Comic book and Superhero movies have literally become a genre all their own. Over the years taking legendary stories and heroes and bringing them to the big screen has become a staple of Hollywood to the point where only one year in the 2000s and 2010s has there not been a comic book inspired film released in a 365 day span. Now in 2017 we have enough to literally create a top ten. As the year draws to a close I took a look at all the films based on comic books, superheroes, or graphic novels and put together a list of the ten films I thought were the best offerings in this young genre as the first entry in my “Best of” series that will run through the rest of the year chronicling my picks for the best overall movies of 2017. Overall five superhero movies received perfect 5-star scores from me in 2017, and four of those are on this list. Which one is the best? I’m excited to present my picks for the Top 10 Superhero and Comic Book Films of 2017!
For this list a film had to be based on a comic book, popular superhero, or a graphic novel. Any films with a completely original premise and hero were not considered for the list and were saved for other genre-based lists. Films for this list don’t have to be direct interpretations of the source material, but must get their inspiration and major characters from the books, shows, or properties they were based on.
As a rule for my “Best of” series no film can appear on two lists at once so if you don’t see a film on this top ten then it’s very possible I saved it for another top ten to appear throughout December and considering that many of these movies cross into other genres that’s quite a possibility. I can say at least one superhero movie this year was saved for another list and won’t be featured here. Also all of these movies had to be released AFTER Christmas of 2016 in the United States. If they were released before then in limited capacity or outside of the U.S. and had yet to be released in the states they still qualify as long as their primary theatrical American run fell mostly within 2017.
So here we go. A moment I’ve waited all year to present. These are my picks for the Top 10 Superhero and Comic Book Films of the year! Again these are films I personally viewed this year (even if I didn’t get the chance to review them) so I want to hear from you! Let me know you’re favorite film from 2017 based on comics and superheroes in the comments below!
10. “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”
As the most expensive movie ever made by a non-American independent film company, released under the EuropaCorp and STXfilms banners, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is based on the French science fiction comic series “Valérian and Laureline” and starred Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as the titular character of that very comic. “Valerian” was a visually stunning cinematic experience with colorful and bright characters, imaginative worlds and an engaging plot that was both easy to follow and complicated enough to fit its sci fi setting. While the film was bogged down by poor dialogue and predictability I did find DeHaan and Delevingne to be a joy to watch and there were enough fun moments to keep me engrossed in what was taking place. In my review I said that “Valerian” CAN be a fun experience if you want it to be and I still hold to that opinion. It might not capture the true majesty of its source material, but it was a shamelessly fun space adventure nonetheless. You can read my review of the film here.
9. “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”
The first “Kingsman” movie was a massive blast that took the comic book franchise of the same name and successfully brought it to the big screen in epic fashion. The second film, which strays a little more from the comics and into more original territory, didn’t quite live up to the hype even if it was an enjoyable movie in its own right. Introducing the Kingsmen’s American counterparts The Statesmen, which were not in the comics, the film did feel a bit bogged down with its need to be original and pander more to an American audience. That’s not to say it was bad though. “The Golden Circle” had its charm, recapturing at least most of the same no-holds-barred action and suspense of the original film. Still, as I said in my review, it tries a bit too hard to add new elements to the “Kingsman” universe, which made it somewhat of a letdown for me personally as a fan. I called it a step backwards, and it kind of was, but that didn’t keep it from being a fun, energetic, and in many ways bloody affair worth checking out. If you liked the first one, chances are you’ll probably enjoy this one even if the first movie was a lot more complete and better made. You can read my review of the film here.
I did not get the chance to review this film for my blog, but it’s still a pretty good adaptation all the same. “Wilson” was the 2017 cinematic take on the 2010 graphic novel that saw the titular curmudgeon, played by Woody Harrelson, reconnect with his ex-wife and his daughter, now adopted by a different couple. Harrelson owns the role perfectly bringing Wilson to life in all his grouchy, foul mouthed, cynical glory and giving us a comic book adaptation like few before it. This is a man who has experienced some pretty dark things in his life, but they’re all mishaps we can relate to. While the story is a strange one, the comedy is strong, the performances are fully realized (for the most part) and Harrelson holds the film high on his own shoulders to give viewers an insightful performance that just might make you question your own distain for life. While I don’t have a review for this one myself I’d give it a solid four stars. Chances are you may not have gotten to see it during its limited release in theaters so I suggest you check it out yourself. There’s a reason its on this list after all.
7. “Power Rangers”
I’ll admit there’s a bit of bias involved with this one being this high up on this list, but come on it’s the Power Rangers! Lionsgate took a chance bringing this team of teenagers with attitude to the big screen in 2017 taking inspiration from the classic 90s television show of the same name that still runs strong today. The original five rangers are re-imagined as more modern teenagers who are honestly more relatable than their television counterparts. While there was quite a bit to be desired from the overall product “Power Rangers” was full of great fanfare, fun dialogue, and some pretty cool action set pieces that made it a perfect example of escapism at its best. As I said in my review even at its worst “Power Rangers” is much better than, or at lease holds up to, many of its contemporaries and after several rewatches I still feel like it’s an example of how pandering and creative changes to the source material can pay off in the right hands. It truly doesn’t hold a candle to the remaining movies on this list, but it’s still a fun experience hard core fans should enjoy without a problem. Read my review of the movie here if you wish.
