Ranking every Comic Book Film of 2016
It’s the beginning of a new year and for most movie blogs that means the year-end wrap-up list. And even though it took me a couple extra days, I once again managed to watch every superhero and comic book movie released in the US (that I’m aware of). The only other film that I haven’t watched was the bollywood superhero film A Flying Jatt which I don’t believe ever got a US release where I could watch a subtitled version. And instead of merely going through some number of my favorites, I decided to do something just a little bit different and go ahead and rank every single comic book film of this year from worst to best. And one quick disclaimer, while the title reads “Comic Book Film”, as I always do for this site I include superhero films that were never based on comics as well as comic book adaptations that aren’t about superheroes.
There’s a small handful of gorgeous visuals, but it doesn’t help the uninteresting story about a guy stuck with an old house, a family secret, and a bunch of creepy mannequins that come to life.
An incredibly standard teen superhero origin story. It had a passable comedic alien robot sidekick, but every character was underdeveloped and it spent way too much time in tired high school tropes without any actual action.
The latest holiday-themed animated Marvel fare where Hulk and a bunch of supernatural comic book heroes enter the dream realm and save some kids from Nightmare with the help of Doctor Strange. It’s very kid-focused with a hint of a message but the Halloween themed heroes don’t get much development especially since it’s unlikely that you’ve ever heard of them before.
This is the latest in the Batman-cartoon-tied-into-a-toy-line and it really comes off as such. There aren’t any female characters, all the vehicles and mechs look like they were pre-packaged to be sold to the 4 to 11 year old boy demographic, and it’s all action and comedy. At least the comedy does hit once in a while, especially towards the end.
This is a bizarre, ultra-low budget superhero film about a guy who gains the power to expel cooked spaghetti from nearly any orifice of his body. The humor worked for me more often than it didn’t, but it can be a difficult concept to wrap your head around.
This is one of the most popular Batman comics and often credited for contributing towards making comics as a whole darker and more adult. And while the overall story and concept is stylish and compelling, there’s just something that doesn’t quite resonate any more, and the added Batgirl prologue doesn’t mesh well or accomplish its intended goal of giving her character more agency in a story where she was simply a victim.
While the first film was a disappointment to most fans of the franchise, I thought it was ok. And while I do think that the sequel improved in many places, especially with plenty of 80’s style fanservice, it didn’t go far enough. Casey Jones was a big disappointment where he often felt more like a petulant child rather than a disturbed vigilante. The turtles were great as a whole, but they once again gave Shredder the shaft, this time in favor of comic relief villains by way of Bebop, Rocksteady, and Krang.
I was pleasantly surprised when I watched the original All Superheroes Must Die, and it was one of the first ultra-low-budget superhero films I watched for this site. The sequel trades the horror movie vibe for a documentary style mystery with a nice little action scene at the end. It has some compelling characters and it hides the low budget quite well. Plus, it’s freely available to watch on YouTube.
Another ultra-low-budget superhero film, I did enjoy this one slightly more due to the comedy. It’s a combination of James Bond parody with the feel of the Adam West Batman. Much of the footage is pulled together from their webseries, but aside from a few redundant montage scenes, it comes together as an actual movie quite well.
And another movie pulled together from a webseries (only I believe this webseries never actually aired as such). This is essentially a superhero parody that often forgets that it’s supposed to be a parody so it takes itself seriously until the end of the scene. That said, it still works more than it doesn’t and can be fun to watch. Plus, it’s a superhero film with two female leads and never oversells that point.
This is one of two films where I fudge the release year a little bit. It’s considered a 2015 release due to a festival run last year, but its home video release was this year so I’m putting it on this year’s list. Also, this is the only film on this list that I consider a comic book movie because a large portion of the film is about a comic book, rather than being based on one. It’s a fascinating concept that ties together three different stories, and while it’s often hilarious, it can get a little muddled on a first time viewing. Plus the ending feels like a bit of a cop out.
We finally get to one of the biggest movies of the year and one of the biggest disappointments. I have watched both versions and while I do think that the extended version solves some of the problems, it doesn’t solve all of them. Despite how low this is on the list, I did quite enjoy it. Though some could say that I’m too easy on movies. There are some great action sequences in this. The mystery aspect generally works, but the tone is too dour and the set up for future movies is more annoying than exciting. Fingers crossed for Wonder Woman.
The latest in the X-Men prequel franchise was a bit of an odd mix. While there were plenty of great moments and characters, whenever a superhero film brings in a villain with god-like powers it’s never easy to come up with a plausible solution on how to defeat him. Plus, this prequel series is going on thirty years, three movies, and it only now feels like Xavier has finally gotten his starting line up of X-Men? But aside from the problems, there was still fun to be had, especially the Sweet Dreams sequence that copies the Time in a Bottle sequence but doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
We’re halfway through this list and while next year brings Lego Batman to the big screen, there have been plenty of Lego DC heroes on the small screen and they are always a lot of fun. This one brings in Brainiac as an obsessed collector who needs Earth to replace a broken planet-in-a-jar. The biggest downside is how they turn Supergirl into an insipid cheerleader, but at least there’s a random Voltron moment at the end that’s extremely satisfying.
And this is the movie where I cheat on release dates in the exact opposite way than I did earlier. This film ran the festival circuit this year, and I believe was released on home video to backers of the original kickstarter, but won’t be released to everyone else until later this year. Regardless, I did get a chance to watch it and I quite enjoyed it. It’s a very dark, pared down psychological horror/thriller that makes you feel uncomfortable during nearly every moment. And Roddy Piper gives an amazing performance as one of the guards.
This was the first superhero movie released last year and while I generally liked it, it hasn’t really stuck in my memory very well. This was one of the latest in the ongoing Batman and Damian Wayne storyline that started with Son of Batman. It greatly expanded the bat-family with a couple lesser-known bat-members: Batwoman and Batwing, and it teased Batgirl at the end. The biggest drawback was that I felt like I was missing quite a bit since I wasn’t familiar with the characters beforehand. But it still came together with a sense of mystery and plenty of action.