From Avengers to Zombieland: 2019 movies full of genre goodness

By Andrew A. Smith

Tribune Content Agency

It’s going to rain genre movies in 2019. That’s bad for movie critics who only like talky dramas, but great for we popcorn-loving plebes who apparently don’t know any better. There are too many to even list, so let’s just look at the top 20 comics, sci-fi, horror and animation movies of 2019, in reverse order of my enthusiasm.

(Note: Release dates and other details are subject to change.)

20) Terminator 6 (Nov. 1): The last couple of Terminator reboots were so awful they soured me on the franchise. But this unnamed movie will ignore every Terminator property after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which is a huge, robotic step in the right direction. And with James Cameron returning as producer, and both Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger on board to pass the torch, I feel my enthusiasm awakening – and becoming self-aware.

19) Joker (Oct. 4): I’m really interested in seeing what bizarre actor Joaquin Phoenix can do with Batman’s bizarre arch-foe. The movie also stars Zazie Beetz (Deadpool 2) and the legendary Robert DeNiro, which is very encouraging. The bad news is that much of The Joker’s appeal – and all of what makes him remotely plausible – is that nobody is sure who or what he is. Giving him a specific, authoritative origin (which the comics have deliberately avoided) can only lessen his mystique. That seems like a dumb thing to do.

18) Men In Black: International (June 14): This concept has moved so far beyond its origins at tiny Aircel Comics in 1990 that it can safely be called its own animal. But Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones may have already said all that can be said with it. Still, with a cast that includes Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie) and Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn), it should be thoroughly watchable.

17) The Crow Reborn (Oct. 11): Wow, there have been a lot of bad Crow movies. But there’s nothing like a good revenge fantasy, which is what The Crow has always been, dating back to its inception at Caliber Comics in 1989. It’s a can’t-miss concept (unless they miss).

16) It: Chapter Two (Sept. 6): There have been a lot of bad Stephen King adaptations, too. But the $700 million the first chapter raked in worldwide says It isn’t one of them. This movie adapts the second half of King’s novel, with the kids of the first part now all grown up. They’re played by the likes of Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Bill Hader, plus Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise, so there’s going to be a lot of star power up there on the screen.

15) Brightburn (May 24): The idea of evil Supermen, even evil Superboys, has been old hat in the comics for decades. Heck, even Superman III had a drunk, unshaven Superman in a dirty costume. But what about a bad Superbaby? That’s the premise of this movie, answering the question “what if that cute, super-powered tyke arriving in a rocket is a bad seed?” It turns heroism into horror, a genre-bender that treads new ground.

14) Kingsman 3 (Nov. 8): There are all sorts of rumors swirling around what this unnamed movie is about. One possibility is that it’s a prequel, which would be terra incognita. Another is that it will constitute the third part of a trilogy, bringing closure to the Eggsy-Harry Hart relationship (played by Taron Egerton and Colin Firth, respectively). Or it could be a musical. OK, probably not. The point is: We don’t know. But since I enjoyed the first two installments, I’ll probably enjoy whatever this is. (Unless there are show tunes.)

13) The Kitchen (Sept. 20): The original 8-issue miniseries of the same name, published in 2014 by Vertigo, DC Comics’ mature readers line, was a fascinating story about three mob wives who turn to crime to pay their incarcerated husbands’ debts – and how joining “the life” changes them. This movie stars Elisabeth Moss, Tiffany Haddish and Melissa McCarthy in the three principal roles, so it could even be better than the source material.

12) The Addams Family (October 11): One reason my younger self loved The Addams Family TV show more than The Munsters was because the former, every once in a while, gave a hint of the vicious black humor of the original Charles Addams cartoons that appeared in The New Yorker. Since this animated movie is based directly on those cartoons, we’re getting Addams’ delightful venom straight from the source – and my inner 12 year old is thrilled.

11) Alita: Battle Angel (Feb. 14): Movies based on manga (Japanese comics) have an awful track record in the U.S., and there’s no reason to believe this one will buck the trend. But the original comics are awesome, the concept – a post-apocalyptic cyborg warrior – is cool, the special effects look amazing, plus Christoph Waltz and Jennifer Connelly are on hand. Here’s hoping.

10) Glass (Jan. 18): Unbreakable had comics fans feeling smug, because we knew the color code director M. Night Shyamalan was using to give us advance tips on the characters before the script did. (Hint: Superheroes generally wear primary colors, whereas villains favor purple, green and orange.) Shyamalan’s stock fell for a while, before being rescued by Split. Now comes Glass, which is a sequel to both movies, heretofore unrelated. That’s some trick, M. Night. 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

If Godzilla looks angry, it’s because he has to share the screen with Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah.

