1. - 3. A Bunch of Potentially Great Marvel Movies

Movies That Could Make 2018 The Best Year For Geek Movies Ever

Okay, I'm going to start this list by cheating A LOT: the Marvel Cinematic Universe is releasing THREE films in 2018, and all within the span of about 5 months - February will see the release of Black Panther, May will finally unleash Infinity War, and we'll get the new tradition of an Ant-Man film to follow-up a status quo-shaking Avengers film again with Ant-Man and The Wasp. What's truly great is that each film has so much potential to be incredible - and in their own unique way, no less!

We've already written up why Black Panther looks like it could be a genre-defining film for the MCU here, but a few points are worth reiterating: this is really the FIRST big MCU film to come from a bonafide great director, Ryan Coogler, who delivered one of the most shockingly great rebootquels of all-time with Creed. Most MCU directors are genuinely amazing, but are usually somewhat unknowns - the Russo Bros. had been directing sitcoms and lesser Owen Wilson comedies, James Gunn was known for low-budget schlock horror, etc. Coogler is known for making award-winning, critically-lauded films - and now he has the keys to one of the most important figures in Marvel, and has an insanely great cast backing him up.

Then comes Infinity War - I'm not sure if I really have to explain what makes Infinity War so exciting, especially since it now holds the record for the most viewed movie trailer in Youtube history. This is the culmination of 10 years of storytelling (and dozens of films) for the previously-unprecedented Marvel Cinematic Universe, and - from all accounts - it looks like it's gonna be dope as hell. From one of the biggest casts ever assembled for a film to the assured hands of The Russo Bros. (who managed the equally challenging tasks of The Winter Soldier and Civil War), there's not much reason to doubt the film will deliver the goods - the biggest question that remains is whether the movie ends with a snap of Thanos' fingers?


And the final big movie from Marvel this year is Ant-Man and the Wasp - the general reaction to the original Ant-Man was that it was a fun goof, especially coming immediately after the much heavier Age of Ultron. And the fun spirit of Ant-Man was something of a surprise, given it marked probably the first enormous behind-the-scenes challenge the MCU faced - the rocky departure of director/writer Edgar Wright a few weeks before production began, due to disagreements over the path of the script and the integration with the rest of the MCU. In a few weeks time, the script was hastily rewritten by star Paul Rudd and Adam McKay, and Bring It On director Peyton Reed was brought aboard to direct the film. Given those circumstances, everyone expected the film to be a mess - and while it wasn't anything revelatory, the final product was a pretty delightful bit of business, particularly thanks to scene-stealer Michael Peña:

What makes Ant-Man and The Wasp such an exciting idea is that with this film, the creative team won't have to deal with the same wild constraints that complicated things so horribly with the first one. They won't have to adapt someone else's screenplay in 6 weeks time - they can come up with their own plan, that fits their own vision, and execute it - that's exciting! Also exciting? This is the first Marvel film to have a female lead in the title - Evangeline Lilly's Hope van Dyne finally gets to become The Wasp (who was one of the original Avengers, nbd) and join in the fray, instead of being stuck at the sidelines for some weird reason.

And - like the original Ant-Man - after Avengers: Infinity War, a fun goofy Ant-Man movie will be a nice palette cleanser (especially if we see the introduction of Antony Jr.).

4. Aquaman

I know what you're thinking: "Why should I be excited for another DCEU film, especially given their unbelievably dismal track record?" And then you might also be thinking: "Also, why should I trust YOU of all people when it comes to thinking optimistically about the DCEU, especially given you were acting all hopeful and chipper about Justice League while all of your co-workers could see the trainwreck from a mile away?" And well...you bring up two very good points. I would say that I feel it's a little easier being optimistic towards properties I have a personal attachment to, and that there WERE reasons to suspect Justice League could be good (note: I did not enjoy Justice League after actually seeing it). But I've got some ACTUAL good reasons for being pumped for Aquaman - lemme tell ya:

