Avengers: Endgame Wraps Up Marvel Saga

by The Cowl Editor on May 2, 2019

Film and Television

by Madeline Weaver-Nolting ’19 A&E Staff

Get ready to laugh, cry, cheer, and say goodbye to some of your favorite superheroes. I, like hundreds of thousands of people around the world, watched Avengers: Endgame during its opening weekend.  This spoiler- free review focuses on the end of the Avengers era, but the beginning of a new one. Producing 22 movies since 2007 and taking in over $19.8 billion; the film franchise is the highest-grossing of all time. The movie turned out to be an obvious success, grossing $1.2 billion worldwide in only five days. The movie broke its successor’s record, Avengers: Infinity War, which amassed $640 million on the same weekend last year. With a 96 percent review by Rotten Tomatoes, it is clear that the movie is a fan favorite and a brilliant piece of work that will make a lasting impression. Whether you are a new fan, or have been a fan since the very beginning, Avengers: Endgame has something for everyone.


The movie answers questions that were left open at the end of the cliffhanger from Avengers: Infinity War. The movie focuses on the survivors of Thanos after half of the people on Earth were killed. All of the survivors have created their own paths as they try to move on with what has happened, while others are stuck in the past and are desperate to try to bring back their friends. Avengers: Endgame is a bittersweet roller coaster of emotions. Rotten Tomatoes calls it, “Exciting, entertaining, and emotionally impactful. Avengers: Endgame does whatever it takes to deliver a satisfying finale to Marvel’s epic Infinity Saga.” The fast-paced, emotional movie will make the nearly three hours feel like nothing. Most of the movie was so unpredictable, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. Love, death, reunion—Avengers: Endgame was a tribute to the dedicated fans who have invested so much time into the series.  

Goodbyes are never easy and there are definitely mixed reactions with how the movie was wrapped up. If you are expecting a clichéd happy ending, you will not be pleased.  The Russo Brothers, Anthony and Joe Russo, were the co-directors of the movie and some fans were not as happy with how some of the storylines ended for the characters. However, this is not the end for many of the newer superheroes, with another nine films in the process of being released, including Spiderman, Black Panther, and Guardians of the Galaxy movies planned. There is still something to look forward to, especially because Disney is creating a streaming service with planned TV shows about Loki, Sam and Bucky, and Scarlett Witch and Bucky. One door has closed for Thor, Tony Stark, Black Widow, Bruce Banner, Hawkeye, and Captain America, but another door has opened the future of the Marvel Universe.  

Hulu’s The Act: A Complicated Moral Dilemma

by The Cowl Editor on April 11, 2019

Film and Television

by Madeline Weaver-Nolting ’19 A&E Staff

At first glance, Hulu’s new original TV show The Act might seem like a crazy, fictitious show, but it is based on real events. The first season is based on the life of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who plotted with her internet boyfriend to murder her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, in 2015 in Springfield, Missouri. The series follows Gypsy as she learns the truth about her life: she is not actually sick, despite what her mother said. The show is based on a Buzzfeed news article by Michelle Dean which gave the backstory of the mother-daughter relationship and how it resulted in murder. 


Joey King stars as Gypsy Rose, who is currently serving a 10-year sentence, while her boyfriend is serving  life. Gypsy is threatening to sue Hulu for creating this TV show without her consent. King looks almost identical to Rose as she shaved her head for the role.  King said, “I think Gypsy was confused herself. I think she knew that she could walk. For a long time, that’s all she knew. And then she slowly tried to find out more things—she’s her mother’s daughter, in that she also had to use manipulation to get what she wanted. It’s not really her fault that’s the role she had to play. She was really good at manipulation because she was forced into these scenarios where she had to manipulate to survive.” The complicated character of Gypsy garners sympathy from fans as she is shown as having no freedom in her life and her own survival is at risk. 

In an interview with Dr. Phil, Gypsy said, “I believe, firmly, that, no matter what, murder is not okay. But at the same time, I don’t believe I deserve as many years as I got…. I do deserve to spend some time in prison for that crime, but  also, I understand why it happened and I don’t believe that I’m in the right place to get the help that I need.”

