As we finish out the year in comic book movies, the Double Viking staff is weighing in on how they stacked up against one another. What a mixed bag we got this year, with two films from each of the big three players: Marvel, DC, and Fox/Marvel. Despite being around the longest, Fox/Marvel has yet to really get their act together, delivering one of their best films ever, and one of the worst films of the post-First Class era. DC finally entered the game, made shit tons of money, pleased a fraction of the fans, alienated the rest, and ended up appealing to no one at all. Marvel's MCU continues to be the dominant player on the comic book movie frontier, but did they take the top spot with one of their offerings?
Four of the writers on staff—Brandy, Matthew, Hashim, and myself—saw all six films and were given 100 points to divvy up between the six films. The only rule was that every film had to be allotted at least one point. What follows is our definitive ranking of those films with their scores listed and the four ballots, where you can see our individual scores. Two of the other staff writers—Jason and Brian—joined us in writing up a bit about each film, but they didn't vote as they hadn't seen all six film.
Without further ado, here is our definitive ranking of the comic book movie class of 2016...
6. Suicide Squad
17/400 Possible Points
This was supposed to be the film that justified the DCEU after the debacle that was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and frankly, it didn't do the job. Since my first critics screening, I took some time to examine what about the film I hated, and more importantly (at least to me), what, if anything made this film worth the time and effort put into it (hint: it wasn't Ben Affleck's gratuitous Batman cameo). Truth is, I've got nothing. Everything about Suicide Squad feels disjointed and ill-conceived. Much of this comes from the notion that maybe, just maybe, it would've been smarter to establish the DCEU villains in their respective franchises before giving them a team-up film.
Of course the one thing—especially in conflict and competition with Marvel Studios—that DC and Warner Bros. didn't have was time, and in the end, the pressure placed on Suicide Squad to succeed, and tie into a larger universe led to poor decisions such as... Jared Leto. Even with the benefit of an Extended Edition that puts back most of his excised performance, there is no reason for the Joker to be in the film, regardless of his connection with Harley Quinn, who, if we're being honest, also has no business being here. Of all the cast and characters, the only two that feel as if they truly fit would be Will Smith's Deadshot and Viola Davis' Amanda Waller. These are the two characters, above all else who make the film feel less of a contrivance, but when you add in the constantly wooden performance of Joel Kinnaman, along with the senseless acting of Cara Delevingne and a remaining cast that is easier to forget than remember, what you have is a missed opportunity that came far sooner than it should. The fact that it cleared north of $300 million at the box office is not a sign of quality as much as it's a reminder that the genre couldn't be hotter than it is right now. Soon enough, films like this will be routine flops. —HASHIM R. HATHAWAY
5. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
29/400 Possible Points
Man, the conflicted feelings I have about this movie. I assumed I could just write this one off after seeing it once, but then my daughters decided that they wanted to see it and we watched it on Blu-ray. I've since also watched the Fully Extended Cut also, so I've spent 1/3 of a day in 2016 watching this film. I'm something of an expert on it at this point. Here's what I can say... This is a deeply, DEEPLY flawed film, but one that is not without some rather substantial merits. Ben Affleck is a very good Batman and is given some pretty great set pieces to play in. Most of the supporting cast is a lot of fun. They did a great job of introducing Wonder Woman, even though it didn't really have to happen.
It's also got a lot of demerits, however, as nearly every good point you could make in the film's favor has a back handed compliment attached to it. Then there's the legitimate gripes people have from the thoroughly convoluted Machiavellian scheme that Lex Luthor was hatching—not to mention Jesse Eisenberg's divisive performance—to the whole "Save Martha" revelation that could have only been had while exhaling a sweet pull off a monster bong. And let's also not forget the fact that a jar of piss was a crucial plot point in a Superman movie. This is a movie that desperately wants to be philosophically deep, but it's got all the depth of an insurance commercial. Nevertheless, it's ambitious as hell and is trying its DAMNEDEST to do something different. It doesn't succeed, but it's such a watchable failure that I've honestly never been bored by it... and I've seen it three times. —STEVE ATTANASIE
4. X-Men: Apocalypse
33/400 Possible Points
Apocalypse starts really strong. There’s a lot of cool magic alien pyramid things that look really awesome, and the movie immediately goes on to make Cyclops feel like a sympathetic character instead of a cardboard cutout of James Marsden. You could be forgiven, if you only saw the first twenty minutes of this, for thinking that the movie might be halfway decent.
