The 2019 Billboard Music Awards

Every year that I’ve written about the billboard awards, I reference that they’re different from other awards shows, because of the means of their selection. Once I even skipped the awards completely in order to write about the performances. That was a good idea, and one I may revisit down the line, but the performances this year include Madonna, so that’s not going to happen this year.

This year I’m trying to prognosticate, for two reasons 1) this awards show’s recipients are determined algorithmically, even if the algorithm is crazy and opaque and 2) I run out of things to say about some of these people every year, and it’s worth doing something a little different with this incoherent, endless awards show.

It’s also got a couple of other things going for it (at the risk of reducing this list to a bunch of bullet points). The first is that the decision-making process of who gets these awards is, according to the Billboard folks, made with formulas and whatnot, even though (as I’ll mention many times) the set of things that goes directly into the formulas and whatnot isn’t always apparent. The other is that, as I mention basically every time I try to guess at something, I’m a bad foreteller of this sort of thing generally, and furthermore, I have a specifically really-bad sense of what is and is not popular, and how popular popular things actually are.

So this will be a useful case study for how bad I actually am at seeing the future! Here we go!

Top Gospel Song

The faith-music categories are the ones where my knee-jerk “Which one seems biggest?” question-answering here are both the easiest and the most fraught: I do not know anything about this music at all, and I don’t have much ability to appreciate it, so if something penetrates my veil of ignorance, it’s probably a big deal and is probably the winner, at least in respect to Billboard magazine.

WHO WILL WIN: Tori Kelly, “Never Alone” (f Kirk Franklin)

Top Christian Song

Same deal down here, except I can kind of get behind gospel as a form, because enough of it has moved me that I feel I have some ability, no matter how stunted. CCM is just not my thing.

WHO WILL WIN: Lauren Daigle, “You Say”

Top Dance/Electronic Song

Actually, to continue on in this vein, the nice thing about the way the categories are laid out here are, at least for the first five or so, in basically ascending order of how familiar I am with the music as it exists, so I feel smarter as I go along. That’s nice.

WHO WILL WIN: Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey, “The Middle”

Top Latin Song

Of course, in this particular one, my feelings about the music are basically moot, as shown here, where the worst song wins. Although I do kind of like the part where Selena Gomez goes “RRRRRRUMBA”. That’s pretty good.

WHO WILL WIN: DJ Snake, “Taki Taki” (f Selena Gomez, Ozuna & Cardi B)

Top Rock Song

So one of the things that merely trying to guess at which of these things will win offers me is an opportunity to absolutely not think of any of these songs in terms of their quality, which is awesome because they all suck real bad.

WHO WILL WIN: Imagine Dragons, “Whatever it Takes”

Top Country Song

This one is tough. I feel like “Meant to Be” was really everywhere for the first half of the eligibility period here, but the second half has very much belonged to “Tequila”. So I’m going to go with “Tequila” for recency, but it really could go either way.

WHO WILL WIN: Dan + Shay, “Tequila”

Top Rap Song

It brings me joy to state that my usual concern with Drake songs is moot here, as “In My Feelings” was a huge hit, but didn’t achieve the same sort of cultural/my unwilling headspace penetration as “I Like It”

WHO WILL WIN: Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin, “I Like It”

Top R&B Song

This one’s almost as tricky as the rock one, as a couple of these seem to really stand out, but despite being particularly into R&B, I have basically no exposure to R&B radio, and I don’t stream it except purposefully 1, so I’m a little at sea. I think it’s the Ella Mai song, though, as that’s the one I’ve heard the most while never actually playing it.

WHO WILL WIN: Ella Mai, “Boo’d Up”

Top Collaboration

God, “Psycho” was everywhere, wasn’t it? It’s weird that I’ve forgotten about it except that 1) I don’t like Post Malone and 2) I don’t like Travis Scott and 3) I don’t like “Psycho”. What a blessed, short period of time it was in which I permitted myself to forget that it existed.

WHO WILL WIN: Post Malone, “Psycho” (f Travis Scott)

Top Radio Song

I only hear the radio incidentally, but every time I heard one (in a store or at the gym or in a passing car or whatever) for like months, there was a fifty/fifty shot at hearing “The Middle”. So I guess it’s got to be that one.

WHO WILL WIN: Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey “The Middle”

Top Selling Song

This is one, then, that seems to require some brain juice to figure out, because merely trying to gauge the popularity of something by its saturation isn’t going to work when someone is making the directed, conscious decision to actually purchase it. My inclination is to say that it’s “Shallow” that is most-purchased 2 and therefore top-selling, but this also may include factors I don’t know. It’s my best guess, anyway.

WHO WILL WIN: Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga, “Shallow”

Top Streaming Song (Audio)

This is almost always Drake, although I do wonder if XXXTentacion’s death got him up there. I know that he was removed from a bunch of playlists, and that Drake was popular enough that his picture was fraudulently applied to playlists on which he did not technically appear 3, but also all of this was right before/right at the beginning of the period of eligibility for all this, so who even knows? In terms of specific songs, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was XXXTentacion, whose song title seems to quote Donald Trump, thus reinforcing that there are like zero reasons to have liked XXXTentacion.

WHO WILL WIN: XXXTentacion, “SAD!”

Top Hot 100 Song

I feel that “Girls Like You” is due for one of these, and that maybe this is the reason why Billboard is so weird about telling people how they land at these decisions, so that they can fudge numbers around if they have to, for variety’s sake 4. So, because I believe this is likely, and because this seems like a good place to do it, I think Maroon 5 is going to get this one.

WHO WILL WIN: Maroon 5, “Girls Like You” (f Cardi B)

Top Gospel Album

Can we, as a culture, really afford not to reward Snoop Dogg for his gospel album? I say we cannot.

WHO WILL WIN: Snoop Dogg & Various Artists, Snoop Dogg Presents the Bible of Love

Top Christian Album

See above w/r/t my opinion here, and also ask me in person sometime about how board-shorted megachurches like Hillsong are Christian Scientology.

WHO WILL WIN: Lauren Daigle, “Look Up Child”

Top Dance/Electronic Album

Every year I see a category like this and I wonder who’s listening to these entire albums. Like, who is hearing these singles and thinking “I definitely need more of this?” Not dance music generally, I listen to plenty of that in many forms, but these specific albums? It’s one area where my usual ability to allow people to just have their tastes and not have to explain them fails me. Who is buying a Kygo record? Who is pulling up an entire Major Lazer album up on Apple Music and playing it through? If you are one of these people, feel free to let me know.

WHO WILL WIN: Probably The Chainsmokers, if only because even though they’re world-class awful, I can kind of imagine listening to an entire album after hearing one of their singles, I guess. This is probably my worst, most-unfounded prediction. Or, at least, this is the first of my terrible, unfounded predictions that may turn out to be the worst one.

Top Latin Album

At least we’re back into music I can understand. Kind of.

WHO WILL WIN: J. Balvin, “Vibras”

Top Rock Album

I do not admire much about the Dave Matthews Band, but I can sort of appreciate that their fanbase is big enough to get them on this list of nominations, even for a record I had literally zero awareness of, many years past the time when they were huge. Good job, DMB fans. Now shut up about your stupid band.

WHO WILL WIN: Imagine Dragons, Origins. I mean, I admire that the Dave People got the album up there, but I still don’t think it was in the same league, bigness-wise.

Top Country Album

One of the reasons that I chose to do this this way, as stated above, instead my usual decisions about which is the best is that I can say something different in some of these categories where it’s just hte same four people over and over again. It helps, but man, there are even fewer ways to say “Dan + Shay have a bunch of hits and they all come from one album, so that one”. I guess that’s the only time I’ve said that. I sighed anyway.

WHO WILL WIN: Dan + Shay, Dan + Shay

Top Rap Album

So it’s definitely the record-breaking Scorpion, which frees me to make the following observation: on Billboard’s website, they put album titles in quotation marks, instead of italicizing them, or even underlining them, as one would before italics were trivially easy to land on. This drives me crazy, and if anyone knows enough about the history of Billboard to inform me as to how their house style landed on “everything in quotation marks,” I would appreciate being educated in this regard.

WHO WILL WIN: Drake, Scorpion

Top R&B Album

Aw, hell, maybe this is the one XXXTentacion would get. I think it’s still Khalid, but this is harder than I thought it would be.

WHO WILL WIN: Khalid, American Teen

Top Soundtrack

So year-in and year-out one of the things that people can’t seem to stop loving is soundtracks, which actually makes this more difficult. Albums are a rare beast in the listening environment – lots of people don’t actually listen to them. So trying to evaluate which of these will have streamed/sold more copies than others is kind of hard. It’s probably A Star is Born, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was also Bohemian Rhapsody.

WHO WILL WIN: A Star is Born

Top Billboard 200 Album

I think it’s probably still Scorpion, even though it should be Invasion of Privacy. I’m inspired by this to see if there’s any way to examine singles-listening vs. album-listening business in 2019. I suspect that there is not, as if there were it would be touted, and we wouldn’t have the tortuous, ridiculous “album-equivalent streams” business, and it wouldn’t be so easy to game the tallies by releasing albums with a billion tracks on them. But I don’t know for sure.