  • Directed by James Wan. James Wan is a dude who can handle a big messy blockbuster. He directed Furious 7, which was beset by more issues than most people give it credit for with the death of co-star Paul Walker....and he still wound up delivering one of the best, most fun, and intensely emotional blockbusters of the last decade (if you're one of those types who STILL hasn't bought into the fact that Fast & Furious got amazing at Fast Five, I have nothing to say to you). He also took on The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2, some of the best mainstream horror movies of the past few years. Basically, this guy is a solid director who can set the mood, get great performances, and handle messy behind-the-scenes chaos (in this case, dealing with Warner Bros. executives).
  • It has an actual template. People tend to lump all superhero movies together as a single genre of film - and, until recently, they weren't really wrong to: for most of the late 90s and 2000s, superhero movies were largely similar in structure and execution and even tone. But as of late, lots of superhero movies have proven that they could fit into more traditional film styles while retaining what makes superhero-ing so fun. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a political-thriller, Ant-Man was a goofy heist film, Wonder Woman and Thor were fish-out-of-water comedies, etc. And Aquaman is a swashbuckling romance - which Wan has compared to Raiders of the Lost Ark and Romancing the Stone, calling to mind films where a rough-around-the-edges hero (in this case, Arthur Curry - the whiskey-swiggin' Aquaman) gets roped into an adventure with someone who's less into him (in this case, Mera - soon-to-be Queen of Atlantis) and the two rub each other the wrong way, reluctantly help one another, and eventually fall in love. It's basically Han and Leia in Empire Strikes Back, except underwater.
  • Giant undersea battles where people are riding sharks. Wan's vision for the film includes enormous undersea battles that almost look like the kind of "things are happening in every possible direction" style of space battles in Star Wars, except instead of flying on ships, Atlanteans are riding sharks and whales into battle. And, honestly, I really, really want to see that and have it be badass.

5. The Incredibles 2

After 14 years of waiting, we're FINALLY getting a long-awaited sequel to Brad Bird's 2004 near-perfect superhero film, The Incredibles. Really, if nothing else, the movie shows 20th Century Fox how simple it is to make a great Fantastic Four movie (something they've screwed up THREE TIMES since). And while not a whole lot is really known about the sequel, there are a few sparse details: the plot will concern Mr. Incredible staying home and watching the kids while his wife Elastigirl is out patrolling the city and fighting crime, and one of the main villains will be The Underminer - aka the Mole Man knock-off from the stinger of the first film (a really nice surprise - it seemed like a jokey easter egg to finish the film and wink even harder at the FF inspiration. The fact they're actually following up on what seemed like an offhand gag shows Brad Bird probably didn't add in anything too lightly).

But also: it's Brad Bird doing an Incredibles sequel, does literally ANYTHING else matter?

6. Pacific Rim Uprising


Of all the Guillermo Del Toro movies of the past few years, Pacific Rim might have been the Guillermo Del Toro-iest: giant robots powered by friendship, bizarre and weird monster designs, Ron Perlman chewing scenery like there's no tomorrow, etc. What made Pacific Rim such a breath of fresh air in the world of blockbusters was that it had heart, sincerity, and GODDAMN GAINT ROBOTS USING BOATS AS WEAPONS AGAINST KAIJU. It was basically the kind of film every 12 year old dreams of making - except GDT actually did it.

Cut to a few years later, and now we have a sequel coming out - and there are some reasons to be skeptical. Guillermo Del Toro is no longer in the director's chair, we have a new main character, and the overall look of the universe has shifted to something a bit more colorful and weird. But you know what? That's okay. We have Stacker Pentecost's son leading the charge, anime references through the wazoo, and some implied twists on the ol' Robots vs. Monsters setup. But more importantly, we are looking towards a world where Guillermo Del Toro's vision of friendship-powered giant robots battling alien monsters is a big mainstream franchise - and that's a world 12 year old me AND current day me can be excited for.