Then it all just falls apart. It’s all just too stuffed, with so many character vying for screen time that nobody gets a cohesive story that feels fully fleshed out. All of it leaves you wondering: who is the main character in all this mess? Is it Charles, as he learns the importance of proper hair maintenance? Or Erik, whose family gets killed, but it’s okay because he’s got a spare son? Or Mystique, or Jean, or Quicksilver, or Cyclops? There’s just way too much going on in this movie.
Kind of like this review. —MATTHEW LOFFHAGEN
3. Doctor Strange
97/400 Possible Points
Doctor Strange is one of those movies that borrows so many elements from so many other films, it's virtually impossible for it to feel fresh and original. Yet somehow, despite the overwhelming odds, Doctor Strange does indeed manage to overcome some serious issues of been there done that, by injecting the right amount of humor and visual effects distractions. As for the visual effects, they're among the best we've seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date, and are actually incorporated into the fabric of the third act climax, so even though it is bombastic, loud, and chaotic, the audience is able to follow and enjoy it because they understand what's happening.
It's rare these days that a comic book movie doesn't end with the fate of the world hanging in the balance and a fleet of computer technicians constructing fantastical lasers that shoot into the sky and armies of faceless minions duking it out for the sake of mankind. Doctor Strange somehow manages to bob and weave itself into an entertaining climax that keeps the audience engaged in the story without overwhelming them with a sensory overload special effects display. Like Marvel's other film from 2016, we need to be thankful for this sort of third act restraint when we see it. It's a rare commodity in this day and age. —BRIAN McGEE
2. Captain America: Civil War
106/400 Possible Points
Let's call this film by a more appropriate name: Avengers 3. Of all the heroes in Age of Ultron, only Thor and Hulk are missing—and I sure didn't miss them. For me, Bruce Banner's I'm-so-tormented shtick quickly gets old, while Thor's fish-out-of-water gags have mostly been take over by the 1940s-era Steve Rogers. Besides, we get so many extra superheroes in this movie that it's easy to forget whose name is in the title. Cool, noble Black Panther makes his debut here, as does the spunky, eager-to-please Spider-Man, while Ant-Man joins the fun just a year after his first film.
As for the movie itself? Its premise doesn't make much sense. You'd think maverick businessman Tony Stark would be against the government oversight of the Sokovia Accords, while gung-ho solider Steve Rogers would be for it—but actually it's the other way around. The switcheroo with Helmut Zemo is a nice surprise, but I found the "reveal" of Bucky's involvement in the deaths of Stark's parents implausible in several ways. Still, all is forgiven because of the snappy dialogue (a Stark specialty) and the great action scenes, particularly the 12-minute airport sequence that features 12 superheroes battling each other. Some characters are only in the film for a short while, but it's somehow comforting to know they all exist at the same time, starring in their own stories while occasionally wandering into others'. Hopefully this trend will continue after Infinity War. —JASON GINSBURG
118/400 Possible Points
Deadpool may be the perfect comic book movie. Heavy on action, incredibly shot fight scenes, and fan service galore. The film had plenty of places to go horribly awry—especially with that dreaded R rating—but managed not to just stay on track but also to shine at every single turn. Tim Miller was completely faithful to the source material, even down to the constant fourth wall breaking and winking at the camera.
Deadpool is a really hard property to write as a comic book, let alone turn into a film, but Miller and Reynolds (who totally redeemed himself for the smoking garbage fire that was Green Lantern) absolutely nailed it. The film only gets more fun with every re-watch. Now that Miller isn't attached to the sequel, I'm concerned about the future of Deadpool, but as far as 2016's comic book films go, the Merc with a Mouth crushed it. —BRANDY DAWLEY