The Year in Superheroes

Teen Titans GO to the Spider-Verse

Our other big coincidence of 2018 superhero flicks is two of the year’s animated movies.

The Incredibles 2 also happened in 2018, and it’s also about superheroes, and it’s… it’s fine. It works. The plot is pretty standard Pixar and it was a long wait for a basically adequate sequel and there’s really nothing else worth going into right now.

Unlike the two rival-king movies, Teen Titans GO! to the Movies and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse are in no way similar as stories.

Teen Titans GO! To the Movies is a big-screen outing for Teen Titans GO!, the extra-goofy children’s cartoon with just… just a weird amount of jokes aimed at older viewers. The film version is a bunch of silly fun that takes copious shots at the superhero film industry (but no specific shots at Marvel, just DC’s own house) and DC lore, including a running gag at the expense of the hyper-obscure Challengers of the Unknown. It’s so much fun to watch, but that’s basically all it is, just silly fun with a touch of satire.

Into the Spider-Verse is a thrilling, moving, hilarious origin story for Miles Morales, the more recent Spider-Man, that also serves as a love letter to the idea of Spider-Man in all his/her/their incarnations, with the message that anyone can be Spider-Man.

(A message that cannot be found in Black Panther or Aquaman, both stories about kings, and the latest in a series of movies from both houses featuring royalty or oligarchs of some kind. Hard to sell “Anyone can be a hero” when your protagonist is a king, princess, or billionaire.)

It’s a movie I can’t praise enough, nor as elegantly as Lin-Manuel Miranda.

So where the coincidence comes in is that these are two of the most fun superhero stories of the year, certainly the best movies of 2018 from DC and Marvel (I would argue that Spider-Verse is the year’s best superhero movie, period)… and are also the lowest-grossing movies from either house. By a wide margin.

It’s sad but not surprising… Aquaman is a major studio release, TTGttM is feature-length adaptation of a cable TV kids’ cartoon. It was always only going to make Wild Thornberrys money, not Pixar money. Well… it actually fell a little short of The Wild Thonberrys Movie, even before inflation, but you see my point. And by the same token, it was highly unlikely that Spider-Verse would make Infinity War money.

But Spider-Verse getting out-grossed by Venom? I know Spider-Verse came out during the most competitive few weeks of the year and Venom was virtually unopposed, but that one hurts.

It can’t just be because they’re both animated. Incredibles 2, a movie which, if you’ll excuse the hot take, is inferior to both, pulled in over a billion dollars worldwide. Somewhere around four times what Spider-Verse has pulled in at time of writing, which is ten times higher than TTG!TTM.

………I don’t actually have an answer here. I guess it comes down to Teen Titans Go! being popular enough on kids’ Netflix or wherever, but not exactly “open a movie” popular, especially when there’s a Hotel Transylvania sequel in theatres, which apparently is a popular series, Mama Mia has a sequel out, Incredibles 2 is still happening, and the latest Mission: Impossible just opened. This was always a movie that was going to make a little in theatres, but thrive on DVD/Blu-ray and streaming.

Meanwhile, Spider-Verse started out okay (its first weekend outgrosses TTG!TTM’s entire run), but then got clobbered by the brutal combo of the return of Mary Poppins, the best/first good Transformers movie, and the underdog December champion, Aquaman. Whew. Without a Star Wars in theatres, December is a bloodbath.

I guess the point here is that you should watch both, and not wait. See Spider-Verse while it’s in theatres. It’s gorgeous and warrants a big screen. And do not leave before the end of the credits.

One last weird link between the two… Spider-Verse and Teen Titans GO! To The Movies are in direct competition for 2018’s best Stan Lee cameo.

No, you read that right.

Next Page: The Infinity War of it all

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