2018 was a fantastic year for superhero movies, a genre that has had a sort of renaissance this particular decade. The most striking thing this year was that animated superhero movies also came into their own and were up there with any live-action movie in terms of writing, story, action and so on.
In fact, an animated movie (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) tops this list.
Of course, this year also saw arguably the biggest superhero event ever in history: Avengers: Infinity War. But despite its enormity and huge cast, it did not overshadow the genre.
Anyway, here are the top ten superhero movies of this year.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: A psychedelic ode to Spidey fans, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was going to be a non-event. Its announcement had nonplussed even diehard Spidey fans. It was going to be another Sony comic-book misfire after Venom. But the sheer hard work and love put into the movie’s making surprised everybody, including the scribe.
The only problem, as a friend put it, you will have with this movie is whether to pay attention to stunning visuals, the phenomenal story or a very listenable soundtrack. Easily the best superhero movie this year and by far the best Spider-Man adaptation.
Avengers: Infinity War: The beginning of the end of the Thanos storyline within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Infinity War was a comic-book crossover put on the screen, with all its perfections and imperfections. So much plot and characters made it overstuffed, but the movie was undeniably a blast, even though not all of it made sense.
Incredibles 2: This year would have been dominated by animated superhero movies if not for Infinity War. Incredibles 2, a sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles, was another winner that made full use of the medium. It picked up the story just after the prequel. For all the talk of the film’s story and characters, the most striking thing in the movie is the action. It is very fun and comic-booky (in a good way) and gives you a sense that such stunts and CGI work are either very expensive in live-action or plain impossible.
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies: It was called the silliest movie of the year, and the opinion remained the same after its release. Only, it was almost universally loved (it did not see a release in India) for its innate silliness. It was also very meta in the style of the Lego Batman Movie and a Stan Lee cameo in a DC movie was just so unexpected. And finally, Nicolas Cage got to play Superman!
Black Panther: The first MCU movie in years that felt like a standalone (except for the cameo in post-credits), Black Panther benefitted with a mostly black cast and strong female characters (Danai Gurira flinging her wig as a weapon was such a badass moment). Both the villains — Andy Serkis’ Ulysses Klaue and Michael B Jordan’s Killmonger — were so much fun to watch and rank as two of MCU’s best bad guys.
Deadpool 2: Even more packed with self-aware humour and post-credit scenes that brought the house down, Deadpool 2 was just more of Deadpool (the first movie), and it still did not seem enough. The whip-smart writing from the first one flagged a bit but the Merc with a Mouth had a joke ready as an excuse (“That’s just lazy writing!”).
Aquaman: The only live-action DC film this year, Aquaman did not bother with the usual stuff like plot and characters much and went with pure spectacle and action. The result was a movie that did not make much sense but was nevertheless a jolly good time at the movies.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: A comfort food movie after the whirlwind of Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp had an uninspiring villain. But it was still quite enjoyable. There was lots of action, trademark Marvel humour and great acting from both its charming leads. Pretty much every MCU staple.
The Death of Superman: DC’s animated team showed DC’s live-action team how to kill a superhero and make his or her death actually important. Superman died in this movie too, just like Batman v Superman, but unlike that Zack Snyder film, here it felt like something. There was an emotional heft to the scene where he is brutally beaten to death by Doomsday thanks to strong character work prior to the final scene. This movie is what Batman v Superman should have been.
Venom: Tom Hardy’s turn as Spider-Man villain/anti-hero was a delight. The man gave a hypnotic performance in both the roles. The rest of the movie? Not so much. The strong cast was wasted by a paper-thin plot.