Super Heroes Assemble: The Ultimate Showdown- Revised
Top Ten Best Superhero Films Of All Time According To Stevennix2001
Here we are folks. The fifth and final chapter of my hub series, "Superheroes Assemble", and it's been a good run. During the first three chapters, we went over all the superhero films that are currently being planned out as we speak. Then of course we went over my top worst superhero films of all time in the previous chapter. Now, in this final chapter, we'll be going over the best of the best. La creme dela creme. The elite of the elite. Yes, we'll be going over the best superhero films of all time. Granted, I haven't seen every superhero film that's ever been released, but these are based off the ones that I've seen. During my top ten best superhero film list , I'll be telling you the synopsis of each one and why they deserved to be in the top ten, as well as a list of notables at the end of films that almost made it, but I'll tell you why they didn't. Like the last chapter of this hub series, there will be videos showcasing scenes of each selected top ten film.
Before we get started, I would like to explain how I formulated this list. One, the main factor is obviously quality. I mean let's face it, none of the films that made my top ten are going to be considered a piece of crap by a lot of film critics. Therefore, don't expect any films like "Daredevil" or "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer", to be in this list. No, that would merely be an insult to the films that DID make it into my top ten.
Second is originality. In a genre that's already starting to show it's flaws, it's hard to find a truly ORIGINAL superhero film out there. As most of them like all genres of films, it's starting to fall into the same trap as ripping off and/or retreading some other movie of it's ilk. Which is kind of sad to be honest. However, the ones that did make it into my top ten (especially the top five), have shown that a superhero movie doesn't have to always follow the same down trodden path, as there's still plenty of original concepts we have left to explore.
Third thing I looked at is the story and dialogue. Okay, that's two things, but still. Both those play a key factor in determining which films made the list. As I feel story should always be the focal point of any movie; regardless of genre. Plus, dialogue helps carry the believability a bit. Of course, I don't expect any super hero film to be realistic. I just want them to be believable and plausible. Not be so freaking insulting to my intelligence, that I feel like Hollywood has it in their minds we're all generic morons or something.
Fourth, I look at tone of the movie itself. If I feel like the tone of the film doesn't match who the character is, or who the director and writers are trying to establish who he is, then it's not going to be in this list. A great example of this is "Spawn" and "Batman Begins", both were very dark characters when they were initially created. However, "Spawn" deviated from that dark and controversial path when Todd choose to make his character a bit more lighter in the live action "Spawn" film. Something that didn't serve the character at all. Where as "Batman Begins" had a lot of dark and underlining themes, which fit the character perfectly.
Then finally, we get to the special effects and cinematography. These I don't really put too much emphasis on when grading movies, as a great story can make up for cheesy and/or dated special effects. Just look at the originals of "King Kong" or "The Day The Earth Stood Still" for great examples of this. However, I do give films a lot of credit if the special effects enhances elements of the story rather well (ala Lord of the Rings trilogy and original Star Wars trilogy). Sadly, if the special effects are merely used to cover up a horrendous story like the damn live action "Transformers" films, then they're so not making this list. Same goes for the cinematography. Just look at the "Matrix" trilogy as a perfect example. The first film used slow motion in a unique way that it only enhanced the cybernetic reality they were trying to convey in the movie. However, in the sequels, the slow motion was so freaking ridiculous that it seemed like every other scene, in the last two films, were shot in slow motion. Seriously, too much of a good thing can get really annoying if that's all you can bring to the table. As any film critic will tell you that a good STORY will always win out over special effects. Sure, we all love eye candy, but that's no excuse for poor screenwriting and half a** production methods.
Now that we've covered all the basics. Lets get on with the show, as we introduce the top ten superhero films of all time, along with listed notables that almost made it into the la creme del la creme.
Note: In light of recent superhero films that have been released recently, and forgetting about "V for Vendetta", I've taken the liberty of updating this hub with my new revised top ten list for this category of films.
This film barely made it into my top ten but in the end, "Astroboy" was selected as one of the few films worthy of such an honor. The film is based off the classic Japanime cartoon about a young boy, who dies in a tragic lab accident. Only to be resurrected as an android, as his father Dr. Tenma struggles to deal with his son's death. Unfortunately, the android is unable to fill in the void or the reality that his real son died, so he immediately disowns him. Casting Astroboy out into the world on his own, to fend for himself. Astroboy comes from a society where humanity and machines live amongst each other. Machines are used as laborers to serve the humans and in this futuristic utopia, lives two different classes of society.
