The year of 2017 was quite the magical ride for fans of caped vigilantes and super-powered beings on the big screen. Not only have superhero movies taken over the theatres in rapid succession, but the most amazing thing is, pretty much every single one of them qualified as, at the very least, good. The fact that not one of these listed movies outright sucked is incredulous, almost like some kind of pact being unfulfilled. And now, with Justice League released, we can finally put them in their rightful place: on an amateur fanboy list coined by someone who has way too much time on his hands.
That being said, the fact that all these movies resonated with most of us in a positive way does not indicate they rank equally in quality. Therefore, from ancient goddess to vulgar space raccoons, from fresh origins to graceful farewells, these are the superhero movies in 2017 ranked from worst to best.
9. Power Rangers
While I've never been a Power Rangers fan, I have watched a few episodes of Super Sentai, the Japanese show which served as source material for the subsequent American conversion, and with all honesty, I hated them. So never in my wildest imagination would I ever have predicted that in 2017, a live action Power Rangers movie on a $100 million budget would be released, or that I'd pay to go see it, let alone it being quite enjoyable.
A more or less by-the-numbers origin story of five outcast teenagers chosen by some higher calling to inherit powers beyond their awareness but ultimately mustering the courage and heart to defeat impossible evil because FRIENDSHIP! Yeah, we've seen it a million times or more. However, it can't be denied that the cast are genuinely likable and share good chemistry. Relegating the usual extensive CG battles in costumes to the final act, the movie spent the majority of the movie getting us to know these kids, seeing them bound as a team, and finally gain the recognition of Bryan Cranston, who played a face stuck on a wall.
Even though Elizabeth Banks' villain ended up more cartoonish than any of the kids or CG creatures, and there was some obnoxiously distracting product placements, the fact that nobody expected any decency out of this movie makes it nevertheless a pleasant surprise. When not taken too seriously, the movie is easily enjoyable, and frankly why should we since the movie itself does not make that mistake? And it only gets better from here.
8. Justice League
Well, damn, this one could have, SHOULD have been higher up. Despite the obvious incompatibility of Snyder and Whedon's double vision, it's WB's mandate of restricting the movie down to a theatre-friendly two-hour running time that ultimately led to the abysmal current 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and yet another wave of 'fan v critic' warfare that threatens to derail the internet as we know it.
To be fair, compared with BVS or Suicide Squad, there's no major dealbreaker in Justice League a la Jesse Eisenberg's Luthor or the "Martha" resolution, the mess of a movie that we got is more of a result of overall poor planning of DCEU and the insufficient running time. Bear in mind that of the five major members of the league, three required fresh introductions with little to no former buildup, hence the lack of general excitement in seeing these heroes "come together" that we had for Marvel's The Avengers, which is sad because most of us grew up with the JL gang, instead of the cutdown Avengers that Marvel Studios presented in 2012. Nostalgia isn't everything.
Yes, the plot is, as usual, debatable; Steppenwolf has virtually no development as a villain; and the movie feels rushed yet still lacking any sense of urgency; but despite all that, it's still a course correction for DC's bigger universe. The cast is spot on as their respective characters, and there was clear effort made to humanize these larger-than-world personalities despite their inner struggles. The story was fairly predictable, but as such it averted any major hiccups, except maybe Henry Cavill's occasionally unnatural lower jaw. Oops, spoiler alert. Oh come on, you knew Superman was coming back. By the way, this is the best depiction of Superman from the current incarnation. That is a major plus.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Talk about a party movie! The second volume of adventures for our beloved space a-holes was a blast throughout. Unfortunately, it doesn't hold up quite as well as its amazing predecessor, but then again, it happens with sequels to surprise hits: they can never just be surprise hits again.
Guardians Vol. 2 took everything people loved about the first movie: the jokes, the soundtrack, the crazy action and those clashing personalities, and amped them up by several notches. While that may sound awesome, there could be too much of a good thing. Kurt Russell totally delivered as Ego, the EGOcentric (get it?) celestial disguised as a kind father, although he's constantly trapped in exposition monologues (with elaborate visual aids, no less). James Gunn made the story almost completely character-driven, giving each character an arc to overcome, which made the movie slightly stuffed given the amount of characters in it. Stealing the show, however, was Michael Rooker's Yondu, injecting the movie with some much-needed depth.
You can always count on the Guardians of the Galaxy for its sheer entertainment value, but it's not without its emotional punches to balance things out. It may not have been quite as brilliant as its predecessor, but at the end of the day, it's impossible to watch Guardians Vol.2 without a big smile on your face. And look at that baby Groot, isn't he just adorable??
