2017 was a pretty big year for superhero movies: we got a sequel to the beloved Guardians of The Galaxy, the first ever live-action Wonder Woman movie, the third Thor film, Hugh Jackman's final outing as Wolverine, Spider-Man's first film in the MCU, and the first ever live-action Justice League. But the question is: did this year live up to the hype, or did it only sound good on paper? (*cough* 2016 *cough*). Here's my ranking of all the live-action superhero movies we got this year. Bear in mind this list is all subjective. Spoilers for all movies except Justice League.
6. Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2
Imagine my surprise when the sequel to one of my favourite superhero movies turned out to be my least favourite MCU film. The plot of this movie is almost non-existant, and neither the writing or the dialogue are good enough to carry this film, as it consists mostly of cringe-worthy dick-jokes and an oversatured amount of humour. Ego's turn into villainy is rushed, and Peter's reaction to finding out Ego killed his mother ("you killed MY mother!") is some of the worst acting I've seen in a recent CBM. This movie reminded me of the Star Wars prequels - all of these beautiful CGI sets, but nothing to do in them but talking, talking, talking. The parental relationship and Yondu being Peter's REAL dad was forced, as was the cringeworthy interpersonal bond between Yondu and Rocket ("I know who you are boy... because you're ME"). That's without mentioning the generic, one-note "I wanted a sister" moment between Gamora and Nebula. 80% of this movie is people talking about stuff that happened off-screen. This is why the character development doesn't work. Because most of it is told to us, not shown. James Gunn failed to understand what was so appealing about Drax in the first film, and just made him an unlikeable dick. Top it off with a climax set in an entirely disconnected, CGI environment, and you're left with an underwritten, uneven, boring superhero movie that is in love with itself.
5. Justice League
Justice League isn't a total disaster. The heroes themselves are great, the interactions between characters are strong, most of the action is a triumph, and as is expected from Zack Snyder, it is (for the most part) gorgeous to look at. These aspects make the movie watchable, but can't save it from it's lack of soul and life, rushed pacing and character introductions which gives some scenes no time to develop, and a dissonant climax. Although the heroes themselves are great, the movie could've done a much better job developing them as a team.
Logan is the only CBM this year that I've changed my opinion of since I watched it in cinemas. In spite of me liking it less upon repeat viewings, I still really like Logan and thought it was a solid movie and a refreshing change of pace for the genre. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart both brought a lot of nuance, emotion and complexity to their roles, going above and beyond for a "superhero" movie. One thing this movie did a lot better than a lot of other superhero movies in not spoon feeding the audience, and showing the characterisation instead of telling. This is due to strong writing and acting. That said, Logan fell short of being the landmark in the genre in was hyped up to be: It was supposed to be the anti-superhero movie, but the third-act throws that out of the window in favour of a generic climax and a Wolverine clone who belongs in a different movie: seriously, that symbolism was as subtle as an adamantium bullet to the forehead. The parental relationship between Logan and Laura was underwritten and forced (I'm noticing a trend here...), and the script had a lot of issues. All in all, Logan was a good superhero movie, but I don't see the game changing, subversive, "character driven" movie others made it out to be. To end on a positive note, the score Marco Beltrami composed for this film is absolutely beautiful, and criminally underrated. Have a listen.
3. Thor: Ragnarok
This movie was everything that Thor as a character needed. This movie simultaneously made him a fan-favourite, all the while giving audiences the best live-action portrayal of Hulk. New-additions such as Valkyrie, Grandmaster and everyone's favourite New-Zealander were all great. This movie was bustling with life, humour and joy. I have little else to say about this movie, but I become obsessed with Chris Hemsworth after seeing it, and still am to an extent. In terms of what didn't work: the movie is lacking a solid, consistent emotional core and the action grew a bit uninteresting, but it was well-written, well-paced, well-shot and well-acted enough to make it a great movie and an absolute joy to watch.
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming
This is such a feel-good movie. This movie made me fall in love with Spider-Man again. The fact he's in the MCU is still surreal to me. A dream come true. I love Peter's development in this film, realising he wants to help the little guy instead of joining The Avengers. What made this movie so refreshing to me was seeing an inexperienced hero who sucks at his job, as opposed to all the other MCU heroes who have their superhero-ing together. Peter is an active protagonist, his actions constantly changing the course of the story. This is what makes it a character-driven movie and so fun to watch. It's pretty much the anti GoTG Vol. 2, haha. Also, this movie has a special place in my heart as I saw it with my brother when he visited, and we bonded over it. I find it very relatable being only a year older than Peter, and growing up loving these heroes like he did.
1. Wonder Woman
This should come as no surprise: Wonder Woman reminded me why superheroes are so awesome, and why these characters are so enduring. It's about heroism, having belief in the good in mankind, selflessness and sacrifice. Instead of being an afterthought, these ideas and values take centre stage of the movie. Gal Gadot gives my favourite lead performance in a CBM, embodying all of these values. Chris Pine is awesome as Steve Trevor: his relationship with Diana is my favourite relationship between two characters in a CBM. Diana's journey into mankind is a fascinating journey: I loved seeing her worldview challenged. The action was awesome, the movie is incredibly good-looking and the humour landed and was well-placed. This movie isn't just my favourite 2017 CBM, it's my favourite superhero movie since The Avengers.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to agree or disagree, and share your lists and reasonings below!