Dee Dee Blanchard is played by Patricia Arquette. The abusive mother was thought to have Munchausen by proxy syndrome (MBPS), which involves fabricating diseases and disabilities for sympathy or attention. Dee Dee claimed her daughter was wheelchair bound, had muscular dystrophy, leukemia, asthma, brain damage, and had to be fed through a tube. Dee Dee’s lies led to donations from the Ronald McDonald House and the Make-A-Wish Foundation and even a house from Habitat for Humanity after Hurricane Katrina. The TV show incorporates flashbacks that show how Dee Dee’s abuse escalated as Gypsy’s independence soared. 

Because of the success of The Act and despite the threat of legal action, Hulu is in the works of signing another season that might focus on other true strange true-crime stories.  

Anti-Heroes Capture Hearts in The Umbrella Academy

by The Cowl Editor on March 21, 2019

Film and Television

My Chemical Romance Member Produces Netflix Mutant Series

by Madeline Weaver-Nolting ’19 A&E Staff

Netflix has created another original TV series that is taking audiences by storm. Picture an X-Men series flooded with music and darker themes; that is The Umbrella Academy. The Umbrella Academy, like X-Men, is based on a comic book series and follows a group of adopted children that have supernatural abilities. Forty-three women gave birth to 43 children on the same day without being pregnant the day before. The children were born with superpowers, and an eccentric billionaire adopted seven of them. The children are now adults and must come together when their father suddenly dies. Add in the end of the world fast approaching and the mystery of not being sure how it will happen, The Umbrella Academy has a riveting plotline filled with suspense. 


The quirky nature of the show makes the audience love all the characters, even the bad guys. The characters are not perfect, which helps them seem like real people. Their dysfunctional relationships with each other also provide comedic relief. 

The cast is led by the X-Men star Ellen Page and contains a lot of newcomers. These are breakout roles for many of the actors. For instance, Emmy Raver-Lampman is a former Broadway star, and this is her first big break after Broadway. The cast is also diverse—Tom Hopper is from England, David Castañeda is Mexican-American, and Robert Sheehan is from Ireland. Another well-known star in the series is the singer Mary J. Blige, who plays a villain sent to ensure the end of the world. 

One of the most unique aspects of The Umbrella Academy is the use of music. The comics were written and created by Gerard Way, musician from the now retired rock band My Chemical Romance. As an executive producer of the show, it is obvious that his love of music plays a big role in shaping how the music is used in every episode. The show especially uses fast songs when fights occur. With older hit songs like “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen and “In the Heat of the Moment” by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, music plays an important role in defining the show. 

The well-established movie and TV review company Rotten Tomatoes even gave the show a 76 percent rating. The critics said, “The Umbrella Academy unfurls an imaginative yarn with furtive emotion and an exceptionally compelling ensemble, but the series’ dour sensibility often clashes with its splashy genre trappings.” The overwhelming use of music and action is not for everyone, but the show definitely serves as an adrenaline rush from the comfort of your bed.

Marvel’s Biggest Villain Yet

by The Cowl Editor on February 28, 2019

Film and Television

Why Netflix Is Slashing Marvel Television Series

by Madeline Weaver-Nolting ’19 A&E Staff

Fans of the movie and TV streaming service Netflix might notice that there are major changes occurring in the types of TV shows on their service. Specifically, Netflix’s original Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) TV series are all taking serious hits. Despite the popularity of all five of them, each one was canceled in 2018 or will have its last season in 2019. The Defenders universe appears to be coming to a close, at least on Netflix. There is still hope that they could be picked up by Disney’s future streaming service. 

Although it is not a shock that Disney is likely adding the shows to their own service, it is still a big deal that so many popular Netflix shows are being canceled and ultimately taken down. Daredevil, for example, was the fourth most watched Netflix original series. Marvel commented about the show’s ending, saying, “We look forward to more adventures with the Man without Fear in the future.” Netflix is definitely going to take a hit because Marvel TV shows, including The Defenders, made up a total of 12 seasons and 151 episodes. 