7. Deadpool 2 (and The New Mutants)

One movie that is absolutely not going to be on this list is X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Yes, it comes out in 2018, and yes, it's adapting one of the seminal X-Men stories. But - after X-Men: Apocalypse - is anyone excited for more films set in the First Class-verse? Are you pumped to see Sophie Turner's flimsy accent tackle a story Fox already squandered once? Are you psyched to watch Jennifer Lawrence sleepwalk her way through another paycheck? Are you ecstatic to see what Fantastic Four writer/producer Simon Kinberg does in the director's chair?

I'm a little hard-pressed to say anything positive about that 'verse - but thankfully, Fox IS doing some exciting stuff with their X-Men properties (that aren't titled "X-Men", at least) - for this year sees the follow-up to 2016's breakout hit, Deadpool. A movie that repeatedly had its budget slashed, that no one in upper management believed in, that was only made after years and years of campaigning by its core creative team (and some fortuitous leaked footage) - and that wound up being one of the highest-grossing superhero films of all-time...despite (and thanks to) its R-rating. And now we get to see what they do with a higher budget, more scrutiny, and a few incredibly welcome additions (Josh Brolin's Cable and Zazie Beetz's Domino, amongst them). From the brief teaser shown before last year's Logan, they seem to have their sense of humor and wry sense of parody in-tact - now we just need to see precisely HOW MANY memes this movie can inspire.

Note: As a tack-on to this - The New Mutants! 20th Century Fox is doing something very exciting with its non-X-Men mutant properties, in allowing them to take whatever form best suits them. While Marvel dictates that pretty much every film be made for the same audience and continuity, 20th Century Fox is offering a slew of films and projects that can be for completely different demographics. The New Mutants is in the X-Men universe, sure, but it's a Young Adult Horror film - something FAR removed from what pretty much everyone else in the superhero game is trying. After Deadpool and Logan (and their unprecedented R-ratings), 20th Century Fox deserves some props for what they're attempting.

8. Mortal Engines

Lotta positives here:

  • The books are great, full of weird details and world-building and all sorts of sci-fi weirdness to enjoy
  • Produced and shepherded by Peter Jackson
  • The premise of a future where cities have become mobile to adapt to a post-apocalyptic wasteland is incredibly stupid AND incredibly cool

Here's the opening to the first book, in case you needed further convincing:

It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.

In happier times, London would never have bothered with such feeble prey. The great Traction City had once spent its days hunting far bigger towns than this, ranging north as far as the edges of the Ice Waste and south to the shores of the Mediterranean. But lately prey of any kind had started to grow scarce, and some of the larger cities had begun to look hungrily at London. For ten years now it had been hiding from them, skulking in a damp, mountainous, western district which the Guild of Historians said had once been the island of Britain. For ten years it had eaten nothing but tiny farming towns and static settlements in those wet hills. Now, at last, the Lord Mayor had decided that the time was right to take his city back over the land- bridge into the Great Hunting Ground.

It was barely halfway across when the look-outs on the high watch-towers spied the mining town, gnawing at the salt-flats twenty miles ahead. To the people of London it seemed like a sign from the gods, and even the Lord Mayor (who didn't believe in gods or signs) thought it was a good beginning to the journey east, and issued the order to give chase.

The mining town saw the danger and turned tail, but already the huge caterpillar tracks under London were starting to roll faster and faster. Soon the city was lumbering in hot pursuit, a moving mountain of metal which rose in seven tiers like the layers of a wedding cake, the lower levels wreathed in engine-smoke, the villas of the rich gleaming white on the higher decks, and above it all the cross on top of St Paul's Cathedral glinting gold, two thousand feet above the ruined earth.

