Looking back over the year, it’s easy to remember all the horrible, terrible, shitty things that happened. It may seem like nothing good happened in 2016, but that’s not quite true. We’ve compiled lists of both the good and the bad things that warmed our nerdy hearts this year... or that made us want to set everything on fire and watch the world burn.
The year 2016 took a lot away, but it actually gave us one wonderful thing back—Young Justice, DC’s excellent cartoon series and worthy replacement for the classic DC animated universe. We don’t know when or where the show will finally return, but we do know how happy we are to finally get that season two cliffhanger resolved.
Bryan Fuller making a TV adaptation of a Neil Gaiman novel for Starz? There’s literally no part of that sentence we don’t like. But the show’s pitch-perfect casting has been even better: Ian McShane as Odin, Gillian Anderson as the personification of media, Cloris Leachman as a Slavic night goddess, Jeremy Davies as Jesus… and that’s just for starters. American Gods is already in the lead for best show of 2017, just by default.
Captain America: Civil War was good, but the real best superhero movie footage of the year belongs to Wonder Woman. Both trailers were simply astounding, not only because they were jaw-droppingly awesome, but because they seemed to get Wonder Woman exactly right—something even DC Comics has a hard time doing. Also, moving her origin to World War I is stroke of genius. We couldn’t be looking forward to the movie more.
We’d pretty much given up hope for getting Pacific Rim 2, despite director Guillermo del Toro’s constant promises it was happening (he makes a lot of promises of this sort). So we were delighted when it was back on track with Daredevil showrunner Steven DeKnight in the director’s chair, and even more delighted when we heard John Boyega would join the production as Idris Elba’s character’s son, because he’s also delightful. The whole thing was just extra, extra delightful all around, really.
Marvel and director Taika Waititi brought a bit of Thor: Ragnarok footage to this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, but it was overshadowed by this short, which explained what Thor was doing while the rest of the Marvel universe had their little civil war. Short version: The Odinson was rooming with a dude named Darryl.
Dumb-dumbs have been doubting the moon landing for half a century at this point, but the rumors that the government had Stanley Kubrick make the footage have been weirdly prevalent. Vivian Kubrick finally had enough, reminding people that among the things her father was least likely to do, “working with the U.S. government to deceive its people” was near the top of the list.
We didn’t expect much when we went to a screening of a mysterious but generic-sounding horror film called The Woods. That was exactly the point. So when we realized the movie was actually a secret sequel to The Blair Witch Project, we were blown away. It didn’t hurt that the movie was really good, too, building off the original in smart, clever ways, while modernizing the “found-footage” concept.
In a completely unexpected turn of events, the best Batman-related movie released all year was an animated one based on the ‘60s TV show. Return of the Caped Crusaders was not only funny, but it also managed to recreate the visuals of the iconic series, and turned out to be a well-thought out meditation on the very nature of Batman.
Not to ruin the whole reveal from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child—which, like most new Harry Potter material released this year, had some serious flaws—but there is an action sequence on a train which will change how you read the books forever. The trolley witch, it turns out, has a lot more going on than pumpkin pasties.
This is not a knock on Smith at all. Back in May, Amazon announced it was making a TV series based on the 1984 scifi cult classic movie, and Kevin Smith seemed like an excellent choice to run it. But when MGM sued the film’s original writer and director in a dispute over who held the rights, Smith announced he was quitting the show rather work on it without the original creators on board. It was a classy move, and one we respect the hell out of.
No, it didn’t air this year; it was only announced. But given that Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin both proved their singing ability on Glee, and that they’re two of the most affable people on the planet, even knowing that this crossover is on the way was a definite highlight. Now, all they need to do is work Legends of Tomorrow’s Victor Garber in there…
Diversity in comics remained a hot button issue in 2016—and while Marvel led the charge on bringing a wider variety of heroes to its lineup, one area it sorely lacked throughout the year was in fostering a stable of LGBTQ lead characters. We’re still having to wait for them to start next year, but at least Marvel recent proved they’re making some steps in the right direction: both America Chavez and Iceman, prominent out heroes, will be getting their first solo series in 2017. Hopefully they’re just a sign of more diverse stories and heroes to come.
