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What gets Cary's Comics Craze awards for 2018?

Cary Ashby • Jan 3, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Here’s an unpopular opinion: The two Marvel Studios movies that made the most money in 2018 weren’t even the best Marvel-affiliated films released.

The mostly annual tradition of highlighting the year in superhero cinema, TV and video with Craze awards from “Cary’s Comics Craze” is back:

Cinema Champ Craze: “Black Panther” was the box office champ at slightly more than $700 million total, followed by “Avengers: Infinity War,” which earned $678.8 million. Each movie had a lot of repeat business. I enjoyed them, yet saw everything I needed the first time. 

Crazy Choices Craze: Here are superhero and genre flicks I found the most enjoyable, starting at the top: “Deadpool 2,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” “Aquaman,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” “The Incredibles 2,” “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” What is especially cool is how many of the movies on my list are suitable for children and families: “Into the Spider-Verse,” “Teen Titans Go!” and “The Incredibles 2.”

“Infinity War” Craze: Those fans who are bound and determined to say “Infinity War” is the greatest superhero film are forgetting several things. Chief among them would be a whole host of exceptional movies in the Marvel family and this “Avengers” sequel shoe-horned too many characters into one story without really allowing any of them to truly shine.

Keep in mind we fans tend not to take, much less gain, a bigger perspective on a movie until months or even years later. Yup, there is a recurring case of cinematic selective amnesia. 

CW Craze: Since the pilot aired Jan. 16 on The CW, “Black Lightning” has been my must-see show this year. It doesn’t feel strictly like a comic book adventure come alive; we experience the dramatic trials, tribulations and the occasional triumphs of not just educator Jefferson Pierce, but also his family and community.

Creator Craze: Last year I met Black Lightning’s co-creators, writer Tony Isabella and artist Trevor Von Eeden. During the Akron Comicon, I talked to the very chatty Von Eeden, a hero of mine since I was a teenager when I discovered his art in the pages of various Batman titles. He and Isabella are two of the nicest and most down-to-earth guys in the industry.

CW Crossover Craze: While I may be suffering from selective amnesia, “Elseworlds” will be hard to top. A definite highlight was the debut of actress Ruby Rose as Batwoman, whose costume and red hair jumped straight out of the pages of DC Comics. It’s always a treat seeing actors Stephen Amell (Green Arrow) and Grant Gustin (The Flash) share screen time and having their characters inhabit each others’ bodies showed off those dynamics.

Animation Craze: Disposable income being difficult to come by some days, I have yet to see “The Death of Superman,” which I’ve heard does a fine job of retelling and adapting the iconic 1992-1993 storyline. There are two projects from this year I would recommend you add to your collection: “Batman: Gotham by Gaslight” (rated R) and the family-friendly “Scooby-Doo & Batman: The Brave and the Bold.”

Captain Marvel Coincidence Craze: How is this for a cool, yet weird, coincidence? Marvel and DC are releasing movies starring characters that both have — or had — the name Captain Marvel nearly one month apart: “Captain Marvel” on March 8 and “Shazam!” on April 5.

The dynamic “Captain Marvel” trailer has me wanting to enlist in what fans are calling the Carol Corps. Since this is the first Marvel Studios movie to headline a female superhero (Air Force pilot and Kree warrior Carol Danvers), there is even more boundless excitement being expressed on Twitter. 

The first trailer for “Shazam!,” DC’s first attempt at superhero comedy, is hysterical. Teenager Billy Batson inhabits the adult body of Shazam (a surprisingly buff Zachary Levi) when he says the name of Shazam the wizard, but keeps Batson’s golly-gee wonder of youth.

I was most looking forward to seeing “Shazam!” this year … until I saw the “Captain Marvel” footage. Don’t be shocked if “Captain Marvel” does “Black Panther”-level box office – or better.

Follow Norwalk Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby on Facebook at “Cary Ashby — reporter & comic book blogger” and on Twitter at @Cary_reporter. He shares his views, reviews, previews and interviews about the superhero industry and action-adventure genre on his Cary’s Comics Craze blog, caryscomicscraze.blogspot.com.

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