Hero Complex

A certain gigantic superhero movie opened today and this girl here made the conscious decision to sit this one out. It's almost a guarantee that I won't like Avengers: Age of Ultron at this point, so why put myself and all the fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe through me watching it only to write a post ranting on it? Instead, I've decided to prove I'm not just a "superhero movie hater" and celebrate my ten favorite (non-MCU affiliated) superhero films of all time. So if you, like me are suffering from MCU fatigue, just watch any of these movies this weekend instead of Avengers: Age of Ultron. On the other hand, if you're a Marvel superfan just go see the movie and try not to be too upset over a handful of people that disagree with your opinion that these are the greatest movies ever. Onto the list.

10. Kick-Ass

It's quite the rarity to find a good Nicolas Cage performance these days! In Kick-Ass, he and Chloe Moretz were a riot. But the movie has a lot more going for it besides that. For one thing, it benefits by setting it in a real and feasible world. This isn't a comic book movie, but rather a movie about a kid inspired by those type of movies and consequently, it turns the genre on its head. The fact that elements of this story could potentially happen in real life is probably the best thing about it! And that's saying a lot since this movie is packed to the brim with excitement and humor.

9. X-Men Days of Future Past 

When it comes to last summer, I'm still having to hear people rave about Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: Winter Soldier. Yet the magnificent and far superior X-Men Days of Future Past is often forgotten. Why is this? This movie makes the balancing character act look like a piece of cake. Characters from movies established a decade apart are blended seamlessly and everyone gets their moment. It has got its humor... but not everyone has to be a comedian. Plus the power these mutants possess is always showcased in a variety of creative and entertaining ways. After several films into this series, somehow Bryan Singer managed to still keep things fresh, and even better he changed the game.

8. Superman 

There's something kind of magical about the superhero film that started it all. Well, unless you want to count Batman: The Movie (1966). Christopher Reeve gives an iconic performance as the man of steel and embodied the world's most recognizable superhero.  This is the perfect example of an origin story, and nearly ever superhero film has been trying to duplicate the formula it created ever since. Now, if only they had given us a more likable Lois Lane. Still, that iconic score coupled with the thrill of seeing our favorite hero soaring across the skies made up for that!

7. Spider-man 

While Superman set the original standard formula, Sam Raimi's Spider-man is responsible for the post 9/11 superhero craze. Every studio wanted to copy the success of this film and sought to find superheroes they could build franchises around. While I am absolutely no hater of The Amazing Spider-man films (yeah I said it), there is something so fun about this particular origin. It has its own distinct flavor which makes it stand out from all the rest.

6. X-Men 2 

This is just an incredibly fun blockbuster and it totally holds up. I remember how much it thrilled me when I saw it in theaters from start to finish back in 2003, and watching it again just barely I found that it's still a delight. The plot is very well crafted and every character manages to be integral. Like X-Men Days of Future Past, X2 manages quite the juggling act with everything it tries to do and pulls it off brilliantly. A superhero is only as good as its villain, and this one has two excellent ones in the form of General Stryker and, of course, the always reliable Magneto. Side characters like Pyro, Nightcrawler, and Lady Deathstrike manage to steal scenes and everyone in this film seems to be having a fun time.

5. Batman Begins 

Christopher Nolan's reboot film in the Batman franchise is fantastic. Tim Burton's films were good, but after Joel Schumacher's movies this character seemed doomed to mediocrity. Batman Begins changed all that and not only wiped the slate clean, but created a new standard for the character and the world he inhabited. But besides being the turning point for the Batman films, it also is a great movie in its own right. Begins is incredibly entertaining and boasts a fantastic cast. Christian Bale, Michael Cane, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson and Liam Neeson all turn in awesome performances. The only false note is the weak performance given by Katie Holmes. This is the origin story that Batman both needs AND deserves.

4. Unbreakable 

Oh, my dear Shyamalan. What talent you used to possess (and hopefully can one day still recover.) Unbreakable is a great example of what this man was able to do in his prime. Like Kick-Ass, this is a more "real world" telling of a superhero story. But unlike that film, this one is not a comical take. Unbreakable combines an unconventional superhero origin story with an incredibly suspenseful thriller. Bruce Willis is solid as always and Samuel Jackson gives one of the best performances of his career. While it does feature one of the most annoying child characters ever in a movie, it still remains a fantastic film and one of the most unique tellings of a superhero story.

3. The Incredibles  

This might just be the most fun of all superhero films! From start to finish it is an absolute ride. All the characters are delightful and the story is clever. It's the only Pixar film to have ever actually deserved a sequel and still we're left waiting. Let's be honest, Big Hero 6 only wishes it could be as cool as The Incredibles. Seeing these characters in action in the climactic finale is a blast, but they're also just as fun to watch simply arguing around a dinner table. This movie is simply great.

2. Spider-man 2 

There's something about this one that I just always loved. Doc Oc made a formidable foe to our beloved Spider-man and the stakes in every area of his life seemed to be higher. The action sequences were a thrill to watch and the storyline was handled just the way I hoped. The ending with MJ was so satisfying to see our hero finally get to be happy (something that doesn't seem to happen a lot for superheroes nowadays!) Seeing him thrive in his career and fail at college lead to the best Spider-man film ever. Too bad we have to regress him back to high school for the third time next reboot.

1. The Dark Knight  

This movie is so unbelievably good. This is not just a good superhero movie (or rather the best superhero movie really...) this is a superb film period. Quite honestly, I'm not sure there will ever be another superhero-based film to ever be this good again. The reason? Heath Ledger's chilling performance. It makes the film absolutely unforgettable and frankly untouchable. The Dark Knight Rises was a fine enough follow-up but couldn't help but feel disappointing after this masterpiece. I feel bad for Jared Leto to have to follow such an act, but smart move on the filmmaker's part to go such a different direction with the character, because recreating what Ledger did would be nearly impossible. As amazing as his performance is, the film isn't made up solely of that. It's this character contrasted with our hero that makes things really interesting. The Dark Knight takes everything great that Batman Begins did and just makes it better. In fact, Christopher Nolan makes a near perfect film here full of action, depth, moral complexities and more. It's almost everything you could ask for in a film of such proportions.

Well, that's my list. Unfortunately, I didn't have room for all the solid Batman, Spider-man or X-men films in existence, but they're still in my heart. Hopefully, I didn't offend too many people today, but if so just jot on over to the theater and watch your precious Avengers yet again to soothe yourself.


Johanna said...

So memories...Dad took me to see Superman. We stood in line at the old Villa theater and there was a reporter interviewing people about waiting to see the movie. Dad said that he was hoping the reporter would talk to him and ask, "Why are you here to see this tonight?" He wanted to answer, "Because Superman reminds me of me."

Ha ha. This is probably not the kind of comment you were looking for and if that's the case, delete it. :)

Sarah said...

Superman will always be my favorite. The John Williams score, the gorgeous cinematography, the unhurried exposition are just beautiful and it doesn't happen that way anymore today.

Good list. I still like Captain America too though. :)

Hevy Kevy said...

I loved "Unbreakable" right up until the writing at the very end about where the characters ended up. It just did not work for me at all. Rest of the film: gold.

I'd also fire "Hellboy II" up there among the elite.

Good list though!