Annlyel takes a retrospective look back at the best superhero movies of the year to determine her definitive ranking for 2022. But which comic book movies hit the top?
Over the past decade and counting, comic book movies have taken the world by storm. They permeate our yearly plans and give us something to look forward to. And this year has been one of the best in recent memory for not only entertainment reasons but performances. So, because of that fact, I felt obligated to highlight these performances.
Before I begin this ranking list, I have to let you all know that I did not watch Peacemaker or The Boys. So if there were great performances in those series, which I’m sure there were, they will not be on this list. Okay, let’s get to my favorite comic book performances of 2022.
10. Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle (The Batman)
There have been a lot of portrayals of the iconic Catwoman, with Michelle Pfeiffer’s take on the feline-loving jewel thief becoming the most beloved iteration. Would Zoe Kravitz, who would become the third Black woman to tackle the role, be able to carve her own path as the treacherous but lovable femme fatale? Well, in fact, she did.
Over the course of three hours, Zoe Kravitz brought more to the role than just a pretty face. In a grounded story that focuses more on character than comic book personas, we got to dive deep into Selina Kyle’s storyline, with Kravitz displaying a quiet strength that solidified her as Bruce Wayne’s equal.
When the story concluded, I found myself not only fascinated by Kravitz’s portrayal of Kyle but I wanted (and still am waiting) for her to get her very own series. If Colin Firth’s Penguin can get a show why can’t Zoe Kravitz get a grounded, intimate story diving headfirst into her journey into fully becoming Catwoman?
9. Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel)
There is great MCU casting and then there is perfect MCU casting. Iman Vellani is a perfect casting decision as the Pakistani teenager who is a major Captain Marvel fan and turns out to be a hero. Like Tom Holland in Captain America: Civil War, Vellani reeks that lovable teenage energy that makes you instantly want to root for her.
I’m so excited to see her journey continue in the MCU as she gains an even larger role moving forward. And I can’t wait to one day see Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel on the big screen in a full-blown Avengers movie.
8. Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness)
Elizabeth Olsen’s Emmy-nominated turn in WandaVision was already a spectacle to behold. But to see her featured in a fully villainous role in Multiverse of Madness was not only brilliant but downright terrifying. The actress, known for her iconic moments as the Scarlet Witch over the years, found ways to bring even more depth to a striking turn in character that could’ve easily gone awry.
Yet through every one of her terrifying murderous rampages, she never loses that unwavering love for her children. Which beautifully colors her performance into something three-dimensional. You’re terrified of her and the terrible things she can do. But you can’t help feeling remorseful when she realizes the monster she has become. Phase 4 was about grief and she was the poster child of the phase’s depressing themes. When she eventually returns it’s going to be an epic moment indeed.
7. Gael Garcia Bernal as Jack Russel (Werewolf by Night)
In the MCU’s first Special Presentation, Gael Garcia Bernal plays a character that could’ve easily been forgettable. And yet, in less than fifty minutes, Bernal made Jack Russel not only instantly likable but a character that I felt like I had known for years in the MCU.
When Werewolf by Night concluded I wanted five more episodes to spend with Russel and his friend, Man-Thing because I loved them that much. Here’s to hoping we’ll see Jack Russel again one day.
6. Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman (The Batman)
Batman has existed for decades onscreen and has been portrayed by many actors. But never have I seen an actor dedicate himself so fully to the oddity that is Batman. Pattinson understood that realistically, an orphaned individual who decides to fight crime at night dressed in a bat suit would definitely have to be a bit of an odd person.
He brought that strangeness to life with Wayne’s cold, no-nonsense demeanor. He barely shows up in the daytime. The deepest shadows are his ally, and he’s not very personable. But he’s still a hero, as odd as that might seem. And it is his heroism in fighting against corruption and dastardly villains that makes him so remarkable and cheer-worthy.
I’ve never been so moved by a moment in a Batman movie as when he rescues the people from the flooding stadium toward the end of the film. His character arc in the film, displayed brilliantly by Pattinson’s under-the-radar performance, is brought to a very satisfying conclusion. And I honestly can’t wait to see more.
