This year’s genre fiction can be defined by many things, but weirdly enough, 2017 has been very big for Captains. Not majors, nor generals, not even sergeants or admirals or petty officers, or any other rank you can think of—just Captains, and here are how they all ranked this year.
Note: Spoilers for The Last Jedi below, so:
Poe Dameron, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Sure, it’s a demotion from his Commander rank in The Force Awakens, but Captain Dameron has a ring to it, doesn’t it? There’s a suave swarthiness to a hotshot space pilot captain that’s perfect for Poe—and in The Last Jedi, his demotion helps him learn a valuable lesson about leadership and being a hero that will presumably play a major role in his appearance in Episode IX. Even if he does step up, though, we think he should keep the Captain title.
Philippa Georgiou, Star Trek: Discovery
Poor Captain Georgiou. One of the most decorated Captains in Starfleet, she had it all—a great ship, an excellent crew, and a first officer who most definitely wouldn’t knock her out to commit a mutiny that would ultimately start one of the bloodiest conflicts in Federation history. But then... well, that happened. And she even dealt with that pretty well, until said first officer convinced her to go on a reckless away mission to try and defuse the situation that led to her getting a chest full of Klingon knife.
She was gone too soon. But at least she left Michael that very nice telescope.
Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman
It’s not often you get to see the male love interest playing second fiddle, but Steve Trevor does so with aplomb. He even does so while still getting some kickass moments of his own, including his glamorous self-sacrifice. But what makes Steve ultimately so great is how supportive he becomes of Diana. He never feels threatened by her presence, or her powers, as it could’ve been played, but he’s always there to support her working her way into the world of man, rather than using her arrival to elevate himself.
Carol Danvers, The Mighty Captain Marvel
2016 was a rough year for Carol Danvers (and yes, sure, she’s a Major, but her superhero name is Captain Marvel, so she obviously counts), thanks to Civil War II systematically turning her into an asshole quasi-villain at the drop of a hat. But 2017 has been far kinder to Marvel Comics’ premiere female hero, with a successful new ongoing series that both meta-textually examines Carol’s feelings about public perception of her while taking her space-bound adventures to new highs. It helps that 2017 also gave us our first tiny fleeting glimpse at Carol’s long-awaited cinematic debut, promising ‘90s action, Skrulls, and a really cool translation of her comic book costume.
Leo Snart, Legends of Tomorrow
Ever since he bid farewell to the Legends, we’ve deeply missed Captain Cold, and Wentworth Miller’s delectably hammy performance as the Flash villain-turned-time-travel-hero. So imagine our delight when he not only returned in the big CW crossover, Crisis on Earth-X, as the (somehow) even hammier, Nazi-fighting boyfriend of Russell Tovey’s Ray, but also decided to stick around on Earth-1 for a little bit to ensure all scenery this side of Vancouver remained thoroughly chewed. Sure, the Earth-X incarnation of Snart called himself “Citizen” Cold, but he’ll always be our favorite frosty captain.
Bearded Steve Rogers, Avengers: Infinity War Trailer
Okay, so this is mainly a 2018 event, but Chris Evan’s rugged, bearded sentinel of liberty became one of the biggest talking points of the year when he debuted in Avengers: Infinity Wars’ spectacular Comic-Con poster, and later its first trailer this year. And honestly, a Captain America saving the day and being a hero (while looking very dashing) is exactly what we needed in 2017, given what the rest of this year was like for Captain America elsewhere...
The Worst Captains
Steve Rogers, Secret Empire
Yes, in the comics, the “good” Captain spent most of this year as a fascist supervillain imposing the dystopian rule of Hydra over the U.S., and it was extremely not good. Secret Empire’s milquetoast ending could do little to redeem the complete and utter muck the series had raked Captain America through beforehand, which made him one of Marvel’s most reprehensible characters ever—one that the publisher was very ready to tell people was absolutely the real Captain America, until he was conveniently very much not. It takes a lot to dirty the patriotic sheen of a hero like Captain America, but Secret Empire did so in stunning fashion.
Gabriel Lorca, Star Trek: Discovery
The Captain of the Starship Discovery shouldn’t be in this category. Jason Isaac’s performance as the brash warhawk in charge of a ship of scientists has been excellent, and Discovery’s midseason finale gave us the culmination of what should’ve been a strong arc for Captain Lorca. But what came before it muddied the waters so much that we’re not even sure if that episode was an actual, genuine moment of heroism for Lorca or if he was simply playing a long game to keep the Captaincy he’s petrified of losing. Either way, he was a man so crazy he keeps an armed phaser stuffed in the back of his uniform pants (and cruel enough to abandon Starfleet’s ideals at the worst time). We’ll have to wait and see if 2018's conclusion to Discovery’s first season redeems him.
Phasma, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
This was turning out to be a great year for Star Wars’ shiniest villain. We got a kickass comic miniseries that told the story of how she survived The Force Awakens, and an excellent novel that fleshed out the mythos of Phasma’s character in a way that made her compelling while integrating the mystery of her reaction in our world into her character arc. But then, sadly, The Last Jedi happened, and poor Phasma got the short shrift again—and perhaps even less to do than her first appearance. We don’t know if she’ll actually live this time, given how her fight with Finn plays out, but if Star Wars resurrects her one more time in Episode IX, hopefully it will find something interesting for her to do.