2016 has been another year for the ever flourishing comic book sub-genre, with 6 films out this year alone, one of the highest amounts in a single year since the MCU took the world by storm in 2008 and 2017 isn’t about to buck the trend but that’s for another discussion entirely, anyway this year has had some of the biggest films in the sub-genre to date with both Marvel and DC brining out their big guns, to…. varying degrees of success. So I thought I’d rank the films I’ve seen from best to worst in what has been a fairly strong year for comic book films I feel.
Captain America: Civil War – 8.5/10
First choice is no real surprise, Marvel at its best’, a great ensemble cast based on one of the most popular Marvel comic book stories, Black Panther and Spiderman? And even if you put aside the stellar action, with some of the best action sequences in the entire MCU, you still get some surprisingly deep drama and well done emotional highs and lows, loss and real stakes for the characters in Marvels darkest film yet, where you finally see and feel the impact of the Avengers world saving adventure and how the world reacts to them, an intriguing concept for a superhero film. The cast does a great job and we get to really delve into what drives the Avengers as they align to one side or the other and of course, Spiderman, Tom Holland makes a great debut and showcase for his upcoming films and while he doesn’t steal the show per se, he’s a big highlight, as is Chadwick Bosemans’ Black Panther.
Doctor Strange – 7.5/10
The actual 4th film this year based on a Marvel property/character but second MCU film is of course, Doctor Strange, the origin story of the sorcerer supreme and how he became that, with some great casting choices and a great pick for Strange in Cumberbatch, who really captures his arrogance and intellect. Marvel brings it home with the origin story and tells an engaging, fun story with some trippy, fantastic visuals and with the introduction of a whole new element to the MCU in the form of magic. Magic or the mystical arts make for some mind bending action sequences, unlike anything we’ve seen in the MCU (though Thor and Thor The Dark World come sort of close) and it’s a breath of fresh air in all honesty, while there’s a great peppering of humour through the story to keep things fun and tempered in what is otherwise a somewhat dark story.
There’s no surprise with how good the performances are though with the calibre of actors present and Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tilda Swinton are brilliant, bringing gravitas and a grounded approach to one of Marvels stronger origin stories on film.
Deadpool – 7.5/10
Love him or hate him, Deadpool is kind of a character you can’t really ignore, he’s hilarious, self referential/aware and perfectly cast with Ryan Reynolds in the role, who’s basically kinda Deadpool in real life anyway, the film was a triumph on so many levels and a huge 180 from the abomination from the X-Men Origins: Wolverine character, with some genuinely well done humour, great comedic timing and a basic but engaging love story essentially. The action’s also quite well done and it’s great to see some X-Men cameo with Colossus and Nega Sonic Teenage Warhead who only add to the humour and make things more interesting, Reynolds nails Deadpools’ persona, which makes the film a joy to watch.
Suicide Squad – 7/10
Possibly the most divisive film on the list and honestly it’s a toss up between this and BvS, I’ll say it again – I enjoyed Suicide Squad, despite the critics evisceration of it and the hoo-hah around that, it’s just a fun, crazy film that knows how silly it is but still relishes in it, it’s got a great cast, with the stand outs being Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto of course, who are all great in their roles but there’s surprising depth to characters, which makes for some interesting interactions and moments. The action’s great with some well done set pieces but honestly the interaction between the squad is what really made the film fun for me, they’re so different and incompatible that it makes their journey enjoyable, that and the fact that they’re criminals or mercenaries and not by any means good, makes for an interesting set up.
Understandably, Joker didn’t get enough screen time which was a shame and the final third falls into generic action film territory but there’s surprising heart to the story and it’s a film I’d happily re-watch.
X-Men: Apocalypse – 7/10
One of the lesser liked comic book films of the year is also one of my most liked ones, I don’t love Apocalypse by any means but it’s still a fun ride, the X-Men are such a great bunch of characters that I was ready and willing to go back into that universe, with re-introduced, younger characters of course and the behemoth that is Apocalypse, the result is admittedly pretty by the numbers plot wise but I enjoyed it, the returning cast from First Class and Days of Future Past also contribute in making the film fun. The younger X-Men are great fits for their roles and are fairly promising in my opinion and while we didn’t get much of them interacting with themselves, seeing them come together to face Apocalypse was cool, as were the Four Horsemen, especially a troubled Magneto played fantastically by Michael Fassbender, Apocalypse himself is passable, such a larger than life character isn’t easy to portray but Oscar Isaac does a decent job.
While the film isn’t mind blowing, not the best drama or action film, it’s still enjoyable and a decent entry in the X-Men franchise, an interesting way to start off a potential new cycle of films.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice – 6.5/10
BVS is a film I’ve actually liked more upon re-watching it but of course it’s easily one of the most divisive films of the year, with many critics tearing it to shreds for its scattered plot which crammed a few to many things into it for some, lack of focus on the two titular characters actually fighting and with the film being too much of a set up/prelude to upcoming films – all fair criticisms but I feel people were a bit too harsh on Snyders’ latest comic book film. While not perfect, there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had to see Batman and Superman on screen together in live action, finally, the casting is generally pretty solid and Gal Gadot, for the little she’s in, makes for a great Wonder Woman, throw in some great visuals and stellar set pieces – particularly involving Batman, e.g. the Warehouse fight and you have an overall decent film.
And while there’s a lot to unpack with the film but to summarise, I don’t think the film is terrible and it’s actually a good watch, despite the rather dark themes and tones presented.
Honestly it’s been a pretty OK film for comic book films in my opinion, in a generally disappointing year for films, we’ve had some great films out, some okay-decent ones but nothing truly terrible to the level that some critics would have most people believe, or so I think, do you have any strong thoughts and or opinions on the films present? Hate BVS with a passion? Feel free to comment.