Is Fantastic Four connected to the MCU?

Thanos may have seemed like the ultimate foe, but the Mad Titan was just scratching the surface of  Marvel’s deep bench of formidable supervillains. Now, thanks to Disney’s multi-billion dollar acquisition of 20th Century Fox’s entertainment assets, all of the characters associated with the Fantastic Four and the X-Men are back home with Marvel Studios – and the first major character who used to be under Fox’s control looks to have been cast in the MCU.

According to Deadline, Lovecraft Country star Jonathan Majors has been signed to portray Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man 3. That’s huge news, because Kang has the potential to be the MCU’s next big bad. Of course, that’s assuming Ant-Man 3 doesn’t make Kang into a mere comic relief character. But given Kang’s connections to time travel, the multiverse, and very likely the Quantum Realm — so far, the key to time travel in the MCU — the odds are pretty high that Kang could be a major player going forward in movies like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and even unannounced but inevitable MCU offerings like Fantastic Four and X-Men.

Indeed, some were also excited to hear about Majors’ casting because they assumed it included a direct connection to Reed Richards, AKA Mr. Fantastic. That is a strong possibility, but to clear up a misconception mentioned on social media quite a bit, it should be noted that Kang is not Reed’s father in the comics – although Marvel didn’t exactly make it simple to keep track of when they revealed that Kang’s real name is Nathaniel Richards, which is the same name as Reed’s dad.

Confused yet? Don’t worry, we’re gonna untangle the complicated history of Kang…

The Richards Family Tree

This Nathaniel Richards (left), seen with his son, Reed, is not Kang – but a man named Nathaniel Richard is Kang. It’s complicated.

As noted above, Kang is named Nathaniel Richards, but he’s not the Nathaniel Richards who fathered Reed Richards. 1984’s Fantastic Four #271-273 revealed that Reed’s dad traveled to an alternate Earth, where he remained for over a decade. In that time, Nathaniel devoted himself to using his mastery of technology to bring about a new age in the alternate world. He also fell in love with a woman named Cassandra, and had another son. That would be Reed’s half-brother, one world removed.

After achieving his goals, Nathaniel dedicated himself to his new family and stepped aside from his position of power. Cassandra subsequently usurped Nathaniel’s role and became the Warlord of this Earth. When the Fantastic Four defeated Cassandra, Nathaniel expressed his gratitude and remorse. He also resolved to stay behind and raise his son. In a twist, the final page of FF #273 revealed that a man who is seemingly Nathaniel’s direct descendant was none other than Kang himself. This man lived a thousand years after the first Nathaniel’s lifetime, though he shared the same name as him. So in the comics, while Kang is a descendant of Reed Richards’ father, he’s not directly descended from Reed himself.

That said, by introducing Kang into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he could conceivably provide a huge link to the Fantastic Four, especially if his given name is used in Ant-Man 3. We’ve all been very anxious to see the FF in the MCU, and this one character may be the beginning of even bigger things to come. And not just because of who Kang is genetically related to but because Kang is connected to so much of Marvel’s history and other important characters.

Rule Like An Egyptian

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby co-created Kang the Conqueror in 1964’s Avengers #8 as a villain for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. But not even Lee and Kirby realized that they had actually already introduced Kang a year before! 1963’s Fantastic Four #19 involved a character named Rama-Tut, who would eventually be revealed as one of the earliest incarnations of the man known as Kang.

In FF #19, the Fantastic Four used Doctor Doom’s time machine to travel back in time to ancient Egypt. Unfortunately for them, they found Rama-Tut, a man from the year 3000 who had traveled back in time himself to usurp control and now used his advanced technology to enslave the FF. Rama-Tut also had full knowledge of who the Fantastic Four were, much to their surprise, and even attempted to make Susan Storm into his bride.

When the FF inevitably broke free, Rama-Tut fled into the timestream. In Fantastic Four Annual #2, Rama-Tut encountered Doctor Doom shortly after this retreat. Sensing kindred spirits in each other, Doom and Rama-Tut speculated that they could be related, or even the same man at different points in time. However, there is little evidence to support either theory – although the ending of Fantastic Four #273 leaves enough wiggle room to allow for at least the possibility that Kang was actually descended from a reality-hoping Doom, not Reed Richards’s father, if they ever wanted to go that route. Still, it seems unlikely.

And while Kang hasn’t dealt with the X-Men themselves much, 1996’s Rise of Apocalypse miniseries also revealed that as Rama-Tut, he had a noteworthy history with the first recorded mutant, En Sabah Nur. Because of his knowledge of the future, Rama-Tut was fully aware that En Sabah Nur was destined to become the X-Men foe known as Apocalypse. Rama-Tut inadvertently set Apocalypse’s destiny into motion with a misguided attempt to turn En Sabah Nur into his heir.

If any of that history remains intact for Kang in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it could serve as a notable connection to both mutants in general — who have yet to be seen in the MCU — and Apocalypse himself. Kang, in his Rama-Tut identity, could be the key to establishing just how far back the history of mutants extends as we begin to finally establish the MCU version of the X-Men.

It’s also worth noting that in the comics, later in his life, Nathaniel Richards resumed his Rama-Tut identity after he was Kang and returned to the past with more benevolent intentions. He even sided with the Avengers during the “Celestial Madonna” storyline, but we’ll get back to that…

The Man From the Future

Following his encounter with Doctor Doom, Rama-Tut was initially unable to return to his native timeline. Instead, he found himself further in the future, in the 40th century, where the world’s scientific knowledge had once again been lost. That was when Nathaniel Richards reinvented himself once more as Kang the Conqueror. He lived up to his new name by taking over the world and restoring its former glory. He then extended his empire by annexing neighboring galactic empires until Kang had truly conquered the universe.

By this point, it was all too easy for Kang. He wanted a real challenge, and that’s why he went back in time to battle the Avengers for the first time. Kang weaponized time travel against the team and very nearly defeated them but the heroes found a way to beat Kang and forced him to retreat. Kang’s inability to overcome the Avengers led him to try different strategies against them, including an attempt to trick the Hulk into killing his own ancestor. Kang even tried to take over eras in the past so that the present day of the Avengers would never come to pass.

Kang was one of the first enduring villains introduced in The Avengers comics and he’s easily a top contender as their most dangerous foe. Kang is always a legitimate threat on a worldwide scale, and he seems like a perfect choice to succeed the likes of Loki and Thanos as the primary bad guy in the MCU. The potential for large scale stories is limitless for Kang, whose time traveling and universe-traversing ways has led to wild elements like the Council of Kangs (and then the Council of Cross-Time Kangs), made up of multiple versions of the Conqueror from across the multiverse.

But that’s not all by a long shot. Throughout his travels in time, there was one man that Kang hated above all others: Immortus, an elder scholar of the timelines and a master of manipulation. Kang despised Immortus because he was destined to become Immortus later in his own life, a thought which sickened him. Yes, Kang sure does have a tendency to radically reinvent himself. It seems like Nathaniel Richards must really enjoy changing identities!

The Other Man From the Future

Stan Lee and artist Don Heck created Immortus in Avengers #10, a mere two issues after Kang’s debut, with the creators once more unaware how these separate characters would eventually be revealed as one and the same. In his first appearance, Immortus immediately sided with Baron Zemo‘s Masters of Evil, and summoned famous figures from history and legend — though they could have actually been his pawns, the Space Phantoms — to take down the Avengers.

Immortus rarely appeared for several years after his initial introduction but then in 1974’s Giant-Size Avengers #2-3, writer Steve Englehart and artist Dave Cockrum firmly established the link between Rama-Tut, Kang, and Immortus with the huge reveal that all three were in fact the same man from different points in his life. In the course of this storyline, the older incarnation of Rama-Tut and the even older Immortus actually came to the aid of the Avengers. Kang believed that if he took the fabled Celestial Madonna, AKA Mantis — yes, as in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie character — as his wife, then their child would conquer the universe in his name. That was an outcome that Kang’s future selves managed to prevent, with the help of the Avengers.

