2015 will be the year that finally gives us a sequel to Return of the Jedi. It’s going to be the year when “Ultron” is in the title of one of the biggest new releases—and that movie will be the second film in under a year to feature the character Quicksilver, everyone’s 501st-favorite superhero. There will be a new Jurassic Park, a new Mad Max, and a new Terminator movie. There are more comic-book TV shows than ever before. Meanwhile, the Syfy channel has re-established its commitment to making actual, honest-to-god science fiction programming. And developers of video games are opening the floodgates: 2015 will be the year that we have a new Star Fox (supposedly) and a new Zelda (supposedly), the year that Metal Gear Solid ends again, and the year that EA tries really hard to make a Star Wars game that isn’t terrible.
This is a feast of High Nerd properties. 2015 feels like it could be the culmination of a whole era of geekdom. That means we all need to rise to the occasion, as consumers, as fans, and as people who grew up dreaming of a world where a major studio would be going out of its way to make another Fantastic Four movie.
Here are my resolutions for 2015: my goals for being a better writer, a better columnist, and a better geek.
I will take Steven S. DeKnight seriously when he says that Daredevil will be the ’70s-cinema/David Simon superhero TV show of our dreams.
The showrunner of the upcoming Netflix blind-superhero show hasn’t been shy about his influences. He told EW’s James Hibberd: “We really wanted to take our cue from [films like] The French Connection, Dog Day Afternoon, Taxi Driver … we would rather lean toward The Wire than what’s considered a classic superhero television show.”
Ambition! I love it! And I love the idea of leaning away from what’s considered a classic superhero television show—because the truth is, there isn’t a classic superhero television show. Or, anyhow, there isn’t a classic live-action superhero show. (Batman: The Animated Series is one of the best shows of the ’90s, full stop.) It’s been almost thirty years since Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli made Born Again, a wild, gorgeous, bleak, and romantic tale that wove together pre-Giuliani grit, dreamy Catholicized nihilism, Malick-y monologues, and a crazy arsonist with the American flag painted on his forehead. Where’s that for superhero TV? (For that matter, where’s that for superhero movies?)
Born Again was, of course, a Daredevil story arc. The character has produced a few of the greatest story sequences in comic-book history; he has also produced one of the very worst superhero movies of the last twenty years. I hope the show lives up to DeKnight’s ambitions. But taking DeKnight seriously also means taking all those influences seriously. The Wire isn’t just a “gritty” TV show; it’s a show where the dialogue pops, and its creators weren’t afraid to throw people into the narrative deep end. Can a superhero TV show do that? Can a Marvel show do that? Arrow and The Flash have carved a good niche for fun, fast-paced, myth-diving superhero storytelling—but they ain’t The Wire. If Daredevil is going for that, I applaud it—but that also means we should be even more disappointed if it just turns out to be a more expensive, more pretentious Arrow.
I will write more about the smaller movies that I love.
Looking back over this column, I’m bummed that I didn’t write nearly enough in 2014 about films that weren’t sequels, films that weren’t brands, or films that aren’t planned out years in advance. I saw an early advance screening of The Babadook, a horror movie that’s in my top five films of the year; I wish that I had evangelized for it more, and I’m stoked to see that it’s already become an incipient “have you seen it?” talking point.
Conversely, I feel like a lot of people completely missed The Guest, the twisty thriller-horror film from the makers of You’re Next. The Guest had two of my favorite performances of the year: Dan Stevens as a dead-eyed charmer and Maika Monroe as the best Final Girl since Neve Campbell in Scream. The Guest is basically The Talented Mr. Ripley meets Drive meets Halloween meets Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger; if that doesn’t sound awesome, you’re dead to me.
Stevens was in another of my favorite under-the-radar movies: A Walk Among the Tombstones. Tombstones is a groovy little detective story that fell victim to the Taken curse: Some people dismiss the movie because they assume it’s Taken, and other people are disappointed when the movie isn’t Taken. (See also: The Grey, an existential survival tale that got sold as Taken by Wolves.) Tombstones is a solid movie that should be above average, but it brings just a little more: more atmosphere, more wry humor, more melancholy. In an ideal world, Hollywood would be releasing a dozen Tombstones-ish movies every month.