5. Christian Bale as Gorr the God-Butcher (Thor: Love and Thunder)
Sure, Bale’s creepy-looking Gorr the God-Butcher could’ve done a bit more god-butchering instead of being tamed and turned into a child kidnapper. But one thing that cannot be denied is Bale’s performance. For the little screen time that he had, Christian Bale utterly steals the show, reminding us why he’s an Oscar-winning actor. I mean his final scene makes me cry every time I watch it.
His story was so sympathetic that I honestly don’t see him as much of a villain. If he’s ever revived, I would love to see him join The Avengers in some sort of way. Just a thought.
4. Oscar Isaac as Steven Grant/Marc Spector (Moon Knight)
When I heard that Oscar Isaac was joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe I was…excited? His previous role in a superhero capacity was a villainous turn as the blue-skinned Apocalypse which did not inspire confidence. That was all squashed after the first episode as Oscar Isaac disappeared into the meek Steven Grant with a decidedly strange but faithfully brilliant British accent that perfectly transformed him.
Isaac’s performance as he took on not one but two roles in a superhero series about a man suffering from DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) while being a butt-kicking guardian of the night infused with the powers of the Egyptian moon god was mind-blowingly good. He delivered such a striking performance as the character that I found myself not only moved by him and the story but I honestly believed he could get an Emmy nomination. He ultimately got it instead for his performance in the acclaimed series, Scenes from a Marriage. But I stand by the fact that he did an incredible job.
He also proved that Moon Knight was a character that should be brought from the page to the small screen and deserves to be involved in the MCU moving forward.
3. Tenoch Huerta Mejia as Namor (Black Panther)
Ryan Coogler knows how to create a compelling antagonist. In Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan stole the show as the revenge-stricken Erik Killmonger, cementing himself as one of the best villains in the MCU in just one movie. And now we have Tenoch Huerta’s cold and calculated Namor. An antagonist who is one part powerfully compelling king, one part extremely intimidating (and vicious) warrior.
Despite not having existed for thirty-six previous installments, he has entered the MCU like a tsunami, sweeping up the fandom in his path. He has brought such a layered dimension to a character that could’ve easily been one-dimensional that there was no denying his high spot on this list.
2. Angela Basset as Queen Ramonda (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)
As of writing this post, Angela Basset has just been nominated for a Golden Globe, becoming the first actor in the MCU to ever be nominated for such an award. Her historic moment is warranted because her performance in Wakanda Forever is nothing short of astonishing. In every scene, she graces there is an undeniable power and unyielding strength that seeps through her every word. Every minute expression.
She’ll bring tears to your eyes. She’ll make you smile with pride. And she is reminding the world why she should’ve won an Oscar for her performance as Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It. I’m hoping this spine-tingling performance is enough to garner her an Oscar come March 12.
1. Letitia Wright as Shuri (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)
Angela Basset deserves every raving praise that she has rightfully earned with her performance in Wakanda Forever. But I honestly do not think enough has been said about Letitia Wright’s stunning performance in this movie. The entire movie we see her in an entirely different headspace as a character. Gone is the lovable quirkiness and lightheartedness replaced by a woman who has lost a bit of herself in losing her brother, T’Challa. Pair that with the emotional journey she undergoes in this film and the conclusion of her incredibly moving character arc understandably moves you to tears.
In another movie, one that was maybe distributed by A24 or Focus Features, she would be lauded. But because she was in a superhero movie taking on the role of the Black Panther seemingly no one is recognizing her for her outstanding performance in this movie. One thing for sure is that she is going to absolutely dominate this role of Black Panther. And I cannot wait to see her in future Avengers movies. It’s going to be quite the chill-inducing spectacle.
Honorable Mention: The Guardians of the Galaxy
In both Thor: Love and Thunder and the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special the Guardians are an absolute joy to witness onscreen. They’re always funny with their quirky ways and they always manage to make a scene better. I don’t think you can write a list like this without mentioning them in some sort of way.
So there are my ten favorite comic book movie performances this year. Next year I’ll have ten more comic book performances to rank and that is exciting indeed.
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Hello everyone. My name is Annlyel James. I’m a young woman who loves movies of all genres (specifically ‘Star Wars’ and Marvel movies.) I am also a Senior Correspondent for The Future of the Force.