WHO WILL WIN: Drake, Scorpion

Top Gospel Artist

Again, it’s got to be Kirk Franklin, right?

WHO WILL WIN: Kirk Franklin

Top Christian Artist

Since I’m just going to type “Lauren Daigle” after the colon here, I’ll use this space to say that the artist categories are the things I was thinking of when I decided to try to predict this tuff. Singles are easy – you hear them or you don’t. Albums are a little trickier, if only because you can try to aggregate how much the singles come together and apply it, but the acknowledgment should be made that people listen to albums and individual songs differently and for different reasons, even at the casual “just plug it in and go” level. Artist, though, that’s a pretty tough thing to figure out, and could very well involve parts of the catalog that aren’t directly under the umbrella of the current release window, which is interesting, if nothing else. Anyway, I don’t know anything about any of these people, so on to the scheduled proclamation.

WHO WILL WIN: Lauren Daigle

Top Dance/Electronic Artist

See, this is what I mean: I think it’s probably Marshmello, who has been responsible for/collaborative in many things that I have heard a bunch, even if they didn’t rise to the individual heights of some of the other people in this category, who are further nominated in other categories. So I think it’s Marshmello, despite him not having the same level of “hit” as, say, The Chainsmokers.

WHO WILL WIN: Marshmello

Top Latin Artist

The “artist” categories are probably also where they take into account features, which makes this more likely to be J Balvin than anything else.


Top Rock Tour

I think the only one that came through Cleveland was U2? This is a bad thing to base this on as 1) I have no idea if I’m right or not and 2) that probably doesn’t mean anything. But that’s what I have to go on here.

WHO WILL WIN: U2, although possibly also Elton John

Top Rock Artist

I will confess to not making purely prognosticatory gestures here – I’m sure that Panic! At the Disco is going to win one of these things, and they are the worst of the bands here by a significant measure. So I’m going to say this is probably Queen and hope that I’m right, because I flatly refuse to acknowledge the continued existence of Panic! At the Disco.


Top Country Tour

The tour categories leave me hamstrung, because even when I listen to the act in question 5, it’s not anything I go out of my way to see live, or even make any real attempt to notice. Like, never. So I guess it’s probably Shania Twain, because the nostalgia circuit is big money.

WHO WILL WIN: Shania Twain

Top Country Duo/Group

Poor Old Dominion. Are they here because Billboard has to nominate three people? I bet that’s why. Awww.

WHO WILL WIN: Dan + Shay

Top Country Female Artist

This one pretty much has to be Maren Morris, unless the Billboard folks somehow take into account critical acclaim and previous awards granted, in which case it would go to Kacey Musgraves. But they probably don’t, so it probably won’t.

WHO WILL WIN: Maren Morris

Top Country Male Artist

Given that it takes a pretty hard familiarity to even tell these people apart 6, I would wager that someone has gone to see one of these people thinking it was the other. That probably muddies the water somewhat, but I suppose it’s impossible for Billboard to have an “intent” metric. Ah, well.

WHO WILL WIN: Jason Aldean

Top Country Artist

So earlier I proposed that the artist categories included features for people that have feature credits. I don’t suppose that it matters to the artist in question if their most recent chart-topping dominance was as the result of a feature (i.e. Florida Georgia Line during the period of eligibility), but I myself think that it should matter. That said, much like with the Maroon 5 decision above, I feel that it’s likely that Billboard will see fit to honor Florida Georgia Line somehow, and that Bebe Rexha will probably be in attendance since she comes to seemingly every single awards show, so it’ll probably be them.

WHO WILL WIN: Florida Georgia Line

Top Rap Tour

There are some of these that are pretty open-and-shut, and thus don’t require much by way of commentary.

WHO WILL WIN: Beyonce & Jay-Z

Top Rap Female Artist

There are many ways in which the Cardi v. Nicki feud comes down in Nicki’s favor. Nearly all of the ways, in fact. Except this one, the measure of raw sales and popularity over the course of the last year or so.


Top Rap Male Artist

I actually find it hard to register the relative popularity of Drake vs. Post Malone. Part of the reason that I used to enjoy Drake’s music 7, and Post Malone is the most famous avatar of an idiom (the post-Young Thug post-soundcloud post-mumblecore emo-semi-rap thing that has taken over the radio) that I find literally impossible to enjoy. I have no idea why it’s happening or what people see in it. So it might be Post Malone, I guess, but I genuinely don’t really know.

WHO WILL WIN: Post Malone

Top Rap Artist

This one is made easier by the ubiquity of the music of Cardi B, so I don’t even have to try to engage with Post Malone. Yay for not having to engage with Post Malone!


Top R&B Tour

There are some of these that are pretty open-and-shut, and thus don’t require much by way of commentary.

WHO WILL WIN: Beyonce & Jay-Z

Top R&B Female Artist

I feel like someone is trying super-hard to make H.E.R. happen. I mean, I like the music just fine, such as it is, but I also feel a real marketing-push aspect of this whole thing that I think is kind of weird 8. Anyway, she didn’t sell as much or do as much as Ella Mai, so that’s probably where it goes.


Top R&B Male Artist

It’s pretty much got to be Khalid.


Top R&B Artist

You know, Khalid is in the video for that one Ella Mai song. He’s not, like, pointed out or anything, and I don’t think he has anything to do with the song. I find that charming, although I don’t necessarily know why. Anyway, it’s probably Khalid again. That dude moved units.


Top Touring Artist

There are some of these that are pretty open-and-shut, and thus don’t require much by way of commentary.

WHO WILL WIN: Beyonce & Jay-Z

Top Social Artist

I say the same thing every year, in every awards show with this category, and it is still basically the only thing that I will say: BTS’s social media fanbase created the BTS phenomenon basically in and of itself, and that is impressive 9.


Top Radio Songs Artist

Oof. How the hell does anybody know what’s on the radio?

WHO WILL WIN: Ariana Grande, since I hear her most of the times I’m near a radio.

Top Song Sales Artist

Actually buying songs skews older, and Lady Gaga’s fanbase skews older, so my (admittedly very basic) calculus suggests that this one is Lady Gaga’s to go home with.


Top Streaming Songs Artist

I’m pretty sure it’s still Drake. Somehow, here in the darkest timeline, it’s still fucking Drake.


Top Hot 100 Artist

So the Hot 100 is for the performance of individual songs, which implies to me that the things that are taken into account related to the chart performance of every song that an artist has had hit the Hot 100 in the period of eligibility. That means it’s probably Cardi B, but it also makes this a real hair-splitter when taken against the “top song” categories and the “top artist” categories which, between the two of them, are probably measuring the same thing. I am left with the belief that Billboard somehow thinks it is more important to give away as many trophies as possible. This is a silly enough position that I find it entertaining. They should advertise this! “We gave away over three actual tons of hardware at the last awards ceremony!” It would be great.


Top Billboard 200 Artist

This one is for albums in the same sense as the Hot 100 one is for songs. It seems to make more sense, I suppose, but since each artist here only has one album in the eligibility period 10, I’m unsure why it has the same utility, which makes it actually make less sense, except if you subscribe to my “as many trophies as possible” theory.


Top Duo/Group

I don’t know anything about BTS’s sales figures or chart performance, which is interesting. I presume it matters, but they’re in this category and not any of the other ones, which seems to imply to me that there is a part of the decision-making algorithm that I just don’t know about. Nevertheless, they’re here, and not anywhere else, so the two options are that there is some sort of nebulous factor to this category that means they’re definitely going to win, or they’re just nominated so they’ll show up. Either way, it seems like they could win.


Top Female Artist

Halsey is in a similar boat to BTS, although in her case I come down more on the side of just getting her to show up to the thing. The same here is also true of Taylor Swift who had very little chart presence (relative to other periods in Taylor Swift’s career), but she’s announced some thing (or will have announced it later on the day this posted, if you’re reading it right away), and the Billboard awards might be an opportunity to promote whatever that is. Anyway, it’s probably Cardi B again, but the top artist categories are obviously a clearinghouse for getting names on the docket.


Top Male Artist

Maybe they can dump BTS, Taylor Swift, Halsey and Ed Sheeran into the “Top Artist Who Didn’t Actually Do Much But We Probably Owe Something To Anyway” category. That would give them another trophy to hand out! They love handing out trophies!

WHO WILL WIN: Post Malone

Billboard Chart Achievement Award

I have no idea what this means, unless it’s a “Miscellaneous” category, which would really give the lie to all the other explanations for all the other categories that don’t make any sense I’ve been forced to come up with. I will genuinely assume that this is here to catch anyone who didn’t, algorithmically, manage to qualify for any of the other awards in this here competition, but whom they wanted to present a trophy to anyway.

