It was quite the year for superhero films. Quite the year. And while everyone is always banging on about how there are millions of them and wasn’t it better when films were about Passages to India or whatever, and that superhero films are some sort of reflection of a fascist concept of something or other, it is worth pointing out that there were only nine of them, cinema has been dominated by action films of one hue or another since 1977, and nobody has convincingly explained why or how superhero films differ in their portrayals of humanity from something like, say, Mission Impossible, where a non-super-powered human may as well be a superhero for how much they actually represent human capability. All films are superhero films, that’s kind of what the medium delivers.
Anyway, this is what I thought of the official superhero films of 2018…
The bad one.
When the first Incredibles film released it was fresh and new. It presented not just heroes, but people, a family, dealing with each other as well as supervillains. A case could be made that, stylistically, it was one of the foundations that the MCU was built upon.
But what a difference fourteen years makes – this was the only superhero film from 2018 that didn’t bring me any joy at all. It all just seemed so tired. A rehashing of old ideas rather than a fresh take on the genre. And while on the surface a woman-goes-to-work, man-stays-at-home tale offered a modern perspective, the decision to make the dad a 1950s-style holding-up-a-bottle-of-milk-and-shouting-where-am-I-supposed-to-put-this? dipshit, was actually doubling down on gender norms, not smashing them. I guess if they had made him even half way capable of looking after a toddler they would have had to write an actual story. All in all… not great.
The not bad to quite good ones.
It definitely had it’s moments, but Deadpool 2 was a lot less slick than the original and it veered over the line between edgy and unnecessary a few too many times for my taste.
You could sit down next to me with a calculator and a Halliwell’s Guide and prove that Venom is a bad film. To be honest, deep down, I already know. But you couldn’t make me stop loving the last hour or so, which was so wrong it was right, so bad it was inspired, transformative almost. “On my planet I am a loser too.” Fucking A, mate.
So. Much. Film.
The brilliant ones.
The next five films could be in almost any order. I loved them all. They are probably my five favourite films of last year. Maybe. They are all top top top recommends.
Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse
I don’t really feel qualified to discuss this film critically, having only seen it once, and with it rewriting so many visual rules in such a short space of time, but crikey it’s fun. If you haven’t seen it yet, you really should make a trip to the cinema.
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Lost somewhat in the (deserved) fanfare received by the two bigger MCU films last year, Ant-Man and the Wasp deserves credit for successfully using a great cast to create a lighter film that still manages to work dramatically and for not actually having a villain, as such. Peyton Reed has done a brilliant job of subtly toying with the viewers expectations. Paul Rudd is, it goes without saying, superb.
Teen Titans Go! To The Movies
This was arguably 2018’s best comedy but if you haven’t seen it I doubt I’m going to be able to convince of such. I’m certainly not going to spoil any of the jokes. Watch it or don’t watch it. Do whatever you feel works for you.
Avengers: Infinity War
If you adjust for James Camerons, this was the second highest grossing film of all time. I’m guessing you’ve already seen it or you never will. It was good, wasn’t it?
I watched it four times last year and writing about it now I’m pondering a fifth some time over the weekend. It is a joy from start to finish.
Films that make you happy, eh? Why would those be popular at the moment?