Welcome to the Multiversity Year in Review for 2022! We’ve got over 25 categories to get through, so make sure you’re checking out all of the articles by using our 2022 Year in Review tag.
There are always a lot of comic adaptations that make their way to multiplexes and streaming services, but this year, our staff voted for three very different such adaptations. It’s very nice to see diversity in this, sometimes monotonous, category.
3. Jujutsu Kaisen 0
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is one a very successful addition to the manga and anime series. The story about Yuda Okkotsu and Rika has always its own story that predated Jujutsu Kaisen, and its lack of precedent is its main strength. The movie breathes some new life into the story and sets the stage for the new season of the tv series. Mappa made the clever decision to add character cameos and appearances to deepen the experience, and it works well as a prequel.
The animation style that Mappa used in animating this is slightly different from that of the tv series; the faces and character designs are a little softer than their television counterparts. They seem appropriately younger than their selves a year later when Yuji and Fushigiro join the Jujutsu High School. The style of the animation seems to mimic the simpler art style that Gege Akutami’s art style had in that earlier story: Okkotsu looks seriously haunted and tired throughout, Maki seems to seethe with anger, Irumaki seems the calm peaceful center, and Gojo comes across as a trickster and a clown.
The big advantage this story has is the room they had to add in characters we now know well and let them have their moment in the spotlight during the ‘Night of a Thousand Curses.’ We are treated to cameos of the Kyoto school students, including an irritated Todo who missed the appearance of his beloved idol singer because of the fight. It’s a joy to se them in action as it is to get glimpses of Mei Mei, Kusakabe, and the extended fight with Nanamin. Though we have yet to see how much Gojo and Geto were friends and rivals back in the day, the final scenes of them together feels truly tragic and heartbreaking.
Jujitsu Kaisen 0 features great storytelling on multiple levels and, in the end, recognizes the losses its characters suffer. – Greg Lincoln
2. The Batman
Batman has been extremely well explored on film over the years. We’ve had 6 actors and 5 directors take shots at Batman in a total of 10 movies since Michael Keaton first graced the silver screen in 1989. After seeing everything from homages to the Silver Age to an interesting gritty take to a comically gritty take on the character, it would’ve been Matt Reeves and Robert Pattison delivered a kind of Batman we’ve been sorely missing- the detective. The Batman is somewhat familiar in its grounded tone but it serves as one of the most exciting takes on the caped crusader that we’ve seen on the big screen.
The Batman is arguably the most full Batman movie we’ve ever seen. With it’s nearly three-hour runtime, the movie exposes its viewers to the inner workings of the GCPD, the criminal world, Gotham City politics, and generally takes more care to make Gotham feel like a place than your average Batman movie. Then there’s the stellar supporting cast who deliver great performances all around but with special highlights from Zoe Kravitz, Paul Dano, and Colin Farrell. Of course, Robert Pattinson wasn’t an obvious choice to play Bruce Wayne but he absolutely proves that he was the right one, leaning hard into the character’s angst and tortured soul. This is a version of Bruce Wayne that hasn’t figured out how to play the role of charming playboy yet and it’s an interesting angle. In The Batman, Bruce isn’t just being a vigilante because he needs to, he’s doing it because it’s the only thing he can do. The mystery that Matt Reeves has designed is thematically compelling and a lot of fun to watch unfold. Maybe most importantly, it’s just a treat to see Batman solve a real mystery, something he hasn’t really gotten to do on the big screen despite the fact that it’s been over 80 years since the character debuted in a series literally titled “Detective Comics.”
A well-constructed story with great cinematography, a stellar score, and a fresh perspective, The Batman bodes well for the future of Bruce Wayne on screen. – Quinn Tassin
1. Wakanda Forever
When Chadwick Boseman passed away, it was natural to assume Ryan Coogler would recast the role of King T’Challa: after all, Boseman probably wouldn’t have wanted the character to die with him. But, after seeing the second Black Panther film in its final form, one realizes it would’ve felt dishonest, and as wrong to watch someone else imitate Boseman as it would’ve been for Coogler and the rest of the cast during each day of filming. From its abrupt, tragic opening, to its quiet, contemplative conclusion, Wakanda Forever reverberates with the shock and (yes) anger from the loss of its original lead, and proves to be a moving remembrance of Boseman’s legacy.
That’s not to say it’s all tears though: it’s as fun as any Marvel movie, with a surprisingly brisk pace despite its 160 min runtime (only slowing down to lavish in the introduction of Talokan), and featuring some of the most artfully composed action in the MCU. Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira and Dominique Thorne prove to be a fantastic buddy movie trio, and Winston Duke continues to steal the show as the deceptively boorish M’Baku (“You bald-headed demon!”) Because of its importance as the only current Black superhero film franchise, and their anticolonial themes, the Black Panther movies can be seen as the “serious” MCU films, but Coogler is a showman as well as a dramatist, and is as comfortable with the joy of superpowers as the heaviness of heads that bear crowns.
One of those crowns belongs to one of Marvel’s very first antiheroes, Namor, embodied here for the first time by Tenoch Huerta, who possesses a charisma that makes you believe a man with tiny ankle wings can fly. Huerta, Coogler, and co-writer Joe Robert Cole took one of the publisher’s most insufferable characters, and made him into a genuinely appealing antagonist, a ruthless protector who was shaped – in one of the MCU’s most chilling scenes – firsthand by the cruelty and barbarism of the colonization of the Americas. “El Niño Sin Amor?” No, this is a man so full of love for his people, it is blinding; it’s a shame he’s too expensive for a solo series or special, but I eagerly await his return in future projects.
And what of Coogler’s continued involvement? While he is producing further shows set in the MCU for Disney+, you couldn’t blame him for moving on from directing another film, as he was so clearly emotionally spent from helming Wakanda Forever. Whatever he decides, he has crafted two of the most beautiful superhero films ever made, honoring those of African and indigenous American descent across the globe, as well as his late friend. Wakanda forever indeed; RIP Chadwick and T’Challa, and Líik’ik Talokan. – Christopher Chiu-Tabet
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