Finalizing the round-up of library, archives, and reel librarian scenes in MCU’s Phase Four TV series + specials

As the MCU’s Phase Five kicked off this winter with the Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania movie, it feels like good timing to wrap up our cataloging of all the library, archives, and reel librarian scenes in MCU’s Phase Four movies and TV series. I’ve written a lot about library scenes in various Marvel movies on this site, so last summer, I revisited all the Marvel movies (and TV series, which began in Phase four), this time in phase order, to make sure I watched, reviewed, and analyzed them all for any library, archives, and reel librarian scenes. And I finalized the Phase Four movies earlier this month!

So please join me as I wrap up my librarian way through the MCU’s first four phases. And below feel free to browse the other MCU round-up posts:

And because Phase Four, which commences the Multiverse Saga, introduces TV series and specials, and is considerably larger and longer than previous phases, I split Phase Four into two separate posts, a post for the Phase Four movies, and another post here for the Phase Four TV series and specials. Let’s put a bow on the Phase Four TV series and specials!

There were a LOT more library, archives, and research-related scenes in the Phase Four TV series than I originally anticipated, so this is a super(hero)-sized post to finish out our MCU posts for phases 1-4. Feels appropriate, right? 😉


WandaVision (Jan.-Mar. 2021)

WandaVision premiered as the first MCU TV series at the beginning of 2021 and has 9 episodes total. In this series, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) are living in the suburbs, trying to act “normal” and conceal their powers. The series also features Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness, Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau. Kat Dennings and Randall Park return as Darcy Lewis and Jimmy Woo, respectively. WandaVision is a high-concept series, with each episode’s look and feel reflecting popular TV shows of different eras (i.e.g, the first episode looks like 1950s sitcoms, the second episode transitions into 1960s sitcoms, etc.). The series is set three weeks after the events of Avengers: Endgame, and its plot and ending directly lead into the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness movie, which also features Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch.

There is a squint-and-you’ll-miss-it reel librarian sighting in this series, as well as a few book-focused research scenes. The Westview Public Library is also the setting for a couple of key scenes.

Episode 2, “Don’t Touch That Dial”

At 6 minutes into this episode, which is all about wanting to fit in, Vision says, “There’s a gathering of the neighborhood watch at the public library.” Cut to 11:40 minutes, and we see Vision walking up the stairs to the library.

Vision: Pardon me, is this the neighborhood watch meeting?

Norm: Oh, hiya Vision, didn’t expect to see you here. This is sort of a “members only” type deal.

The neighborhood watch meeting is taking place in a central table in the middle of the library, and we see bookcases and a large card catalog along the walls, as well as microfiche readers. The interior of the library looks to be octagonal, with an open upper level supported by columns; this octagonal shape seems to be at (architectural) odds with the flat exterior of the library building.

Behind Norm’s head, there’s what looks to be a reference counter, and a woman with dark hair walks behind the counter, which indicates to me that she’s a reel librarian. This character goes unmentioned in the episode’s cast list but helps solidify the library setting, so she ends up a (nominal) Information Provider.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Vision sits down at the center table, saying he’ll “be as quiet as a church mouse.” It dawns on him, finally, that the “neighborhood watch” meeting is actually cover for guys to get together and gossip! Vision then tries a stick of gum — again, trying to fit in — but the gum gets stuck in his internal gears, which has hilarious consequences in the latter half of the episode.

The library scene ends at 14:34 minutes, lasting a total of 3 minutes.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Episode 3, “Now in Color”

This episode is set in the 1970s, and at 2 minutes into the episode, Vision comes out of the Westview Public Library in an establishing shot in the episode’s intro titles. The very next frame is a closeup of Vision reading a book about pregnancy while he’s walking. This visual continuation seems to suggest that this is a book Vision just checked out of the library, but there’s also no call number on this book. (Also, the front and back covers of the book seem to be the same, which is odd, isn’t it? Could this be another, very subtle hint that Vision and Wanda don’t actually fit in with everyone else? Also, does this red book cover remind you of the red book cover for Rosemary’s Baby? An unsettling thought!)

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

At 5 minutes into the episode, Vision is reading another baby book in the nursery, a book entitled The Better Homes and Gardens Baby Book.

By the way, this is a real book which had many editions published from 1948 through 1977. Y’all knew I would look that up, right? 😉

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Just 2 minutes later, Wanda experiences pregnancy pain, and asks Vision, “Do any of your books talk about this?”

Vision is ready with a new book from their home library, this time The New Complete Medical and Health Encyclopedia — remember when you kept encyclopedias at home?! — which is also a real book that went through many editions published by J.G. Ferguson Publishing Company. Vision looks up Braxton Hicks contractions.

Using a medical and health encyclopedia at home
Using a medical and health encyclopedia at home

Episode 9, “The Series Finale”

At 8 minutes into the finale, Wanda and Agatha have a showdown, and Agatha shares the prophecy in the Darkhold, revealing that there’s an entire chapter devoted to the Scarlet Witch: “Your power exceeds that of the sorcerer supreme. It’s your destiny to destroy the world.” (Put a pin in that for the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness movie!) Agatha describes the Darkhold as “the book of the damned.”

Closeup of the Darkhold book and the Scarlet Witch
Closeup of the Darkhold book and the Scarlet Witch

At 16 minutes into the episode, the townspeople confront Wanda in the town square, while The Vision (all in white) picks a fight with Vision and throws him through the public library’s windows.

The interior of the library looks to be the same octagonal set as seen in the previous episode, but we can see updates to the library, including a different card catalog along one wall (looks to be a boxier shape, like from the 1970s?), and a bulletin board to the right of the front door. This library bulletin board was my FAVORITE bit of this whole scene, as it’s SO cheesy — with a bee illustration and the phrase “The Library is the place to ‘bee'” — and SO true-to-life for a public library! I have created bulletin boards like this. In the gallery below, you can see the bulletin board and the library card catalog.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

While this new Vision states that “my mission is to destroy the Vision,” it really seems to be about destroying the public library!

After all the destruction, I enjoyed that the two Visions then engaged in a philosophical debate and thought experiment whilst in a library; it felt fitting that The Vision restored his knowledge while in a place of knowledge.

This library fight scene ends at 20:56, lasting for 5 minutes.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

The final scene in the series features Wanda with the Darkhold — the “book of the damned” — and in her Scarlet Witch costume. This scene will get referenced again in the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness movie.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Mar.-Apr. 2021)

In this TV series, which has 6 episodes, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) return and team up against the Flag Smashers and the Power Broker. Carl Lumbly has a memorable role as Isaiah Bradley, the first Black Captain America. Daniel Brühl returns as Helmut Zemo. This TV series is set six months after Steve Rogers handed the Captain America shield to Sam at the end of the Avengers: Endgame (2019) movie. This series delves into issues of racism in the U.S., and what it means and feels like to be both a Black man and Captain America.

There are no official libraries in this series, but there is an interesting example of a private library in a prison, as well as the related field of curation and museum exhibits that I felt was interesting to share.

Episode 1, “New World Order”

At 12 mins into this episode, Sam Wilson speaks at the opening of the Smithsonian Museum’s exhibit for Captain America.

Episode 3, “Power Broker”

At 7:15 minutes in to this episode, Sam and Bucky are going to see Zemo, who is in a private prison cell.

Bucky: What’s the book you’re reading?

Zemo: Machiavelli.

Zemo then picks up the book — which is laying beside a cluster of books in a private prison library of sorts — revealing a hidden key card, which helps him break out of prison.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Episode 6, “One World, One People”

At the end of the finale, at 41 minutes, Sam takes Isiah Bradley to the Smithsonian Museum, where he reveals a new section of the Captain America exhibit that spotlights Bradley and the other Black American men who were in the Super Soldiers program.

Isiah Bradley exhibit at the Smithsonian
Isiah Bradley exhibit at the Smithsonian

Loki (Season 1, June-July 2021)

Tom Hiddleston returns to steal the small screen as Loki in this TV series, which has 6 episodes. After stealing the Tesseract during the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), an alternate version of Loki winds up in trouble with the Time Variance Authority (TVA). Agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) recruits Loki to help him track down another Loki variant and help fix the “Sacred Timeline.” The series co-stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku, Sophia Di Martino, Richard E. Grant, and Jonathan Majors.

We see the TVA’s archives quite a few times in this series, as well as the archivist in one episode!

Episode 1, “Glorious Purpose”

The credits of the first episode feature closeups of case files from the archives, dictionaries and notes, as well as “Archive” labels on card catalog drawers. It just makes sense that we see evidence of the archives in the first episode, as the TVA is the ultimate bureaucracy, right? This means lots of paper and filing clerks and archives!

Episode 2, “The Variant”

At 17:56 minutes into this episode, Mobius engages Loki in a research project in the archives, to help figure out how to catch the Loki variant. Our first glimpse of the archives reveals seemingly endless rows and levels of archives and bookcases. (IMDb’s Filming & Production page for this episode lists the Atlanta Marriott Marquis as the filming location for the TVA Headquarters, and photos of this hotel look like the backdrop for the archives. My guess is that they CGI’d all the bookcases and files visible in the background. And the letter combinations visible in the signage (and elevator) clearly signify an advanced classification system.)

Mobius: I need you to go over each and every one of the variants case files, and then give me your… how do I put it? Your unique Loki perspective. And who knows? Maybe there’s something that we missed.

Loki: Well, you’re idiots. I suspect you probably missed a lot.

Mobius: That’s why I’m lucky I got ya for a little bit longer. Let me park ya at this desk, and don’t be afraid to really lean into this work.

Loki [looking at the mountain of documents]: Oh my goodness.

