One taught us love, one taught us patience, one murdered half the universe, and one ate a man’s face off. Looking back on 2018, it really feels like the year when everyone decided to stop shaming the people who had special feelings for The Shape of Water’s fish monster and admit that, in the right circumstances, we all have the capacity to thirst openly for monsters and villains.
David Harbour’s Hellboy
We’re still more than a few months out from Neil Marshall’s Hellboy reboot starring David Harbour as the titular demon-turned-hero, but that hasn’t kept anyone from taking notice of just how different this movie’s take on Hellboy’s barrel-chested physique is going to be compared to Guillermo del Toro’s. Before we’d actually seen any footage of the movie, the idea of this new Hellboy was already a fascinating one, because of the Shakespearean energy David Harbour spoke about bringing to his performance in a story about a man in the midst of an identity crisis.
This week, Lionsgate dropped the first trailer showing Hellboy in action and it left no uncertainty as to just how thirst-worthy the vascular hellspawn is going to be when he bounds into theaters next April.
Technically speaking, Erik Killmonger’s the only person on this list who isn’t a literal “monster,” but his heartbreaking, rage-filled crusade to avenge his father’s death and expose Wakanda’s former king for his treachery was just as terrifying to behold. Though misguided in his methods, Killmonger’s motivations for attempting to wage war on a world that has treated the black diaspora as less-than for centuries were all too understandable, and spoke to the pain that is seldom addressed quite so explicitly in films of any genre.
The nuanced, complex way that Black Panther presented Killmonger as a foil to T’Challa immediately made him a compelling villain, but if we’re all being honest, Michael B. Jordan’s ridiculous physique played a large role in what made it so difficult for everyone to tear their eyes away from the would-be king whenever he stepped onto the screen.
Thanos, the Mad Titan
Say what you will about Thanos’ plan to bring balance to the universe by wiping out half of its living population, the Mad Titan was pretty damned hot for a couple of different reasons. On the one hand, he’s got that whole upper body thing going on for him—including the wrinkly chin which, depending on how you look at it, was actually quite dignified and not at all Skrull-like.
If you want to be a bit more flowery about what made Thanos thirst-worthy, it’s that he’s the embodiment of the sorts of twisted, complicated daddy issues that people who grow up being raised by monstrous men tend to develop. It’s tough to admit, but that’s what therapy’s for. The fact that he’s so easy to hate and cheer against as the Avengers are trying to kill him is precisely what makes him so appealing.
Sorry to Bother You’s Equisapiens
It’s become increasingly difficult for filmmakers to truly shock audiences these days, but there’s no filmgoing experience this year quite like the one of sitting down in a theater to see Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You and being accosted by the sight of the equisapiens.
In what world could one ever imagine that a movie about the evils of capitalism and the importance of unions would also involve people being tricked into snorting faux cocaine that transforms them into hulking, muscular horse people running around naked, with their junk flying to and fro? It’s a shocking, hard left turn that feels almost too wild for an already absurd movie, but the shots involving the equisapiens will hold your attention and make you wonder to yourself if Tumblr’s crackdown on adult content was actually a good thing after all.
There’s never been a love quite like that between Eddie Brock and the alien symbiote he bonded with to become the lethal protector Venom. Hardcore fans of the characters have always been familiar with the sexual, romantic subtext woven into many of Marvel’s Venom comics. But seeing the anti-hero (and his tongue) adapted for the big screen this year seemed to finally convince the rest of the world that there’s nothing wrong with wanting a monster to be your boyfriend, or wanting to open up your traditional, monogamous relationship to an interested third party.
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