As I promised last week, this week’s post is all about superheroes, and specifically my top five superhero films of 2017.
The superhero concept continues to excite both the SF enthusiast, and the public at large. It is, of course, the latter category that feeds the hero machine that is Marvel – and with a cinematic universe that seems to be getting stronger with every release, it doesn’t look like the genre will be disappearing anytime soon. Meanwhile, DC continues to struggle to replicate the success of Marvel, with a string of underperforming big budget releases, but also a very notable success. I strongly suspect that another reboot of the DC universe is in the works…
Excuse my exclusion of The Defenders and The Punisher, but this list is cinema only! (Also note that I’ve placed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 – a film that would certainly have earned a place in this list – into my best SF of 2017 list; which you can check out here.)
5. Justice League
I reviewed Justice League earlier this year. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It wasn’t actually that bad at all. But equally, it just wasn’t that good either. When I left the theatre, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief: more than anything, I was just pleased that Zack Snyder hadn’t messed this one up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Snyder hater. I actually thought some elements of Batman v Superman were very good, but equally, I can see the movie’s flaws. That said, Justice League goes a good way to dealing with the criticisms of BvS, and it’s an enjoyable – if underwhelming – addition to the DC cinematic universe.
4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Spider-Man is a comic character that the big screen seems to struggle with. After a strong start with Tobey Maguire’s original Spider-Man, and a decent sequel, things went downhill with the third instalment. 2012’s Amazing Spider-Man was lacklustre, and didn’t really know where it was going. Another sequel followed, and things only got worse. Homecoming gives our favourite webslinger the full Marvel treatment. This version of Peter Parker – as played by Tom Holland – feels spot on.
3. Thor: Ragnarok
If you thought Thor was a stuck-up, humourless pseudo-Viking, then Ragnorak proves that in the hands of the right director, he is anything but. I reviewed Thor: Ragnarok earlier this year, and immediately knew that it was one of my favourite films of the year. The balance of action, humour and drama is just right. In short, this is Thor in a Guardians of the Galaxy film, and it shows that there is a lot of life left in the character.
James Mangold took a serious risk with Logan. Most of the hero movies on this list feel “safe”: they essentially re-tread the same ground, albeit sometimes from a different perspective. Logan throws the superhero formula out the window. The poignant, dark tale of superhero who is losing his powers, Logan has an incredible script and features some amazing dramatic moments. This is slated to be Hugh Jackman’s last movie as Wolverine, and if it is, it’s a great way for him to leave the role…
1. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman had a troubled history, and followed in the footsteps of both Suicide Squad and Batman vs Superman. Any self-respecting DC fan had every right to be worried, but Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman hits all the right notes. Although it is plainly set within the DC cinematic universe, Wonder Woman breaks its own ground. Gal Gadot shines as Diana Prince, and Chris Pine does his thing as Steve Trevor. In short, Wonder Woman shows that yes – DC can make great hero films, and yes – you can make a successful superhero flick with a female lead.