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Another year comes to a close and another Best/Worst list from Comic Book Media is completed. This year, Colby and Brian are joined by a real life celebrity! Burr Martin (alias Selfie Dad) enjoys the occasional comic book movie and TV show when not mimicking his family’s Instagram photos or hosting podcasts. So welcome Burr onto the team and check out our picks for the best and worst of all things Comic Book Media in 2017! And, of course, find out who’ll be winning this year’s coveted Golden Evans award…
Best Movie
Brian: Logan.
(Runner Up: Spider-Man: Homecoming).
logFrom its hard-R rating, its near-future and continuity-light setting, and neo-western genre affectations, James Mangold’s Logan takes bold, surprising chances and every single one of them pays off. I wholeheartedly expect to see Patrick Stewart appear on some Best Supporting Actor shortlists as award season approaches. With any luck, Logan will influence the genre for years to come.

Burr: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
(Runner up: Thor: Ragnarok).
This was unbelievably tough considering the high caliber talent that came out this year but I had to go with GotG2. This movie was not only better than the first, but changed the way I saw GotG. It made the first one better. It changed the way you saw Yondu, Rocket and even Drax. I hated Nebula, but now found myself feeling pity through her backstory of just wanting a sister. While not the strongest in action or story, any movie that can have me tear up at the last scene, but have me leave the theater happy, is a movie worthy of praise.

Colby: Spider-Man: Homecoming.
(Runner Up: Logan).
smhSpider-Man is obviously no stranger to adaptation. But this new iteration (now under control of Marvel Studios) is the most pure take on the character to date. Peter comes off as an interesting and multi-faceted kid while many supporting characters from the comics make memorable and hilarious appearances (Ned was seemingly everyone’s favorite character after viewing it). But the movie’s biggest strengths were in its story (where the danger was decidedly “low stakes” and it naturally extended the MCU in different directions) and its villain. Michael Keaton’s Toomes is a dangerous and threatening character but he is also incredibly dynamic and oddly relatable. Homecoming had some stiff competition for me (Logan was thiiiis close to winning) but in the end it was the combination of endearing characters, an interesting villain and a loveable tone that won the day.

Worst Movie
Brian: Bad Kids of Crestview Academy.
(Runner Up: Justice League).
Bad Kids of Crestview Academy is the sequel nobody asked for, to the movie nobody saw. While this one is shot better than its predecessor (thanks to first-time director Ben Browder), its plot is still borderline incoherent, it squanders Sean Astin, and it still sneaks in some odd racism. Certain transitions to animation attempt to hide the budget, but many others serve no ostensible purpose. Still, it’s light years better than 2012’s Bad Kids Go to Hell.

Burr: Batman and Harley Quinn.
(Runner up: Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets).
bhIt feels like DC doesn’t know what it wants to be and I’m tired of waiting for them to decide. This animated feature, while drawn cartoonish in nature, was more for teenagers and older fans. Maybe I’m too old in my ways, but seeing Harley undress in front of a tied up Dick Grayson (while cursing, only to have a fart joke mentioned moment’s later) just felt like a movie trying to hard to please everyone and ended up just a mess.

Colby: Justice League Dark.
(Runner Up: Justice League).
An animated, R-rated look at the occult side of the DCU starring Matt Ryan as John Constantine sounds like it was tailor made for me. Sadly, with a narrative that leans too heavily on Batman and an R-rating that isn’t even remotely used (Constantine doesn’t smoke, for example) the movie plays more like a cliff’s notes version of the story it’s trying to tell. Some characters are totally changed (like Black Orchid who is now the consciousness of a house given a body, I think?) while others are significantly downplayed (Swamp Thing has precious little to do and doesn’t survive until the end). For a fan of DC’s specific take on horror, this movie was a failure on almost every level.

Best TV Show
Brian: The Tick.
(Runner Up: Legion).
tiIn a year with many strong contenders, from Supergirl to The Defenders, the Amazon adaptation of The Tick stands out for the spectacular balance it’s able to strike. While it contains the bright, absurd characters you expect from a comic book, the world they inhabited is so much more grounded and lived-in than any other show. This allows for fun, over-the-top superheroics, but also the realistic implications of being surrounded by villains like The Terror.

Burr: Supergirl.
(Runner up: Gotham).
This is what DC needs to be putting up on the big screen. Why are Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow so good while the big screen features get such terrible reviews? My guess is money. When you have a smaller budget, you have to focus on story. During this shows run, I’ve laughed out loud, cheered and even got a little misty eyed. Supergirl is a comic book show come to life. As for my Runner up? Let’s just it defines “guilty pleasure”.

