It should come as no surprise but not all superhero movies are created equal.
Oh, how we’d like them to be. It would be great if every time we sat down to give two hours of our lives to a tale about might, justice and always (mostly) doing the right thing, it was worth it. Sadly, it’s not the case. There are fantastic films and then there are the… others. The ones that make you shake your head and go, “Seriously, what was that?”
It turns out that 2017 was a banner year for riding the spectrum of quality movies and terrible flicks. In our research, we found every single big superhero movie released throughout the year and checked each of their ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. Coincidentally enough, they actually split perfectly: half ranking fantastically and making for a great time at the cinema, while the other half was a monstrous thumbs down.
If you haven’t caught any of these (or just want to relive the glory and gloriously failures of the last year) then this is the article for you. We present to you: The 9 Best and 9 Worst Superhero Movies From 2017 (According To Rotten Tomatoes).
18. WORST: TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (16%)
Ah, the worst superhero movie of the year, and arguably, one of the world movies of the year. Period.
Remember when the Transformers movies were actually good? There was a time and it was glorious. Sadly, this segment, which brings back Mark Wahlberg (who didn’t do a lot for the last entry either) is all about the secret history of the Transformers on Earth. Really, though, it just gives Michael Bay another chance to blow things up. Plus, they made Optimus the bad guy – what’s the deal with that?
Even Anthony Hopkins couldn’t use his British charm to class up this flaming wreck. Let’s hope this year’s standalone Bumblebee movie will save this franchise from itself (but we’re not holding our breath).
17. BEST: JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK (71%)
There were, ahem, other Justice League movies out there that may have gotten more attention (and believe us, we’re going to get there), but if you missed this animated flick, we suggest giving it a go.
Based off the comic of the same name, Batman joins up with John Constantine and Zatanna to stop evil magic from consuming the world. It’s just as fantastic as you think it would be and beautifully animated.
If you haven’t been keeping an eye on the DC animated movies, Justice League Dark is a good one to start with. It’s as dark as the title would make out, action-packed, and truly funny – plus the characters are just as good on the screen as they are on the page.
16. WORST: GUARDIANS (22%)
Looks like Russia isn’t just (allegedly) putting their hand into US politics, they’re also trying their luck with the superhero game.
It’s, um, not going well.
If you didn’t hear a lot about this film as it made its way to the US, well, it’s no surprise. Zashchitniki (aka Guardians) is about a superhero team formed during the Cold War, with its members representing different nationalities of the USSR. It’s all pretty terrible.
If you want to see what a big budget superhero flick from another country looks like, we wouldn’t recommend Zashchitniki, unless you really want to see Russians punch other Russians in the face repeatedly, and mad scientists spout cliche dialogue in, yes, Russian. Then, you know, go for it.
15. BEST: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 (83%)
The original Guardians of the Galaxy was filled with quirky characters, great action sequences, and throwback references on top of a throwback soundtrack. People were questioning if the sequel could top it.
The answer is: sadly not, but not for lack of trying. In fact, it actually matches the joy of the original pretty well. If you liked those previously named aspects of the first film, then you’ll have a good time with the second one, no question.
The characters are still wonderful and more than that, they grow as people throughout Vol 2., giving them more depth than the original film. Plus, we love an insane megalomaniac Kurt Russell as a giant evil living planet. How can you say no to any of that?
14. WORST: DEATH NOTE (39%)
Not all superheroes have super strength or fight bad guys hand-to-hand. Some use different powers to do influence the world.
That doesn’t mean their movies are any better, though.
Death Note was Netflix’s 2017 attempt to do some live-action manga and, while it was adventurous and bold, it was also boring and lacking any of the intrigue and evil of the source material. It wasn’t scary enough to scare us and not funny enough to make us laugh.
However, Death Note‘s one saving grace was letting Willem Dafoe off the chain and voice the monster Ryuk. That man could make reading the phone book spine-tingling. In fact, Netflix should just give him a show doing that, it would be infinitely better than this film.