But Immortus’ intentions were far from pure. He served as the guardian of time under the thumb of the Time-Keepers, an immortal race from the end of time that was afraid of humanity’s potential to conquer the universe. At the Time-Keepers’ behest, Immortus destroyed several alternate timelines in which the Avengers ultimately led humanity to seize its destiny in space. That’s one of the reasons that Kang considered his fated transformation into Immortus as a fate worse than death. He could never stand the idea of answering to anyone, much less the Time-Keepers.

In the 1998 Avengers Forever miniseries, Kang was finally able to escape his destiny almost from sheer will power alone. The Time-Keepers attempted to force Kang’s transformation into Immortus, but instead, they created two distinct beings. That allowed Kang to remain himself while Immortus filled his role in history.

All of which is to say that Jonathan Majors could be very, very busy in the next few years, should the MCU wish to follow the comics’ path when it comes to introducing all of these different versions of Kang from different eras and at different ages. And with Mantis already in the MCU — albeit as a dramatically different character in the films vs. the comics — there’s always the potential for the Celestial Madonna storyline to come into play as well.

Oh, and get this… Ramu-Tut, Kang, and Immortus aren’t even the only alter egos Nathaniel Richards has!

A Different Shade of Kang

As it turned out, Nathaniel Richards had briefly assumed yet another identity in-between Rama-Tut and Kang, as seen in Avengers Annual #2. Inspired by his encounter with Doctor Doom, Nathaniel crafted a new armored costume for himself and became the Scarlet Centurion. He also created a divergent timeline — a frequent byproduct of Kang’s actions — when he manipulated the Avengers into targeting Earth’s superhuman population in order to prevent armageddon.

Subsequently, the Scarlet Centurion was able to trick the Avengers of this alternate world into fighting their counterparts from the Prime universe. Naturally, the real Avengers managed to turn the tables against Scarlet Centurion and returned to their own world. Disgusted by his failure, Nathaniel Richards abandoned his new Scarlet Centurion identity, moving instead towards embracing the Kang persona. But in another branch of the multiverse, a different incarnation of Nathaniel not only retained the Scarlet Centurion name but became one of the greatest enemies of the Squadron Supreme, a team of superheroes who were amusingly similar to DC Comics’ Justice League.

And while we’re doubting the movies would want to go there — at least not yet — with the Doctor Strange sequel’s very title touting the introduction of a Multiverse into the MCU, perhaps the Squadron Supreme, and their arch-enemy, Scarlet Centurion, could make their way into the films (or a Disney+ series) one day.

Heart of Iron

The name Iron Lad may purposely evoke Tony Stark, but it in fact belongs to the youngest costumed incarnation of Kang we’ve met. In Young Avengers, Kang attempted to reshape his own personal timeline by visiting his younger and more idealistic teenage self before revealing his destiny to become one of history’s greatest villains.

But instead of impressing young Nathaniel Richards, Kang horrified him. That’s why young Nathaniel rebelled against his future, stole a highly advanced suit of armor, and returned to the Avengers’ timeline for protection. Unfortunately for him, the team had disbanded at that point, so to protect himself from Kang, Nathaniel gathered new heroes like Patriot, Hulkling, and Wiccan together as the Young Avengers. Kate Bishop (AKA Hawkeye) and Ant-Man’s daughter, Cassie Lang (AKA Stature), soon joined the team as well.

Given recent events in the MCU, the introduction of the Young Avengers team in live-action appears to be a strong possibility. Avengers: Endgame notably aged the cinematic version of Cassie into a teenager, while Kate Bishop has been confirmed to be introduced in the Hawkeye series on Disney+. Meanwhile, the Super Bowl teaser ad for the upcoming MCU Disney+ series dropped hints that Scarlet Witch and Vision’s sons, who eventually become Young Avengers team members Wiccan and Speed, may be introduced in WandaVision. If Patriot and Hulkling are introduced as well, that’s the full roster of the original Young Avengers. And Kang and his younger self, Iron Lad, could once again be the key to bringing them together as a team.

Oh, and believe it or not, there’s at least one more incarnation of Kang who could eventually come into play in live-action. In FF Vol 2 #8-16, young Nathaniel Richards tried to subvert his destiny by creating a persona somewhere between Kang and Immortus known as Kid Immortus.

Making the transition to the live-action MCU is the natural evolution of Kang’s status as a major player in the Marvel Universe. Despite holding the movie rights to the character, Fox neglected to put Kang in any of the Fantastic Four films. Now, instead, it’s possible that Kang’s introduction could instead lead the FF into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but there are so many possibilities for how Kang could be used to connect to other big characters and storylines. We’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.

The post Kang Coming to the MCU Could Connect to Fantastic Four, Young Avengers and X-Men appeared first on FANDOM.

Who is the most popular royal family in the world?

Comments to the article: Statistically speaking, everyone on Earth is related to one another. With every generation, the amount of ancestors one person has doubles. So when you think about how many people you have in your family tree, this notion begins to make a lot of sense. That’s why we were so fascinated to find out more about who’s related to whom, and celebrities often serve up some curious tidbits when it comes to genes.

How do you create a beautiful garden in a small space?

  1. Make Cloches for Tender Tomatoes Protect your early tomatoes with these simple covers The earlier you can start tomato plants, the sooner you will reap the reward – the un-comparable flavor of the homegrown tomato. They are cold sensitive and need protection from nighttime temperatures. Cloches, bell-shaped domes that cover young transplants, are an […]

How can I get ripped at home without equipment fast?

When you don’t have weights at home, strength training can be a challenge. For stronger athletes, simple bodyweight exercises and endless repetitions are probably not enough to stimulate a strength-training effect. That’s because, once you do more than 15 to 20 repetitions, you enter the zone of muscular endurance and conditioning rather than strength training, says John Mark Seelig, captain of the men’s U.S. Rafting team and owner of Goat Training in Edwards, Colorado. “Doing a bunch of reps might work for somebody for a couple of weeks, maybe a month,” he says, “but long-term, it’s not very effective, and the repetitive motion can lead to overuse injuries.” Without weights or gym equipment, how can you keep the rep scheme low while making the intensity high enough to build strength?

“With my athletes, I’ve introduced isometrics and tempos to their at-home programming,” Seelig says. Isometric exercises force muscles to contract without changing length (think static holds, like wall sits, planks, and lock-offs). Tempo increases muscles’ time under tension and emphasizes the eccentric phase of muscle contraction (when muscle fibers elongate under a load, also called negatives). “These techniques are incredibly effective for strength,” Seelig says. “You don’t need additional weight, and you can continue to progress through the workout in a linear fashion by adjusting the timing.” For those who want to improve upon their training routines at home, he recommends these moves for a full-body strength workout.

Start with a good warm-up: run for five minutes, then cycle through three rounds of pull-ups, air squats, push-ups, and single-leg straight-leg deadlifts, performing ten reps each at a steady pace. Gradually increase your speed and intensity each round. For the workout itself, aim for three to four sets of each exercise, with one to two minutes of rest between each effort. When you’re counting reps, don’t go until complete failure. “That’s a common mistake I see with home-gym workouts,” says Seelig. Adjust your intensity so that you always have one to two reps left in the tank during each set.

“Even if you’re not training for a specific goal or race, know this will help you maintain your strength. More importantly, it’s going to be good for your mental health,” Seelig says.

The Moves

Squat Hold

What it does: Strengthens the quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and core.

