[dropcap size=small]B[/dropcap]irds? Planes? Nope, SUPERHEROES. Here’s a tribute to the latest boom in Hollywood about these men and women with superpowers. Crizic brings you the 10 greatest superhero movies of all time! So wear your spandex costumes, take your sidekick (if any), and get ready for the ride:
Almost a satire on superhero-obsessed fanboys—-wait.
Definitely a satire on superhero-obsessed fanboys, Kick Ass stands as something of a landmark in superhero films. It mocks and celebrates the superhero ideal simultaneously, making for great gags when the protagonists try to emulate their idols, and for down-right awe when they take on the baddies armed with nothing but guts of steel. Michael Cera shines as Kick Ass, with a noteworthy performance from Chloe Mortez’s Hit Girl.
With meta-comedy and violence that took us back to The Clockwork Orange, Kick Ass stands apart from other superhero films for its humor and sheer audacity.
Probably the only vampire(Still half blooded.) to not be lampooned in pop culture, Blade, played by Wesley Snipes, gave us the all-kicking all-punching vampire hunter we had all been dying for. A movie adaption of the Marvel character of the same name, Blade stands shoulder to shoulder with other Marvel movies, which while being more polished, lack the grittiness and the stylized violence Blade stands for. While at the core of the movie lies a simple plot of vampires vs humans, where Blade really shines is the range of emotions and awe it manages to evoke in the audience, taut as a bow string in some moments and unrestrained excitement in amazing action sequences the next.
8. Batman Begins:
Nolan’s Batman reboot is remarkable in that it single handedly revitalized the image of a superhero who had increasingly come to be associated with tight spandex and a horrible, appalling George Clooney(We love that guy but… Batman & Robin was sacrilege). For the first time after Tim Burton’s Batman, exemplary treatment was meted out to the darker side of the caped crusader. Nolan made us sympathize with Bruce Wayne, and gave us probably the finest rendition of Scarecrow and Ras Al Ghul captured on film. Christian Bale fits surprisingly well in his role as the Dark Knight, clearly an after effect of his American Psycho days. The color tones sometimes wander mockingly close to film-noir and the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer makes for the icing on the cake.
A brilliant reboot, Batman Begins did its job well; and did it with dark swagger.
When Sam Raimi’s Spiderman released, it opened the eyes of the audience to a new kind of superhero. One who constantly struggled with power and fought to balance his new found strength with his everyday life. In Spiderman, audiences found a superhero who they could relate to. Fitting into the role as perfectly as one slips into a pair of favorite jeans, Tobey MacGuire played Peter Parker, the geeky, wide-eyed alter ego of Spiderman.
Spiderman marked a new turn in the superhero movie industry, bringing to light the importance of character development in determining the quality of the movie; inspiration from which later movies took, and whose foreshadowing is clearly visible in Tim Burton’s Batman.
Superman marked the birth of the modern superhero movie. A runaway Christmas hit, audiences found in Christopher Reeves a believable rendition of the Man of Steel. Here was a superman as affected by humanity as any other joe out there, dealing with issues that were intensely identifiable and action sequences that were way ahead back in the day. Wearing a blue spandex and a red cape, Superman was also lifted high up due to the strong female lead, Lois Lane, played by Margot Kidder; and the sizlling chemistry between the lead pair.
Memorable for its accessibility and its anthemic musical score, Superman marks a milestone in the superhero-movie genre.
Tim Burton’s Batman was the first superhero movie ever to look at the principal characters as models to build the movie around instead of high-adrenaline action sequences. A clear inspiration was Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight, the presence of which can be felt throughout the movie as Batman is presented as something of a Byronic hero.
Michael Keaton as Batman, delivers a stunning performance, one which is only eclipsed by Jack Nicholson’s Joker, a performance that is as terrifying as awe-inducing. Perhaps Nicholson’s “Here’s Johnny” got him the role. It bloody well should have.
Upholding characters as the principal engine, Batman gave us the first superhero movie that dealt more with the greys than with the whole contrasting business of black and white.
