to Alex Cranz, all of them combine into what I can only describe as an amalgam of DC’s super gross Metamorpho and a Business Voltron. Odd? Yes. But that’s Alex Cranz.

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When I first started at io9, I met a professional-looking person that I was introduced to as “Cranz.” I thought to myself, “I’m not calling her that,” but proceeded to do so back and forth for several years despite myself.

You see, this “Alex” person is a true professional, someone who knows the ins and outs of the tech industry, has extremely high journalistic ethics and acumen, and excels at every facet of her job. Even though she worked at Gizmodo Prime, Alex revealed herself to be io9’s type of geek as well. And while she clocked countless hours on making gadget reviews absolutely perfect (even if that meant crowding my desk space with things she was meant to take photos of for weeks at a time) she’d slide into my DMs now and then to pitch me an idea for an io9 blog I had no idea I wanted but absolutely needed. They always had the most unique headlines too, most of which I approved.

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Then there’s “Cranz.” Cranz is pure chaos. Cranz would change her Slack avatar just to give us nightmares. Cranz would wear a rubber Sonic the Hedgehog mask at the office. And not a good one either. Cranz would link me to the most horrible fanfic. Cranz would make me say, “Why are you doing this to me?” at least six times a week. Cranz is great (I think she may have been stalking me since 2011 actually). But so is Alex.

My dear, dear Alex, who is now officially dead as per the Blog Bylaws, shared the best and worst of herself with us and I love her for it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “I will continue to thirst trap you when you least expect it.”

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Autumn Kelly, Gizmodo social media editor

Thanks for consistently writing articles that blow up the comments. Many of our followers know you for hating projectors and want to buy one in spite. One time in a meeting I had to say “The 100 Went in a Butthole” was the top story on social. Thanks for that. But seriously, thanks for being a truly good person and even better teammate. It’s been a pleasure to work with you and I may even be curtsying right now.

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Andrew Couts, deputy editor of Gizmodo 

Cranz has, without question, the absolute worst opinion about Daylight Saving Time that I’ve ever heard. Her taste in gifs is equally appalling. She is an enemy of using commas after introductory phrases. And her obsession with absurd masks is something I will never understand. But besides that, she’s an absolute gem of a person, a fantastic journalist, and a champion of good doggos everywhere. Can’t say I miss her pickle-dog gifs tho.

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Caitlin McGarry, senior editor, consumer tech

I had so many good roasts tee’d up for Cranz but I erased them all because what I actually want to say is a little more earnest. Cranz is a gift. Her mind sometimes works in ways I find disturbing—who collects that many disgusting GIFs? why would a rational person continue to spend hundreds of dollars on off-brand Android tablets?—but it’s also genius. Shortly after I started at Giz, I realized that her ideas often manifested themselves in scrawled Notes app drawings, some of which I can’t unsee. (One of which became the foundation of this incredible blog about sports bra design.)

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Cranz is also a foundation of institutional knowledge—both for technology overall and for Gizmodo specifically. She knows the history of everything, and who to talk to about anything. I know these gifts—and maybe even the GIFs, as foul as they may be—will continue to set her apart in tech journalism. Thanks for hiring me, Cranz. We’ll continue to do you proud.

Tom McKay, staff writer, Gizmodo

Alex is a fantastic writer and editor who knows more about chip design and computer components than can possibly be healthy. She is also personally responsible for many abominations and travesties, including the pickle dog gif, raising the question of whether Swamp Thing fucks, the mental image of the Predator eating sushi, reposting the image of Piers Morgan eating Trump’s ass, and the massive pile of external hard drives haphazardly stacked in my closet that will one day catch fire and kill me. I fear that unless someone stops her, one day she will hunt down, cook, and eat Baby Yoda.

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Whitney Kimball, staff writer, Gizmodo 

To quote a line from Cranz’s final io9 review about Batwoman, Cranz is so good she makes everyone around her better. This is true of her as a hilarious writer, stand-up person, and a nurturer of freaks. Her bullshit detector and ALL-CAPS love of silly shit like pajama jeans is immortal.

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It doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be roasted within an inch of HER LIFE.

If you’re about to meet Cranz, buckle up. Cranz never enters a conversation quietly, but busts in, of a CW superheroine to her own theme music, leading me to wonder often Why is this bitch so enthusiastic? She would cheerfully announce any number of deranged observations—maybe there was an office argument about regional Texan cheese dishes? I believe this went on for days, which could totally be my imagination, but it’s the kind of hill Cranz would die on, and she will fight you to the death.

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BYE BITCH

How Candlekeep Mysteries Is Bringing One of Dungeons & Dragons’ Most Iconic Libraries to Life

Is it a bird? Is it a druid shapeshifted into a bird? No, it’s...Candlekeep!

Is it a bird? Is it a druid shapeshifted into a bird? No, it’s…Candlekeep!
Image: Julian Kok/Wizards of the Coast

When Dungeons & Dragons fans think of the Sword Coast, they might cast their mind’s eye to its most infamous locale: the city of Baldur’s Gate, the titular trade hub that was brought to life in the legendary CRPG series. But true adventure in the Forgotten Realms is born of knowledge—and adventurers in the know would do better to turn their eye to Candlekeep.

One of the most famous libraries of arcane and peculiar knowledge in Faerûn, Candlekeep is getting its moment in the spotlight for the Fifth Edition of D&D this month. In Candlekeep Mysteries, you’ll find a new adventure book full of weird and wonderful “one-shots”—as in, campaigns designed to be played in a single sitting rather than as one long, ongoing game. All of the adventures will be tied to artifacts and stories held within the library’s halls.

