Hero Factory: Counting Down The Most Anticipated Superhero Movies Of 2017
2017 promises to be the biggest year yet for superhero movies, with eight confirmed major studio releases between February and November --- and a still unconfirmed ninth release expected from Fox. Highlights of the year include the first solo superhero movie with a female lead in over ten years, the first Spider-Man movie set in the extended Marvel Cinematic Universe, and an inexplicably gritty reboot of Power Rangers.
There's a lot to look forward to, and a few movies to be skeptical of, so the editors of ComicsAlliance --- Luke Brown, Elle Collins, Kieran Shiach, and Andrew Wheeler --- have decided to rank this year's eight confirmed releases in ascending order of excitement. We've tallied our editors' individual votes to arrive at a definitive list of the most (and least) anticipated superhero movies of 2017.
We start at the bottom of the pile with our least anticipated superhero movie of the year, and that's...
8. Power Rangers (March 24, Lionsgate)
Kieran: I've seen Chronicle already and it was pretty bad. I don't wanna see it again with Alpha 5.
Elle: It doesn't surprise me that Power Rangers is at the bottom. I've watched some of the classic version, but I've never been way into it, and from the trailers this darker, moodier reboot doesn't seem to be doing anything that interesting. I do love Elizabeth Banks, and she looks great in her costume, but that's about it.
Luke: Nothing I've seen, from trailers and stills to the toys and promotional materials, has instilled any kind of confidence in this revamp. I watched a lot of this show growing up. The Michael Bay-ification of the Zords makes me ill.
Andrew: This was the one movie that was bottom two in all our lists, and I'm not shocked. I was excited about this movie at one point, because it had a promisingly diverse cast of new talent, but everything I've seen of it has slowly chipped away at my enthusiasm, and the design work is awful.
Kieran: All I want from Power Rangers is for it to seem fun.
Elle: I agree, and it doesn't.
7. Justice League (November 17, Warner Bros)
Kieran: This was my bottom choice, and nothing could conceive me to put a Zack Snyder superhero film anywhere else on my list. He's had his chance. Multiple chances.
Elle: Some of the clips from this actually seem pretty fun, but Kieran’s right. Snyder is the wrong person to be in charge of DC's movieverse, and we all know it.
Andrew: It's sad that we can't muster more enthusiasm for the cornerstone of the DC Cinematic Universe, but that's exactly the problem; look at the state of that universe right now. No amount of Jason Momoa rising from the waves like a studly Venus can compensate for the limitations of Zack Snyder's imagination or the shallowness of his aesthetic. Though I will see this movie for Jason Momoa rising from the waves like a studly Venus.
Luke: I'm foolish enough to believe that one of these DC movies has to buck the trend, and that this could potentially carry on whatever good Wonder Woman brings about. Though, Snyder has done absolutely nothing to earn that kind of good will after his last few efforts in this universe.
Elle: I'm definitely curious to see Ezra Miller as the Flash and Amber Heard as Mera. Everyone who reads Cast Party knows I'm always rooting for queer actors, and these two each bring something interesting to the table. Unfortunately Zack Snyder tends to squash everything interesting into a gritty brown paste.
6. Logan (March 3, Fox)
Elle: Soooo gritty. Like literally, there's grit everywhere. Also everyone cool is dead and Professor X is super old and out of it, and Logan is the retired gunfighter who doesn't want to do it anymore. And I do not care.
Kieran: I wasn't sure where to put this, because I am looking forward to it more than any other Wolverine film, but it is still a Wolverine film.
Andrew: For a year with so many superhero movies, it's interesting to me how quickly we move from "movies I'm pessimistic about" to "movies I'm cautiously optimistic about", and despite Fox's frequent recent failures to get the X-Men right, I still feel like this one could work. It is at least trying something different by jumping ahead in the timeline and focusing on what looks like a smaller cast and a smaller scale. There may in fact not be a giant beam of light cutting into the sky in this movie's climactic battle.
Luke: I have a hard time drumming up any interest in this franchise, as there hasn't been one worth watching in a theater in a long time. I like Hugh Jackman, but I think the Wolverine train has long run out of steam.
Elle: I've been a champion of Laura Kinney as Wolverine, and so people have asked me if I'm excited to see her in a movie. And in theory I am, but making her a small child in a future timeline where the X-Men are all dead basically means we're now farther from seeing her as Wolverine, or even as X-23, in an X-Men movie than we were before. Which is a very "Fox X-Men franchise" move, frankly.