One living up in the skies, in a futuristic utopia of modern technology and advanced cybernetics. While others still reside back on Earth, where humanity lives in a polluted wasteland, due to pollution over the years. With very little hope for the lower class that's stuck on Earth, their only amusement is a gladiator tournament where machines combat each other for society's amusement.
When Astroboy was initially created, Japan was essentially at it's weakest. After taking part in one of the biggest wars in our history, the entire country was devastated. However, Astroboy not only inspired an entire nation, but it raised Japanese hopes for the future. Inspiring many generations that grew up watching him, in Japan, into the field of robotics. Although Astroboy was a virtually indestructible machine, he also had feelings of a real human boy. Caught between humans and robots, Astroboy experiences various difficult situations but grows up by overcoming the problems he faces. Does the animated CGI film by Imagi stay true to that epic feel of the character you ask? I certainly think so.
As the story is certainly captivating and inspiring. Sure, it's not the most complicated superhero film out there, but it definitely has the most heart through it's simplicity.
9. The Crow
A tragic story about a man that's beaten up and murdered, after being forced to witness a bunch of petty thugs rape and murder his girlfriend in front of him. It's often said according to legend that the crow is a messenger of death. A spiritual bird that carries souls into the spirit world, so they can finally be at peace. However, when a soul passes on during a tragedy, it sometimes has trouble letting go, as the memories of it's final moments can cause to soul to refuse to rest peacefully. Thus, the crow is often said to possess the powers to temporarily bring back to life the person that died, so they can rewrite the wrong that was set during their demise. Although many can chalk this up as another simple revenge story from beyond the grave like Patrick Swayze's "Ghost" was essentially.
However, what truly makes this film worthy of being in the top ten isn't really so much the story itself. It's Brandon Lee's performance and the many powerful themes this film invokes. As I have never seen a superhero film convey the concept of revenge, and elements of horror so masterfully.
Even the soundtrack to this film is good, as it matches the tone of the story perfectly. In fact, I'll still on record to this day saying that "The Crow" soundtrack is the best one, to any superhero film in existence.
As I said before, Brandon Lee does an excellent job portraying the character. It's sad to think that this was his final movie, as I always felt he was vastly under rated as an actor. Never being able to land a lot of great roles throughout most of his career. However, I am glad to see that before he died, that he was able to star in this film. As this is truly the first film that shows just how great of an actor he was. Like his late father, Bruce Lee, he died way too soon before his time, and they'll both be certainly missed.
8. Spider-Man 2
When this film initially came out, I would've put this film hands down at number one if you had asked me to compile the top ten superhero films of all time. Boy, things sure do change though. Don't get me wrong, "Spider-Man 2" is still one of the best superhero films out there. However, lets be honest here, the film obviously rips off elements of "Superman II", that I simply can't ignore. The whole concept of Spider-Man losing his powers and having to make a choice to live a normal life, to be with the woman he loves, or giving that up because the world needs him. Yeah...it's unfortunate "Superman II" already covered that idea originally. Hence, why I had to drop it out of the top five for this list. However, to give credit where credit is due, I do believe "Spider-Man 2" explored that concept a helluva a lot better and more thoroughly than "Superman II" did.
As the original "Superman II", only showed how Superman's decision to still be a hero affected his life with Lois Lane, and the world. Where as Spider-Man's decision affected more people than just the world and his lover, Mary Jane. It causes him to constantly lie and let down his Aunt May, as she thinks of him as a coward when he leaves her, at a bank, when Dock Ock tries to rob the place. Not realizing that he was actually leaving to change into his alter ego, Spider-Man, so he could rescue her and stop Doctor Octopus. Sadly, since she never finds out, this causes her to think less of Peter. Plus, it seems with Peter Parker having to lie about his identity to his best friend, Harry Osborne, this causes a severe rift between them. As Harry still blames Spider-Man for his father's death. Needless to say, Peter's decision to be Spider-Man doesn't just affect his love life and the world around him, it affects his family and closest friends as well.
Sure, you can argue and say "Superman II" had that concept first, but "Spider-Man 2" explores that concept a helluva a lot better and thoroughly. Allowing for the audience to witness a film, where they see exactly what it means to give up the things we want the most, in order to do what's right. Something that any true hero must be willing to do to achieve the greater good, as life isn't always fair.
Sure, "Spider-Man 2" isn't the most original superhero film out there, but it's definitely features one of the best stories ever created for a superhero movie.
7. Batman Begins
Although I'm sure many thought it would be impossible when "Batman & Robin" literally almost destroyed the image of Batman a while back. Somehow Nolan and Goyer found a way to not only create a film that lives up to image of "Batman", but one that portrays Batman in a more grittier and darker setting than he's ever been presented in before.
