With Marvel, we saw its ever-expanding cinematic universe enter its third phase. Captain America: Civil War dealt with the catastrophic fallout of Avengers: Age of Ultron and created a catastrophic fallout between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark in the process. I mean, it was all just an elaborate excuse to see superheroes laying the smacketh down on each other, but when that epic brawl was so spectacular, you really don’t care.
Speaking of spectacular, Civil War also saw your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man finally welcomed into the Marvel Cinematic Universe fold, and the introduction of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther prior to his standalone film in 2018.
There’s a justified swagger to Marvel’s stride now, such that it feels comfortable introducing audiences to its more leftfield characters and worlds.
Benedict Cumberbatch continued Marvel’s knack for spot-on casting, becoming the former New York surgeon who, like the audience, has his eyes opened to worlds and realities beyond our own. Doctor Strange was unafraid to shy away from the comics’ surreal and psychedelic depictions of his trans-dimensional exploits, which made for glorious eye-candy on Vue’s 4K screens.
While Marvel is now 14 films into its cinematic universe, rival DC is just getting started after Man of Steel laid waste to most of central Metropolis in 2013. And, despite a three-year gap between films, they are not hanging around. While Batman vs. Superman’s title alone was enough to draw crowds, the film strived to lay major world-building foundations, giving us some quality time with Wonder Woman, providing fleeting glimpses of The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman, and hinting at a future encounter with DC uber-villain Darkseid.
This was followed by Suicide Squad which gave Harley Quinn, Deadshot and a den of lower-tier DC villains their time to shine – or whatever the evil equivalent of that is. Ben Affleck pops up on several occasions as Batman doing what Batman does best, and we got our first proper look at Ezra Miller’s Flash although, fittingly, it was all over in a, well, you know.
Homecoming is being described as a superhero movie made in the style of John Hughes, and I think we can all agree that’s something the world needs.
And so to 2017......which is looking line a banner year for both brands. Over at Camp Marvel, we’ll first be reunited with the Guardians of the Galaxy for a second serving of chaos, comedy and cute, cute Baby Groot. It’s testament to the strength of the characters that the first proper trailer gives practically nothing away – unless you count Star-Lord’s hidden feelings for Gamora – and yet does enough to convince you that we’re potentially looking at the year’s biggest hit.
We’ve also had our first proper look at Spider-Man Homecoming. Tom Holland made a very strong impression as a younger, geekier Peter Parker in Civil War, and judging by the trailer he continues to occupy the dual roles of awkward high schooler and cocky superhero perfectly. It’s also great to see Robert Downey Jr. continuing in the role of grumpy mentor, not to mention Michael Keaton coming full circle after the amazing Birdman to play the villainous Vulture. Homecoming is being described as a superhero movie made in the style of John Hughes, and I think we can all agree that’s something the world needs.
Finally, and furthest out is Thor: Ragnarok. Taika Waititi, a Kiwi director known for his lo-fi comedies, was a surprise pick to head up the Norse god’s third standalone outing. However, his knack for making the mundane fantastical and the fantastical mundane – as demonstrated in the brilliant short mockumentary you’re seeing now – seems to be the perfect fit for an otherworldly buddy action-comedy. Chris Hemsworth teams up with Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk for what are currently reasons unknown, although there have been strong hints that it will take cues from the popular Planet Hulk comics storyline. The supporting cast is also immense; as well as returning Asgardians Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins, you’ve got Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, Karl Urban and Tessa Thompson. Third films are rarely the best, but this feels like it might be an exception.
Meanwhile, DC can claim one first over Marvel by delivering the first standalone film for a female superhero. And really, it’s only right that Wonder Woman should be the one to lead the charge; 2016 marked the character’s 75th anniversary and she was named by the UN as Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. Patty Jenkins directs this origin story of sorts, with Gal Gadot donning Diana Prince’s iconic Bracelets of Submission and Lasso of Truth as she discovers the world of men smack bang in the middle of World War I. The action looks muscular, Gadot looks suitably wonderful and there are signs that there’ll be time for a few laughs amid the violence.
DC closes out the year with Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which reunites Ben Affleck’s Batman with Wonder Woman as they attempt to recruit Ezra Miller’s Flash, Ray Fisher’s Cyborg and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman to battle the evil Steppenwolf. The first footage released – and let’s be clear, it’s not a trailer – is heavily focused on character building, and does an amazing job. Well, with The Flash, anyway, who looks to be the runaway star of the show, pun thoroughly intended. Henry Cavill’s Superman is conspicuous by his absence, but make no mistake, he’s definitely going to be a part of it. Only question is, which side will he be on?
So, 2017 could be the strongest year for superhero flicks yet, regardless of which side you’re on – although, let’s be honest, it’s silly to take sides. But hey – everyone loves a good fight, so let us know if you think Marvel or DC has the strongest line-up, and which of these five flicks will be the best of the bunch. Also, don’t forget to check back here to be first in line when tickets are available for pre-order.