13. BEST: CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE (86%)
Surprised that a film called Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie made it onto the year’s best superhero movies? Well, then you have not hiked up your own underpants and given it a chance.
Based on the super-successful book series, this movie is actually a lot of fun and, honestly, pretty funny. It’s great for kids and has enough humor for parents to not lose their minds while watching it. Plus, Ed Helms can do no wrong, especially in the titular role as the one and only Captain Underpants.
The story is as amusing as it is heartwarming and we promise you’ll laugh. Come for the candy-colored animation, stay for the crazy sock puppet scene. It’s a movie that truly earned that grandstanding title.
12. WORST: JUSTICE LEAGUE (40%)
Ah, the most anticipated superhero film of the year. Also, the most disappointing.
Now, we’ll give credit where it’s due, this wasn’t the twisted mess that DC has tried offered before with Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, but it wasn’t… good. Oh no, not good. In fact, the reason Justice League was so disappointing is there was so much potential for greatness. These are arguably the most famous comic book characters in history, all together in one movie, and it could have been truly super, instead of again becoming another DC super letdown.
There are some people who really did love this film, and, we’ll admit, parts are truly entertaining. Really though, it just made us want more Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and The Flash in their own solo adventures. Luckily, we’re all getting all three in the next few years.
11. BEST: STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (90%)
Love it or hate it, no question this film stirred up some emotion in you and got you talking. That alone is worth celebrating when so many other films of the last year had you walking out of the theater with a shrug and an “Eh.”
Whatever you thought of the plot, The Last Jedi was beautiful, gripping, and fun.
We cared about the characters, even when they did ridiculous things. Plus, that final lightsaber battle was one of, if not the best fight of the entire series. In the end, we enjoyed the perfect balance between action and humor in this film and can’t wait to watch it again. Plus, Porgs!
10. WORST: POWER RANGERS (44%)
One of the most entertaining performances of the year was Elizabeth Banks going all-for-it insane as Rita Repulsa in Power Rangers. She loved gold as much as a 1970s Dutchman played by Mike Myers and it was fantastic.
Everything else about this movie, though, needed some work.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with trend of capitalizing on our need for nostalgia, but at least give us some substance with it (or at least some decent acting). The plot was nonexistent, the characters were all teenage stereotypes and, the greatest sin of all, it wasted the talents of Bryan Cranston. For shame, Power Rangers, for shame. Basically, we got a live-action cartoon, and not a very good one at that.
9. BEST: THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (91%)
“Darkness! No parents! Continued darkness! More darkness! The opposite of light!”
The Lego Movie was a brilliant undertaking in itself (See Power Rangers, this is how you do nostalgia!), but there was easily one great standout of the entire film: the brooding, raspy, filled with awesomeness and loneliness Batman. But could this character hold up a film of his own?
Hell yes, he could. You know why? Because he’s Batman! This is another example of a film made for kids but sly enough for their parents. The LEGO Batman Movie taught lessons while entertaining, all in the beautifully expanding LEGO universe. We want more LEGO Batman immediately. In fact, just edit him into Justice League, we promise the Rotten Tomato score for the film would go up.
8. WORST: GHOST IN THE SHELL (45%)
First, there was the controversy: Why, oh why was Scarlett Johansson chosen to play the role of Major Motoko Kusanagi, an Asian woman in both the comic and the animation. After the movie came out, the plot made the choice make a little (really, just minimally) more sense, but in no way did it make the film any better.
Bloated with special effects and truly lacking a cohesive or engaging story, this was all flash and no substance. It was a movie that annoyed die-hard fans and confused first time watchers. At the end of the film, it was clear why people came out angrier than they had gone in. Honestly, this ghost probably should have just done us all a favor and stayed in her shell.
7. BEST: THOR: RAGNAROK (92%)
It was a surprise to hear that Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) would be directing the next Thor film. No insult to him, the man’s a genius, but what would a weird and wonderful indie filmmaker do with a superhero budget? Would his style get lost along the way?
