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The future of the MCU — and all of pop culture

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Polygon’s Patch Notes is a weekly newsletter that tells you about the best stuff to watch, play, and read. Let our band of editorial experts simplify your plans — subscribe here!

Video game and tech culture has long been obsessed with “generations.” We mark milestones with new consoles or the numbers on an iPhone. It’s a helpful way to measure progress that moves at an unpredictable pace.

Once a year, Polygon expands this fixation on generations to explore the next generation of everything.

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This is one of our favorite annual projects, because it benefits from procrastination. We wait until the month or so before publish so that we can tell stories about the nascent creeks of pop culture that could become raging rivers, redirecting the flow of global entertainment. This isn’t speculative fiction about a time 50 years from now; it’s a hint at where the world will be trending next month or next year.

Here are just a few stories we think you’ll love, but you should check out the full package!


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This week on YouTube | The Super Mario Bros. movie is famously bad — so bad it killed the hopes of any good video game movie adaptations for YEARS. Or… so they say. But what if Super Mario Bros. wasn’t actually that bad? Jenna Stoeber digs into the history of the Super Mario Bros. movie and gets the answers about why it’s so reviled. And why, just maybe, you should watch it for yourself.


Six stories to read

Kamala Khan waves in her Ms. Marvel costume

Image: Marvel Studios

The MCU’s future lies with those it previously neglected: teen girls | “The future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe lies in Disney’s ability to gain the loyalty of the most progressive and skeptical generation yet, and there is only one ‘safe,’ new axis of diversity for Marvel Studios to lean into: women.”

TikTok and Instagram tags are changing how people cook | Four chefs and cookbook authors on how tagging influences recipe development.

The MCU broke up with Natalie Portman, but Taika Waititi won her back | Disney released the first trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder, and we got our first look at Natalie Portman as a superhero. Here’s how her character, Jane Foster, got her godly powers.

A new wave of animators are ‘fighting the computer’ to make wilder, weirder movies | The director of Bad Guys explains how animators are resisting “boring” CGI.

Moon Knight is finally fun | It took a beat, but Moon Knight is finding its groove. The MCU series goes full Tomb Raider in its best episode yet. But is the show willing to get even weirder?

A huge week for D&D | It’s been a big week for the Dungeons & Dragons brand, which hosted its first Nintendo-style streaming event called D&D Direct on Thursday. Two beloved settings — Spelljammer and Dragonlance — are returning. The cherry on top? Wizards of the Coast tapped the designers of Pandemic Legacy and HeroQuest to team up for a D&D-themed board game.


Six things to watch

Alexander Skarsgard, wearing a wolf skin, howls during a firelight war ritual in The Northman

Photo: Aidan Monaghan/Focus Features

The Northman in theaters | Guys bein’ dudes! Gore galore! Here’s how they pulled off the awesome “spear shot” that’s all over the trailers.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent in theaters | 2021 was an even wilder year than usual for Nicolas Cage. He won’t let that stop him from going even harder in 2022.

Petite Maman in theaters | The sweetest, subtlest science fiction film in years.

The Bad Guys in theaters | A lively mashup of Zootopia, Wreck-It Ralph, and decades of crime movies.

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair in theaters | Creepypasta fans finally get the exact movie they need.

Marvelous and the Black Hole in theaters | We spoke with director Kate Tsang about how her time on Steven Universe: Future and Adventure Time: Distant Lands informed her live-action debut.

Plus, everything new to streaming: 16 witchy movies! 16 great thrillers!


Three games to play

A young girl meets a talking frog in Sumire

Image: GameTomo

Sumire | Over at Uppercut Crit, Monti Velez reviewed Sumire, a beautifully illustrated game about choices and grief. Available on Windows PC, iOS, and Switch.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands | More of us have reached the endgame of the Borderlands spinoff. Deep into the shooter, we discovered what makes it so fun: It can easily become a John Wick power fantasy. Available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PC.

Playdate | We previewed the Playdate last summer and were mostly charmed by the novel handheld with a crank, though we wondered how games would work on the final model. Fortunately, the incomparable Christian Donlan at Eurogamer penned an excellent review to celebrate the Playdate’s official release along with a bundle of exclusive indie titles. At Polygon, be sure to read Ben Bertoli’s behind-the-scenes reporting on Playdate’s eight-year road to reality. Available at Play.date.


Free game of the week

A glowing rift from Amnesia: Rebirth

Image: Frictional Games

Amnesia: Rebirth | The sequel to the tremendously popular Amnesia: The Dark Descent got a little lost upon release in October 2020. Blame the hype for the launch of new video game consoles or the series’ reputation for being extremely scary. Whatever the case, the thriller will hopefully find new fans with its free week on EGS. Available for free on Epic Games Store until April 28, 2022.


The best of the rest

a closeup of buzz lightyear as he flies a test ship

Image: Pixar

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