April 6-7, 2024
The season of merriment is upon us! December’s a great month, with the holidays, presents, and good food, but it’s also a particularly great time for pop culture geeks! To celebrate, we’ve highlighted 10 amazing events in pop culture history that took place in December.
Dec 2001, ’02, ’03, ’12, ’13, ’14 – Middle-earth mayhem
In years gone by, December has been huge for fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, with every film in the franchise hitting Australian cinemas around Christmas, four out of six on Boxing Day. Peter Jackson’s grand vision changed cinema forever and opened up J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy to a whole new audience.
Dec 2010, ’13, ’17 – Regenerations
December has historically been a big, sometimes emotional, month for Doctor Who fans. Three of the modern Who regenerations have fallen in December, with David Tennant in The End of Time, Matt Smith in Time of the Doctor, and most recently, Peter Capaldi in Twice Upon a Time. Normally, December is when Who fans will be looking forward to the Christmas special, but showrunner Chris Chibnall is producing a New Year’s Day special this year instead.
Dec 2015, ’16, ’17 – The month of Star Wars
Mention must go to the fact that for the last three years, a new Star Wars film has been released every year in December, with The Force Awakens, Rogue One and The Last Jedi. 2018 is a notable exception, but check back this time next year for Episode 9!
Dec 3, 1984 – Dragon Ball begins!
The first chapter of Akira Toriyama’s insanely successful manga, the original Dragon Ball, was published in Weekly Shōnen Jump, and ran for 519 chapters, ending on June 5, 1995. Of course, we know that’s not where the story ended, as it spawned even more popular follow-ups, Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super, with a new movie coming out next year!
Dec 3, 1994 – Sony’s PlayStation is released
Sony’s foray into home consoles was up against stiff competition, with the Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64, but we don’t think anyone now would doubt that the gamble paid off big time. Its younger brother, the PS2, is still the most successful home console in history, but it owes its existence to the PS1, which was first released in Japan on this day in ’94.
Dec 10, 2009 – James Cameron’s Avatar premieres
Almost 10 years after its release, Avatar is still the highest grossing film of all time unadjusted for inflation, but even with inflation, it’s still the second highest! Oh, and they’re already making four sequels.
Dec 18, 1969 – Australian James Bond!
George Lazenby takes his first and only turn as James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about the film, except, he’s the first Australian actor to play Bond! And he got it, in true Australian fashion, largely by just being a bit of a larrikin. He collected a suit and watch that his predecessor Sean Connery had ordered but never collected, told producer Albert R. Broccoli that he had extensive film credits (an accomplished actor he was not), and then impressed Broccoli with his aggressiveness by breaking a stuntman’s nose in the screen test!
Dec 26, 2012 – The end of Amazing Spider-Man
After 50 years of Marvel publishing The Amazing Spider-Man, the series culminated in issue #700, changing to Superior Spider-Man with the next issue. This issue is hugely controversial, not just as a celebration of Amazing’s longevity, but for what the story entailed. SPOILER ALERT if you’re not caught up. Doc Ock, after becoming terminally ill from years of stress, hatches an elaborate plan to swap his consciousness into Spider-Man’s body, and place Peter’s body into his decaying, dying one. Typical supervillain stuff. Except he succeeds. Peter dies in Otto’s weak body, and Octavius remains as Spider-Man in the comic continuity for some time.
Dec 28, 1987 – The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon’s pilot episode airs
The TV series was only commissioned so a toy line for the characters could be produced, but they accidentally created a worldwide phenomenon! With several reboots airing in 2003, 2012, and 2018, several generations of geeks have been brought up on alongside the heroes in a half-shell.
Dec 28, 1922 – Stan Lee is born
Obviously much has been said recently about the late creative genius Stan Lee, and his contributions to not just comic books, but the entertainment industry at large, and we would be remiss not to recognise that in this month, 95 years ago, the legend who would affect so many of our lives was born.
Lead image: Sean Bean as Boromir in Lord of the Rings.