4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
How do you follow up the dynamic re-introduction of (now the 3rd actor to play) Spider-Man after his action-oriented cameo in Captain America: Civil War? By going back to the character’s roots—this time literally, as Peter Parker (Tom Holland) returns home directly after his battle with various members of The Avengers by Tony Stark, who provides him with an advanced spider-suit loaded with tech. But back in Queens, New York, Parker is just another high school student living with his Aunt May and harboring a fumbling crush on a classmate.
But your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man still makes his rounds, stopping small-time crimes in his neighborhood while balancing his school work and avoiding Stark’s cautious mentoring. Around this time, a struggling salvage contractor uncovers a cache of alien weaponry left behind from the Battle of New York in the first Avengers movie and uses the tech to advance his own criminal enterprise. And it’s up to Spider-Man to stop him—even if it ruins his prom.
Spider-Man: Homecoming was a refreshing return to Spider-Man’s traditional origins. Instead of fighting galactic invaders, Parker’s adventure is confined mostly to his own turf, fighting a villain that’s human despite his alien technology, and the overall story is scaled-down and reminiscent of the original comic books. Filled with humor, great action sequences, and with Parker being played like a teenage kid, Spider-Man: homecoming was an enormous success, raking in $880 million on a $175 million budget, and was one of the most easily likeable superhero films of the year.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Just when you thought the follow-up to the mega-popular Guardians of the Galaxy would suffer from the sophomore slump, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 came out and put those fears to rest. Retaining the same fun and lighthearted tone as the first film while also advancing the story and adding some heart, GotG Vol. 2 is a follow-up that’s actually worth a damn.
Our goofy hero Star-Lord and his merry band of misfits have just pulled off their latest heist, but Rocket Raccoon puts them all in danger by pilfering some of the goods they were supposed to deliver. This sends Yondu towards Star-Lord and his team to capture them and bring the stolen goods back to their not-so-rightful owner. Meanwhile, Star-Lord gets the shock of a lifetime when he meets his father, the god-like alien Ego the Living Planet (which, thanks to brilliant casting, is played by Kurt Russell), who at first seems sincere in reconnecting with his son but has ulterior motives.
Fun, smart, and more than a little silly, it seems the filmmakers realized what people liked about the first film and did the right thing by not changing any of these elements. Instead, GotG Vol. 2 delivers exactly what fans of the first film wanted in a sequel. And for that, fans were thankful: the film was a box office hit and insured that further adventures by this ragtag group of somewhat heroes will continue.
You know that Wolverine movie that every fan of the character has been wanting to see for decades? Somehow, they got it–in the most unexpected way possible. Logan is set in a disastrous future, where most mutants have been bred out of existence and the few that are left are being actively hunted.
Professor X is still alive and being protected by Wolverine, AKA Logan, but he has been publicly disgraced since his degenerating mental condition had accidentally led to scores of deaths. It’s possibly the darkest film in the X-Men franchise, and appropriately enough it centers on Logan, the conflicted, angry, and alienated figure that both represents all that mutants are and the human side they also still have.
Logan meets a young girl who seems to have similar powers as him and finds out she was developed from a program by the government to make mutants they can control—and in essence, she’s his daughter. What follows is a journey across America to try and deliver her to a safe zone before agents find them and destroy her, as well as a fittingly dark and ultimately tragic end to the story of both the X-Men and Wolverine.
Shot with purpose and intensity, Logan is a superhero film that elevates itself from the common pedestrian directing many superhero films tend to fall into and instead becomes a memorable film in its own right. To experience the full effect of its artistry, track down the black-and-white version that was briefly released: the artistry and mood set by the cinematography is even more evident when thrown in stark contrast. It was the best superhero film of 2017 until June 2nd when….
1. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman was released on June 2, eventually cracking the Top 10 of best fourth-week box office returns of all time, eventually making $822 million worldwide, and currently occupying the #1 spot on Rotten Tomatoes ranking of the “50 Best Superhero Movies of All Time.” And there’s a good reason why: it’s a fantastic superhero movie.
In fact, it’s one of the strongest modern superhero films released so far. While The Avengers franchise is great, it’s an ensemble piece so that if one scene or character didn’t work, there was a good chance the next one will. But for a superhero film focused solely on one character, Wonder Woman does a stellar job making its character an interesting, well-written, and truly heroic character.
Unlike Batman, who does his business because of a psychological compulsion and funded by his deep pockets, or Superman, who is a nigh invincible alien and it’s either that or working at his stupid reporter job full-time, Wonder Woman is urged on by her iron code of ethics and compassion for people. It makes her character not just interesting but genuinely heroic.
When she runs across the no man’s zone between two trenches in World War I, she has no idea whether she’ll survive–she does it because there are people in trouble and she is compelled to try and save them. Diana Prince aims to succeed in the face of danger, and even if she doesn’t she at least tries to–and does so without flinching at the potential death her actions may result in.
About World War I: it was a brilliant idea to set the film in this historic period. It makes Wonder Woman both foreign but familiar to modern audiences and serves as a period piece as much as an action movie. Besides that, it also sets the film in a conflict literally a century old that still most of the world can relate to because, well, most of the Western world was directly involved in it. This colors the film in a unique way and gives it a character that it would otherwise lack without this specific period setting.
There is a lot more to write about how and why this film is a superb superhero film, but between its excellent character motivation, historical setting, and Gal Gadot’s solid performance that makes a believable and interesting superhero despite being an otherworldly figure detached from humanity, Wonder Woman reigned supreme at the box office this summer for good reason: it’s the best superhero movie of 2017.
Author Bio: Mike Gray is a writer whose work has appeared on numerous websites and maintains a TV and film site at MeLikeMovies.com.