These are not indicative of my favorite movies of 2018, although I did enjoy all these films. I’ve seen a lot of “best of” movie lists, and people might expect me to make a movie or TV show list, but I’m not going that route. Instead I’ve decided to list my top ten favorite characters of the year. Characters who were so good, that they made flawed movies good, or good movies, better.
Domino – Deapool 2
My number one spot is reserved for the most fun character I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch. Deadpool 2 is not a great movie. The action is occasionally incoherent, and the humor, just like in the first film, is sometimes hit or miss, but the movie is fun as Hell, and excelled in its depiction of Domino. I know a lot of people had reservations about her character. They didn’t know the actress, Zayzie Beetz, the character was a White woman in the comic books, and no one understood exactly what her superpowers were.
But she turned out to be the BEST character in the entire movie. I loved her so much! She’s just the coolest, baddest, bitch in a superhero movie since we first saw Black Widow. She literally has no worries, striding effortlessly through every action scene, in the serene knowledge that whatever happens, it will work out in her favor, and she’ll come out on top.
There’s also the added element of her being so supportive of Wade without feeling like she’s a sidekick. She and Deadpool are partners, who carry the action together. Actually, she could probably do the whole movie without Wade, because she’s far more competent than him. She knows how to handle things on her own, and often does, but one of the running jokes is her verbal support of Deadpool. She is always telling him he’s doing great, or doing a good job, or he’s got this, at odd moments during the action scenes, which I found both hilarious, and kinda sweet.
Domino serves the same purpose for Black women that the appearance of Luke Cage did for Black men. She’s essentially “bulletproof”. For too many of us, our introduction to “strong” Black women, in movies and TV, is through witnessing their endurance of pain. So I liked watching this calm and collected, carefree, and bulletproof Black woman, knowing for an absolute certainty that she will never come to harm.
I am here for it, and I want more of it. So a solo movie looks like a good idea.
Killmonger – Black Panther
So much has been written, analyzed, and dissected about this character, that its ridiculous. Killmonger so struck a cord among Black filmgoers, that there was an entire industry dedicated to arguing his talking points and philosophy, with people being for and against him. (And then there were those people who just wanted him.) He is, hands down, the most compelling villain in the entirety of the MCU. This is T’Chaka’s , and N’Jobu’s story as told through their children, who have to work through the sins of their fathers.
I absolutely hated this character, but I also loved to hate him, he’s just so good and relatable. His talking points are spot on, he’s as cool as the Black Panther, and he has a sympathetic backstory that is personally tied to T’Challa’s, which is how you create a great villain. This is the first movie I ever watched where it was the villain who had me in tears, such as when he meets his father in the afterlife, and when he references the Igbo Landing just before his death.
But, one of the primary reasons I ultimately couldn’t support this character was because of his disregard for Black women, where he is perfectly willing to use them for his own ends, and bullying and/or killing them when it was expedient. (Plus, he threatened my baby-girl, Shuri.)
Laurie Strode – Halloween (2018)
I’m a big fan of the original film, and I was dismayed over the years to see the legacy of that film sullied by directors and actors who simply didn’t understand it, although I have been willing to sit through all the ones that starred Laurie Strode. As one of Michael Myers original victims, she was the one that got away, and that alone is a good enough reason to make a sequel.
Jettisoning all of the movies in-between, this new version of Halloween picks up the aftermath of Laurie’s life, in the wake of Michael’s attack. The movie isn’t just about Laurie being a bad-ass, or a pistol packing mama, although that was pretty cool. Its about the failed relationships, the loss of her child, the paranoia, anxiety, and hyper vigilance she displays throughout the film. This movie is about surviving trauma, and it argues that Laurie never actually escaped, and that Michael has been a part of her life ever since. I thought the movie was effective, not just in making Michael scary again, but in its examination of the effect of trauma on the life of his primary victim.
