Princess Diana of Themyscira, daughter of Hippolyta, protector of the innocent, and all-around hero Wonder Woman got her first feature-length film in 2017. The resulting box office smash and cultural powerhouse, Wonder Woman, is now the highest rated superhero movie of all time on Rotten Tomatoes.
Rotten Tomatoes, which measures critical and fan response to films and famously measures them as either “fresh” or “rotten,” rated the “50 Best Superhero Movies of All Time.” Using an adjusted, weighted formula “that counts for variation in the number of reviews per movie,” Rotten Tomatoes rated Wonder Woman, the all-time best superhero movie, at 108.69 percent, with Logan, Hugh Jackman’s final run as the Wolverine, coming in second at 108.041 percent.
The latest superhero film to grace theaters, Thor: Ragnarok, actually clocks in at number three on Rotten Tomatoes’ list with 106.592 percent. The biggest surprises to some might be the animated films that break the top 10; The Incredibles (2004) is number nine at 103.424 percent and The Lego Batman Movie (2017) is number 10 at 103.193 percent.
Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins was, understandably, ecstatic at the news, tweeting the Rotten Tomatoes link and writing, “WOAH!!!!!!!!!!!! INSANE!!!! So wonderful. Thank you!!”
Five of the top 10 films on Rotten Tomatoes’ list premiered in 2017 — Wonder Woman, Logan, Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and The Lego Batman Movie — which might indicate studios are getting better at making superhero movies. But, taking into account the frequency with which superhero films are now being made (at least five superhero blockbusters premiered in 2017) in comparison to years past might change the perspective.
This frequency might also be driving reviewers to accept superhero films more readily than ever before. The cultural zeitgeist has essentially welcomed superhero films with open arms, and reviewers have kinda-sorta had to jump on the bandwagon. They have to accept these films for what they are — not that they always do; superhero films are just more culturally accepted and in line with the norm than ever before. Reviewers expect them to be a certain way. And, if a film fits that equation, then it will be ranked more highly.
Studios have had time to perfect the superhero film and make as many fans as possible happy, but the cultural saturation of superhero films has also resulted in the likes of Logan, Thor: Ragnarok, and Guardians of the Galaxy (ranked number 11 at 102.747 percent). Filmmakers can push the envelope and blend genres, resulting in a rough-and-tough superhero Western or an edge-of-your-seat superhero sci-fi comedy.
Even Wonder Woman verges on historical fiction and fantasy. And while the diverse makeup of comic book stories absolutely lends itself to a diverse set of films based on those books, there are clearly some superhero movies that do it better than all the rest.