WHO WILL WIN: Dua Lipa, for reasons I’ll outline below.

Top New Artist

So the winner is probably Ella Mai, who had a giant hit and stuff. It might be Dua Lipa, but that’s why I think Dua Lipa wins the “miscellaneous” category above, since she’s only this and the previous category, and manged to have a whole slew of relatively-minor hits. That’s my prediction.


Top Artist

I feel like Ariana Grande is kind of being shorted here. In my predictions, I mean, not in the awards show. She’s probably due more of these than I think she is, because her singing voice induces panic in me and I can’t stand hearing it. So I’ll say she deserves this one, even though it’s probably the worst prediction I’m making, mainly because going back and reconsidering all of these to figure out which ones would be different if I didn’t actively choose to avoid this music at basically all costs seems like a lot of unpleasant work. I guess I can’t not bring my tastes to bear somewhat.

WHO WILL WIN: Ariana Grande

  1. that is to say, I play songs on both Spotify and YouTube, but I do so by choosing which songs, and very rarely let Spotify tell me what to listen to next. 
  2. although the Billboard people are cagey about that being the only requirement, which is why I’m not just going and looking at sales figures, although I did do so. 
  3. a tactic also used by Marvel comics with Wolverine in the nineties. 
  4. I mean, Cardi B is still on it, but hey, at least they’d get to say another name I guess. 
  5. which, in this category, isn’t any of them, but it applies to the other tour categories. 
  6. Except visually, I guess – they don’t look much like each other 
  7. or, stated more accurately, I do enjoy some of the music that Drake made previously 
  8. the word count of this thing is already pretty high, so I won’t take the opportunity to go into the situation of things being marketed and all that except to say that, yeah, I know that all of this is here because of and for the purpose of marketing, but it becomes apparent when the attempt to make the thing big so oustrips the bigness of the thing, and leave it at that. 
  9. it also gives support to the idea that ground-level support is still the best way to do things, and that it can still create a genuine phenomenon when it’s engaged, a thing that the record-selling industry manages to miss at pretty much every turn. 
  10. and I would imagine that circumstances that are otherwise are pretty dang rare 

How to Feel About Every Upcoming Superhero Television Show

So, every year I write about every superhero movie that is definitely coming out. This year, since things are probably about to change in a meaningful way 1, I decided to take a look at all the things that I could find that have been announced, no matter how nebulous the announcement or how troubled the production.

TV is in a similar boat. There has been success in the genre somewhat, but the Netflix slate of Defenders shows has been wiped out. Despite a wide variety of quality in the remaining genre shows (Agents of SHIELD, Arrow, Supergirl, Gotham, Legion, The Gifted, Runaways, Cloak & Dagger, etc.), they all remain successful enough to keep them going. So it’s worth taking a look at some things that are going to happen.

Astro City

WHAT IT IS: An under-heralded masterpiece of superhero storytelling, and a very exciting proposition.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because I just said it was very exciting, duh. Astro City is great, and even though it can be hard to find all of, it’s worth reading any part of, which also means that any part of it that is adapted to television will be worth it, at least from a story perspective.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’s got kind of a weird tone, and it’s definitely not for everyone 2. Plus it’s pretty sprawling, and while I asserted above that any part of it is satisfying, I’m perfectly willing to accept that I could very easily be proven wrong, especially given how much television, and especially how much adapted television, is complete garbage no matter the source.


WHAT IT IS: OK so, here’s the deal. Some of the television shows, especially, are based around properties that I have basically zero relationship with. The movies have less of this problem, which may be a coincidence, or may be the result of “marquee” super-types getting the full film treatment 3. All of which is to say: I know a little bit about what Batwoman is as opposed to, say, Batgirl, but not very much. It’s a lady in a batsuit.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: It’s coming to the CW, which has yet to majorly bungle one of their DC properties, so it’ll probably be the best possible version of Batwoman, in the same way that Arrow and Supergirl are the best versions of their respective heroes.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Again, I have no idea about Batwoman, and have no idea what I would even expect out of it. Also, while it’s true that the CW’s superhero shows are well-received, and I’ve liked the bits of them that I’ve seen, it’s also true that I don’t watch any of the regularly, and haven’t seen that much of them.

Black Hammer

WHAT IT IS: A bunch of superheroes get trapped in a weird pocket dimension place after they defeat a supervillain. I’m unclear on whether the tv show is, like the comic, going to take place largely after said defeat, or if it’s going to chronicle the initial defeat of the villain as well.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, Jeff Lemire created the comic, and he’s a genuine actual genius, so there’s tonnes of good ideas and potential. It’s longish-running and episodic, which lends itself to tv pretty well.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Other than the general “television is awful” stuff that prevents me from getting terribly excited about any television adaptation, I’m not really waffling. I bet this will be pretty good.

The Boys

WHAT IT IS: A [sighs loudly] grim look at a world where superheroes….aren’t so super after all.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: People love it, so there’s clearly a lot to like there. It’ll star Karl Urban, and he’s pretty reliably great. The non-super-ness in this particular iteration of the “Garth Ennis writes about terrible people” mode has to do with them being changed by being famous, which I guess is an idea.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: call me a cynic, but I see this turning into a lot of “commentary” on the “state of celebrity” with “allegories” and oh god there’s no way this is going to be good.

Chronicles of Amber

WHAT IT IS: I’m stretching the definition again to allow it, but I did so for Bone, so I’m going to do so here, since this is about actual superhumans who fight other actual superhumans. There are a lot of pulpy epic fantasy works in the world, and The Chronicles of Amber are pretty much the best of them.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because it’s awesome? Because the world it draws has basically infinite potential, and there’s enough material in the first five books alone to make for an excellent television series 4

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: If it takes itself at all seriously, it won’t be as good. One of the things that make the books so great is the tacit tonal acknowledgment that the characters are behaving in ways that are, first and foremost, Beholden to Cool Shit, and while there are stakes and well-drawn characters and stuff, it’s still about awesome sword fights and super-cool magic and all that. If they try to turn it into another Game of Thrones, we’ll have a problem.

The Falcon & The Winter Soldier

WHAT IT IS: The MCU’s finest bromance 5 gets a television show.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: More Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie as these characters is more than welcome. It’s also a miniseries, so there won’t be much concern about it going on too long, which is nice.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The MCU doesn’t a great track record with their actual movie-tied-in tv shows 6, so we still don’t know if they can manage it.

Harley Quinn

WHAT IT IS: Harley Quinn gets back to her roots in an animated series.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The first time Harley Quinn was a cartoon character, it was in the greatest superhero cartoon ever devised, and she was a big part of why. The voice cast (Ron Funches! Natalie Morales! Lake Bell! Diedrich Bader! 7 Tony Hale! Christopher Meloni! Alan Tudyk! Wanda Sykes! Jim Rash!) is beyond compare, and the trailers look plenty cool.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Her legacy hasn’t exactly been untarnished by careless handling, and I have no idea how Justin Halpern (the Shit My Dad Says guy) is going to handle it here.


WHAT IT IS: It’s alleged to be a passing-the-torch tv show, where Clint Barton gives it up to Kate Bishop.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The last few years of Hawkeye’s comic books have been stellar, especially the Kate Bishop stuff. I also do genuinely like Jeremy Renner, for what that’s worth.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The last few years of Hawkeye comics are the exception to a lame, unspectacular career of superheroing. The MCU hasn’t done much with the character other than give him a family which could be imperilled (with which they have done basically nothing, in the process completely wasting Linda Cardellini), so this would be, basically, a first step for the character. That’s not super-promising.


WHAT IT IS: It’s the Robert Kirkman comic book that should have taken over the world in the manner of The Walking Dead, as it’s much better. It’s also a “superheroes maybe aren’t so super” revisionist take that’s also great, which makes it worth its weight in gold.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because it’s a complicated, well-rendered story about the burden of superpowers and family and real life, and it’s also zippy and fun and not overwrought and operatic.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I have no faith in the Television Powers that Be to allow it to continue to be not-overwrought and operatic.

Judge Dredd: Mega City One

WHAT IT IS: A television adaptation of the 2000 AD comic that has been a movie twice already.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because if it’s faithful to the comics, it’ll be an arch satire with a bunch of cool action scenes.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: That’s not going to happen? I mean, the movies have proven that people don’t really know what to do with it. Alex Garland did better than Danny Cannon, but the former was weird and action-y without being at all funny, and the latter was funny without meaning to be, and not-at-all smart 8


WHAT IT IS: The hunkiest of the MCU villains (or antiheroes, at this point) has adventures. That little scamp.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, Tom Hiddleston is great.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I dunno, it’ll probably be fine, but this seems a little bit more like “we’ve got Tom Hiddleston so let’s just do the thing” rather than something with any real compelling reason to exist.

Marvel’s What If?

