As each year ends, I like to take a moment and look back at what happened, what we thought would happen, and what we didn’t see coming.
First, let’s take a look at the top 10 movies by box office, as well as their Letterboxd scores, which is out of 5, making 3 and average movie, and anything above a 4 being fantastic. Personally, I prefer Letterboxd over Rotten Tomatoes.
|Top Gun: Maverick||$718,732,821||4.1|
|Black Panther: Wakanda Forever||$427,355,401||3.7|
|Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness||$411,331,607||3.2|
|Jurassic World Dominion||$376,009,080||2.4|
|Minions: The Rise of Gru||$369,500,210||3.4|
|Thor: Love and Thunder||$343,256,830||2.9|
|Avatar: The Way of Water||$293,181,686||3.8|
|Sonic the Hedgehog 2||$190,872,904||3.2|
While nine of those movies are either superheroes, science fiction, or feature talking animals (are Minions animals?), it is worth discussing how the highest grossing movie of the year, by a large margin I might add, is a traditional blockbuster, where Tom Cruise flies some planes. It’s hard to say that we are getting out of the Marvel Era when Marvel still takes 3 of the top 10 spots, but they certainly don’t pull massive audiences like they used to.
- 2017, the highest grossing film at $517mil was The Last Jedi
- 2018 at $2Bil was Infinity War, with Black Panther in second at $1.3Bil)
- 2019 at $858mil was Endgame
- 2020 was an outlier due to theaters being shut down around the world
- 2021 at $572mil was Spider-Man: No Way Home, with Shang-Chi in second at $224mil, Venom in third at $212mil, Black Widow in fourth at $183mil, and Eternals in sixth at $164mil.
So while 2021 was covered in MCU, the biggest movie of the year was a full $146mil lower than this years fighter jet movie. You can see excitement in numbers, and people were excited to see a Tom Cruise movie, who is consistently grounded in his heroics.
Now, it might seem strange that a website dedicated to superheroes, among other things, wants superhero movies to move on, but I think we’ve reached a point where we are getting diminishing returns. I don’t want the MCU to continue, if all it’s ever trying to do is recapture what made the Infinity Saga so good. Now, if we start getting new and interesting MCU projects, like Werewolf By Night, then I’ll be more excited. But right now, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Also, 8 of those top 10 are sequels, one is in an established cinematic universe, and the other is a reboot of a cinematic universe. We can’t expect to see original movies in theaters, if everyone is only driving out to see sequels and known IPs.
In other movie news, we were promised but still haven’t seen:
- Spider-Verse 2, now June 2
- The Flash, which somehow is still coming out on June 16 despite the never ending deluge of Ezra Miller fiascos, even though they cancelled Batgirl after it was already finished filming.
- Aquaman 2, now December 25
- Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, now June 9
- The Super Mario Bros. Movie, now April 7 (even though March 10, MAR10, is right there!)
- Legally Blonde 3, no release date announced
- John Wick: Chapter 4, March 24
- Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, July 14
We had some cool stuff come out this year on TV, including three different fantasy prequel shows. Let’s see what happened this year on TV.
First of all, did you know the biggest show of the year is Yellowstone? The Season 5 premiere had nearly 16 million viewers, the biggest premiere since 2017 The Walking Dead. It’s surprising for people like me, who hear about movies and shows from social media, particularly Twitter and Reddit, to find out that the cowboy show (the one without robots) is so popular.
Though, let’s talk about the fantasy prequel trifecta. First, we had the very popular Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon. In the first 24 hours, the show got 9.99 million views on HBO, which was the largest Day-1 Debut in HBO history, and by and large people I knew wanted to wait to see if it was good before they dove in, due to being unsatisfied by the GoT final season. I loved the characters, and every conversation was thrilling to watch. At the same time, we had the Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which wasn’t as popular, seemingly due to it’s divergence from the source material. A lot of people didn’t initially realize that Amazon didn’t have the rights to the Silmarillion, the essential prequel series, but only the four core books, as well as their appendices. This meant that Amazon was required to change the history of Middle-earth. Personally, that didn’t bother me at all, as I am a fan of the Peter Jackson movies primarily, and everything from the show fit into what is in the text of the films. Lastly, there is The Witcher: Blood Origin, which I haven’t had a chance to see yet, as it’s only been out for three days as of this writing, but I know with the recent news that Henry Cavill is leaving the franchise, a lot of people are disillusioned with continuing to invest in the universe, if it doesn’t have the Cavill stamp of approval.
That’s not even all of the fantasy though. We also got The Legend of Vox Machina (that was this year!), as well as Dragon Age: Absolution. We are fully in the age of Fantasy at this point, and I am loving every minute of it. No longer do we have to wait for Disney to give us a dragon-fighting swordsman, our cups runneth over.