6. Wonder Woman
Let's get it out of the way, Wonder Woman is a quality movie, but 92% on RottenTomatoes is way out of proportion. To put things in perspective, Forrest Gump has a rating of 71%, with, for example, The Shawshank Redemption at 91% and Hacksaw Ridge at 86%. Bottom line, F*** RT score and let's judge the movie on its own merits. Wonder Woman is without a doubt the best DCEU movie so far and by far. Ironically, it achieved this feat by focusing on telling its own story, not bothering to set up future movies or connecting to the extended universe it is set in and, most importantly, keeping WB management involvement down to a minimum.
What transpired was an origin tale that, though following a relatively been-here-done-that structure, somehow still felt inspiring. This was in no small part to due the characterization of Gal Gadot's Diana, tough, incorruptible and powerful, but at the same time naive as if she was born yesterday. But her personality wouldn't have had the chance to shine as it did had it not been the brilliant addition of Chris Pine, with whom she shared genuine chemistry. Some of the best parts of the movie arised from this paring: "fish out of water" humor from both sides, clashes of ideas on war and humanity. and the way it came to an end.
Even though the final battle was relegated to another CGI showdown, with Professor Lupin of all people, it took little away from an otherwise enjoyable and memorable experience. The opening scene at Themyscira and the "No Man's Land' sequence will be remembered among the highlights of 2017 cinema. Turns out boys will pay to see female heroes, too, when they're likable and inspiring. Surprise?!
5. The LEGO BATMAN Movie
Following the incredible surprise hit that was The LEGO Movie (2014), Will Arnett returns as the voice of Batman who takes the spotlight this time around, exactly as this rendition of the Caped Crusader would like it. Although Lego Batman is apparently a comedic parody version of the orthodox Dark Knight, more akin to the Adam West version than any that's considered definitive, the crew behind this movie get what Batman is about to a degree that Zach Snyder might never hope to achieve.
This 104-minute love letter for the Batman community isn't about fun and songs and jokes and fooling around....actually, you know what, it is, but there's more. By taking a swing at Batman's lonesome nature and reluctance to form a family for fear of losing it again, this kid-friendly animation surprisingly (for those who didn't see the 2014 predecessor) had a real deep story to tell. It's entertaining from the very first second and never let go until the credits ended, what a way to open a year for the superhero genre.
If there's anything regrettable about this movie, it'd be the disappointing box office returns for a movie billed as both family entertainment animation and superhero actioner. If a Lego movie involving a character as high-calibre as Batman and done as well as it did could not make audiences throw money to the screen, the prospect of Lego feature films is cloudy, to put it mildly. The financial results of The Lego Ninjago Movie certainly did nothing the help the situation. My only complaint for the movie was this: they had Ralph Fiennes as a voice actor in the movie; they had Voldemort as a side character in the movie...would it kill you to connect these two painfully obvious dots? This makes my blood boil!
4. Thor Ragnarok
Though the Thor movies have been the black sheep of the MCU, always considered hold-overs for better movies to come, the third entry in the trilogy will have none of that. No forced romance, no Darcy, no scientist goofing around stark naked, and no problem! Taika Waititi delivered a thoroughly entertaining ride that successfully stole the light from its own kin, GOTG Vol.2, as the intergalactic adventure movie of the year.
The movie depicts the greatest disaster that has ever befallen Asgard with the arrival of the seemingly unbeatable Hela, Godess of Death played by Cate Blanchett, and Thor's desperate attempts to rally a team to prevent the destruction of his home, as such one might be put off by the light tone approach for such a dark themed subject. And to be perfectly honest, there were indeed a few instances where the jokes seemed to be in the way for emotions, but who doesn't want to see Jeff Goldblum as a self-congratulatory but awkward space tyrant? It's just too much fun to turn down.
Blanchett's screen presence alone ranks Hela among MCU's most memorable villains. She's beautiful and terrible as the dawn, tempestuous as the sea and stro...oh wait, wrong movie. But hey, it still applies. With Thor Ragnarok as exciting as it was, it's just a shame that it took this long to finally reach the full potential of the Thor branch of the story, only to have Infinity War around the corner about to shake everything up.
3. Spider-Man Homecoming
It's been 13 years since the last great Spider-Man movie but Sony has finally recaptured that lost magical touch: by letting Marvel make their movies. Of the three MCU movies this year, Spider-Man Homecoming was the best at balancing its humor and drama, which largely hangs on Tom Holland's once again charismatic performance. Holding up the other end is Michael Keaton as the Vulture, once again playing some kind of winged creature, and going down as the second best villain in MCU history.
