On this first day of 2018, we shed the haunting memories of the year prior and fill ourselves with hope and excitement for the things to come. Here are the movies, TV shows, albums, and books that have The Ringer staff ready for the new year.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Chris Ryan: If I learned one thing in 2017, it’s how to be a glutton for punishment. After all the message-board rebellions, and light-speed truthing, it’s hard to believe anyone would want to get back to the clone wars and start the Star Wars movie cycle up again, right? Would that it were so simple. Solo’s coming, and I’m equal parts fascinated and excited. The fascination stems from the director’s chair tumult, and the bubbling “what if it sucks”? chatter in the outer reaches of the nerd web. The excitement? THEY MADE A MOVIE ABOUT HAN SOLO. This could be a complete and total bastardization of one of my three favorite movie characters of all time, my guy Alden Ehrenreich’s name might be trash in the cantinas right now, but I am still ridiculously amped up for the proceedings. Lawrence Kasdan’s script is supposed to be incredible, it’s got a great supporting cast—Woody, Glover, Dany, Fleabag, and Chewie—and the character has a semi-tragic vibe after the first two films of the new trilogy. Is it bad that they haven’t released a trailer, that nobody seems to have seen any footage, that the possibly fake poster looks like it’s for a National Treasure trailer, and that director Ron Howard hasn’t made a hot movie this century? NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS.
Micah Peters: A recent Fandango poll of 8,000 moviegoers revealed Black Panther to be the second-most anticipated movie of 2018 (behind Infinity War, because 10 years of world-building, bearded Chris Evans, and Grape Fanta Josh Brolin), but you don’t really need to know all that. All you need to know is that we get to see Wakanda in all its full CGI-ed splendor, beeping and buzzing and zooming on the threshold of the future, where there’s mind-steering and bullet trains without actual tracks. Plus [breathing heavily] Angela Bassett will be there. And Forest Whitaker. And Daniel Kaluuya. And Michael B. Jordan, who at some point [sweating] is going to fight Chadwick Boseman while both are outfitted in full, adamantium Black Panther gear, inside of what looks like a kaleidoscope made of Tron circuitry. Happy Black History month to me, to you, to all of us.
Alison Herman: Given the sheer (and growing!) amount of television on offer at all times, a show making enough of an impression to actually be missed is a titanic accomplishment. So it is with Atlanta, the breakout show of 2016 that took a year off so its creator-star could go make a Star War. But Donald Glover is done being Lando, which means Atlanta is back in production (with the adorable custom-letterman cast photos to prove it). There are plenty of new series in 2018 I’m curious about: Bill Hader’s Barry, for example, or Danny Boyle’s second installment in the unlikely year of J. Paul Getty dramas. But Atlanta is worth getting excited about on proven merits as well as potential. The best part of watching its freshman season unfold week by week was the sense of unpredictability, never knowing if what we’d get next was a mock episode of a public access talk show or an “Eyes Wide Shut directed by Spike Lee” dinner party from hell. With the wait between new episodes extended from seven days to 12 months and counting, that suspense has only snowballed—not that Glover and his collaborators will have any problem living up to it.
MGMT’s Little Dark Age
Kevin O’Connor: Back in 2009, my dad and I had tickets for Paul McCartney at Fenway Park; the opener was MGMT, which made for perhaps the oddest concert combo ever. MGMT had limited touring experience and had released only one album, while Paul McCartney was, well … Paul McCartney. MGMT struggled. Their sound wasn’t big enough to fill such a large stadium, especially with such an old audience that just wanted to hear Beatles and Wings hits. But despite their raw live sound, I was intrigued. MGMT had a vibrant energy about them, so I went home that night and listened to their 2007 debut record Oracular Spectacular. I fell in love. The Connecticut-based band released two more albums, Congratulations in 2010 and MGMT in 2013, before announcing in 2014 that they were going on hiatus.
Now they’re back with their fourth studio album, Little Dark Age. Both singles that have been released so far (“Little Dark Age” and “When You Die”) have me giddy with delight, the same way their space rock vibe did in 2009. Their psychedelic sounds inspire nostalgia from another era, while they retain an authentic tone that keeps them feeling relevant today. MGMT is simultaneously ahead of their time, while paying tribute to the past; and perhaps it’s this divergence that had first intrigued Paul McCartney.
Kate Halliwell: Maniac, an upcoming 2018 Netflix series, reportedly “revolves around the fantasy worlds of two patients at a mental institution,” but I’m fairly certain it actually revolves around my personal, specific idea of what makes a great television show. Let’s review: Emma Stone and Jonah Hill as the latest movie stars heading to the small screen? Check. True Detective and Beasts of No Nation director Cary Fukunaga handling all 10 episodes? Check. As much talent from The Leftovers as possible? Writer/producer Patrick Somerville wrote the script, and Justin Theroux joined the series in a recurring role, so yeah, check. A half-hour, 10-episode format that keeps Netflix from ruining the show with its usual overly long, 13-episode orders? CHECK.
The Spider-Man Video Game
Victor Luckerson: Though it was Spider-Man who helped kick off this century’s superhero obsession at the megaplex, his presence in video games has been comparatively muted. For more than a decade I’ve been waiting for a game that could fully realize the potential of Activision’s Spider-Man 2, which captured the thrill of web slinging between the skyscrapers of New York but was weighed down by a repetitive, GTA-lite mission structure back in 2004.