Colby: Crisis on Earth X.
(Runner Up: Justice League Action).
crThis is totally a cheat, but I don’t care. I couldn’t find a better place to talk about this massive crossover between Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash. While the shows all have a tight continuity and have had crossovers before, this was the first to truly embrace the epic scope that should be front and center when all of these characters come together. The plot (involving an alternate Earth populated with villainous versions of our heroes) was a bit more self-contained than last year’s “Invasion” which leads to my determination that this 4-part story should be considered it’s own miniseries for our purposes (And each show even had new opening credits, furthering my point). The tone was perfect and the action was awesome, all on a TV budget. Not to mention that is can also be seen as a backdoor pilot for 2018’s The Ray web series (even though they were both in production at the same time) which provides plenty to be excited about next year.

Worst TV Show
Brian: Iron Fist.
(Runner Up: Inhumans).
Iron Fist had both anticipation and controversy awaiting its debut. In the end, nobody is happy with it, and deservedly so. For a “kung-fu show”, the fighting is sparse and sub-par compared to what we’ve seen on Daredevil or Arrow. The plot meanders, characters are unlikeable, and the casting leaves much to be desired. Iron Fist may not be as bad as Inhumans or some other shows, but it’s definitely the most disappointing.

ifBurr: Iron Fist.
(Runner up: Inhumans).
I really wanted to like Iron Fist. I did. I’ll also admit though, I didn’t become a Marvel fan until about 10 years ago, so my understanding of Danny Rand was more of a fun, laid back guy. What I watched during the Netflix series was like fat free vanilla ice cream. I can’t fully blame Finn Jones. It’s a “slow burn” script, but for such a bland character, maybe that wasn’t the way to go.

Colby: Agents of SHIELD.
(Runner Up: The Walking Dead).
I have watched every single episode of this show and don’t know that I’ve ever actually enjoyed one all the way through. While the actors do a serviceable job with their roles, there are two massive issues that I cannot get past. The first is the set design that is so distractingly sparse and artificial with lighting that muddies scenes and creates needlessly long shadows. The second is the inconsequentiality of it all. While it doesn’t hue as close to the MCU proper as it once did, its stories are still largely forgettable. There was a great deal of hype for Ghost Rider to appear last year, but his arc was mostly wrapped up by mid-season which left 2017 a story about an artificial world and robot people. And yes, they managed to make that boring looking as well.

Best Actor
Brian: Dan Stevens as David Haller in Legion.
(Patrick Stewart as Xavier in Logan).
hallerI’ve known Dan Stevens was a great actor for years now, but even I am amazed at what he brings to the character of David Haller. Stevens is understated and sympathetic, singlehandedly holding the messy strands of the plot and timeline together. It’s possible to finish an episode, have no idea what you just saw, but still be excited to tune back in for more of him.

Burr: Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
(Runner Up: Hugh Jackman as Logan in Logan).
This review is very biased. I’ve loved Keaton since Night Shift, and as much as he defined Batman, he can play a villain like no other. Its his role in Homecoming that (for one of the first times ever) I could see the true face of the bad guy. I saw his reasoning. There’s a moment in the movie when he turns to Peter Parker and says, “If you get in my way, I’ll kill everyone you love.” Keaton makes you really believe that this isn’t a guy out to rule the world or get rich. He’s simply a dad who’s making a future for his family at any cost.

Colby: Michael Rooker as Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
(Runner Up: Tom Pelphrey as Ward Meachum in Iron Fist).
yonYondu was probably the best served character in this sequel. I enjoyed the movie overall quite a bit, but it was Rooker’s performance that gave the Ravager captain new levels of complexity that stood out more than anything. Haunted by past mistakes but unafraid to remain sarcastic and humorous, the role expanded a great deal since the last film. And that expansion made the character’s sacrifice in the films final moments all the more touching and poignant. That puts me in an awkward position of wanting to see more of the character but content with the finality that his story has.

Worst Actor
Brian: Zach Galifianakis as Joker in The Lego Batman Movie.
(Stephen Moyer as Reed Strucker in The Gifted).
joMaybe I’m spoiled from the years of Mark Hamill’s voice portraying the Clown Prince of Crime, but I feel Galifianakis brings none of the Joker’s requisite theatricality. He comes off as neither scary enough or funny enough, and all of the character’s emotional heavy-lifting is done by the animation. He’s a sour note in an overall enjoyable flick.