Portraying for the first time, Batman's entire origin story. As the film goes from Bruce witnessing the tragic murder of his parents, as a child, to training up in Asia. Where Bruce learns from a mysterious mentor named Ducard, about the ways of becoming a ninja and initiating Bruce into the League of Shadows, an ancient terrorist organization ran by Ras Al Ghul. Unfortunately, Bruce doesn't agree with their methods of justice, as he soon realizes that revenge and justice are hardly the same thing. Thus, he manages to escape after allegedly destroying their organization up in Asia, and comes back home to Gotham City, where many have long thought he was dead. As Bruce has been away for several years. It's then that Bruce Wayne initiates various steps to becoming this new dark figure known only as Batman. A symbol that would not only inspire hope within a corrupted city like Gotham, but one that will strike fear into the hearts of the criminal underworld. At first, Bruce truly believes that Batman is nothing more than a symbol for justice.
However, as the film goes on, we soon realize that the real symbol or mask is no longer Batman...it's Bruce Wayne. As the new identity pushes away those that Bruce loves most, as he gets completely lost within this newly found alter ego. Bruce Wayne is nothing more a public spectacle, as Batman becomes the true face of a man that was scarred so many years ago. As his love interest Rachel Dawes even admits, "The man I loved never came back. Perhaps one day when the world no longer needs Batman, then I'll see him again."
Indeed, "Batman Begins" isn't just your typical revenge story. It's about a man who loses his identity to an ideal, after witnessing the tragic murder of his parents. A man that sacrifices a normal life, so he can become more than just a man. Thus, becoming a symbol...an icon for justice...perhaps even legendary. As Bruce was even quoted, "As a man I can be ignored or forgotten. However, as a symbol...I can be everlasting." "Batman Begins" definitely ranks as one of the best origin films of all time.
6. Iron Man
I have to admit, I knew absolutely nothing about Iron Man's history or his origin before I saw this film. However, after seeing this movie, I can totally see why this character has remained consistently popular throughout the years.
Tony Stark is essentially a billionaire playboy, who spends his nights partying and mingling among high society figures. As he happens to run the number one weapons developer, Stark Industries, in the world. Indeed, Tony is used to living in the fast paced life of drinking, womanizing, and fame, as he's completely self absorbed by his success. Unaware that his weapons that he invented are being sold on the black market to terrorist groups across the world. Upon a series of unfortunate events, Tony soon finds himself a prisoner of war in the middle east. Where a band of terrorists, known only as the Ten Rings, force Tony Stark to develop nuclear weapons for them. It's then that Tony constructs an Iron suit, so he can escape with his life. Knowing how much his weapons are being used by the same terrorists they were meant to protect against, Tony uses his technical ingenuity to protect the world from war rather than profit off of it like before. Unfortunately, his business partner, Obediah Stane, has other plans in mind.
Unlike most superheroes we've seen thus far, Tony isn't like any of the ones we've ever seen on the big screen. Rather than being some social outcast or tragic dark figure, Tony is highly self confident and a bit egotistical to boot. In fact, he's the only superhero on this list that's actually a helluva a lot cooler when he's not in costume. That in itself makes "Iron Man" highly original, as it's usually the other way around. Plus, I loved the humor Jon Favreau mixed into film, as he's always been able to convey a very naturalistic humor that appeals easily to anyone.
Even the anti war themes of this film about how technology is often used to help profit off modern warfare definitely reigns true in this film. It wouldn't surprise me that many weapons developers don't really care which way or the other on who buys their weapons, as long as they make a profit. Something that "Iron Man" touches on rather brilliantly without getting overly preachy about it. "Iron Man" certainly isn't your traditional type of superhero movie, but it's certainly one of the best out there.
5. Superman: The Movie & Superman II
Although I'm sure some of you might be wondering why I decided to have the first two "Superman" films tied at number three, the reason is very simple. Whenever, I watch the first two "Superman" movies, starring Christopher Reeves, it always seems like "Superman II" is more of a continuation of part one. Kind of like how I would consider "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy to be one big story separated out into three movies, as each film immediately takes place after the events of the other. Or even the classic "Kill Bill" series is a great example of this, as the second film is nothing more than a continuation of the first movie rather than a sequel. The same thing happens in "Superman II", where it immediately picks up where the last one left off. They even have set ups in "Superman: The Movie", where it shows the origin of Zod and his goons being imprisoned within the phantom zone. Thus, foreshadowing the events of the second film. Plus, the fact that since both these films were shot simultaneously, only further proves my point. Therefore, whether you believe this to be fair or not, I consider "Superman: The Movie" and "Superman II" to be part of the same story; only that they're stretched out into two films.