Andrew: The good news is, the X-Men timeline makes absolutely no goddamn sense, so if Laura shows up five years older than this in the New Mutants movie set twenty years previously, no-one will even blink.
Luke: That is true. And also still not great.
Elle: The unfortunate part is that it would require someone making that movie to want her there. And again, Fox X-Men franchise.
5. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5, Marvel Studios)
Kieran: I think I was less enthused by the original, and I especially didn't enjoy Chris Pratt in it. I did, however, love Batista so I do have some time for the Guardians films.
Andrew: You are Bizarro me if you didn't enjoy Chris Pratt and did enjoy Dave Bautista.
Elle: I thought the first one was fun, but far from perfect. My suspicion is that the sequel will be farther from perfect, but hopefully not far enough to make it not fun. Gamora not having any lines or funny bits in the trailer while all the guys do is not a good look.
Luke: This is the movie I'm most looking forward to this year based on the cast and the joy the first one brought me. The first Guardians is arguably the most rewatchable Marvel movie, and the first footage gave me every indication Vol. 2 would outdo the first.
Kieran: The big criticism I had for Pratt in Guardians is it felt like they wrote the roll of Star-Lord for Jack Black and he turned it down.
Elle: As a huge Steve Englehart fan, I'm looking forward to seeing Mantis. On the other hand, as a queer fan I'm pretty angry that Moondragon and Phyla-Vell are still nowhere to be seen.
Andrew: I know the bloom is off Chris Pratt's rose now we've discovered how badly he needs a good script to get his charm up to full wattage, but I do find him plenty charming as Star-Lord, and like Luke I found the first GOTG to be one of the most entertaining of all the Marvel movies, so I'm pretty giddy about this movie. But yes, James Gunn is terrible at writing for women, and that's not a small detail --- it just doesn't create much of a distinction versus all the other superhero movies.
Luke: Yeah, I wouldn't consider any of these movies a pinnacle for female characters in films. With an actress like Zoe Saldana, you would think they would give her more time than the tree that knows three words. Hopefully she's not reduced even further with another woman included on the team this time.
Andrew: Pom Klementieff as Mantis and Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha is going to be an interesting test. Debicki is a luminous presence, as anyone who has seen Man From UNCLE can attest, so there's a lot of potential there.
Speaking of roles for women in superhero movies...
4. Wonder Woman (June 2, Warner Bros)
Kieran: This is a film I'm willing to give a lot of chances and a lot of time. I know DC's track record hasn't been great, but it's a film I very much want to be good, and very much could be good.
Elle: For all that I don't have faith in the DC movie franchise as a whole, I can't help being excited to see this. Gal Gadot looks perfect in the role, and there's a lot of exciting stuff in the trailers. Even if it's not good, I'm interested to watch it and form an opinion on why. And it's not directed by Snyder, so there's a decent chance it actually will be good.
Andrew: We want this to be good. There is so much force of will towards this movie being good.
Elle: The current wave of superhero movies started almost nine years ago now, with Iron Man. It took this many years, and I can't even begin to count how many movies, to get to one starring a woman. It's coming later than it should have, and that kind of just makes it a bigger deal.
Luke: I'm always curious when a director who hasn't handled a blockbuster takes one on, and in this case it's doubly interesting since Warners actually hired a woman in Patty Jenkins to do it. I want to believe the character moments will be strong, and that Wonder Woman is the force we all wish it to be. They've just had so much trouble finding the right tone and execution with these DC films that I'm still wary, despite being very optimistic about what we've seen so far.
Kieran: Starting with Guardians, I think we hit all the films I'm definitely going to see in the cinema. This will be the first DC film I see since Man of Steel broke my heart.
Andrew: It does still look too brown, and in this case maybe it's historical sepia rather than Snyder sludge, but it still makes me nervous. Wonder Woman can take a lot of color.
Elle: I agree, but on the other hand it is the color of pretty much every World War I movie. Speaking of which, setting the movie a hundred years ago is a cynical kind of genius, because it means Wonder Woman can directly fight against institutional sexism without it making a bunch of modern sexist dudes mad and turning every discussion of the movie into a warzone. Pretty much everyone who watches this movie can probably agree that 1916's amount of sexism is bad.
3. The Lego Batman Movie (Feb 10, Warner Bros)
Kieran: This was my number one. In terms of "How excited am I to go to a cinema and experience a film," this is film I'm most excited about.