And I’m not sure you can call David Ayers’ Sabotage a “little movie”—this was the action movie that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sam Worthington along with Sawyer from Lost, Hercules Hansen from Pacific Rim, and the werewolf from True Blood. To tell you the truth, I’m still not sure if Sabotage is a good movie or just an insane one. But Sabotage had the best scenery-chewing performance of the year: Mireille Enos’ work as a homicidal, treacherous nymphomaniac and drug addict. As a culture, we talk too much about semi-decent $200 million movies; we should talk more about batcrap-crazy $35 million movies.
I will give Terminator: Genisys the benefit of the doubt.
Hey, Emilia Clarke looks like she’s having fun!
I will finally beat The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.
Years and years and years ago, I rented Majora’s Mask from Blockbuster for the weekend, kept it until it was two days overdue because I kept swearing to my mom that I was just about to beat it, finally made it to the last boss fight… and I couldn’t win. (I hadn’t collected all the masks; you either know what I’m talking about, or you had an active social life in high school.)
It is now fifteen years later. And throughout my entire adult life, I have never been able to get over the fact that I have unfinished business. Majora’s Mask is one of the greatest and most frustrating gaming experiences of my life, and I will never really be able to rest easy until I finally beat the game. Now the game is coming to the Nintendo 3DS, the handheld system that I finally surrendered to in 2014. This is my year. You and me, Evil Mask Final Boss, you and me.
I will not be depressed when Mockingjay 2 finds some way to ruin the book’s ending.
A lot of people don’t like the book Mockingjay. I love it so much: I love how angry it is, how Suzanne Collins left all the fun behind in the arena, and how the book’s final act argues that—spoiler alert—everyone is a bastard, heroes are just the villains who write history, and the only real hope anyone has is that we leave the world better than we found it. Mockingjay 2 is the final film in a blockbuster quartet of movies; it is rated PG-13, a rating which has become the enemy of bold cinematic storytelling.
I’ve enjoyed Francis Lawrence’s Hunger Games films—even if I’m not sure one of them was even a movie—but I will be pleasantly surprised if Mockingjay 2 achieves the book’s level of cynical self-critique, and I promise to be pleasantly unsurprised when it ends on a note of “love conquers all” optimism.
I will try hard not to overanalyze the seventh Star Wars movie, and I promise to only overanalyze the seventh Fast & Furious movie.
The Force Awakens will most likely represent everything either good or bad about the future of Hollywood. Witness the dawn of the age of megafranchises; witness the biggest movie of 2015 being a sequel to a 38-year-old movie; witness how the future of Star Wars looks an awful lot like its past. But it doesn’t have to: We could treat Star Wars VII like just another movie, a solid-looking action film with an impressive cast that’s directed by the guy who made a couple of great TV shows, the third-best Star Trek movie, and the fourth-best Mission: Impossible movie. The movie is selling itself hard off of its legacy, but maybe we all care too much about franchises’ “legacies.” Like, James Bond is bringing back SPECTRE, Terminator is bringing back Kyle Reese, and Jurassic Park is going back to Isla Nublar.
Can’t the future of Hollywood look more like Furious 7? Can’t we have franchises that keep adding new characters and new places, like a franchise that finds a place for Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa, Jason Statham, and Kurt freaking Russell—a franchise that doesn’t take itself so seriously that it can’t find a way to fit in Iggy Azalea for a cameo? By all accounts, Furious 7 is supposed to set up a whole new trilogy of Fast & Furious movies. What the hell will that even look like? I have no idea. And in 2015, that’s an exciting thing to say.
I will spend the whole year assuming that everyone else also thinks that the most exciting thing about 2015 is that it marks the tenth anniversary of Shadow of the Colossus.
Remember when we all decided that the tenth anniversaries of The OC premiere, the Friends finale, and the release of Mean Girls were on the level of Moon-landing mega-events? Can we all agree to give the same treatment to one of the great interactive achievements in pop-culture history? Fumito Ueda’s lo-fi action-adventure-puzzle-RPG-everything-nothing classic turns ten in October. I will be reminding you of this every hour on the hour, starting now.