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Topic: 10 Best & Worst Comic-Book Movies
Phenomenal Film Handler
From: Los Angeles, California
Registered: Feb 2001
posted 07-01-2006 03:18 PM
MSN.com has posted an article on the ten best comic-book movies. The 1978 "Superman" didn't even make the list, so obviously the article writer has lousy taste. But therein lies the fun of "best of" lists: I think they are often compiled to purposely provoke knee-jerk reactions out of readers who no doubt would each have a different take on the matter.
Anyway, what are your favorite and least favorite comic-book movies, and why?
From giant Japanese do-gooders to Marvel-ous web-slingers, we look back at the top 10 superhero movies
By David Fear
Special to MSN Movies
Masked men and women fighting to uphold truth, justice, etc. used to be the sole property of the funny pages, comic books and Saturday morning cartoons. But ever since a certain re-branded caped crusader reinvigorated summer blockbusters in the late '80s (thanks, Bruce Wayne), the superhero movie has become the go-to staple for studios looking to mine gold. Suddenly, any good guy with an exoskeleton suit, inhuman strength and/or a cult fan base was eligible for a three-picture deal.
With "X-Men: The Last Stand" in theaters and Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns" hot on its heels, the time is ripe to take a look back at 10 good films devoted to larger-than-life champions. First, a few ground rules: Only one film per franchise, and the heroes in question had to either have superpowers (sorry, Indiana Jones) or technology that bordered on the unbelievably fantastic (Batman, yes; James Bond, not quite). With that said, sit back and enjoy the best of the "Biff! Bam! Ka-Pow!" bunch.
10. "The Rocketeer" (1991)
Director Joe Johnston's ode to old-fashioned derring-do is just as indebted to the serials of the 1930s as it is to Dave Stevens' graphic novel -- itself an update of the superhero tales from comic books' Golden Age. When dashing Cliff Secord (Bill Campbell) straps on a kooky inventor's jetpack and dons a Commander Cody-esque helmet, the test pilot is transformed into an Art deco defender of good. Sure, he looks "like a hood ornament," according to one character, but that doesn't stop the Mafia, the Feds or the Nazis from trying to steal this nifty gizmo. The tête-à-tête atop a zeppelin with dastardly villain Timothy Dalton is a highlight.
9. "Spy Kids" (2001)
Robert Rodriguez's pint-sized secret agents may share the same employment as 007 (though no licenses to kill until you turn 21, youngsters), but the movie itself resembles a typical superhero story way more than a spy thriller. And once our preteen heroes arrive at the lair of evil mastermind Fegan Floop, you can really spot the genre's DNA in the android henchmen made entirely of oversized thumbs. Rodriguez made two sequels and later tried to graft the same elements onto a more traditional superhero film with "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lava Girl in 3-D" (2005). This first try remains his best.
8. "Hellboy" (2004)
Odds were against Mike Mignola's Dark Horse Comics series -- about a cigar-chomping demon working for the American government's supernatural defense bureau (no, not the NSA) -- surviving the translation to the screen. But most fans agree that Ron Perlman's performance as the crimson rapscallion with a penchant for one-liners and a torch for his comely co-worker Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) is spot-on. Plus, the thing moves like a dervish during the action scenes, especially when the big red one battles a subterranean beastie in the subway tunnels. It's damned near heavenly.
7. "Inframan" (1976)
When the nefarious Dragon Mom (!) dispatches her otherworldly goons to destroy Earth, only one thing stands between us and Armageddon: the mighty Inframan, a superhero with an insect-like helmet, a love of back-flipping and the ability to grow 20 times his normal size. Loosely based on the '60s Japanese series "Ultraman," this infectiously fun Shaw Brothers' import features some of the goofiest battles between a gymnast and guy-in-a-rubber-suit monsters ever made. But don't be surprised if you find yourself trying to imitate Inframan's devastating "thunderball fist" maneuver. Oh, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers? You guys had better be paying the makers of this gem some serious royalties.
