Comic book movies have become synonymous to Hollywood blockbuster movies (with the only other exceptions being a Michael Bay movie or your token remake) so it’s no wonder the ratings from the incessantly jaded movie critics become bigger news than info on future movies.
It’s a tale of two companies: the Marvel releases often get rave reviews from the pros while their DC Comics counterpart, not so much. And by not so much we mean DC Comics’ best films (excepting Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy) can’t even beat out the worst-reviewed Marvel movies. FOX’s take on the X-verse has become lukewarm and they remain in the middle.
It’s become almost predictable how critics look at the films. Sometimes even more predictable than a Spider-Man origin story (we don’t have to see Uncle Ben die for the 17th time).
We take a shot at gauging how critics will review the biggest comic book films this year looking at a) similar films in the genre; b) the cast and crew of the film; and c) news on how the films are shaping up as our criteria:
The Lego Batman Movie
Release Date: February 20
Director: Chris McKay
Starring: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes
Why Critics Will Love It: it’s going to be funny, silly, and have plenty of pop culture references, all of which are formula pieces to please the analysts in the comic book genre. This is also a direct spin-off to 2014’s widely-praised The Lego Movie and brings back Will Arnett as the titular character. Oh, and critics just can’t seem to hate animated films.
Why Critics Will Hate It: it will likely be more of the same from the previous installment. “More of the same” may be a common gripe among the film buffs and the film runs the risk of not being as funny or charming as its predecessor.
Prediction: 88% (Fresh) (Actual Rating: 91%)
Release Date: March 3
Director: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant
Why Critics Will Love It: outside the most coldblooded critic, you can expect most of them to give at least a low-key commendation to Hugh Jackman’s final appearance as Wolverine. Jackman broke into Hollywood as Wolverine way back in 2000’s X-Men and regardless how splendid or sucky his movie is, he brings it. Kinda’ like Wolverine.
Why Critics Will Hate It: Jackman may just be flat-out drained from playing Wolverine for the 500th time and give a pedestrian performance while the rest of the film is an overly serious sub-par action movie that critics will enjoy pooping on.
Prediction: 67% (Fresh) (Actual Rating: 92%)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Release Date: May 5
Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Kurt Russell
Why Critics Will Love It: if it’s anything close to the original, critics will give it “fresh” ratings even if it is too much like the original (Avengers 2, which was far inferior to the original got a 75% rating). Pratt and his merry band of space misfits come together to have more adventures and Marvel has kept the plot mysterious to this point, which leaves more room to surprise the critics. If all else fails, you know the soundtrack will still be on point.
Why Critics Will Hate It: critics can hate for the sake of hating; that is what they are for anyhow. If the film lacks any substantial plot or fails to have the same quirky charm and comedy from the original that only invites buzzkill from the professional party poopers.
Prediction: 88% (Fresh) (Actual Rating: 81%)
Release Date: June 2
Director: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Lucy Davis
Why Critics Will Love It: critics live in the same politically correct bubble most of us do so nitpicking the film and bashing it too harshly could be substituted for encouraging pats on the back that a film directed by and led by two females in a genre dominated by boys isn’t all that bad. Or finally seeing Wonder Woman in her own movie puts everyone in a starry-eyed trance.
Why Critics Will Hate It: once the novelty wears out, the movie might just end up being like the previous DC Extended Universe films: a big jumbled mess of a poorly-edited, lazily-written blockbuster film that tries to do too much and isn’t as funny or as cool as it thinks it is.
Prediction: 64% (Fresh) (Actual Rating: 94%)
Release Date: July 7
Director: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Tony Revolori, Michael Keaten, Robert Downey Jr.
Why Critics Will Love It: it’s Spider-Man! No matter how many iterations or spin-offs the webhead gets he’s one of those fictional creations who is too amusing of a character to fail. You could’ve said the same about Superman or Batman and they got horrible movies but Holland got rave reviews in his brief stint in Civil War and the right creative team is finally handling Spidey.
Why Critics Will Hate It: it’s the sixth Spider-Man film in 15 years; even if this film skips the whole origin story and reshuffled the entire universe the same wall-crawling, web-slinging, and Peter Parker being a lovable loser themes have worn critics out to the point the franchise has become as dead as Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy for them.
Prediction: 77% (Fresh)
Release Date: November 3
Director: Taiki Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Anthony Hopkins
Why Critics Will Love It: Thor versus Hulk for the fate of Asgard with Jeff Goldbloom and Cate Blanchett in feature roles. Need we say more?
Why Critics Will Hate It: The Dark World was the worst film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and still collected a 66% RT rating so critics can’t hate this film too much even if it ends up having a paltry script with tired performances from the cast and the premise not living up to the hype.
Prediction: 82% (Fresh)
Release Date: November 17
Director: Zack Snyder/Joss Whedon
Starring: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher
Why Critics Will Love It: DC took the “too serious” comments to heart and started trending towards Marvel’s territory by infusing lighthearted fun and cheeky comedy and the critics could dig that. Also the iconic clashes between the heroes (we’re praying to see Wonder Woman go at it with Aquaman) is something that’ll tickle the inner fanboy in even the harshest critics.
Why Critics Will Hate It: with Snyder at the helm the movie won’t be too different from Batman v Superman; choppy story-telling, forced comedy, and too many characters with too little time could ultimately doom this film to another unremarkable rating but anything higher than what BvS got would be considered an improvement.
Prediction: 47% (Rotten) - before director change; 71% (Fresh) - after change