I did a similar article to this one way back in June, comparing the output of the three major comic book movie companies. You can check out the article here.
Since I published that piece, Marvel and DC have both released tentpole films which have had a drastic impact upon their respective movie universes. Let us first look at the forgotten cousin though, Fox, who only released one movie this year.
This year Fox tried something different. After another dull, damp squib of an X-Men movie in 2016, they turned their comic book movie properties on their head. First came last year’s R-rated action comedy Deadpool, a mere test of the water, and this year, the spectacular Western noir, Logan. Whereas Marvel and DC jostle for supremacy, Fox is on the outside playing in their own sandpit.
In the near future we have the release of the horror, New Mutants, as well as the much anticipated Deadpool 2. Fox is taking their own approach to superhero moviemaking and even if not every film is a stonecold hit, it’s great to see some innovation in what has become at times a stale genre.
2017 in Review: Fox only released one movie, but it was a genre-breaking success. 9/10.
The undoubted frontrunners of the comic book movie genre, Marvel were looking to put those last preparations in place for next year’s huge Infinity War. Thankfully though, unlike in the build-up to the original Avengers movie (2012), when each film was merely a set-up for the next, Marvel bothered to actually make standalone movies this time, and the universe is all the better for it. Working with Sony, they created perhaps the single best Spider-Man film yet in Homecoming, and Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok has hit all the right notes with fans and critics alike. Guardians 2 may not have been the mega-hit that the original was, but it never was likely to live up to that success. It’s still a solid movie though. So two hits and a middling effort are enough for 2017 to be considered a success for Marvel.
Coming up is the aforementioned Infinity War, but before that, the hotly anticipated Black Panther. Also don’t forget that Ant-Man and the Wasp will be hitting cinemas in July 2018 too. It may be the unexpected superhero hit of the summer.
2017 in Review: Another solid year for Marvel. Even if their films can be formulaic, there’s rarely a miss in sight. 8/10.
After a disappointing year in 2016 both critically and commercially (the first on screen meeting of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman couldn’t crack a billion), DC really needed a win this year as they looked to fast track their universe.
And it started so well. Wonder Woman was a huge hit, the most successful superhero movie of the year, and in the process clawed back some of the goodwill that DC had been losing rapidly. It encapsulated the character perfectly, with a brilliant performance from its lead Gal Gadot, and great direction for Patty Jenkins.
DC’s second film this year, Justice League, was a much less successful one. Justice League began filming immediately after the shooting wrapped on Batman v Superman, but the success of the hopeful Wonder Woman threw a spanner in the works for Zack Snyder’s gritty vision. The result of reshoots helmed by the Avengers’ Joss Whedon, is a messy film to say the least. In an attempt to lay groundwork for a more hopeful universe as a whole in the future, DC have created a damp squib. This is not to say the characters are bad, but the whole movie feels incredibly unspectacular with a forgettable, unsurprising plot and a somehow worse CGI villain than even Suicide Squad could muster up.
There’s over a year gap before the next DC movie, and may be that is the break the company need. Late next year James Wan’s Aquaman will hit screens. The choice of director at least should give hope to disillusioned fans.
2017 in Review: A mix of the wonderful and woeful from DC this year. The lofty highs of Wonder Woman could not but be dragged down by Justice League. 6/10.
This time next year I’ll need to find myself a longer title, because the comic book movie genre is growing. Sony is climbing their way back into proceedings with Venom, and Pixar is releasing the sequel 14 years in the making, The Incredibles 2.
Of course, Disney have recently purchased the majority of 21st Century Fox for a figure in the region of $53.4 billion bringing the X-Men and more backing into the Marvel Universe. How that will affect the landscape of superhero movies will surely soon become clear. After a few years of decline, and a sense that the bubble may be about to burst, the superhero genre is now in a very interesting place heading into 2018.