How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Hold your chest and head high, pull your shoulders back and down, and keep your spine stacked in a neutral position. Then lower into a squat until your thighs are slightly below parallel to the floor (or as low as you can go with good form). Hold this position for 30 to 45 seconds. Then engage your glutes, and push through your heels to stand. “If you can’t reach 30 seconds, reduce the range of motion to a manageable level by staying higher in the squat,” says Seelig. “If you can easily get to 45 seconds, add weight.” If you don’t have free weights, fill a backpack with canned food, water bottles, rocks, textbooks, or anything that’s heavy until you can hit the target time range.

Push-Up Hold

What it does: Strengthens the chest, triceps, shoulders, back muscles, and core.

How to do it: Start in a standard push-up position, with your arms straight, your hands below your shoulders, and your feet together. Maintain a rigid plank form, with your body in a straight line from your heels to your head. Bend your elbows backwards along your sides to lower your chin and chest until they are an inch or two from the floor. Hold this position for 30 to 45 seconds, then push back up to the starting position.  “This is very challenging,” says Seelig. “If you can’t get to 30 seconds, elevate your hands on a bench, cooler, or some raised surface. If you can easily hit 45 seconds, elevate your feet.”

Too monotonous? Mix it up with the Bring Sally Up challenge. Play “Flower” by Moby, and lower every time you hear “down.” Hold the low position until you hear “up,” and continue like this for the duration of the song—if you can make it until the end.

Tempo Single-Leg Deadlift

What it does: Emphasizes the eccentric (lowering) phase of the movement to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes, while training balance.

How to do it: Stand on one leg, with a slight bend in your knee. Engage your core, and square your hips. Then, without rounding your back, reach forward and down toward the floor slowly (taking three to five seconds), lifting your free leg behind you until your upper body and leg are in the same plane, parallel to the floor or as far as you can go with good form. Pause for a second, then reverse the movement for one repetition. Keep your hips level (point your raised foot toward the floor) and your back straight throughout the movement. Focus on leg control and balance. To make it even harder, extend the duration of the lowering phase. 

Volume: Eight to twelve reps on each leg. Complete all reps on one leg before switching to the other.

Tempo Pike Push-Up

What it does: Strengthens the shoulders, triceps, chest, upper back, and core.

How to do it: Start in a downward-facing dog position, with your feet together and your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart (the closer your feet are to your hands, the harder the exercise). Then slowly (taking three to five seconds) bend your elbows and lower your head between your hands, just above the floor. Hold the low position for a second or two, then push back up to the starting position for one repetition. Keep your hips high and your heels low, and maintain the inverted V position throughout the movement.

Volume: Eight to twelve reps. 

Split-Squat Hold

What it does: Primarily strengthens the glutes, quads, and inner thighs, while also working the hamstrings, calves, hip stabilizers, and core.

How to do it: Stand tall, with your feet hip-width apart, square your hips, and engage your core. Then take a large step backwards to enter a split-squat stance (also known as a stationary lunge). Bend your knees to lower your hips until your front thigh is roughly parallel to the ground and your back knee is hovering just an inch or two off the floor. Hold this low position for 30 to 45 seconds, then engage both legs to stand for one repetition. Keep your chest high, your pelvis neutral, your torso upright, and your back straight throughout the movement.

Volume: Eight to twelve reps on each leg. Complete all reps on one leg before switching to the other.


Handstand Hold

What it does: Builds upper-body and core strength and trains balance, body awareness, deep breathing, and focus.

How to do it: Enter a handstand, either unassisted or with your heels up against a wall. Hold this position for 30 to 45 seconds. Remember to breathe.

Original source:

Boba Fett on throne Wallpaper – Not-So-Hidden Clues Hint at What ‘Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett’ May Explore

When Season 1 of The Mandalorian began to air in November of 2019, I joked at the time that we were getting another “Dave Filoni special.” One season of surface-level setup, followed by each successive season getting weirder and diving down into more esoteric Star Wars lore. You know, the same way Filoni structured Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.

What I didn’t expect was for Boba Fett to feature heavily in that lore. But here we are, at the end of The Mandalorian’s second season, and the erstwhile bounty hunter is poised to become a bigger player than ever in the Star Wars underworld…



Star Wars doesn’t usually do stingers. But for the season finale of The Mandalorian, Lucasfilm made an exception. Having kept his word to help Din Djarin rescue Grogu, Boba Fett and Fennec Shand find themselves back on Tatooine. The two of them clean house in Jabba’s Palace, wiping out Bib Fortuna and his flunkies with ease. Though it is worth noting that Fennec is ethical in her choice of victims, allowing Fortuna’s enslaved Twi’lek woman to go free. With the bodies of their enemies still warm on the floor, Boba alights upon the throne while Fennec celebrates with a bottle of galactic moonshine. The scene ends with a promise of more adventures to come next year.

From the official announcement in the press release:

 Jon Favreau, executive producer of The Mandalorian, confirmed today on Good Morning America that the new series is currently in production and will arrive December 2021, only on Disney+. The Book of Boba Fett will be set within the timeline of The Mandalorian and star Temuera Morrison as the titular bounty hunter, along with Ming-Na Wen as Fennec Shand. Robert Rodriguez — who directed Chapter 14 of The Mandalorian, a thrilling installment that reintroduced Boba Fett to the Star Wars galaxy — joins Favreau and Dave Filoni as executive producer.

But before we can get into what to expect from The Book of Boba Fett, a Disney+ live-action Star Wars show set to air in December of 2021, we need to lay out what audiences will know going in. Here are the timeline facts we have as of this writing regarding Boba Fett.

  •  3 ABY: Boba Fett collects the bounty on Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt
  • 4 ABY: Boba Fett falls into the sarlacc pit
  • 4 ABY: Jabba the Hutt dies at the hand of Leia Organa
  • 5 ABY: Hutt Cartel power structure collapses
  • 5 ABY: Boba Fett escapes the sarlacc pit*
  • 9 ABY: Fett rescues mortally wounded Fennec Shand
  • 10ABY: Fett kills Bib Fortuna and takes over Jabba’ Palace

*In 5 ABY, Jabba’s former beastmaster and Rancor trainer Malakili finds the recently killed sarlacc with no sign of Fett anywhere

Then there’s the marked difference in Boba Fett himself. Prior to this time in the sarlacc pit, Fett is mainly portrayed as a ruthless hunter and killer. In his dealings as a bounty hunter, Boba goes out of his way to inflict pain and suffering on any who cross his path whether they’re fellow hunters, marks, or simply innocent bystanders. He’s not above torture or flying extremely out of his way in an attempt to seek revenge on an old adversary. The Boba Fett from The Mandalorian, however? He is still ruthlessly efficient. But he isn’t cruel. And he appears capable of compassion and upholding a code of honor, even if it’s just his own.

All of these things add up to a very intriguing premise for The Book of Boba Fett. One that will be heavily influenced by whatever the bounty hunter was up to in the four years between his rescue from the sarlacc and his arrival at the feet of the dying Fennec in the Tatooine sands.


Of course, there are clues sprinkled liberally — both in The Mandalorian and other auxiliary Star Wars sources — that hint all might not be as it appears. For example, we know from Aftermath: Life Debt that Jawas sliced open and looted the sarlacc for anything valuable while scavenging Jabba’s barge. While Malakili never peeks inside the gutted creature when he comes across it in 5 ABY, a lack of struggle or screams for help are good signs the Jawas not only got Boba Fett’s armor, but the man as well. But the sarlacc had yet to be eaten by other Tatooine fauna, indicating the pillaging is fairly fresh. That leaves about a four-year gap in Boba’s life that is currently uncounted for.

This, in turn, leads to intriguing questions like “Did Boba Fett trade his armor to the Jawas so they would rescue him?” and “Why didn’t he retrieve his armor from Cobb Vanth before Din Djarin got ahold of it?” and “What exactly was Boba doing for over 1,400 days?”