6. "Darkman" (1990)
Scientist Liam Neeson is developing a sun-sensitive synthetic skin for surgery patients, until some bad guys blow up his lab. Done up like Claude Rains in "The Invisible Man," he becomes the nocturnal avenger Darkman and sets out to right the wrongs of his fair city. When it was released a year after Tim Burton's revisionist take on "Batman," critics dismissed Sam Raimi's expressionistic genre entry as a mere clone. But the sheer imagination and verve here renders the inevitable comparisons moot, and pre-"Spider-Man" Raimi's chops (the form cut that takes Frances McDormand from a burning building to a cemetery is simply amazing) turn the pulpy story into something stylish and undeniably fun.
5. "Superman II" (1980)
While Richard Donner's first "Superman" film is, to quote MSN Movies' Kim Morgan, "a solid piece of Americana," it is Richard Lester's follow-up that captures the comic's spirit best. With the Man of Steel's origin story out of the way, Lester could concentrate on both personal conflicts -- should Christopher Reeve's Superman give up his powers so he can settle down with Margot Kidder's Lois Lane? -- and spectacular fight scenes, with evil General Zod (Terence Stamp) and his partners in crime. Action, thrills, romance and Metropolis' #1 hero doing what he does best ... It's one of the rare sequels that easily leaps over the original in a single bound.
4. "The Incredibles" (2004)
Brad Bird's animated feature about a family of superheroes living in Suburbia, USA, isn't only the best Pixar film that doesn't feature a toy cowboy; it's also a textbook example of how to simultaneously mock the whole concept of do-gooders running around and still deliver the goods. Stuck in a dead-end day job, now that super-heroics are frowned upon, the former Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) pines for the days of knocking bad guys into next week. Then a vengeful figure from his past shows up, and the whole family -- along with Frozone, hilariously voiced by Samuel L. Jackson -- springs into action. The sequence in which the kids battle UFO-like robots on an island hideaway should be studied by anyone choreographing a knock-down, drag-out showdown.
3. "Spider-Man" (2002)
Fans had been waiting a loooong time for their friendly neighborhood web-slinger to make it to the multiplex, and after several false starts (and one forgettable TV movie), Sam Raimi finally gave them what they wanted and then some. When news that Tobey Maguire had been cast as Peter Parker -- the unlucky lad who gets bitten by a radioactive arachnid and finds that with great power comes great responsibility -- folks scratched their heads; now, it's hard to think of anyone else playing the popular hero who can catch thieves just like flies. The film isn't without a few minor faults -- why would you hire Willem Dafoe as the arch-nemesis Green Goblin and then hide his expressive face behind an immobile mask -- but Raimi captures the vulnerability, confusion and sense of humanity that's made the comic one of the best-selling titles of all time.
2. "Batman Returns" (1992)
Tim Burton's first "Batman" (1989) mercifully rescued the character from the land of camp, and Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" (2005) does a great job of giving the series a shot in the arm. For our money, however, this second installment is the Batman film to beat. The movie expands on the idea of the caped crusader as a morally ambiguous figure and finds Michael Keaton settling into the central role a little more comfortably. It also features two of the series' more psychologically complex villains: Danny DeVito's Penguin, a misshapen creature that's a distant cousin to Edward Scissorhands (he just wants to be loved, is that so wrong?!?), and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman, who goes from repressed secretary to a bondage-clad feline mistress of the night. It's a freak show, but one, surprisingly, with a heart, and the movie takes the superhero film into some unusually personal places.
1. "X-Men" (2000)
It's tough to choose between this first cinematic installment of the cult comic series and its sequel, "X2" (2003) -- they're both amazing works that manage to take a far-out concept and ground it in the most believable way. But we'll trust our super-gut instinct and go with Bryan Singer's initial foray into the world of mutant-hood, which builds upon the metaphorical resonance of homo superiors. The director wasn't the only filmmaker to take superheroes seriously enough to explore how their "talents" also set them apart, but the way that he gracefully weaves sociological elements, emotional heft and straight-up excitement together -- in a summer blockbuster, no less! -- has yet to be duplicated. Even more than the murky, unsettling "Batman" films, the "X-Men" movie was the one to introduce the notion of depth into a genre better known for nothing but sound and fury and quips. Faithful enough to the source material for the fanboys and accessible enough to non-comic readers, it's the touchstone for the modern superhero movie. And for the record, Hugh Jackman's Wolverine is one baaaad-ass dude.