WHAT IT IS: An animated series based on one of Marvel’s weirder titles, in which famous events in the Marvel Universe are reimagined 9.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The comic was fun, and a way to think about comics history a little differently, and there’s enough history between one thing and another that they could stick only to the aspects that had been adapted and still have plenty of material to work with.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The comic book required a rather deep knowledge of the source material to really get the whole thing, and was a kind of reference-heavy bit of business that can be fairly irritating when it’s translated to the screen.


WHAT IT IS: A series about the city in which Superman did the bulk of his work, without Superman. Just…a big city. And the stories therein.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because Gotham was well-received, and people manage to like Krypton, so it stands to reason that shows about the places where things happen might be interesting.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, Gotham City is full of colorful characters even without Batman, and Commissioner Gordon is a pretty good character to follow. Krypton is about an alien planet full of superhumans, and so has some kind of interest there. Metropolis has, what, Jimmy Olsen? Lois Lane writing newspaper articles? I dunno, man, I don’t think this one has the same magic.


WHAT IT IS: This is a weird one, because it’s meant to include TV shows and movies, some of which are already in development, and some of which are possible. It’s in this cateogry because I didn’t know where else to put it, but it’s a series of Netflix Programming Blocks that are based on the comic-book work of Mark Millar.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Man, people love Mark Millar. Some of it is arranged well for episodic telling. It’s a pretty wide array of things that they’re dealing with, so some of it is likely to be good.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: There’s a lot of work in Millarworld, and some of it is inspired, but a lot of it is kind of pointless, and even the best of it never manages to get its head above the pack. I dunno. Maybe the cast(s) will be incredible or something, but I’m not really spending much of my time looking forward to this one.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

WHAT IT IS: A little girl and her pet dinosaur make the world a better place.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The current run of the comic book is quite good, and it’s a pretty great premise for a tv show.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It could easily run to the cutesy.

New Warriors

WHAT IT IS: A comedy television show based around a fairly-obscure team led by current Marvel Universe delight Squirrel Girl, as played by current regular universe delight Milana Vayntrub.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: My complaint about many of these adapted properties is that they aren’t funny and they should be, and this one is supposed to be funny, which is just ducky. The cast looks pretty good, and the potential is definitely there.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It will probably never come out – its planned existence on FreeForm never happened, and Marvel was shopping it around, but also have not announced any plans to put it up on Disney Plus, like many of the other shows here. So it’s probably never going to exist.


WHAT IT IS: A movie about the background of Batman’s butler.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…….maybe it’s an elaborate prank? That’d be kind of funny I guess.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’s a television show about Batman’s butler, tho.

Project 13

WHAT IT IS: Probably a procedural based on a psychic crime investigator person.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Psychics! Procedurals! Wee!

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I am a fan of basically none of the nouns in the above sentences/exclamatory clauses.

Swamp Thing

WHAT IT IS: Well, the comic is a pretty incredible examination of humanity and the responsibility of power, and of something inexplicable finding its place in the world.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Swamp Thing is a lot of things, but at its best it’s a sort of reverse-Lovecraft story 10. The fact that in the hands of capable writers (it’s one of the best things that Alan Moore ever wrote, for example) it’s nothing short of a miracle of comics storytelling also leads me to be excited for it, if only because the source material is so great.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Eh. Alan Moore’s stuff doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to adaptation. The jury is still sort of out on Neil Gaiman adaptations also, although the record there is less dire. Also at its best it’s wildly unvisual, and the things that make it cool are unlikely to lend themselves well to televisual storytelling.


WHAT IT IS: A prequel (I think) television series based on Alan Moore’s (see above) finest hour.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, Watchmen itself is one of those things that it’s almost impossible to overrate, so there could be something there, I guess.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Oh, it hasn’t survived anything beyond its original run in the eighties. The movie was whatever the movie was, the Darwyn Cooke-led sequel series was pretty bad, and there’s no reason to believe this is going to be anything other than an embarrassment to all involved.


WHAT IT IS: A spin off series about the totally dead Vision and his presumed wife, the Scarlet Witch.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen are very charismatic performers.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: If the titling was done by the same people doing the writing, we’re already in trouble. Plus there’s basically zero chance this is going to adapt Tom King’s masterpiece run, so I’m already starting out double-disappointed. That stuff aside, I guess this could be fine.


WHAT IT IS: Also not entirely a superhero thing, although it has all the visual and storytelling grammar of one, this is about a demon-hunting swordstress who doesn’t wear a lot of clothes.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, the comic book’s charms were largely prurient, so if that’s the sort of thing you’re into, then you’re in luck. For anyone else uh…the sword is kind of cool?

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Oh come on, there’s no way this is going to be good.

And that (finally) wraps it up for the forthcoming superhero properties. Tune in next year when I pare it back down to the essentials, and sometime in the distant, nebulous future, when I forget how much work this all is and decide to try to do it again!

  1. The Disney/Fox merger is going to change the way those two studios, or that one studio as it is now, release movies, and the end of the current version of the MCU is also going to shade that, in addition to the fact that DC’s movies are moving away from the enforced-shared-world concept into a more free-form individual-picture concept. 
  2. although I do wonder if that’s because of the time that it started existing, and if it wouldn’t be more “for everyone” now that the average person’s conception of what can come with superhero entertainment is a little more elevated than it used to be. 
  3. I’m willing to believe the former, but I also notoriously have a terrible barometer of how popular something is, so have no actual idea what “marquee” could even mean, contextually. 
  4. There’s also five more books that aren’t as good, but that are probably more telegenic, as they would lend themselves to a procedural-style drama a little better. 
  5. I’m discounting Thor + Rocket, because Rocket isn’t a human, and so it’s more an Interspeciesmance. Come at me. 
  6. Agents of Shield has dragged along admirably, and they cut down Agent Carter too soon. 
  7. Side note that Diedrich Bader is rarely involved in television shows that aren’t great. It happens, but it doesn’t happen that often, and as a voice actor, he’s top-flight. 
  8. NB however that I like both movies, and would happily watch them again right now.  
  9. i.e. What if the Punisher had killed Spider-Man?, or what if Rogue had the power of Thor?, which are both actual issues. It was weird, I’m telling you.  
  10. i.e. an inexplicable thing from beyond the natural world tries to integrate into the world, and rather than wanting to destroy it, just wants to find a place in it, and in the process to become explicable. 

How to Feel About Every Upcoming Superhero Movie Part 2 – The Nebulous Maybes

It’s that time of year, when summer movie season (which is now just the last nine months of the year, and covers all the parts of the year that aren’t horror-movie season, and which tapers off a bit during prestige-movie season. As someone who remains the sort of dude who has a background in the field, and also who doesn’t particularly care about movies but feels compelled to write about them anyway, this sort of thing is catnip.

This year I’ve included movies that are announced (be it by studio, director, producer or what-have-you) without a clear intention about when or how they’re coming out, which films comprise part 2 here. Since these are more nebulous, I have also added a field to discuss the likelihood of the movie in question actually coming out.

Aquaman 2

WHAT IT IS: The sequel to Aquaman.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, Aquaman wasn’t bad, and perhaps with the origin and world-building a little more out of the way, they can focus on, y’know, making it a compelling story, rather than a series of exposition-heavy conversations each of which is punctuated by an explosion and the entrance of a villain  1.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Aquaman was fine, but not great, and there wasn’t a lot in there that made me feel like there were a bunch more stories involving this character that I needed to see.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Sure. The first one made shedloads of money, and it’s not like DC has shown any willingness to give up on any of their franchises here.


WHAT IT IS: For awhile it was the definitely-happening project that was meant to be Joss Whedon’s entre into his DCU-running career. He was cancelled, and I haven’t heard anything about it since.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Batgirl has a devoted fanbase, and if you are among them, you know a great deal more about why this is exciting than I do. I am not among them, and I have no idea what there would be to look forward to here.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I mean, in this case I’m waffling in the “toward-excitement” direction, since I don’t have any enthusiasm for the thing in my natural state. But she does inspire a truly impressive level of fandom, so there’s got to be something there, and it would probably something that could make it into a movie.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: I don’t believe that it will.

Black Adam

WHAT IT IS: The Rock’s passion-project-attempt at making a big-time superhero movie.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because who doesn’t love The Rock?

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, Black Adam sucks real bad, and this movie can’t apparently generate enough of its own momentum to actually move any closer to being finished. Also he’s traditionally a villain, so expect some revisionist antiheroing, which is one of the worst things about superhero stories in general.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Oh, probably, But it almost certainly won’t actually be any good.

Black Panther 2

WHAT IT IS: The sequel to Black Panther.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because Black Panther was great.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I’m not really waffling, this will probably be good. I suppose the fact that it isn’t actually on the calendar is something. And there probably be any Kilmonger, and that’s kind of a bummer. But only kind of, and not enough to dampen my enthusiasm.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Of course it will.

Black Widow

WHAT IT IS: Proof that the characters of the original MCU aren’t all going away, mostly.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Scarlet Johannsson is reliably pretty good, and there’s a lot of potential in a superhero spy movie, if that’s what it ends up being.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: We know next to nothing about it, really, but there isn’t a lot to the Black Widow character as drawn in the movies, so it might be disappointing in its scope, if not its execution? I don’t really know.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Yes, especially after Captain Marvel made all the money in the world.



