Here’s What You Need To Know About Infinity Stones Before The New Avengers Movie

Ya Got The Stones For This? Thanos (Josh Brolin) blithely ignores Coco Chanel’s advice on accessorizing — so you knowhe’s evil — in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War.
Marvel Studios

by Glen Weldon, April 16, 2018, first appearing on Books : NPR

Call them the Mighty Marvel Movie MacGuffins. They’re the glittery objects that drove the plots of several individual Marvel movies and that collectively shaped the direction the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe has been heading (almost) since its inception.

They are the Infinity Stones — immensely powerful gems that contain and channel elemental forces of the universe. They’re what the villains crave and what the heroes protect. They can be used to destroy or create.

Mmmmmostly that first thing.

They’ve been seeded throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2011, and now, with the release of Avengers: Infinity War on April 27, all the logistical heavy lifting of seven years’ worth of films — chasing the Stones, finding them, wielding them, handing them off to shady minor characters for safekeeping — comes to a head.

Well. To a hand, anyway.

Thanos’ hand, to be specific. Thanos’ gauntlet, if you want to get technical.

Thanos is the MCU’s biggest Big Bad, first glimpsed in a post-credit scene in 2012’s The Avengers. He is a hulking, purplish-reddish-bluish (seems to depend on the movie’s color balance) space warlord determined to reduce the population of the universe by half. If he collects all of the Infinity Stones and affixes them to a metal glove-thingy called the Infinity Gauntlet, he will be able to go about his deadly halving business, according to his daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana) in the trailer, “with a snap of his fingers.”

(Leave aside, for the moment, how difficult it would be to snap one’s fingers in a metal gauntlet.)

(I mean it would be less of a snap and more a rasp, right?)

(Or maybe a clang? Like he was striking some terrible Xylophone of Pan-Galactic Death? Or a Wind Chime of Cosmic Annihilation?)

Anyway. That’s Thanos pictured at the top of this post. He is played in the movie by Josh Brolin and a superfluity of CGI chin dimples. And that thing he has on his left hand (so literally sinister!) is the Infinity Gauntlet.

As you can see, he is already well on his way to collecting ’em all — not quite at full, “Billie Jean”-era sparkle-glove status, but close.

Let’s review where the various Infinity Stones were the last time we saw them — and what they do.

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Space Stone

AKA: The Tesseract

What It Looks Like: When first glimpsed in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), a glowing blue cube. (The cube is just a housing that allows the glowy blue stone inside to be handled by us lowly humans.)

What It Does: Opens wormholes in space, making possible instantaneous travel between any two points in the universe. Also has undetermined (read: hazily defined) power to develop weaponry.

Transporting is what the eeeevil Red Skull did with it in Captain America: The First Avenger. It was later recovered by S.H.I.E.L.D., which lost it when Loki absconded with it in The Avengers (2012) and used it to open a wormhole above Manhattan through which an alien army attacked Earth.

Where It Is Now: It spent some time in Asgard’s armory, but at the end of Thor: Ragnarok (2017), it was stolen by Loki. (At the very end of Thor: Ragnarok, the spaceship Thor and Loki were flying was intercepted by what was very likely Thanos’ ship. So if you’re taking bets, the Space Stone is likely one of the first Infinity Stones we’ll see Thanos add to his collection.)

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Mind Stone

AKA: The Scepter

What It Looks Like: At first, in The Avengers, a scepter housing a glowy blue gem. Nowadays, a yellow gem (long story) embedded in the forehead of Vision.

What It Does: Oh, a lot of stuff. In its Scepter mode, it granted Loki zappy powers and the ability to manipulate minds, and its mere presence made the Avengers more snippy than baseline. In its current mode (as of 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, it grants Vision the ability to … do lots of stuff, including phase through matter, fly, zap others with energy beams and, you know … live.)

Where It Is Now: Doing time on Vision’s forehead. But the trailers suggest this will not be a permanent condition. Look for Vision to get blurry.

