Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Best of 2016 Comic Book Movies

2016: The Good, the bad, the ugly

2016 has been an incredible year for the comic book movie genre.  From the R-rated Deadpool in February to the mind trip of Doctor Strange in November, this year has had something for everyone.  We witnessed heroes vs. heroes.  We saw major characters from these franchises for the first time ever on screen.  2016 really was a banner year for comic book geeks everywhere.  Which one was the best? Which was the worst?  This is our ranking of the 7 comic book films released this year!  



7. Batman V. Superman:  Dawn of Justice



Batman V. Superman was a movie that I really wanted to love.  As much flack as the DCEU gets, I want these films to succeed.  However, this one was just a major disappointment.  There were definitely some good things in it.  Ben Afleck's Batman was great (though super murderous) and I liked both Wonder Woman and Superman.  The problem here is that they tried too hard to play catch up with Marvel too quickly.  Instead of introducing the characters one by one and getting a feel for them, they went the opposite route and tried to shove them all into this one.  They tried to cram too many iconic storylines into this film.  There was no need for the Batman V. Superman story to include the Death of Superman storyline.  It was rushed and wasted.  The extended home release cut was a better movie but it still ranks as the most disappointing comic book movie of the year.  If you're interested, click here to read our full review of BvS.  


6.  X-Men:  Apocalypse




X-Men:  Apocalypse had some things going for it.  Psylock looked comic accurate and Fassbender and McAvoy were great in their roles of Magneto and Professor X.  Ultimately though, Apocalypse felt like more of the same.  We've been in this universe since 2000.  The time line is a joke despite reboots.  The Quicksilver scene (that was so refreshing in Days of Future Past) felt like nothing more than a retread.  The title villain Apocalypse really didn't do anything except make a few mutants more powerful.  I did love that there were finally some comic book costumes in this one.  Apart from the aforementioned Psylock, the ending bit with the team in 90's era full on comic accurate duds was nice.  Too bad it was only for a few moments.  The short scene with Weapon X was fun but ultimately unncessary.  It just seems that the X-universe is getting stale.  This one is by no means the worst of the series, it just doesn't hold up to X2 or First Class.  This one is just OK.  It's worth watching, just not necessarily worth revisting.  


5.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Out of the Shadows




Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Out of the Shadows was fun.  For a kid that grew up in the late 80's/early 90's, this was exactly what I wanted out of a TMNT movie.  Big, dumb fun.  We finally got our cinematic versions of Rocksteady, Bebop and Krang!  The Technodrome was fantastic if underused and the whole thing was just like a live action version of the classic cartoon.  This one is not high art, but it's a fun popcorn flick that captured the spirt of the original characters.  If you notice, I'm using the word "fun" a lot.  That's because it's exactly what this one is.  If you grew up when TMNT was all the rage and you watched the cartoons daily, this movie is for you.  While I'm still not a fan of the design of the Turtles and I think Casey Jones and the Shredder were wasted in this, overall it's a good time.  Non Turtles fans may not appreciate it as much.  This one was definitely made for the fans.  


4.  Suicide Squad




Suicide Squad had some issues.  However, it bought some much needed style to the DCEU.  It's a very stylistic film that stands in contrast to the 2 previous efforts.  It's a really strong film for the first 2/3.  It kind of falls flat in the 3rd act.  It turns into every superhero movie cliche at that point.  It's kind of a let down.  The character introductions are all done really well and it brought the team together in a believable way.  I wish that Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and Katana got a little bit more time to shine though.  None of them ever get to use their abilities to their fullest.  The Harley Quinn/Joker backstory was easily the strongest part of the film.  I would love to see a whole movie devoted to that.  Jared Leto's Joker was certainly a different take than we've previously seen cinematically but I thought it worked.  I was never a fan of the look, but it grew on me.  The Justice League cameos were done really well and overall this is the strongest of the 3 DC movies in this universe.  Despite it's issues, it's a fun time.  If you're interested in checking out our full review of Suicide Squad, just click here!  


3.  Doctor Strange




Doctor Strange is Marvel's first real foray into the world of mysticism and magic.  Benedict Cumberbatch is excellent as the Sorcerer Supreme and this is a thrill ride of a movie that needs to be seen on the big screen.  The special effects are some of the best from any comic book movie.  It really raises the bar.  The humor is sprinkled in and doesn't seem forced.  It's a really fun time.  Strange is an asshole.  But he's an asshole that's fun to watch.  His origin story is similar to Tony Stark/Iron Man.  While derivitive, it's done in a fresh way and really quite intriguing.  The main villain Kaecilius isn't the strongest and helps to illustrate one of the more noticable weaknesses of the MCU.  Their villains just usually aren't that great.  It's made up for by just how damn strong the heroes are. This is a Doctor Strange film through and through.  Most of the time is spent with him learning his powers until ultimately being able to defeat the big bad with a bargain.  It turned the giant blue light in the sky trope on it's head and was a lot of fun.  Once again, click here for our full review of Doctor Strange.  


2.  Deadpool




Speaking of turning tropes on their heads, we have Deadpool doing exactly that to the whole genre.  The little superhero movie that studio execs didn't want to make turned into the biggest R-rated film of all time.  Let that sink in.  Deadpool is the highest grossing R-rated film EVER.  And it deserved every penny.  It was inventive and fun.  It featured characters that were lesser known but treated with care.  Ryan Reynolds was Deadpool.  If you've ever read the comics, his take on the Merc With a Mouth was perfect.  After the slap in the face of a version of the character in X-Men Origins:  Wolverine, this was a breath of fresh air.  He was vile, fun, crass and breaking the 4th wall all over the place.  His chemistry with Colossus was incredible.  You know I'm a sucker for comic accurate costumes and the versions of Deadpool and Colossus here made this old heart flutter.  I'm not sure if a sequel can capture the lightening in a bottle again, but here's to hoping.  


1.  Captain America:  Civil War




This should not be a surprise to anyone.  Not only is Captain America:  Civil War the best comic book movie of the year, it's also one of the best comic book movies of ALL TIME.  It did what Batman V. Superman tried to do.  It made a fight between two heroes have meaning.  You cared about each one and could see that each one was doing what they thought was right.  The final confrontation between Captain America and Iron Man was heartbreaking.  The airport fight scene has been talked about to death by everyone.  It's for good reason.  It's just that good.  It's a comic book splash page come to life.  With all of those characters, each one found a time to shine and their powers were used without explanation.  They were just there and able to use them.  No origins.  That's the beauty of the MCU, we've invested so much time to this franchise that we have a whole world of characters that we care about and know all about.  Now you introduce a fully formed Spider-Man and Black Panther into the film and you don't have to waste time introducing them.  They're just accepted as more costumed crime fighters.  The villain here was secondary to the rift between the heroes.  Baron Zemo may have been a minor villain but in his small screen time he manipulated the heroes to achieve his goals.  It was a nice touch.  Despite it being basically Avengers 2.5, it was still a decidedly Captain America story.  What the Russo brothers pulled off was nothing short of amazing and has every genre fan waiting with baited breath for Infinity War!  And, here's the obligatory plug for our review of this one!  Check it out if you're interested.  



So there you have it.  2016 was an excellent year for comic book movies.  Even the lowest ranked one on the list had some redeeming qualities.  None of the ones from this year are bad.  Do you have a different order?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.  We'd love to hear what you think!


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