The superhero genre of film has improved drastically between this year and last, when only three of the eight major releases gained universal adoration- the rest either dividing audiences (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) or being entirely unwatchable (Max Steel). Of the nine 2017 superhero titles, not a single film is a total misfire. Thankfully, even the worst of the bunch offers a few redeeming qualities. See where we ranked this year’s superhero films below and be sure to share your own ranking in the comments and on social media!
9Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Having read several of the Captain Underpants books as a child, I can attest to The First Epic Movie being the precise adaptation of the source material that 8-year-old me would have wanted. Though the humor can be juvenile and annoying at times, the majority of the film features a wonderful balance of material that both kids and adults will enjoy. With a talented and funny voice cast to go along with its tidy story, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is family fun done right. Unfortunately, in comparison to the other films on our list, it feels less like a “superhero” film than an animated children’s comedy- ultimately landing it in last place.
There are going to be several folks that are outraged by this ranking, but as mentioned above, just because Justice League lands near the bottom of the pile doesn’t mean it’s terrible. In fact, it’s easily the third best film of the DCEU. Gal Gadot continues to shine as Wonder Woman, and Ezra Miller and Jason Momoa are great additions to the DC universe as the Flash and Aquaman, respectively. The chemistry between each of the heroes is light and fun, but it can only go so far in the masking of glaring issues. The villain is as terrible as most of the CGI, the film feels entirely rushed, and it fails to live up to the DCEU’s previous effort in every imaginable way. The end result is a film that’s disappointingly sloppy, but undeniably enjoyable at times.
Much better than anyone gives it credit for, Power Rangers is a darker, more grounded take on the popular series that never once skimps on the spirit of the show. Sure, it features Elizabeth Banks in a completely over-the-top performance as the villain (at least she had personality), and what is perhaps the most blatant, shameless product placement that cinema has ever seen, but 2017’s Power Rangers is a frequently funny coming-of-age superhero film that, surprisingly, packs an ample amount of heart in its emotionally affecting story.
6The Lego Batman Movie
The Lego Batman Movie is essentially a love letter to the lore of the popular character, and it’s necessary viewing for anyone who is even a passing fan of the Bat. Unafraid to poke fun at itself and the character’s past, Lego Batman boasts wildly funny jokes to go along with its brilliant story. Bonus points for Will Arnett, who continues to shine as the voice of Batman, and Zach Galifianakis who, surprisingly, proves to be one of cinemas greatest Jokers.
5Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The James Gunn followup doubles down on the hilarity of the first film, and though it can feel a bit too jokey at times, this sequel is by and large a personal study of characters told on the grandest scale imaginable. If the visual beauty of the film doesn’t astound you, the story and character arcs certainly will. It may even move you to tears. “I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!”
THIS is the Spider-Man film that many of us have been waiting for. Tom Holland is a believable teenage Peter Parker, and the idea of someone his age coming into these powers and learning exactly what should be done with them is explored in a way that feels true to the mindset of real-life youths. Spider-Man: Homecoming is, first and foremost, a film about high school and growing up- it just so happens to also feature superheroes AND Michael Keaton as one of Marvel’s greatest villains.
The MCU is nothing if not fun, and Thor: Ragnarok is the funnest of all. Taika Waititi’s distinctive personality and brand of humor are on full display throughout, and the director successfully took a relatively “meh” franchise and turned it into something unique and amazing. There’s an undeniable 80’s aesthetic prevalent throughout the film, and when coupled with the freshed out and fleshed out characters, as well as unforgettable new ones, what we have is a superhero flick worth returning to over and over again. “Piss off, ghost!”
It feels like too obvious of an exclamation to claim Wonder Woman as the best film of the DCEU, so we’ll do you one better: This is one of the greatest, and most important, superhero films ever made. Director Patty Jenkins helms the film with more heart than the rest of the DCEU combined, and Gal Gadot (who is arguably the greatest superhero performer we’ve ever seen) is a beacon of light, love and hope in a trying time. If you can watch this film without being emotionally moved or inspired to always put your best foot forward, then you’re just not human.
If Logan isn’t the greatest superhero film ever made, it’s certainly in the discussion. With the heart and aesthetic of a Western, this is a movie that wears its undercurrent of sadness like a badge of honor. That sadness is earned, however, and feels true to the devastating lives of characters we’ve watched love, grow and greatly suffer over a 17 year span. The R-rating is perfectly utilized in both dialogue and action, and there’s just enough optimism to keep the loose strings our broken hearts attached to each other. Dafne Keen is a powerhouse child actress as X-23, and Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart have never been better. Bring the tissues, Logan is an emotional ride.
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