4. The Avengers:
The remarkable distinction that sets The Avengers apart was that while superhero movies had come to be associated with deep, dark themes; which while executed well worked brilliantly, but more often than not didn’t, Avengers was about fun. Why bother with dark cerebralism when a Hulk Smash and a wisecracking Iron-Man could make audiences packed into theaters worldwide stand up and clap.
The Avengers represented a quantum leap forward in superhero action sequences, setting new box office records at the same time, going on to become the highest grossing superhero movie ever. Stellar casting and pitch perfect performances from the leads ensured that Marvel’s, or any other production house’s for that matter, biggest gamble ever paid off spectacularly.
When X-Men released in 2000, it took the entire world by a storm. Here was a movie that had breathed life back into a genre that had come to be associated with shallow villains (Remember Jim Carrey’s Riddler?) and tight, stupid costumes. Directed by Bryan Singer, X-Men gave the audience a good plotline, solid lead characters and amazing, amazing action. Played with ease by Hugh Jackman, Wolverine served as every man’s entry point into the X-Men universe, making them sympathize and get on the ride along with the superheroes. It’s a movie that pleased all, and did it with elan.
Coming in at number 2 is the de facto cerebral superhero movie, that by the time it ends, will have left your morality in shambles and your brain awashed with awe. It’s a superhero movie that threatens to destroy the superhero movie.
Set in a world where a group of vigilantes known as Watchmen guard and protect the world, Watchmen is a commentary on war, society, acceptance and base human nature. The 6 leads comprise of 5 strong humans and one, omnipotent god-like being; each of them representing an individual outlook on war, peace and life. It is this amazing interplay of motives and emotion (Dr. Manhattan’s 15 minute monologue sequence being the most emotionally charged and awe inspiring scene in all superhero-land) that makes Watchmen the multi-dimensional, thought-provoking masterpiece it is.
There is incredible, gory violence. There are tacky costumes. There is an ending that is at best, polarizing. But it is hard to believe Zack Snyder did not mean these as a satirical nod to pop-culture superhero lore. Here is a movie that explodes with color, and emotion. It takes the idea of six disparate super-heroes with equally disparate motives and weaves it into a plotline that will, at best, give you the cerebral super-thriller you were waiting for; or haunt you for days to come, should it come to the worst.
1. The Dark Knight:
There is no movie in recent history that has shaken pop culture more than Nolan’s best of the Batman trilogy did. Tim Burton’s Batman was only but a foreshadowing of the skill with which the dark side of the Caped Crusader could be handled.
Christopher Nolan got Batman.
He understood the complexity, the terrifying fear and the vulnerability which made Batman human; and superhuman, at the same time.
He also understood the Joker. His methods in madness, his ability to distort and disrupt. His ability to actively change human natures.
The casting was pitch perfect. Christian Bale reprising his role as Batman, and Heath Ledger giving the performance of a lifetime in The Joker, a villain with insanity levels you thought you would never see.
The Dark Knight was something of a surprise. Everyone was expecting an above average sequel to the first part of the trilogy. What they got instead was a time bomb. One that evidently starts ticking the moment Joker orchestrates an incredible bank heist and explodes in that final, awe-inspiring shot of Batman riding into the darkness.
That scene, and the Gary Oldman voiceover that accompanies it, has entered modern mythos and will continue to stay there, probably becoming one of the most recognizable lines in 21st century film-making.
The crowning achievement of The Dark Knight is not in its high octane action sequences, though to be fair, they are worthy of the highest praise as well. No. It is the choices Nolan puts Batman, and consequently the audience, through that makes The Dark Knight the compelling superhero movie it is.
That, and the unforgettable performance by Heath Ledger.
The Dark Knight would not be The Dark Knight without The Joker. Much can be said of The Joker, but the truth is, words will never suffice. So we leave you with some food for thought by The Joker himself:
‘Madness is like gravity. All it needs is a push.’