The last Netflix Marvel TV show to be released will be Jessica Jones, which will be released later this year. It is a big deal that it will have the last released season as Jessica Jones is the only female New York superhero in the group. As one of the first MCU shows, it only seems fair that she closes the MCU off, at least on Netflix. 

Netflix seems to be shifting its focus away from shows owned by other companies and instead on creating original content. By canceling all of these shows, Netflix is saying that they do not need them anymore. Netflix is focusing more on its own brand than anything else. 

Despite the switching of streaming services, it is going to be a while before any of the shows can be revived. Netflix arranged a settlement so that any of the five shows cannot be aired for at least two years. Plus, it could be even longer or could require a completely new cast depending on if the original actors and actresses would sign on to continue the projects. 

The Hollywood Reporter stated, “Put simply: Netflix did not have an ownership stake in any of its Marvel TV series. Each of the five Marvel shows was owned by Disney. Netflix paid a (steep) licensing fee for each season of its respective series.” 

Not only are these shows ground-breaking, but they are the beginning of even more competition between streaming services.  Soon, it will no longer just be Netflix versus Hulu; Disney and Warner Bros will join the fray, too.

For now, enjoy Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Punisher, and The Defenders on Netflix while you still have the chance.  

Plot Twist: The Villain Is Stealing Hearts In Netflix’s You

by The Cowl Editor on January 24, 2019

Arts & Entertainment

by: Madeline Weaver-Nolting ’19 A&E Staff

Watching a TV show from the perspective and narration of the bad guy is exactly what the Lifetime-turned-Netflix show You does. It is the classic horror stereotype: man meets woman, woman falls in love, and man ends up being a sociopathic monster, with the slight exception that everything is from the stalker, Joe’s, perspective. 

The problem with the show is that despite all of the terrible choices that Joe makes throughout the 10-part series, some fans cannot help but cheer for him. He stalks, he obsesses, he murders, and yet, he is adored by many.

Netflix show "You"

The creators make it difficult because Joe is a good actor and is able to deceive the other characters. He is complicated and has many different personalities, but is still an evil character. The show tries to give his character redeeeming qualities, like taking his young neighbor, Paco, under his wing as Paco’s mom’s boyfriend is abusive. However, one must keep in mind that Joe is the true villain.  

The main focus needs to be on his relationship with Guinevere Beck (“Beck”) though, as he obsesses over her after one interaction. The entire show is about Joe and Beck’s complex relationship, one that is never stable, with each one holding his or her own secrets—most importantly that Joe is stalking Beck and murdering the people in her life. Joe does not understand the concept of boundaries, while Beck does not understand that she should get curtains in her apartment. 

The show originally aired on the Lifetime channel, but was ultimately sold to Netflix as they did not get the numbers they wanted. You is a classic Lifetime project because it deals with a love interest and a murderer, but the new fans that have watched it on Netflix see the show differently. Fans are rooting for the villain. The addictive and satirical show is based on the novel by Caroline Kepnes, with a few variations. 

The actor who plays Joe, Penn Badgley, has even had to tell his fans to stop asking him to kidnap them. He even referenced his character as “Dan with a knife,” referring to his previous character on the hit drama Gossip Girl.  Badgley is not afraid to call fans out. He said, “I remain ambivalent. I’m really questioning why people like Joe so much. … ‘Yeah, but he loves her, but he’s sweet, but it’s a love story!’ In what world?! I don’t believe that’s love. I don’t think that love equals this, so I think we have to question, what is love, and if we think this is love, where are we mistaken?”

The show is already planning its second season after its cliff-hanger ending showing that no one is safe. 

The Curious Case of R. Kelly’s Continued Success

by The Cowl Editor on January 17, 2019

Arts & Entertainment

by: Madeline Weaver-Nolting ’19 A&E Staff

Vertical Rectangular Concert Still

The notorious R&B singer R. Kelly’s reputation might be suffering due to numerous sexual abuse allegations against him, but his music is thriving. The new Lifetime docu-series called “Surviving R. Kelly” features different women share their stories of sexual abuse and misconduct at the hands of R. Kelly. 