A person in the background, who is dressed in a suit and tie, then shushes Loki, and Loki turns around and shushes them back! The shusher is credited as “Archives Shusher” (Zele Avradopoulos) in the cast list.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Loki, tired of doing research, tries to trick the Archivist (Dayna Beilenson) into giving him classified files. Let’s see how that turned out for him!

The Archivist, a White woman, is seated at her own station, cocooned within a low wall of glass partitions. Looking very no-nonsense in a tie and cardigan with pulled-back hair and 1950s glasses, she is typing away as Loki approaches.

Loki: Hi. Hello?

Archivist: [No answer, keeps typing]

Loki: Hello? [finally dings the bell on her desk]

Archivist: Can I help you?

Loki: Yes, I’m on some important TVA business. Follow-up to a field mission. You know how it goes. We redlined near the Apez, and well, it’s never good.

Archivist: [No reaction.]

Loki: I’d like all files pertaining to the creation of the TVA, please.

Archivist: Those are classified.

Loki: Ok. I’d like all files pertaining to the beginning of time then.

Archivist: Those are classified.

Loki: Ok. The end of time.

Archivist: Those are classified.

Loki: Ok. What files can I have?

Archivist [goes to the stacks and hands him a file]: Happy reading.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Lessons learned?

  1. Take archivists seriously when they say something is classified.
  2. The archivist’s glare is as chilling as a librarian’s.
  3. Don’t mess with archivists, y’all!

And lo and behold, by actually engaging in the research process and studying the archival files, Loki discovers the answer to how to find the variant Loki!

It’s also interesting to note that the closeup of a document reveals a file number and more evidence of an advanced classification system. I don’t know what this classification system is or what it signifies, but I can tell you it’s not Dewey or Library of Congress (LC). Wait… is this how non-librarians view library call numbers, as undecipherable combinations of letters and numbers?! Oh no! 😉

File number and archival classification system
File number and archival classification system

This archives scene ends at 21:26, so this scene lasts 4 1/2 minutes.

Loki takes his discovery to Mobius, and they test out the theory, that the Loki variant is hiding in apocalypses. After they prove the theory correct, at 27:43 minutes, Mobius says they need to figure out how many apocalypses there are. Cue a return to the archives!

Loki and Mobius review archives of apocalypses
Loki and Mobius review archives of apocalypses

And at 31:50 minutes into the episode, Mobius returns again to the archives, inspired by something Loki says. He pulls out a packet of Kablooie gum from an old case file, an anachronism in another timeline. This archival clue leads them to research the gum and cross-reference apocalyptic events. Ahhh, the research process! (What goes unsaid is how classification systems and keywords help make this kind of cross-referencing possible in the first place. Archivists, librarians, and catalogers worldwide say you’re welcome. 😉 )

Mobius: All we got to do is cross-reference that with every apocalyptic event.  I’m gonna a give you half, have a competition, see who wins.

Loki: Found it!

Mobius: You’re gonna take my job if I’m not careful.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

This scene ends at 33:09, lasting just under a minute and a half. Altogether, archival research dominates the episode… although the word “archives” or “archivist” is never stated out loud.

The credits also replay the bell scene from the archives!

Episode 4, “The Nexus Event”

There’s a short scene in the archives in this episode.

At 30:50 minutes into the episode, Mobius becomes suspicious of his friend and mentor Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and steals her TemPad mobile device. He then goes to a quiet corner of the archives to search the device’s contents. Obviously, the archives is where you go when you don’t expect to see anyone else!

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

The information he discovers on the TemPad, that the TVA workers all used to be variants, directly impacts the rest of the series. This scene ends at 32:14.

Episode 5, “Journey into Mystery”

Miss Minutes, voiced by Tara Strong, is not an official archivist (she’s more like a marketing spokesperson or mascot?), but she does undertake archival research in this episode.

At 9:40 minutes into the episode, Renslayer and Sylvie (a Loki variant) interact with Miss Minutes.

Renslayer: Miss Minutes, I need you to remote access a series of restricted files from the archives.

Minutes: Oooh doggy! On what?

Renslayer: The beginning of time. The founding of the TVA.

Minutes: Right away.

The animated archives look like a wheel. I think it’s interesting to contrast this scene with the previous scene with the uncooperative archivist.

However helpful Miss Minutes seems, Sylvie becomes suspicious of how long the search is taking — and indeed, this archival quest is a ruse to capture Sylvie! The scene ends at 11:26 minutes.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Later in the episode, at 29:12 minutes, Renslayer asks Miss Minutes for the files from the beginning of time, this time for real.

Episode 6, “For All Time. Always.”

Once again, the archives is an important setting, including in the final shots of the finale.

At 39:01 minutes into the episode, Loki is back in the TVA after being betrayed by Sylvia, and he runs through the archives. Computer screens in the background show how the timeline is splintering. Mobius and Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) are also standing in the archives, panicked by the splintering timelines.

Mobius: That’s what, 63 new branches in this unit alone?

Hunter B-15: Does he want us to just let them all branch?

Loki [running up to them]: We freed the timeline!


Mobius: What’s your name?

Hunter B-15: Boots on the ground now. Archives.

The final shot of the series pans over the archives, this time with a statue of Kang. All reality, as this Loki knows it, has changed.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

It’s also significant that the final word of the series is “Archives,” yet it’s the first time the word “archives” is spoken aloud in the series.

The final shot of the credits has a closeup of a stamp, and atop an archival document, the stamp reads: “Loki will return in Season 2.”

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

As Pop Archives summarizes:

Unfortunately, they don’t refer to the massive archive as an archives until the last minute of the last episode of season one. […]

That being said, records and files are everywhere in season one, including the closing credits of every episode. They are the bread and butter of the TVA, but they’re also a thematic tool. […]

Records and archival collections as the truth or a truth is entirely based on how you approach the postmodernist theory behind constructed narratives and the inherent power of the archives to facilitate those narratives.

Samantha Cross, “Archives on TV: Loki,” Pop Archives, 24 June 2022

What If…? (Season 1, Aug.-Oct. 2021)

This animated series, another first for the MCU, explores what would happen if pivotal moments from the MCU happened differently. This series, which has 9 episodes, is set after the multiverse concept is established in Loki‘s first season. Jeffrey Wright narrates the series as the Watcher. A few episodes feature libraries or archives.

Episode 2, “What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?”

In this episode and alternate reality, T’Challa is Star-Lord, and he leads the Ravagers to Knowhere in order to challenge the Collector, who oversees a vast collection (a personal archive or library?) of valuable and dangerous objects. At 15:23 minutes into this episode, T’Challa asks Howard the Duck where the “Embers of Genesis” are located, and we learn about a mini-library of Elvish literature! (LOTR and MCU fans unite! 😉 )

T’Challa / Star-Lord: Do you know where I can find them?

Howard the Duck: Cosmic flora, down the hall, take a Louie at the first giants, a hard Ralph at the Kronans, you’re gonna see a sign for Elvish literature. Ignore that, total snooze.

I’m not counting this as an official library or archives, but I thought it was a funny aside!

Tell me again about the Elvish literature
Tell me again about the Elvish literature

Episode 3, “What If… the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?”

In this episode, Natasha Romanoff (voiced by Lake Bell) is trying to figure out who or what is killing off the (potential) members of the Avengers.

At 18:29 minutes into the episode, Romanoff has broken into a public library in Manassas, Virginia, after the library has closed. (Note: There are several public library branches in Manassas, but the design of this animated library seems to most closely resemble the Manassas Park City Library branch.) All the lights are off as Natasha uses a library computer to try and log into the Avengers online system.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Agent Coulson [voice over the cell phone]: Why do you need my password?

Natasha: I need to get into the Avengers Initiative files, but I’m locked out of the system… and wanted for murder.

Natasha hears a noise and looks over her shoulder down an aisle of bookcases. An invisible foe attacks her, and they fight in the stacks. Natasha manages to call Nick Fury and calls out a clue, “It’s all about hope!”

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

This scene in the public library ends at 20:18 minutes, so the scene lasts less than two minutes.

Episode 4, “What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?”

In this episode, Dr. Strange tries to prevent Christine’s death, which takes him on a journey to the Lost Library of Cagliostro.

At 4:17 minutes into the episode, we see a version of a scene in Doctor Strange (2016), in which reel librarian Wong (voiced by Benedict Wong) warns Strange (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) about the Eye of Agamotto, which was discovered by Cagliostro, and its power to manipulate time. In this version, we see the Ancient One (rather than Mordo) in the Kamar-Taj library!

An animated look at the Kamar-Taj Library!
An animated look at the Kamar-Taj Library!

At 5:20 minutes, we revisit Wong and Strange back in the New York sanctuary, as Strange mourns the second anniversary of Christine’s death. Again, Wong serves as a voice of reason, warning Strange not to “do something reckless.”

Almost 6 minutes later, at 11:04 minutes, the Ancient One echoes Wong’s warnings:

Ancient One: The greatest sorcerers of the past could not reverse an Absolute Point.

Strange: You don’t know that. Books have been lost. Libraries destroyed.

Strange doesn’t listen. Less than a minute later, at 11:57 minutes, we see that Strange’s journey has led him to a jungle, where he meets a stranger, a Black man. This character is voiced by Nigerian actor Ike Amadi.

Strange: I’m looking for the Lost Library of Cagliostro. Library? Hello? You know, books? Reading? Knowledge?

[No answer, as the stranger walks away, and Strange follows him.]

Strange: Where can I find Cagliostro?

Stranger: Maybe here, maybe there, maybe nowhere.

Strange: Please tell me you’re not Cagliostro.

Stranger: The name’s O’Bengh, librarian for the books of Cagliostro.