9) Godzilla: King of the Monsters (May 31): I hear there are some people who don’t love Godzilla, and didn’t spend Saturday afternoons in their youth thrilling to the sight of men in rubber suits trampling tiny models of Tokyo. I don’t understand such people. That’s like hating  pizza, or kittens, or sex. Well, it takes all kinds. And my kind of person will be front and center for this updated take on the Big G, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah. Given today’s special effects, this sequel to 2014’s Godzilla should be quite a show. (Although I confess some part of me will miss the rubber suits.)

Photo credit: Steve Wilkie, copyright DC Comics Inc.

Jack Dylan Grazer stars as Freddy Freeman (left) and Zachary Levi plays the titular superhero in Shazam!

8) Shazam! (April 5): It’s a joy to see the original Captain Marvel – yes, that was his name when he was introduced in 1940 – given his due. Now maybe people will better understand those vague memories swirling around the collective unconscious about this guy, who sold as well as Superman in the ‘40s. Anyway, this is the story of a boy who is given a magic word from a dying wizard that turns him into an immature, but genial, super-powered adult. Now called Shazam, this light-hearted character is the perfect antidote to the grimdark grimness of movies like Batman v Superman.

7) The New Mutants (Aug. 2): This next generation group of X-Men, introduced at Marvel Comics in 1982, had some pretty strange, non-superhero-ish adventures. One was a straight-up horror show titled “The Demon Bear” – and that’s what we’re getting in this hero/horror hybrid, which stars Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things) and Rosario Dawson (the Marvel/Netflix shows).

Photo Credit: Doane Gregory

Sophie Turner stars as Jean Grey in the adaptation of one of the most famous of X-Men stories, “Dark Phoenix.”

6) Dark Phoenix (June 7): This movie promises a more faithful adaptation of the famed X-Men story “The Dark Phoenix Saga” than the mess we saw in X-Men: The Last Stand. It’s also probably the last X-movie before Disney reboots the franchise, so this is probably the last X-dance for Sophie Turner  as Jean Grey, James McAvoy  as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique.

5) Hellboy (April 12): The two movies directed by Guillermo del Toro, which starred Ron Perlman as the demonic hero, were perfectly enjoyable films. But they weren’t really Hellboy. This new version, starring David Harbour (“Stranger Things”) promises to be more faithful to the comics, so that movie viewers can see why comics fans have loved Hellboy for so many years.

4) Captain Marvel (March 8): Yes, it’s Marvel’s first female-led superhero movie. Yes, it’s Marvel’s first movie set in the '90s. But is it good? I’m hoping for Wonder Woman good, but I’ll settle for Ant-Man good.

3) Spider-Man: Far From Home (July 5): Tom Holland made us fall in love with Peter Parker all over again in Civil Wa  and Homecoming. Bring on Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhall) and the popcorn!

2) Star Wars Episode IX (Dec. 20): The last Star Wars movie got a lot of hate, and I for one have no idea why. But maybe it shook the powers that be, because Star Wars mastermind J.J. Abrams himself returns to direct this (unnamed) installment, which should conclude the storyline starring Rey (Daisy Ridley), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac).

1) Avengers: Endgame (April 26): There’s not a lot to say about this movie, because we know so little. But evidently we don’t need to know anything, because “Endgame” is already setting records for trailer views and advance ticket sales.  

That’s my top 20. And for movie critics, I’m sure there will be a talky drama or two.


  • Ad Astra (May 24, 2019)
  • The Addams Family (Oct. 11, 2019)
  • Aladdin (May 24,2019)
  • Alita: Battle Angel (Feb. 14, 2019)
  • The Angry Birds Movie 2 (Aug. 16, 2019)
  • Arctic Justice Thunder Squad (Nov. 1, 2019)
  • Artemis Fowl (Aug. 9, 2019)
  • Avengers: Endgame (Apr. 26, 2019)
  • Brightburn (May 24, 2019)
  • Captain Marvel (Mar. 8, 2019)
  • Captive State (Mar. 29, 2019)
  • Chaos Walking (Mar. 1, 2019)
  • Charlie's Angels (Nov. 1, 2019)
  • The Crow Reborn (Oct. 11, 2019)
  • Dark Phoenix (June 7, 2019)
  • Dumbo (Mar. 29,2019)
  • Frozen 2 (Nov. 22, 2019)
  • Gemini Man (Oct. 4, 2019)
  • Glass (Jan. 18, 2019)
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (May 31, 2019)
  • The Grudge (June 21, 2019)
  • Hellboy (Apr. 12, 2019)
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (Feb. 22, 2019)
  • It: Chapter Two (Sept. 6, 2019)
  • Joker (Oct. 4, 2019)
  • Jumanji 3 (Dec. 13, 2019)
  • Kid Who Would Be King (Jan. 25, 2019)
  • Kingsman 3 (Nov. 8, 2019)
  • The Kitchen (Sept. 20, 2019)
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (Feb. 8, 2019)
  • The Lion King (July 19, 2019)
  • Masters Of The Universe (Dec. 18, 2019)
  • Men In Black: International (June 14, 2019)
  • The New Mutants (Aug. 2, 2019)
  • Pet Sematary (Apr. 5, 2019)
  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu (May 10, 2019)
  • The Secret Life of Pets 2 (June 7, 2019)
  • Shaft (June 14, 2019)
  • Shazam! (Apr. 5, 2019)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Nov. 15, 2019)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (July 5,2019)
  • Star Wars: Episode IX (Dec. 20, 2019)
  • Terminator 6 (Nov. 1, 2019)
  • Toy Story 4 (June 21, 2019)
  • UglyDolls (May 10, 2019)
  • Untitled Fox/Marvel movie (Nov. 22, 2019)
  • Wonder Park (Mar. 15, 2019)
  • You Are My Friend (Oct. 18, 2019)
  • Zombieland 2 (Oct. 11, 2019)