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Reality Stone

AKA: The Aether

What It Looks Like: Not like a stone, for one thing. Instead, it’s a thick, red liquid that sends out tendrils that undulate in a cinematically creepy way.

What It Does: Look, it’s OK. You didn’t see Thor: The Dark World (2013). A lot of people didn’t. So you didn’t see the Reality Stone (in the form of the Aether) take over the body of Thor’s girlfriend, Jane Foster, allowing her to send out shock waves and … whatnot. As its name suggests, the Reality Stone alters reality, by converting matter to dark matter. Don’t bother asking why that’s a thing. Doesn’t matter. Lots of people didn’t see Thor: The Dark World.

Where It Is Now: For safekeeping, it was given to an ancient being who collects lots of stuff. His name, appropriately enough, is the Collector. (He is played by Benicio del Toro in Thor: The Dark World, and his character is the brother of Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster from Thor: Ragnarok.)

Given that not a lot of people saw Thor: The Dark World, I’d wager we won’t get a big protracted scene of Thanos hunting down and claiming the Reality Stone, and Infinity War will simply cut to the (end of the) chase.

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Power Stone

AKA: The Orb

What It Looks Like: When we first see it, at the beginning of Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), it’s encased in a silver spherical rock-thing. Later, the Orb is split open and the stone inside is grafted onto a bad guy’s space-hammer and given the awesomely ridiculous name of Cosmi-Rod. Once the bad guy is defeated through the power of dance, the Stone is returned to another Orb-casing.

What It Does: Grants … power? Look, I know, the specific abilities of the various stones seem kind of frustratingly all over the place, but this one’s legit. It makes its wielder more powerful — better, stronger, more zappy. You know: energy blasts and energy tornadoes and energy waves and energy bars. (No, OK, not that last one.)

Where It Is Now: Benicio del Toro’s Collector character nearly added it to his collection, but it sent out a massive energy blast, as is its zappy wont, that destroyed most of his menagerie. It ended up in hands of the Nova Corps — basically the Marvel Universe’s resident space-cops, run by Glenn Close in a complicated wig — and there it will stay, until it won’t.

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Time Stone

AKA: The Eye of Agamotto

What It Looks Like: First (and only) seen in Doctor Strange (2016), it’s a glowy green gem housed inside an amulet embossed with an eye.

What It Does: Finally, some specificity! Some truth in advertising! The Time Stone allows its wielder to control time — to speed it up, slow it down, reverse it or create time loops. See, there, Marvel? Simple. Precise. Clean.

Where It Is Now: Hanging around Doctor Stephen Strange’s neck, right under his dumb goatee.

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Soul Stone

AKA: ?

What It Looks Like: Again, ? It has yet to turn up in a Marvel movie, at least by that name. It’s most likely an orange gem, the largest of them all, which fits on the back of the gauntlet — not, as the others do, on the fingers.

What It Does: In the comics, it grants its owner the ability to do lots of mystical things — trap souls in an artificial existence, see into a person’s soul, etc. It’s not known how closely the film will adhere to this.

But given the fact that so much of the Infinity War trailer is set in and around Wakanda — and the fact that the “heart-shaped flower” seen in Black Panther grants the ability to commune with the dead — many have speculated that the Soul Stone will turn out to have something to do with vibranium.

Where It Is Now: Your guess is as good as any. Unless you guess, “in Wakanda,” in which case it’s slightly better than most, probably.

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Sharon Stone

AKA: Catherine Tramell, Ginger McKenna, Iris Burton

What It Looks Like: A human woman.

What It Does: Wears the Gap to the Oscars, famously. And nowadays? Rocks the hell out of a Disaster Artist cameo and gives a great interview in a sweater to which attention must be paid.

Where It Is Now: Not getting the work it deserves, HOLLYWOOD.