Although the special effects are a bit dated by today's standards, the story is still pretty damn good. And as I said earlier, a great story can make up for dated special effects. For those that have never seen the first film, "Superman: The Movie" is essentially an origin story of how Superman was sent to Earth, as a child. Only to be raised by two humans there, and grow up to become newspaper reporter, Clark Kent. Along the way discovering his true destiny as the world's savior, and meeting his arch nemesis, Lex Luthor. Even though this film is an origin story, the heart of the movie is actually love story between Lois Lane and Superman. Both from two different worlds, but both are madly in love with each other.
As the focal point of the series initially was how much Lois and Superman wanted to be with each other, but couldn't because the world needed their savior too much. Indeed, this not only lead to a very dramatic setting for Superman, but it was one trait people could relate to about him. Sure, there was the concept of how he had all those superpowers, but there was little he could do to save his dying adopted father. However, the forbidden love story between Lois and Clark was truly the heart of the first two films. Hence, why you'll notice in the last two movies, when they focus less on their relationship, the series takes a dramatic turn for the worse.
"Superman: The Movie" is arguably one of the best origin movies of all time, and rightfully so. Even in "Superman II", the drama and story are enhanced even more. As Superman must make a choice to either be with the woman he loves, or he must be willing to sacrifice his happiness in order to save the world from three Kryptonian criminals. Indeed, it's a powerful story about forbidden love and about the difficult choices Superman must make, in order to save our planet from impending doom. That's why both these films will always remain the gold standard when it comes to superhero films, in general.
4. Kick-Ass & Super
Although like "Superman: The Movie" and "Superman II" being tied, I know I'm cheating a bit by having these films tied as well. However, I couldn't in good conscience have one placed over the other. Both in their own ways are great satires of the superhero genre of film. Although I'd argue that "Super" takes the concept of it being a satire, and does a much better job, due to it's indie film vibe. However, I can't deny that "Kick-Ass" came out first either, and featured arguably the greatest performance by a child actress (namely from Chloe Grace Moretz). Therefore, it's very hard to pick between them, as I loved both films very much. And if you're looking for a great superhero satire film, then I would recommend both "Super" and "Kick-Ass" to anyone.
The only problem with "Super" is that it tends to be too violent for most viewers to handle, and sometimes it can be a bit unnecessary. Whereas "Kick-Ass" tends to display just the right amount of violence in this movie to still display the satirical effect it was trying to establish, but the realistic themes it displays kind of gets downplayed around the ending (i.e. rocket pack on Kick-Ass that allows him to fly). This is where "Super" works arguably better as a satire, as it shows the difference between being a superhero in real life versus being one in the movie.
3. X-Men: First Class
Although this film has gotten a lot of heat from fans before it's inevitable release, it's surprisingly one of the best superhero films ever made. In fact, I'd even dare to say it's the best one since "The Dark Knight", and that's saying a lot considering how much I loved that movie.
Unlike the previous "X-Men" films, this movie tends to focus on the relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lensher's early years, as they discover their powers for the first time; while seeing how different their ideals turn them from good friends to inevitable adversaries.
Granted, the other "X-Men" films emphasized the same metaphorical concepts of Xavier and Magneto representing the allegory of racism, but this movie takes it to a new level, as it allows the audience to get to know them on a more intimate level; without making them overly brooding. Truly, it's a must see for any superhero movie fan out there. Sure, there's some continuity inconsistencies, and it deviates from the original comic book, but it's still fairly well told, and it's a great story to watch nonetheless.
2. V for Vendetta
Arguably one of the best comic movies ever made. When I originally compiled this list, I had almost completely forgotten about this movie until recently. However, from reading Cogerson's article once on Natalie Portman, I came to realize how much of a huge mistake I made by not including this movie into my top ten originally.
Therefore, not only did I go out of my way to watch the movie again, but I also found it to be quite enjoyable. It's arguably one of the most daring, and thought provoking films ever made. Unlike most superhero films that follow a strict narrative of upholding justice and whatnot, while portraying the lines between good and evil in black white. "V for Vendetta" isn't that cut and dry. If anything, it invokes many controversial questions about society, and how the government often abuses it's power to impede on the liberties of the people; while also showing it's audience that we're not as helpless as our government would like us to believe. It sends a very powerful message that still speaks true to this day, as I think anyone would be lucky to see this movie.
