The best (and worst) of 2022 pop culture, including Eddie Munson, Morbius and Mastodon

From Britney's conservatorship win to Bieber's NFT loss, here are the entertainment industry's highlights from the year

Deepika Padukone's ground-breaking Louis Vuitton deal, Balenciaga's huge style misstep and Tom Cruise's box office mega-hit are among the pop culture highs and lows of 2022. Photos: Getty Images, Balenciaga, Paramount Pictures
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The worlds of entertainment and film, music and art have been through countless highs and lows this year.

Alongside the triumph of superhero reboot The Batman, there was Morbius, which rather impressively flopped twice in a mere three months. And, alongside the countless underdog stories at Qatar's World Cup, there was Tom Brady's fall from grace, as the American football hero's NFL career, marriage and even cryptocurrency investments collapsed.

Here are some of the best and worst moments of pop culture in 2022.

Good year for…

Eddie Munson from Stranger Things

Eddie Munson became a fan favourite in season four of Stranger Things. Photo: Netflix

When you become one of the year’s most popular Halloween costumes, you know you’re doing something right.

Joining season four of Netflix’s monster hit Stranger Things, British actor Joseph Quinn ensured Eddie Munson, the bad boy with a golden heart, became the internet’s hero when he not only took Mike, Dustin and Lucas under his wing in the Hellfire Club, but then (spoiler alert!) died a valiant death battling Demobats in the Upside Down to save his friends.

Bad year for…

Don’t Worry Darling

Don't Worry Darling wasn't quite the career boost Harry Styles had hoped for. Photo: Warner Bros Pictures

It was supposed to be the film that put Harry Styles on the map as a serious actor and Olivia Wilde as a commendable director.

However, the movie, which flopped at the box office, imploded under the weight of its own terrible PR. It included an online battle between Wilde and Shia LeBeouf, with the actor claiming she hadn't "fired" him from the film as she previously asserted, Wilde referring to her female star Florence Pugh as “Miss Flo”, Styles and co-star Chris Pine being forced to dismiss rumours of "spit gate" and Pugh’s apparent unhappiness with Styles and Wilde’s on-set romance.

Good year for…

Deepika Padukone

Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone became Louis Vuitton's first Indian brand ambassador. AFP

The Bollywood actress’s profile soared on social media when it was revealed she would become the first Indian brand ambassador of Louis Vuitton in May. The impact of the partnership led her husband Ranveer Singh to tweet: “Serious flex, baby.”

Bad year for…

Balenciaga

Balenciaga came under fire for their holiday season advertisement campaign.  Photo: Balenciaga

The cutting-edge brand was hauled over the coals on social media for its controversial winter advertisement campaign featuring children cuddling teddy bears, which were dressed inappropriately. Kim Kardashian was one of the lead voices who criticised the fashion maison.

The brand soon pulled the campaign and creative designer Demna Gvasalia apologised.

“I want to personally apologise for the wrong artistic choice of concept for the gifting campaign with the kids and I take my responsibility,” he wrote.

Good year for…

Mastodon

Elon Musk’s messy takeover of Twitter was the best thing to happen to the social media platform, Mastodon.

Graphs shared online showed the non-profit, advertisement-free platform gained users with every misstep by Musk. Business of Apps reported that downloads of Mastodon soared more than 6,000 per cent globally after the Tesla chief executive took over Twitter.

Bad year for…

Justin Bieber’s NFT

Justin Bieber reportedly invested seven figures in an NFT. Photo: Bloomberg

Along with a whole host of vocal celebrities, Justin Bieber invested in a Bored Ape NFT in January, shelling out $1.3 million for a digital artwork of a cartoon monkey.

Cut to December and his investment is estimated to be worth around $70,000 in the wake of the industry-wide collapse of cryptocurrencies, exchanges and NFTs. “Out of 10,000 Bored Apes in existence, Bieber’s January acquisition ranks the 9,810th most rare,” wrote Artnet News.

Good year for…

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise reprised his role as Captain Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell in Top Gun. Photo: Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise returned to his place at the top of the box office with the critical and commercial hit Top Gun: Maverick.

Earning $1.48 billion at the global box office, the film not only introduced Goose’s son Bradley "Rooster" Bradshaw and Admiral’s daughter Penny Benjamin, but fan favourite Val Kilmer returned to the big screen as Ice Man. Kilmer's battle with throat cancer made his and Mav’s scene all the more poignant.