It’s safe to say that didn’t happen. Thor: Ragnarok is fun, funny, and weird. Easily the strongest film in the entire Thor series, this was the buddy comedy we never knew Marvel’s been missing. Plus, they cut Thor’s hair and put Cate Blanchett in horns! The verdict’s in: Waititi’s off-beat humor and dynamic visual style injected a much-needed breath of fresh air into the MCU. What will he do next?
6. WORST: KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE (52%)
Golden? We think not.
Kingsman: The Secret Service was such a fantastic homage to the incredible comic, taking the normal staples of action movies, flipping them on their heads, and then pushing them farther than we thought possible. Plus, it had Samuel L. Jackson as the villain, and that’s really enough.
All credit to the great acting of Julianne Moore, but she’s just no Samuel L. Jackson when it comes to villains. Sadly, the sequel The Golden Circle took everything fun from the first one and just watered it down. Plus, did we really need an American version of the Kingsman organization? We take everything classy about England and just make it a little worse. Sadly, that’s exactly what happened here.
5. BEST: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (92%)
Finally, Spider-Man done right.
Let’s start with the fact that they cast an actual teenager to play the teenage Spider-Man – and man, did it make a difference. Tom Holland’s youth and energy webbed all over the screen and made it impossible not to smile. He was a great addition to Captain America: Civil War and dominated every scene of Spider-Man: Homecoming film, even when face-to-face with the great Michael Keaton.
When this Spider-Man was in trouble, we really felt it and when he saved the day, we couldn’t help but cheer.
4. WORST: THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE (53%)
Turns out, even the great minds behind LEGO don’t get it right every time.
Fans for The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie wanted to like this movie, since it seemed like a lot of fun: school-age LEGO kids save their city as secret ninjas in their spare time. Who wouldn’t love that? Sadly, the idea behind this movie worked better than the real thing.
This bright-colored story about finding your true family was hard to watch and had none of the previous LEGO films’ pizazz. There were a couple bits of pretty solid humor, but in the end, this one fell flat. It ended up feeling like one long commercial to sell Ninjago products.
3. BEST: WONDER WOMAN (92%)
Ah, wonderful Wonder Woman. DC’s first real success and a triumph of fun film making.
It’s easy to see why. Beautifully directed by Patty Jenkins and fiercely owned by star Gal Gadot, this film shuts down every hater (in the film and real life) who claim that women can’t hold a torch to men, especially when it comes to super women. The film was as thrilling as it was beautiful and we’re not sure we’ll ever get tired of watching that scene in the no man’s land WW2 trenches.
This was easily one of the best films of the year and we’re so happy it finally got made. Really, there are multiple reasons to explain why Diana Prince is a Goddess, but really, all you have to do is watch this movie and it becomes painfully obvious.
2. WORST: BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN (56%)
Ah, Harley Quinn. She just makes everything better, from the best comics to the worst movies. Sometimes it seems there isn’t anything she can’t save (Suicide Squad) — and that says something since she’s usually straight-up murdering people.
Now, Batman and Harley Quinn just was not good. We’ve already talked about the 2017 DC Animated movie you should watch and it’s infinitely more enjoyable than this one, from animation to story. Really, just watch Justice League Dark instead.
Harley Quinn teaming up with the dark knight to try and stop the end of the world is admittedly pretty adorable. That’s about it, though – everything else is pretty weak. For this one, come for the Harley and stay for the… well, that’s it.
1. BEST: LOGAN (93%)
The best superhero movie of the year is Logan. We’re saying it and so are the critics.
Dark, powerful, heart-crushing, this is the perfect example of soul within a superhero film. This final tale of Logan, aka the Wolverine, was as beautiful as it was unexpected. Hugh Jackman’s swan song was incredible and Sir Patrick Stewart gave a performance for the ages as an ageing Professor X.
Plus, who didn’t love Dafne Keen as Laura? The girl was a powerhouse all on her own.
If you didn’t get around to seeing Logan last year, this is the perfect way to start 2018. We’ve got a slew of new superhero films coming in the next twelve months, and hopefully they all can be at least half as good as this one.
What was your favorite superhero movies of 2017? Let us know in the comments!
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