Then we get to the superheroes, where Peacemaker has John Cena’s character from The Suicide Squad, and it was one of the highest streamed show each week it was on, right behind Yellowstone. Then we had The Sandman on Netflix, and the MCU shows of Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and She-Hulk. None of them were as adored as some other MCU shows like WandaVision or Loki, and I’m not sure what MCU shows upcoming will reach that level again.
We also got three Star Wars shows, with Obi-wan Kenobi, Andor, and Tales of the Jedi, though I think that, aside from nostalgia, Andor is far and away my favorite of the three. Someone recently called it “Star Wars for adults” and I think that is an excellent way to put it. I so hope that we will get more mature Star Wars content like Andor, things that don’t rely on Lightsabers and Cameos, more like the first season of The Mandalorian. I am ready for new and interesting stories from the galaxy far, far away.
In other news:
- Legends of Tomorrow, Batwoman, Stargril, and Young Justice DC shows were all cancelled. Warner Bros. was clearly trying to wipe the slate clean before handing over the reins to James Gunn.
- Better Call Saul ended to the highest reviews the show has had, reaching levels comparable to it’s precursor Breaking Bad.
- The Walking Dead ended after 11 seasons, but is succeeded by it’s sequel shows Fear the Walking Dead (renewed for an 8th season), The Walking Dead: Dead City (scheduled for April 2023), and the Rick/Michonne spinoff (begins filming next month).
- Trevor Noah will be stepping down as host of The Daily Show, and until the fall of 2023, the show will have a different host every week.
- Ridiculousness hit it’s 1,000th episode, which makes sense, since that’s the only show MTV wants to play anymore. Before this year, they had less than 800 episodes. Over 200 episodes in 365 days.
- Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of Real Housewives, but since I used to live in Utah, it was interesting when Real Housewives of Salt Lake City became a thing, and it always catches my eye when it is in the news. Well, Jennie Nguyen got kicked off the show for posting racially offensive memes on Facebook, and Jen Shah pleaded guilty to a wire fraud conspiracy for a nationwide telemarketing scheme that sold non-existent services that targeted senior citizens, then refused refunds. So that’s fun.
I have a variety of stuff about Disney. First, I went on the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser (their hotel in Disney World) earlier this year, and while I had a blast, it isn’t surprising why it is already having issues staying booked. The Venn Diagram of people who love Star Wars, can afford a $5,000+ price tag on a two-day vacation, and people that enjoy LARPing, does not have a lot of overlap. In fact, I’d say it would look a bit like the Mickey Mouse Ears.
That is part of a larger problem, that I call A Tale of Two Bobs. It was the best of Bobs, it was the worst of Bobs. For some context, Bob Iger was the CEO of Walt Disney for 15 years, from 2005, to early 2020. He is the reason that Disney now has Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar, and 20th Century Fox. He also led the creation of Shanghai Disney Resort, Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios, Pandora at Animal Kingdom, and the revamping of Disney California Adventure, as well as Pleasure Island to Downtown Disney to now Disney Springs. Some people consider him the greatest CEO Disney has had since Walt himself.
However, after 15 years, it was time for Iger to step down, and Bob Chapek took his place. Now, I have to state that the Covid-19 pandemic certainly made things difficult for the Disney parks, but that doesn’t explain Chapek’s Disney Genie, Genie+, and Lightning Lane, all notorious for falsifying wait times and creating a false necessity to pay extra to skip lines. If you don’t know, the Disney FastPass system used to be free, you only needed to know where to go early in the day. Now, you have to pay extra, or be stuck with the app that will intentionally make things worse, without balancing your priorities in an effective way. Then there was the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” Bill, and Bob Chapek failed to speak up for LGBT+ rights, and even though Disney+ grew incredibly quickly, getting nearly 120 million subscribers in less than two years, and now has even more subscribers than Netflix, the price for a Disney+ subscription is rising none the less.
So, all of that, plus the unsuccessful but extremely expensive to make Galactic Starcruiser, means that Chapek was fired, and Bob Iger is back as CEO of Disney, to fix some of those mistakes, and look for someone a bit more in line with the views of Disney as a corporation.
If you want some fun Disney, and you watched The Disney Channel between 2002-2010, then you should go watch an amazing documentary on YouTube by Kevin Perjurer’s Defunctland. This hour and a half video is honestly one of the greatest documentary’s I’ve ever seen, has a great bit of nostalgia, but really relies on it’s amazing “History Mystery,” where no one really knows who wrote an iconic bit of music that was the core of their brand for almost a decade.