2018 has felt like on e of the longest years and yet also somehow the shortest. It’s incredible to look at all of the major events that have transpired this year which manage to feel like distant memories. It’s hard to wrap our heads around the fact that Black Panther, Infinity War, and Aquaman all came out in the same year, but they did. We can’t believe The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is only months old and The Meg didn’t exist before this year, it’s true. But with all the major life events and the host of major film, TV and comic book events, not ever actor, character or series came out unscathed. 2018 was really good to a lot of beloved comic book characters, thrusting them into the limelight and into the popular zeitgeist. But it also beat down some beloved adaptations and iterations, leaving a lot of favourite characters in the dust, in the wind, or with their fate’s in flux.
As we barrel into the new year, it becomes both exhausting and incredible to look back to the year that’s slipping through our fingers and digest the successes and turmoil of members of our favourite media. For some, it was a beautiful year of growth and success, for others, it was a dud. Not every character got a fair shake, and some got more opportunities that they deserved. We took a deep dive into this year in review and noted those who came out of 2018 with a W and those who are down for the count.
20 WINNER: THANOS
To many, Thanos has been just a whisper from Avengers fans abuzz about post-credits scenes. He has been cast, recast, redesigned, and mixed up with Apocalypse peppered throughout the decade of the MCU. But 2018 finally gave the character the spot he deserved. A once mythical villain with limited star power and unrealized potential is now regarded as one of the most powerful villains of all time. Thanos took on not only the Avengers, but the entire gauntlet, if you will, of Marvel heroes from the Guardians of the Galaxy to the armies of Wakanda, and he won. He beat them.
Permanence is always in question, but one thing for sure is that Thanos is revered.
19 LOSER: BULLSEYE
Daredevil was one of the better received comic book adaptations to hit Netflix, and Charlie Cox was an absolute standout in the titular role. The series brought incredible scenes including the hallway single shot fight scene.
Sadly, the show was not long for this world, getting the boot along with some other superhero faves. The streaming service gave it the axe, which is bad news for villains who’d just been dusted off. Bullseye hadn’t been live action since the campy take Colin Ferrell gave him in 2003’s Daredevil. It’s not impossible to imagine Disney resurrecting the show for their streaming service, but for now, Bullseye has lost.
18 WINNER: SPIDER-MAN NOIR
To most fans, even the deep cuts comic book types, Spider-Man Noir was a weird offbeat one-off about a depression era Spidey who was darker than the brightly colored high school Spider-Man most people gravitated to the character for. Hardly self-aware, this character was a grim version of the web crawler, and never quite made it into the mainstream hero zeitgeist.
Afterthis year’s Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, and Noir is breathing brand new air. Being voiced by Nic Cage, who has really leaned into the self-aware horror performances this year and being given campy versions of his otherwise dark dialogue, has given Noir a brand new hilarious vibe and he’s finally inched into the mainstream.
17 LOSER: THE PREDATOR
Post-2010 has seen a lot of favorite characters get brought back to the big screen in similarly named films like The Grinch, Halloween, and The Predator. Not all fell on excited audience’s eyes.
The thing is The Predator was actually pretty good. Fans of the original campy action film would see a lot in the self-aware, over the top call back film that 2018 brought. The director’s poor decision making led to bad press and the fatigued fan base coming off of so many sequels and remakes made the film turn into a big flop. It's an unfortunate loss for one of the most popular sci-fi characters of all time.
16 WINNER: AQUAMAN
The DCEU has been plagued with polarizing films until now and even James Wan’s new Aquaman film has some mixed reviews. However, the hope is in the lighter tone and horror/ epic sensibilities of Wan will bring something brand new to the universe. Either way, this has been a massive year for Aquaman. Never one of the starting lineup go-to characters in DC, he has been a bit of a Justice League afterthought. But now, everyone is talking about him and the talk about him is hopeful. Whether audiences liked or disliked the film, Jason Momoa has brought something fresh enough to the character and Wan's movie has changed what we think is possible for superhero movies!
15 LOSER: HAN SOLO
Han Solo is one of the most recognizable character names in the world since Star Wars fandom spans longer than almost any other. Solo is one of the most beloved characters in the franchise and also the most commercially appealing to come out of the series. With the change in schedule from the typical spread out Star Wars features to a rapid-fire release schedule of various sequels and spin-offs, fans just didn’t latch on to the stand-alone Solo origin movie.