It seems likely Fett traded his Mandalorian armor for his life. It seems probable his code of honor kept him from killing the Jawas and taking his armor back. It seems plausible Boba spent time with the Tusken Raiders learning how to use a gaffi stick, and that Cobb’s cordial relationship with the Jawas — or Boba’s code of honor in dealing with the Jawas — provided Cobb with protection. But the biggest clue to how the bounty hunter spent his time is hiding in plain sight on the throne in Jabba’s Palace in The Mandalorian Season 2 finale.

‘That throne has my name on it! No, I mean that literally!’

Old Tongue. Again. My nemesis. A Star Wars language that keeps cropping up. Mostly to taunt me with gibberish since the Rosetta Stone was included in a single piece of merch available only at a single shop inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and clearly no one intended anyone to translate much of what the Old Tongue is used for. But not this time. No. This time, the Old Tongue speaks. And what does the throne say?


That’s it. That’s all it says. You can see where the text is mirrored on both the top and bottom rows. The “B,” “O,” “A,” and “T” are direct one-to-one translations. The “F” and the “E” are variants of the Old Tongue letters, but consistent enough to be legible. Sort of how Aurebesh is the main written language of Star Wars but it has regional variations such as the inscription on Enfys Nest’s helmet (Dishabesh) or the dataplaque in the possession of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate (Protobesh).

Now, it could just be an Easter egg hidden for the handful of people who are invested enough to find it. The “Drink more Ovaltine” of Star Wars. But what if it’s not? Why would Boba Fett’s name already be inscribed on a throne in Jabba’s Palace, written in a dead language?


The second season of The Mandalorian was bursting with deep lore. From the krayt dragon pearls to the ball Grogu sat upon at the temple on Tython bearing a striking resemblance to Zeffo power supplies to the strong insinuation that Palpatine was using Grogu’s blood to try and artificially increase the midichlorian count in his Snoke clones, the show led audiences deeper into the mystical side of Star Wars by inches. This brings me to the sarlacc.

Sarlaccs are deeply unsettling. Taking approximately 30,000 years to reach maturity, they are neither plant nor animal. In-universe xenobiologists are consistently stumped by this creature that reproduces by spewing spores into the upper atmosphere that can withstand the vacuum of space. About the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza, sarlaccs house multiple stomachs to imprison future food while they slowly digest older prey. All that scar tissue on Boba Fett’s body? The corroded nature of his armor when in Cobb’s possession? All due to the sarlacc. In fact, the beskar armor is probably what kept Fett alive long enough to be rescued. It also gives Lucasfilm a handy excuse for why Temuera Morrison looks older than Boba should at this point in the timeline, since he was not created with the clones’ accelerated aging feature. But wait, it gets creepier.

In Star Wars Legends stories, sarlaccs were bioengineered prisons of a sort. Prey was stuck to the walls of the sarlacc by numerous hollow spines that replaced all vital fluids with the creature’s own juices. This would keep the victim alive and in agony while the sarlacc fed. It would also cause the victim to meld with the sarlacc, giving the creature a kind of hivemind sentience of accumulated memories stolen from its prey. Kind of like the Bor Gullet from Rogue One. So it’s within the realm of possibility the personality changes in Boba Fett are a direct result of him having untold centuries of fractured knowledge amassed by the sarlacc rattling around in his head. Including, perhaps, a dead language.

I suggest that Boba Fett was already the kingpin of Tatooine’s underworld prior to the start of The Mandalorian. Four years is a lot of missing time. Fett still had access to his ship, yet he remained on the backwater world, without retrieving his father’s armor. He had enough money and clout to save Fennec’s life with advanced cybernetics, as well as repair his beskar. Neither of those things are cheap or easy. Who is to say Bib Fortuna was surprised to see Boba alive because of the events in Return of the Jedi? He could just as easily have been shocked that Fett and Fennec survived boarding Moff Gideon’s ship full of Dark Troopers. Fett’s behavior towards Fortuna felt personal and like nothing we saw between the two in Return of the Jedi. Why kill him when Bib Fortuna had shown himself to be politically savvy enough to see a new master when they come blasting into the throne room unless it was personal?


Regardless of the specifics though, by the end of The Mandalorian Season 2, it is clear Boba Fett has plans. Plans that involved the seedy underbelly of the galaxy. With the Hutts destabilized and the status of Crimson Dawn unknown in the aftermath of Maul’s deaths, there are numerous opportunities waiting for the right person to come along and take advantage of the chaos.

Perhaps Boba might even have a run-in with another crime boss: Han Solo’s old flame, Qi’ra. After all, the last we saw of her in Solo, she was about to be taken under the wing of Maul himself. If anyone is still directly the Crimson Dawn empire, the smart money is on her. But whether Lucasfilm brings in known quantities or blows open the lore with all-new factions jockeying for power, organized crime has always been the third faction of Star Wars. It’s about time audiences got to know how things work far from the light of the Jedi Temple and the secret machinations of the Sith.

Here’s a Translation of What the Sith Dagger in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ Says

The post Not-So-Hidden Clues Hint at What ‘Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett’ May Explore appeared first on FANDOM.

What is the message of Pixar’s soul? – Pixar’s Soulful Lessons on the Meaning of Life

With everything we’ve been through in 2020, and with this tumultuous, isolating year drawing to a close, there’s never been a better time to look inside and think about what we’re all doing on this great earth in the first place. So it’s fitting that Pixar’s new offering, Soul, will reflect on just that. While New York jazz musician Joe Gardner is suspended between life and death in “The Great Before,” we look at what Pixar has taught us about the meaning of life-and why it’s worth living-through his favorite movies so far. We’re not crying, you’re crying.…

Lesson 1: Follow Your Soul’s Passion

Pixar’s Ratatouille shows that genuine “appeal” combined with talent and determination can enable someone to achieve a life goal far beyond what is expected of them. Remy is a stranger in his vast rodent family, a unique soul marked by his demanding taste and extraordinary ability to create recipes. Even during your humble beginnings in rural France, you can spin your own mixes with natural products while your family settles for literal trash.

Remy and linguini in Ratatouille.

Inspired by the posthumous spirit of legendary chef Gusto, Remy decides that he will be a chef, but he must prepare the reality for this dream on his own. After making a deal with linguini, the hapless guy from Gusto’s kitchen, he steps through the door. Letting her skills shine by experimenting with recipes, Remy shows off her talent. Even when he can’t overcome the final hurdle of becoming a celebrity chef, the fact that he’s, well, a rat can still fulfill his fantasy of owning an exclusive Parisian restaurant, earning the favor of the infamous food critic Anton Ego. He overcomes the disapproval of his family, the risk of being discovered and, even worse, exterminated, in order to claim the purpose of his soul.

Remy and Linguini in Ratatouille.
Remy and Linguini in Ratatouille.

Inspired by the posthumous spirit of the legendary Chef Gusteau, Remy decides he’s going to be a chef — but he has to cook up a reality to this dream all on his own. By striking a deal with Linguini, Gusteau’s hapless kitchen boy, he gets his foot in the door. Allowing his skills to shine as he experiments with recipes, Remy proves his talent. Even when he can’t overcome the final hurdle to becoming a celebrated chef — the fact that he’s, well, a rat — he’s still able to realise his fantasy of owning an exclusive Parisian restaurant, by winning the favour of infamous food critic, Anton Ego. He overcomes his family’s disapproval, the risk of being found out, and — even worse — exterminated, to claim his soul’s purpose.

“Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.” — Anton Ego

As ego says, not everyone is blessed with a raw talent like Remy. Monsters University shows that following a dream doesn’t always go according to plan, sometimes life has a different idea. Mike Wazowski will find out the hard way. Through Monsters,, we got to know Wazowski as Sally’s right-hand man, as he supported his partner in being one of the company’s best scarers. But in the Pixar prequel, we learned that Mike’s original dream was to be a scarecrow. In fact, he loved him even more than his best friend.

