Superhero movies have been a dominant driving force at the box office for most of the 21st Century, but with each passing year, the genre grows bigger and more prolific as studios crank up their output to build interconnected universes all their own. Which means 2016 was the biggest year yet, with a whopping six major superhero releases. (For the purpose of this article, we’re only looking at films released in America, and comic book adaptations only — so you won’t find the toy-based Max Steel or international titles like the excellent R-rated Italian spin on the genre, The Call Me Jeeg Robot). Despite murmurs about “superhero fatigue” the genre is stronger than ever, and the theatrical schedules for the coming years are lined up to match and exceed this year’s output.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, we’re taking a look back on the superhero films of 2016, ranked from worst to best. If you’re keeping an eye out for themes, there aren’t too many to be shared throughout the lot, but 2016 seems to have been the year of superhero on superhero violence — The Avengers had their Civil War, Batman and Superman battled down, and even the mutants of the X-Men were locked more in a war with each other rather than the humans trying to control them. 2016 was also a major year for expansion and introduction. Warner Bros.’ DCEU officially launched, Deadpool finally got his day, the MCU welcomed Spider-Man and Black Panther, and the X-Men introduced a new generation of young mutants to lead the franchise forward.
If the year was diverse in themes, it was also wide-ranging in quality, so let’s get down to brass tacks and take a look at our breakdown of the year’s releases from worst to best. To determine the rankings, we polled the Collider editorial staff for their own personal power ranking for this year in superhero movies, which were then tallied up using a preferential balloting system. (Our #1 picks earned 6 points, #2 earned 5 points, etc). Some interesting common threads — all but one voter picked Deadpool for the #2 spot, and likewise, all but one selected Batman v Superman as the weakest of the bunch.
Find our ranked list below and be sure to sound off in the comments (respectfully, if at all possible) with your own personal list.