Andrew A. Smith

Tribune Content Agency

An even dozen major superhero movies are scheduled for 2018. Let’s count down in reverse order of the Captain’s enthusiasm:

12. VENOM (Oct. 5): Sony Pictures is trying to jump-start a Spider-Man-villain universe without Spider-Man, who’s hanging his webs at Marvel Studios these days. That preposterous proposition, coupled with Venom’s unpopularity with older comics fans, pushes Venom to the bottom of the list.

As to the specifics, Tom Hardy stars as Eddie Brock, who sports the alien symbiote that gives him Spider-Man-like powers (and a spectacular overbite). Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea) will portray Anne Weying, who in the comics is not only Brock’s ex-wife, but eventually becomes (sigh) She-Venom. The movie, which may have an R rating, also features Woody Harrelson and Jenny Slate.

11. TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES (July 27): The high-energy Teen Titans GO! cartoon takes its team of young DC Comics heroes to the big screen. The TV voice actors reprise their roles, including Greg Cipes (Beast Boy), Scott Menville (Robin), Khary Payton (Cyborg), Tara Strong (Raven) and Hynden Walch (Starfire). Will Arnett and Kristen Bell are also in the cast, in undisclosed roles. (I’m guessing Wonder Girl and Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy.) Boo-yah!

10. SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (Dec. 14): This 3D animated movie stars a Spider-Man who is younger (and darker) than Peter Parker. He’s Miles Morales, who in the comics originated in a parallel universe. In the comics both Spider-Men are on the young side, but in this movie Parker is a middle-aged mentor for Morales.

That may not be the most confusing part. The movie is named “Into the Spider-Verse,” the name of a 2012 story in which a plethora of spider-people were introduced to the mighty Marvel Universe. It remains to be seen if the movie follows that plotline, but if it does, expect an army of wall-crawlers battling for their lives against an unstoppable, interdimensional killer named Morlun.


Artwork Title Usage: Copyright © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

Rosa Salazar stars as Alita in Twentieth Century Fox’s Alita: Battle Angel, based on a popular comics series in Japan.

9. ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (July 20): This movie adapts a popular Japanese comic book series, and seems to do so pretty faithfully. Taking place in a near (and post-apocalyptic) future, a compassionate cyber-doctor named Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) finds the discarded cyborg Alita (Rosa Salazar) and repairs her. But Alita remembers nothing of her past, until she’s attacked by mysterious enemies – which triggers extraordinary combat capabilities. Needless to say, the movie will follow Alita’s search for her past – and will, hopefully, break the curse of manga adaptations that fare poorly at the U.S. box office.

8. X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX (Nov. 2): If you’re a comics fan, you can’t help but feel anxious about this adaptation of one of the great X-Men stories.

For one thing, the original “Dark Phoenix Saga,” which was published around 1980, was essentially the heart-breaking resolution of the love story that was central to the X-Men since their 1963 debut. As such, it was a turning point in X-history, with all the emotions that entails. One wonders how this ersatz team of X-Men, one assembled from the messy timeline of the Fox X-movies, can possibly deliver that dramatic punch.

For another, this is the last X-movie in the can from Fox, which was recently gobbled up by Disney – and therefore Marvel Studios. Wherever the merry mutants appear on the silver screen next, they will probably be re-booted, further reducing this movie’s significance.

Unless, of course, they use the Phoenix’s immense power as an excuse to jump-start the next incarnation of X-Men at Marvel Studios. Hmmm.

7. THE NEW MUTANTS (April 13): It may seem odd to non-comics readers that this movie looks to be more horror film than heroic epic. But it’s appropriate to the source material, the 1984 “Demon Bear Saga,” by writer Chris Claremont and artist Bill Sienkiewicz. In that story, the original New Mutants – Cannonball, Karma, Psyche, Sunspot and Wolfsbane – battled a terrifying monster not of this world. The movie features four of those characters, but substitutes Magik (Colossus’ younger, teleporting sister) for Karma. They are mentored by another sub from the comics, Dr. Cecilia Reyes, played by the always welcome Rosario Dawson (Claire Temple in all those Marvel shows on Netflix).

