This is part of the L.A. Times 2021 gift guide. See the full guide here. If you make a purchase off one of our links, the L.A. Times may be compensated.
While superhero franchise films slowly returned to theaters this year, television kept its hold on our collective attention as many of the buzziest titles debuted on streaming services. New comic book heroes and returning childhood favorites alike marked a genre renaissance of superhero, sci-fi and fantasy franchises across pop culture — all combining to make for plenty of options during this gift-giving season.
For someone who wants to read every single Marvel comic book ever published but cannot find the time, consider “All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Biggest Story Ever Told.” Author Douglas Wolk not only read more than 27,000 issues of comics published since 1961 but he also made sense of the ever expanding universe as one interconnected story. The book is appropriate for Marvel fans, as well as those who just want to further understand its place in the zeitgeist.
$28 | 👉 Purchase here
For someone who relished the two new “He-Man” animated series (or became nostalgic for the original “Masters of the Universe” because of them), consider Han Cholo’s He-Man Battle Ready enamel pin. There’s nothing that says “I’m ready to take on the day” like He-Man wielding his power sword while heading into a fight astride Battle Cat.
$12 | 👉 Purchase here
For a member of the Galactic Empire who likes to stealthily incorporate “Star Wars” love into everyday looks, consider Herschel’s Stormtrooper hip pack. The color and design are subtle but recognizable, and nothing beats fashionable function. A hip pack makes a great accessory for exploring the Black Spire Outpost at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or for running everyday errands.
$37.99 | 👉 Purchase here
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For a “Star Wars” fan who is as excited about tinkering with droids as Anakin Skywalker is, consider the R2-D2 Lego set. Yes, Anakin built C-3PO and not Artoo, and this Lego set is good for the person who can point out that bit of trivia and enjoy construction sets composed of interlocking plastic bricks.
$199.99 | 👉 Purchase here
For someone whose interest in comic book martial artists has been piqued by seeing “Shang-Chi,” consider “The Way of the Warrior.” This guide to “Marvel’s mightiest martial artists” offers an introductory overview of characters including Shang-Chi, Iron Fist, Elektra, Daredevil and Psylocke. The book’s brief character profiles cover history, fighting styles, rivals and more. It is best suited for readers interested in getting to the facts before diving into specific storylines.
$25 | 👉 Purchase here
For the Marvel Cinematic Universe faithful, consider a digital subscription to Marvel Unlimited. MCU films and TV shows aren’t really direct adaptations of specific comic book storylines, but series such as “WandaVision” have shown how there are plenty of Easter eggs for sleuths to unpack. So many stories featuring your favorite characters can be explored while waiting for the next MCU movie or series. A digital subscription to Marvel Unlimited offers readers access to more than 29,000 issues of classic favorites, digital originals and newer books as soon as three months after their print release.
$69 per year | 👉 Purchase here
For someone into iconic villains, consider Mondo’s Master of the Universe Skeletor puzzle. It might not be as challenging as conquering Castle Grayskull and taking over the universe, but the 1,000-piece puzzle is no joke. Plus, the art is fantastic.
$20 | 👉 Purchase here
For anyone who can’t help but hum a certain melody after hearing the phrase “Go, go Power Rangers,” consider New Era’s Morphin Power Rangers cap. This pop culture-infused edition of the brand’s signature 59Fifty fitted cap features the face of the original Megazord, as well as the dino-themed Power Coins. (Insert guitar riff.)
$36.99 | 👉 Purchase here
For someone looking for new Wonder Woman stories while celebrating the character’s 80th anniversary, consider “Nubia: Real One.” The graphic novel by L.L. McKinney and Robyn Smith tells the story of a young Black superhero coming into her own to save her friends. Nubia may have superpowers, but she still has to navigate everything that comes with being a Black teenager in America, including racism, harassment and police violence.
$16.99 | 👉 Purchase here
For those who are as vocal about public health as they are about their love for superhero cartoons, consider Skybound’s “vaxxed & feeling Invincible” T-shirt. Featuring Mark Grayson, a.k.a. Invincible, from the comic book-based animated series, this T-shirt celebrates one important way regular people can be superheroes and help their community — by getting vaccinated.
$24 | 👉 Purchase here
For a makeup wearer who cheered for Task Force X during “The Suicide Squad,” consider Smashbox’s Be Legendary Anti-Hero lipstick. With shades ranging from Harley Quinn-inspired red to Mongal-themed purple, this moisturizing lipstick will leave a lasting impression whether one is taking down Starro or enjoying a night out on the town.
$24 | 👉 Purchase here
For a “Star Wars” fan who is enthusiastic about themed parties and movie nights, consider “Star Wars: Galactic Baking.” From Life Day cakes to Dagobah bog pies, this intergalactic baking cookbook is packed with recipes for treats that are perfect for people who can explain the key events that happened on Tatooine, Endor, Hoth, Jakku and Coruscant. Don’t worry, “Star Wars: Galactic Baking” features recipes for all skill levels.
$19.99 | 👉 Purchase here
For those who wish “Star Wars” could be a bit more interactive, consider “Star Wars Mazes.” Maze master Sean C. Jackson brings to life locations from Endor to Jabba’s palace in beautifully illustrated designs, each featuring a specific mission. Each maze in the family-friendly book comes with additional notes and hidden activities.
$14.95 | 👉 Purchase here
For the “Avengers” fan you wish were more interested in the works of the Bard (or the Bard fan you wish were more interested in the “Avengers”), consider “William Shakespeare’s Avengers: The Complete Works.” Author Ian Doescher has remixed the familiar “Avengers” films into a format Shakespeare himself would be proud of. You know what they say: All the MCU’s a stage and all the superheroes merely players.
$34.99 | 👉 Purchase here
For the “Wonder Woman” fan interested in real life superheroes, consider “Wonderful Women of the World.” Edited by Laurie Halse Anderson, this illustrated anthology spotlights 23 women who embody the spirit of Themyscira’s Princess Diana, a.k.a. Wonder Woman, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Marsha P. Johnson, Greta Thunberg, Serena Williams and Malala Yousafzai.
$16.99 | 👉 Purchase here
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Tracy Brown is a digital editor and writer working in entertainment for the Los Angeles Times. She helps provide digital content for the Arts and Entertainment sections and has also written for the Travel, Books and Image sections. A Long Beach native, she graduated from UCLA.
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