2017 has been a great year for movies and there are still a few good releases on the horizon. Packed full of emotional powerhouses like Lady Bird and epic science-fiction films like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, 2017 has been a good year for critics and fans, if not the box office. Awards season is here and things like cinematography, costume design, and editing are being recognized with good reason. But the most important part of a film – the characters – are never really given the recognition they deserve.
Sure, people are given awards for acting, but it’s the characters themselves that make or break a movie. An interesting character can make a decent movie great while a terrible character can bring down a whole franchise (we’re looking at you, Jar Jar).
Part of what made the 2017 movie lineup so memorable were the great characters they brought into our lives. Unfortunately, for every few great characters there are always a few who are awkward or lazily written who stand out for the wrong reasons. All of these characters will be talked about and studied for years as filmmakers figure out exactly what does and doesn’t work when they are developing their own future projects.
Here are the 13 Best (And 7 Worst) Movie Characters Of 2017, Ranked!
20. Worst: Jailbreak – The Emoji Movie
The Emoji Movie was a mess from top to bottom, jam-packed with paper-thin characters. A subpar attempt to recreate the magic of The Lego Movie, The Emoji Movie featured a few emojis who were desperate to break their programming and express themselves freely.
One of the main supporting characters was Jailbreak, voice by Anna Faris. A former princess emoji who ran away from Textopolis, Jailbreak is now a hacker who can change the world around her. Simply because she’s a girl character she becomes a love interest for the main character and helps him stop Smiler from deleting the digital world forever.
Considering her punkish attitude, the fact that she ran away from home, and her emo look, it was probably a bad idea to name the character Jailbreak due to how eerily close it is to Jailbait.
19. Best: Laura – Logan
In a movie about Wolverine’s last big-screen adventure, his cloned daughter Laura stole the show. Played by Dafne Keen, X-23 is a feisty child who keeps her thoughts to herself. Mute for most of the movie, Laura expresses herself mostly through grunts and through ballsy behavior, until she unleashes an unforgettable torrent of Spanish onto Logan.
She may look harmless, but she’s just as vicious as her father. Equipped with two claws on each hand, Laura also has one claw on each foot to help her get out of tight jams. She’s able to get just as angry and berserk as Wolverine, so with a bit of training she can become a key member of any future X-Men team.
18. Best: Baby – Baby Driver
Edgar Wright turned in a fast-paced classic with Baby Driver this year. A chase film with a young couple at the center of the action, Baby Driver follows Baby, a young man with tinnitus who works as a getaway driver for a crime boss.
Played by The Fault in Our Stars lead Ansel Elgort, Baby constantly listens to music in order to drown out the whining noise that follows him throughout his daily life. Baby, equipped with a new playlist for everything he does, is a smart kid who is trying his best to get out from underneath the trap Kevin Spacey’s Doc has sprung on him.
No matter how hard things get for him, Baby always has one simplistic goal in mind: hitting the high-way with his lover by his side for a never ending road trip.
17. Worst: The Couple – Fifty Shades Darker
The follow up to 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker takes things to an even more ridiculous level. At the beginning of the movie, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey are no longer together because she is tired of the BDSM relationship he initiated in the first film, but the two get back together when he says he’s willing to follow her rules.
Despite the fact the two of them seem to really only share a love of kinky fun, he hastily proposes to her in the middle of the night after she wakes him up from a nightmare. She insists she needs but more time, but after he crashes his helicopter into a forest near Mount St. Helens, she reconsiders. This paper thin couple lives in a fantasy, soap-opera infused world where there’s always a former lover lurking around the corner waiting to wreck havoc on their leather-infused lives.
16. Best: Lorraine Broughton – Atomic Blonde
Lorraine Broughton is brought a new level of butt-kicking to 2017. The main character in Atomic Blonde, played ferociously by Charlize Theron, fights her way through a Cold War infused mystery that sees her trying to find a mole in the MI6.
Sent to Berlin to fix the leak, with a secret mission of vengeance, Broughton is one of the best spies and killers in the world. She’s completely focused on her mission; not even old flings or friends gets in her way.
More of an antihero, vigilante than a traditional hero, Broughton knows how to take a punch and out-drink her opponents. She was even nonchalantly depicted as a bisexual woman, a nice addition since there are very few LGBTQ action heroes.
15. Worst: Major – Ghost in the Shell
Scarlett Johansson’s take on Major in the live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell didn’t go over well with fans – then again, not much about the movie did.
Major was a teenaged Japanese activist named Motoko Kusangi, but she ran away from home before the events in the movie and was kidnapped by a Robotics corporation that placed her brain inside a cybernetic body with a white woman’s face.
The first functioning cyborg in that world, Major is implanted with false memories and told that her family was killed by terrorists before being sent out to serve as a field commander in the city. While the character is interesting in the original manga and anime depictions, here Major falls flat. It feels like she is constantly guessing instead of using her sharp intellect to her benefit.
14. Best: Ned – Spider-Man: Homecoming
Spider-Man is awesome, and Tom Holland did a great job bringing him to life in Homecoming, but at this point he’s an old character. He’s still exciting to watch and humorous, but it’s his friend Ned who truly stole the audience’s hearts.