1. The Dark Knight
After Christopher Nolan created arguably one of the best "Batman" films of all time, one has to wonder how could he possibly top himself this time? After all, I felt "Batman Begins" was truly the best of any "Batman" movie, I've ever seen. That was until....I saw "The Dark Knight." Although some still argue saying that this film was only successful, due to the controversial death of Heath Ledger. However, those that argue that are oblivious to the truly great story this film has. Sure, it might have made less money if Ledger didn't die, but that still doesn't diminish the fact it was still highly critically acclaimed. Plus, I don't care what anyone says, even if Ledger didn't die, this still would have made a lot of money. Granted, it probably wouldn't make close to "Titanic" type money, but I know it would have been within the same ball park as "Iron Man", for damn sure.
In this chapter of the "Batman" films, Nolan decides to take the newly rebooted franchise into an even darker direction than before. Pushing the limits of just how dark a "PG-13" film can be, while displaying perhaps one of the most sinister interpretations of Batman's infamous arch nemesis, "The Joker", that we've ever seen before. Taking away Joker's back story, as Nolan has the Joker appear more as a mysterious figure. An unstoppable force of chaos that pushes Batman ever so much to the brink between crime fighter and vigilante, than the previous film ever dared to do before. No offense to Jack Nicholson, who I thought played a damn good Joker, but he ain't got anything on Heath Ledger, as he flat out was the Joker. Settling for less dark and sinister humor that Nicholson brought in his role in "Batman (1989), and opted for more of a darker and twisted sense of morality. One where this character isn't out for petty revenge like Nicholson's Joker was. No, this Joker truly believes that humanity is at heart not good at all, and forces others to choose between their own lives and the lives of others. Sure, he could easily kill most of his own victims himself, and he does in few scenes. However, he'd rather tempt others to do it, for no other reason than to bring anarchy to our society. Thus, turning the character from a mere psychotic lunatic to a almost sinister and demonic figure. One that'll definitely intrigue and haunt the minds of all those that dare to see this film. Heath Ledger doesn't just play the Joker, like so many actors have before him. He becomes the Joker.
There was a lot of underlining themes about this film that easily make this movie arguably the best and most creative superhero story ever created. Displaying such unique concepts never before presented within a superhero story arc that will blow away people's minds. Showing that a life of a hero isn't always about getting the glory or the girl to save the day. No, that sometimes in order for true justice to be achieved, it means making the choices no one else could make. Making the choices that may not necessarily be the most popular, or the most well received. However, the life of a hero isn't about glory or recognition; it's about sacrifice and doing whatever is necessary to keep people's hopes alive.
In "The Dark Knight", the film picks up where the last one left off. Where Batman has successfully managed to strike fear into the hearts of the criminal underworld. To the point where all the mafia leaders, in Gotham City, meet in the daytime to avoid dealing Batman on a daily basis. Now with the formed alliance between new District Attorney, Harvey Dent, and Lt. Gordon, along with Batman; it seems the criminal underworld of Gotham City is pushed to the point of desperation. No longer is Gotham run by organized crime anymore, as the combination of Batman operating outside the law to bring down criminals, along with Gordon's fully backing up the Dark Knight in whatever resources he might need. Plus, Harvey's rise in popularity among voters, as the first non corrupt political figure within the city, seems to have the criminal underworld at wits end. Forcing them to turn to a man that they don't fully understand, to restore things back to the way they were by getting rid of Harvey Dent and Batman. This new figure the mafia turns to may even prove to far more dangerous than anything they could imagine. A man simply known as the Joker. Unlike any other villain Batman has ever faced, Joker has no rules nor limits on what he's willing to do. Thus, forcing Batman to cross the line of vigilante.
If that wasn't enough, it seems Bruce Wayne's obsession for justice, as Batman, slowly pushes away the woman that he once loved, in Rachel Dawes, into the arms of Harvey Dent. A man that seems to hold the key resurrecting Gotham City and becoming a hero in the eyes of the people, so Bruce might one day not need to be Batman anymore. While at the same time dealing with his jealousy over the fact that the girl he loves might not love him anymore.
Indeed, all these story elements alone make "The Dark Knight" truly worthy of being number one. As it offers so many unique and interesting ideas, that are unmatched by any other superhero film out there. "The Dark Knight" offers everything and anything you could possibly ask for out of any movie. As it offers great special effects, a great story, a intriguing cast of characters, and great underlining themes. What more could you ask for? Although I have yet to see the other superhero films that are set to be released within the next few years, I doubt seriously any of them will ever rise to the level that "The Dark Knight" has set.