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But aside from delivering story hooks, Candlekeep Mysteries also has to bring its titular setting to life. It fleshes out the history of, and what it’s like to live in, one of the Forgotten Realms’ greatest repositories of magical information—a task that fell in part to Chris Lindsay. Between being a product marketing manager for D&D at Wizards of the Coast and helping to create content for the official D&D campaign series at the D&D Adventurers League, Lindsay delved into the depths of Candlekeep for Mysteries’ background sections. Check out our interview, conducted over email, for more on how he fleshed out Candlekeep, as well as some new artwork from Mysteries debuting exclusively here on io9!


James Whitbrook, io9: When you’re approaching writing background material like this, what are the earliest processes like for you, where do you start?

Chris Lindsay: When I began this project, I was asked to focus my attention on the most current published material discussing Candlekeep in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, but after reviewing that I felt the need to take a deeper dive, looking for elements from past products that might have escaped the notice of our most recent version. At the same time, I looked for inspiration in the world around us. To that end, I did a search online for details on the largest libraries in the real world in an effort to pull inspiration from what I might learn there as well.

io9: Adventure writing is quite different to some of the other hats you wear at Wizard. What’s it like switching between those roles when you get the opportunity to work on a book like this?

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Lindsay: There’s definitely a transition from working on the business to working in a creative space for me. I like to dedicate a day to start when I have no meetings and no reason to actively monitor my email (Fridays generally work best). Frequently it helps to step away from my laptop altogether and start the outlining process in a notebook away from the day-to-day interruptions of various technological devices. Once I’ve begun a project though, it becomes easier to make that transition as I’ve already got a previously established flow and know the direction I’m headed with the writing. Something as simple as the right soundtrack or playlist will bring me back and put me into the thick of it. For Candlekeep Mysteries it was a combination of Tool’s Fear Inoculum and the Hellraiser soundtrack.

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Image: Mark Behm/Wizards of the Coast

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io9: Candlekeep not only has to serve as background detail in Mysteries, but a place to connect the starting points of all these adventures together. What kinds of information about the citadel were you most mindful to explore to allow the variety of all these hooks for adventurers to visit it?

Lindsay: One of the things that I really wanted to do with this section was bring Candlekeep to life. Put names to the Avowed and create a scholarly community within. Give them the amenities they’d need for day-to-day living and breathe life into the location in a manner that a new Dungeon Master can just pick up and put to use, and an experienced Dungeon Master can extrapolate and create specific inspired experiences for their players based on the established routine that already exists therein.

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io9: You’re not just writing about the structure itself, but the people who inhabit it. Tell us about the process of creating and detailing these characters for the D&D audience, whether it’s familiar faces or new ones entirely!

Lindsay: This was one of the most fun parts of the project. Where characters existed, it was quite simple to slot them into an appropriate role. For example, it was an easy choice to include Sylvira Savikas (originally featured in the adventure Baldur’s Gate: Descent Into Avernus) as the Great Reader specializing in planar studies. However, there are four primary skills involving knowledge in the game (Arcana, History, Nature, and Religion), so it seemed natural to break each of these into two specialties and then populate them each with a fresh face. A couple of favorites include the halfling master sage Fhenimore Scrivenbark, specializing in folklore and culture, and V’ziir-Ag, a githzerai master sage that has, for practical reasons all their own, extensively studied aberrations and the Far Realm. Each of these Great Readers are a fantastic resource for visiting heroes to tap into.

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Image: Katerina Ladon/Wizards of the Coast

io9: One big thing about Candlekeep is that there’s a lot of familiarity with it outside of D&D as a game itself through its place in the early lore of Baldur’s Gate. Was that something you were mindful of exploring in here, stoking the familiarity of an “outside” source like that?

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Lindsay: It has been a hot minute (let’s say decades) since I’ve played the original Baldur’s Gate. That said, I’m certain that there are still details lurking in my subconscious that might have pushed me one way or the other. While it would be untruthful of me to say that I sat down and replayed the game in search of obscure bits about the ancient library for this design pass, I think it’s fair to say that the two share a common progenitor lurking somewhere in the mind of master storyteller and fellow raconteur Ed Greenwood.

io9: What do you think it is about Candlekeep that still appeals to adventurers all these years later?

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Lindsay: It is the allure of knowing the unknowable and the power that represents. Anyone that has ever asked a question that nobody could answer or mourned the loss of knowledge (real or imagined) feels the pull toward this ancient library of truly monumental proportions. What better place to find such gems within the boundless confines of our own fantasies, as this ancient library with an extraordinarily stiff entrance fee? Just imagining what fell tome you might find in the stacks on your next visit, is enough to bring those of us with aspirations of erudition calling back, again and again.

io9: What’s your favorite little detail about Candlekeep that you got to write into Candlekeep Mysteries?

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Lindsay: My favorite addition to Candlekeep is called the Echoes of Alaundo. This is a storehouse of magic gemstones that hold the recorded prophesies of Alaundo, some of which are spoken in strange languages.


Candlekeep Mysteries releases on March 16.

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WandaVision’s Kathryn Hahn Says Gossip and Secrets Are a Part of Agnes

Kathryn Hahn as WandaVision’s Agnes.

Kathryn Hahn as WandaVision’s Agnes.
Photo: Disney+/Pixar

Whenever Kathryn Hahn’s Agnes bursts into the camera’s focus on Disney+’s WandaVision, the show’s laugh track usually kicks in as the archetypical sitcom neighbor interrupts whatever odd thing Wanda and Vision happen to be doing. But the more time WandaVision spends following Agnes around, the more you see that, out of all of Westview’s residents, she might know the most about what’s truly going on.