This year, Insomniac Games finally seems ready to deliver the ultimate Spidey experience on the PlayStation 4. The creators of the family-friendly platforming franchise Ratchet & Clank are a great fit to create a Spider-Man that matches the colorful buoyancy of the ’90s animated series. Judging by demos, the new title seems to mirror the elegant stealth and combat system of Batman: Arkham Asylum with the frenetic acrobatics Spider-Man is known for. Here’s hoping for a wealth of well-timed wisecracks, a mission that involves scaling the Empire State Building, and a slew of classic villains besides the game’s main baddie, Mister Negative. The fact the footage released so far perfectly matches the ’90s cartoon in a fanmade mashup gives me hope that this will be the game of my childhood dreams.
Miles Surrey: There are many, many reasons to enjoy James Cameron’s Titanic, but I was morbidly fascinated by the real-life shipwreck and doomed fate of the passengers, because this is how I choose to live my life. And therefore, I’m really glad AMC has made The Terror, just for me.
Amazingly, a name as absurd as The Terror has some precedent. The series is based on the Dan Simmons novel, a fictionalized account of a real British expedition in the 1800s that vanished in the Arctic, which the British should’ve expected when they named a ship the HMS Terror—that’s just asking for trouble. Borrowing from Simmons’s novel, the show will follow the British crew as they’re hunted by a “mysterious predator”—the show is executive produced by Ridley Scott, so you have an idea what could be lurking in the shadows—and desperately try to survive. They probably won’t, since The Terror is also, inexplicably, an anthology series.
Video Games About Pirates
Ben Lindbergh: Next year’s most anticipated video game may be Rockstar’s Western sequel Red Dead Redemption 2, but I still expect to spend more time in 2018 on the virtual open seas than the virtual open range. In theory, video games about pirates should have been among the biggest beneficiaries of the industry’s ongoing ramp-up in processing power; the limitless environments, pretty waves and water, and persistent online worlds common in today’s big-budget games should suit simulations of the pirate life perfectly. Instead, with rare exceptions, pirate sims have stagnated. The most storied pirate games, Monkey Island and Sid Meier’s Pirates!, are decades old.
That pirate-game paradox could resolve itself soon. Next year will bring no fewer than four pirate games: the official release of Steam Early Access naval first-person shooter Blackwake; Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion; and the two heavy hitters, Sea of Thieves and Skull & Bones.
Sea of Thieves, a cooperative, online-only shared-world game from Rare, adopted a cartoony, light-hearted look and is due out in March.
Ubisoft’s Skull & Bones, meanwhile, which will arrive in the third or fourth quarter with both a single-player campaign and online combat, borrows and builds on the ship-combat component (i.e., the good part) of 2013’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, the best pirate (or pirate-adjacent) game in recent memory.
Gaming’s pirate treasure has been buried too long. At least one of these games had better be good.
Avengers: Infinity War
After releasing 17 films dating back to Iron Man’s 2008 debut, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has finally arrived at the Infinity War. There are so many things to be hyped about in this movie. The Infinity Gauntlet is one of Marvel’s all-time greatest comic book series, featuring Thanos, one of its most powerful villains ever. We’ll see a bearded Captain America come out of hiding after his messy breakup with Iron Man, a one-eyed Thor reunite with his other friends from work, and a chance for Star-Lord to hang out with some other humans for once. Black Panther will return, following the release of his solo film in February, as well as Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and the rest of the Avengers. Above all else, I’m just excited to see how the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy will work on screen together, and mainly how Earth’s heroes will react to Rocket and Groot. We’ve all grown to love the gun-slinging raccoon and his plant sidekick, but the Avengers are going to be just as confused as we were when Marvel decided to make Guardians into a movie back in 2014.
On May 4, all our favorite Marvel heroes will share the same screen for the first time. It’s going to be wild.
Isle of Dogs
Lindsay Zoladz: I barely understand what Wes Anderson’s forthcoming animated feature Isle of Dogs is supposed to be about, because every time I’ve watched the trailer I have drowned out the narration with a series of awwww!s, eeeeeee!s, and youvegottabekiddingme!s. And yet, Isle of Dogs had me at its briefest elevator pitch, which is “Fantastic Mr. Fox, but dogs.” Yes. To me, Isle of Dogs is the cinematic equivalent of Stefon’s favorite nightclub. This movie has everything: dogs, isles, Yoko Ono, stop-motion animation, Jeff Goldblum voicing a dapper animal, Greta Gerwig fulfilling her destiny by being in a Wes Anderson movie, canine flu, Japan, a rescue plot, COURTNEY B. VANCE, Harvey Keitel, whimsy, and did I mention stop-motion animation dogs? Invent the science to liquify this movie and inject it directly into my veins.
And Now We Have Everything, by Meaghan O’Connell
Katie Baker: When I was pregnant with my now-2-year-old son I had an obsession, bordering on pathological, with reading other people’s birth stories—the sometimes schmaltzy, often harrowing essays about doulas and cervixes and emergency surgeries and a practice called “Hypnobirth.” I read the über-crunchy Ina May Gaskin book about earth mamas squatting out babes on a Tennessee farm; I command-clicked dozens of links from the /babybumps Reddit until I had so many tabs open that my browser screeched to a halt. And I read and re-read an essay written by the writer Meaghan O’Connell about her unplanned pregnancy and her 36-plus-hour labor that included lines like “I felt it the way you hear someone’s keys in the door before they walk in.” O’Connell’s writing is vivid and relatable, funny and grim, and she kept it up with a parenting column at The Cut once her son was finally born. Now a collection of her essays on pregnancy, motherhood, and her uncertainties around both, And Now We Have Everything, is set to be released in April 2018. And based on these excerpts, it will be as meaningful, and as cheerfully terrifying to read, as her initial, essential birth story.