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Slyandthefamily Stone

AKA: Sly Stone, Freddie Stone, Rose Stone, Cynthia Robinson, Greg Errico, Jerry Martini, Larry Graham.

What It Looks Like: Deeply groovy.

What It Does: Effortlessly fuse rock, soul, funk and psychedelia into chart-topping, socially conscious pop anthems.

Where It Is Now: On the set list of every wedding DJ at or slightly after 10:30 p.m.

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Coldcreamery Stone

AKA: “That place your Aunt Janice likes? With the slab? What’s it called?”

What It Looks Like: An ice cream store, duh.

What It Does: Grants its wielder one unusually muscular forearm.

Where It Is Now: 1,100 locations in the U.S. and abroad.

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Loved Annihilation? Here’s What to Read Next

Photo Credit: Peter Mountain © 2018 Paramount Pictures

Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation is finally making its way to the big screen. The haunting first volume in the Southern Reach Trilogy is the sort of novel that slowly worms its way into your thoughts and takes root like a malignant infection – and that’s a very good thing. It’s a near-future tale of the twelfth expedition into the mysterious Area X – an uninhibited and abandoned part of the US that has been reclaimed by nature, and something more. The first expedition mapped an Eden-like paradise. The second ended in mass suicide. It’s a slow-burn piece of bizarre suspense, part of the literary niche of New Weird fiction. Alongside China Miéville, Jeff VanderMeer has been one of the pre-eminent voices of New Weird – a shambling amalgamation of speculative fiction, fantasy, and horror with a literary bent. If “Annihilation” has piqued your interest and you’re wondering where to turn next, the seven books below should point you in the right direction.

The cover of the book Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation; Authority; AcceptanceArea X: The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation; Authority; Acceptance

Jeff Vandermeer

If you haven’t already read the Nebula- and Shirley Jackson-award winning novel that “Annihilation” is based on, there’s no better time. And the best part? It’s a trilogy. Jeff VanderMeer’s acclaimed Southern Reach Trilogy begins with Annihilation and continues the bizarre and horrifying chronicle of Area X through Authority and Acceptance. And you can pick up all three in this handy single volume.

The cover of the book The New WeirdThe New Weird

Ann & Jeff Vandermeer, Eds.

Much like Weird Fiction, New Weird can be a little tough to pin down in terms of defining characteristics – but that’s sort of the point. New Weird has its roots in speculative fiction but tosses in a healthy dose of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy all tied together with tight literary thread. This anthology, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, is a perfect jumping-on point to this weirdly eclectic genre.

The cover of the book The Etched CityThe Etched City

K. J. Bishop

With The Etched City, K.J. Bishop drops readers into the darkly fantastical world of Copper Country – a region that’s part Wild West and part 1001 Arabian Nights. It centers on Raule, a healer, and Gwynn, a gunslinging bounty hunter. The Etched City falls somewhere on a spectrum that includes Stephen King’s Dark Tower and the bizarre urbanscapes of China Miéville. In other words, it’s violent, weird, and thought-provoking.

The cover of the book JagannathJagannath

Karin Tidbeck

Karin Tidbeck’s award-winning short story collection earned rave reviews from no less than the likes of China Miéville and the late Ursula K. Le Guin. That in and of itself should be enough to grab your attention. Jagannath is a strange and haunting assortment of tales that draws on the folklore of Tidbeck’s native Sweden while introducing elements of Le Guin-esque speculative fiction and Lovecraftian levels of existential dread.

The cover of the book Bloodchild and Other StoriesBloodchild and Other Stories

Octavia Butler

Bloodchild is Octavia Butler’s only short story collection and it features some of the celebrated author’s best and most unnerving work. The title story, which centers on a boy impregnated by an alien race, took home the Nebula and Hugo Awards. In true Butler fashion, the stories included here are thought provoking and upend conventional conceptions of race, religion, gender, and sexuality.