O'Bengh introduces himself as a librarian
O’Bengh introduces himself as a librarian

They arrive at the Lost Library of Cagliostro, and what a sight this library is to behold! A cherry tree grows in the center, and a few books hang from chains along the ceiling (visually intriguing but very impractical). Strange refers to these as “the lost books.” (My spouse wondered if the Book of Vishanti was there, hah!) We also see bookcases lining the back walls of the large room.

O’Bengh: How long will you be staying here?

Strange: As long as it takes.

One of the books that Strange consults, a book on time manipulation, states that you can “gain the power through the absorption of other beings.” Strange ultimately rejects O’Bengh and the library, saying, “The library isn’t enough. Those beings have what I need.” Despite another librarian’s warnings (and first aid help), Strange continues on his destructive path of battling monsters and absorbing their powers.

Eventually, Strange returns to the library and finds O’Bengh on his deathbed.

Strange: O’Bengh, what happened to you?

O’Bengh: Time. Put that away [the Eye of Agamotto]. You used magic to remain frozen for centuries. I chose to live. Even in our world, death is part of the plan. Maybe the other Strange will [accept death].”

In this closeup, it’s clear that O’Bengh has one blue eye and one brown eye (this rare genetic phenomenon is called heterochromia).

O'Bengh on his deathbed
O’Bengh on his deathbed

This Lost Library of Cagliostro scene ends at 20 minutes into the episode, lasting 8 minutes total.

Strange’s actions have disastrous consequences back in the alternate reality’s New York sanctuary with Wong. At 22:17 minutes, Wong, as usual, gets straight to the point.

Wong: Ok, wait, so the fabric of reality is breaking, and only you can stop it because you are causing it.

Strange: Let’s be honest, we’ve been through weirder.

Wong: Do you want to stop him?

Strange: At the very least, to save you.

At this point, my spouse shouted out:

He’s not wrong. Without Wong, there is no MCU!

Both Wong and O’Bengh serve primarily as Information Providers, as they provide information (and warnings) to Strange and the viewers. I would also argue that both also serve as Comic Relief, as they both display senses of humor (Wong refers to the bathroom as “the little sorcerer’s room” while O’Bengh calls Strange “Sorcerer Armani.”)

Is O’Bengh indeed Cagliostro? Burkely Hermann, in this thoughtful analysis post of this episode, states that this is implied. Hermann also brings up some interesting points to reflect on with this reel librarian portrayal:

It is disconcerting the number of roles he [O’Bengh] takes on in the episode: an all-knowing person, a medic, and a sorcerer, to name the three most prominent. Archives in Fiction (AIF) makes a good point that while the space was beautifully rendered, it is “utterly impractical” and argued that the episode has the subtext that “librarians are magic” or that they are “expected to work miracles.” In response to AIF saying that they since when anyone calls “us” (archivists, librarians) miracle workers, even if it comes “from a good place,” saying that there is “really nothing miraculous about the work we put into making things findable,” I said that that perspective makes sense.

Burkely Hermann, “Doctor Strange’s quest for power and the Black sorcerer-librarian,” Pop Culture Library Review, 12 Oct. 2021.

Episode 5, “What If… Zombies?!”

Benedict Wong has no lines (other than grunts) in this episode, but I had to include a look at Zombie Wong!!!

Zombie Wong first shows up at 3:39 minutes into the episode, and (SPOILER), he gets his head chopped off by a portal at 4:11 minutes.

Zombie Wong
Zombie Wong

Episode 7, “What If… Thor Were an Only Child?”

Although there is no library in this episode, there is a running gag in this episode about Thor’s so-called study group and how “knowledge is magic.”

At the end of this episode, at 28:50 minutes, Captain Marvel flies down to Thor and hands him a tablet full of info about humans, in order to help Thor save face in front of his mother, Frigga. It’s interesting to note what resources made the cut!

Thor, here’s the information you requested on human civilizations, and I loaded a few documentaries, PBS specials, NPR podcasts.

Knowledge is magic, indeed. Marvel provides Thor a table full of info about human civilization.
Knowledge is magic, indeed. Marvel provides Thor a table full of info about human civilization.

Episode 8, “What If… Ultron Won?”

In this episode, Natasha Romanoff and Hawkeye team up to try and figure out a way to stop Ultron. This journey takes them to the KGB Archives, while the Watcher watches them and agonizes about whether or not to intervene. The KGB Archives are housed in a vast warehouse of seemingly never-ending rows of bookshelves and file boxes. No archivist is ever seen, or even mentioned.

At 10:54 minutes into the episode, Natasha and Hawkeye arrive at the archives.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Watcher: One last hope.

Natasha: Welcome to the KGB archives.

Hawkeye: Your country ever heard of PDFs?

Natasha: Hard copies are harder to steal, easier to destroy. But code, code is slippery, and it never dies.

Hawkeye: So, where do we start?

Natasha: Just pick a box.

[Pause here to scream into the void while I go all capsy. NO!!! Any kind of library or archival material is organized according to a system, a classification system, and there would be finding aids or signs or SOMETHING to help explain that system and where things are generally located. This archives warehouse looks VERY organized, by the way, with every file labeled within each box, so there’s no reason to think that there wouldn’t be a system for these archives. “Just pick a box” is NOT a system, and the time these two waste going through random boxes makes me want to scream for an archivist!]

They also mention the Raiders of the Lost Ark movie as they’re walking down the shelves of archives. (Read here at Pop Archives about how annoying it is that Raiders of the Lost Ark has helped create everlasting public confusion between archaeologists and archivists).

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

The Watcher spies the exact file they need and debates on whether or not to intervene. The scene also includes an archives ladder, plus an Easter egg where they find the Red Guardian’s shield (a connection back to Black Widow).

Hawkeye finally has had enough.

Sorry to break it to you, Natasha, but the Death Star plans are not in the main computer.

Star Wars and MCU crossover alert! This is referencing the archives adventure plot of Rogue One! 😀

Conveniently for reasons of PLOT, Natasha then immediately finds the Zola file. The Watcher is relieved, whilst archivists and librarians collectively roll our eyes at this purposefully (and needlessly) frustrating archives scene.

This archives scene ends at 14:06 and lasts 3 minutes total.

Hawkeye (Nov.-Dec. 2021)

In this TV series, which is set post-Blip, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) reluctantly teams up with the young Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) to confront enemies from his past. Will Hawkeye be able to make it back to his family in time for Christmas? The series, which has 6 episodes, co-stars Vera Farmiga as Eleanor Bishop, Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova (the new Black Widow), Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk (Kingpin), Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez (Echho), and Zahn McClarnon as William Lopez.

I could not see any library or archives scenes in this entire TV series. There are a few research scenes, but they all entail Kate utilizing Bishop Security’s private database of security and criminal intel.

Moon Knight (Mar.-May 2022)

In this series, which includes 6 episodes, Oscar Isaac plays three different men, who are all distinct identities, or alters, stemming from a dissociative identity disorder (DID): Marc Spector / Moon Knight, Steven Grant / Mr. Knight, and Jake Lockley. The TV series co-stars May Calamawy as Layla El-Faouly (the first Arab superhero in the MCU!), F. Murray Abraham as the voice of Khonshu, Ethan Hawke as Arthur Harrow, and Gaspard Ulliel as Anton Mogart. The mystery plot of the series involves Egyptian gods and their human avatars.

Similar to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier TV series, there are no official libraries or archives in this series, but there ARE several interesting examples of private libraries, as well as related (but distinctly different) fields of archaeology and museums that I thought would be interesting to share.

Episode 1, “The Goldfish Problem”

As the series begins, Steven Grant wakes up in bed, and we can spy bookcase shelves behind him — and those bookcases are arranged haphazardly (perhaps also an external reflection of his splintered mind?).

We also learn that Steven works at the British Museum in London, in the gift shop, although he not-so-secretly wishes he were a tour guide at the museum. He clearly knows more about Egyptology than the tour guides, as evidenced when he chats with a little girl at the museum.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Note: The British Museum and the British Library used to be united, but the British Library separated from the Museum in 1973. However, the British Museum continued to host the Library in its iconic Reading Room (the architectural inspiration behind the Library of Congress Reading Room, as seen here) until 1997. Therefore, I’m NOT counting this location as a library, as the British Museum and the British Library are separate entities now.

Confused yet? Even more confusingly, the actual external location used in this series for the British Museum was actually the National Gallery. Staff members wear uniforms with “National Art Gallery” printed on them, but there is no such place. London has the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, but only the British Museum has Egyptian artifacts. WHEW. Y’all still with me? 😉

At 10 minutes into the episode, we witness how Steven uses reading as a tactic to stay awake. He listens to an app (“Welcome to staying awake! … Bored with puzzles? Try a book!”), and he reads about Egyptian gods, highlighting passages in books. That’s how he knows more than the tour guides at the museum! This reading and research montage lasts under a minute.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Episode 2, “Summon the Suit”

At 12:30 minutes into this episode, Steven is walking through a storage unit facility (archives of personal lives?), and the automatic lights click off. My spouse remarked how these lights echoed the automatic lights coming on in the archives scene in Captain Marvel.

Dramatic lighting in the archives scenes in Captain Marvel (2019)
Click the arrows to slide and compare the automatic lights in the storage facility in Moon Knight (left) versus the archives in Captain Marvel (right)

At 15:44 minutes, Steven brings Layla back to his apartment. We see many more bookcases, with books stacked everywhere, even on the floor. Steven also has card catalog drawers along one back wall, as well as a library ladder!

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Episode 3, “The Friendly Type”

In this episode, we learn more about Layla’s dad, who was an archaeologist. Again, just to be clear, archaeology and archives are NOT the same thing. (Sam @ Pop Archives delves more into this misconception here in this post.)

