It’s going to rain genre movies in 2019. That’s bad for movie critics who only like talky dramas, but great for popcorn-loving plebes who apparently don’t know any better.
There are too many to even list, so let’s just look at the top 20 comics, sci-fi, horror and animation movies of 2019, in reverse order of my enthusiasm.
(Note: Release dates and other details are subject to change.)
Terminator 6 (Nov. 1)
The last couple of “Terminator” reboots were so awful they soured me on the franchise. But this unnamed movie will ignore every “Terminator” property after “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” which is a huge, robotic step in the right direction. And with James Cameron returning as producer, and both Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger on board to pass the torch, I feel my enthusiasm awakening — and becoming self-aware.
“Joker” (Oct. 4)
I’m really interested in seeing what bizarre actor Joaquin Phoenix can do with Batman’s bizarre arch-foe. The movie also stars Zazie Beetz (“Deadpool 2”) and the legendary Robert DeNiro, which is very encouraging. The bad news is that much of The Joker’s appeal — and all of what makes him remotely plausible — is that nobody is sure who or what he is. Giving him a specific, authoritative origin (which the comics have deliberately avoided) can only lessen his mystique. That seems like a dumb thing to do.
“Men In Black: International” (June 14)
This concept has moved so far beyond its origins at tiny Aircel Comics in 1990 that it can safely be called its own animal. But Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones might have already said all that can be said with it. Still, with a cast that includes Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie) and Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn), it should be thoroughly watchable.
“The Crow Reborn” (Oct. 11)
Wow, there have been a lot of bad "Crow" movies. But there’s nothing like a good revenge fantasy, which is what The Crow has always been, dating back to its inception at Caliber Comics in 1989. It’s a can’t-miss concept (unless they miss).
“It: Chapter Two” (Sept. 6)
There have been a lot of bad Stephen King adaptations, too. But the $700 million the first chapter raked in worldwide says “It” isn’t one of them. This movie adapts the second half of King’s novel, with the kids of the first part now all grown up. They’re played by the likes of Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Bill Hader, plus Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise, so there’s going to be a lot of star power up there on the screen.
“Brightburn” (May 24)
The idea of evil Supermen, even evil Superboys, has been old hat in the comics for decades. Heck, even “Superman II” had a drunk, unshaven Superman in a dirty costume. But what about a bad Superbaby? That’s the premise of this movie, answering the question “what if that cute, super-powered tyke arriving in a rocket is a bad seed?” It turns heroism into horror, a genre-bender that treads new ground.
“Kingsman 3” (Nov. 8)
There are all sorts of rumors swirling around what this movie is about. One possibility is that it’s a prequel, which would be terra incognita. Another is that it will constitute the third part a trilogy, bringing closure to the Eggsy-Harry Hart relationship (played by Taron Egerton and Colin Firth, respectively). Or it could be a musical. OK, probably not. The point is: We don’t know. But since I enjoyed the first two installments, I’ll probably enjoy whatever this is. (Unless there are show tunes.)
“The Kitchen” (Sept. 20)
The original eight-issue miniseries of the same name, published in 2014 by Vertigo, DC Comics’ mature readers line, was a fascinating story about three mob wives who turn to crime to pay their incarcerated husbands’ debts — and how joining “the life” changes them. This movie stars Elisabeth Moss, Tiffany Haddish and Melissa McCarthy in the three principal roles, so it could even be better than the source material.
“The Addams Family” (October 11)
One reason my younger self loved “The Addams Family” TV show more than “The Munsters” was because the former, every once in a while, gave a hint of the vicious black humor of the original Charles Addams cartoons that appeared in “The New Yorker.” Since this animated movie is based directly on those cartoons, we’re getting Addams’ delightful venom straight from the source — and my inner 12 year old is thrilled.
“Alita: Battle Angel” (Feb. 14)
Movies based on manga (Japanese comics) have an awful track record in the U.S., and there’s no reason to believe this one will buck the trend. But the original comics are awesome, the concept — a post-apocalyptic cyborg warrior — is cool, the special effects look amazing, plus Christoph Waltz and Jennifer Connelly are on hand. Here’s hoping.
“Glass” (Jan. 18)
“Unbreakable” had comics fans feeling smug, because we knew the color code director M. Night Shyamalan was using to give us advance tips on the characters before the script did. (Hint: Superheroes generally wear primary colors, whereas villains favor purple, green and orange.) Shyamalan’s stock fell for a while before being rescued by “Split.” Now comes “Glass,” which is a sequel to both movies, heretofore unrelated. That’s some trick, M. Night.
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (May 31)
I hear there are some people who don’t love Godzilla, and didn’t spend Saturday afternoons in their youth thrilling to the sight of men in rubber suits trampling tiny models of Tokyo. I don’t understand such people. That’s like hating pizza or kittens or sex. Well, it takes all kinds. And my kind of person will be front and center for this updated take on the Big G, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah. Given today’s special effects, this sequel to 2014’s “Godzilla” should be quite a show. (Although I confess some part of me will miss the rubber suits.)
“Shazam!” (April 5)
It’s a joy to see the original Captain Marvel — yes, that was his name when he was introduced in 1940 — given his due. Now maybe people will better understand those vague memories swirling around the collective unconscious about this guy, who sold as well as Superman in the ’40s. Anyway, this is the story of a boy who is given a magic word from a dying wizard that turns him into an immature, but genial, super-powered adult. Now called "Shazam," this light-hearted character is the perfect antidote to the grimdark grimness of movies like “Batman v Superman.”
“The New Mutants” (Aug. 2)
This next generation group of X-Men, introduced at Marvel Comics in 1982, had some pretty strange, non-superhero-ish adventures. One was a straight-up horror show titled “The Demon Bear” — and that’s what we’re getting in this hero/horror hybrid, which stars Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Witch”), Maisie Williams (“Game of Thrones”), Charlie Heaton (“Stranger Things”) and Rosario Dawson (the Marvel/Netflix shows).
“Dark Phoenix” (June 7)
This movie promises a more faithful adaptation of the famed X-Men story “The Dark Phoenix Saga” than the mess we saw in “X-Men: The Last Stand.” It’s also probably the last X-movie before Disney reboots the franchise, so this is probably the last X-dance for Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique.
“Hellboy” (April 12)
The two movies directed by Guillermo del Toro, which starred Ron Perlman as the demonic hero, were perfectly enjoyable films. But they weren’t really Hellboy. This new version, starring David Harbour (“Stranger Things”) promises to be more faithful to the comics, so that movie viewers can see why comics fans have loved Hellboy for so many years.
“Captain Marvel” (March 8)
Yes, it’s Marvel’s first female-led superhero movie. But is it good? I’m hoping for “Wonder Woman” good, but I’ll settle for “Ant-Man” good.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” (July 5)
Tom Holland made us fall in love with Peter Parker all over again in “Civil War” and “Homecoming.” Bring on Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) and the popcorn!
"Star Wars Episode IX" (Dec. 20)
The last "Star Wars" movie got a lot of hate, and I for one have no idea why. But maybe it shook the powers that be, because “Star Wars” mastermind J.J. Abrams himself returns to direct this (unnamed) installment, which should conclude the storyline starring Rey (Daisy Ridley), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac).
“Avengers: Endgame” (April 26)
There’s not a lot to say about this movie, because we know so little. But evidently we don’t need to know anything, because “Endgame” is already setting records for trailer views and advance ticket sales.
That’s my top 20. And for movie critics, I’m sure there will be a talky drama or two.