Burr: Dane Dehaan as Valerian in Valerian.
(Finn Jones as Danny Rand in Iron Fist).
The only other time I’ve seen Dane DeHaan was in Amazing Spider-Man 2 and even then, I just didn’t care for him. Maybe it’s the scripts. Maybe it’s his mannerisms. Or maybe I’ve just seen him in too many movies that aren’t good. Either way, when I recognize him on screen, I know I’m just not looking forward to knowing his character.

Colby: Danny Huston as Ludendorff in Wonder Woman.
(Runner Up: Iwan Rheon as Maximus in Inhumans).
Danny Huston is a fine actor, but he has a tendency to go too big and broad with his villainous roles (see X-Men Origins: Wolverine). Sadly, giving him a German accent to act through did nothing to hold back those tendencies. His over-the-top scenery chewing is insanely distracting (even moreso when you realize that Ludendorff was a real person) which adds to the obvious “red herring” status of the character. If only he had a mustache so he could literally twirl it throughout the film.

Best Actress
Brian: Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in the DCEU.
(Runner Up: Karen Gillen as Nebula in GotG Vol. 2).
While the films she’s appeared in are uneven, Gal Gadot belongs in the ranks of incredibly perfectly cast heroes alongside Patrick Stewart and Robert Downey, Jr. Gadot effortlessly provides the grace and charm, plus the toughness, necessary to bring Wonder Woman to life. She is the highlight of Justice League, just as Wonder Woman is the highlight of the entire DCEU.

Burr: Melissa Benoist as Supergirl in Supergirl.
(Runner Up: Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman).
sgThere is a moment in CW’s Crisis on Earth X where Supergirl floats outside the enemy’s spaceship and says, “General? Care to step outside?” It was then that I knew, Melissa Benoist wasn’t just playing Supergirl. She was Supergirl. Back in season 1, when Kara finds out she has hurt people because she was effected by red kryptonite, there was a look on Benoist’s face that was so filled with shock and sorrow, it made me tear up. She is to Supergirl what Christopher Reeve was to Superman.

Colby: Dafene Keen as Laura in Logan.
(Runner Up: Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones in The Defenders).
Simply put, Logan would not work if the character Laura/X-23 didn’t work. She says almost nothing for the first 2/3 of the movie but the weight and emotion that Ms. Keen brought to the roll is without match. She held her own in scenes against Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman and in many cases stole them. The stoicism of the roll eventually gives way to a character who is scared and angry and in need of direction before ultimately becoming a leader in her own right. Tackling a role like this is enough of a task in itself but to do it with such tact and nuance is an amazing feat.

Worst Actress
Brian: Isabelle Cornish as Crystal in Inhumans.
(Runner Up: Amber Heard as Mera in Justice League).
It almost seems unfair to single out acting on a show as fundamentally mismanaged as Inhumans. Still, Isabelle Cornish’s performance as Crystal is especially abysmal. Her wooden performance and apparent lack of investment hardly helps the scripting issues. For a character with the Marvel Comics pedigree of Crystal, this is a serious let-down.

Burr: Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney in Gotham.
(Runner Up: Cara Delevigne as Laureline in Valerian).
fishI love Gotham. There are probably very few people who will admit that out loud, but I do. Ask me what I like about it and I could barely tell you. What I don’t like though is every time Fish Mooney is on screen. Mrs. Smith plays the character like someone who wants to chew the scenery, but doesn’t have the flexibility in their acting to do so. Each scene with Fish is like being forced to watch someone else’s spoiled child yell at their parents. You just want it to stop so you can get on with other things. As for my Runner Up, well, I guess I could probably blame her co-star for that.

Colby: Amber Heard as Mera in Justice League.
(Runner Up: Lucy Davis as Etta Candy in Wonder Woman).
This was probably the hardest category for me this year. There were quite a few interesting and complex performances from actresses this year, even in movies or shows that that I didn’t particularly like. And then there was Mera in Justice League. Granted, she was only in one scene (that made it into the final cut, that is) but it was a particularly uninspired performance. It could be the dialogue or the fact that it was clearly filmed on green screen, but I’m hoping she does more than simply read her lines with such flatness in the Aquaman movie where she’ll (presumably) have a larger role.

Best Fight
Brian: The Wedding of The Flash in Crisis on Earth X.
(Runner Up: Logan vs. carjackers in Logan).
Everything comes together perfectly in this multi-franchise sequence. Each character present is given time to shine as they battle Earth-X doppelgangers and Nazi troopers. Every fight is well orchestrated, and the long, uninterrupted takes keep the viewer right in the thick of the action. Not since the first Flash/Arrow crossover, or The Avengers, has there been such a fun team-up battle with such a sense of payoff.

