Welcome to 2017, my fellow geeks! It has been a long, tough, strenuous year for many, but geek culture is stronger than ever and ready to kick 2017 in the face.
But what would the beginning of a year be without looking back at the best and brightest in movies, TV shows, comics and collectibles of the previous 365 days? (no really, I’m asking. Is that really a thing that can happen?) I know most of you are just salivating with anticipation (or super hung over from New Years, so you want me to just get on with it), so here we go:
The Best of 2016
10. Black Mirror
What do you get when you take a twilight zone style premise set in a über-technological future, and make each episode its own stand alone story? A damn great show that begs to be binge watched. Starting off as a British anthology series before being purchased by the streaming giant Netflix, which then commissioned its own tagged on seasons. The episodes range from slightly discomforting to weirdly heartwarming to outright terrifying, all packed with the frightening realization that the themes of each show could be a reality in the not so distant future. Robert Downey Jr. even purchased the movie rights to a Season 1 episode. If you’re a fan of being highly entertained while at the same time being creeped the F out, this is the show for you.
9. Doctor Strange
A new twist on an old origin story, the transformation of famed surgeon Stephen Strange into the Sorcerer Supreme delighted fans and was another box office hit for Marvel/Disney. Benedict Cumberbatch, with the help of an extraordinary supporting cast, paves the way as the titular character, proving himself a new leading man in the MCU and possible leader of the Avengers moving on beyond the events (during the events?) of Avengers: Infinity War. Just as excitingly, the film set up Baron Mordo, brought to life by the remarkable, still horribly underrated Chiwetel Ejiofor, for a Loki-esque villainous turn going forward in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
8. Marvel’s Netflix Shows
Daredevil Season 2 kept the narrative rolling, while introducing the Hand, Elodie Yung’s Elektra Natchios, and the scene-stealing, perfectly cast Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle, aka The Punisher. Luke Cage showed audiences his part of New York with a hip-hop meets true crime style show that continued Marvel Netflix’s string of game-changing villains, this time in the form of Mahershala Ali’s Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. Both shows were well received by fans and critics alike, paving the way for 2017, which will deliver the much anticipated Iron Fist series, leading into The Defenders crossover event.
7. The Soundtrack to “Luke Cage”
Luke Cage ruled, but do you know what ruled harder? The SOUNDTRACK to Luke Cage. A season that included songs from Wu-Tang Clan, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Nina Simone, The Stylistics, and one of the catchiest songs in recent memory, Jidenna’s “Long Live the Chief”, provided the perfect musical backdrop for an inaugural season that showrunner Cheo Coker called “the ‘wutangification’ of the Marvel Universe.
6. Funko Pop! Figures
When I first laid eyes on these figures 4(ish) years ago, I thought to myself, “wow…these are stupid.” Fast forward just a few months and I had bought my first one. Fast forward to the following year, and my addiction to these lovable, weird, bobblehead-like figures bordered on something that might need a 12 step program to recover from. I have since gotten my “problem” under control, mainly because I would like to continue being married, but dammit if these aren’t some of my favorite collectibles to be released in the last decade. Regardless of interest, you can find a Pop! figure in that category. I look forward to seeing the new ones that are released almost monthly. My one criticism…where is my Gambit Pop!?
Ryan Reynolds and director Tim Miller were finally able to deliver their R-rated love child Deadpool to the world in 2016, and it proved to be well worth the wait. Spot on humor and action sequences to match, Reynolds showed beyond any doubt what many already knew, that the man was a living, breathing embodiment of the character and was most likely constructed in a lab in the Canadian wilderness specifically for this role. Deadpool 2 is set for 2018, which all should rejoice for, but this movie provided unquestionable proof that given the right cast, script and direction, R-rated superhero films can not only do well at the box office, but undoubtedly blow it away.
4. DC ReBirth
Yes, I very much prefer Marvel over DC, but in my opinion, DC has the far superior comic book product at the moment. Their Rebirth launch has been a massive success, restoring legends to their rightful place (Superman, Wonder Woman), bringing back fan favorites (O.G.Wally West), introducing menacing new foes (God Speed) and giving Tier 2 heroes must read character arcs (Green Arrow, Red Hood). Marvel has done a decent job of making their 2nd round of Civil War a twisty and entertaining one, but Rebirth has given DC the comic book standard to strive for.
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
New Star Wars can never be a bad thing! (I’ve literally erased all memory of the Prequel films from my brain, Black Mirror style). Rogue One, the stand alone prequel to Episode IV: A New Hope, introduced engaging new characters (Chirrut Imwe, General Krenic, K-2SO), reintroduced legends of the cannon (Vader, Vader, & more Vader. Oh, and Tarkin & Leia), and finally clued Star Wars fans on to why the original Death Star had such a magnificently fatal flaw.
Faithful to the original film with the excitement of it’s most recent installment, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story SHOULD have kept Star Wars fans and casual movie goers alike entertained and complacent until Episode VIII arrives late this year.
2. Captain America: Civil War
The Russo Brothers had the unenviable task of not only trying to top their first foray into Steve Rogers’ world, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but succeed in bringing one of the most iconic of Marvel’s storylines to the big screen, while ALSO giving the world the Avengers blockbuster that many were looking for in the critical misstep known as Avengers: Age of Ultron (hey, I still liked it…).
Regardless of how you felt about their success in doing so, Captain America: Civil War was a box office hit and was applauded by most fans and critics alike. The film solidified the bond between BFFL’s Bucky and Cap, broke up the Avengers leading into the most war torn time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s history, introduced the world to the King of Wakanda T’Challa, better known as the Black Panther, and REintroduced viewers to arguably the most popular Marvel hero of all time, Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, while bringing him into the MCU fold. Hopes and expectations are now very high for the Brothers Russo to produce screen gems for Avengers: Infinity War and its yet to be named sequel. In Russo’s We Trust.
1. The newest Avengers was Born
Yeah, alright, so this isn’t exactly geek related, or geek related in any way, but my son Decker was born this year, and there’s no way I was doing a best of 2016 list on, well, anything without him being #1. He has changed my life completely, and I cannot wait to share geek culture in all (i.e. most) of it’s facets with him as he grows up. Also, look at those cheeks. **Heart Eyes Emoji**
Again, thanks for taking the time to read whatever random crap pops into my head! Please comment what you thought was the best of the best in geek culture this past year!
Lou Mattiuzzo is a full time husband, full time father, full time teacher & full time superhero enthusiast. He is seriously contemplating watching “Smallville” again. I’ll let you know what he decides.
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