WHAT IT IS: What if Wolverine’s backstory and powers (minus Canada and the claws, respectively) was actually the backstory of a soldier-guy with a bunch of guns? WHAT THEN?
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: I’m going to go ahead and say that you shouldn’t? Bloodshot wasn’t quite the dumbest of the grim-n-gritty guns-n-grimaces grimdark nineties comic book uh…”heroes” 2, but he was way up there. Once again I come at this as someone in the younger range of the target audience for this kind of nonsense the first time around 3, and can only say that of all the things we could try to bring back from the nineties, this should be way at the bottom of the list, if it indeed needs to be on the list at all.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I guess because Vin Diesel is attached, which could lead to an agreeably-daffy bullet-hell mayhem-fest. If it’s got a sense of humor and manages to be fun, it might work out.


Blue Beetle

WHAT IT IS: One of the throwbackier former-Justice League-ers could be getting his own movie! Blue Beetle is a dude in a suit 4 with gadgets, whose appearances in his own series and others’ were genuinely pretty fun, sometimes. This is meant to be the alien-robot-suit version of him, which makes him a little more like Iron Man than he ought to be, but also is the version that most people know.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: He very easily could be like a lighthearted Batman, which would be nice. Or, alternately, a wackier Iron Man.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The track record of superheroes who need to be lighthearted actually being lighthearted is pretty bad. It’s getting better, though, especially on the DC end, so maybe there’s hope!

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Almost certainly not, which also makes it easier to be optimistic about.


WHAT IT IS: One of the finest achievements in all of comicsdom, an epic fantasy story with a lot of visual flair and an appeal across all sorts of genres. I love Bone, you guys. It’s adorable and very funny, and exciting and parts of it are even scary. Great stuff. All-time great stuff, in fact. I’m reeeaaally stretching the definition of “superhero” to include it – it isn’t in any appreciable way, it’s pretty much high fantasy – because I love the comic so much and want to praise it publicly again.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because it’s great, and it has a super-clean story that moves linearly and should be a snap to film. It’s being promoted as a trilogy, which is heartening, as it means they can leave all the good stuff in there.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It would also be super-easy to tone down one of the aspects that makes it so great 5, not to mention that its pace is a part of its genius, and that would be very easy to botch in a movie environment.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Well, it’s been rumored to be near happening for, oh, twenty-five or so years, so it seems pretty unlikely at this point.


WHAT IT IS: Somehow distinct from Bloodshot, Bloodstrike, Deadpool, Deadshot, Deathblow, Dethlok and Death’s Head, Deathstroke is a super-soldier (so also like Captain America, and not entirely unlike, say, Bloodshot) who I think wants revenge or something on the army.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because he’s going to be played by Joe Mangianello, which is something I guess.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I cannot think of a reason that this movie should exist, let alone a way in which it would be good. Maybe if Joe Mangianello is playing his character from Magic Mike, and this is what happens to him after the events of Magic Mike 2.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Actually, I really don’t think it will. Especially if the rest of the Gun Superhero movies that come before it don’t work.

Doctor Doom

WHAT IT IS: A colossally terrible idea, unless it’s a comedy.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: uh…at least a botched standalone Doctor Doom movie isn’t as bad as another botched Fantastic Four movie? Maybe you like Noah Hawley, who is the guy who claimed to be making it? I don’t know, man.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: What if it is a comedy? Like what if we’re not getting the classical Doctor Doom from Fantastic Four, but instead the wacky absurdist Doctor Doom from Squirrel Girl? That would be rad.


Doctor Strange 2

WHAT IT IS: Another Doctor Strange movie. Guess he was right about giving Thanos that time stone, then.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Benedict Cumberbatch is reliably charming, and the first one was fine.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: They burned through the more interesting Doctor Strange villains (all both of them) in the first one, and who knows where it goes from there? Plus, the first one wasn’t that good.


The Eternals

WHAT IT IS: A movie based on one of Jack Kirby’s weirder contributions, specifically his most self-cannibalizing 6 contribution to the Marvel Universe.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, it’s going to star Angelina Jolie in some capacity. That’s something. The current MCU has a pretty good track record for figuring out how to make compelling stories out of characters who don’t exactly have super-well-known storylines (see specifically Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man).

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: I was as into goofball-ass cosmic Marvel as anybody, and The Eternals were still never that compelling. The best character it yielded was Thanos, who I’m going to imagine is going to be off the table here, since his story will have been completed. So we could have a movie about…Ajax? Interloper? Cybele? Who even knows?

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: It’s already started being cast, so the likelihood isn’t non-existent, but man, I don’t know.

Extreme Universe

WHAT IT IS: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Hoo. It’s a Rob Liefeld shared-universe thing, presumably starring a bunch of teeth, a bunch of bulging muscles, many, many pouches, and zero feet.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, to his credit, Rob Liefeld seems to have a pretty good sense of humor about himself these days (see The Pouch), so it might be funny. It’s interesting to note how many of these tertiary-market superhero movies are saved by the notion that they could potentially be funny. More superhero movies should be funny in general, is what I’m saying.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Self-awareness and sense of humor aside, everything that would be pulled from as source material here (Youngblood, Brigade, Bloodstrike, etc.) is dumb dumb dumb. It’s going to be developed for Netflix by noted terrible-movie-abettor Akiva Goldsman. There’s no way it’s going to be good.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Netflix is going to find itself bereft of superhero entertainment soon, or at least with it stock of superhero entertainment greatly diminished, so I’m sure it’s going to happen, if only so they have something to stick up there. They need to make their quota or whatever.

The Flash

WHAT IT IS: The solo movie version of the guy who was the other other not-bad part of Justice League 7.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Again, Ezra Miller isn’t bad. It’s going to be a time travel movie, as far as we know. So that’s something. I’m really kind of scraping for this.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The Flash just isn’t that interesting. The tv show does good work with the character, but that just necessitates the movie being even more significantly different from it, and there just isn’t that kind of depth of field for the Flash. That said, I’m not an expert, so I’m willing to be wrong.


Green Lantern Corps

WHAT IT IS: Another swing at a Green Lantern movie, this time the entire Corps, so a weird team-up movie based around a character that didn’t work the first time around 8. Wee!

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, CG has come a long way since the last time they made a Green Lantern movie, so that’s something. This is another movie based around a title (and even more specifically this set of characters) that people love deeply, even if I’m not among them. So if it gets handled responsibly and treated fairly, it could end up a movie that a lot of people like.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, that “handled responsibly and treated fairly” thing is the real rub, and since its charms elude me even when the book was in the hands of John Broome 9, it’s something that is liable to elude me no matter what.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: It’s probably about 50/50, to be honest.

Guardians of the Galaxy 3

WHAT IT IS: It’s the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The first two are great, and after much hoopla, James Gunn is re-hired as the director, with the additional show of faith of delaying the filming until he’s done making Suicide Squad 2.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’s probably going to be sans Gamora, who is probably dead for real (given that she died before the snap), and at the current pace with which Chris Pratt is losing his damn mind, it’ll be well into his case of the brain worms. Still and all, it’ll probably be fine.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: After all that hoopla, it would be super-weird if it didn’t.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

WHAT IT IS: It’s a uh…reboot of the movie that ended Sean Connery’s career.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because it can’t possibly be worse than the original.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The source material is some of the most unjuustly overhyped work in all of comics, and I can’t imagine that there’s a way to even get a quality movie out of it in the first place.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

WHAT IT IS: It’s a uh…reboot of the movie that ended Sean Connery’s career.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because it can’t possibly be worse than the original.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The source material is some of the most unjuustly overhyped work in all of comics, and I can’t imagine that there’s a way to even get a quality movie out of it in the first place.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Now this is where things are at least mildly interesting. This was announced a couple of years ago as a thing that Fox was doing to reclaim the series, but Fox has since been bought out. Now, this almost certainly means that this movie is as dead as Bram Stoker himself, but it would be interesting to see Disney put their weight behind it. The rights, however, if it doesn’t get made, might revert to WildStorm (and therefore DC, and therefore Warner Bros), which might make it more likely that it happens, and less likely that it will be worth talking about. I’m pretty sure, however, that this thing is just straight-up not happening.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Now this is where things are at least mildly interesting. This was announced a couple of years ago as a thing that Fox was doing to reclaim the series, but Fox has since been bought out. Now, this almost certainly means that this movie is as dead as Bram Stoker himself, but it would be interesting to see Disney put their weight behind it. The rights, however, if it doesn’t get made, might revert to WildStorm (and therefore DC, and therefore Warner Bros), which might make it more likely that it happens, and less likely that it will be worth talking about. I’m pretty sure, however, that this thing is just straight-up not happening.