6. AQUAMAN (Dec. 21): The Aquaman who appeared in Justice League is already my favorite version of the Sea King, and it was a treat to see Mera (Amber Heard), his romantic partner and equal, as well. (If you couldn’t tell, her power is aquakinesis – the mental manipulation of water.) We’ll see a lot more of both in this movie, wherein Arthur Curry will discover his destiny as king of Atlantis – whether he wants it or not.

5. ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (July 6): The first Ant-Man movie was both hilarious and charming, so a second serving is more than welcome. In addition to returnees Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Henry Pym (Michael Douglas), we’ll finally meet Hope’s mother Janet – the first Wasp, played by Michelle Pfeiffer.

4. DEADPOOL 2 (June 1): I don’t think I can describe this movie any better than this synopsis from

“After surviving a near fatal bovine attack, a disfigured cafeteria chef (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Mayberry's hottest bartender while also learning to cope with his lost sense of taste. Searching to regain his spice for life, as well as a flux capacitor, Wade must battle ninjas, the yakuza, and a pack of sexually aggressive canines, as he journeys around the world to discover the importance of family, friendship, and flavor – finding a new taste for adventure and earning the coveted coffee mug title of World's Best Lover.”

That’s really how it reads. But you know what to really expect, right? Right.

© 2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) Parr is Mr. Incredible, and Jack-Jack is … well, Jack-Jack, whose superpowers are emerging in Incredibles 2 coming to theaters on June 15, 2018.

3. THE INCREDIBLES 2 (June 15): The first Incredibles is what every Fantastic Four movie should have been, but wasn’t. (For one thing, it was really good.) It’s baffling that it took 13 years for a sequel to be made, but I think we’re all looking forward to the further adventures of the super-powered Parr family: Bob, Helen, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack. (Especially Jack-Jack.)

2. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (May 4): It’s Thanos and his Black Order vs. Ant-Man, Black Panther, Black Widow, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Drax, Falcon, Gamora, Groot, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Man, Mantis, Nebula, Rocket Raccoon, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, Star-Lord, Thor, Valkyrie, Vision, War Machine, Winter Soldier and the entire Wakandan army. The Avengers have the numbers, which is the good news. Thanos will have the Infinity Stones, and as long as he has them, his victory is a foregone conclusion. How many will die to stop him?

Photo: Matt Kennedy ©Marvel Studios 2018

Chadwick Boseman first appeared as T’Challa, the Black Panther, in Captain America: Civil War. He headlines Black Panther in February.

1. BLACK PANTHER (Feb. 16): T’challa, the Black Panther, isn’t just a superhero. He’s a king and head of state. He’s the leader of the most scientifically advanced nation on Earth. He’s empowered by the ancient panther god. He’s the heir to a complex African heritage. He’s protected by the Dora Milaje, the most dreaded warriors in the world.

But he faces the worst foes known to man: Politics. Racism. Colonialism. Greed. Betrayal. And on the undercard: M’Baku the Man-Ape, Ulysses Klaue and, quite possibly, the U.S. State Department.

Infinity War is going to be an eye-popping spectacle, the best popcorn movie of the year. But Black Panther is my No. One – because it’s going to be inspiring.

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  • Three Fox movies, three Marvel movies, one DC movie. If Disney cuts back on X-movies, this year could be the high-water mark for superhero movies. 

  • I'm pretty excited for your top six choices, Cap.  I'll have to read the source material for New Mutants but I am looking forward to it.  I fear you may be right about your misgivings on Dark Phoenix.  My interest in Alita, Spider-Verse, and Teen Titans Go! is minimal, and close to zero for Venom.  I wouldn't wish failure on any of these projects but I think a Spider-Man movie without Spider-Man in it is a disaster waiting to happen.

