Our Favourite Super Hero Movies

TMPIt’s superhero week, the most super of all the weeks! For some, like Sean, the answers were obvious, and for others, namely Jay, the least Marvelicious of all the Assholes, there was a struggle. Thank you, as always, to Wandering Through The Shelves, for putting forth this challenge.

 

Sean

The Dark Knight –  I went to the midnight showing for this one and loved every minute of it. Joker-Yelling-Hit-Me-The-Dark-KnightHeath Ledger is phenomenal. Hands down, his Joker is the best villain in any superhero movie. It’s not even close; he is perfect and he carries this movie. Full marks to the writers as well for capturing so much of what I love about the Batman-Joker rivalry. The choice the Joker gives to Batman is genius, and this is what a superhero movie should strive for: to be true to these characters and give us a fresh story (not just another rehash of the hero’s origin)!

Guardians of the Galaxy – Marvel has these movies down to a science by now. I have lost track of how many movies their cinematic universe contains but it’s a lot. Guardians of the Galaxy is Guardians-of-the-galaxy-GIFthe standout for me. It feels different and it is full of memorable moments. Groot, Starlord, baby Groot, Rocket, and the rest do dysfunctional the right way. With the Avengers the internal turmoil felt forced and unnecessary, but these five feel like true misfits who end up being more than the sum of their parts, and who somehow pull it together when it matters. And isn’t coming through in the clutch the definition of heroism?

SpiderMan 2 – Tobey Maguire made a good Spider-Man because he was a good Peter Parker. spidermanThis movie is very Peter Parker from start to finish. Peter doesn’t always get it right and he rarely gets ahead. But he’s a good guy because he wants to be a better guy than he is. He really wants to be a hero and he’s the last guy you would expect to find under Spider-Man’s mask, but when you see he’s the one who saved your subway car from Doc Ock, you make sure you have his back.  Spider-Man tries so hard to be a good guy that it is contagious. This movie captures the character perfectly and that’s why it made it on my list (it was very hard narrowing this list down to three). It’s such a shame they couldn’t get Venom right in #3, but the main reason #3 was such a letdown is because #2 sets the bar so high.

Jay

Sean is the superhero guy, the one who was thrown out of school for drawing an underground comic book back when he was young and had a sharp pencil. Me? I have super hero fatigue. Too many reboots and reiterations of stories I’ve already heard and teams we’ve already assembled and battles we’ve already fought.

Unbreakable – This movie’s not just about superheroes, it worships them. It prays at the altar of comic books. There was a day, not so very long ago, when “directed by M. Night Shyamalan” were not dirty words. This movie, for me, surpassed The Sixth Sense. It felt quietly important. unbreakableRevelatory. I loved how a seemingly ordinary man might one day awaken to the fact that he is a superhero. Has been all along and never really noticed. Bruce Willis is “unbreakable”, never injured, never sick, but never paid any attention until Sam Jackson finds him. Very breakable “Mr. Glass” he has some sort of brittle bone disease, always breaking bones and living in pain. He figures if he can exist, on his end of the spectrum, so must someone else on the other end. Having found him, he ingeniously starts training him up to put to put the hero in superhero. Quentin Tarantino is also a big fan of the movie, calling it a “brilliant retelling of the Superman mythology”, and lamenting that it had not been properly hyped with the simple tagline “what if Superman was here on earth, and didn’t know he was Superman?”

The Incredibles – If the last movie asked what if the hero didn’t know he was a hero, this one asks, what if we asked the heroes to stop being heroic? Superheroes, including Mr. Incredible and his dishy girlfriend Elastigirl were doing a pretty bang up job of clearing the streets of scum incredibleswhen suddenly the litigious society in which they lived caught up with them. Leave it to Americans to ruin a good thing. Overwhelmed with lawsuits for collateral damage, the supers are sent into retirement, their secret identities now their only identities. Mr. and Mrs. Incredible are now a family of five in the suburbs. Mr. Incredible hates his desk job but knows his family’s happiness depends on his remaining inconspicuous: hard to do when even his young children are displaying super powers. No one is surprised when he gets back in the saddle, or that it’s Mrs. Incredible who has to save him, but what I love about this film is the satire – the masks that totally obscure identity by merely concealing the eyebrows, dear costumer Edna’s strictest rule: DAHHHHLINGS, NO CAPES!