Go Ninja Go Ninja Go
Notables That Almost Cracked The Top Ten
Spider-Man- If you had asked me to put together this "top ten best super hero films" list about a few years ago, then this film would've definitely made the list hands down. No doubt about it. However, since there's been a quite a few superhero films that have raised the bar since then, it looks like "Spider-Man" is left out of this one. Don't get me wrong, this is still arguably one of the best superhero origin movies ever told. Even though it does change around some of the "Spider-Man" mythos (like the organic webshooters for instance), it does manage to portray an accurate story that remains faithful to who the character is.
However, one of the downsides to this film was the fact that special effects were a bit inconsistent, as you could practically tell whenever they switched from a CGI character to a live action one quite easily. Another thing that really bothered me was the fact that in the comics, "Spider-Man" was often portrayed as a vilified hero by the media. A character who many thought he was a menace but in reality, he was a hero that was always trying to do the right thing even though it often interfered with his personal life. Where as in the film, I felt he was too overly glorified along the lines of Superman, in his films. Don't get me wrong, I understand they had to make it that way because of the whole "9/11" incident, but it just changes a huge part of what made the character who he is in the comic book.
Luckily, Sam Raimi was able to stay true to the heart of the story. As any true "Spider-Man" fan will tell you, the real heart behind Spider-Man isn't his quick "one-liners" nor his ability to come up with various ways to use his webbing. No, it's the man behind the mask, and his growth as a human being. Something that the early Stan Lee and Steve Ditko comics portrayed quite beautifully back in the day, as their original story continues to stand the test of time.
X-Men- Originally, I thought about putting this into my top ten simply because it was the first superhero team movie that ever premiered. Well unless you count the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", then I guess that would make "X-Men" the second superhero team film. Don't get me wrong, I loved this movie just as much as the next fan. Hell, I'll even go as far as to say that most of the casting was perfect. As I loved how Brian Singer cast two great actors in Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan to portray the "Martin Luther King Jr." and the "Malcolm X" side of the mutant racism metaphor. And having most of the story told through a guy like Wolverine, who doesn't really care about the war any which way, only makes it that much better. As it allowed the audience to be introduced to the "X-Men" universe, through an unbiased point of view without coming off as overly preachy. Sadly, that was also part of the problem.
As it seemed like any character that didn't have any direct involvement with Wolverine, were just there taking up space. Playing very little if any kind of factor in the film. Which is kind of sad because I felt had they developed Cyclops and Jean Grey's relationship a bit more in the film, then it would've only enhanced the love triangle they were trying to establish with them and Wolverine. The film was pretty good. Sadly, it just wasn't good enough to be in the top ten.
Watchmen- This film was very close to making the top ten films here. In fact, the story alone could easily rival any of these superhero films listed. As the plot invokes elements of film noir and tragedy unlike any other superhero film to date. Even the symbolism behind the story were clever in how Mr. Manhattan was the only super powered being of that film. Almost making it seem like the the others were merely pretending to be superheroes in the presence of a real one. The metaphors behind how even in a society full of super heroes that benefit our country, but how there can still be corruption and deceit. Only serves to enhance this already powerful story.
Sadly, this film does suffer from a lot of pacing issues that keep it out of the top ten. Which I blame primarily on the cinematography on this one, as every action scene is shot in freaking slow motion. Making the film drag out longer than it needs to be, to where you want to just yell at the director and tell him....."shoot the damn movie in regular motion damn it!" Yeah, it was seriously that annoying. Which is kind of a shame, as it distracts from a very powerful and thought provoking story.
Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm- Although "The Watchmen" was the first live action superhero film to invoke film noir elements into the genre. "Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm" was the first one ever to implement it into the genre period. Featuring the same voice actors from the animated series that ran, back in the nineties. This film literally lived up to everything you'd expect from an animated movie based on the TV series. Sadly, there's only one problem though.
Although I'm sure many of you will disagree with me about this, or think that this just a minor thing. However, when it comes to TV series being adapted to the big screen, I do have a set of expectations. I don't just expect the movie to live up and stay true to the heart of the series, but I expect it to be bigger than the series and produce something that the series couldn't generate on TV. For you see, "Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm" was a great movie; no doubt about that. However, as I watched the film, it seemed too much like I was watching a three or four episode part of the "Batman: the animated series." Sure, it had all the same elements that made that TV series not only appealing to kids, but adults as well while remaining true to the heart of the character.