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“I hear there are some people who don’t love Godzilla, and didn’t spend Saturday afternoons in their youth thrilling to the sight of men in rubber suits trampling tiny models of Tokyo.”

Really? I don’t know of any people like that.

“The last Star Wars movie got a lot of hate, and I for one have no idea why.”

The Last Jedi (2017) or Solo (2018)? The Last Jedi (2017) was good but Solo sucked.

Thanks for the list. Very comprehensive.

It was Superman III that had "a drunk, unshaven Superman."

The original Captain Marvel's first appearance was cover-dated February 1940 but published in 1939.

Nearly all of Captain America, the First Avenger took place in the 1940s, so it should count as a period movie.

Arctic Justice Thunder Squad???

If that's NOT a three-way team up between the JSA, the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and Santa, then someone wasted a perfectly good title.

So I'm just going to assume that it IS, and you can't convince me otherwise.

It was Superman III that had "a drunk, unshaven Superman."

A typo. Ol' Granny's eyes aren't what they used to be. Thanks for the catch!

The original Captain Marvel's first appearance was cover-dated February 1940 but published in 1939.

I've been going by cover dates instead of publishing dates since I started this column in 1992. I think Comics Buyer's Guide did too -- or, at the very least, they didn't change my copy. It might not suit everyone, but at least I'm consistent.

Nearly all of Captain America, the First Avenger took place in the 1940s, so it should count as a period movie.

That's a flat-out mistake, and I've fixed it.

Other than that, how did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

The Last Jedi (2017) or Solo (2018)? The Last Jedi (2017) was good but Solo sucked.

I was referring to Last Jedi, which is a proper Star Wars movie, with a number (VIII) and everything. I should have been more specific.

Solo did indeed suck (at least to me), and I have no question why people didn't like it. But Last Jedi got a lot of hate, not only online, but some local Star Wars fanatics I know hate, hate, hated it. Their complaints didn't make any sense to me. But you know how people are -- if they don't like something and don't know why, or do know why but can't say it aloud (female lead), they just make up reasons not to like it, so those reasons don't make much sense.

Thanks for the list. Very comprehensive.

You're welcome! I posted my reference list the first time last year, and I see no reason not to do it annually.

Otherwise, I enjoyed the column and appreciate the list. Thanks!

The list made me realize what an awesome year for genre movies this will be. The Lad and I went over it last night going "... and that one and that one and THAT one..."

2018 had two movies that hit $1B worldwide, with a third (Aquaman) poised to make it a hat trick. It also had 9 superhero movies, compared to 8 in 2018. (Depending on how you count.) So some critics are saying that the superhero trend has peaked, with 2019 destined to be less superhero-ey and less lucrative than 2018.

I think that's wishful thinking, myself, among a group of people openly hostile to superhero movies. Avengers: Endgame is going to clear $1B without breathing hard, Spider-Man: Far From Home could as well, and if Captain Marvel is at least as good as Wonder Woman (crossing fingers), it will do very well. Joker could do Venom numbers, and the two X-movies are wild cards that could hit a sweet spot, or tank -- I don't know, and I doubt anyone else does, either.

And that's not even considering 2020, which already has listed three (unnamed) Marvel movies (probably Dr. Strange 2, Black Panther 2 and maybe GotG 3 or Eternals), Wonder Woman 1984, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), Bloodshot, Godzilla vs. Kong, and potentially several more DC (Cyborg, GL Corps) or X-Men movies (Gambit). Oh, and Daniel Craig's last Bond movie.

Doctor Hmmm? said:

The list made me realize what an awesome year for genre movies this will be. The Lad and I went over it last night going "... and that one and that one and THAT one..."

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