Marvel Studios kicked off 2019 by introducing the world to Carol Danvers, and they couldn’t have chosen a better actress to bring her to life than Brie Larson. The Academy Award winner plays the titular heroine with a blend of self-confidence and humility, and gave the Marvel Cinematic Universe its newest MVP in the process.
Marvel’s first female-led standalone movie was long overdue. And more importantly, it set the stage for an even more diverse slate of films arriving in 2020. We may have lost a lot of heroes in Avengers: Engame, but the future of the MCU definitely looks bright.
The average layman would probably look at Shazam! and only see a Superman ripoff. But thanks to Zachary Levi’s giddy performance, the character formerly known as DC’s Captain Marvel has a whole new audience to call his own.
Billy Batson’s alter-ego was the perfect hero to approach from a comedic angle. After all, what else would you expect from a teenage kid who gains the ability to turn into an adult with superpowers? Hilarity was bound to ensue. The montage where Billy tests his strengths and weaknesses remains one of our favorite scenes of the year.
Plus, the Superman cameo at the end has us curious about how Shazam will factor into the larger DC Universe. His 2022 sequel can’t get here soon enough.
Technically, The Boys aren’t super, since they don’t have any powers (yet), but they’re definitely heroes.
Throughout the Amazon series’ inaugural season, the Boys proved that they could hold their own against the supe community’s most dastardly transgressors.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter if they’re resorting to blackmail or simply blowing someone up. It stands to reason that Billy Butcher and his crew are not to be messed with...and we pity anyone who doesn’t heed this advice in season 2.
Where The CW tends to play it safe with DC mythology, DC Universe is all about taking risks. Doom Patrol might be the best example of this strategy. The series’ appeal lies in its rejection of what’s considered “normal” within the superhero genre.
The characters are unabashedly weird, strung together by circumstance and simultaneously bound by their shared sense of otherness.
In the end, the Doom Patrol is more than just a team. They’re a family whose members bring out the best in each other, and that’s what heroes do best.
The Skywalker Saga is over, but The Mandalorian’s story is just beginning. After much anticipation, Lucasfilm’s first live-action Star Wars series finally premiered last month. It was certainly tempting to give this spot to Baby Yoda.
However, the honor belongs to Pedro Pascal’s Beskar-clad warrior, hands down.
It can be difficult to get an audience to empathize with your character when they can’t see his face, but Pascal pulls it off. Above all else, The Mandalorian proves that Lucasfilm doesn’t need to rely on legacy characters to continue exploring the Star Wars universe. To paraphrase the bounty hunter himself, Disney+ is the Way.
Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen series introduced a lot of new characters to the original graphic novel’s canon, but none were as intriguing as Regina King’s Angela Abar, a.k.a. Sister Night.
Watching her navigate the tricky politics of working as a police detective in a mask was compelling enough. But when she’s forced to reckon with her family legacy, her arc took a new (and much more thrilling) shape.
Angela was hit with one daunting challenge after another over the course of Watchmen’s nine episodes. Much to viewers’ delight, she made it all the way to the end.
Okay, the X-Men didn’t have the best year on the big screen, but they more than made up for it on the page. Under the guiding hand of newly appointed “Head of X” Jonathan Hickman, Marvel breathed new life into its X-Men franchise this summer with the one-two punch of House of X and Powers of X.
Here, fans witnessed mutants representing good and evil like never before: united (well, mostly...) and assuming a new role as a global superpower on the island nation of Krakoa.
As if this weren’t enough, Marvel pushed on with this bold new era in X-Men history with six (!) relaunched X-titles. Whether you prefer the swashbuckling adventures of Marauders or the magical offerings of Excalibur, at least one of these books should be on every reader’s pull list.
There’s plenty of excitement to go around, and hopefully Hickman and his cohorts continue crafting these stories for years to come.
Tom Holland’s take on Spider-Man nails what fans have loved about him for decades: his relatability. Peter Parker is just as flawed as the rest of us. So when he wants spend a summer abroad with his friends, it makes sense that his “typical Parker luck” would come along for the ride.
Spider-Man: Far From Home gave us Peter at his most downtrodden. We saw him deal with loss, betrayal, and even a brief clash between rival studios. But like always, he overcame these obstacles in triumphant fashion. By the film’s end, it looked like Peter’s fortune had finally changed for the better. Unfortunately, the mid-credits stinger revealed that this respite wasn’t meant to last…
All Steve Rogers ever wanted was to put a stop to bullies. But when he volunteered to be the U.S. Army’s first super soldier, he couldn’t have anticipated where the resulting journey would take him. Defending his nation’s freedom is one thing. However, standing up for the whole universe is something else entirely.
Avengers: Endgame provided a fitting sendoff to Chris Evans’ star-spangled hero. Throughout the film’s epic final battle, his unflinching resolve was on full display. And it culminated in what was arguably his most heroic onscreen moment to date: wielding Mjolnir against the Mad Titan Thanos.
Rest easy, Cap. Your retirement is well-earned.
How does one superhero stand out among dozens? Easy: spend eleven years building your reputation as the face of a cinematic universe, then go out in a blaze of glory. And by that, we mean sacrifice yourself to prevent cosmic extinction...and don’t forget to sound like a badass while doing it.
It’s hilarious to think that casting Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark was once considered a risk. But of course, the first Iron Man movie launched a bold experiment in filmmaking and made countless dreams come true. So it’s no wonder why his character’s demise in Avengers: Endgame is still reverberating throughout Marvel fandom eight months later.
The loss of Downey’s armored Avenger is going to leave a big hole in the MCU. But thankfully, there are plenty of capable heroes ready to shine in his stead, and they have RDJ to thank for inspiring them along the way.
We love you 3,000, Mr. Stark!