Blog: Ashley picks the Best Stories and Characters of 2018

The Story Geeks blogger Ashley Pauls responds with an additional perspective to the same topic discussed in this week’s podcast – the best stories and characters of 2018. Want to share your own take? Join the conversation in The Story Geeks Facebook group!

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Goodbye, 2018 – hello, 2019! Before we dive into all the epic movies headed our way this coming year, it’s always fun to look back at the entertainment highlights from the year before. Here are my top 3 stories and characters from 2018!

Best geek stories of 2018

3. Annihilation

“Annihilation” is a VERY weird movie. It’s a creepy, puzzling sci-fi story that poses a lot of questions and doesn’t answer all of them. We follow a team of researchers into a strange anomaly known as “The Shimmer” that is gradually spreading outward, swallowing the land around it and never letting anything escape.

While this movie may not be for everyone, if you’re willing to go along for the ride, you’ll be rewarded with a thought-provoking mystery that challenges its audience in a fresh and groundbreaking way. (Or maybe you’ll completely hate it, and you can blame me for recommending it!)

2. Avengers: Infinity War

After 10 years of build-up, “Infinity War” was worth the wait, bringing all my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe characters together on the big screen. All that character development paid off, and we saw our heroes challenged in ways they’d never been before.

The only reason the story ends up in the No. 2 slot vs. No. 1 is the ending. In the theater, I LOVED the plot twist. I was surprised the film makers were bold enough to allow Thanos to actually snap his fingers and wipe out half the universe.

However, even though all the “deaths” were very well acted, they lose a little bit of their emotional weight because we know that pretty much everybody is going to be brought back. Still, “Infinity War” was a thrill to watch and I can’t wait to see what happens in part 2 later this year.

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Visually, there’s a lot to love about this movie: from the colorful, unique animation style to the word bubbles that pop up on screen, making you feel like you really are watching a comic book coming to life in front of your eyes.

Yet what really makes this film stand out is the story. This could have easily been a narrative mess, with too many different dimensions and too many versions of Spider-Man running around on screen. Somehow, it all works perfectly.

Miles Morales anchors this movie with his engaging origin story, managing to make Spidey feel fresh again despite how many other times we’ve seen this story on screen.

Best characters of 2018

3. Thanos

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been hinting at the arrival of Thanos for a long time, and thankfully, he lived up to the hype. “Infinity War” dives even more deeply into this character than I was expecting, highlighting some of his contradictions. He loves his daughter Gamora very deeply, yet is willing to sacrifice her for his cause. He thinks he is helping the universe but is only bringing destruction and death.

“Infinity War” ends with a shot of a seemingly victorious Thanos, having snapped his fingers and wiped out half the universe. I’m very curious to see how he reacts to his decision in “Endgame,” if he is at peace or regrets what he has done. Whatever happens, his final showdown with the Avengers is sure to be epic and, I hope, surprising.

2. Miles Morales

Like I mentioned before, we’ve seen Spidey’s origin story on screen multiple times, but I think “Into the Spider-Verse” just might be my favorite.

Being a teenager is hard enough on its own, but adding superpowers — and the trauma of having to witness the death of the previous Spider-Man — shoves Miles into a world he isn’t prepared for. He struggles to embrace his new destiny, and his fears and self-doubt are very relatable. When he finally feels at home in his superhero suit and arrives to save the day, it’s a moment of genuine triumph that really pays off for the audience.

Also, a lot of superhero characters seem to lose their parents early on, so it was cool to see Miles get to interact with both his mother and father. He loves them but tries to hide his new superpowers from them.

I definitely want to see Miles and his family on screen again!

1. Qi’ra

Is she a hero or a villain…or something in between?

Qi’ra may not be the main character of “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” but she was definitely my favorite. She’s a nuanced femme fatale, who experienced a horrific childhood and had to learn how to fight to survive. She loves Han Solo, but that love just isn’t enough to free her from the dangerous world of crime that she’s trapped in. The moment she sails away from him at the end of the film, leaving him behind perhaps forever, is one of the most heartbreaking scenes in Star Wars.

I really appreciate all the great new female characters Disney has brought into the Star Wars universe, and I especially appreciate that these characters have been given authentic flaws and aren’t all spotless heroes.