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Top 5 'Superhero' Movies 
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Post Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
We've had best comic book adaptations, but this is different. Forget if there was any source material and focus on the film only. Of course, it's not necessary for the superhero to have any powers. Batman/Bruce Wayne is more than welcome.

So, what are your five favourite superhero films? If it's not too much trouble, try to put them into some order so that we can solve a few arguments ;)

You may find this list helpful:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Superhero_films


Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:30 am
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
Excellent topic! How has this never come up before?

In the standard reverse order:

5. Watchmen
4. Blade
3. The Dark Knight
2. Superman II
1. Superman

To be honest, it's really the top 3 with two others thrown in to round out the five. Watchmen was good but definitely not great and Blade... I had to have a fifth and I liked it alright. The Dark Knight was great, as I've (and everyone else) has said elsewhere but it wasn't in the same league as Superman (with Superman II grudingly added as a sequel... it's really just the one story but, I know... I know... "intended to be one film" doesn't exactly count, does it?)

Why Superman? Because it's pure, boundless joy. A sense of wonder and excitement! It's got a superhero that has one goal above all others: DO GOOD. Superman is the most entertaining superhero movie -- part of it may be nostalgia but most of it is that it's as good as a flight of fantasy can get. It's the only **** superhero movie to date.


Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:42 am
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
not a fan of the genre...haven't seen any superman movie...("!!!!!! how can that BE?!")

the dark knight
hellboy
v for vendetta.......what the hell...

that's about it...does the iron giant count as a superhero? if so...does gandalf?


Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:49 am
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
Honorable Mentions:

Darkman, Sin City, Spider-man 2, Blade II

5. Hulk (2003)
4. X-Men 2
3. Superman (1978)
2. The Dark Knight
1. Batman Begins

No real suprise the I rate the rebooted Batman's at the top but I still prefer Begins. I may be one of the only people who thinks Ang Lee's Hulk was an excellent film and dared to do a few things differently compared to the ton of other comic films coming out around that time.


Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:32 am
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
1. X-Men: I think the set-up is the best of all superhero stories and allows for the most social commentary (mutants as a symbol for all kinds of minorities and teenage angst). The acting is also great (Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman), at least for a superhero movie. Magneto has the best motivatzion of all supervillains.
2. X-Men 2: Same as X-Men 1, but more action-oriented and less character-based. The sequence when Nightcrawler attacks the president is still my favourite superhero action scene. The good thing about X-Men is that there are so many super-abilities on display, which keeps it interesting. Makes it easy to overlook the severe plot holes.
3. The Dark Knight: Don't think any explanation is necessary.
4. Watchmen: The movie has a lot more depths than most if not all other superhero stories and is a satisfying adaptation of an unadaptable comic book. It is also made very, very well (great choice of songs for the soundtrack, for instance). I believe that this is one of the most underrated movies of recent years.
5. The Incredibles: Superheroes never have been more fun than in The Incredibles.

Personally, I do not understand all the love for Donner's Superman movies. Is it nostalgia? My biggest gripe with Superman is the fact that the villain is also the comic relief - how can you possibly take Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor serious as a threat? Perhaps, I would have had to watch Superman when I was a child in order to find it enjoyable. It probably is a good movie for kids (with little appeal for this adult).


Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:55 am
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Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
1. Spider Man 2
2. The Dark Knight
3. Kick-Ass
4. X-Men 2
5. Umm, does Darkman count? I'll say Darkman.


Fri Jul 09, 2010 7:15 am
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Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
In no particular order (because I'm a consultant, and consultants can't make decisions, only recommendations)

Incredibles
Watchmen
Dark Knight
V for Vendetta
Kick Ass

Those almost making the cut- X-Men 2, Batman Begins, Hellboy II, Iron Man, Spiderman 2, Unbreakable and Superman II

And a special place in my heart for Mystery Men, because it was just fun and I love Janean Garofalo, and The Rocketeer, because of Jennifer Connelly.


Fri Jul 09, 2010 7:45 am
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
5) Kick-Ass
4) Spider-Man
3) Iron Man
2) Superman 2
1) The Dark Knight

Wow...my top 4 are not really going out on a limb here; pretty mainstream. The Dark Knight was pretty complex, it's only weakness being of the sound effects variety (really...what was with the overdone techno-raspy voice? I preferred Keaton's method of dropping an octave or 2 and leaving it at that.) Props to Superman (1) for being the first in the "modern" film age to really make the superhero film as we know it marketable. However, I think Supes2 had both better villains and a better resolution rather than the time traveling effect relied on in Supes1 (hope I haven't spoiled anything here...it's been 30+ years for crying out loud).

I liked Iron Man quite a bit because the hero didn't turn out to be some tortured soul in need of redemption. And Downey Jr. was having a blast. Kick-Ass was a good deconstruction of superhero movies with some excellent action set pieces to boot.

