Celebrating the Best Decade in Pop Culture History
The 2010s will truly be a decade to remember. The Avengers made their big-screen debut. Batman and Superman fought each other over Gotham City. Wonder Woman lifted a tank. Comic-Con became a household name. The CW ushered in the age of the Arrowverse. Pokemon Go got the whole world on its feet. Star Wars said goodbye to the Skywalkers. And we all became obsessed with a little show called Game of Thrones.Do you remember where you were when you found out that Spider-Man was coming to the MCU? Or what you were doing when Disney announced they were going to buy Lucasfilm and make more Star Wars movies? Did you weep playing Breath of the Wild on Switch for the first time? Did you cheer when Captain America wielded Mjolnir in Avengers: Endgame? Did you download the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy after seeing the film? We did.We wouldn't judge you if you told us you already own a dancing Baby Groot or that you pre-ordered every single piece of Baby Yoda merch you can find. And how about video games? Have you been playing Fortnite non-stop since Ninja played with Drake? Have you become a convert to the Jedi religion after playing Jedi Fallen Order? Did you get misty-eyed when someone tried to hold the door back in Season 6 of Game of Thrones? Did you take a selfie in front of the Empire State Building in Spider-Man? We definitely did.Whether you had a good decade or a rough one, I think we can all agree that this was one of the best decades in history for pop culture. Stranger Things, '80s and '90s nostalgia, remakes, reboots and revivals, the MCU, DC Universe, and a million other amazing things came out during this decade, so let's walk down memory lane and celebrate a few of our favorites.Here are some personal reflections from our IGN staff on the best of the 2010s:
Game of Thrones
Terri Schwartz – Editor-in-Chief, Entertainment
This was the decade of Game of Thrones for me. I first read George R.R. Martin’s first and second novels in the A Song of Ice and Fire series in 2009, but revisited them and became obsessed with the series in 2010. In true Terri Schwartz fashion, I made everyone I knew read them, from my mom to the cute guy on my final year of college’s study abroad program. (We’ll get back to him in a bit.) When I read that a show was announced, I did everything in my power to convince the outlet I wrote for at the time, MTV News, to cover it. I got all of them obsessed with it too, and for the next decade made sure I was owning that beat at whichever outlet I wrote at. I memorized the names, voraciously consumed the theories, and started reviewing the show back in Season 1.I interviewed the cast, attended the premieres and — in the true coup de grace of my fandom — got the rare opportunity to visit the set in 2014. I got a dang free Game of Thrones tattoo at San Diego Comic-Con. (House Stark, baby!) Game of Thrones went beyond professional passion though; it was a bond that brought my friends and family together as a shared interest we all talked about. And that cute guy from my study abroad program? I call forcing him to read those books our “courtship,” because he quickly became as obsessed with them as I was and we’ve been together ever since, getting married earlier this year. Sure, Game of Thrones may have botched the landing in its final two seasons, but it truly was the defining piece of pop culture in my life from the beginning to the end of this past decade, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Valar Morghulis.
Adam Bankhurst – News/Features/Previews Writer
This past decade has been an incredible, but also divisive, journey for Star Wars fans. Following Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion, we’ve not only seen a new film trilogy and spin-off movies, but we’ve seen amazing stories told in television (Ahsoka!), comics, novels, video games, and even real life. This year, in particular, was truly special as it introduced us to the pure joy that is Baby Yoda, and it allowed us to play as a Jedi dealing with the fallout of Order 66 in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Besides The Mandalorian, the 2010s’ final send-off was Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. While the reception is decidedly mixed, it concluded the Skywalker Saga that began all the way back in 1977 with the story of a young hero just waiting for his chance to fly among the stars.We also were finally able to live our own Star Wars story by visiting Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World and Disneyland. I was lucky enough to visit the Black Spire Outpost on Batuu, and it was a moment I’ll never forget. The park opened as the sun was rising, and as everyone was rushing to the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride, I asked a local from Batuu if I could just walk by myself through the market before the tourists took over. They agreed and, for just a few moments, I was living out a dream I’ve had as a kid with only the shopkeepers preparing for the day and the feeling that I was finally in that galaxy far, far away. It was a moment that words can never describe, a feeling that would somehow repeat itself when I would choose my very own kyber crystal and forge a lightsaber of my own, finally becoming that Jedi I've always wished to be.
San Diego Comic-Con
Lauren Gallaway – Social Media Coordinator
For me, SDCC 2012 was a turning point. When I graduated from college in 2010 I wasn't quite sure what to do with my life or what I was passionate about. In 2012, after two years of soul searching, I decided to buy tickets to San Diego Comic-Con. Walking into a convention hall with 100,000 other people who love what you love and celebrate what you celebrate is a life-changing experience. I left that convention with the drive and passion to write about superheroes and I am very grateful that I've been able to do that.In 2013, Tom Hiddleston broke SDCC by appearing in Hall H as the God of Mischief himself, Loki. The same year, Batman v Superman was announced in Hall H. In 2015, Lucasfilm handed out lightsabers to everyone in Hall H to celebrate the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Brie Larson was announced as Captain Marvel in 2016. Mahershala Ali was announced as Blade in 2018. During this decade, Comic-Con truly became the go-to destination for movie studios to drop first-looks, new trailers, and casting announcements. The convention has sold out every year this decade and has truly transitioned from being a geek institution to a global one.