Worst Superhero Films:
5. "Hulk" (2003)
Hulk no like Ang Lee's Freudian analysis of Hulk's rage. Make Hulk want to smash!
4. "Fantastic Four" (2005)
Marvel's first cornerstone title kicked off the Silver Age of comics, but all these legends get is an X-Games commercial masquerading as a blockbuster. Clobberin' time indeed.
3. "Catwoman" (2004)
Technically, she's a supervillian, but since the film is the one perpetrating the real crime against humanity, we're willing to let that detail slide.
2. "Daredevil" (2003)
After watching Ben Affleck and director Mark Steven Johnson ruin this cult superhero, you might envy the title character's blindness.
1. "Batman & Robin" (1997)
Four words: The Batsuit has nipples.
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"Ask me about Trajan."
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001
posted 07-01-2006 05:25 PM
Let me preface my list by noting all on these two lists are from characters that originally appeared in comic books or graphic novels. I really liked The Incredibles, but since it isn't based on a previously published comic book or graphic novel I don't think it qualifies. Anyway, here's my lists:
My Ten Favorite Comic Book Movies
1. Superman: The Movie (1978)
The standard bar by which all other superhero movies are measured. And it also has one of the best opening title sequences ever.
2. Spiderman 2 (2004)
I liked this sequel a LOT more than Spiderman. Better villain. Much better and more emotionally involving story. I even found Aunt May's speech to Peter Parker about how people need heroes to be quite profound and actually moving.
3. Batman Begins (2005)
Although this one didn't have the hype like the 1989 version (nor a soundtrack by Prince either) it did have a much more complete and practical storyline.
4. Sin City (2005)
Brutally fun movie. Lots of cool action moments. And Frank Miller got "co-director" billing, the DGA be damned.
5. X-Men (2000)
Bryan Singer did a good job bringing this one to life. I can recall talks with friends through the years how it might be impossible to find an actor right enough for the part of Wolverine, but Hugh Jackman did a good job right down the John Byrne drawn angry eyebrows.
6. The Crow (1994)
Entertaining revenge story. Digital technology delivered this movie from disaster after star Brandon Lee was tragically killed on the set. I like the line Lee says to a heroin addict as he wills the poison out of her arm, "Mother is the name of God on the lips of children."
7. Superman II (1981)
This movie would be higher on my list if it weren't for some of the aggravating, obvious differences in directorial style. Richard Donner was making both Superman I and II movies at the same time, but was fired when the first one was finished. His direction is missed, as is the music from John Williams. And Margot Kidder somehow got concentration camp victim bony.
8. The Mask (1994)
This isn't a great movie, but entertaining anyway. Cool stuff with CGI when it was still new. And you have the screen debut of Cameron Diaz.
9. Blade (1998)
Ok. There's parts of this movie that are bullshit. But this show is a guilty pleasure of mine. This movie and Aliens I and II are the first DVDs I bought.
10. Dick Tracy (1990)
I think this show deserves an honorable mention because it's actually a decent story. And it really looks and feels like the old comic strip series. It did the sort of thing with production design and cinematography that Batman tried to do in 1989. But I think Dick Tracy succeeded with it whereas Batman did not.
My Ten Least Favorite Comic Book Movies
1. Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987)
While I feel Superman: The Movie is the best super hero movie ever made, by fitting contrast I feel this one is the worst. Cannon Films totally killed the Christopher Reeve franchise. Even the effects in this movie were shockingly bad.
2. Howard The Duck (1986)
The movie had little if any resemblence to the original comic book series. I wonder if George Lucas even read any of them. And then there were strangely inappropriate moments in the film -like female ducks with human-like titty nipples. What the hell was that about?
3. The Punisher (1989)
I couldn't even sit through all of the Dolph Lundgren version.
4. Captain America (1991)
Another super hero movie I could not tolerate to the end.
