Despite cries that people are getting tired of so many superhero movies and TV shows, the genre still rules. At least on The CW, their superhero shows are their top-rated. And superhero films are among the highest-grossing of the year, even the “disappointments” like ‘Batman V Superman’. So with that in mind, here is my personal run-down of the highs and lows of superhero media this year. Sorry, I’m starting with a “low.”:
Biggest ‘Superhero Movies Are Over’ Moment: ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’
Some folks keep bemoaning the glut of superhero movies and the poor film that backed that argument this year was ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’. To be fair though, the ‘X-Men’ franchise has been chugging along since 2000, predating nearly every current superhero movie franchise. That… may have been the issue. Viewers may have wearied of the brand. And they weren’t the only ones, as star/Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence basically sleepwalked through the whole thing and couldn’t be bothered to don the Mystique makeup for the majority of it.
‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ did poorer than ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ and that film did so badly that Sony scrapped plans to release an entire “shared universe” of Spidey films. Honestly, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ isn’t horrible. But thankfully 20th Century Fox appears to be planning to let this franchise rest for a while to reboot a few years down the line.
Biggest ‘Not So Fast’ Moment: ‘Deadpool’
Or maybe superhero movies aren’t dead, but just need to diversify? ‘Deadpool’ assassinated the month of February raking in an ungodly amount of money for an R-Rated movie riddled with foul language, cartoonish violence, and nudity. But it solidified that the audience for these movies isn’t just teenage boys (as was the standard) but grown-ass adults who grew up reading comics and never outgrew them.
How influential was ‘Deadpool’? So much so that after it opened to record-breaking numbers, Warner Brothers announced that it would release an “unrated” version of ‘Batman V Superman’ on Blu-Ray.
Best Newcomers: Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in ‘Batman V Superman’ and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in ‘Suicide Squad’
‘Batman V Superman’ sucked and ‘Suicide Squad’ was a mixed bag, but both films were elevated by their female leads. The striking Gal Gadot stole every scene she was in in the former. Sitting through that drudgery, I was actually GIDDY when the flight attendant called after her, “Miss Prince! Miss Prince!” Then, of course, she arrived on the scene of the final battle, brandishing her bullet (and fiery breath)-proof bracelets and glowing Magic Lasso.
‘Suicide Squad’ was definitely a superior film but suffered from inconsistency. No one, however, walked out of the theater displeased with Margot Robbie‘s spot-on performance as The Joker’s moll Harley Quinn. For as many characters were in that movie, it seriously felt like a solo Harley movie. And now we’re getting another one! WB has already ordered a ‘Gotham City Sirens’ movie showcasing Robbie’s Harley (with her also serving as executive producer) along with Catwoman and Poison Ivy and as Robbie promised “no booty shorts.”
And of course ‘Wonder Woman’ spins into theaters in 2017 and should hopefully twirl away any residual memories of crappy female superhero movies like ‘Catwoman’ and ‘Elektra’.
Best Team-Up: The CW’s ‘Invasion!’ Crossover
Yeah sure we got ‘Captain America: Civil War’ which was GREAT! Don’t get me wrong! But honestly, minus the additions of Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Paul Rudd as Ant/Giant-Man… I mean we’ve already seen all these guys together on the big screen. It was a great, fun movie.
Buuuuuuuuuut… Okay sure there was no Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman, and the budget wasn’t nearly box office-worthy, but The CW’s annual mashup of their DC superhero shows, ‘Supergirl’, ‘The Flash’, ‘Arrow’ and ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ was the closest thing we’ve ever gotten to a live action ‘Crisis On Infinite Earths’.
While ‘Supergirl’ only BARELY connected to the crossover, we got an amazingly compelling episode of ‘Arrow’ which… okay was a tad too reminiscent of the “For The Girl Who Has Everything” episode of ‘Supergirl’, but was still incredibly engaging just the same.
And when Felicity uttered “This looks like a job for… Supergirl!” on ‘Legends’… goosebumps.
Here’s to hoping the ‘Justice League’ movie dwarfs this, but for now… DC crossover amazing-ness. And speaking of Supergirl…
Best Argument For Spandex Costumes Versus Molded Armor: Tyler Hoechlin As Superman on ‘Supergirl’
I mean… seriously. (I’ll forgive the lifts.)
This also gets the ‘Best Second Fiddle’ award for the first time Superman has been used as a supporting character to Supergirl!
Can we get Chris Wood/Mon-El measured for one of these?
Biggest “Spread Out” Moment: ‘Suicide Squad’
Like I already said, ‘Suicide Squad’ was a mixed bag that mostly hinted at a good movie but never quite reached it. But it came out on August 5th, after the dense summer movie season had mostly wrapped up. As a result, despite tepid reaction, ‘Suicide Squad’ went on to make over $325 million, surpassing the more buzz-worthy ‘Deadpool’ which made more of a splash on social media.
And in a rarity in this day and age, the soundtrack actually spawned a hit single, twenty one pilots’ “Heathens.”
Best Spectacle: ‘Doctor Strange’
Similarly to ‘Suicide Squad’, Marvel Studios’ ‘Doctor Strange’ dodged the packed summer movie season and opened in November and cleaned up. But it wasn’t just the lack of competition that drove this film. To be real, Doctor Strange is a slightly more obscure Marvel Comics character and Benedict Cumberbatch isn’t exactly a household name. But the mind-blowing visual effects were really what snagged attention, with a sizeable chunk of the film’s profits coming from large format theaters like IMAX 3D. People saw the trailers and clips and realized that unlike a lot of tentpole movies, this was one that needed to be seen in the best possible format.
The ‘Grow The F*** Up’ Award: Critics of ‘Luke Cage’
The debut of ‘Luke Cage’ on Netflix actually crashed the streaming service as too many people were watching it at the same time. But in the most 2016 moment of the year (well, y’know minus the election), many took to social media to complain that the show didn’t reflect enough diversity… because there weren’t enough white people on it… y’know a show set in Harlem. Seriously?! Take a look at your life.
The ‘Are Superheroes Supposed To Be… Adorable?’ Award: Tom Holland As Spider-Man In ‘Captain America: Civil War’
He wasn’t in ‘Civil War’ very much, but he absolutely stole everyone’s heart in the few scenes he was in. Tom Holland’s cheekiness and awkward demeanor, particularly opposite Robert Downey Jr.’s slick Tony Stark proved that this virtual unknown is the PERFECT Spider-Man and thankfully, he will headline his own solo movie next year, which will be a collaboration between Sony and Marvel Studios, reaffirming that this Peter Parker is firmly part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And Looking Ahead, Best Cast Of An Upcoming Superhero Movie: ‘Black Panther’
I gave best newcomers to Gal Gadot and Margot Robbie, but Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther would have been a close runner-up. Luckily, he’ll get his chance to shine in his upcoming solo movie due in early 2018. And he’ll be in GREAT company as Marvel has tapped some of the most amazing actors to fill out the cast. Martin Freeman will return as Everett K. Ross along with Andy Serkis as Klau/Klaw. Also part of the cast are Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, Florence Kasumba and Winston Duke.
‘Black Panther’ will bring a much-needed shot of diversity to the superhero landscape and if ‘Civil War’ was any indication, ‘Black Panther’ will be one to look forward to.
What do you think? What were your highs and lows in superhero media this year?