Played by Jacob Batalon, Ned is Peter Parker’s fill-in for Harry Osborne in this movie. As the goofy, supportive best friend, Ned accidentally finds out Peter is Spider-Man and keeps the secret between the two of them. His awesome reaction to Peter’s secret makes him a perfectly endearing audience proxy. Who wouldn’t react that way if their best friend was Spider-Man?
Ned helps Spider-Man when he can, but it’s his friendship with Peter that gives the movie so much heart. The two of them do Academic Decathlon, sit out of gym, and even build Star Wars models together. He’s always got Peter’s back.
13. Best: Dina – Girls Trip
Tiffany Haddish may be the breakout star of the year. The first African-American female comedian to host Saturday Night Live, Haddish played Dina in Girl’s Trip, a raunchy, hilarious film about four old friends who head to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival.
While all the characters have their appeal, Dina seems like someone who would be a lot of fun to party with. At one point she’s convincing her friends to try absinthe and during another she’s dancing fearlessly with P. Diddy onstage. To make sure her friends all know what they are doing on the trip, she even sets up an oral tutorial using a grape-fruit and banana in a comedic scene that Haddish said they probably had to do eight times to get right. She’s the ultimate party friend!
12. Worst: Captain Salazar – Pirates of the Caribbean
In a franchise full of mumbling drunks and shallow misogynists, Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar may be the worst. The primary villain in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Armando Salazar was a famed pirate hunter from the Spanish Navy. For years he rained terror on pirates – killing them and burning their ships – but he was tricked by a young Jack Sparrow into barreling head first into the deadly Devil’s Triangle.
Once in there, Salazar and his crew turned into ghoulish creatures that haunted the triangle and killed anyone who entered. Decades later, after Jack Sparrow sold his infamous compass for some rum, the curse was broken and the undead were free to terrorize the seven seas.
He may have been motivated by a personal hatred for Jack Sparrow, but this one-dimensional villain never came across as complex or interesting like long-time villain Barbossa. What a waste of Javier Bardem.
11. Best: Clyde Logan – Logan Lucky
Logan Lucky, jokingly referred to as “Oceans 7-11” in the movie, is a thoughtful heist film set against the backdrop of NASCAR and the American south. The comedy sees the Logan siblings come together for a big score that will hopefully save brother Jimmy (Channing Tatum) when he is laid off.
Adam Drivers plays Clyde, an Iraq War veteran who wears a prosthetic arm and works as a bar manager. A somber, withdrawn individual, Clyde has no problem doing whatever he can to keep his family safe. After his brother gets into a bar fight, Clyde slyly walks out side and blows the assailant’s car up with a Molotov Cocktail.
A quiet boy at heart, Clyde looks right at home plotting and figuring out how to pull of the crime despite how reserved and worried he seems. His love for his family may be what drives him back to a life of crime, but it’s also what he was born to do.
10. Best: “Lady Bird” McPherson – Lady Bird
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird features one of the most relatable characters in recent years. Lady Bird McPherson, played beautifully by Saoirse Ronan, is a high school student entering her senior year in a Catholic high School with dreams of leaving her overwhelming mother and hometown for an artsy life on the East coast.
Caught in a constant tug-of-war with her loving but draining mother, Lady Bird has to look for happiness and purpose in a place that seemingly wants to keep her trapped. Unwilling to head her mother’s advice to stay somewhere closer and cheaper for college, Lady Bird has to walk the tight rope of growing up into an independent individual without forgetting the restrictive world she came from.
9. Worst: Optimus Prime – Transformers: The Last Knight
For years audiences have come to get to know Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots. However, in Transformers: The Last Knight, the fifth and most desperate installment of the franchise, the creative team shook up the board and recast him as Nemesis Prime.
With a story that touches on everything from King Arthur to Nazi Germany, The Last Knight is an extremely clunky film that doesn’t do this classic Transformer justice. He is manipulated by a creator called Quintessa into believing the death of Earth would result in the rebirth of Cybertron. The only thing that is able to bring Optimus back from the brink is hearing Bumblebee use his original voice for the first time in years. This is the leader of the Autobots? Seriously?
8. Best: Rick Deckard – Blade Runner 2049
Fans of the original Blade Runner may have been worried when the long-awaited sequel came out this year, but Denis Villeneueve turned in an emotional, action-packed hit. It may not have done well at the box office, but it did the world and characters justice.
Harrison Ford returned to the role of Rick Deckard in spectacular fashion. Turning in one of his best performances in years, Ford delivers a thoughtful, intimate look at a character who has been forced into hiding. Stranded with memories of the past, Deckard is the lone resident of Las Vegas and lives in a suite among one of the abandoned casinos. Even when action invades his peaceful life, Deckard is able to hold his own and survive in the updated world.
Without spoiling it, the end of the film gives the character a powerfully emotional moment that challenges him to his very core.