The cover of the book Perdido Street StationPerdido Street Station

China Mieville

China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station is a sprawling epic that borrows liberally from fantasy tropes only to tear them all down and assemble the pieces into something wholly original, wholly unsettling, and wholly captivating. Perdido Street Station introduces New Crobuzon, a city built beneath the ribs of a dead leviathan. It’s a squalid city where dark magic and perverse science intermingle. It centers on a scientist named Isaac who finds himself in the thrall of half-bird, half-human creature known as the Garuda. Soon Isaac’s increasingly bizarre experiments malignant terror unlike anything New Crobuzon has experienced.

The cover of the book Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction AnthologySisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology

Ann & Jeff Vandermeer, Eds.

Challenging traditional conventions and tropes has long been a hallmark of Speculative and Weird Fiction. This collection features a host of feminist fiction ranging from the 1970s to the present. The stories are diverse examinations of gender fluidity, misogyny, and sexuality. It is equal parts a celebration of diversity in speculative fiction and a reminder of just how essential the feminist voice in literature continues to be.

Books to Film: April Edition

You Were Never Really Here by Jonathan Ames

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When it comes out: April 6
What the book is about: Joe has witnessed things that cannot be erased. A former FBI agent and Marine, his abusive childhood has left him damaged beyond repair. He has completely withdrawn from the world and earns his living rescuing girls who have been kidnapped into the sex trade. When he’s hired to save the daughter of a corrupt New York senator held captive at a Manhattan brothel, he stumbles into a dangerous web of conspiracy, and he pays the price. As Joe’s small web of associates are picked off one by one, he realizes that he has no choice but to take the fight to the men who want him dead.

The Spinning Man by George Harrar

1536598SpinningMan-Poster.jpgMovie: The Spinning Man
When it comes out: April 6
What the book is about: Mild-mannered philosophy professor Evan Birch spends his days teaching college students to seek truth. Then, one afternoon, he’s pulled over by the police, handcuffed, and questioned about the disappearance of a local high school cheerleader. When the missing girl’s lipstick turns up in his car, the evidence against him begins to build. Even his wife and sons are having their doubts. And as the investigating officer engages him in a decidedly non-Socratic dialogue, Evan Birch begins to understand that truth may be elusive indeed-but sometimes you have to pick a story and stick with it…

Zama by Antonio di Benedetto

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When it comes out: April 13
What the book is about: Zama takes place in the last decade of the eighteenth century and describes the solitary, suspended existence of Don Diego de Zama, a highly placed servant of the Spanish crown who has been posted to Asunción, the capital of remote Paraguay. There, eaten up by pride, lust, petty grudges, and paranoid fantasies, he does as little as he possibly can while plotting his eventual transfer to Buenos Aires, where everything about his hopeless existence will, he is confident, be miraculously transformed and made good.

The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni

6552346The House of Tomorrow poster.jpgMovie: The House of Tomorrow
When it comes out: April 20
What the book is about: Sebastian Prendergast lives in a geodesic dome with his eccentric grandmother, who homeschooled him in the teachings of futurist philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller. But when his grandmother has a stroke, Sebastian is forced to leave the dome and make his own way in town. Jared Whitcomb is a chain-smoking sixteen-year-old heart-transplant recipient who befriends Sebastian, and begins to teach him about all the things he has been missing, including grape soda, girls, and Sid Vicious.

Disobedience by Naomi Alderman

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Movie: Disobedience
When it comes out: April 27
What the book is about: The story begins with the death of the community’s esteemed rabbi, which sets in motion plans for a memorial service and the search for a replacement. The rabbi’s nephew and likely successor, Dovid, calls his cousin Ronit in New York to tell her that her father has died. Ronit, who left the community long ago to build a life for herself as a career woman, returns home when she hears the news, and her reappearance exposes tears in the fabric of the community.