When io9 spoke with Hahn recently about what it was like to develop Agnes’ personality, the actor explained how her history of playing best friend characters immediately gave her a sense of what sort of headspace Agnes might be in, generally. But in the context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s WandaVisionwhere everything about reality is meant to be questioned—people like Agnes aren’t always what we perceive them to be, and Hahn insisted that audiences will be surprised as the story unfolds.


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Charles Pulliam-Moore, io9: We see so much of the nosy neighbor archetype in Agnes, and that’s part of what makes her so immediately recognizable. She’s an Ethel. But I’m really interested to hear from you about who she is in those moments when Wanda and Vision aren’t around.

Kathryn Hahn: [laughing] Well, thank you for caring about Agnes’ personal life, because she is just always popping up at their house.

io9: But you can see that all of WandaVision’s characters have some sort of interior lives in ways that are taking place off-camera, to a certain extent.

Hahn: Right, yeah. It’s interesting. I can’t really let you know what’s going on in her private life just yet, but I do have this path for her in my mind. The thing I kept sticking with, as we were doing all of our research by watching a lot of old sitcoms, was that you actually don’t really get to see their private life ever. No one really cares about who they are, and they just kind of show up, and they’re in the living room or on the couch all of a sudden.

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io9: Yeah.

Hahn: I, in my career, have played the best friend a bazillion times, especially early in my career, so these are well-worn shoes, but that made me feel like I understood Agnes and what it feels like to be looking through the windows at that couple, wanting to be a confidante, and wanting some goss.

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Kathryn Hahn as Agnes.

Kathryn Hahn as Agnes.
Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

io9: What was most challenging for you about inhabiting Agnes, given how much experience you have playing these kinds of characters? What areas of your expertise did you tap into to really realize this character?

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Hahn: I mean, besides keeping secrets, I would say this desire to please, you know? That wanting to be friends. I, certainly, am not an advice-giver—we all have those friends who will just offer up unsolicited advice. So much of this story is about boundaries, too, that people put up around themselves, when they do it, and why.

io9: There’s this social aspiration quality to Agnes you see more of in episode two, when you see her and Wanda interacting with whatever Dottie’s organization is—

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Hahn: The parent/teacher whatever.

io9: Exactly. What was so fascinating about those scenes is how you’re seeing Wanda and Agnes exploring Westview, but you’re also getting a sense of how there’s this undercurrent of menacing, but not overt horror.

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Hahn: We’re clearly not just trying to faithfully redo genres of sitcom. There’s something churning underneath it all, and there are layers and layers to this story that are going to begin being peeled back, and people are going to have to go along for the ride. I know that there are a lot of theories, which are really exciting, but I also know that people really need to be surprised about what’s coming.

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io9: This isn’t your first time bringing a surprising twist on a Marvel character to life, and I wanted to talk to you a bit about Into the Spider-Verse’s Doc Ock.

Hahn: Oh, yes!

io9: She was this really surprising breakout star in the movie that no one was expecting to take on this life post-Spider-Verse. So often, when characters like Doc Ock are reimagined, the reaction’s sort of mixed, and certain fans have complaints—

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Hahn: [laughing] Oh, yeah. Right, right.

io9: But with your Doc Ock, people were immediately blown away, and I’m curious what it was like to be on the receiving end of that response when it’s kind of rare?

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Hahn: I love the idea of being able to reframe and reimagine, and be like “Why not?” I was thrilled by that whole process, and it was a ball. I could only imagine the bummer if people weren’t excited about it. So, empathy for that.


WandaVision airs Fridays on Disney+. You can check out our first recap of the first two episodes now streaming below.

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All the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Films to Look Forward to in 2021…Hopefully

Candyman, Raya and the Last Dragon, and The Suicide Squad should all, hypothetically, be out this year.

Candyman, Raya and the Last Dragon, and The Suicide Squad should all, hypothetically, be out this year.
Photo: Universal/Disney/Warner Bros.

You are not experiencing déjà vu. A huge percentage of films from our 2020 movie preview are once again here on our 2021 preview. But the good news is, there’s still a lot of great stuff to look forward to.

At this point last year, we had no idea the covid-19 pandemic would change the entire world as we know it, including delaying or moving around hundreds of movie releases in the process. Now that it’s 2021, and a vaccine is starting to be administered, there’s hope we’ll get to see these movies this year. Because, well, these are a lot of movies we really want to see, and we think you might agree.

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(All dates are subject to change and let’s face it, probably will; release platforms provided when available.)


January

Bloody Hell

This indie horror-comedy follows a man who flees the country after accidentally becoming a media sensation, but is immediately kidnapped by a freaky family and must figure out how to escape their basement (with the help of his own personified conscience) before it’s too late. (January 14, theaters, drive-ins, and on-demand)

Outside the Wire

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s Anthony Mackie is a superpowered android in this military sci-fi tale about a drone pilot (played by Damson Idris) sent into a war zone to track down a doomsday device. (January 15, Netflix)

PG: Psycho Goreman

In this retro-flavored sci-fi horror adventure from Steven Kostanski (The Void), a brother and sister have a close encounter with a terrifying alien who soon realizes he’s forced to do whatever the little girl tells him to. Hijinx, heavy metal, fish-out-of-water hilarity, alien brawls, and what look to be some excellent creature effects ensue. (January 22, theaters, digital, and on-demand)

