The first half of 2021 was pretty quiet for superhero movies, but with the COVID-19 vaccine starting to roll out, the world started returning to something near normal over the summer. As a result, we've been treated to a good run of Marvel and DC movies in recent months, but which of them was best?
That's something we're sure you all have an opinion on, but in a year that kicked off with Black Widow and now culminates with Spider-Man: No Way Home, how do they all compare?
It's fair to say there hasn't been a bad movie among them, but as is so often the case, some are better than others. With that in mind, we've decided to rank 2021's Marvel and DC Comics adaptations from worst to best, even including some thoughts from our initial reviews of each.
To see what lands where on this list, all you guys need to do is click on the "Next" button below!
7. The Suicide Squad
We only got one DC movie in theaters this year, but The Suicide Squad was never able to reach its full potential at the box office thanks to a dual HBO Max release. However, even without a streaming release, it feels like James Gunn's sequel/reboot was always going to struggle to make an impact.
A confusing marketing campaign meant moviegoers were unsure what this movie actually was, so not even rave reviews were enough to help people forget about that dreadful 2016 effort. It's a shame too as The Suicide Squad had a lot of great moments, even if Gunn couldn't help but use that R-Rating to head down disappointingly juvenile routes with the humour at times.
Overall, it was fine, but by no means the fresh start for this franchise Warner Bros. likely hoped for.
What we said: It's not a comic book movie classic but you'll have a bloody good time with The Suicide Squad, an action-packed, often hilarious, take on Task Force X that breathes new life into the DC Extended Universe even if it occasionally strikes a bum note.
6. Black Widow
While fans had been asking for a Black Widow movie for years, releasing one after the character's death in Avengers: Endgame was a bold choice. We're not sure filling in the gap between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War was entirely necessary, and an origin story (taking us back to Natasha Romanoff's first meeting with Clint Barton) might have been more fun.
Despite that, this was still an awesome solo outing for the character. Spending time with Natasha's family was a blast, as the empowering narrative of these assassins taking back their free will. Yelena Belova's introduction was, of course, a highlight and the action scenes were some of the MCU's best.
Unfortunately, as formidable as Taskmaster was, there were probably better ways to utilise the villain.
What we said: Black Widow is Bourne meets Bond meets Terminator...with two outstanding, badass female leads. Action-packed, funny, and at times surprisingly gut-wrenching, Cate Shortland's vision for the MCU is bold, empowering, and utterly unmissable.
Heading into 2021, it's fair to say none of us would have expected Eternals to be the first "Rotten" Marvel Studios movie. For whatever reason, a lot of critics didn't respond well to this blockbuster, and it's hard not to wonder whether that was partly down to them feeling Oscar-winner Chloé Zhao should not "lower" herself with the superhero genre (and wanted to make her pay for doing so).
We'll put our tinfoil hat down for now and move on from conspiracies because while Eternals wasn't perfect, it was still a great movie. It jumped around too much and had a few too many characters, but manages to top Black Widow simply for its ambitious scale and stunning visuals.
There were some genuine jaw-dropping moments here, and an expansion of the MCU's mythos you have to believe will have a lasting impact on this shared world. For starters, there's now a massive stone Celestial sticking out of the Indian ocean, while Starfox's introduction is also huge.
What we said: A powerful, sweeping exploration of love, life, and the MCU’s history, Eternals occasionally stumbles, but when it soars, this is Marvel Studios at its magnificent best.
4. Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Venom should go down as one of the worst superhero movies ever made. It felt more like a leftover from the mid-2000s than an adaptation worthy of competing with the Marvel Studios slate, so none of us had high hopes for Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Andy Serkis replacing Ruben Fleischer boded well, of course, and this 90-minute breezy blockbuster ended up exceeding expectations.
Tom Hardy dialled down the silliness for a far more interesting exploration of Eddie Brock's relationship with Venom, while the sheer brutality of Carnage should have definitely made comic book fans happy. We'd have liked an extra 15 or 20 minutes to better explore these characters, but the breakneck speed of the story proved advantageous and made this a fun, easy to digest ride.
Is it the perfect Venom movie? No, but it is the best non-MCU live-action Marvel movie in a long time.
What we said: Venom: Let There Be Carnage is the ultimate Marvel movie; seeing Venom and Carnage clash is a comic book fan’s dream come true, but the epic action is bolstered by incredible visuals, some big laughs, and a surprising amount of heart.
3. Zack Snyder's Justice League
We can appreciate that many of you just don't want to hear about Zack Snyder's Justice League at this point, but the four-hour movie was a delight for those desperate to see the filmmaker's uncensored vision for this team. Vastly better than 2017's effort from Joss Whedon, it was suitably epic in scale and, much to the disappointment of some, 100% Snyder at his best (and worst).
The filmmaker definitely gave in to some of his more annoying impulses as a director at times, but the story here really worked and those sequel teases - while unlikely to lead anywhere - were amazing. A live-action Darkseid didn't disappoint, and neither did a far superior, action-packed final act. There might be a better Justice League movie to be made, but this was still phenomenal.
The best part was seeing what this cast was capable of without before Whedon twisted things, and Ray Fisher, in particular, ended up impressing in a major way as this far more layered Cyborg.
What we said: Zack Snyder’s Justice League is the superhero movie event of the decade; epic and exciting, it lives up to the hype, and features a standout performance from Ray Fisher as Cyborg along with must-see teases for a sequel we can only hope becomes a reality.
2. Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings
It would be unfair to say that we went into Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings with low expectations, but it being a potential Oscar candidate (it sounds like Kevin Feige hopes it will follow in Black Panther's footsteps) was a shocker. With the MCU's best fight scenes and an insanely talented cast giving it their all, this magnificent looking movie was a joy from beginning to end.
Action aside, and the father/son story at the heart of Shang-Chi was another undeniable highlight.
This was Marvel Studios firing on all cylinders, and by the time the credits rolled, we were left with one of the MCU's brightest and best new heroes. It's no wonder that a sequel and Disney+ spinoff series are both on the way, and Shang-Chi becoming one of the faces of this shared world moving forward just feels right. We just can't wait for this New Avenger to meet more of his fellow heroes.
What we said: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is nothing short of action movie perfection; this is the MCU like you’ve never seen before, and it’s no exaggeration to say Simu Liu was born to play the MCU’s newest Avenger.
1. Spider-Man: No Way Home
Spider-Man: No Way Home has only just arrived in theaters (don't worry, we won't spoil anything here), but this isn't just 2021's best superhero movie...it's also the greatest Marvel Comics adaptation to ever grace the big screen. Now, we're sure not all of you will agree, but if you're a Spider-Man fan - particularly when it comes to the previous movies - you'll love each and every second.
On paper, this Multiversal adventure really shouldn't work, but director Jon Watts manages to bring all these different characters and ideas together to deliver a perfect blockbuster experience.
A love letter to the wall-crawler's history and a spectacular take on the MCU's Peter Parker, it's hard to find fault with Spider-Man: No Way Home. It's a movie we'll be talking about for a long time to come, and while there's arguably going to be no topping this, the stage has been set for an exciting future for Peter Parker...now, bring on Watts' take on the Fantastic Four, already.
What we said: Spider-Man: No Way Home is the greatest Marvel movie ever made. Period. As epic as it is emotional, this is not only a perfect blockbuster, but Spider-Man’s wildest, funniest, and most awe-inspiring adventure yet. It's a Marvel masterpiece.