Rogue One opened to massive success and was lauded as the best feature since the originals, and TLJ was a huge commercial hit, but by the time Solo: A Star Wars Story rolled around, fans seemed uninterested and the younger version of the character did not resonate.
14 WINNER: VENOM
Comic book fans have always known Venom to be one of the all-time great villains, but with the power of the MCU and the evolution of comic book characters portrayed on screen, Venom has been left in the dust. Before the success of the MCU, Venom was but a brief one film villain in the Sam Raimi series of Spider-Man movies. His legacy to general audiences was a half-formed version of the character who barely outlasts one act of a movie.
But after Sony put Spidey on loan and promised a solo Venom movie, fans couldn’t fathom how Venom would work without Spidey. Well, they proved us wrong. Venom was a ton of fun and gave fans a comic-booky villain they haven’t yet seen.
13 LOSER: DEADPOOL
The X-Men cinematic universe has always been a mess, with its ever-changing continuity and inability to end stories. However, the films did start the comic book feature cinematic universe trend.
Ryan Reynolds first shot at Deadpool was a generally disliked disaster, but he was later given the chance to bring his mouthy self to the mouthy character in Deadpool. It was a massive success, especially with the vulgarity and humor played up against other superhero films. This year, they brought us Once Upon a Deadpool, which was an otherwise cute idea, but fans had no interest in watching a film they'd already seen before, cut to become PG-13.
12 WINNER: PIKACHU
2016’s launch of Pokémon GO brought a lot of 90s fans back to the start, as they learned to love the catchable little monsters all over again. Pikachu was always king of the Pokémon, whether or not he was your favourite, as he was the trusted sidekick of our lead trainer and the most recognizable character of the series.
And now his 2018 trailer for Detective Pikachu has launched the character into the ranks of other massive on-screen characters, even borrowing the voice of Ryan Reynolds from Deadpool. The beloved little yellow monster is coming in hot at the tail of the year and is ready to dominate 2019.
11 LOSER: JIGGLYPUFF
The trailer for Detective Pikachu showed us a bit too much of the real-life versions of the little monsters. The “live action” animated versions of the characters came dangerously close to the uncanny valley and forced us to ask a lot of questions about what we assumed the monsters would look like in real life.
So when Jigglypuff showed up, looking like a burnt out lounge singer, we were forced to ask ourselves questions we never hoped to; did we assume Jigglypuff just had skin and not fur? If so, did we assume the curl was also just skin? Could we have imagined the curl was styled full body fur? These questions are never signs of a win.
10 WINNER: CHRIS PINE
The discussion over the best Chris devolved into discussions over the best Marvel Chris, leaving the once prominent Captain Kirk actor in the dust. Captain America and Thor are hard to beat, but that didn’t deter Chris Pine. He might have been in a major flop where he flaunts his whole self, but he also became a literal easter-egg. That’s right, Chris Pine was recognized as a big enough deal that his voicing of Spider-Man in Into the Spiderverse was kept a secret. He is finally in a Marvel project and back on the table in the war of the Chris’. And the vocals he laid down for Spidey Bells just might be the best Christmas song.
9 LOSER: JESSICA JONES
Jessica Jones was a massive success early into its run, standing as one of the first bingeable Netflix hero series and finally put a female superhero in the spotlight of a Marvel on-screen property. It was bigger than itself and its tone, vibe, story, and characters were so fresh and exciting for a broad spectrum of fans.
But the show didn’t have staying power. The second season was not so well received and the poorly made aspects became more obvious as the nostalgia wore off. Jones didn’t shine in the poorly received The Defenders ensemble series and now her series has come to an end. The character came in swinging, but 2018 was not her year.
8 WINNER: SPIDER-MAN
Spider-Man has had a rough go. Sam Raimi’s films were perfect for their time, but never quite reached the level of the superhero movies that followed, and Sony’s attempts to reboot the character fell flat. Spider-Man sits atop the superhero mountaintop with characters like Batman, so it seemed unjust that he wasn’t on screen alongside the decade’s biggest heroes. Enter 2018. Spidey is on loan from Sony and finally joined the MCU in 2017, breaking hearts of film fans worldwide and starring in his own memorable flick. Further, his PS4 game is one of the most talked about games of the year, his meme has penetrated the zeitgeist, and Into the Spiderverse is being called the best superhero movie ever. This is the year he deserves.
