It seems that this summer is the summer of superhero movies! We’ve already had The Avengers (awesome film) and The Amazing Spider-Man (haven’t seen yet) – and with Batman: The Dark Knight Rises out in a matter of days (which I HOPE will be awesome), it seems the movie studios are feeding us the cream of the crop in superhero films!
Superhero movies had a bit of a bad reputation in the old days. If you look at the previous list of films based on superheroes (The Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Elecktra, Superman Returns, Wolverine and even that DREADFUL Catwoman film to name a few), they just didn’t come out the way the filmmakers intended. Whether it be that the casting was wrong, the story was dull, or the filmmakers just butchered the source material to make it something completely unlike the comic it was based on, superhero films rarely seemed to get it right.
Fortunately, since the release of Iron Man and The Dark Knight, it does seem that superhero films are making a bit of a comeback and film makers are learning to show respect for the source material it was based on. But even before this, not ALL superhero movies were terrible. In fact, today I look at the top five underrated superhero movies that are actually enjoyable to watch. These are the superhero movies that I actually had some fun watching and would easily watch them again (for the most part).
Ok, so let’s set the ground rules for this one. Firstly, I am NOT including any of the latest Marvel films that make up the Avengers storyline – nor am I including any of the Chris Nolan Batman films. Simply because all those movies already kick ass. Also, this is purely based on films I’ve seen – so I may miss a few out. And finally, this is all just my own personal opinion.
So here they are – in no particular order.
This is one of those films that everyone raved about when it first came out, but no one seems to talk about it anymore. It’s a shame because this film, and its sequel The Golden Army, are actually decent films.
I never actually read a lot of Hellboy comics before this film, but after seeing it I actually did read it a little more. And you know what, they’re pretty good. The storyline is very basic – a demon child raised to fight mythological creatures, but it actually works.
I love the character of Hellboy in the film – he has a great sense of humour that makes for some very funny scenes. And that is one of the reasons that I like about this movie – unlike other superhero films at the time (that tried to fill their plots with drama and angst), Hellboy wasn’t afraid to have a little fun and didn’t always take itself seriously. It knew how silly it’s plot was and didn’t try to overdo the drama.
Also, the monster design and costumes are just awesome! Guillermo Del Toro did a fantastic job bringing the world of Hellboy to life and his monster designs actually feel original and lavish. Ron Pearlman is excellent as Hellboy, capturing both the human and monster aspects of the character. And his one liners are just brilliantly delivered!
All in all, as long as you don’t take the plot TOO seriously and just sit back and enjoy the ride – this is a great film and one worth seeing.
Seeing as this film is kinda reviled amongst Spawn fans, I might get some raised eyebrows for this one. But in truth, I do actually like this movie. It takes some liberties with the source material and adds in a little bit more humour than the comic does – but I think that actually works in the films favour.
Spawn is the best selling independent comic character (at least back then), created by ex-Marvel artist Todd Macfarlane. It told the story of an soldier that was betrayed by his own people and killed. Sent to hell, he made a deal with the Malebolgia and became a hellspawn for his dark army so that he could see his wife and child. But when he returns, his wife has remarried. Angry, Spawn decides to take revenge and uses his power to protect the innocent. Since his beginnings, he has fought everything from scantily clad angels to cyborg mafia types – even killing god and becoming the new King of Heaven at one point!
The film Spawn pretty much follows Spawn from his humble beginnings, becoming a hellspawn and then trying to avenge his death. During this, he is hassled by a monster called the Violator (appearing as the Clown), played brilliant by John Leguizamo. Spawn is also guided by a former hellspawn named Cogliostro, played by veteran Scottish actor Nicol Williamson in his last film role. For those who don’t know, Nicol Williamson was an immensely talented actor that was once described by playwright John Osborne as “the greatest living actor since Marlon Brando”, but he didn’t seem to do anything after the Spawn movie. I recently discovered that he died in December 2011 of throat cancer – which is sad.
Anyway, one of the things that fans of the comic don’t like is that this film has a much lighter tone and tends to take some liberties with the source material. But if I’m being honest, I always found the comic a little TOO dark sometimes, so I actually don’t have a problem with the film being a little lighter. The Clown does bring in a lot of cheesy humour to the role that I kinda like. Also, in fairness to the filmmakers, they do actually keep close to the original costume designs of the characters. Spawn’s costume looks awesome and even the Clown looks pretty good. Some of the special effects are a little questionable (this was 1996 remember), but for the most part they’re decent enough.
Ok, so maybe it isn’t one of the best adaptations of a comic, but in actual fact it’s really not the worse film ever made. It has more than a few issues and problems – but if you don’t know the comics or just want a movie that you can turn your brain off and enjoy, you might want to check this one out.
Kick-Ass asks the question that everyone else has wondered. Why don’t we all try to be superheroes? Answer – because we’d get the living crapped beaten out of us! The story follows a young boy who decides that he wants to be a costumed fighter (who wouldn’t?) But after getting the living crap kicked out of him and ending up in hospital, he has many nerve endings destroyed and replaced by metal limbs – meaning that his pain receptors are dulled. Continuing on his (rather pointless) quest to be a hero, he quickly becomes famous through Youtube and Myspace (seriously does anyone actually use Myspace anymore?). The other heroes in this story are Big Daddy and Hit Girl, a Father-Daughter combination out to take out a big mafia boss in a revenge story.