But I found this quote interesting. Less than 2 minutes into the episode, Layla’s forger friend, Lagaro (Barbara Rosenblat), quips:

Archaeology. One big mess of obsessive bookworms.

Also, later in the episode at 26:30 minutes, Layla has a brief exchange with Anton Mogart (Gaspard Ulliel, who tragically died in a ski accident this year) about the nature of private collections of cultural artifacts.

Anton: I hope you understand this is more than a collection to me. Preserving history is a responsibility I take very seriously.

Layla: A self-appointed responsibility that you alone are able to enjoy, no?

BINGO. I love that Layla is calling out his privilege here. Anton describes this kind of private collecting in a way that probably sounds similar to how an archivist could describe their work. But most archival collections are meant to be shared with the public — even if that public has to make appointments in order to view or use the collections — and not hidden away for just one person to enjoy. If you’re an archivist and reading this post, please leave a comment and share your perspective on this scene!

Episode 5, “Asylum”

At 3:53 minutes into this penultimate episode, Ethan Hawke is portraying a psychiatrist who is trying to explain trauma and its effects to Steven. And he mentions a library in this explanation!

Harrow: The struggling mind will often build places to seek shelter for different aspects of the self from our most traumatic memories. It’s called just an organizing principle, ok? Some people, they see a castle right? Somebody else will see a name, or a library.

Steven: Or…a psych ward?

Harrow also has a bookcase in his office, and most of the books are white or neutral-colored. Is it just my (biased) librarian perspective, or do you find it suspicious when people match their books with their decor? (Side note: PLEASE never go to a library and ask a librarian or staff member for “you know, the book with the blue cover.” We do NOT organize books by color, and we do not make note of the color of a cover in an item record in the library catalog. We do sometimes make funny book displays, like “Books with Blue Covers,” though, when we’re feeling snarky. 😉 ) In the screenshot below, you can also see colored stickers on some of the book spines, which makes me think these books props came from a real library.

A personal library in a doctor's office
A personal library in a doctor’s office

Ms. Marvel (June-July 2022)

In this TV series, which includes 6 episodes and occurs post-Blip, we get to know Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), a 16-year-old fangirl of the Avengers — and specifically Captain Marvel — who navigates the complications of daily life as a Pakistani-American as well as her own superpowers that develop after she puts on a mysterious bangle that used to belong to her great-grandmother Aisha (Mehwish Hayat). The series co-stars Zenobia Shroff as Muneeba Khan, Mohan Kapur as Yusuf Khan, Matt Lintz as Bruno Carrelli, Yasmeen Fletcher as Nakia Bahadir, Rish Shah as Kamran, Nimra Bucha as Najma, and Aramis Knight as Kareem / Red Dagger. This series is based on the graphic novel series by G. Willow Wilson, and the ending of this TV series directly sets up the plot of the upcoming movie, The Marvels.

This TV series has scenes set in and around the school library. Confusedly, the guidance counselor’s office seems to be INSIDE the school library (???), but I’m not counting the guidance counselor character as a reel librarian.

Episode 1, “Generation Why”

At 5 minutes into the first episode, we get a closeup of the school sign, which reads Coles Academic High School. The real-life inspiration behind this high school is the Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School, located on Coles Street in Jersey City, NJ. The McNair HS even issued a press release about how proud they are to be connected with this series!

It has been a point of pride to be a real-life example of the various identities that this history-making character and story represents.

McNair Academic Brought to Life as ‘Coles Academic’ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe” press release, Jersey City Public Schools, 3 June 2022.
Coles Academic High School plaque
Coles Academic High School plaque

You can also see “G. Willow Wilson” included as the first name on the Coles Academic sign. Wilson wrote the original Ms. Marvel comics, and also has a cameo on the series!

Onto another Wilson reference… at 7 minutes, we get our first glimpse of the school library and the office for the guidance counselor, Mr. Wilson (Jordan Firstman). Mr. Wilson is trying to be super cool and chill, but the teens obviously view him as a lame poser. Through the blinds of the guidance counselor’s office, we can see library shelves, and what looks like a common room with other offices? This school library’s layout seems really confusing! Also, note the cheesy inspirational sign on the back of the office door (“You Can Totally Do This”), as you will see more inspirational posters in upcoming scenes in this office!

Is the guidance counselor's office inside the school library?
Is the guidance counselor’s office inside the school library?

The guidance counseling session lasts 2 minutes.

Episode 2, “Crushed”

At 20:30 minutes into this episode, Bruno has a session with the guidance counselor. This time, the blinds are up, so we can see more clearly the library bookcases along the back and side walls, along with tables in the open area. Several students are using the school library space and browsing books on the shelves. (Click on the first screenshot in the gallery below to view the inspirational poster in this scene, which has a cat hanging off a tree branch below the words “Hang in there!”)

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

This scene lasts under 2 minutes.

Episode 4, “Seeing Red”

At 19:39 minutes into this episode, which is set in Pakistan, we enter the hideout of the Red Daggers, where we see their private library and collection of artifacts. I’m not counting this as an official library, but I thought it served as an interesting and different example of a private library.

We also see this private library again at 31:34 minutes, when Kamala is training with the Red Daggers.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Episode 6, “No Normal”

In this finale episode, Kamala and her friends hide out at the high school and create a plan for how to deal with the law enforcement officers who are coming for them. (Fair warning, there is a “trigger warning” at the beginning of this episode, as it is EXTREMELY disturbing to view cops tracking down and shooting at kids in a school.)

At 15:42 minutes into the episode, Kamala’s brother, Aamir (Saagar Shaikh), grabs a fire extinguisher in the school library. Call numbers are visible on the book spines.

A closeup of school library call numbers and a fire extinguisher
A closeup of school library call numbers and a fire extinguisher

At 21:28 minutes, Kamala and Kamran run through the library and hide in the guidance counselor’s office. Kamala is able to calm Kamran down, and they almost kiss before Bruno interrupts them. Kamala and Kamran escape out the back of the counselor’s office, where we see more bookcases and books with call numbers in a back room. It’s unclear if this back room is a storage room or a browsable extension of the school library? (Also, note the corner of one more inspirational poster in the guidance counselor’s office, with the words “Get Ready for College!”). Bruno distracts the cops by dancing in the library. The scene ends at 23:15 minutes.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Because of the additional back room glimpse, the guidance counselor’s office seems to be located in the MIDDLE of the school library. Is he supposed to be both the school’s librarian and the guidance counselor? Mr. Wilson is never seen doing anything other than counseling, so I’m still not listing him as a reel librarian. I don’t understand this set design. My best guess is that if this is a real school location, that they used the actual school librarian’s office and just turned it into the guidance counselor’s office, in order to save money and space.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (Aug.-Oct. 2022)

I waited until She-Hulk: Attorney at Law finished its first season run, so I could binge-watch the entire series. I was crossing my fingers for some law library scenes, and I (sort of) got my wish, as you will see below.

In this series, we follow the adventures of lawyer Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany), cousin to Bruce Banner / The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). After a car crash, Jennifer accidentally got exposed to Bruce’s blood, which results in a metamorphosis into She-Hulk. Jennifer then gets hired to lead a law firm’s new superhuman law division.

Episode 2, “Superhuman Law”

In this episode, Jennifer joins the Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway (GLK&H) and (reluctantly) agrees to represent Emil Blonsky / Abomination (Tim Roth) at his parole hearing, the first case for her new superhuman law division.

I had NOT caught a library-related Easter egg until I watched the always excellent Ryan Arey and his ScreenCrush recaps and Easter eggs of the She-Hulk series. In the recap video for Episode 2, Arey points out a glimpse of a comics library (!!!) while Jennifer gets a tour of the GLK&H law firm. So we DO get a law library — just a completely different kind than I had been thinking of! 😀

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger size.

“In the comic She-Hulk, the law firm uses comic books as a research library, because in the Marvels Comics Universe there is a Marvel Comics publishing company that publishes the exploits of the real-life superheroes. So the same could be true here [in the TV series], where this is the research library for the superhuman law division.”

Ryan Arey, “SHE-HULK Ep 2 Breakdown: Every Easter Egg and Marvel Reference + WOLVERINE Cameo Explained,” ScreenCrush [YouTube video], 25 Aug. 222
SHE-HULK Ep 2 Breakdown: Every Easter Egg and Marvel Reference + WOLVERINE Cameo Explained” video by ScreenCrush, Standard YouTube license

Due to his “encyclopedia knowledge of Marvel comics,” Arey then proceeds to detail each of the comic books referenced in this library cameo scene, based on the covers. LOVE. ❤ #NerdAlert #NoRegrets

Episode 3, “The People vs. Emil Blonsky”

In this episode, Jennifer successfully defends Blonsky / Abomination at his parole hearing, thanks in part to the testimony of Wong (Benedict Wong), who was tracked down by Jennifer’s paralegal, Nikki Ramos (Ginger Gonzaga).

When Jennifer goes to the prison to meet with Blonsky, she shows leaked footage from his fight with Wong — which was a very entertaining scene in the movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), which I analyzed here in this post. This leads the law team to Wong, who has a LinkedIn-type profile online which lists his employment history, including his position as Librarian at Kamar-Taj, a position he held (still holds?) for 11 years.

Nikki: Wong. Just Wong. And his internet presence is a little chaotic. He’s either a sorcerer who lives in New York or a librarian in Nepal.

Jennifer: Can you get to him?

Nikki: Yes, Jen. It’s me. Of course I can get to him. I sent a thirst trap. It was a picture of me with a bunch of books.

A glimpse of Wong's employment history
A glimpse of Wong’s employment history. Screenshot from ScreenCrush “SHE-HULK Ep 3 Breakdown: Every EASTER EGG + KINGPIN Clue EXPLAINED” video.