WHAT IT IS: Jared Leto is going to play “the living vampire,” who sets out to cure himself of some kind of blood disease 10 and ends up, y’know, a vampire or whatever.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: I think that Jared Leto has the capacity for goodness in him, if he can get over his “method acting”-borne harassment issues. Morbius actually had some cool comics moments, although they were mostly when he was on a team with Ghost Rider and Blade, so there’s potential there. One of those two even had a couple of good movies.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Ghost Rider is a much better and more cinematic character, and has had zero good movies, for starters. Also there are a paltry handful of good vampire movies in the world out of the hundreds of attempts, so that precedent is also against our boy here. Plus, I think Jared Leto has done good stuff, but not much of it. The batting averages involved here on all fronts are pretty low. But hey, it’s its own thing, so it might work out after all.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: I think it will, yes.

New Gods

WHAT IT IS: Jack Kirby’s completely unhinged creative-control-granted superhero madness party, this time on film

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Ava Duvernay is going to direct it, which is exciting 11. There isn’t much else to know about it, but if it’s as visually distinctive (and one of the things that can absolutely be said about Duvernay’s last great big genre movie, A Wrinkle in Time, was that it was visually distinctive) and utterly bonkers as the comic book, then we could be in for a real treat.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’s not the most coherent thing that was ever published, and Kirby was always more of a drawer than a writer, so there’s a lot of visual flair and not a lot of actually-engaging plot stuff. A bone-simple plot can sometimes be an asset in a situation like this, but it isn’t necessarily encouraging in and of itself.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: I hope so! It’s got a director but no cast. Darkseid and Steppenwolf are already established presences in the DCU that are originally from New Gods, so we may have already seen some ground laid. Of course, who knows how connected DC is going to try to keep its movies anymore, so we may not have actually seen any of this as it will eventually be conceived, and this therefore could, in fact, not happen.

Plastic Man

WHAT IT IS: One of DC’s more joyful comedy-based superheroes. He’s stretchy and bendy and whatnot.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: If there’s any justice at all, he’ll be played by Ben Schwartz, which would be awesome.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Plastic Man’s comics are hell of dumb, and as much as I like Benny Schwa, he’s not actually been cast, so who knows what’s going on with it. If it happens, it’ll have to get a tone pretty specifically right in a way that’s very difficult, and I haven’t seen any evidence that that’s going to happen.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Probably not, thankfully

The Sandman

WHAT IT IS: Another one that stretches the definition of superhero pretty hard 12, this is sort of the Velvet Underground & Nico 13 of the comics world – it changed everything that it touched, and is generally part of the bedrock of serious comics fandom.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Individual storylines – A Game of You, The Doll’s House and Brief Lives 14 among them – are well-written and highly-filmable, despite the unwieldy nature of the whole project. Oh, and it doesn’t have Jared Leto involved with it anymore. That’s got to be a plus, right?

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Sandman is huge and lumpy and unique to comics, and adapting even the more adaptable parts of it will still leave huge whacks of necessary table-setting and exposition. It’s meant to be a serial story, and it’s meant to be read, and I don’t see how it would survive translation.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Probably not. It really is a lot to chew, and I don’t know that there’s any real benefit to it, given that it doesn’t have a tonne of people clamouring for a film version.


WHAT IT IS: The first superhero movie anchored to an Asian-American lead. Shang Chi is the son of Fu Manchu, and himself a master martial artist.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Here we have both an opportunity to tell a story about Asian-Americans but also a nifty idea where the missing father of the protagonist is actually a villain. Also, I think he would be a cool addition to whatever the stable of Avengers is shaping up to be.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Disney has generally done well by its characters, which has surprised me 15 as often as not, so it will probably be fine on that front, but who knows what Marvel movies will look like by then?

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: I think it’s all but official – it’s got a director and a writer and stuff.


WHAT IT IS: One of the more ridiculous nineties artifacts is getting another movie, this time directed by Todd McFarlane, the guy who wrote and drew the original comics.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because people like Spawn, I guess?

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Spawn was awful. Also, the Venom movie wasn’t very good, and Spawn is just Venom 16 with a hell-based back-story, and, presumably, without Tom Hardy.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: It seems to be making progress, but I still kind of can’t believe that it’s going to happen.


WHAT IT IS: Superman’s cousin comes to the big screen!

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: People really like the currently-running tv show, and people also like the movie from the eighties, so it’s clearly possible to tell Supergirl stories on the screen that people like.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, a big part of what makes the tv show work is the casting, and they’re not going to use Melissa Benoist, so that’s kind of a problem. Plus, as with The Flash, the tv series is good enough that it’s not exactly leaving people begging for a re-interpretation, you know?

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: I’m dubious, but it probably will. DC has to keep shoring up their properties somehow.

Venom 2

WHAT IT IS:The sequel to the aforementioned Tom Hardy antihero vehicle.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Uhhhhhhhhh…..Tom Hardy sure is handsome?

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The first one was straight-up garbage? It was a dumb idea in the nineties that is officially out of non-dumb executions? I don’t know, there’s a whole lot of reasons to not be excited about this.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: Sony doesn’t have a lot of hits as a film studio, and the first one made money, so it most assuredly will.


WHAT IT IS: I’m presuming this would have been Deadpool 3, or a spinoff thereof, about Deadpool, Cable, Domino, Firefist, and possibly Colossus, Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Yukio.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The Deadpool movies are pretty good. Seemed like a sure bet.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Oh, who knows what parts of the X-movies are going to survive the purchase.

WILL IT ACTUALLY COME OUT: I have no idea. On the one hand, it’s a huge money maker and would seem to be dumb not to release. On the other hand, I don’t know how things work at what is now the biggest movie studio in human history.


WHAT IT IS: Again, operating under presumption, it’s probably a movie about the young lady from Logan, whose corresponding comic book character was named X-23.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: It’s a neat character.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: We know nothing about anything. The X-series has flirted with teasing Mr. Sinister as a big bad, and there’s some of that in Logan, and that would be cool,, but it isn’t happening, and there’s also a very high likelihood that that could be super dumb.

That’s it for the movies that may or may not ever exist, and tune in later in the week for an attempt to do this for television. Three parts is a lot of parts! This is a lot of words, guys!

  1. no, but seriously: nearly every scene in Aquaman ends with something blowing up, and the heroes being chased and/or having to punch something. It’s weird. 
  2. Here is a true story: my original writeup for this entry confused Bloodshot with Deathblow, who might actually have been the dumbest of the grim-n-gritty guns-n-grimaces grimdark nineties comic book uh…”heroes”. 
  3. I was nine when Bloodshot was introduced, and thus still spent most of my comic-book time reading Thor, Ghost Rider and Daredevil (two of which, now that I think about it, avoided unnecessary grimdark by heaping on the catholicism. Who’d have guessed?). 
  4. historical fun fact, he was a part of the Charleston Comics lineup, and thus was set to be one of the characters in Watchmen until DC decided that the Charleston characters were too valuable to burn off in that series. The Night Owl is, then, an expy of the Blue Beetle, and their metiers are the same. 
  5. e.g. lessening the humor to amp up the action, lessening the scariness to amp up the cuteness 
  6. The Eternals were basically a palette swap of his own New Gods series for DC, which yielded Darkseid, the current overvillain of the Justice League movies, and his own actual original version of Thanos, about which see below. Or, well, above, since this footnote is at the bottom of the page. 
  7. i.e. not Gal Gadot or Ben Affleck. NB that this opinion rather requires that you agree that Ben Affleck isn’t the problem with Justice League 
  8.  i.e. one of the Green Lanterns in question would be Hal Jordan, the one that nobody liked when Ryan Reynolds played him.  
  9. who also, now that I think about it, wrote issues of The Flash that were pretty good 
  10. it’s worth noting that Morbius started out as a (rare non-animal-themed) Spider-Man villain, and a whole bunch of those were driven to deformity and madness by accidents with science, often medical (see also: Doctor Octopus, The Lizard, The Vulture usually). It makes me think that if you were a sociopath and wanted a bunch of internet attention, you could really pitch Spider-Man as some sort of anti-medicine crusader to the anti-vax/anti-science crowd. I hope no one actually does this, that would blow. 
  11. she turned down Black Panther, so it would seem that this project was more appealing to her than Black Panther, which has got to mean something. 
  12. Although in a way it doesn’t – the run of comics includes a bunch of bottom-tier DC people, and the character himself is a sort of elaboration on a pre-superhero crime-fighter comic book hero. 
  13. by extension, Watchmen is its Fun House, riding the bike so hard the wheels come off, and The Dark Knight Returns is the Kick Out the Jams, managing to make the same destructive, power-trip ideas accessible. This metaphor does not extend to any of the creators, I’m afraid. It also doesn’t hold up in regards to their chornology. I make no apologies for my sloppy comparison.  
  14.  if the movie were to only adapt one of the collections, and that’s probably what would happen, I think Brief Lives is the most likely. Also this list of likely culprits does not include Season of Mists (too much religious weirdness, and also too many one-off characters, although it is amazing) or The Kindly Ones (which is actually the best of the collections, but comes at the very end of the story and sort of by its necessity precludes a sequel, which seems like something that isn’t going to happen). 
  15. You can, for example, in the history of this very column, see my trepidation about Black Panther develop and be assuaged over the years. 
  16.  Todd McFarlane created Venom first, and then decided that since he was moving to his own self-published creation, he could just do it again, this time with a cape and the devil and stuff. 