Despite the numerous allegations against him and all of his previous run-ins with the law, R. Kelly’s music is becoming more popular. Billboard reported, “The most-streamed R. Kelly songs were as follows: ‘Ignition’ (433,000 U.S. streams; up 80 percent from 240,000 on Jan. 2), ‘Trapped in the Closet’ (396,000; up 230 percent from 120,000), ‘Bump N’ Grind’ (266,000; up 94 percent from 137,000), ‘Same Girl,’ featuring Usher, (176,000; up 126 percent from 78,000), and ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ (161,000; up 48 percent from 109,000).” Even though his music is thriving on streaming services, it is becoming a moral debate for some radio stations, as some are beginning to ban playing his music. 

The music industry is also taking sides as R. Kelly is being defended by other artists. However, the ones speaking out against him are being punished by R. Kelly’s loyal fans. Cara Delevingne lost 50,000 followers on Instagram after speaking out against him. Lady Gaga is also removing her collaboration with Kelly from streaming sites. Her statement read: “As a victim of sexual assault myself, I made both the song and the video at a dark time in my life, my intention was to create something extremely defiant and provocative because I was angry and still hadn’t processed the trauma that had occurred in my own life.” 

Other celebrities have remained quiet such as famous name and previous collaborator Jay-Z, who turned down an interview in the documentary. 

The 52-year-old artist’s music might be doing better than it has in years, but the documentary has created new problems for the infamous R. Kelly as he faces legal trouble based on what was revealed about him in the Lifetime special. The cities of Chicago and Atlanta are looking into the allegations, despite Kelly’s denial of all crimes. He, in return, is promising to take those who spoke out against him in the documentary to court. 

When looking at his track record, it is no surprise that his music is doing better than ever before. The New York Times says, “In 2002, the year he was indicted on charges of child pornography, he performed at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics — a duality that spoke to the level of his fame.” R. Kelly may have been accused of terrible actions, but this is only helping his music career. Ann Powers, a pop music critic, who was interviewed in “Surviving R. Kelly” said simply, “Nobody wants to give up the music they love, and nobody wants to think badly of the artists they love.” Only time will tell if and when R. Kelly’s music continues to be successful and what his legal fate will be. 

The Spice Girls Return with New Tour

by Kerry Torpey on November 15, 2018

Arts & Entertainment

Spice Girls

by Madeline Weaver-Nolting ’19

A&E Staff

The Spice Girls are back. One of the biggest girl groups in the world surprised fans when they announced that they will be reuniting for a tour in the United Kingdom in 2019. Emma “Baby Spice” Bunton, Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell Horner, Melanie “Mel C” or “Sporty Spice” Chisholm, and Melanie “Mel B” or “Scary Spice” Brown are all set to reunite for their first tour since Halliwell left the band in 1998, before the rest of the band broke up in 2000. Victoria Beckham, or “Posh Spice,” will be the only Spice Girl not in attendance. 

Although she will not be touring with the Spice Girls, Beckham seems to be doing just fine. As a highly esteemed fashion designer, she is arguably the most successful Spice Girl out of all of the members. Sporty Spice said, “It’s actually quite funny, I saw Victoria recently and you know, obviously we’ve all been in contact, she’s still very much a part of the Spice Girls. But she did raise the point that she was never actually asked…because we just presumed.” Scary Spice hinted that Posh Spice might make a guest appearance at the 2019 tour, saying, “It’s just the four of us that are fully confirmed, but Vic might join us at some point.”

The group’s U.K. stadium tour  is set to begin in May 2019 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff and will continue until the final show on June 15 at London Wembley Stadium. The Spice Girls’ ticket sales managed to break Ticketmaster records in the U.K. as millions of fans tried to purchase tickets; the band added four more shows to please their fans who were unable to get tickets. 

The Spice Girls have been essential to the development in the pop music scene—especially in pushing for “girl power.” The group broke several music records including their debut album Spice, which became the best-selling album ever by a girl group with over 23 million copies sold worldwide.

