2018 is another crowded year for superhero media, with six live-action movies, two cinematic animated films, and a constant stream of Marvel and DC spinoffs on TV. That’s great news for comic book fans, but it’s also kind of daunting. Can all these movies possibly be worth it? To help you out, here’s our official ranking of the best superhero movies of 2018, along with a guide to what comes next.
The best superhero movies of 2018 (so far)
1. Black Panther
This list will probably fluctuate as more films come out, but let’s face it: Nothing will beat Black Panther. Blending sci-fi and fantasy, director Ryan Coogler brought new life to the Marvel franchise this year. Starring Chadwick Boseman as the superhero king T’Challa, this movie introduced the world to Wakanda, a secretive African nation with super-advanced technology and a rich cultural backstory.
Much of the conversation around Black Panther focuses on its impact as a blockbuster with a predominantly Black cast. It set a precedent for Hollywood, telling an unabashedly political story about colonization and the African diaspora. On top of all that, it’s a damn good action movie. Packed with already-iconic moments, it earned praise for its witty dialogue, stellar cast, and visual worldbuilding.
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2. Avengers: Infinity War
While Black Panther was an easy choice for the number one spot, the runner-up was harder to select. Infinity War and Deadpool 2 both fall into the category of “pretty good,” with their own strengths and weaknesses. The Deadpool franchise markets itself as an antidote to mainstream superhero movies, while Infinity War is the epitome of that genre. It’s a masterpiece of corporate synergy, bringing together (almost) every Marvel hero for an explosive interplanetary spectacle. For better or worse, it’s the first truly authentic screen version of a comic book crossover event.
In the end, I had to rank Infinity War above Deadpool 2. While Infinity War didn’t have the thought-provoking themes of Black Panther or Thor: Ragnarok, it was consistently fun. Marvel Studios also managed the difficult task of keeping every hero in character, which is more than you can say for Age of Ultron. Plus—spoiler alert—you’ve got to respect the bold move of Thanos‘ finger-snap at the end.
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Avengers: Infinity War/Marvel
Avengers: Infinity War/Marvel
3. Deadpool 2
Deadpool has a cult following, and this movie delivered on its promise of more fourth-wall-breaking antics, more R-rated violence, and a cast of awesome new characters like Cable (Josh Brolin) and Domino (Zazie Beetz). But as I pointed out in my review, Deadpool’s schtick is getting tired. The writers need to dig deeper and get smarter than just relying on rapid-fire pop culture references. Also, it’s downright embarrassing that they hadn’t heard of the fridged girlfriend trope. Seriously?
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Deadpool 2/20th Century Fox
The best superhero movies of 2018: Coming soon
Incredibles 2 (June 15)
Continuing on from the popular 2004 animated movie, Incredibles 2 sees the return of director Brad Bird. He’s joined by original voice actors Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, and Samuel L. Jackson. Hollywood’s superhero revolution took place in the years since the first Incredibles movie came out, so we’re following this one with interest.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 5)
As the first MCU movie after Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp faces a lot of pressure to impress. Instead of going big, it’s dodging the issue by adopting a family comedy tone. It also appears to be set before Infinity War, avoiding the fallout of that film’s epic finale. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly return as the two heroes with size-changing super-suits. Most of their Ant-Man castmates will also return, with Hannah John-Kamen playing the new supervillain Ghost and Michelle Pfeiffer as the original Wasp, Janet van Dyne.
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Venom (Oct. 5)
It’s time for Sony‘s Spider-Man extended universe to get weird. Tom Hardy stars in Venom as journalist Eddie Brock, who becomes the unwilling host to an alien parasite. It gives him superpowers along with a volatile new personality, creating the potential for a compelling psychological thriller. Or as the trailer suggests, it may just be a rather dated-looking throwback to the early 2000s. It could go either way!
We can easily imagine Venom being one of the best superhero movies of 2018 or turning out to be an absolute dud. In its favor, it boasts a strong cast. Riz Ahmed plays the antagonist, scientist Carlton Drake, with Michelle Williams as Eddie’s girlfriend Anne Weying.
Sony Pictures Entertainment/YouTube
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Dec. 14)
An Afro-Latino teenager who follows in Peter Parker’s footsteps, Miles Morales made his Marvel Comics debut in 2011. While fans may have to wait a while before he joins the live-action franchise (especially since Spider-Man: Homecoming stole certain aspects of Miles’s story), he’s getting his own animated movie. With a slick, computer-animated aesthetic, this is definitely one to look forward to. Shameik Moore voices Miles, with Mahershala Ali voicing his uncle, Brian Tyree Henry as his father, and Liev Shreiber in an undisclosed role. New Girl actor Jake Johnson will play Peter Parker, acting as Miles’s mentor.
Aquaman (Dec. 21)
Justice League introduced Jason Momoa as Aquaman last year, but this movie allows him to strike out on his own. Directed by James Wan (Furious 7), it’s an underwater action/fantasy adventure. Amber Heard co-stars as the ocean warrior princess Mera, with Patrick Wilson as the villainous Orm. While we haven’t seen an Aquaman trailer yet, we expect the movie to be more in line with Wonder Woman than DC’s recent Batman/Superman movies.
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Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
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