Of course, Wong is the current Sorcerer Supreme, and even if he is a retired reel librarian, I’m still including him! #TeamWongForever

Wong then portals into Jennifer’s law office — that book thirst trap was certainly successful! — and references the memory-erasing spell from Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Wong testifies at Blonsky’s parole hearing — but then disappears back into a portal when the parole board points out that Wong has just admitted to breaking the law by breaking Blonsky out of prison!

Slide the bar below to compare Wong’s portal entrance and exit.

Wong’s portal entrance and exit in this She-Hulk episode.

Episode 4, “Is This Not Real Magic?”

In this episode, Wong and Jennifer team up to fight a swarm of demons that a magician, Donny Blaze (Rhys Coiro) had unwittingly released; we find out that Donny had been expelled from Kamar-Taj.

As the episode begins, Donny pulls out a sling ring during his magic show and sends an audience member — Madisynn with “two N’s, one Y but it’s not where you thiiink” — to Kamar-Taj, where she interrupts Wong watching The Sopranos TV series and his adorable little dance to the opening credits song, “Woke Up This Morning” by Alabama 3:

Wong dances to the opening credits song from The Sopranos
Wong dances to the opening credits song from The Sopranos

At 6:15 minutes into the episode, Wong uses yet another portal to enter Jennifer’s law office, because he needs her help to stop Blaze.

Wong entering Jennifer's law office by another portal
Wong entering Jennifer’s law office by another portal

They have this following exchange, in which Wong references the Book of Vishanti (which was a major plot point in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022), which I detailed here in this “first impressions” post).

Jennifer: No judge is going to take this seriously unless we do things by the book.

Wong: Ah, the Book of Vishanti.

Jennifer: No, the book of American laws.

Before Wong departs in yet another portal, he hands Jennifer his business card, which simply reads:

Sorcerer Supreme
Master of the Mystic Arts

Wong's business card
Wong’s business card

The mid-credits scene showcases Wong hanging out again with Madisynn, watching The Sopranos. Madisynn asks about yak milk, and he mentions that they “still have some left from the wedding”… could he be referring to Tony Stark’s wedding that he got invited to in Avengers: Infinity War (2018)???

Madisynn and Wong hang out again in this mid-credits scene from She-Hulk
Madisynn and Wong hang out again in this mid-credits scene from She-Hulk

Episode 9, “Whose Show is This?”

In this final episode, Jennifer breaks the fourth wall — which was a common thing in the original She-Hulk comics — and persuades K.E.V.I.N. (an AI robot based on the real-life Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige) to rewrite the finale.

The final credits cameo reveals Wong breaking Blonsky out of prison to take him to Kamar-Taj.

Blonsky: You took your time.

Wong: Emil, my apologies for my delay.

Blonsky: You got sucked into another show, didn’t you?

Wong: We’re really in an era of peak TV.

And that is certainly true for every series that features Wong! How about a TV series all about Wong already?! … And I’m not the only one who thinks that!

Werewolf by Night (Oct. 2022)

No library scene.

In this TV special, which premiered on the Disney+ streaming platform, a group of monster hunters assemble at Bloodstone Manor after the death of Ulysses Bloodstone, to compete for the Bloodstone relic. It stars Gael Garcia Bernal as Jack Russell and Laura Donnelly as Elsa Bloodstone.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (Dec. 2022)

No library scene.

This TV special, written and directed by James Gunn, premiered on the Disney+ streaming platform. It reunites (almost all of) the Guardians of the Galaxy — minus Gamora (Zoe Saldana) — in a mission to bring Christmas cheer to Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), which involves kidnapping Kevin Bacon. As you do. 😉 This TV special paves the path for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 movie, scheduled to be released in May 2023.

Keeping score


  • 6 movies
  • 2/6 library or archives scenes
    • The Incredible Hulk – university library
    • Thor – public library
  • 0/6 reel librarian sightings


  • 6 movies
  • 1/6 library or archives scenes
    • Thor: The Dark World – college library
  • 0/6 reel librarian sightings


  • 11 movies
  • 3/11 library or archives scenes
    • Doctor Strange – Kamar-Taj library
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming – school library
    • Captain Marvel – U.S. Air Force archives
  • 3/11 reel librarian sightings – all Wong!
    • Doctor Strange
    • Avengers: Infinity War
    • Avengers: Endgame

Note: Except for Doctor Strange, the movies in this phase either included a library or archives but had no corresponding librarian or archivist — or vice versa, with a reel librarian never seen in a library.


  • 6 movies + 8 TV series + 2 TV specials
  • 7/16 library or archives scenes
    • Eternals – archives
    • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – Kamar-Taj Library
    • WandaVision – public library in 3 episodes
    • Loki – archives in 3 episodes
    • What If…? – public library in 1 episode, Kamar-Taj Library and the Lost Library of Cagliostro in 1 episode, archives in 1 episode
    • Ms. Marvel – school library in 3 episodes
    • She-Hulk: Attorney at Law – comics library in law form in 1 episode
  • 7/16 reel librarian sightings
    • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – Wong cameo
    • Spider-Man: No Way Home – Wong cameo
    • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – Wong as a main character
    • Wanda Vision – public librarian in an uncredited cameo in 1 episode
    • Loki – archivist in 1 episode
    • What If… ? – Wong and O’Bengh
    • She-Hulk: Attorney at Law – Wong as a supporting character in 3 episodes

Almost half of the Phase Four movies and TV series included a library or archives scene and/or reel librarians. It definitely helps that Wong is such a fan favorite!

OVERALL (phases 1-4, final):

  • 30 movies + 8 TV series + 2 TV specials
  • 15/40 library or archives scenes (38%)
  • 13/40 reel librarian sightings (33%)

Ultimately, a third or more of all the MCU movies and TV series included a library or archives scene and/or reel librarians.

Sources used

  • British Library.” Wikipedia, 20 July 2022. Accessed 21 Aug. 2022. CC BY SA 3.0 license.
  • Cross, Samantha. “Archives on TV: Loki.” Pop Archives, 24 June 2022.
  • Cross, Samantha. “They’re Digging in the Wrong Place: The Influence of Indiana Jones on the Archives.” Pop Archives, 7 Jan. 2019.
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Created by Malcolm Spellman. Perf. Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Erin Kellyman, Daniel Brühl, Emily VanCamp. Marvel Studios / Disney, 2021.
    • Episodes: “New World Order” (1.1, 19 Mar. 2021), “Power Broker” (1.3, 2 Apr. 2021); “One World, One People” (1.6, 23 Apr. 2021).
  • Hawkeye. Perf. Jeremy Rinner, Hailee Steinfeld, Vera Farmiga, Florence Pugh, Vincent D’Onofrio. Marvel Studios / Disney, 2021.
  • Hermann, Burkely. “Doctor Strange’s Quest for Power and the Black Sorcerer-Librarian.” Pop Culture Library Review, 12 Oct. 2021.
  • Keane, Sean. “Marvel Cinematic Universe: All the Phase 5 and 6 Release Dates Revealed.” CNET, 31 July 2022.
  • Loki. Created by Michael Waldron. Perf. Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino. Marvel Studios / Disney, 2021.
    • Episodes: “Glorious Purpose” (1.1, 9 Jun. 2021); “The Variant” (1.2, 16 Jun. 2021); “The Nexus Event” (1.4, 30 Jun. 2021); “Journey into Mystery” (1.5, 7 Jul. 2021); “For All Time. Always” (1.6, 14 Jul. 2021).
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Five.” Wikipedia, 21 Aug. 2022. Accessed 22 Aug. 2022. CC BY SA 3.0 license.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Four.” Wikipedia, 7 Aug. 2022. Accessed 8 Aug. 2022. CC BY SA 3.0 license.
  • McNair Academic Brought to Life as ‘Coles Academic’ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe” (press release). Jersey City Public Schools, 3 June 2022.
  • Moon Knight. Created by Doug Moench. Perf. Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, May Calamawy, F. Murray Abraham. Marvel Studios / Disney, 2022.
    • Episodes: “The Goldfish Problem” (1.1, 30 Mar. 2022); “Summon the Suit” (1.2, 6 Apr. 2022); “The Friendly Type” (1.3, 13 Apr. 2022); “Asylum” (1.5, 27 Apr. 2022).
  • Ms. Marvel. Created by Bisha K. Ali. Perf. Iman Vellani, Matt Lintz, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Rish Shah. Marvel Studios / Disney, 2022.
    • Episodes: “Generation Why” (1.1, 8 Jun. 2022); “Crushed” (1.2, 15 Jun. 2022); “Seeing Red” (1.4, 29 Jun. 2022); “No Norma: (1.6, 13 Jul. 2022).
  • ScreenCrush. “She-Hulk Ep 2 Breakdown: Every Easter Egg and Marvel Reference + Wolverine Cameo Explained.” Video [YouTube], 25 Aug. 2022.
  • She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. Created by Jessica Gao. Perf. Tatiana Maslany, Jameela Jamil, Tim Roth, Benedict Wong. Marvel Studios / Disney, 2022.
    • Episodes: “Superhuman Law” (1.2, Aug. 2022), “The People vs. Emil Blonsky” (1.3, Sept. 2022), “Is This Not Real Magic?” (1.4, Sept. 2022), “Whose Show Is This?” (1.9, Oct. 2022)
  • She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.” Wikipedia, 26 Dec. 2022. Accessed 30 Dec. 2022. CC BY SA 3.0 license.
  • Simons, Roxy. “‘Moon Knight’ Filming Locations: Where in London was the Marvel Show Shot?Newsweek, 6 Apr. 2022.
  • WandaVision. Created by Jac Schaeffer. Perf. Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, Kat Dennings. Marvel Studios / Disney, 2021.
    • Episodes: “Don’t Touch That Dial” (1.2, 15 Jan. 2021), “Now in Color” (1.3, 22 Jan. 2021), “The Series Finale” (1.9, 5 Mar. 2021).
  • What If…? Perf. Jeffrey Wright, Chadwick Boseman, Jeremy Renner, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lake Bell, Benedict Wong. Marvel Studios / Disney, 2021.
    • Episodes: “What If… T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?” (1.2, 11 Aug. 2021); “What If… The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?” (1.3, 25 Aug. 2021); “What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?” (1.4, 1 Sep. 2021); “What If… Zombies?!” (1.5, 8 Sep. 2021); “What If… Thor Were an Only Child?” (1.7, 22 Sep. 2021); “What If… Ultron Won?” (1.8, 6 Oct. 2021).