Honorable mentions to The Incredibles and Mystery Men for mining great humor from the genre. Both were very funny films.


Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:14 am
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
Not my favorite genre, but well, here's my list:

5. Batman (1966) - The one based on the old Adam West show. Hilariously campy. Just like the show, but an hour and 45 minutes worth of it. I love this movie and that show, even if they're both so bad, they're good.
4. Unbreakable - Well told origin story that morphed into a superhero story out of nowhere. Clever. Not great, but I enjoy it. Please, Vexer, don't threaten my loved ones for me for liking this.
3. Spiderman 2 - One of the most fun superhero movies I've ever seen. Great villain, and a genuine story behind it. Sure, it may be for 15 year olds, but it's still a hell of a film.
2. The Dark Knight - Not much to say that hasn't been said. It's overhyped, yet still great.
1. The Incredibles - Just rewatched it, so maybe that's why it sits at #1 right now. Either way, it's smart, funny, and fun. I can't get enough of it

I'd say I consider the first two **** films. The others are good to very good.


Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:43 am
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
To make things more interesting I'm limiting myself to one movie per "cycle" (why can't I find a better word?)

5. Hellboy - I must be the only one who thinks this is better than its sequel
4. Batman (1989) - Most people have forgotten about this one because of Nolan and Ledger, but Burton and Nicholson really changed the game.
3. Superman - a little sugary, but still has some of the most iconic moments of any superhero film
2. The Dark Knight - a near masterpiece. Almost the best superhero movie of all time.
1. Spider-Man 2 - why does everything have to be so "dark"? Spider-Man 2 is one of the best sequels and the best superhero movie there is. The spirit of Peter Parker could not have been captured more perfectly.


Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:58 pm
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
aameen wrote:
not a fan of the genre...haven't seen any superman movie...("!!!!!! how can that BE?!")

the dark knight
hellboy
v for vendetta.......what the hell...

that's about it...does the iron giant count as a superhero? if so...does gandalf?


No Gandalf certainly does NOT count. He's a wizard. A wizard is not a superhero. Feel free to create a top 5 wizard thread if you want some Gandalf love buddy-boy. I think you'll be constrained to Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter though. Radagast the Brown. Now there's a wizard.

Unke wrote:
1. X-Men: I think the set-up is the best of all superhero stories and allows for the most social commentary (mutants as a symbol for all kinds of minorities and teenage angst).


Not to mention homosexuality. Actually, I think that's part of the reason Ian McKellen signed on.

DylnFan96818 wrote:
1. Spider Man 2
2. The Dark Knight
3. Kick-Ass
4. X-Men 2
5. Umm, does Darkman count? I'll say Darkman.


Of course Darkman counts. And, I'm loving the order of #1 & 2.

johnny larue wrote:
5) Kick-Ass
4) Spider-Man
3) Iron Man
2) Superman 2
1) The Dark Knight

Wow...my top 4 are not really going out on a limb here; pretty mainstream.


I don't think there are too many non-mainstream superhero movies.


Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:59 pm
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
I guess my own list would go something like this:

1. The Dark Knight
2. Iron Man
3. Spiderman 2
4. The Incredibles
5. onwards: Six of one, the rest are OK at best, godawful at worst.

Oh, and I'll reiterate how much I spit upon the adaptations of V for Vendetta and Watchmen. Snyder and the Wachowski Brothers can all go to hell.


Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:33 pm
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
5. Batman Returns
4. Spiderman 2
3. Batman Begins
2. Hellboy
1. The Dark Knight

Haven't seen any of the earlier Supermans, so that's why they're absent.


Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:58 pm
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
Superman Returns - Somewhat blasphemous I guess, but I really enjoy this movie every time. Saving the airplane makes me want to jump up and give a "fuck yeah!" and taking out the bad guy with a piano was awesome!

X-Men - "It's me." "Prove it." "You're a dick." "Okay." still brings tears to my eyes. The movie that restarted all this superhero non-sense after the Batman debacles of the 90's has so many great scenes and acting.

Batman Begins - Doesn't have the slow pace of DK (though, making that pencil disappear in DK was the funniest magic trick I've ever seen). DK was just had too much going on for it's own good and dragged on too long. Batman Begins on the other hand has an interesting origin story, return to civilization and character development.

Incredibles - takes every super-hero cliche and fine tunes it to the highest level of enjoyment.

Casino Royale - Let's face it, James Bond is a super-hero and I can watch this movie any time, any where.


Sat Jul 10, 2010 4:28 am
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
1. Superman
2. Superman 11
3. The Dark Knight
4. The Incredibles
5. Hulk (2003)


Sat Jul 10, 2010 5:08 am
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
Ragnarok73 wrote:
I guess my own list would go something like this:

2. Iron Man


I'm surprised that, apart from you and Johnny Larue, Iron Man hasn't seen a lot of love. I didn't include it because I thought the story was very average, however the film was brought out by a fantastic RDJ performance. What did you like so much about it?