 

 

 

Books to Film: March Edition

Death Wish by Brian Garfield

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Death wish 2017 poster.jpg

Movie: Death Wish
When it comes out: March 2
What the book is about: Paul Benjamin, a successful accountant in New York City, is enjoying a three-martini lunch when his home is broken into by a gang of drug addicts. For just a handful of money, they savagely beat Paul’s wife and daughter, leaving his wife dead and his daughter comatose. Grief-stricken and forced to reevaluate his views, Benjamin becomes disillusioned with society and plots his revenge on the perpetrators, whom the police are unable to bring to justice. Armed with a revolver and total disregard for his own safety, he sets out to even the score.

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

15803037Red Sparrow.pngMovie: Red Sparrow
When it comes out: March 2
What the book is about: In present-day Russia, ruled by blue-eyed, unblinking President Vladimir Putin, Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the post-Soviet intelligence jungle. Ordered against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a young CIA officer who handles the Agency’s most important Russian mole.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

18131AWrinkleInTimeTeaser.jpgMovie: A Wrinkle in Time
When it comes out: March 9
What the book is about: Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

19547856Love, Simon poster.pngMovie: Love, Simon
When it comes out: March 16
What the book is about: Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly & J. M. Ken Nimura (artist)

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I Kill Giants movie poster

Movie: I Kill Giants
When it comes out: March 23
What the book is about: Barbara Thorson, a girl battling monsters both real and imagined, kicks butt, takes names, and faces her greatest fear in this bittersweet, coming-of-age story called “Best Indy Book of 2008” by IGN.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One cover.jpgReady Player One (film).pngMovie: Ready Player One
When it comes out: March 29
What the book is about: In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin

6713642Lean on Pete poster.jpgMovie: Lean on Pete
When it comes out: March 30
What the book is about: Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson wants a home, food on the table, and a high school he can attend for more than part of a year. But as the son of a single father working in warehouses across the Pacific Northwest, Charley’s been pretty much on his own. When tragic events leave him homeless weeks after their move to Portland, Oregon, Charley seeks refuge in the tack room of a run-down horse track. Charley’s only comforts are his friendship with a failing racehorse named Lean on Pete and a photograph of his only known relative. In an increasingly desperate circumstance, Charley will head east, hoping to find his aunt who had once lived a thousand miles away in Wyoming but the journey to find her will be a perilous one.

Books to Film: February Releases

The 15:17 to Paris by Jeffrey Stern

28691794Image resultMovie: The 15:17 to Paris
When it comes out: February 9
What the book is about: On August 21, 2015, Ayoub El-Khazzani boarded train #9364 in Brussels, bound for Paris. He was heavily armed and his mission was clear.  Another major ISIS attack was about to begin. Khazzani wasn’t expecting Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone. All three were fearless. But their decision-to charge the gunman, then overpower him even as he turned first his gun, then his knife, on Stone-depended on a lifetime of loyalty, support, and faith.

Fifty Shades Freed by E. L. James

13536860FiftyShadesFreed.jpgMovie: Fifty Shades Freed
When it comes out: February 9
What the book is about: Now, Ana and Christian have it all—love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of possibilities for their future. But Ana knows that loving her Fifty Shades will not be easy, and that being together will pose challenges that neither of them would anticipate. Ana must somehow learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own identity. And Christian must overcome his compulsion to control as he wrestles with the demons of a tormented past.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

19321Image result for peter rabbit movieMovie: Peter Rabbit
When it comes out: February 9
What the book is about: When Mrs. Rabbit beseeches her four furry children not to go into Mr. McGregor’s garden, the impish Peter naturally takes this as an open invitation to create mischief. He quickly gets in over his head, when he is spotted by farmer McGregor himself. Any child with a spark of sass will find Peter’s adventures remarkably familiar. And they’ll see in Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail that bane of their existence: the “good” sibling who always does the right thing. One earns bread and milk and blackberries for supper, while the obstinate folly of the other warrants medicine and an early bedtime.