Bad year for…

Kanye West

Kanye West suffered a miserable year of divorce, social media bans and anti-Semetic rants. AP

The rapper’s very public downward spiral has continued with his divorce from Kim Kardashian being finalised and West being ordered to pay $200,000 a month in child support for their four children.

In addition to his myriad legal and business woes, such as the termination of his lucrative Yeezy partnership with adidas, he was also suspended from Twitter, with Elon Musk tweeting: “He again violated our rule against incitement to violence.”

Good year for…

MrBeast

The American content creator unseated gamer PewDiePie as the YouTuber with the most subscribers — a title he has held for almost 10 years.

MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, has 115 million subscribers thanks to stunt videos such as “Last To Take Hand Off Jet, Keeps It!”

Bad year for…

Tom Brady

Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen finalised their divorce, ending their 13-year marriage. AP

American football’s golden boy lost a lot of his shine this year.

The sporting legend came out of retirement with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, only to lose five out of six games for the first time in his career. He also became the NFL's most-sacked quarterback. In the NFL, "sacked" is when the quarterback is tackled before he has the chance to throw the ball.

Not to mention his equity deal with cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which crumbled at remarkable speed losing an estimated $14.6 billion of customers' holdings overnight last month.

Brady, his ex-wife and nine other FTX celebrity endorsers are being sued by investors, who claimed they only put money into the failed crypto exchange on the back of advertisements by leading public figures.

According to Forbes, Brady owned 0.15 per cent of FTX, which was worth $45 million at the peak before its collapse.

Good year for…

Underdogs at the World Cup

Saudi Arabia stunned eventual champions Argentina by beating them in their opening game. Photo: PA

Everyone loves a global sporting upset, unless it’s your team on the receiving end, of course.

The World Cup in Qatar served up some jaw-dropping results as the underdogs took on the best in the world ... and won. Saudi Arabia’s 2-1 victory over Argentina, Japan beating both Germany and Spain 2-1, South Korea’s last-minute 2-1 win over Portugal and Morocco's historic run to the semi-finals had the world sitting up and taking notice of these footballing minnows.

Bad year for…

Ned Fulmer of The Try Guys

Ned Fulmer, from the popular YouTube group The Try Guys, was known for being the family-orientated member of the four as he often posted videos with his wife and children. However, he was forced to issue a public apology and was kicked out of the lucrative business after being photographed with another woman.

Good year for…

Britney Spears

Britney Spears won her conservatorship battle and married Sam Asghari. EPA

The singer had big things to celebrate this year.

In June, she married Sam Asghari. And, in November, her 13-year conservatorship ended following a lengthy court battle.

The icing on the cake was Hold Me Closer, a duet with Elton John, as it became yet another top 10 hit in the US for her.

Bad year for…

Rebekah Vardy

Coleen Rooney, left, and Rebekah Vardy. PA

An online spat between footballer's wives Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy captured global headlines thanks to the former's social media detective work, which coined the term "Wagatha Christie" by the British tabloids.

After Rooney went public accusing Vardy of selling stories about her to The Sun in 2019, the battle went to court as Vardy cried foul and sued her rival for defamation.

However, Vardy lost the dramatic case and was ordered to pay up to £3 million ($3.6 million) in legal fees for her and Rooney.

Good year for…

The Batman

Robert Pattinson's portrayal of Batman breathed new life into a stale franchise. Photo: Warner Bros

When The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz and directed by Cloverfield’s Matt Reeves, was announced, there was a collective sigh of bat-fatigue across social media, given how Ben Affleck had previously underwhelmed in the role since 2016.

Raking in $770.8 million globally, The Batman achieved commercial and critical success, offering a fresh take on the Caped Crusader, who has been around for 83 years, and propelled Nirvana's album track Something in the Way to the top of the charts.

Bad year for…

Morbius

The film failed to impress audiences when it was released in April. It features Jared Leto in the title role of Dr Michael Morbius, who splices his blood with that of vampire bats in a bid to cure himself of a blood disorder.

Morbius’s flop meant Leto and the movie were ridiculed in one of the most widespread memes of the year, featuring the fictional phrase: “It’s morbin’ time.”

The popularity of the meme was misinterpreted by the studio as renewed interest in the movie and it was re-released in June, only to fall flat all over again.

Updated: December 29, 2022, 4:44 AM