After visiting the terrified floor of Monsters, Inc. on a school trip, Mike makes the ambition of his life to build a career there. He has the determination, the intelligence of a book, the willingness to devote his time to practice – all of which is enough to get him into Monster University. However, the missing ingredient, natural talent, keeps you from the career you crave. A message not often displayed in family movies, Pixar addresses the harsh reality that determination can take you so far if you don’t have a natural gift. More importantly, they show that there is no single way to realize their potential.

Monsters University Mike Wazowski
Mike Wazowski’s bags are packed in Monsters University.

Mike has something that he didn’t even realize was his greatest strength – bravery. Against the odds, he puts together a team that almost wins the Scare Games, and risks being banished to impress Dean Hardscrabble with his scare skills. Even after he misses his shot, he isn’t afraid to climb the ranks in an unconventional way and takes Sally on a journey with him. Starting with the cleaners at Monsters Inc. they play a long game until they finally become one of the best companies scaring teams. Mike is still living his dream of working on this scary floor, but as a coach is a much more suitable role for his talents.

Summary: If you have a strong passion or “challenge” in life, follow it. You will probably discover the true realization of your soul and a sense of purpose, whether you land where you thought you would or not. It is better to follow this dream than to spend your life thinking about what could have been.

Lesson 2: Every Soul Needs A Mate

Achieving your individual goals is a valid life ambition, but the soul can’t be fully satisfied if it doesn’t bring others back – after all, we’re all in this together. Some of Pixar’s most beloved characters find satisfaction – and a place in our hearts – for their unrestrained need to help and support their neighbor-or a toy.

Pixar’s first film shows the power of bringing back others, with perhaps its most iconic character: Woody. In Toy Story, Woody’s self-proclaimed goal in life is to be there for his owner, Andy. In their opinion, life is simply not worth living if you are not loved by a child, and to win this love, you must be available to them 24/7. It’s a noble goal, and one that Woody has clung to over the years, despite many obstacles, trying to steer him away from Andy – whether it’s almost being snatched away by evil neighbor Sid, almost being sold to a museum in Japan, or being imprisoned by a strawberry-smelling bear.

Toy Story
Woody comes to achieve meaning without Andy.

Along the way, however, Woody learns that it’s just as important to take care of his friends as their owner, perhaps even more so. As a human, Andy sees Woody as a child’s toy, and he doesn’t return the same affection as Woody, but Buzz, Jesse, and the gang do. As soon as woody gaining the confidence of his fellow toys and helps them, and he rewarded their help and emotional support in return. Woody finally gets to a place where life is still worth living, whether he keeps Andy or not.

“Woody once risked his life to save me. I couldn’t call myself a friend if I didn’t want to do the same.”- Buzz Lightyear

In WALL-E, one of Pixar’s most existential films to date, one character’s love for another literally saves the world. Stuck in a lonely existence on the abandoned planet Earth, WALL-E diligently fulfills its task of cleaning up the mess left by humans. But there’s one thing missing from their lonely existence: a partner to take care of. It’s very romantic for a droid. When the mysterious new robot Eve descends from heaven, it’s love at first sight, and WALL-E will do anything to earn her affection, convinced that she’s her soul mate.


WALL-E’s ambition to live happily ever after with Eve is not only appealing, but ultimately vital to humanity’s survival. By giving the plant he found to Eve, he proves that there is life on Earth, and she can fulfill her directive to start populating the planet. His next Eva in the axiom, the spaceship where humans now live, provides the support needed to accomplish his goal. Realizing how important the plant is to Eve, WALL-E is sure to protect it at all costs, preventing it from being destroyed by an onboard computer that would doom humans for hundreds of years in space.

Once Eve realizes how long WALL-E has come to protect and care for her, she matches her love. After it is severely damaged in action, she puts the ship into hyperjump to return to Earth, both for the sake of humanity and to find the missing pieces to save her new knight in shining armor. Driven by their love for each other, they not only find happiness, but also save the human race and inspire humanity to rebuild the planet with its history of connection.

Summary: The desire to love and help others will not only add purpose to your own life and fuel your soul, but will also create huge domino effects for society as a whole. Leadership for altruism will make the planet a better place to live, and kindness will return to your path.

Lesson 3: A hundred souls is better than one

If we’ve learned one thing this year, it’s that collective effort can make a big difference in the world. Solo ambitions may take you so far, but you must muster troops if you want to incite real change. Pixar shows this in action at some point in most of its films, and always starts with the character taking the lead.

The studio’s second feature film, The Life of a Bug, begins as a story about a character’s quest to impress their community and become a hero. Flick, a well-meaning if eccentric inventor, wants to prove that he is useful to his ant colony by rationalizing his efforts to collect food for himself and the grasshoppers with his gadgets. However, he finds a much bigger target waiting for him.

Flik in A Bug's Life.
Flik in A Bug’s Life.

After accidentally destroying the colony’s food supplies, and being the only one to deal with the bullying grasshoppers who demand their share, Flick abandons the colony in a panic. He is cast on a “mission” to recruit insect warriors to help them resist the ant suppressors, and no one expected the results. However, it turns out that Flick has a more effective skill than his inventing skills: getting people to rally around his cause.

While the circus insects he encounters are unaware that they are part of a plot to defeat the grasshoppers, Flick deftly encourages them with the promise of a performance, winning their friendship and loyalty in the process. Even when the original plan to scare the grasshoppers with a fake bird goes wrong, Flick has proven that a collective effort can lead the colony to victory. With the rest of the ants on his side, Flick inspires them to be brave, and they all stand together – the grasshoppers outnumber him a hundred to one, and are banished once and for all.

“You let the ant stand in front of us, then they can all stand up!” – bunker

Almost 20 years later, another young protagonist has a huge impact on the ability to bring others together, in Pixar’s Coco. Like Remy before him, Miguel’s family is not on board with their passion-in this case-to become a famous musician. The Rivera family banished music from their home, after it was believed that Miguel’s great-great-grandfather had abandoned his wife and son to pursue a career in the industry. The offending ancestor was removed from the offering, and so his spirit is sent to the Land of the Dead, so he will eventually disappear. Fortunately, Miguel’s desire to pursue his dream at the expense of his family’s wishes catapults him on a journey that will heal his entire bloodline.

Miguel in Coco.
Miguel in Coco.

After accidentally arriving in the Land of the Dead, Miguel’s priority-at the beginning-is to meet his hero, whom he considers his great-grandfather, the famous musician Ernesto de la Cruz. He wants his blessing to return to the Land of the Living and become a musician, despite the objections of his family. However, he soon learns the truth about what actually happened several generations ago: that his real great-great-grandfather did not want to leave his family at all, and the shadow hanging over the Rivers should not be there.

Miguel is responsible for preserving Hector’s memory and bringing him back to the family, uniting him with his wife and explaining the situation. Most powerful of all is Miguel’s rendition of “Remember Me,” a song Hector wrote for his little Coco that reminds the now-elderly daughter of her father’s love. The whole family is united by Miguel’s efforts, and music enters the house after generations of silence.

Summary: If we all make an effort to come together, we can leave the world a better place than we found it, in big and small ways. Fortunately, there are some souls in life who find it within themselves to pave the way.

Lesson 4: Adventure there

Whether it’s achieving a professional goal, helping others, fighting climate change, or just spending the Day, one way to look at life is to have a big choice of your own adventure.The adventure is at the heart of Pixar’s stories, as characters overcome fear and test skills to unlock parts of their souls they never dreamed of.

Finding Nemo

Facing fear in Finding Nemo.

Finding Nemo introduces us to a father and son, both very much in need of an adventure. Nemo’s father, Marlin, lost almost everything after his wife and children, except Nemo, were brutally killed by a Barracuda. Naturally, he is obsessed with the safety of his only remaining child and makes it his life’s goal to protect him from any possible harm. So when Nemo disappears, he loses all of his self-esteem and desperately needs it.

