So here I am putting a hard day in at the office (who am I kidding, it’s Friday afternoon, it’s 80 degrees outside and people are heading out of here in droves). So what better time than for me to put together my top-ten list of Super-hero movies.
Before I get into the list I want to establish the criteria. I’m looking 30 years I gathered my list from "Comics & Super Heroes" movie section from BlockBuster.com and have ranked these movies subjectively to my tastes. I realize that you and I might disagree on movie tastes, but my hope is that you will offer feedback based on my rankings, or better yet offer your own!
There was some criteria as to what I established as a super hero movie. First, there needs to be based off an established comic book that took place before the movie (which is why I did not include the Incredibles on this list). Additionally, they need to be a true super-hero – secret identity, the costume/suit, super-villain, the works (which is why I excluded Dick Tracy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc…). Lastly I consider Sci-Fi movies separate from Super Hero movies (which is why I excluded Star Wars)
So without further ado, I present my list…
#10 Superman II – Arguably the first super-hero sequel to help establish the franchise. While I cannot remember when this came out (obviously because it came out before I was born!), going back and watching it this movie had everything a good sequel needed – a dilemma to give up his powers for the woman he loves and outlaw Kryptons coming to earth to force him to accept his powers!
#9 Batman Returns – Great Sequel to the original Batman! Director Tim Burton returned to continue this relatively dark movie. Michael Keaton donned the cowl of the bat once again (making and awesome Bruce Wayne), Danny DeVito didn’t disappoint, and of course Michelle Pfeiffer in her leather Catwoman costume!
#8 X-men – This movie deserves props not for the movie itself, but rather the opportunities it created and ushering a new era of super hero movies. I remember a lot of people being skeptical of super hero movies, due to the bombshell that was Batman & Robin. The success that X-men brought that summer inked the deal for Spider-man to be made, as well as made the prospects good for movies with Daredevil, Hulk & Fantastic Four to be made. The story was solid, the plot was decent and the characters were good. Plus you had Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry & Ian McKellen who all went on to make bigger pictures in the coming year. As an avid X-men fan, I found the movie to be a bit boring and to be honest I really haven’t seen the DVD too many times since I bought it. But it sets the foundation for X-men 2’s success.
#7 Superman – For 1978- this movie was solid, along with it being simply classic. You gotta love Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman & Christopher Reeve being this movie! Being that I didn’t watch this movie until my teen years I really don’t have an emotional attachment to this picture, which is probably why it’s not higher on this list.
#6 Spider-man – When Spider-man came out, this movie really solidified the future of the "Super Hero" genre of the movie industry. This movie, until recently had set the record of being the highest-grossing opening weekend (something like $140 million). Safe to say that there was a SQL to be created. This movie did a great job of telling Spider-man’s origin, as well as had a good story and laid down some decent character development. The movie wasn’t very intense, but at the same time did flow well, and had an overall good story.
So those are #10-6, onto the Top 5…
#5 Blade – Many people might not realize that Blade was actually a comic hero, but he’s been around for some time, in the pages of Marvel comics. The movie version is very different than from the comic version – a lot darker. This movie was really bloody and gory, but do you expect a movie about a vampire slayer (not named ‘Buffy’) to be any different? Wesley Snipes was incredible. The movie had a great plot, had AWESOME action sequences, and I’m proud to say that this was actually the first DVD I ever owned – and boy did it impress! I remember my friend Matt and I chilling down in my room, pulling a couch up to my computer screen in 1999 watching this new thing called DVD. The rest is history…
#4 – Batman (1989) – For the longest time, this movie enjoyed it’s #1 ranking in my mind until recent movies bumped it down. That being said, this movie is still far ahead of it’s time. Arguably based on Frank Miller’s vision of Batman, Tim Burton brought Miller’s "Dark Knight Returns" vision to life on the silver screen – and forever banished the "cheesy tights" Batman to the pages of history forever. I remember when this movie came out I was 8 years old, and my parents wouldn’t let me see it because it was PG-13. It was not until 3 years later when I snuck it into the VCR while my parents were gone did I get to experience one of the best super-hero movies ever made. As I said in my last posting, Michael Keaton made the perfect Bruce Wayne, and Jack Nicholson gave a riveting performance as the Joker! I still find myself popping this DVD in from time-to-time to get my super hero fix.
#3 – X2: X-men United – This movie was everything that X-men wanted to be, but couldn’t because of time or budget. From the beginning of the movie to the end, this movie was "edge-of-your-seat" action, with a complex story-line that heavily leaned on X-men as the foundational crush. Based on the Chris Claremont’s "God Loves, Man Kills" story-line, this movie literally left off where the first movie ended, and satisfied virtually every X-men fan out there! Now we’re just waiting for X-men 3: The Search for Spoc-errrr-Phoenix.
#2 – Batman Begins – Maybe the fact that this movie still has that "new car smell" to it, but I would have to say that this is a pretty appropriate ranking for the latest installment of the Batman franchise. This movie has a great plot that outlines the "Justice vs. Vengeance" issue that we face in our society. The action is awesome, the effects and technology are so modernized and the plot is just good. The super-villians are a bit more realistic in this movie than in other super-hero movies.
…and the #1 super hero movie of all time….
Now I know what you’re thinking "how can a sequel be ranked #1"? Because this movie took the foundation that #1 gave it and took Spider-man to the next level and "humanized" this super-hero. With no origin needing to be told, no back-story that needs to be filled in, we got to dive straight into the struggles and persona of our favorite wall-crawler. Spider-man had to deal with an issue that is all-too-real to all of us: the choices that we make. In a very abstract way, Spider-man 2 was a very spiritual movie, posing the question: Does our ultimate calling and vocation in our lives force us to sacrifice things that feel important to us, and how what kind of consequences does ignoring our calling have on other people – namely the people that we love? We’ve all stopped in our path on the journey asking "Is this really what I should be doing with my life? Is this worth the sacrifices that I am making?" There’s also the under-lying message of the "mask" that we all must wear, in our jobs, in school, in our relationships and in our lives – and how it is not until we embrace all of our different "identities" will we be able to make peace with them. Peter Parker grew to despise the burdens that his Spider-man identity brought about, so much that he gave it up. He ultimately realized that he had to accept and embrace both of his "identities" before he could accept the person that he was.
Okay, maybe I’m reading into it a little too much, but my point is that this movie was not just flashy special effects, a red-head Kirsten Dunst and a muscled up Tobey Maguire – it had a story that could also stand on it’s own as well.
So those are my rankings… I’m anxious to hear what you think!