Summer 2017: Box Office Dominations

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Jenise Mass, Staff Writer

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2

As the explosive and hilarious sequel to 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the film finds the Guardians: Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and a now infantilized Groot on another journey to save the galaxy from total chaos and destruction.

The 15th film on the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) roster, and with a certified fresh 82% on Rotten Tomato, this movie was a major success at the box office this year, even more so than the first Guardians film. At first thought, some may have believed it to be difficult to pull off a sequel as good as, or possibly better, than the first movie (especially for a comic book film). Director James Gunn and the returning cast pull it off by┬ácontinuing the first film’s tradition of being a wild, explosive, humorous, and a visually stunning journey, however, this time the stakes are higher, the story is more character driven, and is more heartfelt to the viewers.

The Guardians this time around are still misfits, but are now a close knit family who fight to stay together after a mission gone awry when a teammate steals something they were supposed to protect, and are chased by the Sovereign (an alien race) and Ravagers, all this while in the midst of discovering the mysteries of Peter Quill/Star Lord’s biological father, Ego.

It is safe to say that those who were a fan of the first movie will love the second one just as much, if not more than the first . As of August 2017, Vol. 2 has grossed over $800M at the world wide box office and is now out on Blu Ray. The third installment, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3,” was announced weeks before Vol. 2’s release and is set for a 2021 release as part of the MCU’s phase four, however, in the mean time the Guardians will be seen as soon as next year in “Avengers: Infinity War” when they come to Earth to team up with the Avengers to prevent an intergalactic war.

Transformers: The Last Knight

A sequel to 2014’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “The Last Knight” is the latest film in the ever continuing Transformers series. Mark Wahlberg returns as the inventor Cade Yeager, now on the run for helping transformers being hunted by the military, along with Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, and Glen Morshower returning to reprise their roles from the previous films and Michael Bay returning to the directing helm (much to many fans’ dismay). This time the story blends the mythos of the Legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round table into modern day as humans and the remaining Autobots must fight for the survival of Earth against vengeful Decepticons trying to resurrect their lost planet, Cybertron.

“The Last Knight” is possibly the biggest and longest action packed spectacle of the series but is still a generic Transformers movie, and like the previous Transformer films, “The Last Knight” was met with many negative reviews that criticized the film’s handling of the plot, Bay’s directing, the running time, and inconsistencies the film presented within the series. It also experienced some controversy during filming when they used Winston Churchill’s home as the headquarters for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler for a scene.

Despite the harsh criticisms and low scores it received, however, it did exceptionally well at the box office (as expected with these films) grossing just over $600M worldwide. It was successful enough that there is already another untitled sequel in place set for June 28th, 2019, as well as a spinoff movie for fan favorite transformer Bumblebee which is set for December 21st next year.

 

Wonder Woman

After her popular debut in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” Gal Gadot returns as the Amazon warrior princess, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, this time in her own solo origin film. As the fourth movie on the DC Extended Universe’s slate, “Wonder Woman” takes place during World War I almost 100 years before the events of “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman,” making her the first superhero in this universe. The film shows the journey of Diana, who decides to leave her hidden Amazon home, Themyscira, after an American pilot named Steve Trevor crash lands on the island, informs the Amazons of the deadly ongoing conflict, and must return to the world with critical information that could possibly end the war. When Diana believes that mankind is being manipulated to fight by the fallen god Ares, she leaves with Steve back to England in the midst of the war to destroy the god and end his reign of pain and terror. In the process, she uses her skills as a warrior to become Wonder Woman to the war torn people, discovering her true destiny.

“Wonder Woman” was incredibly successful at the box office and just recently ended its run with just over $800M worldwide, making it the highest grossing superhero origin film (domestically) and set records such as having the highest grossing film and the largest domestic opening for a female director and for a female-led comic book film.

Aside from the fact that it is a female led action/comic book movie, what makes Wonder Woman so different and important from other male driven action films is the fact that it is not a story propelled by violence or hate, while it may center around a conflict, it does not overshadow that the story is led by love, hope, and optimism through Diana’s eyes and her ability to see the good in people no matter the circumstances. She embodies the idea of hope in dark times and is a hero that many children and adults alike will look up to for many years to come.

Wonder Woman will return this November to team up and save the world with Batman, the Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg and Superman for Justice League, and her own sequel is set to be released December 13th, 2019.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

The third iteration of the iconic superhero Spider-Man and the second reboot of a Spider-Man franchise, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is the first Spidey film to be set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe on terms of the Sony/Marvel agreement to share the character and his stories, and the first Spidey film to get it right.

For those who watched last year’s “Captain America: Civil War,” Tom Holland swung onto the scene as the new Peter Parker/Spider-Man after Andrew Garfield’s run came to an abrupt end. Despite how excited fans were to finally have Spider-Man in his rightful place with the MCU, before his debut many were skeptical and curious of how newcomer Holland would portray the character and others were skeptical if he would properly fit into the universe given how quickly the deal came together. However, Holland surprised many with his performance of the popular web-slinger and his version of the character became an immediate fan favorite.

This time around he’s got his own solo film (thankfully not another origin story) set just a few months after the events of Civil War. As he is thrown back into every day life, Peter Parker juggles being the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and high school life, but desperately wants to make it to big leagues by becoming an Avenger and impress his mentor/idol Tony Stark aka Iron Man. However, he must go through trial and error and self-discovery as the superhero Spider-Man when he comes across an alien weapon smuggling ring led by the Vulture, and as Peter Parker when his commitments come in conflict with his vigilante life.

Despite being a third live action version of the character within the past decade, Homecoming is still doing numbers at the worldwide box office and is expected to end its run with around $780+ million and has become one of Sony’s highest domestic grossing films. The film received positive reviews that acclaimed the story telling, Holland’s and the high school students’ performances, as well as Michael Keaton’s vulture and Jon Watts’ directing. Fans who loved Holland’s portrayal will see him next year joining the fight against Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War” and the unnamed Homecoming sequel the following year set for a July 5th, 2019 release.

War for the Planet of the Apes

As the third and final installment of the critically acclaimed Ape series, “War for the Planet of the Apes” is the perfect ending for ape leader Caesar’s story that started in 2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Set two years after the previous movie (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”), Caesar and his intelligent ape clan are hiding out in the woods after the military was called to fight/kill them off, a military coup that is led by the Colonel with a personal and deadly vendetta against the genetically enhanced chimpanzees, especially Caesar. When the apes are captured, Caesar defies all odds to save his clan from the Colonel and to finally bring them the freedom they fought for and were deprived of for years.

The film was praised for the story and for its satisfying conclusion with Andy Serkis returning and final performance as the CGI ape Caesar, and Woody Harrelson’s cold and villainous Colonel, with some calling it the best of the trilogy. As of now, the film has grossed over $300M at the box office and is still bringing in money.

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