The movie garnered some controversy for Hit Girl (only 10 or 11 years old, but an expert martial artist) saying the C word at one point in the film. What I found kinda funny is that THIS would be the one that upsets people – yet no one batted an eyelid when she went around shooting people up. Many thought that this was gonna be like a teen movie when it first came out – but actually it is one of the bloodiest superhero films I’ve seen in a while! It doesn’t hold back on the violence and, in many ways, is actually one of the more realistic superhero movies – although it gets ridiculous near the end.
However I DO have some problems with this film. Firstly, a lot of the characters lack any kind of humanity (even the heroes) and seem to go around killing people without any care or remorse for their actions. I also though the Big Daddy revenge plot had a major plot hole in it that didn’t really justify his actions for revenge – nor his reasons for including his daughter in his revenge scheme, although I did like the dynamics between Big Daddy and Hit Girl.
For those thinking about becoming a superhero after seeing your idols on the big screen, you might wanna check this out first. Kick-Ass raises a lot of moral questions and could be debated about for years to come, but it is a film that you should check out at least once.
If you had to ask me which is my favourite superhero film of all time, I’d say Watchmen. Purely because it is one of the most faithful adaptations of any comic – pretty much following the story word by word!
Watchmen, written by the legendary Alan Moore (one of my favourite and most influential writer for me) is considered by many to be the greatest comic book of all time. At a time when superheroes were portrayed as clean cut heroes, Watchmen portrayed superheroes as realistic characters with incredibly complex personalities and amoral values. Set in an alternative timeline where Richard Nixon is still president, the comic (and the film) chronicles humanities struggles with an upcoming nuclear war with Russia. Over the course of the 12 issue comic, the threat of nuclear war is constantly foreshadowed, with images representing a ticking clock (the Doomsday Clock) being a recurring theme of the plot. Meanwhile, a former superhero (Rorschach) investigates the death of a former hero – which leads him to a much bigger conspiracy that could affect the world. All these add up to a very dark story that is mysterious in nature, yet highly entertaining to read. It also has one of the bleakest and ambiguous endings of any comic.
Many said that Watchmen, as a comic, was unfilmable. Even Alan Moore himself said he didn’t think his comic could be filmed. But Zach Snyder did a fantastic job in my opinion. He captured the look and feel of the comic almost perfectly and followed the story as much as possible. Watching this film made you absolutely believe that you were watching the comic come to life. Sure, they cut out and change bits here and there, but that was to be expected. Some complained that the film has a much more upbeat feel than the comic, and many were upset by the slight change in the films ending. Myself, I don’t have a problem with the changes made – it still feels faithful to the comic.
Acting wise, these were kind hit or miss. Jackie Earle Haley was amazing as Rorschach and I actually believed him to be the character in seconds. Jeffery Dean Morgan was equally as good as the Comedian, Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl and Billy Crudup as the emotionally detached Doctor Manhattan were also great. But I gotta be honest, the roles of Silk Spectre and Ozymandias (played by Malin Akerman and Matthew Goode respectably) were a disappointment. Silk Spectre was just too plastic and dull and Matthew Goode just lacked the psychotic feel that Ozymandias had in the comic.
But overall, this film stays VERY true to the comic and for that I’m thankful. This was one of those films that HAD to be done right, due to Watchmen being so iconic. And I think that they did it justice. To this day, I still feel that this is one of the most faithful adaptation of the original source material.
5. Batman: The 60’s Movie
“Wait!” I hear you cry. “You weren’t going to mention Batman.” Well, actually, I said I wasn’t going to include Chris Nolan’s Batman. I never said anything about the OTHER Batman movies!
There have been so many adaptations of Batman over the years that for some, it’s hard to pick a favourite. And don’t get me wrong, I love Chris Nolan’s Batman films as much as I love Tim Burton’s Batman films. But, if you were to ask me what my FAVOURITE Batman film of all time was – hands down, it will be the 60’s Batman!
I don’t care that this series completely butchered the dark feel of Batman – I LOVED this series as a kid and still do today. I love the campy, over the top feel, the cheesy acting, the fact that Batman and Robin always have the right gadget to help them out (and they all seemed to be labelled as well) and that they can solve anything in just a matter of seconds with just the smallest of clues (seriously, even McGuyver would blush at the way they solve some things). I even love Caesar Romero’s portrayal of the Joker and the fact that they had to put makeup over his moustache as he refused to shave it! All in all, I just love this series and it makes me laugh every time I see it today.
This film for me was a real treat when I first saw it. It was one of the first time where Batman had to go up against not one, but FOUR of his villains! For a fan of the series, this was a big thing for me! Sure the plot is utterly ridiculous and over the top, but I still love it. It also has one of my favourite scenes of all time. Batman finds a bomb about to explode and, not wanting to endanger any innocents, sets out to dispose of it. But finding nowhere to get rid of the bomb without hurting civilians (and ducks), Batman turns to the camera, frustrated and says.
“Somedays you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”
I LOVE the way that he says that line like it’s an everyday problem. And yet he says it with such verve that it makes it sound both ridiculous and badass at the same time! It’s kinda like that line in Snakes on a Plane where Samuel L Jackson says “I’ve had it with this mother***ing snakes on this mother****ing plane.” It’s such a terrible line, but Samuel L Jackson still somehow makes it sound badass.
So yeah, many hardcore fans of Batman will probably hate me for saying this is my favourite over the other Batman films – but I can’t deny how much I love this movie. It’s a part of my childhood, and most importantly it’s FUN to watch!
So those are my picks. Agree or disagree? Please feel free to comment below with your views/feedback.
Until next time!
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