The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine

23968Image resultMovie: The Female Brain
When it comes out: February 9
What the book is about: This comprehensive new look at the hormonal roller coaster that rules women’s lives down to the cellular level, “a user’s guide to new research about the female brain and the neurobehavioral systems that make us women,” offers a trove of information, as well as some stunning insights into the female brain from birth (“baby girls will connect emotionally in ways that baby boys don’t”) to birthing (“Motherhood changes you because it literally alters a woman’s brain-structurally, functionally, and in many ways, irreversibly”) to menopause (when “the female brain is nowhere near ready to retire”) and beyond.

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

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When it comes out: February 23
What the book is about: Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer. This is the twelfth expedition.

Every Day by David Levithan

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When it comes out: February 23
What the book is about: Every day a different body. Every day a different life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

The War with Grandpa by Robert Kimmel Smith

766671Image result for the war with grandpa movie posterMovie: The War with Grandpa
When it comes out: February 23
What the book is about: The hilarious story of a boy who leaps into battle when he’s forced to share a room with his grandfather. Peter is thrilled that Grandpa is coming to live with his family. That is, until Grandpa moves right into Peter’s room, forcing him upstairs. Peter loves his grandpa but wants his room back. He has no choice but to declare war! With the help of his friends, Peter devises outrageous plans to make Grandpa surrender the room. But Grandpa is tougher than he looks. Rather than give in, Grandpa plans to get even.

2018 Golden Globes Nominees Are Chock-Full of Literary Adaptations

From left to right: Elisabeth Moss in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ © 2016 Hulu; Claire Foy in ‘The Crown’ © 2016 Netflix; Judi Dench in ‘Victoria & Abdul’ © Focus Features; Timothée Chalamet in ‘Call Me by Your Name’ © 2017 Sony Pictures Classics; Reese Witherspoon in ‘Big Little Lies’/Hilary Bronwyn Gayle © 2017 HBO

It is officially that time of the year – awards season is upon us.  As usual, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has kicked things off with the announcement of the 2018 Golden Globe Awards nominees. The literary world is represented in this year’s lineup with a smattering of great adaptations leading the charge in both film and TV. While the slate of nominees is populated with a few of the marquee titles you’d expect – “Game of Thrones” got it’s annual nod, for instance – a few surprises cracked the surface as well. It looks to be another interesting year at the Golden Globes. Let’s have a look.

Starting with the Best Motion Picture Categories – “Drama” and “Musical or Comedy” – “Call Me By Your Name,” based on the 2007 novel by Andre Aciman, joins a field arguably led by Christopher Nolan’s historical epic “Dunkirk,” although “The Post” feels purely calibrated to make some awards season noise. On the “Musical or Comedy” side of the aisle, “The Disaster Artist,” based on the memoir by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, will be contending with likely favorite “Ladybird” for the top spot. In perhaps the oddest bit of news to come out of the nominations, “Get Out” did indeed garner a Best Motion Picture nomination…as a “Musical or Comedy”. While the film did sport a handful of excellent jokes, we find it a bit hard to categorize its depiction of racism – no matter how Jordan Peele presented it – as “Comedy.” Here’s what Peele himself had to say.

The acting categories for a motion picture were anchored by a number of strong performances from adaptations. On the women’s side of the aisle, Michelle Williams picked up her fifth Golden Globe nomination for her performance in “All the Money in the World,” based on the book Painfully Rich by John Pearson. She’s joined by fellow five-timer Jessica Chastain for “Molly’s Game” which is based on the memoir of the same name by Molly Bloom. Dames Helen Mirren and Judi Dench each picked up nominations for their respective performances in “Leisure Seeker” and “Victoria and Abdul” – each film was based on a novel of the same name. Mary J. Blige also snagged a nomination for her supporting performance in “Mudbound,” an adaptation of the novel by Hillary Jordan.