Reader poll write-up, Fall 2022 | ‘The Breakfast Club’ (1985) + its school library setting

As per the winning entry in the most recent reader poll — thanks again to everyone who voted in the poll! — I am analyzing the 1985 classic The Breakfast Club, and in particular, its school library setting. The Breakfast Club earned 75% of the reader poll votes, easily outpacing Good News (1947), Goodbye, Columbus (1969), and Personals (1990, TV movie). I rewatched this movie from my own personal VHS copy, as seen below.

Stack of VHS tapes, with the Breakfast Club on top
Stack of VHS tapes. Does this photo look like a still life portrait of media to you?

There is no actual reel librarian in this “Brat Pack” coming-of-age movie, which means this movie lands in the Class V category, films with library scenes but no actual librarian characters. Almost the entire movie is set in a school library, so I found it a very interesting exercise to rewatch this movie and focus more on the background and library setting.

The film, written and directed by John Hughes (1950-2009), features five teenagers who serve detention together on a Saturday in the school library: “athlete” Andrew (Emilio Estevez); “criminal” John (Judd Nelson); “princess” Claire (Molly Ringwald); “basket case” Allison (Ally Sheedy); and “brain” Brian (Anthony Michael Hall). The cast list also includes the school principal, Mr. Vernon (Paul Gleason), and janitor Carl (John Kapelos).

The Breakfast Club Official Trailer #1 – Paul Gleason Movie (1985) HD” video uploaded by Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers, Standard YouTube License

Before detention, these teens know of each other, via their groups/stereotypes, but the film explores how they get to actually know each other. About 90% of the film takes place in the school library, so we also get to know this library setting very well. By the end of rewatching this movie, the school library setting felt as much of a supporting character as the school principal and janitor!

Film’s legacy & criticism

This movie was a legitimate hit in the year it was released, earning over $50 million worldwide. The film’s dialog and themes struck a chord in teenagers who felt seen in the movie, with their fears, trauma, and anxieties validated in a way that had rarely been explored in such depth before on the big screen. It was also respected critically at the time of its release, as well, earning praise from Roger Ebert for having “a surprisingly good ear for the way [teenagers] speak,” and Kathleen Carroll from the New York Daily News highlighting its “exceptional cast — who deserve top grades.”

And the film’s teen classic status endures. For example, The New York Times placed the film on its Best 1000 Movies Ever list in 2003, and in 2010, Entertainment Weekly ranked the film #1 on its list of the 50 Best High School Movies. In 2016, the Library of Congress selected The Breakfast Club for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Some critics, however, were not so generous; for example, critic James Harwood from Variety wrote that the movie “will probably pass as deeply profound among today’s teenage audience.” I laughed at this because that was true for me! When I was a teen, I did think this movie was very deep and profound! Watching this movie has become like a rite of passage into young adulthood for many teens. In this respect, this film has aged well, as a lot of the fears and anxieties that the teens express — pressure over getting good grades, pressure to fit in, pressure living up to your parents’ expectations, feeling like a pawn in-between squabbling parents, not knowing how to express your anxieties, etc. — still ring true today.

But other aspects of this film have NOT aged well, and need to be called out today as problematic, including, but not necessarily limited to: sexual harassment (Claire endures both slut-shaming and virgin-shaming); fatphobia (“That’s a fat girl’s name”); physical violence and abuse (Andrew’s reason for detention, the principal’s violent threat against a student); violation of personal privacy (the principal looks up students’ personal records without authorization, the janitor looks through students’ lockers); anti-LGBTQ+ slurs (the word “faggot” gets tossed around a lot); the blinding lack of diversity (everyone in this movie is White — in a film set in Chicago!!); and lack of accountability (sexual harasser John “gets the girl” at the end, yikes — and Judd Nelson also bullied Molly Ringwald off-screen). It can be uncomfortable to rewatch old favorites, and realize just how racist, misogynistic, and/or otherwise problematic they seem now — because the discomfort is really about how that reflects on you, right? But it’s necessary to sit with that discomfort and call it out. A movie can be both a beloved classic and simultaneously problematic in different ways. It’s necessary to recognize that we each contain multitudes, and that we can continue to grow and change. After all, isn’t that the ultimate point of this movie?

“Dear Mr. Vernon,

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong, but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us — in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.

Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,

The Breakfast Club”

Opening and closing lines of The Breakfast Club (1985)

Filming locations & school library setting

John Hughes set many of his iconic films in and around Chicago, where he grew up. The Breakfast Club takes places at Shermer High School — the first shot of the entire film!

"Shermer High School" front entrance in The Breakfast Club
“Shermer High School” front entrance in The Breakfast Club

Shermer, Illinois, is also the setting in National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983, written by Hughes), Sixteen Candles (1984), Weird Science (1985), Pretty in Pink (1986), and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986). “Shermerville” was the original name of the current town of Northbrook, Illinois, located north of Chicago, and the high school Hughes attended in real life, Glenbrook North High School, was located on Shermer Road.

The building used for Shermer High School was an actual school that had closed down in 1981, the Maine North High School in Des Plaines, Illinois, located northwest of Chicago. Maine North High School had opened in 1970, and the architectural style of blocky concrete is in the Brutalist style, which was a popular low-cost building option for schools and colleges from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Hughes had planned to shoot the film in the actual school library, but it was too small. Therefore, the school library set was constructed in the high school’s gymnasium, but the design of it was based on the school’s actual library. In fact, before rewatching this movie for this post, I was convinced that this movie had been filmed in a real school library, and I was shocked to discover that it was a set! I think it was a smart move to base it on an actual school library; the Shermer High School library is one of the most convincing school libraries I have ever seen onscreen!

School library spaces & collections

Below are the first and final views of the school library in the movie. It seemed fitting that the first view of the library space (at 5:43 mins) was filmed from the front perspective, and the final view of the library (at 1 hour and 34 mins) was filmed from the back perspective.

Click on any image to view in a larger window.

The shape of the school library is more or less a long rectangle, with squared-off corners like an emerald shape, with a ground floor plus a mezzanine level lining the sides and overlooking the ground floor. The layout is mostly symmetrical, with skylights mirroring each side of the mezzanine, exit doors at the back of the library on both levels, and two open staircases in the middle of the library on either side. A large clock anchors the center back of the mezzanine level. The central open space of the library has lounge seating, a large statue, and tables and chairs toward the front. Blue-ish fluorescent lighting lines the bottom of the mezzanine level.

Click on any image to view in a larger window.

The front part of the library consists of glass-panelled rooms, two rooms per level, set slightly higher the rest of the library and accessible by a ramp. A concrete staircase wraps around one side of this front section — yes, this school library has 3 staircases! The entrance to the library is asymmetrical, opening to the front right side, with a wrap-around counter and book return.

Click on any image to view in a larger window.

We get to see glimpses of the library’s resources, collections, and equipment throughout the movie — particularly during the “getting high” and dance sequences — including:

  • Current periodicals (e.g., magazines) and newspapers line the back wall on the ground floor
  • “Librarians selections” collections flank each back corner of the mezzanine level
  • Foreign language room on the mezzanine level
  • Tall bookcases line the walls of the library on both levels, along with lower, mid-height bookcases.
  • Listening booths (or possibly group study booths?) along the mezzanine level
  • Overhead projector tucked away in a corner on the mezzanine level
  • Map and atlas case in the center of the ground floor, below one of the staircases
  • Rolling book carts
  • Microform/film/fiche readers along one side of the ground level
  • Black-rimmed computers/OPACs on one side of the center ground level
  • Sound system room, with records and a microphone, in one of the front glassed-in rooms on the ground level
  • Reference storage room, with film reels and archival boxes, in the other front glassed-in room on the ground level
  • Group study rooms — or small classrooms? — on the top level of glassed-in rooms

Click on any image to view in a larger window.

Card catalogs & call numbers

This school library has an entire wall of card catalogs, with 3 separate card catalog units, as well as computers/OPACs (online public access catalogs). This feels accurate to me, as it reflects the transitional nature of the time period, when libraries had and used both the old-fashioned card catalogs as well as more modern computers. Card catalogs had drawers full of index cards, where you could look up resources in the library’s collection by Title, Author, or Subject Area.

The library also has a lot of signage, in blocky, black letters, on the walls to indicate the location of different collections and resources. This signage also reveals that the library uses the Dewey Decimal classification system, which is a common way for school libraries to organize their non-fiction collections. This system uses combinations of numbers in 10 main classes, from the 000s (General works) to the 900s (History and geography). In this movie, we see glimpses of the sections for Reference, General Works, Philosophy, History, and Language.

Click on any image to view in a larger window.

In a confessional scene between Allison and Andrew, we get more close-up glimpses of call numbers on the library books in the 900s area for history and geography. If you’re a regular reader (thank you!), then you’ll know that I look for call number stickers on books in library scenes and settings, because they are a tell-tale sign that indicates actual library books.

The trivia page also revealed that the the Chicago Public Library donated over 10,000 books for use in the movie!