Against his aversion to risk, Marlin’s paternal instinct negates his fear, and he finds himself facing opponents he never dreamed of, hiding in his anemone. With their new partner Dory firmly on their side, the pair encounter sharks, whales, jellyfish and more on their epic journey across the ocean. In the process, Marlin has an epiphany: if Nemo is protected from everything, his life won’t be worth it. He discovers that his son has not only been able to survive, but thrive in his absence, and the pair find themselves closer and more fulfilled, telling each other about their solo adventures, freeing them from fear.

Finding Nemo

Dory, Marlin, and Bruce in Finding Nemo.

Forward again shows that hiding from risks will not allow you to live life to the fullest. It also teaches another important lesson: you will find satisfaction when you appreciate what you already have. Ian and Barley’s quest to bring their father back to life for a day ends up being a journey of self-discovery for the younger brother.

The shy Ian, who has never met his father, is convinced that his only chance to talk to him will give him the confidence he needs to live. However, it becomes clear that he had the ability to do great things all along. With the breath of his older brother, Ian completes an epic quest, crosses chasms, engages in a high-speed car chase, and brings magic back to the world. He already had a fatherly figure to guide him at every turn – barley.

Barley is a father-figure to Ian in Onward.

It would be an omission to talk about the adventure of life, let alone the touching, high-flying Pixar: Up. The studio’s tenth feature film perfectly explores the interpretation of adventure itself and what constitutes a well-lived life. Carl and Ellie have always dreamed of becoming real explorers, planning to go to Paradise Falls on a glorious expedition one day. However, life gets in the way, and his ambitious dream, like the dream of starting a family, is not realized. Karl is left devastated, feeling that the couple has never been able to fulfill their biggest wish in life.

Carl in Up
Adventure unlocks human connection for Carl in Up.

However, after an unexpected journey to the same place they were aiming to visit alone, Karl’s dangerous adventure helps him see his whole life from a different perspective. While he has a lifetime of experience flying thousands of miles, meeting exotic birds and talking dogs, and defeating a supervillain, Carl’s biggest reward is to meet Russell, a young nature explorer who celebrates the journey. Carl remembered the warm sense of human connection and the sense of purpose in caring for another person. When she discovers the last page of Ellie’s adventure book, the message is clear: sharing the ups and downs of life with another person is her own adventure.

Summary: whatever you decide to do with your life, embrace it in all its colors. Do your best to get out of your comfort zone, but appreciate what you already have. No one really knows the meaning of life, but enjoy it while it lasts – and all the adventure, love, and company of the soul that comes with it.

Soul arrives on Disney+ on December 25.

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The post Pixar’s Soulful Lessons on the Meaning of Life appeared first on FANDOM.

best places to live for cross country skiing – The Best Nordic Trails in the U.S.

“The cross – country ski industry expects a significant increase in the number of skiers this season, based on increased interest in outdoor activities,” says Reese Brown, executive director of the Cross-Country Ski Association. But don’t worry: there’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out. If you’ve never considered Cross-country skiing before, this may be the winter you’re doing. It’s a good way to go out and explore the local areas, and naturally it’s a crowd-free activity. While you can ski through the woods on your own, the designated cross-country ski area comes with a toilet, trail maps, equipment rentals, and instructions. In any case, imagine empty trails through a wide open forest, unlike mountain ski resorts, little in the form of lines, loggias, and expensive tickets. Here are seven of our favorite places to enjoy the sport.

Tahoe XC

ski, backcountry ski, snow, backcountry, mountains, trees, lake
(Photo: Courtesy Jeff Dow)

Tahoe City, California

The Tahoe XC (one-day tickets from $ 36) isn’t the biggest area on this list, it offers about 30 miles of well-groomed trails-about a quarter the size of the most famous Royal Gorge-within a 45-minute drive, but it’s full of character and charm. Located in Tahoe City, California, it is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from San Francisco. From the top of the Lakeview climb, you’ll get a panoramic view of the largest Alpine lake in North America and a wooden bench to catch your breath. You will find three cabins that are heated, special trails for snow shoeing, and six miles of trails for dogs. Homemade chocolate chip cookies, usually available in a jar in the dorm, will be served this year.

Devil’s Thumb Ranch

(Photo: Courtesy Devil’s Thumb Ranch)

Tabernash, Colorado

The best way to explore the 75 miles of cross-country ski trails at Devil’s Thumb Ranch is to stay at the hotel. The complex has 15 private cabins of various sizes, as well as accommodation rooms (starting at $ 279). Currently, spa treatments such as massages and body baths are only available for guests of the lodge with COVID-19 protocols. But you don’t need to be an overnight visitor to enjoy the trails, which are open to day-trippers for a $ 30 ticket. There is also the option of cycling with thick tires on the trails, as the resort offers bike rental and guided tours. You are just 20 minutes away on a downhill ski trip at Winter Park Resort and less than two hours away from Denver.

Methow Trails

(Photo: Courtesy Methow Trails)

Winthrop, Washington

It will take you four hours to get to the Metaw Valley from Seattle, but it’s worth it. This remote corner of Northern Washington looks like Switzerland with its jagged snow-capped peaks. Home to the largest cross-country ski area in North America, Methow Trails has over 125 miles of trails (one-day tickets from $ 25; those under 17 or over 75 free skis). Sections of the system allow you to ride on thick tires, snowshoe and ski with your dog. The slopes of the Rendezvous hut, which you can connect for skiing from cottage to cottage, are booked months in advance. Instead, check out six elegant architect-designed huts (starting at $ 145) nine miles to the northwest, or find other accommodations in the nearby towns of Winthrop, Twisp, or Mazama.

Theodore Wirth Regional Park

(Photo: Courtesy The Loppet Foundation)

Minneapolis, Minnesota

You won’t find the best cross-country skiing so close to a major metropolis. The extensive trail system in the state of Theodore Wirth Regional Park (one-day tickets from $ 20) has more than 20 miles of trails running through secluded forests, with views of the Minneapolis skyline. Cross-country skiing lessons for all ages. The World Cup cross-country skiing event was supposed to be held here last March, it would have been the first Nordic World Ski Championships in the United States in almost two decades, but it was canceled due to COVID-19.

Galena Lodge

(Photo: Courtesy Galena Lodge)

Ketchum, Idaho

You’ll arrive at Galena Lodge in Idaho (one-day tickets from $ 18) for cross-country skiing-there are more than 30 miles of perfectly prepared trails through a stunning stretch of Sawtooth National Forest, but you’ll stay for a meal. The on-site restaurant serves steaming bowls of curry, soup and Chili, as well as European-style sausage dishes and freshly baked pastries. This winter, the vintage camper will also have a food truck that offers easy service. Stay in a yurt on site (starting at $ 150) or in the nearby town of Ketchum. Skiing in Sunny Valley is just a 30-minute drive away.

Green Woodlands

(Photo: Courtesy Green Woodlands)

Dorchester, New Hampshire

There is so much love in Green Woodlands, a private plot of land between the towns of Lyme and Dorchester, New Hampshire, about two hours north of Boston. The family, which runs the Green Woodlands Foundation, has opened up the land to mountain bikers in the summer and nordic skiers in the winter, clearing about 30 miles of trails and stocking up on four warm huts with hot chocolate. There is no fee for skiing here, all you are asked for is a positive attitude along the way. Skis and boots are even provided free of charge through the anor system. The tracks were designed by a former Dartmouth College ski coach and Olympic biathlete named John Morton.

Meissner Nordic

sisters in snowy winter landscape on cross-country-ski
(Photo: golero/iStock)

Bend, Oregon

You can also ski for free at the atMeissner Nordic, a network of trails on U.S. Forest Service land. However, you will need a 4sno-Park parking permit, and donations to use the trail are recommended. The club that supports the area also keeps warming huts near the wood-burning trail. Show up for night skiing with a full moon, when the trails are filled with light bags with candles, or opt for free ski training days where volunteers teach lessons and local ski shops hand out free rentals.

