Marvel vs DC vs Fox: A Ranking of 2016’s Comic Book Adaptations
Marvel vs DC vs Fox
In the Golden Age of Comic Book Movies, 2016 will go down as milestone year. It’s the most prolific one, so far, with each of the main players releasing two movies. Deadpool defied expectations, Dawn of Justice polarized, Civil War raised the notch, Age of Apocalypse underwhelmed, Suicide Squad showed DC can take a joke or two, and Doctor Strange mesmerized. How do they stack against each other? Let’s find out:
6. X-men: Age of Apocalypse
There’s a particular scene where Jean, Scott and Kurt emerge from a theatre after having seen Return of the Jedi. Sophie Turner, who plays Jean, remarks: “The third is always the worst.” The statement is true when you think about franchises such as: Star Wars, Back to The Future, The Godfather, Dark Knight, The Matrix, and even the original X-men trilogy. Sadly, this awful-final- installment-in- trilogy problem plagues what’s probably Bryan Singer’s swansong too.
There are a lot of fresh faces in this film; some a joy to watch (Turner, Ty Sheridan), and others (Olivia Munn, Oscar Isaac) painfully underutilized. Apocalypse was a mere caricature and Magneto’s role in the final battle muddled.
It’s not surprise the box office returns paled in comparison to those of its predecessor Days of Future Past. Add that to Hugh Jackman’s imminent departure, and the franchise’s biggest stars being out of their contracts, and it almost feels like the apocalypse Singer was trying to capture wasn’t of the universe the X-men inhabit, but rather of the X-men franchise itself. There are talks of a reboot being penned by Simon Kinberg so maybe it’s too soon to call it curtains. The Dark Phoenix—which is also reportedly in the works—has become symbolic of the renewed strength the franchise hopes to achieve.
5. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Picking up from where Zack Snyder’s previous effort—Man of Steel—left off, the superhero slugfest pitted comics’ most iconic characters against one another. The “v” in the title alluded to a lot more than their much-hyped, albeit anti-climactic battle. It was in reference to the contrasting ideologies the Dark Knight and the Boy in Blue had—with the former wary of his rival potentially going off the rails and misusing his power to conquer earth, and with the latter opposed to his nemesis’ unchecked, often brutal, vigilante justice. One thing that they unconsciously agreed upon was that a mad man shouldn’t wield that much power—a theme that has become more relevant than ever since the 8 th of November.
Despite it being thought-provoking and operatic, the film collapsed under the weight of its own astronomical ambitions in trying to act as both a Man of Steel sequel, and a Justice League prequel. The one-hour first act was largely stultifying, Jesse Eisenberg forgettable as Lex Luthor, Doomsday thoughtlessly handled, and the tone a little too serious. That last peeve has since forced Warner Bros. to make some changes in its upper echelons. Expect wise-cracking and light-hearted moments in next year’s Justice league and Wonder Woman as already foreshadowed in their trailers.
4. Suicide Squad
If there was a movie that Warner Bros. needed to release following the criticism of the moody Dawn of Justice, it was definitely David Ayer’s super villain team up. It’s humorous tone and levity served the purpose of convincing audiences that not everything in the DC-verse is dark and gloomy.
Headlining this tentpole were Margot Robbie, Will Smith and Viola Davis all of whom lived up to their billings with electrifying performances—Robbie being, by far, the stand out performer. Through some poignant moments in the film—particularly the bar scene—Ayer allowed us to sympathize and feel connected to these characters in spite of their nefarious nature.
Of course, there’s no talking about this film without mentioning the Joker in particular. The Internet was awash with reports of the extreme method acting techniques Leto used to prep for his role, like sending cast mates used condoms and dead rats. While Leto was chilling, and portrayed Joker’s psychotic temperament well, we only got to see glimpses of what it could’ve been in its entirety as his role was frustratingly reduced to a cameo. This, coupled with odd-pacing in the script, almost made it terrible. Almost.
Not even the cookie-cutter plot of this Ryan Reynolds-led adaptation could stop it from being a smash hit and leave fans desperately clamouring for a sequel. The R-rated movie endured development hell for years and ultimately got green-lit after test footage from it leaked and went viral.
Equal parts gleefully violent and laugh out loud funny, it’s box office tally is perhaps the most impressive in this year’s ensemble taking into account its MPAA rating and budget. With the director Tim Miller leaving because of creative differences, John Wick impresario, David Leitch, has been tasked with the sequel.
2. Doctor Strange
By the time all the credits rolled, I’d counted close to a dozen VFX companies involved in it. It’s no surprise that the visuals are the best I’ve seen so far this year. Doctor Strange is an experience, a kaleidoscopic journey into a realm where all logic is defied and anything is possible.
But it’d be unfair of me to focus solely on the effects as the only strong point of the movie because as far as origin stories go, this one is right up there with Batman Begins and Iron Man. Strange’s character arc from egocentric narcissist to selfless hero is perfectly charted, and so is Baron Mordo’s turn to darkness. And even though a lot of people were left gut-punched when it was revealed that Tilda Swinton would be playing The Ancient One, take heed in knowing she nailed the role.
1. Captain America: Civil War
There’s hardly any debate as to whether the third Captain America movie should be ranked the best of the year. Rather the discussion is about whether it should be ranked as Marvel’s best, or even the best among superhero movies.
I have to admit, I was nervous when I saw the huge roster going to be involved in this blockbuster.
Usually when a lot of these characters are stuffed into one movie, à la X-men: The Last Stand, they implode. But the Russo Brothers assuaged any fears I had by crafting a compelling emotional story about the disassembly of the Avengers.
The 147-minute run time proved adequate for each of the characters to have their moments to shine, and introduce to us Black Panther and Spiderman. It’s a miracle that Marvel pulled this off seamlessly. If the difference between DC’s quality and that of Marvel was hotly contested, this high- octane Avengers 2.5 has settled the debate…at least for now.
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