Volume 5, Issue 55!
“ The Best of 2016”
Well, we’ve slogged through the worst of the year, and now it’s on to the best. These are the comics, movies, TV shows, and other assorted media that helped take the sting of our darkest timeline off my mind for a little while. Perhaps they helped you, or you can discover them for yourself if you need them.
Ben Affleck’s Batman
Despite what Rotten Tomatoes would have you believe, not everything in Batman V Superman was a bust. While it did try to do too many things as a movie, BvS featured one pretty awesome thing: Ben Affleck’s take on the Batman. While yes, he’s arguably the most grim dark version of the character we’ve ever seen on the big screen, he’s the first cinematic Batman to look exactly like the comic book version of the Dark Knight. There’s no black armor like Christian Bale, and he moves faster than Michael Keaton’s Batman ever could. All this, and Affleck’s Bruce Wayne has some genuinely funny moments when he’s trying to cover up at Lex Luthor’s party (my favorite being his aloof “do I own that one?’ line when Clark Kent says he’s with the Daily Planet). Yes, the “Martha” moment is still undeniably goofy, but Affleck’s Batman is so strong that I can’t wait to see more of him, hopefully in a solo movie directed by the man himself.
Remember how I said that Marvel’s comics, with the exception of the Star Wars line, have been terrible this year? Well, meet the crown jewel of the Star Wars line: Darth Vader. For 25 incredible issues, Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larrocca crafted a thrilling adventure for the Dark Lord of the Sith as he navigates his world after the destruction of the first Death Star. Demoted by the Emperor, Vader has to get his power back, as well as search for the person responsible for the Empire’s weapon being destroyed. Gillen’s script found lots of hilarious asides for Vader and built a great foundation of political intrigue in the Star Wars universe, and Larrocca’s art is so on point that it’s almost like watching the movies. If you are jonesing for more Vader after Rogue One, look no further than this series.
Captain America: Civil War
Anyone surprised to see this one on here? No? Thought so. For everything Batman V Superman mangled, Captain America: Civil War got right. Thrilling action sequences? Check. Inserting new MCU characters like Black Panther and Spider-Man in an interesting way that makes sense to the plot? Check. Expressing the ideas of both sides of the Registration Act so you actually find yourself possibly changing sides in the fight of ideals between Captain America and Iron Man? Check. While Civil War couldn’t solve Marvel’s villain problem (Zemo could’ve been anybody), the Russo Brothers directed a tight, thrilling, and stuffed to the brim adventure for the Marvel cinematic universe. Hell, the Airport Fight alone is worth the price of admission.
This year, CW officially became the “Superhero Station” with the addition of Supergirl. And now that the Girl of Steel is on the same network as The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow, it’s really started to hit its stride. Season 2 of the Melissa Benoist series has featured more nods to the Superman mythos, and that’s not just because it features an appearance by the Man of Steel himself, played amazingly by Teen Wolf’s Tyler Hoechin. If you’re looking for awesome superhero action, Supergirl is the show for you.
With Game of Thrones ending in a few seasons, it’s time for HBO to start looking for a new show to sit on the Iron Throne. Well, if they play their cards right, Westworld may be that show. A fantastic mind trip from beginning to end, Westworld plays on themes of morality, what it means to human, and even how female protagonists are treated in fiction. It’s also got one of the best casts of the year, with Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, and even Anthony Hopkins, who delivers some of his best work in years. Go in with as little information as possible, and Westworld proves to be a fantastic TV ride.
This year, DC Comics did the unthinkable: they relaunched their universe again and made people care about it. Renumbering comics isn’t anything new to the industry (just look at Marvel the past few years), but DC was able to make DC Rebirth a necessary read if you love comics, and have kept up the creative streak for the past 6 months since the relaunch. Rebirth has given new life to books like Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman, and especially Superman, which stands as their best book in the relaunch. Rebirth’s focused on looking at the past and remembering what made people fall in love with the characters of the DC universe to begin with, instead of just trying to hype up the next big thing, and it’s been a resounding success. If only their major competitor would acknowledge it and learn from it.
Margot Robie in Suicide Squad
While better than Batman V Superman, WB’s second installment in the DCEU still had some pretty big flaws. However, one thing that helped make Suicide Squad a more enjoyable movie was Margot Robie’s take on Harley Quinn. Bringing this iconic and fan favorite character to life was going to be no easy task, but Robie was able to tap into Dr. Harleen Quinzel’s fun and hilarious personality in a way that worked extremely well. WB’s is aware of this, as they’re going to give Harley her own spin-off movie that will feature her Gotham gal pals Poison Ivy and Catwoman too, and after stealing the show in Suicide Squad, I’m more than ready to see Harley again.
Was there a better success story this year than Deadpool? After languishing for years after X-Men Origins’ piss-poor interpretation, it seemed like all hope was lost for Wade Wilson’s cinematic debut. But after a lot of hard work, an R rating, and the tireless efforts of star Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool became a colossal hit that’s now pushed the character second only to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine for Fox. Deadpool was a fantastic and hilarious movie that made people tired of the character (like me), fall in love with Wade Wilson all over again.