2016 has come and gone. It was an interesting year no doubt. We lost icons in sports, film, and music. Muhammad Ali, Carrie Fisher, and Prince are just a few of the legends we lost this year. America also elected a new President this year. While no one can change the election outcome, I’m appalled at the racism and disgust it brought out in people.
On one hand, we all need to get along despite differences, but there’s has been hurtful rhetoric I can’t ignore spewing from the mouths of people I can never get along with in 2016. Our country is divided, but in 2016 I think we learned, we’ve never truly been united. Despite this nonsense, life will never pause for us.
Even with the sadness 2016 brought on the world and country, there was some good to come out of it. Music, particularly R&B and Hip-Hop, did well. Chance the Rapper, Frank Ocean, J. Cole, and The Weeknd all had great albums that helped me personally get through this year. Movies were great this year too. Zootopia, Finding Dory, Fences, Moonlight, The Jungle Book, and Star Trek were all great films. Even without superhero films, the year in film was a solid one. But, we don’t live in a world without superhero films (thank god) so we can rank them until our hearts content.
There were six cinematic superhero films this year. I always tell people we are truly living in the Golden Age of comic book films. 2017 is going to be a huge year for both Marvel and DC. Marvel has 3 films coming out (Guardians of the Calaxy Vol.2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok) and DC has 2 (Wonder Woman and Justice League.) And let’s not forget Injustice 2 comes out next year as well as Marvel v. Capcom 4. We also have comics still as well, so the superhero industry is alive and well.
Even with 2017’s massiveness, 2016 was just as important. Just like the rest of the films, the year in superhero film showed us different styles and themes. As this article implies, I’m going to rank 2016’s superhero films from worst to best. This list is obviously my own opinion, and no one has to agree with this so let’s get to it.
6. Batman v Superman
I can feel the heat of the DC Extremists burning through my neck as I type this. This film is easily the biggest disappointment of the past year. Batman and Superman meeting each other on screen for the first time is an enormous deal for everyone who loves comics. So of course, this film received polarizing reviews. Critics mostly hated it, but it brings out the worst in “fans” online when discussing the film. The main reason this film is the worst comic book film of 2016 is the overall plot. The “v.” in Batman v. Superman didn’t make much sense from a story standpoint.
Batman and Superman are two of the most intelligent men in comics. I had a very hard time believing the fact that they wanted to kill each other in this film. Not only that, but the fact that Lex Luthor organized the whole fight is even worse. It would’ve been more believable if Lex was a passable villain. But Jesse Eisenberg’s manuerisms in this film reminded me of his characters in the Social Network and Now You See Me.
This movie looked great. Every one of Snyder’s films does. Every film on this list looked great though. But this one almost put me to sleep in the theater. The pacing was unbearable. Almost all of this could have been forgiven. Everything could have been forgiven if the movie didn’t take the easy way out at the end. And no, I’m not talking about the Martha scene. I’m talking about “killing” Superman at the end of the film. Anyone with a pulse and a decent IQ knows Superman isn’t staying dead. The fact they made him sacrifice himself to a horrible looking Doomsday, felt like a huge copout to me.
In that one moment, Batman gained the ultimate respect for Superman. 15 minutes earlier, he told Clark “He was never a man,” and was about to kill the last son of Krypton. I’m not mad at the story’s intention. Actually, anyone who’s knowledgable about film understands the premise of this film. But their execution was lazy. This film felt like an attempt to take out Marvel Studios with one punch.
This film was one of the biggest surprises of the year. I’m not one to ever care about how much money a film makes. But when the budget to gross ratio is as big as this one is, you have to give the film some respect. Notice, I said some. This film had a budget of $58 million to a worldwide gross of almost $800 million. Critics loved this movie as a whole, but to me, it was boring. The plot of this film didn’t feel original at all. Deadpool had to save his girl. Cute, I guess.
Yes, the film looked fantastic, but that was mainly the one positive for me. I did love seeing Colossus in the film. Negasonic Teenage Warhead was cool as well. I think this film did well because it was the ultimate fan service film. Ever since that footage leaked, people have been losing their minds over the idea of Deadpool. Since it came together well, and since it was everything fans wanted, people loved it. But to me, it doesn’t stack up in terms of story and character development.
The main reason I didn’t like this film was the comedy. It didn’t work for me at all. I have no problem with Ryan Reynolds as an actor, but he didn’t blow me away. There were some funny parts, but overall, I didn’t laugh too much. Since that was the selling point of this film, I feel it deserves to be low on this list.
4. Suicide Squad
DC films had a rough 2016. Yeah, they made money, but like I said, I don’t care about money. All of these films except one was in the top 10 grossing films of 2016. Suicide Squad was an interesting concept. But if you don’t execute a unique concept well, boy it can turn ugly really quick. This film is higher than BvS simply because I enjoyed it more the first time seeing it.
