Another year, another slew of comic book movies. We got nine theatrical comic book/superhero movies this year and compared to previous year, 2019 was kind of a lousy year for comic book/superhero movies. Though there are some good ones on here, particularly the top few films, 2019 did produce some of the worst comic book movies ever created and offered up a number of disappointing ones as well. Here’s my ranking of the 2019 comic book/superhero movies.
9 – HELLBOY (Neil Marshall)
- Hellboy is not only an abomination of a comic book movie, but really an abomination of cinema. This is a lifeless and messy film filled with some of the worst visual effects I have seen in recent cinema. David Harbour does his best as our big, red hero, but he can’t salvage this muddled, boring, lackluster film.
8 – X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX (Simon Kinberg)
- Why this movie exists still boggles my mind. After X-Men: Apocalypse, a movie that received middling reviews and a less-than-stellar box office, it seemed like this new X-Men franchise, led by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, was over. Writer/director Simon Kinberg felt the need to try and tell the Dark Phoenix storyline and it still boggles my mind why. Everything about this movie is forgettable and the only thing about this movie that is remotely good is Hans Zimmer’s score. All the actors might as well be asleep and the story, though based on a legendary storyline, is a disaster. I thought 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand was about as bad as the Dark Phoenix storyline could get. I was wrong.
7 – CAPTAIN MARVEL (Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck)
- Captain Marvel is an important movie, though not a very good one. After over twenty films, Captain Marvel was egregiously the first female-led film in the franchise. However, the film didn’t do justice for Carol Danvers (Brie Larson, doing her best with what she was given). Inconsistent direction from Boden and Fleck mixed with a confusing script, erratic editing, and some cheap-looking effects make Captain Marvel feel more like a stepping-stone movie for Endgame than a movie about Captain Marvel.
6 – JOKER (Todd Phillips)
- The most divisive movie of 2019 belongs to Todd Phillips Joker. The soon-to-be Oscar nominated film has its fans and its detractors and I happen to land in the middle. There are few things I like about the film, like Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as the titular villain, the sets, and the score. However, I have far more issues with the film that really bring it down. The film has no character arc, the finale is a nightmare, and more importantly, this isn’t a Joker movie, which was the whole point of the film. They try and layer in Batman stuff throughout the film, but it was all forced in and none of it works and at the end of the day, this movie really had nothing to do with Batman’s most infamous villain and was really just a film about a broken man getting stomped on by society in every way you can imagine, which gets redundant after awhile. Though Joker is going to be a relatively big player come awards season, it’s a film that didn’t work me entirely.
5 – BRIGHTBURN (David Yarovesky)
- Here’s a movie that most people probably forgot existed, but one of the quiet surprises of the summer. The basic premise of Brightburn is, what is Superman came to Earth and was bad? Kind of a cool premise and the film works as a better villain origin story than Joker. The micro-budget of the film hurts how cool this film could truly be, but directory David Yarovesky gave us a stylish, creepy, horror super-villain origin story unlike any we had seen before.
4 – SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (Jon Watts)
- Spider-Man: Far From Home had problem of coming out two months after Avengers: Endgame, arguably the biggest cinematic event of the year and maybe the decade. Obviously not nearly as big or epic as Endgame, but Far From Home does follow it up pretty nicely. Far From Home is the best Peter Parker movie to date, though a rather bland Spider-Man movie. This shows the struggle Parker is facing after the death of Tony Stark and trying to be a normal high school kid living a normal high school kid life. Tom Holland is excellent as Parker and has some really strong emotional scenes of Peter’s struggle, but also really fun and sweet scenes of him trying to be normal. The Spider-Man stuff is very one-note and Mysterio is a very weird villain even though Jake Gyllenhaal is giving a great performance. This is on the lower-end of the MCU, but Tom Holland really gives us the best version of Peter Parker we have ever seen on screen.
3 – SHAZAM! (David F. Sandberg)
- Maybe is was lack of enthusiasm going into the film, but Shazam! really surprised me. For a superhero that I knew almost nothing about, director David S. Sandberg gave a nearly perfect origin story about an orphaned boy who is given the powers to be super. What Sandberg does best is make this film more than about a kid learning he had super powers and make a film about loneliness, friendship, and finding a family. Led by a dynamite lead performance by Zachary Levi and some great villain work by the always great Mark Strong, Shazam! is a comic book movie full of heart, laughs and action.
2 – GLASS (M. Night Shyamalan)
- With my hottest take of the year, M. Night Shyamalan’s finale to his Eastrail 177 trilogy is a mesmerizing near-masterful superhero film. After the surprising twist and success of 2017’s Split, people were excited to see The Hoard (James McAvoy, playing all sorts of weirdos) go up against the unbreakable man (Bruce Willis). What they weren’t expecting was a slow-burning, somber look at broken people who use their pain to become special. This is one of Shyamalan’s best directorial efforts to date, making a captivating, thought-provoking film with a great score and stellar cinematography. The performances by Willis and McAvoy are great, but it’s Samuel L. Jackson who steals the movie as Mr. Glass, giving an awards-caliber performance as a super-villain who is executing his ultimate scheme. A lot of people didn’t like this one, but Glass is a superhero movie that isn’t interested in the battles and spectacle, but the heroes and villains who live in the real world.
1 – AVENGERS: ENDGAME (Anthony and Joe Russo)
- The easy number one on this list, Avengers: Endgame is as big and epic as comic book movies get. With over twenty movies spanning over a decade, this phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe came to its conclusion and boy, what a ride it was. Rather than make this a movie about the remaining Avengers chasing after Thanos, this is a movie that shows our heroes at their absolute lowest, dealing with the loss of loved ones and trying to cope with what just happened. Anthony and Joe Russo delivered a finale for the books, full of jaw-dropping action and moments that will make you want to stand up and cheer (“Avengers! Assemble!” is arguably the greatest moment of the year and of any comic book movie ever). The Russo’s give our Avengers a beautiful, thrilling send-off in not only the best comic book movie of the year, but one of the best movies of 2019
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