The singers also released three studio albums and 13 singles—with nine of them going to number one in the UK (BBC). The last time the group all performed together was in 2012 at the closing of the Olympic Games in London. 

Ariana Grande Releases Single:“thank u, next”

by The Cowl Editor on November 8, 2018

Arts & Entertainment

Reflecting on Ex-boyfriends With Gratitude and Maturity

by: Madeline Weaver-Nolting ’19 A&E Staff

Ariana Grande "thank u, next"

Ariana Grande’s newest song “thank u, next” might be the biggest feminist anthem of the year, or friendliest breakup track, depending on who you ask. The surprise release after her latest break up with her fiancé, comedian Pete Davidson, was expected by many fans to insult Davidson. However, instead Grande thanks him, along with three of her other ex-boyfriends for teaching her different life lessons. 

Grande takes the time to demonstrate her maturity at 25-years-old, saying how “grateful” she is for past boyfriends. Grande holds no fear of falling back into a relationship as she sings that she is ready to move onto the next one. The lyrics, “One taught me love,/one taught me patience,/and one taught me pain,” emphasize the singer’s maturity in discussing her often very public breakups. 

Davidson had a similar attitude as he joked on Saturday Night Live, “The midterm elections are obviously a huge deal, and after I had to move back in with my mom, I started paying attention…The last thing I will say is I know some of you are curious about the breakup, but the truth is it’s nobody’s business, and sometimes things just don’t work out, and that’s okay. She’s a wonderful, strong person, and I genuinely wish her all the happiness in the world.”

Grande name drops famous ex-boyfriends including Big Sean and rapper Mac Miller, who died from a drug overdose in early September. She sings, “Wish I could say, ‘Thank you’ to Malcolm, ‘cause he was an angel.’” 

Grande also fit in a dig at the media. She sings about how the media presents her as they often do with women in the spotlight who have ex-boyfriends. “I know they say I move on too fast.” Grande takes aim at the double-standard of women in Hollywood who date, like Taylor Swift, and the slut-shaming that occurs. However, it is clear Grande does not care what the media thinks. After all, the song is debatably about moving from boyfriend to boyfriend until she finds the right person to spend her life with. 

The song is a feminist anthem because she focuses on finding herself and “hanging with her friends.” Despite being fresh out of a breakup, Grande is reflective on her exes. She sings about herself in the third-person by saying, “She taught me love,/she taught me patience.” The song gets even more personal as she sings, “One day I’ll walk down the aisle/ holding hands with my mama/ I’ll be thanking my dad/ ‘cause she grew from the drama.” Here, she alludes to how strong her mom is as a single mother. 

Instead of being stuck in the past, Grande has learned from her mistakes and is ready to move onto her next chapter. 

The Conners: Roseanne’s Family Takes Over

by The Cowl Editor on October 25, 2018

Arts & Entertainment

After Controversy on Twitter, the Show Carries On

by: Madeline Weaver-Nolting ’19 A&E Staff

Actors on the set of the ABC show The Connors

There is something different about the new TV sitcom called The Conners. Based on the popular television series Roseanne, the character Roseanne Barr is missing. Roseanne, a highly successful show that ran for nine seasons from 1988-1997, was about a working-class family where nothing was off-limits. 

ABC revived the beloved series in March 2018 for a 10th season. Due to early success with over 17.7 million viewers watching, it was signed for its 11th season. However, the show was changed forever when Barr sent racist tweets about Valerie Jarrett, an African-American woman who served as a senior advisor to former president Barack Obama. The New York Times has described her as “one of his most influential aides.” 

Rather than forget about the series altogether, ABC decided to create a spin-off called The Conners. In terms of how to eradicate Barr’s character from the series, the writers had her character die due to an accidental opioid overdose. Many fans found this unusual because it is a stark contrast to the previous light-heartedness of the family show. 