6. “Justice League”
The DC Extended Universe had a pretty interesting year following up its official launch with “Batman v. Superman and “Suicide Squad” in 2016. One of two films released in 2017 to add to the legacy, “Justice League” brought the comic book company’s biggest names together for the first time on the big screen. Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, and even Superman were all featured in the epic showdown with Steppenwolf, an otherworldy servant of eventual future big baddy Darkseid. I can’t sugarcoat it that “Justice League” does leave a bit to be desired, but it’s not nearly as bad as it could have been. The cast has great chemistry, it felt like each hero had their moment to be fleshed out and significant, and if I’m being honest the overall product was actually a lot of fun. While it wasn’t the truly defining epic it needed to be, “Justice League” takes a pretty generic plot and bland villain and somehow still feels relatively fresh and new. I called the film “just good enough to work” in my review and I stand by it. “Justice League” wasn’t what it needed to be, but what it is really isn’t that bad.
5. “Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2”
You knew this list would be filled with Marvel and DC properties and while “Guardians 2” was pretty fun, its lack of true originality kept it from matching the same five-star level all of the next four films managed to reach in my opinion. “Guardians 2”, the first of three Marvel Cinematic Universe films released this year, is an amazingly fun film that picks up only a short time after the original hit and puts Star Lord in a situation where he has to come to grips with his lineage and a dark secret behind his father’s existence. A great and worthy villain and consistently funny characters make this a memorable and enjoyable ride, but its biggest flaw is that it leans too much on the same formula of the original and outside of its main villain fails to truly separate itself from the first movie. Despite its lack of creativity I felt the film balanced its cast well, paid off on its epic scope and promise of hilarity, and lived up to expectations just enough to earn a top 5 spot on this list. You can read my review of the sequel here.
4. “Spider-Man: Homecoming”
It was hard to pick which film would go where in these next four because, as I mentioned earlier, all of them were awarded five star ratings from my blog and only three (the top 3) can qualify to be in my “Best of 2017” overall list at the end of the year. That said the one that barely misses out is “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, the first solo film featuring the famed webslinger in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the original Sony “Spiderman” trilogy made the hero a big-screen icon, this take on the character presented a fully realized Peter Parker as he took on his nemesis The Vulture, played by Michael Keaton. “Homecoming” was a charming, fun and fresh take on a character we’ve seen so many times before that truly benefited from the creative minds at Marvel as they brought Spidey into the MCU fold. It was truly exciting to see Spider-Man come into his own as a Junior Avenger and the creative changes made to villain the Vulture felt necessary and reasonable to incorporate him into the MCU. I called the films a nice, tight package filled with humor and fun in my review and that still stands. “Homecoming” was the Spider-Man film we’ve deserved for years and truly earned its place right here in the top 5 on this list.
3. “Wonder Woman”
The DCEU might not have gotten “Justice League” just right, but the studio made headlines when it brought the Amazonian princess to life in an origin story that set records in 2017, and rightfully so. “Wonder Woman” was a rare treat from DC. While it still embraced the darker feel of past DC films, it carried a much more complete and realized story than previous installments as we saw Wonder Woman evolve from a naive princess into a warrior goddess determined to guide the world through World War I. The movie avoids many clichés and prevents itself from being too heavy handed while Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins came off as truly inspired in their attempt to bring legitimacy to the first true quality female driven superhero film. As I said in my review, “Wonder Woman” has personality, charm, and something to say that all come together in an epic package that does doesn’t betray itself with over-the-top action and suspense, settling instead for slightly more reserved, but still appropriately intense action and even a few life lessons along the way. It deserves to be commended as a landmark film of 2017 regardless of genre. However I felt the next two films were just a little bit better.
2. “Thor Ragnarok”
For years the god of thunder has been the overlooked sibling in the brotherhood of MCU heroes, but not in 2017. He owns the best of the three films Marvel released as part of their extended universe with this whitty, imaginative, and endlessly entertaining story that takes Thor in a totally new direction. The story pits Thor against his sister Hela, possibly one of the most memorable villains the MCU has produced to date, as he faces the possibility of Ragnarok, the end of his home world of Asgard. It’s more entertaining, memorable, complete, and epic than either of the two “Thor” films before it and takes the MCU to new worlds beyond the land of the gods. It’s not Marvel’s very best, but it’s easily a top five on that list as well and, as I said in my review, “makes its titular hero look cool again”. “Thor: Ragnarok” is not only an epic superhero movie, it’s also a great comedy, science fiction film, and fantasy adventure all wrapped in a well defined and presented story that feels new and exciting. It’s true mind-numbing fun and promises even bigger things from both Thor and the MCU. It’s an adventure worth taking in every way. However, there was one film this year that truly amazed me. One comic book movie that hit all the right notes from start to finish that truly deserves to be considered among the year’s best…
“Violent, uncompromising, unapologetic, tearjerking, pick your cliché”. These were the worlds I used in my review of “Logan” leading to my five star rating of the best superhero and comic book movie of 2017. The conclusion to Wolverine’s standalone trilogy of films that also included the forgettable “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and the just okay “The Wolverine”, “Logan” took a page from another X-Men movie, 2016’s “Deadpool” by embracing an R rating and turning up the violence to appropriate levels to its titular character. Taking notes from the “Old Man Logan” comic book storyline, “Logan” took Wolverine to a place we all wanted to see. Hugh Jackman gave everything to his final turn as the character that made him a star, turning in a heartfelt and moving performance as the damaged mutant whose power’s of longevity have become more of a curse than a blessing. When he meets a mutant modeled after himself from a lab Logan is forced to come to terms with his inner demons and the man he has become as well as his legacy in a terrific journey that I called “a true masterpiece in its own right”. “Logan” is not just a story about an aged superhero, it’s a story about a man forced to face death for the first time and decide once and for all what he wants to leave behind for a world that has forgotten him and that he has abandoned. From its violent beginning to its oh-so-satisfying end, “Logan” is a true gem in 2017 and is not only the greatest superhero movie of the year, it’s one of the greatest superhero movies of all time.