The gentlemen had an equally strong showing on the literary front with Timothee Chalamet snagging a nomination for his role in “Call me By Your Name.” Chalamet, however, will be up against a host of awards season heavyweights with Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, and Daniel Day-Lewis rounding out the best actor in a drama category. Day-Lewis is an obvious favorite for the acting categories anytime he deigns to grace us mere mortals with a performance, and Gary Oldman is said to have turned in a career best performance in “Darkest Hour,” so it will likely be tough going for Chalamet in a particularly crowded slate.

In the “Musical or Comedy” category, James Franco’s performance as Tommy Wiseau in the “Disaster Artist” has finally – if a bit circuitously – given the the bizarre Wiseau the recognition he craves. The Supporting Actor category featured one of the biggest surprises of the morning as Christopher Plummer picked up a nomination for his role in “All the Money in the World.” The role had originally been filmed by Kevin Spacey. Following the myriad allegations of sexual misconduct against Spacey, he was dropped from the role and Plummer stepped in at the literal last minute. All of Spacey’s scenes were refilmed with Plummer. This nomination situates Plummer as perhaps a pinch hitter in film history. Plummer will be up against Armie Hammer’s performance in “Call me by Your Name.”

Now for the Television categories. HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” already a big winner at the Emmy’s, also dominated the Golden Globes nods. The adaptation of the novel by Liane Moriarty picked up nominations for Best Limited Series, Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series (Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon), Best Performance by a Supporting Actress (Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley), and Best Performance by a Supporting Actor (Alexander Skaarsgard). “Big Little Lies” will duke it out with “The Sinner,” based on the novel by Petra Hammesfahr, in the Limited Series category. “The Sinner” star Jessica Biel also picked up a nomination in the best actress category.

In the Best Television series – Drama category, perennial nominee “Game of Thrones” will be up against likely favorite “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based on the novel by Margaret Atwood. However, “The Crown” and “This is Us” are each poised for an upset here. Interestingly, “Game of Thrones” was shut out of each of the possible acting categories despite a couple of strong performances from Lena Headey and Kit Harrington.

To round out the acting nominations for adaptations not called “Big Little Lies,” Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer each pulled nominations in their respective categories for their roles in “The Wizard of Lies” based on the book by Diana B. Henriques. De Niro will vie for best actor against Geoffrey Rush for his performance in “Genius,” an adaptation of Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. Ann Dowd picked up a nod for her supporting role in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” In the best actress category, Elisabeth Moss is the odds-on favorite for her brilliant turn in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Caitriona Balfe picked up a best actress nod for “Outlander” – based on the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon – and Katherine Langford rounds out the nominations with her performance in “13 Reasons Why,” an adaptation of the novel of the same name.

As is becoming the norm, streaming services and premium networks once again dominated the Television categories. HBO made its usual big showing and Netflix’s latest critical darlings – “Stranger Things” and “The Crown” – appear to have replaced former awards favorites “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards.” The question is whether Hulu will beat its streaming service brethren to the punch and pick up that coveted Best Drama statue as it did at the Emmy’s this year? We’ll have to wait for the January 7th broadcast to find out. Will you be tuning in?

‘Ferdinand’ The Peaceful Bull Gets His First Full-Length Film

In the late 1930s, The Story of Ferdinand briefly out sold Gone With the Wind. Penguin Young Readers

Millions of people have read Munro Leaf’s The Story of Ferdinand since it was first published in 1936. Two years later, Disney turned it into it an Oscar-winning short film. Now, the peaceful bull who prefers sniffing flowers to bullfighting is getting an update from 20th Century Fox. And that bull has been on quite a journey to get here.

John Cena, the actor who voices Ferdinand in the new movie, recently read the original story to hundreds of DC public school kids at the Library of Congress. On a table next to him were two early editions of the book from the library’s collection. One was from 1938, the other from 1936.