Miles Morales – Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse
This character being on the list was a surprise because I’ve only read a few of the Miles Morales comic books, and I wasn’t expecting to like this movie as much as I did. I can’t speak to how close a depiction this guy is to the comic book version, but I liked him a lot. His Afro-Latino heritage isn’t slept, and while there are some misunderstandings between him and his father, he has a loving and supportive relationship with his parents.
Miles is just a very wholesome character, and its that wholesomeness that allows the other characters to step outside the restrictions they’ve placed on their lives, because of previous traumas. One of the most interesting moments in the movie was hearing how all of the Spider-People have the death of some loved one, in their origin story, that has caused them to shut themselves off from people. Through their mentorship and friendship with Miles, they are able to open themselves up to do what they encourage Miles to do throughout the movie, which is “take a leap of faith”.
Once again, this is how you write a character, who is central to the story, without being ALL of the story. There is just enough about the other characters for us to get to know and like them, while keeping Miles at the center of the narrative, as the character around which their emotional arcs revolve. The results not just in character growth for Miles, through their actions, but character growth for them too.
Spiderman – Peter Parker – Avengers: Infinity War
Remember when I said I wasn’t watching not one more damn Spiderman movie. Well, I hadn’t reckoned with Tom Holland when I said that. OMG!!! He is so adorkable! I had to admit to myself that I like him more than I liked Tobey Maguire, although I don’t think Spiderman Homecoming is better than Maguire’s Spiderman 2. I’m not that far gone yet, but I might be, after the sequel.
Jack Jack – The Incredibles 2
In the first Incredibles movie, we learned that Jack Jack, Mr. and Mrs. Incredible’s infant son, has shapeshifting superpowers. In fact, he may be one of the most powerful Supers (as superheroes are called in that universe) alive. In Incredibles 2, Jack Jack gets to take center stage, next to Mrs. Incredible, and it’s absolutely hilarious. I loved watching him interact and bond with Edna and his dad, and beating the shit out a local raccoon, but most hilariously, throughout all of this, he still retains a bubbly demeanor. he’s such a good baby! (Except when he wants a cookie.)
Venom – (Venom)
Okay, Venom is, by all accounts, not a great movie, except none of the audience for this movie cares not one damn bit about any of that. I know I didn’t. People don’t always go to the theater to see Lawrence of Arabia, or Taxi Driver. They don’t always want depth. Sometimes people choose a movie because they just know they’re gonna have a helluva lot of fun. Its about the interaction between Tom Hardy as, pretty much, himself, and Tom Hardy as Venom. Its also one of the funniest superhero movies , next to Deadpool, because Venom, the character, is hilarious and gets some of the movie’s best lines.
Lando Calrissian – Solo –
I watched this movie on Netflix, and don’t remember one damn thing about it, other than the scenes that directly involve Lando. When the original Star Wars came out, my Mom immediately fell in love with Lando Calrissian, who was played by Billy Dee Williams, and because she loved him, I liked him more than a little bit too. It doesn’t hurt that he was one of the smoothest, coolest, characters in Empire Strikes Back, and Donald Glover seems to have completely captured that same vibe. Outside of Chewbacca and Lando, Solo isn’t really worth watching, though. Now, if Lando can only get his own movie, I would beg the studio to take my money!
Grey – Upgrade – Logan Marshall Green
Its not so much that I liked this character, so much as I liked this movie. I expected to like the movie, because I was intrigued by the trailer, and I got what I expected. The movie is too stark to call it fun, but it was definitely worth watching, with an unexpectedly bittersweet ending. I think part of the reason I was so excited about this movie is because I was excited about the movie Venom, and Logan Marshall-Green is a dead ringer for Tom Hardy.
I was impatient to see Venom, and some of that feeling transferred itself to this movie, which shares much of the same themes as Venom. These men’s bodies have been invaded by an outside entity, and the two halves have to come to an accord about sharing the same body. Green totally sells the action scenes too, although I don’t know if he’s as method as Hardy, his body language is superb and kind of awesome to watch.