2016 was widely labelled as the biggest year yet for the superhero movie genre, as it featured massive game-changers like Captain America: Civil War, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Deadpool. A look back at the comic book film offerings of 2017, though, will show you it’s clear that this year has arguably been even bigger and more impactful.
For starters, the Marvel Cinematic Universe made its first steps into releasing a whole three movies per year – which thankfully brought terrific results in each case. Meanwhile, the DC Extended Universe shifted into the next gear, with its long-awaited team-up movie and its first true success story. The X-Men universe also delivered, giving us not just one of its strongest installments to date, but perhaps one of the finest efforts in the genre.
Overall, out of the eight superhero films that arrived in cinemas in 2017, all of them were enjoyable in their own ways. But which ones stand head and shoulders apart from the rest? Join us as we rank this year’s superhero movies from worst to best and find out where your favorites ended up.
First off, we have to make clear that, despite falling at the bottom of our ranking, Saban and Lionsgate’s Power Rangers is by no means a bad film. Unfortunately for it, it’s just been a hugely competitive year for superhero movies and one of them had to come last.
A big screen reboot of the colourful 90s classic kids’ TV show, Power Rangers made the brave decision to tone down the loveable cheesiness and hokeyness of the original and root the film in the character’s dynamics and their mundane lives – Jason, Kimberly, Billy and the rest of the teenagers with attitude didn’t even do any mighty morphin’ until the final half hour of the film. Most fans would agree, though, that it was the right decision.
Unfortunately, while the characters and the main cast were great, Power Rangers was tonally confused in other ways, with Elizabeth Banks’ OTT Rita Repulsa seemingly not on the same page as everyone else. Also, it’s impossible not to cringe at the shameless Krispy Kreme product placement.
In any case, its flaws could easily be fixed in a sequel, though the future of the franchise is currently in limbo. According to star Dacre Montgomery, however, there’s still hope.
DC fans had been waiting for this one for decades, and 2017 finally delivered the goods – Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg united on the big screen for the first time in November’s Justice League. Unfortunately, much like the rest of the DCEU, it was met with a hugely mixed reception.
A big problem with the film is that, for a movie buff, it was impossible to watch without thinking about the behind-the-scenes turmoil, as it was so plainly writ large on screen (e.g. the Whedon-helmed reshoots clashing with Snyder’s footage, the abridged runtime, Henry Cavill’s bizarre upper lip). Everyone agreed that Justice League needed more time to be polished. Well, everyone except the WB execs who wanted their bonuses early.
All that said, the central team dynamics and the sheer thrill of seeing the Justice League together on a cinema screen makes it a hugely enjoyable experience, with the newcomers to the franchise proving very promising. Thanks to the emphasis on hope and rebirth, JL is easily the most grin-inducing DCEU entry so far. Though we’d still really like to see that extended cut.
The LEGO Batman Movie
It’s difficult to rank The LEGO Batman Movie. Obviously, fans might balk at the idea of this family friendly comedy being rated higher than Justice League but, on its own terms, LEGO succeeds at what it wants to do, so it deserves its placement here.
Following on from his breakout role in 2014’s The LEGO Movie, Will Arnett’s Dark Mini-Fig is a riot in his own adventure, with virtually every line he has being highly quotable. He’s joined by a whole host of fun LEGO takes on familiar characters, too, like Michael Cera’s Robin, Ralph Fiennes’ Alfred and Rosario Dawson’s Catwoman, all of whom entertain. Plus, LEGO Batman retains the child-like thrill of throwing all your toys together from the first movie by featuring Joker leading a team of pop culture’s finest supervillains. And what Bat-fan can resist all the excellent easter eggs hidden within?
All in all, The LEGO Batman Movie is a blast from start to finish and we’re intrigued to see what director Chris McKay does when he gets his hands on an ‘official’ DC movie – the upcoming Nightwing.
After the muddled Amazing Spider-Man franchise, superhero movie history was made in Captain America: Civil War when Peter Parker crossed over to the MCU for the first time. 2017 quickly followed up on his scene-stealing appearance there by giving Tom Holland’s friendly neighbourhood hero his own vehicle.
With the winning combination of the MCU’s firepower and Spider-Man’s name recognition, Homecoming was a barnstorming success. It capitalized on the wider Marvel connections, by featuring Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man in a key role, but also let Spidey stand alone, building a John Hughes-esque high school coming-of-age drama around him. Also, a shout-out is in order for Michael Keaton’s terrific performance as the Vulture.
