Monday 26 July 2010

My Top 5 Favourite Superhero Movies

Superheroes. What is it we love about them so much? Is it the fact that they get to perform things that we could scarcely dream of accomplishing? Is it the fact that often they come from humble beginnings, making us believe that anything is possible? Is it simply the fact that they wear their underwear outside their trousers, and many of us simply admire their forthrightness? Whatever it is, we all have our favourites and opinions, particularly on the subject of the movie conversions of our costumed favourites. Here then, in no particular order, are my Top 5 Superhero Movies.


If ever there was a vampire movie that should be held up as the archetypal definition of the genre, this is it. Are you listening, Twilight Saga folks? A scary vampire does not sparkle, it pulls out a length of sword and chops shit up on a regular basis. If it then pulls out guns and starts pasting them that way as well, so much the fucking better. I pay enough for cinema tickets nowadays that I should be able to demand that from vampire movies. In fact, I'd categorically state that I would see the next Twilight movie on first day of release if Pattinson went slash-happy with a folded steel blade.

Seriously, you'll thank me if the producers of the saga are Googling the films (which I suspect they are constantly) and come across this.

The film features a great cast of characters, with Wesley Snipes as the protagonist, a half-vampire all-black arse-kicking machine with a taste for chopping up vampire nads. Stephen Dorff is also awesome in this movie as the villain of the piece, Deacon Frost (who, cheesy name aside, is an awesome villain). Other performances of note include Kris Kristofferson, the country singer, as Whistler, Blade's friend and aide, and Udo Kier, who eagle-eyed viewers will spot in a shitload of films, including 2008's Far Cry.

What makes this film for me is a theme that will recur throughout this list: I like films where otherwise unstoppable characters are made vulnerable through their humanity, particularly if that character has any non-human qualities. This movie is a great example of this type of storytelling, with Blade restricted in his quest to pursue Frost a number of times during the film by his emotions, from saving a little girl that Frost throws into the middle of a busy road to discovering that someone he thought dead is actually alive in vampire form.

Plus, when the sun comes up, vampires crumble into fucking dust. That, my friends and E14ies, is how it should be done.

The Incredibles

Interestingly enough, this is the movie that inspired me to write this. Created by Pixar in 2004, The Incredibles is possibly one of my favourite cartoon movies ever, as well as being a really touching film about getting older and treating people with respect. Seriously, if that sounds implausible, watch the movie: you'll see what I mean.

What's great about this movie is that although it's a family movie, and some would argue that 'family-friendly = made for babies', the movie's really well done and is entertaining for all ages. If you've ever seen a superhero movie, an action film or even James Bond movies, then you'll find plenty to keep you entertained. Besides, the plot is a really clever one: A superhero keen to re-live his former glories is invited to do some secret work for an agency who are not what they seem, and he is forced to face the repercussions of his actions.

What's great at the same time is that the family is showing signs of conflict from trying to stifle the greatness in their kids. It does a really good message of showing that if you've got a talent, you shouldn't try to stifle it. It's a nice thing to be telling kids, because all too often they're enticed by this celebrity culture we've become that celebrates and rewards mediocrity through reality shows and 'talent' contests.

Wow, that was a little grim for talking about an animated film...As an added plus, the film features Samuel L. Jackson on vocal talents, as well as massively under-rated comic actor Jason Lee (or at least he was until My Name Is Earl), a worthy cast list for any animated feature.

Iron Man

This is the most recent movie on my list, and sees Robert Downey Jr. take up the reins as Tony Stark, an alcoholic playboy billionaire. Without being in the heads of the casting department, I can't imagine what their inspiration was for choosing Rob, but we have to respect their decision, as he is the absolute bollocks in this movie.

The film's paced really well, with the opening of the film dealing with Stark's shift from billionaire playboy with no conscience to billionaire playboy with a concept of how much his weapons fuck shit up. All it took was some shrapnel in the chest, and he was a changed man. Makes you think, doesn't it?...

Anyway, this film is in my list for a simple reason: It's bollocking awesome. The action is well done, and at no point does it look too CG-heavy. I've talked before about my dislike for CG and its overuse in movies, and Iron Man, although it does contain CG, never feels completely overdone in its use of computer effects.

Although this movie contains quite a few traditional cinematic cliché moments (protagonist realises the consequences of his until-now selfish actions, one guy who frowns through the first hour turns out to be a villain etc), Iron Man is done so well that you don't care. Plus Samuel L. Jackson is in it for all of two minutes, and it doesn't feel like he's been under-used simply because of the potential that his appearance opens up.

Batman Begins

Christopher Nolan is in the news all too often this week, as Inception receives rave reviews the world over. I've not seen it, but all the reviews I have seen of this movie lead me to believe that it's awesome sauce. However, so much of Nolan's work is overshadowed by his subsequent film of amazing successes that often we forget some of his great works. Some of you may be surprised not to see The Dark Knight in my top five, and I certainly like that film a heck of a lot. However, it's probably a close number six in my all-time pantheon of greatness, simply because (Heath Ledger aside) it's not an absolutely amazing film. Plus I didn't think they used Two-Face enough. His character's amazing.

The reason that this film occupies a higher place in my estimation than its successor is two-fold. Firstly, I think that as an origin story, it's one of the best I've ever seen. Credit to a certain extent must go to Frank Miller for his work on the inspirational comics, but Nolan does a great job of re-introducing Batman as a character that I should care about. The second one is that he had to simultaneously introduce Batman to a newer generation while at the same time renew his lifespan in the eyes of the fans who lost faith in the films after Joel Schumacher took over the reins. He successfully did both, and the movie was phenomenally successful.

Also, what the hell is so bad about Christian Bale's Batman voice? Everyone whines about how it sounds ridiculous, but the whole point of it is so that someone he knows as Bruce Wayne doesn't just go "Hey, that sounds like Bruce Wayne, the guy with countless billions who still has more sense than to buy an iPad." The sad thing is that in the next film, there probably will be some Apple technology in his building, as the yuppie machine gains momentum.


Everyone has a favourite movie in this franchise. This is my particular favourite. Generally, I tend to favour the origin stories when it comes to superheroes. As much as people hated The Punisher in 2004 (not the one in 1989 where Frank Castle flirted with homosexuality), I loved that movie because it did exactly what it set out to do, which was to establish the character and leave itself open for a sequel. As it is, they didn't take Thomas Jane across to the next movie with them, which I thought was a bizarre choice, but I enjoyed the second movie all the same for different reasons.

Spider-Man sees the origin of Peter Parker re-created as faithfully as can be expected from a Hollywood movie, and what follows is a blockbuster movie worthy of its success. One of the best things about the franchise is that the storyline has been one of the few in superhero series where the pacing has been bang-on, mainly when it comes to the storyline involving Peter Parker and Harry Osborn. Although I sometimes feel like too many people know he's Spider-Man by the time the third film comes around (which incidentally is why the other two don't make it into the list), the pacing for the rest of the movies is absolutely top-class. A great cast, with a particularly bollocking awesome performance from Willem Defoe as Norman Osborn, a cameo by Bruce Campbell and a scene involving wrestling. What more can you ask for in a movie?

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