Wrong Turn

This seventh entry in the Wrong Turn wilderness horror series is also, somewhat confusingly, titled Wrong Turn, and offers a “reimagining” with a script from the writer of the original film. This time there’s a creepy cult picking off city-kid hikers, but the familiar themes of “don’t get off the main road,” “stay on the trail,” and “actually those backwoods booby traps are pretty genius” look to be fully intact. (January 26, in theaters for one night)

Finding ‘Ohana

This fun-looking adventure from director Jude Weng follows a family that moves from New York to Hawaii, where the kids go on a pirate treasure hunt to save the family home. Comparisons to The Goonies appear to be entirely intentional. (January 29, Netflix)

The Night

There’s definitely some Stephen King DNA in this tale of an Iranian American couple traveling with their infant daughter, who realizes too late that the hotel where they’re staying is haunted by malevolent spirits eerily tuned into their own secrets and vulnerabilities. (January 29, theaters and on-demand)

Saint Maud

Lots of critics have already been able to see this psychological horror film from studio A24 and they’ve been raving. It’s the directorial debut of Rose Glass and follows Morfydd Clark (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) as a hospice nurse, the titular Maud. She’s recently converted to Roman Catholicism and becomes obsessed with saving the soul of someone in her care, Amanda, played by Jennifer Ehle (RoboCop). Its release was up in the air for a bit so we’re glad it finally will be available. (January 29, theaters and drive-ins; February 12, streaming on Epix)


February

Earwig and the Witch

From director Goro Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli’s first feature-length CG movie is about an orphan who begins to discover her hidden talent for magic when she’s taken in by an offbeat witch. The English language version features the voices of Dan Stevens, Richard E. Grant, and Kacey Musgraves, who also performs the theme song. (February 3, theaters; February 5, streaming on HBO Max)

4×4

This Argentinian thriller is about a would-be car thief who realizes too late that the vehicle he’s after is no ordinary machine—and it, along with whoever is behind its high-tech remote controls, are not about to let him escape without consequences. (February 4, digital and on-demand)

A Nightmare Wakes

Nora Unkel’s gothic literary horror imagines that while Mary Shelley was penning Frankenstein, the characters from the book started to intermingle with her real life, including her romance with Percy Shelley. (February 4, Shudder)

Bliss

The latest from Mike Cahill (Another Earth, I Origins) stars Salma Hayek and Owen Wilson; it’s about a newly divorced guy that falls for an alluring woman who believes the entire world is actually a simulation. (February 5, Amazon)

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Cinderella

Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect, Blockers) directs this musical romantic comedy based on the classic fairy tale. The cast includes pop star Camila Cabello as Cinderella, Billy Porter as her fairy godparent, and Frozen’s Idina Menzel as Cinderella’s stepmother. (February 5, theaters, but rumored to be moving)

Little Fish

In a world where a virus has started wiping away memories, a young woman (Ready Player One’s Olivia Cooke) struggles to hold onto love when her husband (Jack O’Connell) begins to forget her. It’s adapted from a short story by author Aja Gabel, and the tone looks more like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind than, say, The Notebook or The Vow. (February 5, theaters and on-demand)

Space Sweepers

This Korean sci-fi action-adventure is about a ragtag crew of space junkers who discover the score of a lifetime—a weaponized android—and must decide whether to cash in or protect her. The trailer makes this one look like all kinds of fun. (February 5, Netflix)

The Reckoning

Neil Marshall (The Descent) directs this supernatural horror about a woman (Charlotte Kirk) falsely accused of witchcraft in Great Plague-era England. (February 5, theaters, on-demand, and digital)

The Wanting Mare

This effects-heavy fantasy is set in a world that revolves around wild horses, where a young woman must puzzle through a recurring dream sent from her mother to discover her destiny. (February 5, theaters and on-demand)

The Pond

An anthropologist on the brink of an apocalyptic discovery starts hallucinating a sinister threat is chasing after him in this folk horror tale. (February 23, on-demand)

The Vigil

Inspired by Jewish folklore, this Brooklyn-set supernatural horror film takes place over one night as a man—tasked with keeping the traditional watch over a recently deceased member of his community—realizes he’s not as alone as he thinks he is. (February 26, theaters, on-demand, and digital)

Tom and Jerry

Chloë Grace Moretz stars in this animated/live-action hybrid bringing the world’s most famous cat and mouse team to the big screen. Tim Story, who directed the first Fantastic Four, is at the helm. (February 26, theaters and HBO Max)

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March

Chaos Walking

Under normal circumstances, a high concept sci-fi film from the director of Edge of Tomorrow starring Spider-Man and Rey Skywalker would be insanely exciting. However, after years of delays and changes we are fairly confident this Doug Liman-Tom Holland-Daisy Ridley film about a woman who shows up on an all-male planet won’t be as good as we’d like. (March 5, theaters)

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Boss Level

Frank Grillo stars in what can best be described as Groundhog Day as a video game. He’s a man stuck in a time loop who struggles to break out and defeat the man responsible, played by Mel Gibson. A-Team’s Joe Carnahan directs. (March 5, Hulu)

Raya and the Last Dragon

Coming to theaters—as well as Disney+ for an additional feeRaya and the Last Dragon tells the tale of a young woman seeking the last dragon in the world in order to save her people. Problem is, when she does, the creature is no longer up to the task. Featuring the voices of Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina, Raya looks to be another epic Disney adventure. (March 5, theaters and Disney+ Premium)

The King’s Man

The latest film in the Kingsman franchise takes things back to the beginning, telling the story of how the suave secret agents came to be. Ralph Fiennes leads the charge along with Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, and others. (March 12, but rumored to be moving)