The film kept me interested, even though the plot was basic. That was the worst part about this movie. The plot was proactive instead of reactive. The Squad was formed before anything catastrophic happened. If Enchantress didn’t lose her mind, where was the story supposed to go? What was the Squad going to do?
Will Smith and Margot Robbie were the most enjoyable characters in this film. Will Smith added the right amount of levity that was needed in this film, and Margot Robbie did a great job at humanizing Harley Quinn.
The other members were solid too, but DC’s vision of Asian women, Latino man, and black men really make me hate this film. Katanna barely spoke, El Diablo was a stereotype, and Killer Croc’s BET line at the end almost made me leave the theater (the film was almost over anyways, but you get the point.) The Guardians of the Galaxy feel I got from this film made me dislike it too. As much as I like the bar scene, it felt cheap. The scene reminded me instantly of the “We’re all standing” moment in Guardians of the Galaxy. After that scene, some upbeat music plays and we see the Guardians walking in slow motion. Pretty much the same thing after the Squad connects in the bar. Lazy, uninspired writing.
Joker was in this film too. I know, I almost forgot about it too. Jared Leto was a passable Joker, but he was hardly in the theatrical film. I didn’t waste my money on the extended cut of this film. The more we buy it, the more studios think it’s okay to keep doing it. Joker’s role in the film was dumb too. I thought he was going to be the main villain the Squad was going to be going after. It would’ve been easy to have him break out of Arkham, destroy a section of Gotham, and just go from there. Batman could’ve easily been thrown into that story and the rest of the Squad could’ve kept their same roles. This film suffered from lack of execution with a creative idea. Same exact thing happened with Batman v. Superman. DC needs to execute films better in 2017.
3. Doctor Strange
The next three films are all very, very close. I enjoyed each of them almost the same. Doctor Strange is 3 on the list in front of Suicide Squad, but Doctor Strange is miles ahead of this film. The main reason is because of the creativity AND execution of this film.
Benedict Cumberbatch did a great job playing the snarky, arrogant doctor, Stephen Strange. The plot of this movie was good enough, but where this movie shined was the character development of Doctor Strange. At the beginning of the film, he only cared about his image, his career. By the end, Strange becomes a powerful sorcerer who lives a lonely life to protect the people of Earth. His “Save the universe moment” came early in his development as a superhero.
The evolution of Mordo was great as well. The film did a good job establishing him as the villain for the sequel. The main reason this film isn’t higher is because it was a bit too short. Marvel could’ve easily made this movie almost 3 hours. The concept was good enough and the characters were interesting enough I would’ve sat through a longer film.
Another positive in this film was Tilda Swinton’s the Ancient One. While I do believe someone of Asian descent should’ve played the role of the Ancient One, most actors couldn’t have given the performance Tilda Swinton did. Her death towards the end of the film stands as one of the best moments in a solo MCU film. Her words echo in my head almost every day whenever I find myself being selfish. “It’s not all about you.”
This movie introduced a powerful character into the MCU while still giving him his own personal touch. By the end of the film, Doctor Strange is a welcomed addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He feels unique enough to carry his own movies, but relatable enough to team up with heroes such as Iron Man and Thor.
2. X-Men Apocalypse
I know this movie received mixed reviews. To me, the only thing that puts it above Doctor Strange, is the respect I have for trilogies. Fans today whine and complain about every trilogy that comes to theaters. Even some hardcore Star Wars fans believe that Return of the Jedi is significantly worse than A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. On my site, I’ve reviewed unpopular trilogies such as Spider-Man 3 and Dark Knight Rises. While the third film in trilogies is usually not the greatest piece of cinema out of the three, three movies were made for a reason. Yeah, you can claim money and I wouldn’t argue with you. But this movie wasn’t that.
I’ve reviewed all the films on this list, but this one was my personal favorite. After the first viewing, I thought to myself, “I see why people didn’t like it, but at the same time, I don’t.” Now, I don’t know if the hype of BvS and Civil War took the shine off of this or what, but I like this film so much because of its originality. I abhorred the fact that Batman v. Superman and Civil War basically had the same storyline. Only one of them could execute it better in the end, but I didn’t like it too much. This movie did a good job of portraying the snobby, entitled villain that Apocalypse is. It was one of the biggest critiques of the film by critics and fans alike. But to me, Apocalypse as a character was done right. Oscar Isaac did a tremendous job with the facial expressions in this film.