With the main character missing, the network decided to shift the focus to Sara Gilbert’s character, Darlene. ABC’s press release describes the new show as saying, “After a sudden turn of events the Conners are forced to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before…The Conners’ stories demonstrate that families can always find common ground through conversation, laughter, and love. The spinoff will continue to portray contemporary issues that are as relevant today as they were 30 years ago.”

With only 10.5 million U.S. viewers for the first episode on Oct. 16 of The Conners, there is a clear divide within the audience about whether to watch without Barr present. Despite this, the first season received great reviews on Rotten Tomatoes with a 96 percent rating from 45 critics. The website reads, “The Conners offers the comforts of its source show, but more focus on the family’s ever-evolving dynamics adds a welcome layer of working-class empathy without losing any of the laughs.” 

Although she has zero involvement with The Conners, Barr has not been silent about the new show. She said on her YouTube channel about her character Roseanne, “They have her die of an opioid overdose. I wanted to show [opioid struggle] in the show, but I was never going to have Roseanne die of an opioid overdose. She should have died as a hero or not at all … It wasn’t enough to [fire me], they had to so cruelly insult the people who loved that family and that show.” 

Despite her outrage, Barr agreed not to be a part of The Conners and her castmates appear to be grateful for that. Actor John Goodman says it was a very big deal that she gave them a chance to finish the show. He said, “There was a debt owed to this fictional family. We want to finish telling this story.” Only time will tell if revamping the show will pay off for the network. 


The Return of Riverdale: Season 3 of the CW’s Hit Teen-Drama

by The Cowl Editor on October 18, 2018

Arts & Entertainment

by: Madeline Weaver-Nolting ’19 A&E Staff

The CW hit show Riverdale has returned for its third season. The high school dramedy’s popularity has drawn fans because of the first two seasons on Netflix, which has increased their fanbase. The series is based on Archies Comics but has a much darker tone. With murder, deception, gangs, affairs, it is not like the comics of our parents’ generation. 

As the comics were brought to life, the producers went in a very different direction. The comics are all about the adventures that the high school students get themselves into, whereas the television show brought the characters to life and created different storylines. Betty and Veronica are unrecognizable on the television version because they are not in constant competition with one another over Archie. Archie is not as innocent as he was in the comics, and Betty has a dark side and is more than the pastel clothing that she wears. Jughead is portrayed as a bitter loner. However, do not worry, Pop’s Diner is still the coolest hangout spot and the best place to grab a milkshake. 

A promotional photo for the new season of the hit CW teen-drama Riverdale.

Riverdale is different from many of the other high school television shows because it blends so many different genres together. Although there are dark, and sometimes disturbing, moments, the corny scenes can make the show seem like a parody. After all, it is kind of hard to take the show seriously when one of the main characters is named Jughead. Riverdale has everything—there was even a musical episode when the cast performed Carrie The Musical. According to Elite Daily, there are rumors of another musical episode in season three. 

What is interesting about Riverdale is that even though the main characters are supposed to be teenagers in high school,  it is most popular in the set of 18-49 year olds according to Variety.  Although the show is highly unrealistic, college students cannot stop watching it. It is the show everyone loves to hate because there are so many cringey moments.  

Fans of older movies might see a few familiar faces. Molly Ringwald plays Archie’s mother and is featured in a few episodes. Skeet Ulrich from Scream is also a main character as well as Luke Perry from 90210. For the younger generation, Cole Sprouse from Suite Life of Zack and Cody has grown up and plays Jughead, but he is surrounded by other breakout actors. 

Despite the early success, the show has been deemed problematic by some viewers. First, Affinity Magazine points out the obvious problem from season 1: the way that the student-teacher relationship is portrayed. It is presented as a romantic relationship, when it is actually illegal, and Archie never realizes why this relationship is so toxic. The show has a tendency to sexualize the characters who are supposed to be 15 or 16 years old. Another problem in the show, is the use of Spanish by non-authentic Spanish speakers. Nevertheless, behind these controversies is a unique, thrilling television adaptation of a classic comic.  The originality, the cast, and the unpredictability of events makes season 3 of Riverdale a perfect fall bingeing option.