The latest book in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series may have gotten flak over its title (as well as the fact that Atlantis became part of her traditionally gothic setting), but that was practically the least of the book’s surprises. In a truly shocking move, Rice basically rewrote her entire vampire universe, changing everything about characters and tales that fans have loved for literally decades. Not everyone was a fan, but the move was audacious and fearless, and we were so impressed we had to ask the author herself why she did it.
Or rather, the almost total lack of one by Trek owners CBS and Paramount. Not only could they not get their shit together to get Star Trek: Discovery on the air this year, and not only did the marketing of Star Trek Beyond completely ignore the milestone, but also the companies’ acknowledgment of the one of the greatest scifi franchises of all time—and one that has made them a ton of money—literally amounted to a 95 second video that completely ignored Deep Space 9 and Voyager. And that wasn’t all…
There might not be a better or more reliable maker of good TV shows that Fuller, and he’s a huge Trek fan (he got his start submitting scripts for DS9). There is literally no better person to put in charge of a new Star Trek TV show. But suddenly, after months on inactivity, CBS decided to rush Discovery into production even though that meant losing Fuller completely. Discovery—and the entire Star Trek franchise—is absolutely going to be poorer for his absence.
io9 may have covered the antics during the filming of Suicide Squad more than any other news this year, but it wasn’t because we wanted to. It’s because there was so damn much of it. Leto gave dead animals to his co-stars, Jai Courtney self-inflicted burns, the director made the stars punch each other—and for what? A movie that was a total mess. Viola Davis did not deserve any of this nonsense.
This still stings.
J.K. Rowling should maybe learn from George Lucas that just because people say they want you to do more stories in a universe doesn’t mean you should. This year brought us her clueless interpretation of the United State’s magical history, some really tone deaf ruminations on wizarding schools across the world, and her script for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them—which required every character to carry the idiot ball for the plot to work.
Freelance e-sports journalist Amanda Stevens tried to board a plane while wearing a hat emblazoned with the name and image of a well-known Marvel superhero. Apparently the pilot didn’t watch Captain America: Civil War, because the hat, along with her ASAP Rocky shirt, made the pilot “uncomfortable” leading to her getting kicked off the plane. It was terrible and stupid and United should still be ashamed.
J.J. Abrams likes to keep his movies as secret as possible. That has its pros, to be sure, but it also has its cons—especially when he refused to tell The Force Awakens merchandisers that the movie’s real hero was Rey, resulting in a woeful lack of representation. It got better, but this was a problem that never needed to happen in the first place.
There have been 356 days in this year so far, and not one of them has contained a new episode of Doctor Who. Sure, we’ll get the annual Christmas special on December 25, but showrunner Steven Moffat and the BBC couldn’t get their crap together to make even a few non-holiday-themed episodes? Boo.
Rita Repulsa looks like Poison Ivy. The female Rangers’ suits have weirdly huge boobs. Goldar appears to be an Oscar. The Zords look like overgrown bicycle helmets with legs. None of the “first looks” we’ve received from the film have made us excited.
Cool idea: Making limited edition shoes based on ones worn by the hero of one of the all-time great scifi films. Tremendously shitty idea: Making these shoes only for men, despite the fact the hero of said movie is one of the most famous female characters in movie history.
Sure, the movie was good, but Marvel’s original Civil War comics were pretty bad, mainly because they had to turn Iron Man into a fascist to justify why all these heroes were fighting each other. So it’s sort of impressive that Civil War II managed to make the exact same mistake, this time with Captain Marvel as hero who commits objectively evil acts—locking people up merely for the potential that they’ll commit crimes—as Marvel pretends she’s still some kind of hero.
Alan Moore’s Batman comic is infamous for its scene where the Joker paralyzes and sexually assaults Batgirl merely to raise the stakes for its male protagonist. But when Bruce Timm announced that DC was going to make an animated version of it, he promised that Barbara Gordon’s story would be much improved, and give the character agency. Instead, Batgirl is obsessed with fucking Batman because she has severe daddy issues, and it’s even more insulting and horrible than the original. Impressively, the shitshow even continued to the movie’s Comic-Con panel.