We also see bits of realistic-looking posters around the library, including bulletin boards, a rainbow-colored “library” poster — I remember from my own childhood that my mom had one of these in her school library! — as well as a few large athletic shoe cut-outs that seem kind of random (but kind of realistically random, if that makes sense, like they’re part of a poster campaign from the athletic clubs or something). Props to the propmasters on this movie, as these kinds of details really add to the verisimilitude of this school library setting.

Click on any image to view in a larger window.

It’s also interesting to note that card catalog drawers also get a cameo outside the library! When the principal locks John in a storage room in his office, at 50 minutes into the film, we see an old set of card catalog drawers along the back wall.

Old card catalog drawers in the principal's storage room
Old card catalog drawers in the principal’s storage room

A library by any other name…

The library is actually titled the “Learning Resource Center,” a common term/phrase used for school libraries, and this signage is visible at 17:10 minutes into the film on the outside of the front doors, along with the hours. The library is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and closed on the weekends — except when it’s being used for Saturday detention, of course.

A closeup look at the school library's hours and "Learning Resource Center" signage
A closeup look at the school library’s hours and “Learning Resource Center” signage

And from my notes, Brian is the only character who actually says the word “library” out loud. At around 19 mins, Brian reveals that “the school comes equipped with fire exits at either end of the library.”

Of course, the brain of the group would say the word library, and know where the fire exits are, right?! 😉

Library vandalism & destruction

Throughout the movie, we witness how the students — mostly John the “criminal” — casually and nonchalantly destroy, vandalize, or otherwise meddle with library property and resources, including:

  • John pockets cards from the front counter as he enters the library, and later swipes everything off the front counter as he exits
  • John rips pages out a book (the ensuing conversation reveals that it’s a work by Molière, a French playwright)
  • John reshuffles cards in a card catalog drawer and also throws cards on the floor
  • John falls through the library ceiling (after escaping the principal’s storage room through the dropped ceiling)
  • Allison throws a piece of bologna onto the center statue during lunch (it falls off), and John later climbs atop the statue during the dance scene
  • Andrew screams and shatters the glass door for the “foreign language” room during the “getting high” scene

Can you imagine the school librarian(s) coming in Monday morning and having to deal with ripped-up books, shattered glass, and holes in the ceiling? And it will probably take weeks, if not longer, to find and fix/replace all the misfiled or missing cards. Does the principal use the school library for every Saturday detention, and does this kind of destruction happen every time?!

The principal boasts to the janitor that everyone likes him at the school, but I know one person at the school who likely does NOT like him — the school librarian!

Fun facts & trivia

  • As per the IMDb’s trivia page, one of the original proposed titles for the movie was “Library Revolution” ❤
  • The large sculpture in the center of the library resembles a work entitled “Standing Figure, Knife Edge” by British artist Henry Moore
  • After the film wrapped, Hughes gifted the actors pieces of the banisters from the library set
  • Hughes had written other characters in the original script, including Dr. Lange, a Social Studies teacher, and Robin, a gym teacher — but no school librarian character!
  • And as I mentioned earlier in the post, the Chicago Public Library donated over 10,000 books for use in the movie

Continuing the “library revolution”

Is The Breakfast Club a personal favorite of yours? Is the school library set also convincing to you? Please leave a comment and share!

Sources used

A round-up of library, archives, and reel librarian scenes in MCU’s Phase Two

Phase two of our own Marvel Multiverse of Reel Librarians!

We are continuing this summer with our Marvel Multiverse of Reel Librarians. I’ve written a lot about library scenes in various Marvel movies on my site, so I am finally going back through all the Marvel movies, this time in phase order, and making sure I’ve watched, reviewed, and analyzed them all for any library, archives, and reel librarian scenes. So please join me as I wind my librarian way through the MCU! Click here for the Phase One round-up, and we continue now with the Phase Two movies.


Iron Man 3 (2013)

No library scene.

In this movie, Tony Stark battles with PTSD and faces a foe called the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Again, I remembered shockingly little of this movie when rewatching it. And again, I’m sure I would have remembered more about it if there had been a library. 😉

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

In this movie, Thor reunites with Jane Foster and battles Malekith and the army of Dark Elves. The stand-alone Thor movies have been consistent thus far with showcasing library scenes! Bless. Also, this movie — often cited as among the worst MCU movies — was actually better than I remembered it being. It has two things going for it: (1) Chris Hemsworth’s eyebrows are not bleached blonde like they were in the first Thor movie, and (2) there’s a library scene in it. Let’s explore!

At 1 hour and 26 minutes into the movie, Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) arrive at the Greenwich site of convergence for plot reasons. They walk hurriedly through an academic library, and you can see a book cart. The captions reveal that Jane’s shoes squeak… which is why they get shushed by a student! The location of the library is the Old Royal Naval College Library in London.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Thor and the main baddie Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) are fighting it out in the college courtyard, and at 1 hour and 30 minutes, the perspective switches back to students in the library checking out the fight from the library’s windows.

Jane: What are you all doing? You need to get out of here, now!

Student [holding a phone in his hand]: You’re joking, right? That’s Thor out there! He’s waving his hammer around and everything!

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Fun fact: The actor who has this bit line is Royce Pierreson, who plays Istredd in Netflix’s The Witcher TV series!

The next thing we see, Thor’s hammer sends shock waves that blow out the windows in the library. Jane warned y’all.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

The library scene lasts less than a minute total, but it is a very cinematically striking scene that helps demonstrate the real-world effects and damage due to Thor’s fighting. No librarians were easily discernible in this scene — again, it looked like a student shushed Jane and Erik earlier in the scene, not a librarian — so this movie falls into the Class V category.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

No library scene.

In this movie — one of my personal faves — Captain America is now working with S.H.I.E.L.D. and faces off against a mysterious assassin known as the Winter Soldier.

As my husband pointed out, they could have easily substituted a library scene in this movie instead of the visit to the Mac store where Natasha hacks into a computer to read the thumb drive they got from Nick Fury — but, you know, product placement. Boo. 😦

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

No library scene.

In this movie, we get introduced to the motley crew known as the Guardians of the Galaxy: Peter Quill, aka “Starlord” (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel).

This movie is fun! And the soundtrack is AWESOME. I danced along with Groot when rewatching this movie.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Nope, no library.

In this movie, the Avengers team up to defeat Ultron, plus we get introduced to Pietro and Wanda Maximoff and Vision. When rewatching this movie, I kept marveling at (1) how crucial this movie is within the MCU because of how many subsequently important plot points and characters it introduces, and (2) how boring and joyless this movie is. In my opinion, this is the worst MCU movie of them all.

Ant-Man (2015)

No library, sigh.

In this movie, we get introduced to Ant-Man and Dr. Hank Pym. Paul Rudd in the title role is adorable — like he just can’t believe he’s in a Marvel movie, golly gee whiz! — while Michael Douglas as Hank Pym is busy acting rings around everyone else.

Keeping score

Phase One:

  • 6 movies
  • 2/6 library or archives scenes (The Incredible Hulk – university library; Thor – public library)
  • 0/6 reel librarian sightings

Phase Two:

  • 6 movies
  • 1/6 library or archives scenes (Thor: The Dark World – college library)
  • 0/6 reel librarian sightings

Overall (thus far):

  • 12 movies
  • 3/12 library or archives scenes
  • 0/12 reel librarian sightings

The Avengers will return…

… in our next regular post! 😀 We will continue our Marvel Multiverse of Reel Librarians for Phase Three. Stay tuned!

Sources used

  • Ant-Man. Dir. Peyton Reed. Perf. Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Anthony Mackie, Michael Peña. Marvel Studios / Disney, 2015.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron. Dir. Joss Whedon. Perf. Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Paul Bettany. Marvel Studios / Disney, 2015.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Dir. Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Perf. Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford. Marvel Studios / Disney, 2014.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy. Dir. James Gunn. Perf. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace. Marvel Studios /Disney, 2014.
  • Iron Man 3. Dir. Shane Black. Perf. Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsley. Paramount / Marvel Studios, 2013.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Two.” Wikipedia, 15 June 2022. Accessed 17 June 2022. CC BY SA 3.0 license.
  • Thor: The Dark World. Dir. Alan Taylor. Perf. Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Christopher Eccleston. Marvel Studios / Disney, 2013.

A round-up of library, archives, and reel librarian scenes in MCU’s Phase One

Phase one of our own Marvel Multiverse of Reel Librarians!

When I was rounding up my first impressions of Wong in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022), I was marveling (har har 😀 ) about how many Marvel movies I had written about on my site. Then I thought… why not finally go back through all the Marvel movies, this time in phase order, and make sure I’ve watched, reviewed, and analyzed them all for any library, archives, and reel librarian scenes? Thus, the idea of the Marvel Summer was born!

Yep, that’s right, this entire summer is going to be our own Marvel Multiverse of Reel Librarians, as I wind my librarian way through the MCU, starting with Phase One.


Iron Man (2008)

I can still remember going to the movie theater to watch this movie! And yes, I still tear up at the beginning when Yinsen (Shaun Toub) tells Tony Stark not to waste his life.

Alas, there are no library scenes in the “one that started it all” — not even a private library at Tony Stark’s house!

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

At 49 mins into this movie — is this the most overlooked Marvel movie in the bunch?! — Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is trying to get away from military soldiers, so he cuts through the Culver University Library to escape. No reel librarian is visible in this scene, but you can tell it was filmed in a real university library, because there’s a yellow sign that reads “Please Do Not Reshelve Books.” 😉 IMDb says University of Toronto and Drew University in New Jersey served as filming locations for the university. Most of the action in this brief scene happens in the bound periodicals section. This movie qualifies for the Class V category, because it has library scenes with no identifiable librarians.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Below is my Twitter thread breaking down this brief library scene, also with lots of screenshots:

Iron Man 2 (2010)

No library scene.