Come True

A young woman joins a sleep study hoping that the researchers can help her find a way to finally escape from her horrific nightmares. But the more she becomes involved in the strange experiment, the more the shadows lurking in her mind begin to reach into her waking world, making her fear that she’s on the brink of tumbling into a darkness she can’t escape. (March 12)

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April

No Time to Die

Daniel Craig’s final ride as the most famous secret agent of all time is now scheduled for release about a full year after it was originally supposed to come out. It was the first major film delayed due to covid-19, and when we finally get to see it, maybe it’ll make things feel semi-normal again? (April 2, but rumored to be moving)

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

If you enjoyed 2018’s Peter Rabbit starring Domhnall Gleeson and Rose Byrne, this sequel is for you (and probably your kids). It’s once again directed by Will Gluck; James Corden will also return to voice the title character in addition to Elizabeth Debicki and Margot Robbie, plus David Oyelowo joining in a live-action role. (April 2)

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Bob’s Burgers: The Movie

Like many film projects, the highly anticipated Bob’s Burgers film, based on the hit Fox animated series, has shifted its date several times—first thanks to the Fox/Disney sale and then covid-19. What’s interesting though is that the creators involved haven’t spilled any beans (Gene!), and neither Disney nor Fox ever released any teaser footage. We’re as desperate to see this one as Louise is to smack Boo Boo. Buns crossed, everyone! (April 9)

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Bios

Game of Thrones’ Miguel Sapochnik directs, and Robert Zemeckis produces, this sci-fi movie about the last man on Earth (Tom Hanks) setting out on a post-apocalyptic road trip with his android companion (played in a motion-capture performance by Caleb Landry Jones). (April 16)

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Reminiscence

Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson star in the directorial debut of Lisa Joy, one of the creators of Westworld. Jackman plays a man who lets people relive one of their memories. That becomes an issue when a woman he’s falling for shows up in someone’s memory doing something very bad. (April 16)

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Mortal Kombat

We’re not saying the world is a better place because a new Mortal Kombat movie is coming out. That would be silly. However, to be fair, we’re not NOT saying that about this latest adaptation of the hyper-violent fighting video game. (April 16)

A Quiet Place: Part II

Over a year after its original release date, we will finally get to see how the recently widowed Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) keeps her family safe in a world overrun by aliens with super-sensitive hearing. The John Krasinski-helmed horror sequel promises to expand the world from the first movie in terrifying new ways. (April 23)

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Ron’s Gone Wrong

A 20th Century Studios release from Disney, this CG animated feature was directed by Sarah Smith (Arthur Christmas), Jean-Philippe Vine (Shaun the Sheep), and Octavio E. Rodriguez (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2). It puts viewers in a world where robots are everyday pals to kids, but one young boy finds his doesn’t quite work like it’s meant to. (April 23)

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Last Night in Soho

Little is known about the latest film from Baby Driver and Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright. What we do know is it takes place in two different time periods—1960s London, in a story led by Anya Taylor-Joy, and modern London, with Thomasin McKenzie—that somehow cross over, and the world of fashion is involved. Sign us up. (April 23)

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May

Black Widow

This (pandemic-delayed) Avengers prequel explaining much of Black Widow’s secret history will hopefully finally arrive on this date. It’s rumored that the events of this film will play a crucial role in everything moving ahead, wrapping up the MCU’s Phase 3 while acting as a bridge toward Phase 4. (May 7)

Rumble

As you can see by the trailer, it’s an animated movie about monsters who wrestle. And as you can tell by that sentence, we have an early contender for Best Picture 2022. (May 14)

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Godzilla vs. Kong

If ever there was a film worth waiting to see in a theater, it’s one about two giant, legendary monsters battling each other. The key with this film, however, will be if the story will be good enough to make the epic showdown worth watching or not. (May 21)

Spiral: From the Book of Saw

What does a Saw movie look like through the eyes of comedian Chris Rock? We’ll soon find out. Rock conceptualized and stars in this return to the popular horror franchise—which had pretty much run out of steam until Rock suddenly came along—about a killer who puts victims in cruel, elaborate traps. (May 21)

Free Guy

Ryan Reynolds is a NPC in a shooter video game who gains consciousness and ends up becoming a hero. The concept sounds really fun and with director Shawn Levy at the helm (Night at the Museum) this could be a real crowd-pleaser. It also stars Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer and Reynolds’ Green Lantern buddy Taika Waititi. (May 21)

F9

The return of Han. A possible venture into space. Action that somehow looks even bigger than the last few films. What could be more exciting than this ninth installment in the Fast and Furious franchise? We submit, absolutely nothing. (May 28)

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Cruella

Learn the origin story of the 101 Dalmatians villain as a young fashion designer in the 1970s begins to indulge her desire for…unconventional animal skins. The live-action Disney film stars Emma Stone as the titular character along with Emma Thompson and Mark Strong. (May 28)

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Infinite

Directed by Antoine Fuqua, this sci-fi action film has a cast that boasts Mark Wahlberg, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jason Mantzoukas, Toby Jones, Dylan O’Brien, Sophie Cookson, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, and Rupert Friend. It’s based on D. Eric Maikranz’s novel The Reincarnationist Papers which is about a man who finds out his visions are actually memories of his past lives, and he’s not the only one having them. (May 28)

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June

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Samaritan

Sylvester Stallone gets to play a superhero in this action-thriller from Julius Avery, director of 2018’s Overlord (that WWII zombie-Nazi film from Bad Robot). And not just any superhero, but one thought dead or missing after a battle 20 years prior. Utopia and Addams Family 2 actor Javon “Wanna” Walton also stars. (June 4)

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The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

