2016 may have been a weird year for movies, but in the Marvel and DC worlds, fans were introduced to many new players. The DC Extended Universe brought in their versions of Batman, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and more, while in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther and Doctor Strange were two of the more notable characters to be thrown into the mix. Granted, not all of these movies were well received, but if you're a longtime comic book fan like myself, seeing new versions of heroes and villains on the big screen is a treat.
Looking ahead to 2017, there are a lot of other new characters who will be put in the spotlight, so we've gathered together the 10 people from the Marvel and DC universe we believe will steal the show. Some of these characters are new, while others haven't had the proper amount of time to show off. Let's kick this off with someone who's familiar, yet fresh at the same time.
Is it cheating to have someone who's a smaller version of a major character we've already seen? Well, it's totally worth it, because Baby Groot is absolutely fantastic! Granted, we already knew how adorable the tinier sentient tree thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy's ending, but now that he's mobile again, he can be both adorable and dangerous to any enemies that get in his way. However, like his taller self, Baby Groot isn't ranking high in the intelligence department. Nevertheless, judging by the reaction online, he's one of the main things people are looking forward to in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Aquaman briefly appeared in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice earlier this year, but throwing a trident and quickly swimming away isn't a lot to chew on. Justice League will be the first time the character is thrown into action, and we cannot wait. For decades, Aquaman has been the butt of jokes, but thankfully, his reputation has somewhat improved in recent years. We're hopeful that Jason Momoa's portrayal will continue the trend and impress moviegoers unfamiliar with the comics, especially once they see him controlling underwater life and tearing through Parademons.
While her brief appearance in the Wonder Woman Comic-Con preview was fun, our first hint that Lucy Davis' Etta Candy was going to be something special was the final scene in the most recent trailer. She made it clear that to the Amazon that women in the "outside world" rely on their principles first and foremost, but she isn't afraid to a bit of fisticuffs should the occasion arise. Etta is obviously a woman who knows her way around early 20th century culture, but so far it also looks like she's funny and sharp, so we're looking forward to her being an excellent foil to the powerful, yet socially unaware, Diana.
Grandmaster is one of the more obscure Marvel comics characters, but as an Elder of the Universe, he's definitely one of the most important from a cosmic perspective. He'll be introduced to the MCU next year in Thor: Ragnarok, and reports state he'll be the one overseeing the gladiator battles that Hulk has been forced to participate in. That already sounds intriguing, but even better, Grandmaster will be played by Jeff Goldblum. This was one of our favorite announced castings in 2016, as Goldblum's special brand of weirdness should be the perfect fit for playing an eccentric entity obsessed with games.
Just like the main Guardians of the Galaxy were in 2014, Mantis is an extremely obscure Marvel character, but with James Gunn's magic, she's sure to become a fan favorite, too. Mantis popped up at the end of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 teaser trailer to show off her empathic ability, and obviously socially ignorant, she loudly revealed Peter Quill's "sexual love" for Gamora, which Drax found "somewhat amusing." This is a good indication that her naivety will be a prominent source of humor in the sequel, but not to worry, she'll also prove key to helping this band of miscreants protect the galaxy.
Like Aquaman, The Flash was introduced to the DCEU this year, and while Barry Allen got a little more to do thanks to his Suicide Squad cameo, Justice League will also be his first opportunity to truly shine on the big screen. Even with The Flash TV series currently enjoying popularity, we're hopeful that Ezra Miller's version of the Scarlet Speedster will be something special. Not only do his speed effects look cool, but his conversation with Bruce Wayne in the Justice League Comic-Con preview cents that he'll be a welcome source of humor and lightheartedness in the midst of the superhero team's conflict with Steppenwolf.
Malekith made for a painfully boring and generic villain in Thor: The Dark World, but we have a good feeling that Thor: Ragnarok's Hela will enjoy similar reception as Loki, one of the MCU's most compelling characters. Hela has been one of the God of Thunder's longest-running adversaries, and like her comic book counterpart, her MCU iteration will have control over the dead. That's enough to make Hela a worthy antagonist for the third (and probably most destructive) Thor movie, but with Cate Blanchett taking the role, we're practically guaranteed one of the best superhero movie performances of 2017.
Hugh Jackman's time as Wolverine will conclude in Logan, but he won't be the only clawed mutant receiving significant screen time. The third Wolverine spinoff will see the eponymous protagonist meeting a young girl named Laura, and while director James Mangold hasn't confirm it, it's clear she's X-23 by her first name and two claws on each hand. Although she didn't utter a word in the first Logan trailer, critics were impressed by her in the exclusive footage screened earlier this month, so it sounds like the cinematic X-23 will be just as fun to watch as her comic book counterpart.
Valkyrie is one of those Thor characters who some fans have been dying to see in live action, and that will finally happen in Thor: Ragnarok. Played by Tessa Thompson, she will be Thor's new love interest, but with her mighty sword and natural Asgardian abilities, she'll likely be helping the God of Thunder and Hulk defend the Nine Realms from whatever Hela, Skurge and the movie's other villains are plotting. Valkyrie is also already confirmed to return for more movies, so look forward to more of her superhero contributions in 2018 and beyond.
Since Vulture was the second super villain Spider-Man ever fought in the comics, it's appropriate he'll be the main antagonist in Spider-Man: Homecoming, as Tom Holland's Peter Parker is still early into his superhero career. Played by Michael Keaton, this version of Adrian Toomes will lead a gang that's come into possession of advanced technology. In Toomes' case, he'll be terrorizing New York in a winged suit that effectively blends his classic look with a modern twist. More importantly, Keaton's Vulture is ruthless and unafraid to do whatever's necessary for him to make it to the top of the criminal underworld.