The reason we’re ranking Homecoming as the third best MCU movie of the year (only by a smidgen, mind you) is because the film made some controversial decisions with Peter Parker’s iconic character – editing out the all-important Uncle Ben backstory, arguably making him dependent on Tony Stark and changing up virtually every character from his supporting cast. There’s no denying Homecoming is a high-level MCU film, but it’s arguably lacking something as a Spider-Man movie.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
This will no doubt be a controversial placement. In the wake of Guardians of the Galaxy‘s shocking success back in 2014, Vol. 2 had a lot to live up to, and many fans would say that it failed with an overly-indulgent story that missed the fizz and pop of the first movie.
Alternatively, you could argue – as we’re going to – that Vol. 2 was potentially even better than the original as, with the pesky origin stories and MCU tie-in stuff dealt with, it could take the time to explore the characters and their interpersonal dynamics better. Director James Gunn also reminded us how excellent he is at juggling ensemble casts, as every Guardian gets some sort of arc over the film.
So, sure, Vol. 2 doesn’t have the same planet-hopping zip of the first GotG, but it does ramp up the heart (as well as keeping the high level of humour steady). Also, Yondu’s death currently sits as the most moving scene in the MCU. Which, considering it’s based around a blue, fin-headed obscure comics character, shows just how special the Guardians movies are.
If you had said a few years ago, that a Thor movie would be one of the MCU’s very best entries. we wouldn’t have believed you. 2011’s outing is a serviceable origins story, while 2013’s The Dark World is probably the franchise’s weakest effort to date. But in came director Taika Waititi, who rebuilt the series from the ground up and gave us this rip-roaring space-opera/comedy. Though that description reads as very close to the USP of Guardians, the actual movie has a flavour all to itself.
Chief among Thor: Ragnarok‘s best points is the fact that it has one of the finest cast of characters ever in the MCU. Everyone from Cate Blanchett’s Hela to Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster to Waititi’s own Korg is a joy to watch. A special mention must also go to Chris Hemsworth’s revamped Thor. The God of Thunder has always been funny and likeable, but Ragnarok really amps up his charisma and ensures he’s at the heart of his own film.
The improv-heavy production could have backfired, but the cast are on top form and there’s still a firm narrative in place that makes Thor: Ragnarok an epic closer to the Thor trilogy. Next up: let’s have that Korg spinoff, please.
Going into 2017, the DCEU had struck out three for three, in terms of widespread opinion. The bleakness of Man of Steel and BvS, not to mention the off-kilter Suicide Squad, had been met with fierce backlashes. What was needed, then, was a movie with mass appeal, that had a firm grip on its story, characters and tone. Enter Wonder Woman.
Patty Jenkins’ period fantasy adventure was a unique blend of DC, mythology and history, with a dash of Disney thrown in for good measure (and yes, a bit of the Marvel formula, too). The villains could have been stronger, but Gal Gadot’s heroine was solid enough to carry the movie, demonstrating the mix of grace and grit that Diana of Themyscira needs. Outside of its own confines, Wonder Woman‘s biggest achievement is probably that it’s proven to those misguided Hollywood execs that there’s a serious thirst out there for female-led superhero movies.
Even with the disappointing reception of Justice League, 2017 has brought DC the unqualified success of Wonder Woman, granting the franchise a ray of hope moving forward. It’s no wonder that the sequel is being fast-tracked, with a release date set for 2019.
Like we said, 2017’s superhero movies were all pretty fantastic, but, funnily enough, it’s the very first entry in the genre that the year brought us that remains at the very top: Fox’s moody, emotional finale to Hugh Jackman’s historic career as Wolverine, Logan.
Following on from the unique tone of Deadpool, Logan also took the X-Men franchise in a fresh direction. Making up for the last two solo Wolvie movies, it’s a superhero film by way of the western genre, providing a starkly-different take on this universe by stripping away the excess characters and making Logan a much more vulnerable, flawed figure. In the core unit of Jackman, Patrick Stewart’s Professor X and Dafne Keen’s X-23 (a real upcoming star, there), Logan created the best ensemble the franchise has ever seen.
It could have been too bleak to swallow, but thanks to some very fine performances, smart writing and great direction, Logan succeeded beyond expectations. In an age where audiences seem to be craving comedic, ultra-fun comic book films, it’s curious that the pic worked so well. But it just goes to show that a good movie, whenever it’s released, will always be appreciated.
Some have even labelled it as up there with The Dark Knight. While we’ll have to wait and see whether its reputation stays as evergreen as Christopher Nolan’s seminal sequel, we can comfortably say that Logan is the best of the many superhero movies of 2017.