How to Feel About Every Upcoming Superhero Movie Part 1: The Definitely-Being-Released

It’s that time of year, when summer movie season (which is now just the last nine months of the year, and covers all the parts of the year that aren’t horror-movie season 1, and which tapers off a bit during prestige-movie season 2. As someone who remains the sort of dude who has a background in the field, and also who doesn’t particularly care about movies but feels compelled to write about them anyway, this sort of thing is catnip.

Ordinarily I only write about the movies and such that have a definite, confirmed release date so that the level of excitement (or non-excitement, as it were) can definitely be said to exist. But superhero movies are in a state of flux. Marvel and Fox have merged, meaning there is one fewer studio making the damn things, and a lot of the people who are interested in telling more interesting superhero stories have moved to television 3. On top of that, the DC movies have entered a weird state where it’s unclear if they’re still trying to maintain a single universe, or if they’re going to continue to let them drift apart into their own things.

I’m not good at prognosticating 4, but I will say that this is probably evidence tha thte cracks are starting to show in the hegemony of the superhero movie – the MCU as it stands is coming to an end in a couple of weeks, and while The Powers That Marvel have clearly laid down their breadcrumbs to keep going, it’s unclear how well this will work, and how well this sort of thing will continue to dominate.

But hey! I could be wrong and we could still be in for eighteen of these goddamn things a year! Who knows! Anyway, this year I’m writing about every superhero (or strongly superhero-adjacent, as there are some non superhero works below that seem superhero-ish) movie I can find positive evidence of the existence of.



WHAT IT IS: A reboot of Mike Mignola’s eternally-running comic about a demon that wants to kill monsters and crack wise.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, the trailer makes it look cool, as does all the stuff we’ve actually seen in terms of costume and set and whatnot. Neil Marshall has an excellent track record, having managed to prove that he can juggle a bunch of characters (Doomsday), absolutely handle horror comedy (Dog Soldiers) 5 and create a genuinely terrifying atmosphere (The Descent), as well as putting nifty monsters in all three 6. David Harbour’s got charisma to spare, and there’s very little about Hellboy that isn’t wildly entertaining, so it’s probably got a good chance.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, the original movies leave some very big horns to fill. David Harbour seems good and all, but he’s probably not Ron Perlman. Hellboy lends itself to some deeply strange magic-inflected weirdness, and Marshall’s horror bona fides are more based in close-up grounded tension. But honestly, I bet it’ll be fine.

Avengers: Endgame

WHAT IT IS: The proverbial it 7. What the eleven years and twenty two movies have been building up to. The snap is undone, time is traveled, Captain Marvel Captains Marvellously and saves the universe, Captain America Captains Americanly and then probably dies. Thanos goes away. A magic glove is rendered merely an unusually heavy accessory.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: I mean, it’s pretty hard not to be. The dominant force in pop culture reaches its climax. That’s a big deal. Even mechanically, the fact that Marvel managed more-or-less to sustain this story over however many dozen hours of movie time is impressive mechanically, and if they can manage the landing even reasonably well, it will be a heck of an accomplishment.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: There’s always some trepidation about the landing – superhero stories are easier to keep in flight than to bring down to the runway – and this has some sky-high expectations. It’s also three goddamn hours long, and the first one was already overstuffed and had an awful lot going on, so the odds of everything ending satisfyingly seem a little low. Also, there’s like a dozen more Marvel movies in the pipeline (see below), so it’s hard to maintain much tension. I’ll probably still see it more than once.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix

WHAT IT IS: The end of the current X-Men movie continuity, and, if Kevin Feige is to be taken at his word, the last X-Men movie for awhile (although, again, see below).

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The X-Men movies have gotten progressively more cartoonish and bizarre. This one appears to feature Sophie Turner as a haughty full-on villain for most of it, which is nice. The Dark Phoenix story is one of the stories that really put the X-Men on the map, although this version will be without Mastermind 8, so it has a lot of extremely likable crowd-pleasing history.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, I was the only person that liked Apocalypse. So that’s not a reason I’m waffling, but it’s a reason to waffle. Also, the Dark Phoenix story worked for selling the comics, but was the worst part of the X-Men United a bunch of years ago, so has already failed once as a movie. Plus, even with the willingness to get even stranger, the X-Men movies are still missing some of the elements (outer space! Mind control! Weird magic clone things!) that made the comic book version so cheerfully weird.


WHAT IT IS: The still-somehow-scheduled Channing Tatum Gambit movie! Gambit was the guy in the purple body armor and the trench coat from the cartoon. He has a cajun accent and makes things explode (largely playing cards) when he throws them. Lizzy Caplan is somehow in it. Hopefully not also doing a cajun accent.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Um. So. Gambit is a very popular character, certainly. People of a certain age liked him. Those people were alive and very young in the nineties, when the character was designed. No seriously, look at this fucking dude. He has, like, zero stories that are worth experiencing. But Channing Tatum is very charismatic, certainly. So maybe that’s the reason? Maybe it’s funny? I don’t even know, guys.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’s a Gambit movie in 2019. That’s a bad idea. It would have been a bad idea in 1999. I’m not even waffling. I am straight-up dubious, guys. Straight-up dubious. I suppose I can take solace in the fact that there’s basically no way this movie is going to actually come out, let alone this summer.

Spider-Man: Far From Home


WHAT IT IS: Mainly it’s the thing destroying the tension of Infinity War. If it’s not just two hours of swirling ash, then obviously things are put back to normal. If it is two hours of swirling ash, I’ll be pretty happy about it anyway.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, the first one was the best Spider-Man movie ever made for about eighteen months 9. It was as good as it could have been, and Tom Holland is a fantastic Peter Parker. It’s also the first MCU movie after whatever happens in Endgame, which means that it’s going to be our first glimpse into a world where half of everyone has died and come back. It’s also meant to be explicitly about the aftermath, which is neat.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: There’s only been one good Spider-Man movie sequel ever, and this isn’t that. I’m not super worried about it, but there’s also the fact that it’s a double unknown quantity, and it seems like a logical place for the ball to be dropped.

The New Mutants

WHAT IT IS: Formerly an X-Universe spinoff movie, now it looks to be on of the dwindling relics of the end of the X-Universe films. It’s a horror movie about a new set of mutants (hence the title).

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: An x-mutant-themed horror movie sounds great, and the trailer looked fantastic. The comic book The New Mutants managed to look at some really interesting aspects of mutant-ness 10, before eventually morphing into the much less interesting, but way more tuff-nineties-goulash-y X-Force.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The trailer came out a long, long time ago, so clearly the studio doesn’t have a lot of interest in actually releasing it, especially in this post-merger world. It’s directed by the guy who directed The Fart in Our Cars, and that movie sucked big time. It was probably meant to set up a series and now almost certainly is not, which could lead to some ending weirdness. Still, though, it’s a horror movie!


WHAT IT IS: The Hangover guy is making a Joker movie with Joaquin Phoenix.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because at least Joaquin Phoenix is not Jared Leto

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: This looks like it was written by the worst kind of edgelord committee. The least-interesting part of the Joker is how he became the Joker, and we keep trying to tell that story, and it keeps not being very good. Even in the Tim Burton Batman, the parts where Jack Nicholson is not yet the Joker are not the good parts. I just can’t fathom being excited for this one. Although, again, at least Joaquin Phoenix isn’t Jared Leto.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

WHAT IT IS: A spin-off/sequel to Suicide Squad

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because Margot Robbie was the best part of Suicide Squad. The cast is rounded out by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (who’s great in everything) and Jurnee Smollett-Bell (who was great on Friday Night Lights), which is pretty cool. DC had good luck with their other female-led superhero franchise, so maybe lightning will strike twice.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: There’s still a lot of potential for it to be pretty awful, given that the source material was rarely particularly good, and it’s still DC, which has only recently started to shake their propensity for making over-serious, overstuffed movies full of bad ideas. Still, it’s probably fair to be cautiously optimistic.

Wonder Woman 1984

WHAT IT IS: The sequel to the only unmitigatedly good DC movie so far 9

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Eh. I think that the DC movies are on something of an upswing, Joker-based decisions notwithstanding. This could be fine. Steve Trevor is coming back somehow, which is something, and Chris Pine is always delightful. Gal Gadot is still just dandy, the whole thing is probably going to work out.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The first one did have it’s third-act problems, and while it’s true that they’re similar problems to just about every big superhero movie (there’s got to be a showdown with a CGI villain, after all), it’s also true that in Wonder Woman it seemed especially pronounced, given the difference between most of the conflict in the movie up to that point and the final conflict. That’s a pretty minor concern, though, given that that hasn’t happened as often in the last couple of years, and also that even though that was the first movie’s problem, it wasn’t enough to make the movie less good in any appreciable way.