The third Conjuring title in the ever-expanding Conjuring cinematic universe sees the Warrens (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga) return for another scary tale based on one of their real-life cases, this time a murder trial in which the defendant claimed to be demonically possessed. Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona) directs this time around, though James Wan is still on hand as producer and co-story writer. (June 4)

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Vivo

The ever-busy Lin-Manuel Miranda grants his musical talents to Sony Pictures Animation’s first-ever musical CG animated adventure. Directed by Kirk DeMicco (The Croods) and Brandon Jeffords, from a screenplay by Quiara Alegría Hudes (In the Heights) and DeMicco, the film follows a Kinkajou named Vivo, a tropical rainforest creature, who travels from Havana, Cuba to Miami, Florida to fulfill a friend’s final wish. He’ll also apparently meet a “tween tornado” along the way. The voice cast has yet to be announced. (June 4)

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Decades after Peter, Ray, Egon, and Winston saved New York from ghosts, their legend has faded. Ghosts are eternal though and mysterious family ties will be revealed in this continuation-slash-reboot of the hit ‘80s franchise starring Carrie Coon and Paul Rudd. (June 11)

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Luca

Pixar movies are always fascinating, whether they end up being great or not. Luca is the studio’s latest and it might be the most…basic one yet? At least from what we know of it. All we know is it’s about a young boy growing up on the Italian countryside. Is there some weird twist? Probably? But it could just be a simple, lovely, coming of age story. Either way, it’s Pixar. We’re looking forward to it. (June 18)

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Venom: Let There Be Carnage

The first Venom movie was a surprise smash, so it’s no surprise that a sequel quickly got set up. This one is directed by Andy Serkis and will feature Tom Hardy’s title character facing off with Woody Harrelson playing none other than Carnage, the popular comics character fans have been itching to see on screen for years. (June 25)

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July

Minions: The Rise of Gru

The Minions franchise takes a look back to just how a young Gru found himself on the path to supervillainy, as well as stewardship of his own little army of gobbledegook-spewing minions. (July 2)

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The Forever Purge

Not much is known about the plot of this one other than it’s a sequel to 2016’s The Purge: Election Year, but by now we definitely have a good handle on what the violent, lawless Purge itself is all about. And that title, taken with the fact that this is poised to be the final Purge movie, is suitably ominous. (July 9)

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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Though Marvel’s Shang-Chi film will be the character’s first major appearance within the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, the movie’s set to introduce the legendary fighter at a point in his life when he’s already attempted to escape the nefarious Ten Rings organization. His path to heroism might not be a proper origin story, but as Shang-Chi saves the world in his first big-screen action epic, it’ll be the beginning of being one of the most high profile capes in Marvel’s catalog. (July 9)

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Space Jam: A New Legacy

Not many athletes could pick up the mantle of a basketball player who has to play with, and against, the Looney Tunes—but LeBron James can probably pull it off. The NBA champ stars in this sequel to the ‘90s hit which starred Michael Jordan. Bugs Bunny, surely, returns. (July 16)

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Uncharted

Tom Holland is adventurer Nathan Drake in this long-awaited adaptation of the super awesome and popular PlayStation franchise of the same name. Mark Wahlberg co-stars in what could be the start of the next great action franchise. (July 16)

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Old

The latest film by director M. Night Shyamalan is rumored to be about a group of people trapped on a secluded island with a dangerous secret involving time. Despite the misstep of Glass, we’re still all about Shyamalan’s tiny, weird movies such as Split and The Visit, so we’re anxious to see what mystery he can unfold here. (July 23)

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The Tomorrow War

Chris Pratt stars in this military sci-fi action thriller as Gunnery Sergeant Barney Gamble, a haunted man who must confront his past after humanity develops time-travel technology for recruiting soldiers to combat an alien adversary. (July 23, though rumored to move)

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The Green Knight

After centuries of retellings of King Arthur’s tale, Dev Patel brings Sir Gawain’s story to the center stage. Set after Arthur’s rise to power, The Green Knight sees Gawain following in his legendary uncle’s footsteps as part of his quest to slay a massive being with green skin who stalks the land. (July 30)

Jungle Cruise

The dad jokes will be numerous in this big-budget adaptation of the classic Disneyland ride. Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt star in a film that’ll aim to replicate the tone and success of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. (July 30)

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August

The Suicide Squad

The Marvel Cinematic Universe changed for the better when James Gunn made an off-the-wall film about a group of ragtag criminals. We’re hoping he does the same for the DC Entertainment with The Suicide Squad, which has an amazing cast, super weird characters, and more potential than nearly any other comic book movie this year. (August 6)

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Hotel Transylvania 4

The first in the series not helmed by animation icon Genndy Tartakovsky, the latest Hotel Transylvania sees Dracula and his kooky family return for new hijinks. (August 6)

Candyman

The wait for Candyman has only made us want the film more. Director Nia DaCosta went from talented young filmmaker to attached to a Marvel movie, star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II went from Aquaman’s nemesis to Dr. Freaking Manhattan and genre superstar, and now a horror reimagining we were already super excited about is arguably our most anticipated horror films of the year. (August 27)

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Summer TBD

Illustration for article titled All the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Films to Look Forward to in 2021...Hopefully

Photo: Netflix

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Army of the Dead

Zack Snyder’s first post-Justice League film technically isn’t his expanded “Snyder Cut” of Justice League. Before he went back to that film, he completed this horror-action film about a group of soldiers who pull off a casino heist in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Dave Bautista stars. (Summer, Netflix)