7 LOSER: IRON FIST
Iron Fist the series was kind of doomed from the get-go with fans being unexcited by casting choices and the story direction. The character was never a standout and could easily be noted as the least memorable member of The Defenders.
It’s difficult with the Marvel shows because we hold them to some MCU standards. After Daredevil and Jessica Jones debuted with terrific seasons, Iron Fist just couldn't compare. The second season was slightly better, but still was poorly received and the show was subsequently cancelled.
6 WINNER: BLACK PANTHER
Yes. Black Panther came out this year. This year has been that long. Black Panther was never an unpopular character, but he was rarely at the forefront of conversation in superhero chats. Luckily, 2018 changed all of that. Though he had appeared in the MCU before, his title role was one of superhero films’ biggest deals.
Black Panther represented a lot. More than the movie on its face, it was a big screen adaptation of a black superhero, hailing from an untouched part of Africa. The character grew so much bigger than himself and stood for representation of black heroes on screen. The movie was such a massive deal that the character is a massive winner.
5 LOSER: X-MEN
They came out of 2017 less scathed by the Marvel cancellation bloodbath, but 2018 was not good to what was once everyone’s favourite hero ensemble.
The gang of mutants has had a tough time in print this year. They had a few series runs that dominated the Marvel repertoire, but 2018 might have left them closer to another ragtag hero ensemble, The Losers. Get it? 2018 saw the cancellation of X-men Blue, X-Men Gold, and X-Men Red. With their lackluster performances at the box office in their attempts to refresh the series and the comic run cancellations, 2018 has not been good for Xavier’s pals.
4 WINNER: TEEN TITANS
Teen Titans, though containing some mature content, has always been reserved for the Cartoon Network types, popping up on Saturday mornings and making parents look twice at what their kids are catching on TV.
However, 2018 saw a bit more from the cartoon gang lead by Dick Grayson. With Teen Titans Go to the Movies, a new freshness was brought to the cartoon squad. Though it wasn’t this year's biggest cartoon hit, it had a lot of competition and got casual fans talking about this offbeat spinoff, and even put Slade Wilson on-screen with jokes that could compete with Deadpool.
3 LOSER: TITANS
Since Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman, there’ve been non-stop attempts to lean into being “gritty.” 2018 is not the first year to be polluted with attempts at grittiness by media makers who saw nothing else unique in the Nolan run. However, this attempt at darkness was unwelcome in various DC adaptations and the rise of light-hearted comedy in things like Thor: Ranarock and Teen Titans gave much-needed relief to fans.
Unfortunately, 2018’s Titans didn’t take note. The show tried to sell the darker nature of the characters. This didn’t tempt audiences who missed out on what would have otherwise been a fun take on beloved characters because of the gritty marketing.
2 WINNER: SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH
Archie comics and their various spin-offs are rarely talked about in the same circles as superheroes, and it’s easy to forget them in the general comic book game. However Sabrina, and other Archie characters, are some of the longest standing comic book characters ever. 2018 saw Riverdale continue its success, but nothing stood out as much as the TV adaptation of the dark comic series, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
The once cutesy teenage witch has skyrocketed to horror icon and the show’s balance of horror, worldview, and straight up fun led o a broader fan base. The teen sorceress is now a staple name who rode the rise of comic books, Netflix shows and a massive year for horror.
1 LOSER: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG
When they announced a Sonic the Hedgehog film earlier this year, a host of fans were excited to watch Ben Schwartz voice yet another beloved 90s kid character. A few generations grew up playing Sonic and watching his cartoon, and it was time for the beloved Sega character to show up on screen.
However, the social media campaign rolled off to a pretty slow start in what appeared to be accidental innuendo and later slips that seemed too terrible to not be intentional. Twitter brought the noise, making light of the hiccups, and, in true 2018 brand fashion, Sonic’s feed tried to get in on the joke with a poorly thought out retort that didn’t land. Sonic better get it together in 2019.