Suicide Squad 2

WHAT IT IS: At this point, this is the most out-there thing to try to predict about. It’s the movie that snapped up James Gunn in between him being fired from Guardians of the Galaxy 3 and re-hired for Guardians of the Galaxy 3. It’s also the sequel to the most mixed-bag of the DC movies so far. The announcements about it have made it seem especially murky who might be coming back, but it appears that Jai Courtney and Margot Robbie are among them.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, Guardians of the Galaxy was an unlikely success story, and James Gunn did a bang-up job with that. There are things about Suicide Squad that could be fun, we just aren’t seeing a lot of “fun” in general from DC to this point. Viola Davis is also rumoured to be coming back, and she was also good. Idris Elba is going to be involved, and I like him also.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, Will Smith was the other best part of the first one, and he’s not in this one. I like Idris Elba (who is not replacing Will Smith as Deadshot, but is instead playing a so-far-unnamed character), but his presence in a movie is….not a reliable indicator of quality. Suicide Squad seems like it could work in theory, but even the original comic book source is not particularly good, so it’s always been better on paper than in practice.

The Batman

WHAT IT IS: The guy that directed Cloverfield and the two most recent Planet of the Apes movies is going to take on the masked detective.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, Cloverfield is, if not great, then at least an excellent tight-action-in-a-big-city movie. The latter two Planet of the Apes movies are genuinely great, so Matt Reeves has his bona fides.

BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It currently doesn’t have a star? Ben Affleck has left the project, and while Reeves says filming began a month or so ago, there’s still no word on who is actually going to don the suit. There’s also reports that it’s going to have a bunch of villains in it, which has never once helped any superhero movie ever. Not even once.

Alright, that wraps it up for the movies that are definitely going to come out. Tune in in a couple of days for the movies that might, in fact, not exist. It’s very exciting!

  1.  which just ended 
  2. AKA Awards-Season, which also overlaps with horror movie season, because there can only be two types of movies I guess? 
  3. in the interest of word-count, I’m saving the tv stuff for part 3, with the not-confirmed movies comprising part 2 in a couple of days. 
  4. a thing I say literally every time I try to prognosticate 
  5. it’s not germane here, but he also proved that he could handle horror comedy for a budget of, like, whatever money he had in his pocket at the time of filming, which is also encouraging. 
  6. he may have also proven something with Centurion, but I haven’t seen it. Mea culpa.  
  7. yes, yes, there are no proverbs about “it”. Shut up. Also it’s not the literal It, which comes out at Halloween times and isn’t a superhero movie. Well, it kind of is with all the psychic whatnot, but I’m still not including it. Shut up again. That’s a double shut up. 
  8. who, for whatever reason, was not included when they made First Class, which included many of the other Hellfire Club characters. True story: when the X-Men cartoon did this story, they included the character, but never referred to him as Mastermind, which makes me wonder if there’s a weird rights thing I don’t know about. I can’t help but think that they’re related. 
  9. although they are getting better – Aquaman wasn’t so bad, after all.  
  10. a character who had powers that were useless in a fight, a displaced alien techno-virus, an artificially-aged witch person who had the powers of a demon and a magic sword and a werewolf comprise many of the members of the group. 

The 2019 ACM Awards

You know, we really give out a lot of awards. If you are a successful country music artist, especially, there are just piles and heaps of opportunities for you to win award after award. What do you suppose, say, Carrie Underwood does with all of them? Has she used them to build a shed 1?

Anyway, you get it. Another awards show. I’ve talked previously at great length 2 about how the problem with writing these things about country music is that there’s precious-little turnover, especially when compared to other genres, so I’ll not get into the whole thing here except to mention it for any first-time readers that happen across it.

Anyway, this awards show has a bunch of awards I’m not going to write about, because I have zero opinions about casinos or venues that I don’t attend. Oh, and I’m skipping songwriter of the year because even though it’s in my wheelhouse, more or less, I still find it difficult to deduce what the songwriters in question are nominated for, and in country music the songwriters generate a lot more material than in other genres/sub-industries.

Furthermore, I’ll be going through these quickly, so as to minimize the amount of time I have to spend getting frustrated at my own inability to come up with more words to say about each of these artists, especially as time goes by.

Music Event of the Year

I don’t know why this is called this, and it drives me crazy every time I write about these awards. I suppose I’d call it “team-up” in my head, but that’s what a childhood of comic books will do to you. Anyway, I kind of like “Drowns the Whiskey,” which surprises me somewhat, as I generally don’t like Jason Aldean. I suppose even a blind squirrel finds a dog’s butt sometimes.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Jason Aldean, “Drowns the Whiskey” f. Miranda Lambert

Video of the Year

None of these are particularly interesting or inspiring, but at least the Brothers Osborne look like they’re having fun.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The Brothers Osborne, “Shoot Me Straight”

Song of the Year

At some point I may have to talk about “Meant to Be,” but the powers that be have allowed me to continue avoiding that for yet another awards ceremony, which is great. Chris Stapleton’s “Broken Halos” is a fine song, and an honorable nominee. But Kacey Musgraves is super-great, and “Space Cowboy” is especially super-great, and it’s the winner.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Kacey Musgraves, “Space Cowboy”

Single of the Year

This is a pretty dire situation. I sort of like “Down to the Honky Tonk,” and it is, by the rough rubric we have here, the least bad song. But I do want to say this about “Most People are Good”: it is terrible. Like, it’s a melodically-dumb song with a chorus that never really kicks into gear, and the less I say here about the lyrics the more likely I am to be able to get through the rest of my life without trying to chew on my own eyeballs, but I appreciate how earnest it is. This is sort of how I feel about Luke Bryan in general. It’s pandering and terrible pabulum for middle-of-the-road mush-listeners, but goshdarn it it feels pretty genuinely all that. And something that sucks honestly and without pretense is the best of the things that suck. I mean, it’s not a winner, it’s a terrible stupid song, but I rather appreciate the attempt in and of itself.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Jake Owen, “Down to the Honky Tonk”

Album of the Year

I’ve sort of come around on Eric Church. I still don’t listen to him of my own volition, but I’ve softened on what it is he’s doing, and I don’t hate it. I like Chris Stapleton well enough. He’d be praised a bit higher if he were in direct competition with anyone but Kacey Musgraves.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour

New Duo or Group of the Year

I still only like LANCO of these options. I like their all-caps name.


New Male Artist of the Year

I am sad that Mitchell Tenpenny’s music doesn’t move me more, because his name is awesome. I mean, it’s not a very country-music sort of name, but it’s an all-time great name anyway. Shame, really. He should try to be as good as Luke Combs. It would make him better.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Luke Combs, who isn’t actually that good. But who also has a pretty good name, for all that.

New Female Artist of the Year

This one is actively the most difficult for me to decide on. I genuinely have no feelings. Like not even a “Well Luke Combs is a little better than the curve here” type of feeling. I guess Carly Pearce doesn’t actively put me to sleep. I guess.


Group of the Year

LANCO’s incursion is fine, but I still like Lady Antebellum more. Still and all, there have been several categories with more than one viable choice in them, and that’s kind of nice. Makes me hopeful, even.


Duo of the Year

There are definitely not two viable candidates in this category, and also I am concerned that LOCASH is trying intentionally to interfere with LANCO’s all-caps fanbase. Actually, given that one of them is “new” and the other is not, it’s probably the other way around, but LOCASH suck real bad, so I’m blaming them. Good job, Brothers Osborne! At least you seem to be having fun in that one video I mentioned earlier!

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The Brothers Osborne

Male Artist of the Year

I’ll say this: I spend most of these writeups whining about how terrible this all is. No one in this category is anything I’d call a favorite, but none of them are that bad, such as it is. It’s still a matter of “acceptable by degrees”, which isn’t great, but by the lax standards that this awards show generates within my heart, it’s almost an embarrassment of riches.


Female Artist of the Year

The female artist category isn’t necessarily better than the male artist category, but the highs (Kacey Musgraves) are much higher, even if the lows (Maren Morris) are also much lower. It’s nice, though. A relative pleasure to work through. I’m pretty happy about it, even though it was pretty much a foregone conclusion anyway


Entertainer of the Year

It is dumb nonsense that there are no women here. It is especially dumb nonsense that one of the women who isn’t here is Kacey Musgraves. That said, the winner is non-musical, because Luke Bryan is a delightful addition to American Idol and has, therefore, entertained me more than the rest of these people. He will, of course, not be present, because the ceremony airs directly opposite an episode of American Idol, but that would make it funnier anyway. 


And there you have it! We’ll be back in November to look at (I’m sure) this exact same basic set of people once more!

  1. by which I mean she probably can have built a shed out of awards, in which to keep all of the awards that were not directly used for construction materials.  
  2. and in many, many different writeups