There’s something to be said about keeping good villains around, and “Daredevil” Season 3 (October 2018, Netflix) is a case in point. Although Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) was the Big Bad of Season 1, he again fits that bill here, in 13 episodes that explore how one ingenious sociopath can take control of the very systems – the FBI, the justice department – that should theoretically protect society from him.
It’s been a cliché for more than four decades now that spectacle can’t overcome a bad screenplay, but it’s still remarkable how many films can nail everything except communicating to a viewer what the heck is going on. With “Captain Marvel,” the fun and technically amazing 21st Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, I can’t discount that I may have spaced out on important details, but I do suspect I was spending too much time trying to figure out the nature of Carol Danvers’ (Brie Larson) superpowers rather than kicking back for the ride.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is known for valuing fan feedback, and “Iron Fist” Season 2 (September 2018, Netflix) might be the prime example. After a first season that was rushed through production, moved at a snail’s pace, and had fight scenes that were cobbled together in the editing room, Season 2 is a notable improvement. It’s still slow-paced, but the fights are much better, the locations are magnificent, the score boasts a tasty Far East flavor, and several actors give standout performances. Plus, it’s a tidy 10 episodes, rather than the Netflix norm of 13.
Burning slowly like a 1970s urban street thriller, “Luke Cage” feels more comfortable in its suits and shades and bullet-riddled sweatshirts than it did in its first season. Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) and his Jamaican cohorts – all of the actors doing a wonderful job with the dialect – are entertaining antagonists, but we slowly realize the uber-villain of Season 2 (2018, Netflix) is slick Harlem councilwoman Mariah Stokes Dillard (Alfre Woodard). Cheo Hodari Coker’s series – after many examples illustrating what powerful people can get away with – morphs into a smart meditation on the cost of holding on to power, and how a few bad decisions can see that power spiral away.
These are the movies and TV shows I’m looking forward to in the new year:
Our year-end countdown lists wrap up with Shaune’s picks for the 10 best movies of 2018:
The dominant genre of 2018 continued to be superheroes; even with the “X-Men” Universe and DC Extended Universe releasing only one film each, the three Marvel Cinematic Universe movies were impossible to overlook. Still, this was a less blockbustery year than 2017, and by year’s end I had seen at least one really good film in every genre. From a throwback thriller to an arthouse gem, here are my 10 favorite films of 2018.
Maybe it’s because I got more accustomed to the show’s rhythms, but I liked “Jessica Jones” Season 2 (March 2018, Netflix) more than the first. Everyone is established in their roles, and things like Jessica (Krysten Ritter) being perpetually drunk, or someone making reference to that fact, flow in a natural noir-detective-drama way. Even though the overall plot leans more superpowered than hardboiled, Melissa Rosenberg’s series is as comfortable in its genre trappings as Jessica is in her favorite pair of jeans.
After his memorable introduction in “Daredevil” Season 2 (2016) – which could’ve been called “Daredevil and Punisher” – Frank Castle/Punisher (Jon Bernthal) gets the spotlight in his own 13-episode season. The revelation of who killed Frank’s wife and two children at the merry-go-round leads to a conspiracy that goes to the highest levels of the U.S. government and military. One approach for showrunner Steve Lightfoot’s “Punisher” Season 1 (2017) might’ve been 13 mini-“John Wick” movies. That would’ve been viscerally satisfying, but I appreciate the meaty roster of characters. The season is not faced-paced, but nor is it boring.
The MCU’s first crossover TV series, “The Defenders” Season 1 (2017, Netflix), has all the fun of a superhero team-up, along with all the clunkiness. Despite being written by four veterans of “Daredevil” – Douglas Petrie, Marco Ramirez, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and Drew Goddard — it is a notable step down from that bar-setting series.