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What is a good fill weight for a down jacket? – Do You Actually Need a 1,000-Fill Down Jacket?

Until recently, 1000-fill was a rare commodity. The jackets that included it were always few and far between. But this year will be bigger than usual, giving weight weenies new options for ultra-packable heat. However, don’t worry too much: the quantity will be limited and the prices will be high to what we are used to. Mountain Hardwear, for example, originally made only 2,000 of its flagship Ghost Whisperer UL ($375), while it can probably snag its best-selling 800-fill version for $ 50 less. Is the extra energy savings, and two ounces of weight, really worth it?

Down Math

Calculating the filling capacity is a useful way to estimate the weight-to-heat ratio of various down jackets. Filling capacity is a measurement of fluff quality, and it is an approximate volume in cubic inches from an ounce down. So an ounce of 650-fill down takes up about 650 cubic inches of space, an ounce of 850-fill down works at 850 cubic inches, and so on. It is important to note that the filling power is not necessarily equal to the heat. Here’s what the numbers mean: because the 1000-down filler is high in volume, it’s not as dense as the other filled ones and has more room to catch the air in the plumage. A jacket with a filling of 650 takes up less volume than a jacket with a filling of 1000, which makes it more dense and has less space for hot air. But when it comes to warmth, what really matters is how much of that fluff is tucked into the jacket.

As an example, we will use UL Ghost Whisperer from Mountain Hardwear. The jacket features a two-ounce 1,000-fill down (this common measurement is often a page, though each brand lists it), which means it’s about 2,000 inches. Please note that the heat associated with the volume. So a jacket with 2,000 cubic inches of 800 fillers should be as warm as an identical jacket filled with 2,000 cubic inches of 1,000 fillers, like the Ghost Whisperer UL: a version with 1,000 fillers will be lighter.

But how much easier? Using a bit of high school algebra, we can work backwards by dividing 2 ounces of Ghost UL, 000 cubic inches below by 1000 to determine that the fluff weighs two. How does this compare to a jacket made of 800 fillers? The same 2,000 cubic inches (which means the jacket is just as warm), divided into 800 fillers, gives 2.5 ounces. Even a jacket made of 650 fillers of the same heat weighs only three ounces. In small jackets, the difference in weight from 1,000 to 850 may be minimal, although the difference may be greater in products such as sleeping bags that use tens of thousands of cubic inches of down.

So while strength shaves for those looking for weight in many jackets are probably all, if manufacturers spend big dollars filling their jackets with 1,000 padding, it’s probably because they’re trying to make them ultralight. This means that they will also try to minimize the weight of fabrics, zippers, and other features. But if the weight is less of a concern, they could increase durability and functionality and use cheaper down.

How I Tested

I took these packing jackets, ice climbing, and cross-country skiing all over the West between fall 2019 and summer 2020. Temperatures ranged from the low fifties to the fierce single digits below zero. Given the variety of jackets and their different warm-ups, each of them usually fell into their optimal ranges of activity and temperature. (The latter is the subject of an assessment based on my body, what I wore with the jackets, and the activity of the day.)

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer UL ($375)

(Photo: Ryan Wichelns)

Best For: Nerds obsessed with ultralight tech
Weight: 6.7 ounces (men’s medium)
Down Weight: 2 ounces 
Optimal Temperature Range: 50 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit

There may never have been a fuller jacket at this weight, or at least I haven’t seen one yet. Thanks in large part to the featherweight nylon face fabric (or outer layer) that gives its name to the jacket, the Ghost Whisperer line was able to claim that title for a while. But the brand’s newest iteration swaps 800-fill for primo1, 000 stuffing and replaces ultralight Ten denier fabrics with frankly paper-light five-denier, bringing the weight of Ghost Whisperer UL to a billiard ball

That weight was enough to take on the peaks in summer travel in Montana. It’s a toasted intermediate layer (it fits perfectly under the ski shell) in the colder months, but it’s probably not the only one I’ve bloated on cold ski hikes (adding a park would be good for cold transitions). And at this heat level, the difference between the UL and the 8.8 oz 800-fill version will really only be noticeable on demanding ounce counters. Beyond the cost, the weight savings may or may not be worth the paranoia that comes from cleaning this jacket against a branch. I babied my own and still saw some slight inconvenience while bushwhacking.

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

Eddie Bauer Centennial Collection MicroTherm 1000 ($399)

(Photo: Ryan Wichelns)

Best For: Moving while bundled up
Weight: 9.6 ounces (men’s medium)
Down Weight: 3.2 ounces
Optimal Temperature Range: 50 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit

The Micro Therm 1000 has only a little over an ounce down to Ghost UL, but the Bauertook has little on-face capability with the rugged (for this category) 20-den material. In addition, elastic fleece panels under the arms increase flexibility and breathability.

This jacket kept me a little warmer than the ghost whisper. I made myself comfortable at forty feet, not moving. The armpit panels didn’t seem to compromise the heat, but they were a nice feature as he moved over the tree line during fall hikes to Bear Peak in Boulder, Colorado, with early morning temperatures in the forties. The face cloth still deserves some care around sharp objects, but I felt confident to get stuck in my backpack or use it while walking and around blowing down.

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

Mont Bell Plasma 1000 ($439)

(Photo: Ryan Wichelns)

Best For: Shoulder-season backpacking
Weight: 8.4 ounces (men’s medium)
Down Weight: 3.4 ounces 
Optimal Temperature Range: 45 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit

While the downward weight of the Mont Bell is similar to that of the Eddie Bauer, the Plasma 1000 bulkhead design folds down slightly thicker, making it noticeably puffier and warmer than the Mount Hardwear or Eddie Bauerjackets. This was my hyped-up for winter desert hikes: Itook down Little Death Hollow to the Escalante River in Utah, where morning temperature didn’t creep past the high thirties. It was also a comfortable ski-crossing jacket in the days when the mercury was falling at the age of thirty. The fabric of the seven deniers ‘ face feels a bit light and light and was as delicate as that of the Ghost Whisperer: I tested the bracelet on a thick stone as I walked down the Escalante and injected a small tear, but the heat-to-weight ratio of the plasma is almost the best of the stones. It all comes down to a little less than a 32-ounce Nalgene.

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Rab Zero G ($550)

(Photo: Ryan Wichelns)

Best For: Super-cold adventures
Weight: 10 ounces (men’s medium)
Down Weight: 4.05 ounces 
Optimal Temperature Range: 35 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit

Large nipples, such as Rab’s Zero G, are where the 1,000-fill down value becomes most obvious. With the extra down inside (which uses more than twice the lower Ghost Whisperer), the weight difference between the equally warm padding and the jacket can be much more obvious. The Zero G was warm enough, like an insurance jacket for ice climbing or bloated for a full winter backpack up to Hyalite Canyon in Montana. The trade-off, however, is that the extra 1,000 padding makes this the most expensive jacket I’ve tried, for more than $ 110.

Zero G quickly became my favorite bloated winter on the days when the numbers fell well below zero. Thanks to the ten-denier face cloth, it remained surprisingly intact (I put a little Nick on the body with a wandering ice screw in my backpack), although it saw more use than any of its competitors.

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Does Down insulation get wet?

Down offers an exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio and extreme level of compressibility. Those features have made it the go-to insulation for outdoors enthusiasts since it was first used in a jacket by an Australian climber 98 years ago. But down also has one major flaw: when it gets wet, it loses its ability to loft and provide insulation. So for years, the gear industry has been looking for a replacement. 