7. Best: Rod – Get Out
Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out, a psychological thriller that deals with racism in American society, took audiences by storm this year. While breaking records at the box office, the movie walks a tight line between intense, horrific moments and the quippy dialogue Peele is known for.
Played by LilRel Howery, Rod is Chris’ best friend and keeps an eye on his trip from afar when Chris visits his white girlfriend’s family. A TSA agent who fancies himself an expert investigator, Rod is a hilarious guy who only has the best intentions at heart and is willing to do anything to help his friend. Thanks to his surprisingly good instincts, Rod gets an epic hero moment at the end that makes the audience cheer with relief.
6. Worst: Vortigern – King Arthur
Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword bombed for numerous reasons, but the poor characters were one of the movie’s biggest failures. Chief among them was Jude Law’s Vortigern, King Uther’s envious brother and Arthur’s uncle. After striking a deal with a dark, mysterious force in exchange for power, Vortigern killed his brother and crowned himself the King of Briton.
A powerful sorcerer with the ability to morph into a giant, skeletal monster, Vortigern is a cruel leader who abuses his people and sucks up all the land’s resources. His lust for power knows no bounds, and he even sacrifices his own daughter and wife in his desperate attempt to keep Arthur from regaining the throne.
This paper-thin villain is only characterized by his lust for power – a far cry from the epic villains like Morgana and Mordred from Arthurian legends.
5. Best: Valkyrie – Thor: Ragnarok
Thor and Hulk’s new-found friendship may have pleased fans, but the most exciting addition to the MCU in Thor:Ragnarok is easily Valkyrie. Tessa Thompson simply oozes swag and charisma in this role that sees her drinking and shooting her way across the galaxy. The last of the historic Valkyries, she is one of the few people to survive a battle with Hela and responded to the trauma by running away to become a scavenger for The Grandmaster.
A hardened warrior, Valkyrie has walked away from her past and shut out the Asgardian part of her life until Thor shows up. Eventually she comes around and decides to help Thor save Asgard and guide the future of their people.
While it’s unclear whether or not she will appear in Infinity War, this fan-favorite character is too much of a charmer not to make another big-screen appearance soon.
4. Best: John Wick – John Wick 2
John Wick 2 isn’t as memorable as the original, but the character is just as iconic the second time around. The Baba Yaga himself, Wick is one of best trained killers in the world. After he finds himself dragged back into the underground world ofa assassins, he must quickly complete a mission and win his freedom so he can return back to the quiet life that he now cherishes.
Keanu Reeves fully dedicated himself to the character, learning various fighting styles and stunt driving, and his dedication shows off. The action scenes are all shot with long-takes that show the action instead of cutting away, allowing Wick’s movements to come to life.
A relatively quiet character, John Wick tells the audiences a lot about himself through the way he moves. Too bad for Wick – no matter how badly he wants a quiet life, he’s stuck in a deadly game that will only end with pain.
3. Worst: Batman – Justice League
Who could have predicted that Batman would be one of the worst parts of Justice League. Ben Affleck turned in a solid performance in Batman v.Superman, but the character was a wreck in Justice League. The careful, calculated detective makes a lot of dumb choices throughout the movie and even says Alfred’s name infront of a still alert criminal.
Batman may be a symbol of fear, but he’s also a figure of hope. Justice League completely ignored that facet of the character, choosing to not have him save any innocent civilians, and instead turned him into comedic relief.
He doesn’t kill people this time around, but he acts just as strangely by cracking one-liners throughout the movie that feel extremely out of character for the Caped Crusader.
2. Best: Kylo Ren- The Last Jedi
A common criticism of Disney’s Marvel movies is the fact that the villains never feel complex or multi-faceted. The Last Jedi, also released by Disney, may have its problems but the villain certainly isn’t one of them.
Kylo Ren, played wonderfully by Adam Driver, is an extremely conflicted character who doesn’t know exactly what he wants. He is motivated by his emotional vulnerability and lashes out in a desperate attempt to retain some shred of control in his life.
One of the most powerful force users in the Star Wars mythos, Kylo Ren walks a dark path and now finds himself in charge of The First Order’s forces. He has betrayed everyone who ever cared for him, and now he is all alone with a massive army willing to cater to his every whim in order to stay on his good side.
1. Best: Wonder Woman – Wonder Woman
DC Comics might like to hype up Superman as its primary symbol of hope, but 2017 has proved that Wonder Woman is equally inspiring and tough. Thanks to director Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman made he big screen in debut feature that shattered everyone’s expectations and made some big money at the box-office.
Diana Prince hit the ground running in her first solo movie and inspired everyone around her. Not only is she a vicious fighter who single-handedly took down Aries, the God of War, but she has enough grace to slow down and comfort everyone she can.
During the No Man’s Land Scene, Diana was willing to step up when no one else was to save people her allies already perceived as goners. Wonder Woman will do anything in her power to make sure justice wins out and innocent people can live another day.
As the first female superhero to headline a film in this new era of super blockbusters, Wonder Woman has made an indelible mark on movie history – financially, critically, and in the hearts of fans everywhere.
Were your favorite or least favorite characters not included? Well, hit the comment section and share your thoughts!
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