Any way you slice it, 2017 is the finest year of collected comic book movies in the history of the medium. From top to bottom the films released this year range from good to truly transcedent.
The year’s consistency in quality is remarkable, severely damaging the frequent shouts of a mythical superhero bubble about to burst (not that it will stop them).
You can tell a lot about the slate of comic book movies released this year by the contenders that didn’t make my top five. My least favorite Marvel movie of the year – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – is still arguably a top 10 MCU movie, and one of the funniest movies of the year. More controversial, DC’s Justice League is a much-needed course correction for the heroes of the DC Universe, and the movie that has quite literally saved Superman.
The top 5 are some of the better comic movies of all time, though. Without further ado, my favorite comic book movies of the year:
Comic Book Herald’s Review: Logan Review
Despite my deep and unabiding love for the tops of the MCU this year, I can’t imagine selecting any comic book movie over Logan.
Aside from the clear craft and storytelling mastery – you know all the essentials that go into great filmmaking – I partially love Logan for how well it course corrects.
Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine had been partially salvaged by a return to X-Men movies, but the damage of Wolverine: Origins still permeated all future possibilities for solo movies. The Wolverine was miles improved, but still mid tier comic book fare. Heading into Logan, R-Rating hype train and all, I still had dampened expectations. This was not a franchise likely to lead the year.
Then Logan hit with clear-eyed themes and a heart so wounded I’m still trying to convince theater-goers I was cutting onions before the movie. Toss in Patrick Stewart’s remarkable performance as a Professor X riddled with Alzheimer’s (an idea so potentially hamfisted Mark Millar didn’t even try it), and you’ve got a movie with the highest rewatchability marks of the entire field.
Oh, and Logan *nailed* the introduction of X-23. Just another challenge knocked straight out of the park.
There are comic book movies I had more fun watching, but none were more impressive than Logan.
Comic Book Herald’s Review: Thor Review
Speaking of fun comic book movies, Thor: Ragnarok pulled the Thor franchise from the garbage heap of Sakaar and delivered the funniest comic book movie of all time. It was a shockingly good year for trilogies.
Taika Waititi’s films are so fantastically funny I couldn’t imagine not liking Thor: Ragnarok. The movie went and surpassed all my lofty expectations anyway, and capped off an MCU no-hitter dating back to Captain America 3: Civil War (Dr. Strange was a walk, and Guardians 2 was a long fly ball caught at the track).
Comic Book Herald’s Review: Spider-Man Review
Spider-Man is my favorite comic book character, and in addition to the 90’s animated series, Sam Raimi’s first two Spider-Man films are an enormous part of why I’m invested in comic book culture. The nostalgia factor around those originals is in the stratosphere.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is still my favorite Spider-Man movie.
Perhaps it’s my deep and undying affection for Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley Ultimate Spider-Man, but no Spidey movie has so perfectly captured my vision of Peter Parker until Homecoming. The film also escapes the potentially banal trappings of a Vulture story, twisting Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes into a blue collar family man with his own code of honor.
There will always be a part of me that feels some sense of sacrilige ranking Wonder Woman’s debut movie fourth on a year-end list. After all, it took over 70 years to get Wonder Woman – the most iconic female superhero of all time – her own solo movie. Catwoman, Elektra, and Aeon Flux all beat Diana to the big screen. That’s actively insane.
Of course “now we here” is only a fraction of the battle, and the fact that Patty Jenkins and crew were able to so confidently and deftly deliver a high quality Wonder Woman movie is nothing short of miraculous. Wonder Woman origins are fractured in comics moreso than just about any character. Honing in on a tidy narrative is an extreme challenge, and screenwriter Allen Heinberg pulled it off with aplomb.
Wonder Woman is an excellent film, and offered a tonic for a battered DC film universe.
Comic Book Herald’s Review: Lego Batman
2017 was a good year for laughing at comic book movies, with great humor throughout Ragnarok and Guardians Vol. 2. At times, Lego Batman usurps them all, with one of the funniest takes on the Batman mythos imaginable.
What could have been a corporate cash-grab turned into one of the most sincere love letters to Batman comics and media. You don’t have to love Batman to enjoy Lego Batman, but boy does it add to the experience of seeing nearly every Bat-character ever show up for their moment in the spotlight (here’s to you Condiment King).
Honorable Mentions (AKA literally all the rest)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2