Elle: This movie looks really funny, and I'm glad we've reached a point as a culture where it's okay to admit that Batman doesn't have to be taken seriously.
Andrew: I am maybe more excited about buying the minifigs, which I have already done. But I really enjoyed The Lego Movie, and I said at the time that its version of Batman was my favorite version, so I have high hopes.
Luke: There's nothing I haven't liked about the teasers, trailers, and building sets released so far, and that gives me great hope this movie will be as good as I've been imagining it is in my head.
Andrew: And I think this movie will end up being weirdly nerdy in a good way. It's clearly packed to the gills with the sort of Batman marginalia that only heavily invested fans care about, which means this is affectionate mockery. So long as the movie treats Barbara Gordon right, I have very little to be afraid of.
Also, the trailer already cracked a joke about Superman being Batman's enemy, as seen in the other Batman movies, so we're good here.
Elle: I'll definitely watch and enjoy this movie, just like I did The Lego Movie, but honestly the only reason it wasn't higher on my list is that it feels a little slight, and a little like a commercial for play sets and minifigs. I'm not the sort of person who's offended by that, but it's hard for me to look at it as one of my most anticipated superhero movies of the year.
Kieran: I really loved The Lego Movie. It's a film that makes me happy when little else can, and I watch it a lot. If Lego Batman can make me feel a similar way, it'll be my favorite film of the year.
Luke: But will it have as infectious a song as "Everything is Awesome"? You're welcome for having that stuck in your head now for the rest of the day.
Andrew: Our final two movies are actually tied for the title of "most anticipated," so let's start with what I think is actually the more surprising of the two.
=1. Thor: Ragnarok (Nov 3, Marvel Studios)
Kieran: This is all Taika Waititi, right? That's what's got us hype?
Elle: Honestly, for me it's mostly two of my favorite characters, Valkyrie and Hela, played by two great actors, Tessa Thompson and Cate Blanchett. Waititi's great, but I'd be in on this just based on those two performers.
Luke: I like all the Thor movies, so I'm looking forward to this since it's bringing in Valkyrie, and has Taika Waititi at the helm.
Elle: Plus more Mark Ruffalo as Banner/Hulk. I miss that guy.
Kieran: I really liked Tessa Thompson in Westworld. I'm excited to see her play a very different kind of character in Ragnarok.
Luke: They had me sold the minute the concept art had Hela's helm. I love that character. I love Cate Blanchett. The movie could basically be her staring menacingly for 95 minutes, and you'd have to convince me it wasn't genius.
Andrew: Look, if you think it's all Waititi or all Blanchett and Thompson that has me excited about this movie, you're not paying attention. Chris Hemsworth is a goddamn treasure, and he has made all the Thor movies absolutely delightful, no matter what the film snobs say.
But that said; Waititi made the best movie of 2016 in Hunt For The Wilderpeople, and Blanchett and Thompson are going to kill it as Hela and Valkyrie. This movie is going to be bold and crazy and weird.
Elle: Oh Hemsworth's great. Nobody could be Thor as perfectly as he is. I was just taking that as a given.
Andrew: I think the moment this movie went from, "Oh right, another Thor movie" to "Woah wait what" in the public consciousness is when Marvel released that hella (Hela?) '80s logo treatment.
Kieran: My personal favorite bits of Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are the bits that make me go, "No, they didn't actually just bring X from the comics into this film," and that's stuff like the Celestial in Guardians and Arnim Zola in Winter Soldier. I think this film is going to be packed full of those moments.
Luke: I only hope that this movie brings more of the frenemy buddy cop stuff for Thor and Hulk.
Elle: Is it too much to hope that Tessa Thompson has pigtails in this movie? I'm hoping it anyway.
Andrew: If Cate Blanchett can have antlers, Tessa Thompson can have pigtails.
I will note, however, that my dream casting for Skurge the Executioner was always Jason Momoa, and DC ruined that. But Karl Urban is a decent substitute.
Our other most anticipated superhero movie of 2017 is, of course...
=1. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7, Sony Pictures)
Kieran: What a lovely bunch of teens. Just some good kids having fun. I'm excited for it.
Luke: I would have had this at number one were it not for the lackluster efforts of Sony the last three or four times they made a Spider-Man. I love the casting. I'm still not sure Sony can make another great Spider-Man movie.
Elle: I don't feel like I really understood what was missing from previous portrayals of Peter Parker until I saw Tom Holland in Civil War. He's the first one to feel like a real high school kid, and he's so nerdy and enthusiastic, and the eyes on the costume move! That last part may be ridiculous, but it works and feels so much like the comics.