The movie's packed with memorable moments from the opening DV film to Cap's surprise lesson on 'patience' (gee, thanks Marvel), but the fun and jokes never get in the way of emotional entanglement when it's most needed, including one of 2017's most memorable plot twists that left my mouth open for a good ten minutes. Remember when everyone was worried that it might turn out as Iron Man 4? Nope, Tony Stark was firmly riding in the back seat (shotgun belongs to Ned, aka the Guy in the Chair), another sign of the movie focusing on what it ought to be about.
Being the sixth Spidey film featuring the third version of Spider-man in 15 years, its warm reception and financial performance are the strongest testaments to the movie's enjoyability. Even though there's quite some confusion with Sony creating their own Spidey-verse that may or may not tie in with the MCU, the character's future is quite guaranteed in the creative hands of Marvel Studios, provided that he survives Thanos of course.
I'd say spoiler alert, but it's too late, since the inclusion of this movie on this list already betrays its biggest secret, so hopefully you've already seen it or at least heard of the 'big twist', if not...yikes.
Split isn't really a superhero movie, per se. Its superhero element didn't kick in until the mid-credits scene, which unexpectedly tied the movie with Unbreakable (2002), an unconventional superhero movie starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson also directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Although there was no superhero to found in Split, bar Bruce Willis' surprise cameo, there was no doubt in the end that what we actually witnessed was the birth of another supervillain with James McAvoy's the Horde, especially in his Beast form.
The psychological thriller was a seat-gripping experience and a glorious return to form for Mr. Shyamalan, bringing out one of the best performances out of McAvoy, who made seamless transitions from a naive 9-year-old boy to a woman with oriental tastes, among other personalities. With Shyamalan and the main cast from both movies returning for a threequel titled Glass set to release in 2019, this unorthodox set of superhero tales is a breath of fresh air of originality among the persistently booming comic-based movie scene.
Was there ever going to be anything else? The loving farewell entry of Hugh Jackman after 17 years of dedicated performing and arduous working out, which might have left him ageless for real since they had to apply prosthetic makeup and still add CGI effects to make him appear aged and worn out at the age of 48, was a heartfelt and emotional sendoff unlike anything else in the cape-and-spandex sporting genre that left whole theatres of stunned audiences struggling to hide their teary faces.
No more saving mankind from megalomaniac mutant with metal-manipulative powers, no more ideological clashes between social inclusiveness and superiority, there's only one mortal and vulnerable man desperately trying to defend what little good left in his life with what little time he had. James Mangold took our beloved characters on a road trip in a post-apocalyptic world, a rather surprising but fresh direction for the franchise, and never was shy at tugging at our heartstrings like an old Johnny Cash tune.
Not only is Logan the indisputable champion for 2017, it is also a heavy contender for the grand title of GOAT superhero movie among the likes of The Dark Knight and The Avengers. Fox Marvel movies have had the highest highs and lowest lows, but with Deadpool, Logan and the upcoming The New Mutants, which is set to be a X-Universe horror flick, there's no denying that Fox goes further than any of its peers in terms of variety. Here's hoping that spirit of exploring uncharted waters live on, whether Disney completes that acquisition or not.
Kevin Cheng (author) from Hong Kong on March 18, 2018:
So did you like him in Avengers? Most would argue that the first two, particularly Thor: The Dark World, is the weakest link of the MCU, although it may tie into the upcoming Infinity War more than the other two. Thor Ragnarok was solid and hyper entertaining. Hope you enjoy him.
Dina AH from United States on March 12, 2018:
A lot of these movies I have not seen. But, Spiderman was such a refreshing take on a superhero that I once did not connect with at all. It's interesting how much Ned's character and Tony Stark's connection to Peter helped me find a bond with Peter Parker. It was such a good movie. I am still very new to the MCU but, I got most of the movies EXCEPT FOR FREAKING THOR! I don't know about that dude, I want to like him. I'm hoping to watch his movies at some point. Maybe.
Nathan Kiehn on December 06, 2017:
I completely agree with your assessment of Logan. I consistently respect that movie and the filmmakers more every time I see it, and it certainly deserves a spot up there with the Dark Knight.
I would say I enjoyed other superhero movies (Spidey, Wonder Woman, and Thor, especially) over Split, but it's good to have Shyamalan back, doing his special brand of creepy but well-told stories. I clapped when Willis came on screen; excellent tether to Unbreakable, which in itself is a great film.
Cool list. Nice job putting these together.