Worthing wrote:
Superman Returns - Somewhat blasphemous I guess, but I really enjoy this movie every time. Saving the airplane makes me want to jump up and give a "fuck yeah!" and taking out the bad guy with a piano was awesome!


I think you have the support of Ken. And James Berardinelli. Not sure which means more to you.


Sat Jul 10, 2010 11:38 am
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
ed_metal_head wrote:
...Iron Man hasn't seen a lot of love. I didn't include it because I thought the story was very average, however the film was brought out by a fantastic RDJ performance. What did you like so much about it?


What you just said, RDJ's performance. Nice to see a superhero embrace his superheroness and have the swagger that they're supposed to have. No more angst ridden, "can I be a hero or should I go wander the Canadian wildernes"s crap. Just swagger and baddass. RDJ has the "I'm a badass. You know it, I know it, let's all enjoy it" factor.


Sat Jul 10, 2010 1:55 pm
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
Oh right. The Incredibles. That's my #1 pick. Bye-bye Watchmen. Or Blade. The Incredibles is the only movie with superheroes that lie to themselves. Except The Dark Knight. And probably others.


Sat Jul 10, 2010 5:57 pm
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
1. The Dark Knight
2. V for Vendetta
3. The Incredibles
4. Iron Man
5. Batman Begins


Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:15 pm
Post Re: Top 5 'Superhero' Movies
Let's talk about Superman.

Superman is cinema's best attempt at the superhero genre so far. I'm not saying that because it was the first. (It wasn't. How about the short Superman films of Fleischer Studios in the '40s? Or the serials starring Superman, Captain Marvel, and Batman? Or the feature film with George Reeves that kicked off the TV series? Or the first theatrical Batman film? If anything, Superman is the middle child of superhero film history.) I'm saying it because it is the best, period. By any reasonable standard, it's a finely made film, with a story good enough that just about many superhero movies since then have ripped off its structure, point by point.

If you want to talk about acting (and many filmgoers know little else; damn their souls), let's talk about acting. There hasn't been a finer lead performance in superhero films than this one, and that is with tremendous due respect to Christian Bale, Tobey Maguire, Robert Downey Jr., and all those other schlubs.

Think of all the screen depictions of a flying superhero. When they're played by live actors and not cartoons masquerading as live actors, the obviousness of the illusion usually isn't terribly acceptable. It looks like what it is: an actor suspended in front of a bunch of visual effects.

Now, the effects in Superman weren't terrific, but that's not the point. The effects aren't the problem--the actors are. When performing a flying scene, most actors do what comes naturally to them: they dangle there and trust the effects to make it happen. They don't act.

What does Reeve do differently? He acts. He does his job, and he does it well. He crafts a sense of body language in flight, imparting a sense of weight to the images. He makes the flying sequences believable. He moves in a way that has no precedent in nature, but looks perfectly natural. People can talk about the dated special effects. So what? The most important special effect is the guy wearing the suit, and there's none better than Reeve. People sleep on him hard as a purely physical performer, which is wrong. He takes what could be purely mechanical flying sequences and turns them into something far more graceful, and much cooler.

When he's not on wires, Reeve is essaying the kind of classical leading man performance that Hollywood had long given up on. In certain scenes, his charm--good, sincere charm, without a shred of irony--is pouring off the screen. In other scenes, Reeve plays up his good-natured oafishness. This can be construed as campy, but why?

(Camp, if nothing else, is something self-consciously artificial, appreciable only through irony. If anybody feels that way about Superman, I suggest that it's not because the movie demands it. It's because artificiality is one of the many empty-headed, meaningless criteria by which ignoramuses condemn movies that they're too inexperienced or afraid to appreciate.)

If Reeve can be permitted the oafishness that is necessary to distance Clark Kent from his alter-ego and add a fumbling, low-key comic touch to the Daily Planet sequences, filmgoers will find a self-deprecating facet to his personality that is 100% genuine. Clark isn't a clown. He's the good friend that everyone needs, even if they don't allow themselves to realize it. Reeve does a pitch-perfect job of essaying these qualities.

And how about his work with Margot Kidder? Has there been a single pairing of lead actor and actress in this genre that has worked as well as this one, where the partners share such equality and give-and-take with one another? How about Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst? Please. Christian Bale and Katie Holmes? Nope. Ed Norton and Liv Tyler? Barf out. I'm loathe to abuse a cliche, but Reeve and Kidder have chemistry. They crackle together. They're so much fun, and I think a lot of people who claim to love these movies might actually be afraid of that.

Not only that, but their pairing is so very central to the appeal of the film! There is absolutely nothing obligatory about the romantic component of Superman, which makes this movie one in very few.