5. Barb Wire (1996)
Pretty stupid. And Pamela Anderson hardly ever gets naked in it.
6. Superman III (1983)
I was just a kid when I saw this and thought it sucked ass then. Richard Pryor wasn't funny and the video game tie-ins were very silly.
7. Elektra (2005)
I was bored with it. This is one of those movies I like to use as an example of how shitty and corporatized Hollywood has become regarding movie quality. They're making sequels and spinoffs from other shitty movies. Yes, Daredevil was not a good movie. But it, and other hero movies like Hulk didn't suck bad enough to make my worst 10 list.
8. The Punisher (2004)
Thomas Jane was a better choice in casting than Dolph Lundgren. And John Travolta can play a good villian. It's just too bad they got saddled with a boring, predictable, pedestrian storyline riddled with clichés.
9. X-Men III / X3: The Last Stand (2006)
I liked the first two X-Men movies. But I didn't like this one much at all. It did little if anything with the original 1970's era Phoenix saga that is highly regarded by fans of the classic comic book. The movie killed off principal characters in this off the wall storyline without there being any real point or dramatic payoff to it. And the Jean Grey/Phoenix character just stands around doing little more than frowning in this movie. That's a shame.
10. Batman & Robin (1998)
By far the worst of the Tim Burton era Batman movies.
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Phenomenal Film Handler
From: Oak Park, IL, USA
Registered: Jun 2002
posted 07-02-2006 10:15 AM
Here's my list:
10. Batman Returns (1992)
Beuatiful photography and Christopher Walken. That's all any movie really needs. The Batman/Catwoman relationship was great too.
9. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
It's interesting how these comic book franchises get a lot better once the origin story is out of the way. This movie had some great action set-pieces, and the relationship stuff between Peter and Mary Jane was fantastic.
8. X2 (2003)
Again with the sequels! Bryan Singer taps into that EMPIRE STRIKES BACK style to tell an emotional story which just kills me.
7. Batman (1989)
This is an extremely well-crafted movie with great pacing, characters and music. All the elements are spot-on.
6. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
People are talking about how the comic book movies of the 21st century are incredibly faithful to their source material. But the stuff that Bruce Timm and his team have been doing for over a decade is accurate almost to the point of redefining the source material. This is the Batman of the comics. Not even Chris Nolan's interpretation really comes close.
5. Blade II (2002)
On the audio commentary for this movie, Guillermo del Toro talks about how everyone says, "Less is more." His philosophy with BLADE II was, "Screw that! More is more!" This sums up BLADE II.
4. Batman Begins (2005)
The closest thing I've seen to evidence that a higher power is watching over us.
3. That Yellow Bastard (2005)
Yeah, yeah. So I split SIN CITY into three separate movies. But Robert Rodriguez did it first! And by Academy definition, they're all feature length, so they count.
2. The Hard Goodbye (2005)
The last four movies on the list are all from last year. How cool is that?
1. The Big Fat Kill (2005)
The rest of the world finally caught up to the comic book geeks and realized what's cool in the realm of visual storytelling. What does it say when a movie which in many ways redefines cinema is actually a direct adaptation of a comic book? Hmm...
And the worst:
10. Swamp Thing
9. Superman III
8. Superman II
7. The Punisher (2004)
6. The Crow
5. Men in Black II
3. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
1. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
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Monte L Fullmer
From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Registered: Nov 2004
posted 06-19-2007 02:16 AM
But, OH, how could we forget "Doc Savage: Man of Bronze" - that 1975 superhero wannabe film? Granted the pulp paperback novels (which I've lost count on how many were written) were great to read and kept you on the edge of your seat at times, but the movie transition took a nose dive within the first 20 min.
Ron Ely tried his best as did "Renny","Monk","Littlejohn" and "Ham", but the writers didn't do the novels justice at all...
NOW, Universal's 1980 DeLaurentis's version of "Flash Gordon" was fun to watch-even though it was saturated with the classic "spaghetti" sci-fi feeling (as with the classic "Barbarella") and music from QUEEN, but one needs to see the original Buster Crabbe's "Flash Gordon" to appreciate this character.
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