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Four Questions About the First Trailer for Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’

First: Who, exactly, is the Irishman?

Netflix/Ringer illustration

The wait is over, gabagools. The first trailer for Martin Scorsese’s latest blockbuster, The Irishman, finally arrived on Wednesday morning. The Irishman had been shrouded in secrecy up until this week, when it was announced that the film would be unveiled on opening night at the New York Film Festival in September. But given that extensive CGI work—which reportedly ran the budget on this project up to nearly $200 million—was required to make the likes of Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci look younger for this decades-spanning crime saga, it makes sense that it’s taken a while for us to get a first glimpse.

The Irishman brings Scorsese back to his gangster saga roots, as it tells the supposedly true story of Frank Sheeran, a labor union official who was also a hitman for the Bufalino crime family, and who, in this retelling, may be responsible for the legendary disappearance of union leader Jimmy Hoffa. Within this story, it seems, will be a larger examination of organized crime, how it connects to American politics, and hopefully other hallmarks of Extremely Italian Shit that will make you and your loved ones say, “pepperoncini!”

If we’re being honest, though, the historical context for The Irishman isn’t nearly as exciting as the cast of collaborators: De Niro is back, Pesci has been coaxed out of retirement, and Pacino is finally doing his first project with Scorsese. (Seriously, it’s wild they hadn’t worked together before!) So with that, let’s break down the four biggest questions we have about The Irishman trailer, as we eagerly await the movie’s release on Netflix in the fall.

Wait—Who, Exactly, Is the Irishman?

I’ll be honest, I had to hit up the ol’ IMDb to get to this conclusion: Sheeran’s nickname was “The Irishman,” and De Niro plays Sheeran, thus De Niro is the titular Irishman. (That, my friends, is called detective work.)

The thing to know about Sheeran is that he claims to be the person responsible for killing Hoffa—and it appears that The Irishman will take certain liberties to paint a clearer picture of just what, exactly, happened with the union leader’s infamous disappearance. More importantly, though, Sheeran can absolutely rock a fit:

Screenshots via Netflix

The film is based on Charles Brandt’s 2004 nonfiction bestseller, I Heard You Paint Houses, which sees Sheeran expose other layers of his life. Sheeran also claims to have some involvement in the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, as well as to know some details about the JFK assassination, so things could really spiral out of control in the best possible way.

How Does the De-aging Look?

The de-aged characters didn’t get a big spotlight in the trailer—perhaps because the studio’s still working out a few of the kinks—but one shot of a younger De Niro paints a better picture of how effective this technology might be:

Let’s give this a solid B. It’s a little distracting, but it doesn’t approach the uncanny valley as much as a photorealistic lion, warthog, and meerkat singing “Hakuna Matata.” It might also be one of those things that’s slightly jarring in the context of watching a two-minute trailer, but once you’re immersed in the actual movie, you won’t notice the de-aging effect as much. In any case, it’s a lot better—and certainly more ethical—than something like the Star Wars franchise bringing Peter Cushing back from the grave for a secondary role in Rogue One.

Have I Missed Joe Pesci?


Is Netflix Back in the Oscars Race?

Despite Netflix putting a ton of resources into an Oscars campaign for Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, the movie missed out on capturing the top prize, Best Picture, which was instead—and not without controversy—handed to Green Book. Given that Cuarón landed Best Director for his efforts on a highly personal project, it felt like Roma was penalized for representing the streamer’s ambitions to become an all-encompassing entertainment company capable of producing Oscar-worthy cinema that people could consume from the comfort of home; Netflix’s encroaching on Hollywood’s territory is something that bothers traditionalists like Steven Spielberg.

The Netflix fervor will undoubtedly be a factor going into next year’s awards, but The Irishman appears to be an obvious candidate to receive the Roma treatment and benefit from the streamer’s seemingly bottomless resources in the form of a massive Oscars campaign. For starters: The Irishman first dropped a teaser during the 2019 Oscars telecast, signaling the company’s early intent to make this a Thing. But more importantly: It’s Martin friggin’ Scorsese. Whether the movie lives up to the legendary director’s other gangster epics remains to be seen, but The Irishman is shaping up to be one of the biggest releases of the fall. And whether you catch the film during its brief theatrical run or from the couch, you certainly won’t want to miss it.