And how about the rest of the cast? Admittedly, Brando isn't throwing any haymakers, but it's nice to have him around. He doesn't bring his skill to bear, but he brings his presence and his dignity. By most superhero movies' standards, that's more than good enough from the best film actor who ever lived. How about Glenn Ford and Phyllis Thaxter? Perfect. Absolutely perfect. Jackie Cooper? Terrence Stamp? Small roles, both, but well-cast and well-acted. Even Gene Hackman, Valerie Perrine, and Ned Beatty manage to have some fun (there's that naughty word again) as villains caught in a story where the hero is infinitely more important.

But aren't movies so much more than acting? Don't answer that.

Richard Donner has a reputation as a fairly decent director, and he could have treated this film as far below his grade level. As every director ought to but few ever do, he goes beyond the call of duty and infuses this film with as much heart, soul, and enthusiasm as he can muster. And, as behind-the-scenes legend has it, probably even more than that. Suffice it to say that this, his best film, took even more of an effort on Donner's part than is apparent on the screen.

Not enough can be said for the absolutely breathtaking camerawork of Geoffrey Unsworth. He starts off capturing locales that must necessarily exist somewhere on Earth, but views them through fresh eyes, putting everything at a distance that is both cold and wondrous at the same time. Krypton feels alien, through and through. When the film transitions to Kansas, Unsworth opts for open, painterly compositions that emphasize the broad expanses of the Kent farm. Once again, I'm abusing a cliche, but it truly does look like the artwork of Norman Rockwell, which is both beautiful and quintessentially about small town America. Then, of course, there's Metropolis, all bright colors and bustling action. But--and this is key--it's action provided by the stuff that Unsworth includes in his frame, rather than artificially produced in the editing room.

On the subject of editing, Stuart Baird does a tremendous, understated job. His greatest task, if other superhero movies are any indication, is knowing when NOT to edit. In subsequent films, we see the editor playing around a lot more, chopping scenes into pieces far skinnier than they need to be. They don't bring the clarity and stateliness that Baird brings here. With Unsworth's masterly compositions and understated camera moves, and with Donner blocking his actors in ways that provide sufficient action at the production stage, it falls on Baird to ensure that the editing reveals the action, rather than obfuscating it. The new-school method of shooting stationary actors while the editing imparts its tooth-grindingly artificial "energy" doesn't apply here.

Look at the scene when Jor-El's warnings are ignored. Unsworth's camera centers Jor-El's face on the screen. The other councilmen--presented as close-up and indistinct--drift slowly through the extreme foreground while Jor-El remains steady, placid, like a statue. Unsworth captures the magic of the moment. Baird allows it to breathe. The film is expressing the feeling, so that the kind of awkward expository dialogue we get in the recent Batman movies (to cite an example) is not necessary. And then there's the famous circling crane shot that underlines Clark's last embrace with his mother. One of the oldest tricks in the film grammar handbook, but it's a perfect choice.

And the music? Forget about it. There hasn't been a better score in any superhero film, and, on my more cynical days, I doubt there ever will be. This is John Williams at the peak of his powers, and everybody damn well knows it.

Forget what the credits say, too. The real writers on this film are Tom Mankiewicz and Richard Donner, with a plentiful assist from comics and other forms of Superman media. If Mario Puzo and the script doctors brought in by the producers contributed anything, it's hackery and a lot of wasted time. Early versions of the Superman script are an embarrassment, a parade of real camp with obligatory inclusions of mythological elements. Thankfully, what made it into the film shows a little more respect for the character.

Present and accounted for are themes of characters struggling to do what is right, to understand why someone--by pure accident of birth--can be obligated to love close friends and total strangers equally. That's the stuff of heroism. It's a little more convincing and less self-serious than the banal pop-psychological motivations of Spider-Man and Batman. Nobody needed to kill Superman's parental figure to give him a sense of duty and responsibility. Superman knows, perhaps even fears, his own power. He knows what he must do, even if he occasionally wishes for something simpler.

There is also the theme of inexorable mass destruction, which perhaps doesn't quite have the resonance now as it might have had back in 1978. This is through no fault of the film; nations have a habit of forgetting what it might be like to have their worst fears come true. Try to think with a Cold War mind when the nuclear missiles are in flight, which--incidentally--is wonderfully intercut with Superman struggling to lift an immovable stone from his chest.

Then there's the infamous time travel sequence, which has its precedent in the comics. Even so, it's largely superfluous and inconsequential. It is perhaps the only significant flaw in the film, unless you consider its open ending--actually a segue into the second half of the story, a la the Lord of the Rings--as a flaw. (I don't, if you're wondering.) I find it easy to forgive this scene, in the face of what the rest of the film achieves.

Shit, I guess I need to pick four other movies to talk about.


Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:41 pm
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