Nine Days

Black Panther and Us star Winston Duke plays a person who sets souls up with human bodies. But Pixar’s Soul, this is not. Duke’s character puts souls through tests to see who is ready to go to Earth and then finds himself enamored with one soul, in particular, played by Joker’s Zazie Beetz. It looks lyrical and excellent. (Summer)

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September

The Boss Baby: Family Business

Somehow, Boss Baby has returned. Except that Boss Baby Ted’s all grown up now, and so’s his brother Tim, navigating family life and work-life as actual adults. But when a threat to Baby society is uncovered by Tim’s daughter, they must once again become Babies to help save the day. (September 17)

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October

Dune

Like we said before, it’s just 2020 over again. Back then, we were foaming at the mouth for this big-budget Denis Villeneuve-directed adaptation and nothing has changed since. Well, except that we might get to see it on-demand the same day as theaters than to HBO Max. We’ve already seen a fantastic trailer and it only make us want Dune more. (October 1)

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The Addams Family 2

Yup, it’s the sequel to the animated film from 2019 starring Charlize Theron and Oscar Isaac as Morticia and Gomez Addams. Chloë Grace Moretz will reprise as Wednesday as well but Javon “Wanna” Walton picks up Pugsley’s voice from Finn Wolfhard this time around. This one also stars Bill Hader, Nick Kroll, Bette Midler, and Snoop Dogg. (October 8)

Morbius

This year brings sequels for the Spider-Man and Venom characters, as well as the first film of another famous Spider-villain, Morbius. How or if this film, which stars Jared Leto, fits in with the others remains to be seen, but it certainly looks to be very much inspired by the anti-hero success of Venom. (October 8)

Halloween Kills

Evil never dies. Not even if you lock it in a basement and burn the house to the ground—which is what happened to Michael Myers at the end of 2018’s Halloween reboot. But this year, that story will continue in the middle chapter of what’ll end up as a trilogy bringing back not just the same creative crew, but Jamie Lee Curtis and, presumably, a very toasty Michael Myers. (October 15)

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Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins

Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding plays one of the most famous members of the G.I. Joe crew in this new iteration of the classic franchise based on the popular toy line. (October 22)

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November

Clifford the Big Red Dog

How do you adapt the beloved literary adventures of a giant red pooch into live-action? With a whole lot of CG and a whole lot of heart, hopefully. Clifford and his new best friend Emily find themselves targeted by a sinister genetics company that wants to supersize animals for profit. (November 5)

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Eternals

The next evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes with a star-studded cast playing celestial beings. Plus, Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Gemma Chan, and Salma Hayek aside, after award season this year, everyone is going to know the film’s director Chloé Zhao too. (She directed early Oscar contender Nomadland.) (November 5)

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Mission Impossible 7

The last few Mission: Impossible movies have been so incredibly good, we have no idea how this seventh film (which is being shot in tandem with an eighth film) can even begin to live up to that. But, if anyone can do it, it’s the IMF team led by star Tom Cruise and writer-director Christopher McQuarrie. (November 19)

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Encanto

As the only unmagical member of a notoriously magical family living in an enchanted corner of Colombia, the heroine of Disney’s Encanto feels understandably out of place and unsure of what life has in store for her. As she ventures out into the wider musical world, though, it’s likely that she’ll discover a kind of magic all her own, in typical Disney fashion. (November 24)

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December

Illustration for article titled All the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Films to Look Forward to in 2021...Hopefully

Image: Disney/Sony

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Untitled Spider-Man: Far From Home Sequel

Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker in one of the most talked-about Marvel sequels to date. Why? Because Doctor Strange joins the webslinger in a film that’ll explore the multiverse; it reportedly brings in actors like Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire to link all of the Spider-Man movies that have ever been released, while also moving the MCU forward. (December 17)

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The Matrix 4

After three movies in a relatively short period of time, most fans never thought they’d see a new Matrix movie. Plus, the story was over. Neo had done it. But Lana Wachowski decided that wasn’t the case and got Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss back along for the ride. We have no idea what it’ll look like yet but wow, we’re ready to plug back in. (December 22)

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Sing 2

The 2016 mega-hit about a singing competition is finally getting its sequel later this year. We don’t know what it’s about but we’re guessing it’ll contain lots of singing animals voiced by famous people. (December 22)

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TBD 2021

Illustration for article titled All the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Films to Look Forward to in 2021...Hopefully

Image: Simon Pulse

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Fear Street Trilogy

R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series was the step many of us took after ingesting his Goosebumps books. Now, Netflix has a trilogy of adaptations set in different eras. Here’s what the streamer revealed about the plot: “In 1994, a group of teenagers discovers that the terrifying events that have haunted their town for generations ​may all be connected—and that they may be the next targets.” You’ll notice some of the casts overlap. Here are the other details:

  • Fear Street: 1994 is directed by Leigh Janiak and written by Janiak and Phil Graziadei. It stars Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Ashley Zukerman, Maya Hawke, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Jordana Spiro, and Jordyn DiNatale. (Netflix)
  • Fear Street: 1978 is also directed by Janiak, who penned the script with Zak Olkewicz. It stars Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, Ryan Simpkins, McCabe Slye, Ted Sutherland, Gillian Jacobs, Kiana Madeira, Jordana Spiro, Chiara Aurelia, and Jordyn DiNatale. (Netflix)
  • Fear Street: 1666 should be an interesting one. Writer Kate Trefry joins Janiak on this one which stars Kiana Madeira, Ashley Zukerman, Gillian Jacobs, Olivia Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Darrell Britt-Gibson, Fred Hechinger, Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, McCabe Slye, Jordana Spiro, and Jordyn DiNatale. (Netflix)