9. Isle of Dogs

Another stop-motion film from Wes Anderson is generally enough to pique the interest of most people, but one centered on a sci-fi concept of a near-future Japan overrun with dogs that wind up sent to a quarantined island (and also the dogs can talk)? HELL YES. Especially when you consider the mind-boggling voice cast the film boasts:


10. Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2

Wreck-It Ralph did something that hasn't been achieved since Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - take an artform, and lovingly parody it and pay homage to it in an authentic, meaningful way. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? did it for cartoons, and Wreck-It Ralph did for videogames. It wasn't the first piece of entertainment to play with the iconography and tropes of gaming (Dorkly was, Dorkly was the first, don't let anyone tell you different), but it may have been the first to do it right (except Dorkly, of course). And it managed to do it while telling a clever and sweet story, and was amongst the first films to herald Disney Animation's resurgence (right around the same time Pixar started stumbling).

It would have been extraordinarily easy to make Wreck-It Ralph 2 just go a bit deeper into the world of gaming and dig into some of the tropes and genres left out of the first movie - but the filmmakers decided to get a bit more ambitious, and decided to tackle online gaming, the internet as a whole, and dig into some serious meta-commentary with Disney, including appearances by every major Disney princess, as well as characters from (Disney owned properties) Star Wars and Marvel.

The only real bummer is that the title they went with is genuinely terrible - especially when they could have called it Super Wreck-It Ralph instead.

11. Venom

Okay, I will be the first to admit the idea of a Venom movie that doesn't include (nor likely even mention the EXISTENCE OF) Spider-Man sounds like an unbelievably bad idea. The idea is so bad, in fact, that I previously predicted the entire idea of this movie was made up and fake and just a way for Sony Pictures to appear to be wringing some value from their ownership of the Spider-Man film rights in order to be acquired by another company for a higher price.

But what if this turns out great?

It's got Tom Hardy in the lead, which is good. It's got Michelle Williams as She-Venom, which is good (and completely insane). It's rumored that Riz Ahmed will be portraying Carnage, which could be cool? The film is rated R, which is a good sign as well. And, again, Spider-Man will not be mentioned in any of this. The movie is going to be INSANE. Almost none of this actually makes sense - until you see this, at least:

Yes, that's Tom Hardy (as Eddie Brock) awkwardly trying to hide the Venom symbiote in his car without anyone noticing, like this is an episode of Frasier from some dark, unknown universe. Are they going to awkwardly mash together slapstick comedy with unspeakable gore (if they're going the Carnage route) and produce what may be one of the weirdest comic book adaptations in a long time? VERY POSSIBLY.

12. Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

Speaking of the weird stuff Sony is doing with their Spider-Man rights - they're also launching an animated Spider-Man franchise centered on Miles Morales (and presumably including the death of Peter Parker) one year after relaunching the live action franchise with Spider-Man: Homecoming. For most nerds, the distinction is clear and obvious - but it's important to remember general audiences are much more easily confused, and probably will be a little weirded out by two different Spider-Men having ongoing film franchises simultaneously. In short, it could be a risky move...but it looks like an amazing one.

For one, it's written by the team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, two of the most spectacular individuals in Hollywood - who keep jumping on projects that seem (on paper) like terrible ideas, only to execute them beautifully and turn them into classics (Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, 21 & 22 Jump Street, and The Lego Movie). That alone would be enough to have me sold on whatever this movie ultimately ends up being, but a few more things to keep in mind: we've only seen the Peter Parker iteration of Spider-Man on the big screen for 6 movies in a row, across 3 separate franchises. We saw Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland all do their takes on what is essentially the same character. And while I love Peter Parker with all of my heart, the world needs some Miles Morales right now.

Additionally, the animation looks gorgeous - almost like a Kubo-esque rendering of stop-motion mixed with CGI. And, based on the title, it seems to indicate we're going to see an adaptation of the comic event Spider-Verse, which saw versions of Spider-Man from across the multiverse join forces to battle evil. It's silly, but it's one of the better big Marvel events of the past few years (and even makes the awful "totem" spider mythology stuff bearable) and could be ridiculously fun to see on-screen, depending on licensing and rights (the comic event included Supaidaman, 60s Cartoon Spider-Man, Marvel vs. Capcom Spider-Man, and more).


In short: BRING IT ON, 2018.