Scott Collura – Executive Editor, Entertainment Features
The amount of beloved franchises that have gotten revivals this past decade has simply been amazing, as studios and networks have mined fan nostalgia to re-launch properties that not that long ago seemed dead. And they often did so with the original cast and creative team in place. Twin Peaks returned thanks to David Lynch, and it was weirder than ever. Ash Williams finally strapped on the chainsaw again in Ash vs. Evil Dead. Mulder and Scully were on the case once more too… and that’s just a sampling of small screen revivals. In movies, we got the final trilogy in The Skywalker Saga, something that not that long ago seemed unlikely to ever happen.Other returns to former glories took new forms, like the Rocky sequel Creed. And who could forget Mad Max: Fury Road, the film that was stuck in development hell for years (decades?) before finally getting made by original director George Miller. And yet, it turned out to be one of the best movies of the decade. While there’s no doubt that these revivals are often greenlit by studio execs who simply want to make money off of our fond memories of old favorites, the idea of profiting off of art is what Hollywood was built on. And when these franchise revivals have been done right, it can be truly magical.
Comic Book Movies
Jim Vejvoda – Executive Editor, Movies
This past decade saw Marvel Studios gloriously achieve its goal of building a shared cinematic universe, even striking a deal with rival studio Sony to share the flagship character of Spider-Man. Marvel Studios scored the first-ever Academy Award nomination for Best Picture for a comic book movie with Black Panther, toppled Avatar as the reigning all-time worldwide box office champ with Endgame, and diversified its cast of characters leading into Phase Four. But this decade wasn’t all about Marvel. It also saw Warner Bros. and DC stumble in their early attempts to fast-track their own shared universe, bearing critical scorn and a divisive fan response with Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, before enjoying better fortune with the celebrated Wonder Woman (then suffering a box office bomb with the troubled Justice League.)But it wasn’t until nearly the end of this decade that Warners/DC truly found their footing with the box office (and largely critically esteemed) troika of Aquaman, Shazam!, and Joker. The latter was a standalone, R-rated and highly controversial gamble that paid off, becoming the first DC film post-Nolan to cross $1 billion worldwide. Considering this time a decade ago the MCU was deemed a risky endeavor in its infancy and DC was riding high with The Dark Knight, this decade has proven a truly transformative one for both media powerhouses, seeing comic book movies evolve into the biggest thing in cinema and the dominant force in pop culture.
Francesca Rivera – Associate Producer
My decade of pop culture revolved around TV superheroes. Yes, the MCU popped off over this past decade and literally had the biggest movie ever, but the superhero shows on the smaller screen were able to tell comic book stories for a much wider audience. Having watched the brilliant, irreverent Misfits, which started in 2009, I had a soft spot for TV shows telling the stories of superpowered people. Having missed the entirety of Smallville, but hearing the news of an Arrow series for DC, then a S.H.I.E.L.D. series for Marvel, I jumped in without knowing a single thing about these characters. As I learned more about the characters through research and reading, I became to appreciate the television medium as the means to tell these stories.Although the DC and Marvel movies never acknowledged their TV cousins, the shows painted fuller pictures of these characters and their worlds. Each show could tell any of these stories with different tones that are specific to each character, which is why I’ve probably felt inclined to watch as many superhero shows as I could: from Cloak & Dagger to The Gifted, to The Boys, to Umbrella Academy. The TV shows are not perfect by any means, but they have created a campy little space in my heart and watching crossover events like Crisis on Infinite Earths, which is basically TV’s version of Avengers: Endgame, feels like a much bigger payoff when I see my favorites fight together.
Colin Stevens – Social Media Coordinator
Nintendo Switch made waves in the video game industry this decade, regaining much of the momentum the gaming giant lost during the Wii U’s brief stint. Launching alongside Breath of the Wild, this handheld/home console hybrid immediately proved its worth, showing gamers they could play console-quality games on the go with little change to their overall experience. A deluge of top-tier Nintendo games followed, including Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and much, much more.Breath of the Wild quickly became my favorite game of all time, and for an entire week I stopped everything I was doing to save Hyrule. Yes, I spent much of that time with a Pro Controller in front of my TV, but when I felt like going on a quick walk, running some errands, or relaxing in bed, the Switch made that an easy option. The Switch continues to amaze me with its accessibility and flexibility, and I can't wait to see what Nintendo brings to the table in the 2020s.These reflections are just a few of the many amazing things that happened this decade. This doesn't even begin to cover the British invasions on Sherlock, Downton Abbey, the Great British Bake Off, or Doctor Who, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this decade. This doesn't cover the wilder entries in the Marvel realm, including Legion, Deadpool, or Logan. This doesn't include the massive popularity of Star Wars Celebration or the massive growth of smaller, local conventions. This doesn't cover the wild success of Frozen or the emergence of Baby Yoda. It does, however, highlight some of the glories of the decade, of which we are very grateful.So how about you? What are your favorite TV, film, gaming, and event memories of the decade?For more "Best of the Decade" moments check out our picks for Best TV Show, Best Video Game, and Best Movie on December 31, 2019.
Lauren Gallaway is a Social Media Coordinator for IGN. Her favorite heroes of the decade are Captain America, Peggy Carter, and Rey. Find her tweeting @LaurenGallaway and Twitch streaming @GlimpseEntertainment.