When it comes to TV shows being adapted into films, I expect to see things that couldn't be done on the show that only help elaborate the story more. Giving it new avenues and story elements to explore. Like the original "Star Trek" series as it was severely limited by the special effects of the time period. However, when the movies came out around the time modern CGI was coming of age, they were finally able to create and delve into stories that couldn't have been done on the TV series. Or you can even look at the recently made "Simpsons" movie, as that film took the story on a larger playing field. Showing our cast of characters outside of their typical surroundings of Springfield, as the story was bigger than any episode ever written for the series.
However, when I saw this film, it felt too much like a regular episode of the series. As there's been ton of episodes that have explored the different concepts of film noir, and there's even been episodes where Batman did go outside of Gotham City to catch the bad guys. Therefore, this film didn't bring anything new to the table that the regular animated series didn't already have going for it. In fact, it was basically more of the same except it was released in a movie theater versus the normal time slot on Saturday morning cartoons. Not that it's a bad thing, as it was still a pretty good film. Just not exactly great enough to be put into the top ten.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1 & 2- Anyone remember just how cool the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" were back in the day? Sure, we all knew they were a fad at the time, but boy did they have a great run for a while, during their popularity. Spawning various comic books, cartoon series, toys, food products that promote the characters, and a few live action films. As one of Turtles in a half shell said once, "Man, I love being a turtle!" Yep, they sure did have a good run for a while. Although the Turtles are no long as popular as they used to be, their movies are still pretty damn good. In fact, the first two films are one of the few films that I liked as a kid, that I still like as an adult. As the humor mixed in with the martial arts and superhero mystique, seems to be pulled off quite beautifully within these two films. Although the plot for their movies never really extended beyond the typical, "beat up the bad guys" type of scenario, which is exactly why neither of their first two movies made it into the top ten. However, they're still pretty entertaining to watch.
Hancock- A rogue superhero without a past, nor the traditional attributes we could expect from one either. However, what "Hancock" does have is a unique history and personality that makes him arguably one of the most intriguing superheroes of our era, to ever be seen on the big screen. Although the ending could have been a helluva a lot better, and gives you little closure as to where Hancock truly came from. One thing is definitely for sure, there will never be another hero like "Hancock."
Blade- Personally, "Blade" has never seemed that much of an interesting character to me. Sure, he's a half vampire, half human struggling to maintain his humanity, as his vampire urges try to consume him. Only to end up hunting down the race of Vampires, but the way Marvel portrayed him in the comics didn't do much justice the character at all. However, this film actually made me interested in this character. "Blade" truly is a conflicted character who doesn't belong anywhere, as he hunts down his own kind. Sadly, I thought this theme was done so much better in the anime film, "Vampire Hunter D" that came out way before this film. Therefore, "Blade" didn't make the top ten. Sure, it deserves consideration, as this was the first legitimate good movie made about a Marvel Comics character. Unfortunately, it just wasn't enough to break into the top ten.
Batman (1989)- Although this film came very close to making it into the top ten, it just wasn't good enough in comparison to the other films that did. Plus, the obvious product placements throughout the film like the Bat Jet going up in front of the moon, so they could plug in a cheap ploy for the Bat signal seemed kind of lame after seeing Nolan's gritty realistic approach. Sorry. Tim Burton and Michael Keaton did an excellent job establishing a non-campy version "Batman" that audiences have been waiting to see for decades, when it originally came out. As so many fans were forced to put up with the likes of Adam West cheesy sixties show and "Super Friends" incarnations of the character for the longest time. Now, with Tim Burton's Gothic portrayal of "Batman", it seems the character was finally given the treatment he so richly deserved. Which makes this kind of sad, as this film would've made the top ten a few years ago along with "Spider-Man." However, since there's been a lot of great super hero films that have raised the bar since then, it looks like this film ended up being nudged out of it.
The Mask of Zorro- Although we've seen a lot of superhero origin movies out there, but we rarely ever see films that talk about the legacy of a superhero. Not only does this movie provide some added closure to our hero, Zorro, it also redefines him. Adding new elements to the mythology that wasn't there before, as we see the original Zorro handing down his legacy to another. A new Zorro who's conflicted about his journey for revenge, while trying to live up to the legendary name Zorro. While the original hero questions his route in life, and why his plight for defending the people has cost him everything he holds dear. Indeed, there's a lot of great underlining themes about the legacy of a superhero, that makes this film highly unique. Unfortunately, this film tends to fall into a lot of cliches of it's genre. However, it doesn't ruin the movie by any means.