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Blood Red Sky

A woman’s worst nightmare becomes reality when the flight she’s on is hijacked, setting in motion a series of events that forces her to finally reveal a dark secret related to the mysterious disease she’s carrying that few, if any, of the people around her know she might be exposing them to. (Netflix)

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Escape from Spiderhead

Based on George Saunders’ short story, Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy) directs the tale Netflix describes thusly: “In the near future, two young convicts grapple with their pasts in a facility run by a brilliant visionary, who experiments on inmates with emotion-altering drugs.” The cast includes Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, Jurnee Smollett, Mark Paguio, and Tess Haubrich. (Netflix)

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Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans

Emile Hirsch, Kelsey Grammer, Alfred Molina, Steven Yeun, Nick Frost, Diego Luna, Tatiana Maslany, Nick Offerman, and more voice characters in the latest from Dreamworks’ and Guillermo del Toro’s Trollhunters franchise. The summary for this one: “Arcadia may look like an ordinary town but it lies at the center of magical and mystical lines that makes it a nexus for many battles among otherworldly creatures including trolls, aliens and wizards. Now the heroes from the hit series Trollhunters, 3Below and Wizards, team-up in their most epic adventure yet where they must fight the Arcane Order for control over the magic that binds them all.” (Netflix)

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A Winter’s Tale From Shaun the Sheep

Shaun the sheep knows that if he and the other barn animals would just behave and stay put in their enclosures when humans aren’t around, they wouldn’t get into nearly as much trouble as they tend to. During the holiday season, all Shaun truly wants to do is relax, but when a plan to secure the animals more gifts suddenly goes awry, it’s up to Shaun to put things right before the festivities are ruined for everyone. (Netflix)

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Wish Dragon

A struggling college student and a mystical dragon become fast friends as they set out on a journey across present-day Shanghai. With the dragon’s vast magical powers at their disposal, there’s little the duo can’t simply wish their way through as they get into all sorts of trouble. But the more they simply ask for things, the more they realize that what’s most important in the world are the relationships we form. This one stars the voices of John Cho, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Jimmy Wong, Constance Wu, and more. (Netflix)

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Awake

Gina Rodriguez, Ariana Greenblatt, Frances Fisher, Shamier Anderson, Finn Jones, and Jennifer Jason Leigh star in this one, which imagines that every human on the planet suddenly stops being able to fall asleep. Within hours, society’s on the brink of collapse both because of the phenomenon’s impact on people and the fact that the world’s electronics have also mysteriously stopped functioning. When a former soldier named Jill realizes that her daughter might be unaffected by the event, she suspects that the child may be humanity’s last hope. (Netflix)

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Thunder Force

Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer fight crime in this superhero comedy from Ben Falcone, which sees the stars cast as estranged childhood friends who reconnect when one of them develops a treatment to give them powers to fight back in a world dominated by the rise of supervillainy. (Netflix)

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Nightmare Alley

Guillermo del Toro is back with one of his many highly anticipated projects, this one a psychological thriller based on William Lindsay Gresham’s book (previously adapted in 1947 by Edmund Goulding). Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Tony Collette, and Bradley Cooper are just some of the names attached to this story about a carnival worker conman (Cooper) who gets entangled with a psychiatrist (Blanchette) who’s, let’s say, not so ethical. (Netflix)

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Back to the Outback

A ragtag group of talking deadly critters—Maddie the poisonous snake (Isla Fisher), thorny devil lizard Zoe (Miranda Tapsell), Frank the hairy spider (Guy Pearce), Nigel the scorpion (Angus Imrie), and their frenemy Pretty Boy the Koala (Tim Minchin)—escape an Australian zoo and head out on a wild road trip across the country, trying to avoid capture by their zealous zookeeper (Eric Bana). (Netflix)

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Don’t Look Up

From writer-director Adam McKay (Anchorman, Ant-Man), this political satire/sci-fi disaster story follows two astronomers tasked with trying to warn the world of a comet set to destroy Earth. We’re assuming, based on all current real-world evidence, that they won’t have much luck. However, it has an all-star cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, Melanie Lynskey, Himesh Patel, Matthew Perry, and Tomer Sisley. (Netflix)

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Nightbooks

Sam Raimi is among the producers of this family-friendly chiller from David Yarovesky (director of Brightburn), based on the children’s horror-fantasy book by J.A. White. It’s about a New York City kid who’s kidnapped by an evil witch (Krysten Ritter) and is forced to tell scary stories every night if he wants to survive. (Netflix)

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Robin Robin

Aardman delivers an all-new stop-motion animated tale for the holiday season, about a young robin chick who goes on a journey of self-discovery after being raised by a family of mice. (Netflix)

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Stowaway

Toni Collette captaining a mission to Mars? Um, sign us the hell up. This sci-fi thriller is about a stowaway (played by Shamier Anderson) who accidentally hitches a ride on a long-haul space journey and causes chaos once he’s discovered, with other crew members played by Anna Kendrick and Daniel Dae Kim. (Netflix)

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Pinocchio

Another from Guillermo del Toro! His dark fairytale stop-motion animated take on the classic Pinocchio story is finally getting released. This one transports the story of a puppet boy trying to live up to the father that created him to…the rise of fascism in Mussolini’s Italy? Yeah, get ready for things to get grim. (Netflix)

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Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie

In this continuation of the gone-too-soon latest take on the TMNT franchise, Leo leads his brothers into action in the greatest threat the Mad Dogs (née Hamato Clan) has had to face yet, as the dark shadow of the sinister alien Krangs descends upon New York City. (Netflix)

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