[UPDATED] 2018 is upon us, and with it nearly a dozen new comic book/superhero-centric films. For some of these we've been treated to full trailers, while others are still shrouded in mystery. Regardless, here's an overview (with my thoughts) on the upcoming year of comic book films.
Black Panther (February 16th) – Fifty-two years after introducing their first black superhero, Marvel releases their first superhero film with a black lead (and it only took them until the 18th film in their cinematic universe to do so)! This is legitimately the film (comic adaptation or otherwise) I’m most looking forward to this year, not just because of my love of the character, but also because Chadwick Boseman owned the role in Captain America: Civil War, Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) is coming off the phenomenal Creed, and the cast – including Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, and Daniel Kaluuya – is outstanding. The film also looks to be borrowing from two of my favorite runs on the comic, Christopher Priest’s Marvel Knights series (with artists Mark Texiera and Sal Velluto) and the current title by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze, Chris Sprouse, and colorist Laura Martin. And it’s just in time for my birthday!
The New Mutants (April 13th) [UPDATE: Release date changed to February 22nd, 2019] – The Disney purchase of Fox looks to be a done-deal, but before it’s finalized we’ll get a handful of films in Fox’s X-Men universe. For me, this is one of the most interesting. Directed by Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars), this film loosely adapts the 1984 Chris Claremont/Bill Sienkiwicz storyline “The Demon Bear Saga.” Centering on a group of young mutants, the trailer looks to be almost a straight-up horror film, well apart from the usual X-Men shenanigans (more on that later). Boone’s assembled a talented cast of young actors, which include Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things). The genre-mashing that started with Deadpool and continued with last year’s amazing Logan could help make this film a standout.
The Avengers: Infinity War (May 4th) – This film is going to make ALL THE MONEY. Seriously, this is the film (or the first part, at least) that the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building to, as all of Earth’s heroes – along with a certain non-Earthbound team – finally assemble to take on Thanos (Josh Brolin). The trailer looked epic, and while the cast (which is far too long to list here) could make for a mess of characters in lesser hands, the Russo Brothers have shown in Captain America: Civil War, and previously Captain America: Winter Soldier, that they’re up to the challenge. That trailer alone wrinkled my brain, so I expect to be joyously catatonic by the end of the full film.
Deadpool 2 (June 1st) [UPDATE: Release date changed to May 18, 2018] – While I’m not as high on the first Deadpool film as, apparently, everyone else, I do think it’s a lot of fun. It’s also a role that Ryan Reynolds was born to play, and the addition of Domino (Zazie Beetz) and Cable (Josh Brolin) offer great foils for his character. My one worry is the replacement of director Tim Miller with Atomic Blonde’s David Leitch (the action in that film was incredible, and it looked gorgeous, but the film itself was a mess), but I’m going to this for crazy action and hilarious one-liners, both of which I’m sure to get.
Incredibles 2 (June 15th) – Yeah, sure, this technically isn’t a comic book film. But the original was basically the Fantastic Four. Not only that, it’s still the best Fantastic Four film so far (damning with faint praise, I know). This sequel is long-awaited, and picks up right where the original left-off. Director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant) returns, along with Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Vowell, and Samuel L. Jackson. After the epic-ness of A:IW and the filthiness (I assume) of Deadpool 2, this will be a pleasantly fun time in a superhero universe.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6th) – I thought the 2015 Ant-Man film was good, not great, but some of that may have been the letdown I felt with Edgar Wright leaving and being replaced by Peyton Reed (Down With Love). In the interim, I’ve gotten Baby Driver and all is right with the world, so I plan to go into this film ready to take it on its own terms. The addition of Evangeline Lilly in the title and titular role of the Wasp is a bonus (and will mark the first time Marvel has had a film headlined by a woman, albeit co-headlined).
Teen Titans Go! to the Movies (July 27th) – This film is not for me, and that’s totally okay. Based on the popular Cartoon Network Teen Titans Go! series, the material skews to a younger audience who, I hope, will turn out in droves to support the movie. The cast includes the TV series voice actors (Scott Menville, Hynden Walch, Greg Cipes, Khary Payton, and Tara Strong), and their joined by Will Arnett and Kristen Bell.
Venom (October 5th) – Yes, they’re making a Venom movie. And, yes, it is apparently unrelated to Spider-Man (or, is tangentially related to Spider-Man, but not at all related to the Marvel Cinematic Universe of which he is a part. Or something). As with The New Mutants, this may be more of a horror film and that could be interesting. Thomas Hardy in the title role is a pretty solid get and director Ruben Fleischer previously directed Zombieland, 30 Minutes or Less, and Gangster Squad, so he’s got a diverse range of experience, if nothing else.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix (November 2nd) – Based on the seminal X-Men storyline (told in a pretty bastardized form in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand) this film focuses on a young Jean Grey as she’s corrupted by a super powerful cosmic entity known as the Phoenix. I should be incredibly geeked out over this film, but X-Men: Apocalypse was somehow both a convoluted mess AND incredibly boring, so it’ll take a pretty stellar trailer to really get my attention. Writer-Producer Simon Kinberg (if it’s an action film from Fox released in the last decade he’s probably had something to do with it) makes his directorial debut, so I have no idea what to expect. Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, and Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, and Evan Peters return, as do Apocalypse’s Sophie Turner, Ty Sheridan, and Alexandra Shipp.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (December 14th) – I’m all-in for this animated feature from Sony. Rather than focusing on Peter Parker, this one follows Miles Morales, who has taken over the role. The title and a few moments in the trailer hint at more alternate Spider-folks, the animation and designs look fantastic, and I really want to see a successful animated superhero film (aside from The Incredibles).
Aquaman (December 21st) – Director James Wan brings James Mamoa’s King of Atlantis to the big screen in his own feature film. I still don’t know how I feel about Mamoa’s take on the character (seen in 2017 in the middling Justice League), but Wan’s had a ton of success with Saw (2004), Insidious (2010), The Conjuring (2013), and Furious 7 (2015) so he’s a more than capable director. DC needs a big win to follow up the runaway success of Wonder Woman and Mamoa not only adds some more diversity to the DCU, but also brings a lot of fun and enthusiasm (which were WW’s strengths, as well) so could be the answer they’re looking for.