Burr: The Final Battle in Crisis on Earth X.
(Runner Up: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2).
Again, why is DC so good with television and so bad with movies? Even with a lower budget, this 4 part series had a better action scene than the million-dollar fight I had to sit through during Justice League. Green Arrow, Firestorm, Flash, Supergirl and other DC comic favorites were all represented in the final battle with their evil Nazi counterparts. It was a great battle that tied up this miniseries nicely. It felt like a comic book fight. It looked like a comic book fight and it was (without a doubt) the most fun action to watch all year.

Colby: Protecting Spyglass in Atomic Blonde.
(Runner Up: The Battle for Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok).
abIf there’s a comic book movie directed by David Leitch then you can pretty much guarantee that it’ll make the list for best fight (I’m looking at you, Deadpool 2 for next year’s). This spy action thriller featured incredibly stylish cinematography, charismatic leads and plenty of twists and turns. However, the kinetic action scenes between Charlize Theron and dozens of stunt men were where this flick shined. This fight (and it’s killer choreography) takes place in multiple levels of multiple buildings, transitions from inside to outside and ends with a car chase. No other movie comes close to it this year.

Worst Fight
Brian: Danny’s First Fight in Iron Fist.
(Runner Up: Baman vs the Phantom Zone villains in The LEGO Batman Movie).
Nearly all of the issues with Iron Fist (see above) are encapsulated in this early fight scene. In it, superhuman martial artist Danny Rand struggles to defeat an unnamed henchman in a supply closet. Messy cutting doesn’t hide the weak choreography, and Finn Jones is hardly convincing in the physicality of the role. I know of people giving up on the show after this fight scene. I don’t blame them.

Burr: The Final Battle in Wonder Woman.
(Runner Up: Valerian).
wwDang it. I didn’t want to mention Worst and Wonder Woman in the same sentence. Darn you DC for making me do it. Don’t be confused. I loved Wonder Woman. I think Gal Godot brings class and style to the character and I would be first in line to watch a sequel, but like all DC movies, it seems they crank the CGI levels up to 12 for every fight scene and this was no exception. In the third act, where Wonder Woman faces her evil foe (hey, no spoilers here, right?) there was just no feeling to it. No excitement. No connection and nothing we haven’t seen before in this final battle at the airport. It was grey, felt “by the numbers” and to me, completely devoid of fun.

Colby: Hela vs. The Warriors Three in Thor: Ragnarok.
(Runner Up: The League vs. Steppenwolf in Justice League).
Well, this wasn’t so much a fight as a slaughter made all the worse because of how casually it dispatched well-known supporting characters. As Hela makes her way back to Asgard, she easily slices through Volstagg and Fandral (the latter of which doesn’t even get a line!) before taking on Hogun and the Einherjar. Hogun at least puts up somewhat of a fight, but it was still a tonally awkward and shocking scene in a movie that was otherwise so light and fun.

And with that, we’re done with our best and worst of the year. This was an amazingly good year for comic book movies and television series. As such, the lows weren’t quite as low as past years while the highs seem to soar in a way that we’ve rarely seen. Looking ahead to 2018 seems to suggest that the future will be just as bright for the media. In it, we’ll see Marvel’s release of Black Panther as well as Avengers: Infinity War, the premiere of Black Lightning on the CW and the return of John Constantine to the Arrowverse. We’ll see where they all fall on next year’s list.

And now onto the coveted Chris Evans Award for Excellence in Comic Book Media. There was no small amount of debate on who to choose. Should it go to Gal Gadot for being the one bright spot in DC’s dour film slate? How about Hugh Jackman for his final performance as Wolverine in the excellent Logan? In the end, a less conventional choice came through but I’d argue that his well worthy of the award. This year’s Golden Evans goes to….

Taika Waititi!

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Mr. Waititi took over the Thor franchise and made what is arguably the best third installment of a film franchise ever. With stellar reviews and a huge box office haul, he proved that people would show up in droves for the Mighty Avenger. What’s more, this wacky action comedy was easily able to take the November box office from the much more well-known and established Justice League. Looking back at his past resume of films, he doesn’t seem like the most logical choice for Marvel Studios but their willingness to let him make the movie his own way created an incredibly crowd-pleasing piece of filmmaking (death of The Warriors Three aside). On top of that, he turned in an incredibly memorable performance as Korg in the same film! With the level of attention that this has brought to him and his interest in continuing with Marvel, here’s hoping Mr. Waititi adds more comic book movies to his eclectic filmography.

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