On a personal note, I remembered shockingly little about this movie when I rewatched it. Maybe if there had been a library scene, I would have remembered more about it! 😉

Thor (2011)

Archives or vault?

My husband wondered if the vault of treasures seen at 9:56 into the movie could be considered an archives, but it’s referred to clearly in the movie as “the weapons vault” with “these relics.” Loki also refers to this vault later, at 41 minutes: “So I am another stolen relic, locked up here until you have use of me.”

Public library scene

At 49 minutes into the movie, Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) visits the public library because he needs to email a contact, after his laptop was confiscated by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. (I had vaguely remembered there being a library scene in this movie, but couldn’t remember why. But when Erik finds out his laptop had been taken, I shouted out loud, “He’s going to the library because they have internet access!” I clapped my hands in delight when this proved true. 😀 ) There’s even a “Free Internet” sign in the window of the library, along with READ posters (classic library decoration), computers, and bookshelves in an alcove. No obvious reel librarians, but we do see two other library patrons browsing the shelves.

Click on any image in the gallery below to view in a larger window.

Erik walks across the small library to pick up a book, The Giant Slayer by Iain Lawrence, on a rolling cart. He then picks up the book Myths and Legends from Around the World by Sandy Shepherd, and looks up entries for the Bifrost and for Thor (Thursday). Signs for “audio books” and “young adults” can be seen on the walls behind Erik.

Both of those titles are real books, by the way! The other titles on this cart that I could decipher, to the best of my ability, include:

Such a clever collection of book titles that reflect elements of this movie’s plot and characters — and they’re all real books. Props to the propmaster!

I noticed that there were no call numbers on the books on the cart, but there were call numbers on the books on the bookshelves lining the wall behind the cart. I immediately theorized that the books on the cart were book donations for sale, which is a common thing for libraries to do– and indeed, there is a “Book Sale” sign near the cart!

Again, this movie qualifies for the Class V category, because it has library scenes with no identifiable librarians.

Library book debate

At the 1 hour mark, we return to the book that Erik got from the public library, and that book then inspires a debate about science fact vs. fiction. Darcy (the ever-hilarious Kat Dennings) is flipping through the book on the table, and she points to the page for Mjolnir (which she pronounces as Myeu-muh, like a cat’s meow, and to this day, I cannot help but also say Mjolnir like that).

Jane: Where’d you find this?

Erik: The children’s section. [Turns to the page for Loki.] I wanted to show you how silly his story was.

Jane: But you’re the one who’s always pushing me to chase down every possibility, every alternative!

Erik: I’m talking about science, not magic!

Jane: Well, magic’s just science we can’t explain yet. Arthur C. Clarke.

Erik: Who wrote science fiction.

Jane: A precursor to science fact!


And OF COURSE you know I looked up that Arthur C. Clarke quote, right? Right. 🙂 Clark’s original quote — known as “Clarke’s third law” — is:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

This was published in a 1968 letter to Science magazine and was added to the 1973 revision of the “Hazards of Prophecy” essay. But Clarke had written a similar sentiment earlier in 1952, and this Wikipedia entry traces earlier variations of this concept that pre-date Clarke. The bottom line? Science as magic, and vice versa, is not a new idea.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

No library scene.

Do I still tear up every time when Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) explains the good he sees in Steve Rogers (Chris Evans)? Yes, yes, I do. No shame in feeling emotions, y’all. Movies are good for emotional catharsis. ❤

The Avengers (2012)

No library scene.

This movie is notable for Mark Ruffalo’s first outing as Bruce Banner/The Hulk, a role that Edward Norton did not reprise (thank goodness).

Keeping score

Phase One:

  • 6 movies
  • 2/6 library or archives scenes
  • 0/6 reel librarian sightings

The Avengers will return…

… in our next regular post! 😀 Yes, we will continue our Marvel Multiverse of Reel Librarians for Phase Two. Stay tuned!

Sources used

  • The Avengers. Dir. Joss Whedon. Perf. Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston. Paramount / Marvel Studios, 2012.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger. Dir. Joe Johnston. Perf. Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Stanley Tucci, Hugo Weaving, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan. Paramount / Marvel Studios, 2008.
  • Clarke, Arthur C. “Clarke’s Third Law on UFO’s.Science, vol. 159, issue 3812 (19 Jan. 1968): 255. doi: 10.1126/science.159.3812.255.c
  • Clarke’s Three Laws.” Wikipedia, 26 May 2022. Accessed 17 June 2022. CC BY SA 3.0 license.
  • The Incredible Hulk. Dir. Louis Leterrier. Perf. Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, William Hurt, Tim Roth. Universal / Marvel Studios, 2008.
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008): Filming & Production.” Internet Movie Database, accessed 17 June 2022.
  • Iron Man. Dir. Jon Favreau. Perf. Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard. Paramount / Marvel Studios, 2008.
  • Iron Man 2. Dir. Jon Favreau. Perf. Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell. Paramount / Marvel Studios, 2008.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One.” Wikipedia, 15 June 2022. Accessed 17 June 2022. CC BY SA 3.0 license.
  • Thor. Dir. Kenneth Branagh. Perf. Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba. Paramount / Marvel Studios, 2011.

Libraries and archives with ‘Soul’

“Shhhhhh! Oh yeah, that’s good.”

To my American readers or those with American friends or family, I wish you all an (early) Happy Thanksgiving on Thursday and a Native American Heritage Day on Friday. It is also Native American Heritage Month here in the U.S. For my post this holiday week, I’m analyzing a film that focuses on, like the name reveals, the soul: Disney/Pixar’s 2020 film, Soul. This animated movie features a diverse voice cast, including Jamie Foxx as Joe Gardner, Tina Fey as 22, Rachel House as Terry, Questlove as Curley, and Angela Bassett as Dorothea Williams. The film earned two Oscars, for Original Score (featuring the musical genius of Jon Batiste) and Best Animated Feature Film. This movie does not technically feature a librarian, landing it in the Class V category, but it includes a library scene as well as a different kind of archives.

Co-written and co-directed by Pete Docter (who also directed 2001’s Monsters, Inc., 2009’s Up, and 2015’s Inside Out), Soul‘s themes explore determinism, often contrasted with “free will,” and what helps shape individual personalities and characteristics. The plot focuses on Joe Gardner, a Black jazz musician and teacher who dies before his “big break” playing with jazz legend Dorothea Williams; in an effort to return to his body in time to realize his jazz-playing dreams, he mentors 22, a soul who resists every opportunity to develop a “spark” and complete the process of being born. There’s more to it than that, and here’s a trailer to provide more context:

Disney and Pixar’s Soul | Official Trailer | Disney+” video uploaded by Pixar, Standard YouTube License

Library scene

At 27 minutes into the movie, Joe takes 22 to the Hall of Everything, in an effort to inspire 22’s “spark.” They walk into a library space — which is totally empty, by the way (sigh) — filled with the outlines of bookcases, a dropped ceiling with fluorescent lights, rolling carts, and a desk with a computer and a hanging sign labeled “Information.” My favorite detail? That the rolling carts have items in them waiting to be shelved. But with no librarian there… who’s going to shelve them?! 😉

Joe tries to inspire a librarian spark, in this screenshot from Soul (2020)
Joe tries to inspire a librarian spark, in this screenshot from Soul (2020)

Joe: How about a librarian? They’re cool.

22: Yes, amazing. Who wouldn’t like working at a thankless job you’re always in danger of losing due to budget cuts? Though I do like the idea of randomly shushing people.

Joe: Oh, obviously, this —

22: Shhhhhh! Oh yeah, that’s good.

Shushing in the library scene in Soul (2020)
Shushing in the library scene in Soul (2020)

This scene lasts about 10 seconds total. And what an emotional ride those 10 seconds were for me!

At the beginning of this scene, I felt like this:

By the end of this scene, I felt like this:

Screenshot from Soul (2020): "You cut deep, Joe."
Screenshot from Soul (2020)

I am feeling @bethforbooks here:

The archives of souls

Although there is no actual librarian in Soul, we do get to see the archives… of souls! Terry, who is very clearly referred to in the film as the accountant, is trying to figure out why the count of souls is off.

At 18 minutes into the movie, Terry zips off to the archives of souls — which is shown as a vast universe of file cabinet drawers — and starts at the A’s to doublecheck each file and soul, in order to find the one soul unaccounted for.

Terry the accountant digs into the soul archives in Soul (2020)
Terry the accountant digs into the soul archives in Soul (2020)

The archives in Soul reminded me of the archives in Blade Runner 2049 (2017), which I analyzed in this 2018 post. The color palettes are very different, as are the angles, but the vastness of the archival spaces feel similar in scale to me. Below is a side-by-side comparison:

Screenshot from 'Blade Runner 2049' (2017)
Comparing the archives in Soul (left) with Blade Runner 2049 (right)

We check in with Terry the accountant a couple more times throughout the movie:

  • 43:32 minutes: Terry has made it to the G’s in the archives. “You’re out there somewhere, little soul, and I’m gonna find you.”
  • 49:49 minutes: Terry holds up Joe Gardner’s file and exclaims, “Found him! See that, everybody! Who figured out why the count’s off?!

And speaking of souls and how we form our personalities… I don’t think it would come as a surprise to anyone that I do actually picture a card catalog drawer when I think of my own brain. When I have to access a memory or piece of knowledge, I mentally picture flipping through the card catalog of my brain, much like Terry flipping through the archives of souls. And… now we’ve come full circle. 😉

Have you watched Soul? What were your thoughts of the devastating way that 22 summed up the librarian profession? Please leave a comment and share!

Sources used

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