My favorite parts of the film included Magneto’s character arc and the formation of the new team. With Magneto, his development throughout the three movies has been the best part of these films. We’ve seen him gone from trouble mutant radical to lonely mutant family man. The scene where his wife and daughter died moved me more than any scene on this list. His relationship with Professor X during these movies has been outstanding as well. In this movie, they’re connection didn’t fade whatsoever.
The new team was refreshing. I’ll never forgive Fox for killing Cyclops in the lamest way possible in The Last Stand. Tye Sheridan did a good job portraying the young leader. Nightcrawler, Jean Grey, and Storm were all great as well. To me, there’s nothing better than an X-Men roster with those heroes on it. All we were missing was Rogue, Gambit, or Iceman. This film did a good job wrapping up the original cast’s storyline, while giving us fresh new faces to look forward too. All we need now is Fox to give the X-Men to Marvel Studios, Marvel keep the same actors (change Mystique though. Or kill her in the first act of an X-Men film, I really don’t care.) and we’re in business.
The only reason this film isn’t higher to me is because of Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. In the first film, she was good. Second film, she was an integral part of the story. In this one, her charm (if you can call it that) wore off. Her relationship with Beast bored me. The whole “I’m tired of being blue” thing is lame too. Her allegiance and his morals flip-flop too much for me. Overall though, this movie was a solid end to the trilogy.
1. Captain America: Civil War
This is an easy choice considering the execution of this film. The MCU has grown to god-like levels in the past 8 years. The ninth year plans to be promising and the tenth is going to shatter the box office. 2016 though, showed us the evolution of Steve Rogers as a character. That’s one of the many reasons this movie is the best comic book film of 2016 and one of my all-time favorites. From the First Avenger to Civil War, we saw Steve Rogers go from boy scout to rebel.
That same development occurs in this film with Tony Stark. He’s never been one to have a handle on his emotions. Ever since his playboy days of Iron Man 1, Tony has gone through a ton of life changing events. Whiplash, The Mandarin, Ultron, Loki, it all took a toll on our favorite billionaire. In this film, his guilt and Cap’s frustration collide.
As I said earlier, BvS and this film echoed each other when it comes to story. This one however, the villain, Baron Zemo, had real motivations. Zemo wanted to destroy the Avengers because of their actions in Sokovia. Their fighting killed his family. Zemo sets his plan into action by framing Cap’s friend Bucky aka the Winter Soldier.
That’s the other thing about this movie too. The plot kept me interested. When this movie was announced, I was skeptical. Of course, I’ve read Civil War in the comics, so I was very nervous about how Marvel Studios planned to execute this. They didn’t have the New Mutants to screw everything up, no Spider-Man to reveal his identity, and no Fantastic Four to really drive home the “Civil” part of the event. I was wrong though. Cap’s team and Iron Man’s team all had valid reasons for joining the fight. Everything felt natural in this film.
The main reason this film is my favorite comic book film 0f 2016 is the introduction of two of the BEST characters in comic books. Spider-Man and Black Panther. Spider-Man has been in film before. It’s only been solo movies before this. Spidey is also a part of the MCU now too. Which means we got to see Spider-Man fight Captain America for a quick second. Spidey took down Ant-Man in his Giant Man form. Those moments during the airport fight scene were moments comic book fans dream of.
The only difference between the “moments” from this film and BvS is the execution. I wanted to yelp and scream when Batman and Superman fought for the first time. But the development of Lex Luthor as a villain made me roll my eyes. So, when they finally fought each other, I was just waiting for them to make up so Superman could go fake die. Spider-Man in this film was funny, smart, and they showed his power. Spider-Man is one of the strongest people in the Marvel Universe. When he swung in and caught Bucky’s hand, all while making a joke, it showed how much of a beast he really is. His interaction with Iron Man had a father and son type of feel. The MCU knows how to handle their juggernauts. Spidey is definitely in good hands.
Black Panther wasn’t well known to the public before this movie. He was introduced because the bomb that Zemo set off to frame Bucky, went off at a United Nations conference. Black Panther’s father was killed during the blast. Throughout the entirety of the movie, T’Challa, King of Wakanda, is fueled by rage. They showcased his martial arts, both with and without his suit. They also developed him well. By the end of the film, he realized his mistake, and made a bold act as King. He decided not to kill the man who murdered his father. Not a single person in his country would look at him twice if he killed Zemo, but a young T’Challa realized anger would consume him if he went down that path.
This movie handled its variety of characters masterfully. All while concluding a tremendous character arc. Steve Rogers has been Captain America since his first movie. Now, things will never be the same for the Avengers. There’s new players, new villains, and new stories to explore. Thanos is going to be the one piece to bring everyone back together, but for now, this movie has changed the landscape of the MCU. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the best comic book film of 2016.
I would love to hear your thoughts, how would you rank these films? Thank you very much for reading!