Earlier in the year I wrote an article discussing the comic book movies from the first half of 2016. Looking back over that post I can see that I (quite rightly) ranked Marvel as having the best start to the year with the epic Captain America: Civil War. Fox were second after the good but not great Deadpool, and DC were lagging behind after the clunky misfire that was Batman v Superman. In that same post I discussed how excited I was for the rest of the year. Doctor Strange intrigued me but it was Suicide Squad and X-Men: Apocalypse that really got me excited. The DC anti-hero movie promised something completely different to what we had seen for years in comic book movies, whilst Apocalypse was the third installment in an otherwise fantastic prequel franchise.
Now 2016 is coming to a close, I can look back at the year and definitely say:
Well that wasn’t great.
Civil War really reinvigorated my love of comic book movies after a gradual slide in interest beginning around the time of 2015’s Age of Ultron. I expected less of Doctor Strange but was still rather excited. I took my seat in the IMAX cinema and whilst it didn’t stray too far from the Marvel formula, it still managed to completely blow me away visually. No doubt seeing the film on such a large screen really benefitted it, as I was truly immersed in the mind-boggling multiverse. For that scene alone it was worth it. Although I’m not sure it will be quite as effecting on the smaller screen on a repeat viewing. Aside from that, as i said, it was rather formulaic, but the action sequences were still impressive, and there were a few nice surprises thrown in. Marvel did a particularly good job in introducing magical elements into a universe that is already well developed, and I look forward to seeing how it is used in future movies.
Doctor Strange: 8/10
Score for the Year: 8.5/10
DC didn’t get off to the best start with Batman v Superman, but they had a great chance to save their new cinematic universe with Suicide Squad. The original trailers appeared promising but as soon as the first reviews came out it was obvious something had gone wrong. The result is a choppy movie, which never really takes off. The action is generic, the characters one dimensional, and the story quite honestly boring. The horrific CGI monsters only add to the mess.
It seems DC have been in panic mode since the very beginning. They have tried so hard to rival Marvel that they continuously mess with the films being made, and the movies never hit the spot. They are three movies in now and Man of Steel remains the best of a rather poor bunch. I’m unsure how much longer this universe can survive on such torrid output. In 2017 they really need to hit a homerun with either Wonder Woman or Justice League in order to stay relevant.
Whilst both BvS and Suicide Squad ultimately beat Doctor Strange in box office numbers, they were both released in better months than Strange which was straddled with a November release. Neither BvS nor SS got close to the one billion mark that Civil War breezed through either. That is a worrying sign, especially since DC threw all of its eggs in one basket having all three of their big hitters in Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman appear in BvS.
Suicide Squad: 3/10
Score for the Year: 4/10
Reading my previous post I can see I was really excited by Fox this year. Sure I didn’t love Deadpool as much as everyone else seemed to, but I still preferred it to BvS, and I was thoroughly excited for X-Men: Apocalypse. By the time Apocalypse was released however, my enthusiasm had waned somewhat, and it was the only comic-book movie this year that I didn’t journey to the cinema to see. Instead I watched this one most recently, only days ago, in the comfort of my own living room. It is a middling effort unfortunately. Not as dull as Batman V Superman or Suicide Squad, probably thanks to the very talented ensemble cast, but nothing special either. Instead of forging its own path (the exact reason why First Class was so brilliant) it relied too heavily on copying the destruction of Days of Future Past. Comic book movies needn’t just be world-destroying action! There’s a moment near the start of the film where Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey, having left a screening of Return of the Jedi, states that the third film is always the weakest in a trilogy. Obviously that was a dig at the underwhelming Last Stand, but it also unintentionally became a self-fulfilling prophecy for Apocalypse too.
X-Men: Apocalypse 5/10
Score for the Year 6/10
So overall, I have to say, it’s been quite the disappointing year for comic book movies. Out of the six released, I can say only one was truly great. A couple were good but the other three were duds. I’ll only be rewatching one in the future which I think says a lot.
There’s been a lot of talk in recent years of superhero fatigue. I began to feel that in 2015, and the feeling has only grown this year.
Perhaps other people are beginning to feel that too. Sure Civil War and Deadpool cleaned up at the box office, but BvS and particularly X-Men: Apocalypse struggled to hit the high numbers they hoped for. There’s a lot of comic book movie output and it can get tiring, repetitive and expensive for people.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
There are a number of very exciting comic book movies being released in the coming year, and they will be addressed in a post very soon.
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!