Unbreakable- This film came so freaking close to making the top ten that its not even freaking funny. Heck, "Astroboy" barely edged out this film based off how much pure impact the character had over the years on Japanese culture, and how faithful the new movie portrays that iconic character. For that reason alone, "Unbreakable" was left out of the top ten. Don't get me wrong, it's still a great film in it's own right. Although some of you will groan and complain saying how could I even mention one of "Mr. Obsessive Twist Ending's" films. Take in mind, this was Shamalan's second big budget film, after "Sixth Sense." Therefore, his twist ending trademark wasn't established at that time, so the unique ending was appropriate for this film. In fact, I still love the subtle clues and hints he gives throughout the movie, but how he's able to masterfully make it to where you'll still be shocked by it's surprise ending. Incorporating superhero mythology into a believable and gritty realistic approach, that it almost gives the audience a compelling reason to believe all this could potentially happen. Not that I'm saying it could but the way the film sets it up, it will literally leave a lasting imprint on you. Sure, the rest of Shamalan's movies generally suck after this one. However, there's still no denying how great "Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable" still are to this day.
Robocop: In an bleak future where crime is almost at an all time high. The police are fixing to strike soon, due to low benefits and pay. Along with society being exploited for it's excessive needs in technology, as OCP, a new weapons developer, almost owns a monopoly on the world's technological needs. Including the police force themselves. In the midst of it all is new advancement in the series of robotics. A fallen cop named Murphy is savagely murdered by a bunch of drug dealers, and is revived later as Robocop. A cyborg machine that's half man, half machine, and all cop. At first, Robocop seems to be the perfect instrument for maintaining peace within the city.
Only one small problem though. His memories of his murder and previous life still haunt him in his dreams. As it seems, no matter how much they erase his memory, the sub conscious thoughts of his previous life still conflict him. Almost to the point where he becomes conflicted with his directive programming and his desire for revenge.
Indeed, "Robocop" is more than just a sci-fi film about a cyborg cop in the future. No, it's a story about a man that struggles to maintain his humanity, when he gets turned into a machine. About a man that's conflicted and confused about a past that he can barely remember. Conflicted with even who is. Is he truly just a mindless machine programmed to follow orders? Or is he merely a man trapped inside a machine? I'll let you be the judge of that, as "Robocop" plays on these themes quite beautifully.
Unfortunately, I had to take it out of the top ten. In light of forgetting about "V for Vendetta", and the recent "X-Men First Class" and "Super" movie being better than anticipated, I had to make some rather tough choices here. Originally, I was going to move this one down from number 9 to 10, but I felt it wouldn't be right to take out "Astroboy", as he's had a much bigger impact over the years as a character versus "Robocop."
The Incredibles: Although the "Fantastic Four" were the original family of superheroes, "The Incredibles" were the first ones on the big screen. In Pixar/Disney's animated film, "The Incredibles" are essentially about a world full of super heroes. As expected, they save the day, and live pretty conventional lives outside of their hero work. The story focuses on two young heroes that fall in love named Elastigirl aka Helen, and Mr. Incredible aka Bob Parr. Bob like most young men wants to settle down with his life, and marry his sweetheart, Helen.
Unfortunately for Bob, that also means giving up his life as a superhero. Due to a series of unfortunate events, superheroes are being sued for their heroic exploits across the world. Bob was the first to one to be succumbed to this, as a man sues him for saving his life because he claims he ruined his suicide attempt. Imagine that? Anyway, this forces the government to relocate heroes across the globe, and force them to give up their superhero identities and make their secret identities....their only identity.
Years pass, as Bob and Helen raise a family within an suburban community. Bob is a claims worker for a rip off insurance company, and he's been miserable ever since. Not because he hates being married with children or anything like that. No, he just misses his younger days when he used to fight crime for a living. Something that many of us can relate to as when we get older, we often tend to miss the little things that used to bring us joy during our youths.
Even the children are understandable because their outcasts struggling to find their place within the world, as we all felt like that at one point or another. Plus, I loved the twist on the villain for this film. Although I'm sure many of you know who I'm talking about, I won't say who it is for those that have yet to see the film. However, the villain does put a unique twist on the concept of how our heroes aren't always what he we expect them to be.
Add in the lovable humor and great storytelling that Pixar always brings to the table, and you have yourself arguably one of the best superhero films ever created. Unfortunately, in light of some current superhero movies that were released, I had to make some rather tough choices here; hence I took this film out of the top ten because of the originality factor.
Captain America: The First Avenger: Arguably the greatest Marvel Studios' movie since "Iron Man", but in the end, it just wasn't good enough to make the cut. Sure, it was a great movie, and it offered an engagingly deep character driven story arc. Unfortunately, in many cases where there's a top ten list, there's always a possibility that some will be left out. Kind of sad, as I really enjoyed this movie too.