  • Oh, man -- there's a Teen Titans Go! movie? I'm glad I've got six months to warm up to the idea. I really like the cartoon, but 15 and 30-minute chunks of it are usually enough for me.

    That said, the tea behind the show is super-talented, and I bet they've found some good solutions to adapt the show into a longer format without losing its rapid-fire magic.

    And yeah, I think horror is a GREAT angle for the New Mutants movie. For one thing, it's a huge genre that teens go to, so there's great crossover potential there. (As opposed to, say, crossing a superhero movie with an old-people genre like a Western.)

  • Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

    And yeah, I think horror is a GREAT angle for the New Mutants movie. For one thing, it's a huge genre that teens go to, so there's great crossover potential there. (As opposed to, say, crossing a superhero movie with an old-people genre like a Western.)

    It all depends on how they market it. A lot of movies have been derailed by marketing them to the wrong audiences. No word of mouth from disappointed viewers.

  • I think New Mutants as horror is a great idea also -- it sort of mirrors what Stan Lee did in the early '60s, telling a variety of types of stories (Western, soap opera, etc.) with superheroes. We've already had a superhero Western (Logan) and a superhero fratboy comedy (Deadpool) and now a superhero horror movie. That mirrors what Fox was doing on TV, where they have two shows adapted from superhero comics that don't look like each other, or much of anything else (Legion, The Gifted).

  • 12. I don't see how they can make a Venom without Spider-Man, or for that matter the original Secret Wars. But I have seen Tom Hardy in action & I think he will make an impressive Eddie Brock, better than Topher Grace's version.
    11. I've seen this series & actively avoid it. I'll do the same with this 'film'.
    10. Might be worth a watch.
    9. I'll wait for video release.
    8. I was there for the original Dark Phoenix Saga. X-Men at that time was one of my Marvel favorites & John Byrne's Artwork (yes, so noted with a capital A) was what sold it for me. While X-Men: Apocalypse left me a little lukewarm on the rebooted movie timeline, I'm wiling to see what happens.
    7. The 'trailer' left me ambiguous. Playing like a horror movie isn't my liking, but I collected the original run of New Mutants, which included the Demon Bear story. I have to see how this translates to the screen.
    6. Let's hope Aquaman will do for Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry what BvS & JL did for Gal Godot's Diana Prince.
    5. OK, I'll watch it.The only downside of Ant-Man were, in my opinion, the lengthy expositions by Luis.
    4.  Deadpool 1 was the shot to the forehead the Marvel Films needed. DP2? Bring the pain, 'Pooly.
    3. Been waiting for this since the last shot in Incredibles 1.
    2. Let's hope it lives up to the hype.
    1. May the Panther God bless this film.

  • Horn'd One said:

    12. I don't see how they can make a Venom without Spider-Man, or for that matter the original Secret Wars. 

    They can make a Venom movie without Spider-Man the same way they can make a Spider-Man movie without Venom. It's the character that's important, not the details of the origin.

  • Hey, that made a Catwoman movie without Batman and that worked out pretty good, didn't it?

    Hello? Anyone there? Never mind.

  • Some concepts are connected to other concepts. Catwoman, I suppose, isn't just "woman criminal with a thing for cats", but "woman criminal with a thing for cats who's a Batman opponent and love interest".

  • That's one reason I was glad Suicide Squad didn't try to sever itself from the wider DC universe. Harley Quinn doesn't exist without The Joker, and Joker doesn't exist without Batman. If you have Harley Quinn without Joker and Batman, you have to come up with a brand new, compelling origin -- and whatever the screenwriters steal from other movies come up with, it's not going to be as interesting. You'd just get Catwoman all over again.

    Luke Blanchard said:

    Some concepts are connected to other concepts. Catwoman, I suppose, isn't just "woman criminal with a thing for cats", but "woman criminal with a thing for cats who's a Batman opponent and love interest".

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