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Thursday, August 25, 2016

My Top 10 Superhero Movies

Recently, a friend asked me what my top ten comic book movies were. I looked at this as a mental exercise, because my typical answer is "it depends on my mood". This time, though, I set out some criteria for my choices.

  1. The character(s) had to originate in comic books or comic strips. So, characters like Zorro (books), The Lone Ranger (radio), or the crew of the Enterprise (TV) aren’t allowed.
  2. Comic book adaptions of movies (i.e. Star Wars) don’t count, even if they came out before the movie itself.
  3. Theatrical releases only, no TV movies.

So, with all of that in mind, here's my list.

10. Batman (Warner Brothers, 1989)

One of the first times I saw a "serious" Batman on the screen was when my friends and I went to the two screen movie theater in town and waited in line for THE EVENT of the summer of 1989. I remember being one of the people that wasn't all that convinced that Michael Keaton could pull off a serious role, but I was wrong. This is still one of the great examples of a non-origin movie, even if they had to link the Joker & Batman.

9. Guardians of the Galaxy (Marvel Studios, 2014)

This is one our whole family enjoyed when we saw it. Kira loved the visuals, and the talking raccoon. Michelle loved the story and characters. I was just reveling in the "comic-ness" of the whole thing. I mean, there was a scene with a Celestial for crying out loud! Plus, this was just a fun movie that didn't take itself too seriously.

8. Iron Man (Marvel Studios, 2008)

You want an example of how to turn a comic origin into a movie? Here you go. Updated for the more modern day technology (no, transistors didn't do everything) and a location change, but pretty much everything from the Tales of Suspense issue is here. Plus, Robert Downey, Jr. did an amazing job which has, fortunately or unfortunately, informed the character since.

7. Batman (20th Century Fox, 1966)

Yes, I rank Adam West & Caesar Romero higher than Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, and that for the simple reason that we have the Silver Age Batman characters on screen in a hugely fun romp. I love the original Batman TV Series in all it's tongue-in-cheek glory, and this movie is that ramped up to 11. We recently rewatched this for it's 50th Anniversary and I'm happy to say that it's still one of the most enjoyable movies I've seen, right down to the Bat Anti-Shark Spray.

6. Thor (Marvel Studios, 2011)

Marvel puts out, essentially, a movie about Walt Simonson's Thor directed by one of the best Shakespearean actors/directors of the modern age and you can be assured that it will be on my top 10 list. This was the perfect way to approach the idea of a god as a superhero, and bringing the whole humility thing in without resorting to Donald Blake just gets bonus points.

5. The Phantom (Paramount Pictures, 1996)

Look at Billy Zane in this movie and you'll see someone who's just having a blast in the role. Prior to this movie my entire experience with The Phantom was on "Defenders of the Earth", which isn't exactly the best introduction. This film, barring the stupid "Slam Evil" tag, is just great stuff. Keeping Kit Walker in the 30's/40's is probably the best way to handle it. Heck, I'd love to see The Ghost Who Walks run across Indiana Jones. The Nazis wouldn't stand a chance.

4. The Incredible Hulk (Marvel Studios, 2008)

I have no problem with Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner. In fact, I like what he's done with the role very much. Ed Norton, though, was a great amalgam of the comic book & TV Banner and I will always prefer him in the role. The nods to every version of the Hulk in this movie are terrific, as is the story. Banner's still on the run and trying to find a cure, & in trying to combat him General Ross unleashes an even worse monster. Great stuff!

3. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (Warner Brothers, 1993)

The single best interpretation of Batman, in my opinion, is Batman: The Animated Series. Bring all of that to the big screen, with a take-off on Batman: Year Two, and you have my attention. Kevin Conroy & Mark Hamill will for all time be the voices that I hear when reading Batman & The Joker, and they are at their absolute best in this movie. Add a possibility of Bruce Wayne NOT becoming Batman, and you have one heck of a film.

2. Superman: The Movie (Warner Brothers, 1978)

You look at this picture and just hear the John Williams score, don't you? There's no doubt about it, Christopher Reeve was the absolute BEST at portraying both Clark Kent and Superman. His earnestness just sells it to the point that you do believe that a man can fly. This isn't a perfect movie, between the "can you read my mind" stuff and the flying back through time deus ex machina, but it's still one of the best out there.

1. Captain America – The First Avenger (Marvel Studios, 2011)

I put Christopher Reeve & Chris Evans in the same club, because Superman & Captain America are in the same club. These are the men who do the right thing, no matter how hard it is or how much they have to sacrifice. I whole-heartedly believe Evans as Steve Rogers, a man who doesn't want to kill but to protect. This is Captain America, the hero that everyone in the world, American or not, can look up to and admire.

What do you think, dear reader? With the criteria above, are there any that I should have had on here? Should Flash Gordon have replaced the 1966 Batman? Should Iron Man 2 be on here in place of something? Let me know your opinion.

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  1. That is a fantastic list, well explained

    1. Thanks! Well, I had to put some thought into it, so I figured that I'd put my reasoning out there for all to see. :)

  2. I loved Mask of the Phantasm. So well done. I'm rewatching the Animated Series now on Amazon streaming and it's even better than I remembered it. Wow!

    1. It really is a high point for Batman, IMHO. We've been doing the same with Amazon, and it's great.

      I'd recommend checking out Siskoid's Blog of Geekery, where he's been reviewing each episode/comic from the DCAU in order.

  3. Nice list and reasons!! I compiled a list for probably the same reasons as you. We share three. :) My list and order can change on any given day, but here is my list as submitted.

    1 - Guardians of the Galaxy
    2 - X-Men First Class
    3 - Superman II
    4 - Captain America Winter Soldier
    5 - Ant-Man
    6 - Iron Man
    7 - X2: X-Men United
    8 - Amazing Spider-Man
    9 - Batman (1989)
    10 - Batman Begins

    1. All really good choices. I'm going to be interested in hearing the end result of all these lists. ;)