“We’re going to look at the 1936 edition but not touch it,” Cena told the students. “It’s very delicate and very important, and the people from the Library of Congress were very thorough in saying like, ‘Hey, don’t touch the first book.'”

Precious Ferdinand, even when he grows to be bigger than all the other bulls, still doesn’t want to fight. He just wants to sit under the cork tree and smell flowers. But when he sits on a bumblebee, he goes berserk, puffing and kicking. The matadors watching are ecstatic.

The Story of Ferdinand is one of Time magazine’s “100 Best Children’s Books of All Time.” At one point in the late 1930s, it was outselling Gone With The Wind, which is pretty astonishing for something that was written in less than an hour.

NPR interviewed Munro Leaf’s widow, Margaret, in 1986, ten years after her husband’s death. “The depression was nearly over,” she recalled. “We were very poor.” One Sunday afternoon, she was reading a manuscript for a publisher to make some extra money.

“I was going to get $25 for reading it, so it was very important, and he kept bothering me, trying to interrupt me. So I finally said to him, ‘Get lost, go and amuse yourself. Do something.’ About 35 to 40 minutes later, he said ‘Listen to this,’ and he read me Ferdinand. And there it was in pencil on six sheets of yellow legal pad.”

Leaf gave the story to his friend, illustrator Robert Lawson, who brought it to life with detailed, whimsical, pen and ink drawings. The book took off.

There was the Disney short, Ferdinand merchandise, a balloon at the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, songs and author interviews.

In 1948, Leaf talked to the Chicago radio show, The Hobby Horse Presents. Children on the show asked him what books he read when he was ten and a half.

“Oh gee, I read everything I could get my hands on really,” he said. “Couple of them I know that I read about that time that stand out as vividly today, and that’s Treasure Island was one, and The Wizard Of Oz to me was one of the nicest books I ever found.”

In the late 1930s, The Story of Ferdinand briefly outsoldGone With The Wind.
Penguin Young Readers

The book’s popularity coincided with the Spanish Civil War. In 1937, Leaf told an audience he received letters complaining that “Ferdinand was red propaganda,” others that “it was fascist propaganda.” A woman’s club said it was “unworthy satire of the peace movement.” It was banned in Spain; Hitler burned it.

But Margaret Leaf told NPR that Munro wasn’t trying to be political. “He wasn’t a pacifist, but he was a peaceful man,” she said.

Director Carlos Saldanha is the latest to interpret Ferdinand, in the new feature film adaptation. “I think Ferdinand is this misinterpreted, misjudged character,” he says.

Munro Leaf’s story is only about 800 words, so with the Leaf family’s permission, Saldanha did some fleshing out. The director created new characters, like a goat who lives in Ferdinand’s stall, and he gave voices to the other bulls in Munro Leaf’s story. When they’re young, they make fun of Ferdinand’s refusal to butt heads. And then Ferdinand outgrows them.

“He is trying to show them a different side of life, a different understanding of life,” Saldanha says. “And for him, you don’t really need to fight to be a fighter.”

For the voice of Ferdinand, Saldanha picked someone who fights for a living, a 6’1, 251 pound wrestler with the WWE — John Cena.

“He almost represents, visually, Ferdinand,” Saldanha tells NPR. “Like he’s so big and massive and people interpret him as this massive guy that picks fights and all this stuff but actually he’s not at all. And he’s super gentle.”

Cena confirmed that he’s misjudged for his size. He says it’s a universal feeling. “There isn’t a human walking the earth that [can] say ‘Everybody gets me all the time.’ That’s why I think, another reason the book is timeless. We’re all misunderstood.”

Munro Leaf died in 1976. He wrote other books, but none that had the global success of Ferdinand. His son, Andy Leaf, says his father was amused by all of the different interpretations. “He was very smart that way. He just let people interpret it as they wished.”

In the end, Ferdinand stays true to himself, sitting under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers quietly. Ferdinand, the movie version, comes out later this week, but the book will likely be around forever.