Lofted synthetic insulation materials are capable of maintaining their structure when wet, but even with recent advancements, they’ve never been able to truly match both the compressibility and weight of the real deal. Water-repellent treatments applied to down clusters have had limited success at reducing the material’s tendency to clump and lose loft when exposed to moisture. They’ve shifted the point at which down will clump but have not eliminated it entirely. 

So what’s the answer? A collaboration between Sitka, a Montana-based hunting brand, and PrimaLoft, the well-known maker of synthetic insulation materials, may have found one by adding a synthetic structure—they call it “scaffolding”—to high-quality goose down, forcing it to retain its loft even when wet. I’ve been testing a jacket and a pair of insulated pants made from the material for the past month. Throughout the spring bear-hunting season, they’ve provided the warmth and packability we’ve all learned to expect from normal down insulation. But even through periods of heavy rain, they remained lofty. Heavy rain will penetrate the shell fabric and can pass through to the wearer’s skin, but it does not appear to otherwise impair the function of the clothing. 

“Whether you’re crossing a stream or encountering rain, PrimaLoft Gold Down Blend will keep you warm, even if you find yourself in wet conditions,” says Vanessa Mason, PrimaLoft’s senior vice president of engineering.

In the foreground, those chaotic little clusters are true down. You can see a feather, for contrast, in the top left. And in the background, those puffy white clouds are the synthetic “scaffold.”
In the foreground, those chaotic little clusters are true down. You can see a feather, for contrast, in the top left. And in the background, those puffy white clouds are the synthetic “scaffold.” (Photo: PrimaLoft)

What’s Down?

Before I get going on this new technology, it’s worth revisiting the terminology involved. 

Down: Down is a cluster, not a feather. If you think of a bird’s feathers as a shell, keeping wind and water out, then down is the fluffy insulation material between the bird’s skin and that shell. We use down the same way. We’ve all found pointy feathers poking out of down jackets, sleeping bags, quilts, and pillows, but that’s because the way down is harvested leaves some feathers with the down material. The subsequent processing to remove those feathers is one of the determining factors in the quality of the end product. In this case, the down employed in the unique blend created for Sitka by PrimaLoft is 93 percent down and 7 percent feathers. That’s very good; cheaper down insulation will typically have a higher feather percentage, but it’s rare to see that number made public. 

Fill Power: This is the volume of space that one ounce of down is capable of lofting into. A higher fill power will not necessarily be warmer, but because you can use less of it to fill a given volume, it will be lighter and enable a garment made using it to compress into a smaller package. In this case, PrimaLoft and Sitka employ a 900-fill-power down in the blend. So one ounce will loft into 900 cubic inches. The two companies experimented with a 1,000-fill-power down but found it cost prohibitive. Previous down-blend materials created by PrimaLoft have used lower fill-power materials, but they haven’t been as light or as packable. Down can come from both ducks and geese; because geese are larger, they also produce larger down clusters, and larger clusters create higher fill-power numbers. The down included in this blend comes from geese. 

DWR: A durable water-repellant coating is a treatment that can be applied both to down and to a garment’s face fabric, which can keep water from soaking into the fabric or cluster. There’s been a lot of improvement in DWR chemicals in recent years, reducing their environmental impact and expanding their effectiveness. Materials treated with DWR will be water-resistant—capable of shedding light precipitation—but not waterproof. They are not capable of keeping water out during very heavy precipitation, submersion, or even long-term exposure to moisture, such as a garment might experience while being worn through long-duration, high-exertion activities, particularly inside a a clothing system with limited breathability. In such cases, even DWR-treated down tends to clump; garments using it will lose their ability to insulate. 

Sitka’s Kelvin Lite Down Hoody weighs 17 ounces in size large and packs into one of its hand pockets. It’s also exceptionally warm and can be worn in normal conditions like the best ultralight down jackets out there.
Sitka’s Kelvin Lite Down Hoody weighs 17 ounces in size large and packs into one of its hand pockets. It’s also exceptionally warm and can be worn in normal conditions like the best ultralight down jackets out there. (Photo: Sitka)

Who’s Involved? 

Both PrimaLoft and John Barklow, Sitka’s big-game project manager, have been trying to solve the issue of moisture and insulation for decades. 

PrimaLoft was founded in the 1980s in response to the U.S. military’s search for an alternative to down that could remain warm when wet. In 1985, PrimaLoft patented a material called synthetic down, which would eventually be renamed PrimaLoft One. It was first employed in a civilian jacket by L.L.Bean in 1989. 

After training Special Operations forces in outdoor survival, Barklow began working in clothing design following the 9/11 terror attacks and collaborating with Rick Elder (who now runs Beyond Clothing) to create the original protective combat uniform—a system of synthetic layers designed to help soldiers remain comfortable and safe while undergoing high-output activities in cold, wet weather. 

In a way, this product represents the culmination of both parties’ efforts: everything that’s good about down, plus the ability to reliably work when wet. 

With its three-quarter length, the Kelvin Lite Down pant is designed to be worn over your shell pants and gaiters while glassing and will remain warm in the most challenging conditions.
With its three-quarter length, the Kelvin Lite Down pant is designed to be worn over your shell pants and gaiters while glassing and will remain warm in the most challenging conditions. (Photo: Sitka)

The End Result

This isn’t the first time PrimaLoft has combined down and synthetic insulation. In 2013, the company released a blend that was 70 percent 750-fill down and 30 percent polyester fibers. It kept wearers warm, even when saturated with sweat or precipitation, but it didn’t truly match the packability or weight of a pure down insulation. Sitka was seeking a no-compromise product, so with Barklow’s input, PrimaLoft increased the down content to 80 percent and utilized a higher-fill-power down treated with a DWR coating.

That lighter, fluffier down is now supported by just enough synthetic fibers to force it to loft, even when it doesn’t want to. The result is an insulation that genuinely retains its ability to insulate when soaked through with sweat, precipitation, or, in my testing, pouring water on it from a bucket and dunking it in a sink. In fact, I’ve been unable to create conditions that result in clumping. 

This is particularly important, because the insulation can be used in the lifesaving rewarming drill that Barklow invented during his time as a Special Operations forces trainer, which is designed to help an individual drag their body out of hypothermic conditions with nothing but exercise and clothing capable of quickly drying. In less dire conditions, it means that wearers can simply don an item of clothing made from the blend over wet clothes and expect the heat generated by wearing it to help dry those saturated clothes. That hasn’t been possible with down before, because the moisture moving outward from the wearer’s body would instead saturate the down, eliminating its ability to insulate and leaving you wet and cold. 

“This is going to keep on delivering warmth, even when other downs will fail,” says Barklow. He’s used the material in two products: the Kelvin Lite Down jacket, and the Kelvin Lite Down 3/4 pant. But he didn’t stop there. The jacket actually foregoes the down blend under its arms and in the lower-back area in favor of a pure PrimaLoft Gold synthetic insulation. The pants do the same in the panels that cover your butt. 

Using PrimaLoft Gold Down Blend across all parts of the jacket and pants would add cost and decrease performance. In areas of the jacket and pants that are typically compressed while being worn, down insulation wouldn’t provide warmth. So sticking with less compressible insulation in these areas enables the garments to provide insulation where the weight of your arms, a pack’s hipbelt, or simply sitting would eliminate the benefits of down. 

Those insulation materials are contained in a very light 20-denier nylon face fabric equipped with two-way stretch. The stretch isn’t there to add freedom of movement but rather a level of durability that defies the system’s light weight. If you catch it on a branch or a rock, it will stretch rather than tear. 

Both the Sitka jacket and pants feel as light, warm, and packable as normal high-quality, ultralight down items. What they offer is increased reliability. And because you can count on them to work no matter the conditions, the real innovation here is that they enable you to carry fewer pieces and less weight as a result. 

“Weight is critical, but you don’t want to compromise your safety for weight,” says Barklow. “In a worst-case scenario, this will continue to retain loft and continue to be warm.” 

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