An even dozen superhero movies are scheduled for 2018. Let's count down in reverse order of the Captain's enthusiasm:
12. "Venom" (Oct. 5): Sony Pictures is trying to jump-start a Spider-Man-villain universe without Spider-Man, who's hanging his webs at Marvel Studios these days. That preposterous proposition, coupled with Venom's unpopularity with older comics fans, pushes "Venom" to the bottom of the list.
As to the specifics, Tom Hardy stars as Eddie Brock, who sports the alien symbiote that gives him Spider-Man-like powers (and a spectacular overbite). Michelle Williams ("Manchester by the Sea") will portray Anne Weying, who in the comics is not only Brock's ex-wife, but eventually becomes (sigh) She-Venom. The movie, which may have an R rating, also features Woody Harrelson and Jenny Slate.
11. "Teen Titans Go! To The Movies" (July 27): The high-energy "Teen Titans GO!" cartoon takes its team of young DC Comics heroes to the big screen. The TV voice actors reprise their roles, including Greg Cipes (Beast Boy), Scott Menville (Robin), Khary Payton (Cyborg), Tara Strong (Raven) and Hynden Walch (Starfire). Will Arnett and Kristen Bell are also in the cast, in undisclosed roles. (I'm guessing Wonder Girl and Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy.) Boo-yah!
10. "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" (Dec. 14): This 3D animated movie stars a Spider-Man who is younger (and darker) than Peter Parker. He's Miles Morales, who in the comics originated in a parallel universe. In the comics both Spider-Men are on the young side, but in this movie Parker is a middle-aged mentor for Morales.
That may not be the most confusing part. The movie is named "Into the Spider-Verse," the name of a 2012 story in which a plethora of spider-people were introduced to the mighty Marvel Universe. It remains to be seen if the movie follows that plotline, but if it does, expect an army of wall-crawlers battling for their lives against an unstoppable, inter-dimensional killer named Morlun.
9. "Alita: Battle Angel" (July 20): This movie adapts a popular Japanese comic book series, and seems to do so pretty faithfully. Taking place in a near (and post-apocalyptic) future, a compassionate cyber-doctor named Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) finds the discarded cyborg Alita (Rosa Salazar) and repairs her. But Alita remembers nothing of her past, until she's attacked by mysterious enemies – which triggers extraordinary combat capabilities. Needless to say, the movie will follow Alita's search for her past -- and will, hopefully, break the curse of manga adaptations that fare poorly at the U.S. box office.
8. "X-Men: Dark Phoenix" (Nov. 2): If you're a comics fan, you can't help but feel anxious about this adaptation of one of the great X-Men stories.
For one thing, the original "Dark Phoenix Saga," which was published around 1980, was essentially the heart-breaking resolution of the love story that was central to the X-Men since their 1963 debut. As such, it was a turning point in X-history, with all the emotions that entails. One wonders how this ersatz team of X-Men, one assembled from the messy timeline of the Fox X-movies, can possibly deliver that dramatic punch.
For another, this is the last X-movie in the can from Fox, which was recently gobbled up by Disney -- and therefore Marvel Studios. Wherever the merry mutants appear on the silver screen next, they will probably be re-booted, further reducing this movie's significance.
Unless, of course, they use the Phoenix's immense power as an excuse to jump-start the next incarnation of X-Men at Marvel Studios. Hmmm.
7. "The New Mutants" (April 13): It may seem odd to non-comics readers that this movie looks to be more horror film than heroic epic. But it's appropriate to the source material, the 1984 "Demon Bear Saga," by writer Chris Claremont and artist Bill Sienkiewicz. In that story, the original New Mutants -- Cannonball, Karma, Psyche, Sunspot and Wolfsbane -- battled a terrifying monster not of this world. The movie features four of those characters, but substituting Magik (Colossus' younger, teleporting sister) for Karma. They are mentored by another sub from the comics, Dr. Cecilia Reyes, played by the always welcome Rosario Dawson (Claire Temple in all those Marvel shows on Netflix).
6. "Aquaman" (Dec. 21): The Aquaman who appeared in "Justice League" is already my favorite version of the Sea King, and it was a treat to see Mera (Amber Heard), his romantic partner and equal, as well. (If you couldn't tell, her power is aquakinesis – the mental manipulation of water.) We'll see a lot more of both in this movie, wherein Arthur Curry will discover his destiny as king of Atlantis -- whether he wants it or not.
5. "Ant-Man And The Wasp" (July 6): The first Ant-Man movie was both hilarious and charming, so a second serving is more than welcome. In addition to returnees Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Henry Pym (Michael Douglas), we'll finally meet Hope's mother Janet – the first Wasp, played by Michelle Pfeiffer.
4. "Deadpool" 2 (June 1): I don't think I can describe this movie any better than this synopsis from foxmovies.com:
"After surviving a near fatal bovine attack, a disfigured cafeteria chef (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Mayberry's hottest bartender while also learning to cope with his lost sense of taste. Searching to regain his spice for life, as well as a flux capacitor, Wade must battle ninjas, the yakuza, and a pack of sexually aggressive canines, as he journeys around the world to discover the importance of family, friendship, and flavor -- finding a new taste for adventure and earning the coveted coffee mug title of World's Best Lover."
That's really how it reads. But you know what to really expect, right? Right.
3. "The Incredibles 2" (June 15): The first "Incredibles" is what every Fantastic Four movie should have been, but wasn't. (For one thing, it was really good.) It's baffling that it took 13 years for a sequel to be made, but I think we're all looking forward to the further adventures of the super-powered Parr family: Bob, Helen, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack. (Especially Jack-Jack.)
2. "Avengers: Infinity War" (May 4): It's Thanos and his Black Order vs. Ant-Man, Black Panther, Black Widow, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Drax, Falcon, Gamora, Groot, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Man, Mantis, Nebula, Rocket Raccoon, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, Star-Lord, Thor, Valkyrie, Vision, War Machine, Winter Soldier and the entire Wakandan army. The Avengers have the numbers, which is the good news. Thanos will have the Infinity Stones, and as long as he has them, his victory is a foregone conclusion. How many will die to stop him?
1. "Black Panther" (Feb. 16): T'challa, the Black Panther, isn't just a superhero. He's a king and head of state. He's the leader of the most scientifically advanced nation on Earth. He's empowered by the ancient panther god. He's the heir to a complex African heritage. He's protected by the Dora Milaje, the most dreaded warriors in the world.
But he faces the worst foes known to man: Politics. Racism. Colonialism. Greed. Betrayal. And on the undercard: M'Baku the Man-Ape, Ulysses Klaue and, quite possibly, the U.S. State Department.
"Infinity War" is going to be an eye-popping spectacle, the best popcorn movie of the year. But "Black Panther" is my No. One -- because it's going to be inspiring.
(Contact Captain Comics at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more comics news, reviews and commentary, visit his website: comicsroundtable.com.)
(c)2018 Andrew A. Smith
Visit his website at comicsroundtable.com.)
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