|1951 - The very first Superhero movie.|
The Superhero Movies are back big time this summer
I just finished seeing the new Avengers movie yet again. It was a long time coming for us fans, and that got me thinking about Superhero films in general.
The Superhero movie. It all began with Superman and the Mole Men, a 1951 superhero film starring George Reeves as Superman and Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane. It is the first theatrical feature film based on the DC Comics character Superman they appeared in a serial format. The 58 minute film was shot in 12 days on a studio backlot.
One of the Mole Men was played by now 92 year old Jerry Maren, a surviving dwarf munchkin from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
Between 1951 and 1978 there was a grand total of one Superhero film released. That was the horrible 1966 Batman film based on the truly crappy TV show. The Superhero lived on the small TV screen, but Hollywood had no interest in big budget films.
Then comes the 1978 release of Superman. In 1978 dollars it made a staggering $300 million at the box office. That would still be considered a good take in today's money. Back in the 1970s you were taking mega-bucks. And Superhero films are big business.
|A weak girly-man Superman.|
I have been disappointed that the Superman films never satisfied my vision of the character. Clark Kent was always supposed to be the mild mannered alter ego as a cover.
But the Superman films from 1978 to 2006 turned Superman in a weak girly-man pussy. Superman has become a soft, non-threatening chick flick character. So very sad.
But then comes 1989 and the floodgates start to open wide. Tim Burton releases Batman.
Sitting in that theater on opening night I was not prepared for the new Gotham City and the hard ass Dark Knight. Then comes Jack Nicholson's totally insane Joker. I decided no one could ever do a better Joker. Boy was I wrong.
With computer special effects things just keep getting better and better. The magic of Hollywood to entertain is America's greatest gift to the world.
My Top Ten Superhero Movie Picks
- Please feel free to post your own top ten in the comments section below.
As of today there have been some 86 Superhero movies released with even more on the way this summer. There appears to be no end to the planned productions.
#1) The Dark Knight
The late and very great Heath Ledger put this film over the top in so many ways. Many of us loved Heath's work over the years. To see him give us the character of the Joker and then die at age 28 was cruel beyond words. As wonderful as Christian Bale is, Ledger made "The Dark Knight" the all time classic that it is.
The thinking man's superhero movie. The even longer director's cut proves what a classic film it is. Plots and sub plots, vigilante justice, alternate universes, insanity, rape, does time exist? Does it even matter? With each viewing the movie goes deeper and deeper.
#3) Iron Man
Robert Downey is a national treasure. He brought Tony Stark to life in a way I never thought possible. Iron Man is a perfect blend of humor, drama and superhero action.
#4) Batman (1989)
Those of us who had been subjected to the pure crap of the Superman films were blown out of our theater seats by Tim Burton's Batman. Jack Nicholson's Joker was a psycho crazy bastard we never knew existed. This movie took the superhero genre to a place we never dreamed it could be. Suddenly the comic art form had become serious drama.
#5) X-2: X-Men United
The best of the X-Men films. Everything comes together: a perfect cast, script, special effects and action. I do not know of a comic fan who was not glued to his seat in wonder while watching Nightcrawler's attack on the White House.
The first of the Spider-Man films was an incredible event to see in the theater. Again, near perfection in balancing comedy, drama, action and special effects.
#7) The Avengers
Favorites of mine since childhood. I waited a long time to see this come to the big screen. Director and writer Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel) showed a big screen talent that should have been put to use years ago. Wonderful film from start to finish. There is a good chance that with repeated viewings the Avengers will rise higher on the top ten list.
#8) X-Men Origins: Wolverine
This film has grown on me with every viewing. It treats the superhero subject with respect and adult drama. Liev Schreiber brought the character of Sabretooth to life.
#9) The Incredible Hulk
Edward Norton is Bruce Banner and William Hurt is General Ross. Outstanding cast and excellent special effects. You get a feel for the old TV show where Banner is a lost soul with no home.
In any top ten list when you start getting to the end you get angry. There are so many fine films. How can they be left off? Such is life. But you gotta love Hellboy. Fantastic humor, great action, good plot. Ron Perlman is always a pleasure to watch in any role.
Also Ran - The Almost Top Ten
--- Superman (1978)
--- Daredevil (Director's cut)
--- Fantastic Four
Full List of Superhero Movies