Andrew: The two most important things to get right about a new Spider-Man movie franchise is, one, cast kids, and two, skip the origin story and plunge us right into Peter's world. This movie clearly gets both those things right.
Kieran: Not to keep talking about Thor, but the reason I chose Thor one spot over Spider-Man in my own list is that Thor's going to be weird, Spider-Man seems pretty straight-forward. I am very much looking forward to it though.
Andrew: My one reservation, actually, is Tony Stark. I don't think Spider-Man is made stronger as a concept by miring him in Avengers stuff. I want minimal Robert Downey Jr. in this movie. I don't want Iron Man anywhere near the final act.
Kieran: Yeah, I think one of the biggest worries you have to have with Spider-Man films is that they can very easily get overcrowded.
Luke: Tom Holland is the best thing to happen to that franchise in like a decade. I definitely think he can carry this film through even its lowest points just by being there. And I'd agree, Andrew, I think having Iron Man in anything more than a few spots as a mentor would do the film a disservice.
Kieran: There's so much and so many people in this film even without Iron Man. Happy Hogan's in this movie too. The Shocker is in this movie. I think The Tinkerer is too?
Andrew: Donald Glover is in this movie somehow!
Kieran: Hannibal Buress is in this movie!
Andrew: I sometimes forget that Michael Keaton is in this movie, because there are so many people in it.
Elle: I think Michael Keaton is a perfect choice for the Vulture. So much so that it's kind of a shame they put a mask on the costume, because if they just shaved Keaton's head he'd look like he stepped off the comic book page.
Luke: Perhaps it's my video game sensibilities, but I don't mind a lot of villains as long as they aren't all dealt with on the same scale. If Shocker is just someone he fights on the way to Vulture, I'm fine with it. If they're all in the finale, Sony will clearly have learned nothing.
Elle: I agree with Luke on this.
Andrew: Yeah, I think that's a fair reading. That's what I mean about throwing us wholesale into Peter's world. I don't need an origin story for The Shocker. The Shocker will just exist in a world that has Spider-Man in it.
Luke: Right. There's always a concern to cater to the uninitiated by giving every character an origin. Viewers are smarter than studios give them credit for being.
Elle: I've been reading comics for thirty years, and I don't know the Shocker's origin. He's the Shocker --- he doesn't need one.
Andrew: Before we go, let's look ahead a little further into 2018. We already have a pretty good idea of what's coming to theaters next year, but which of those movies are we most excited about?
Elle: I'm definitely excited about Black Panther. The cast on that movie is unbelievable, and I'm already looking forward to it.
Kieran: Black Panther is going to be so good, I can't even fathom it. It's one of my most anticipated movies, superhero or not.
Elle: How I feel about Flash and Aquaman depends entirely on Wonder Woman and Justice League.
Kieran: I think Aquaman could be a surprise hit. James Wan directed Fast and Furious 7, he knows what he's doing.
Elle: Oh, I forgot that's who was making Aquaman. Plus they've got Momoa and Heard. That could be really great.
Luke: Yeah, I'm not getting too excited about DC's prospects until we see how this year pans out. Beyond Black Panther, which I'm sure we can all agree is the early favorite, I've got high hopes for Incredibles 2. I rewatch the first a lot. It's the closest we're going to get to a good Fantastic Four movie for a while.
Andrew: Everyone always gets fired or drops out of DC movies, so who knows if it's still James Wan by the time they make it? But as excited as I am for maximum Momoa, Black Panther is absolutely the movie to beat in 2018.
I'm not sure Infinity War will even be a movie, so much as just a succession of cameos stitched together. If everything is a cameo, is nothing a cameo? But the Russo brothers already proved their better Avengers directors than Joss Whedon when they made Civil War, so if anyone can pull it together, it's them.
Elle: Yeah, it feels a bit more like a puzzle box than a movie, but I'm curious to see how it turns out.
Kieran: I think Infinity War has a big task of making Thanos worth the wait.
Andrew: And putting Spider-Man, Dr Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy in the same movie, which somehow feels harder than putting Black Widow, Thor, and Iron Man on the same team. And they're all in the movie as well!
Luke: I knew that but did not realize until you put it all out there that Infinity War would be that many movies colliding into one. Hard to believe there will be kids seeing that movie with all the heroes that weren't alive yet when Iron Man first hit the screen.