Big Hero 6 – I know this one has a special place in Sean’s heart as well, so I’d better do it justice! bigheroWhy do I like it? Probably because these heroes have my favourite super power of all time – just being smart. Nerds have their day in Big Hero 6 – a group of young scientists and the robot they built use their own clever inventions to turn a close-knit group of grieving friends into crime-fighting prodigies.

Special Mention: Confessions of a Superhero – A super cool documentary that follows 4 people who patrol the Hollywood Walk of Fame dressed as superheroes in order to make money from confessionstourists. They make for easy targets but the film is pretty sympathetic. They’ve each come a long way to “become stars” and are at varying points between following their dreams, and watching them crumble. The movie does an interesting job of showing the disparity between the larger-than-life personas they inhabit (Super Man, Batman, The Hulk, and Wonder Woman) and the ordinariness of their actual lives. They may strive to live up to their heroic identities but anger, addiction, and homelessness are the realities that threaten. Their costumes remind us of the best that Hollywood has to offer – the elusive superhero franchise – while at the same time highlighting their humbled situations. Very watchable and worthwhile.

Matt

The Crow (1994)-  As Jonah Hill correctly pointed out in Superbad, Home Ec is a joke. I watched The Crow in Home Ec when I was in the eighth grade and it both fascinated and terrified me. I crowthought super heroes were supposed to be nice. The Crow is less about Truth, Justice, and the American Way than he is about good old-fashioned payback so his restless soul can finally rest in peace. When I rewatched it this weekend, the tone wasn’t quite as sinister as I remember but this rare R-rated comic book movie is still a refreshing change from the PG-13 watered-down adaptations I’m  used to. The Crow may be bulletproof but even he isn’t safe from a 2016 reboot. Boardwalk Empire’s Jack Huston is playing him next year. I can’t argue with the casting but I wish they would leave this one alone.

Batman Begins (2005)- Batman has been my favourite since I was six. He’s a little nuts which Batman-Begins-GIF-10makes him much more interesting to watch than other heroes. Plus, his rogues gallery kicks fucking ass. There are many schools of thought on how the Caped Crusader should be portrayed and many interesting directors have brought their unique vision to it but none more effective than Christopher Nolan. He combined all the best elements of so many classic Batman stories and made an origin story that was uniquely his own. Christian Bale is a dick but I got chills when we first see him in cape and cowl. For the first time, when an actor growled “I’m Batman”, I actually believed him.

The Dark Knight (2008)- If this genre had a Citizen Kane it would be The Dark Knight and if it had a Martin Scorsese it would be Christopher Nolan. I anxiously awaited this sequel to Batman darkknightBegins for three whole years but never dreamed it would be like this. Nolan took everything that worked about Begins and took it to the next level. He explores even darker themes while embracing the Dark Knight’s comic book roots even more. Even without the presence of the late great Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight still would have raised the bar to the point that I can’t believe they can still get away with making movies like The Avengers.

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30 thoughts on “Our Favourite Super Hero Movies

  1. mattasshole

    Sean, this might be our first Thursday overlap! I’m glad you liked The Dark Knight as much as I did but am a little jealous that youa re the only person that I know who saw it before me. 😦 I saw it at noon on opening day.
    Spider-Man 2 is the best Spider-Man movie by far. I didn’t quite get Guardians though. The comedy really saved it for me though.

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    1. seanathant

      I couldn’t have waited til the next day, I was waiting for the Dark Knight for a long time! And it surpassed my expectations which were sky high.

      I like the Crow pick especially. Obviously i like all the Nolan Batmans but the Crow had to be a source of inspiration for him, and you have identified a really specific subset in your picks. Very dark. I guess I should have expected it!

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  2. Brittani

    I love so many of these. I’ve never heard of Confessions of a Superhero, but Dell had it on his list too. Now I feel like I need to see it. Great picks, guys!

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  3. mattasshole

    Jay, I am a big fan of your Super Hero Movies for People Who Hate Super Hero Movies list. Unbreakable is still M. Night’s best movie and probably always will be. And who can argue with The Incredibles?

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    1. Jay Post author

      Ha, thanks. I feel like my dating life can be recounted through which of these movies I was dragged to, and by whom. I remember seeing Superman Returns in 3D in Scarborough with some guy who kept trying to hold my hand, and Spiderman 3 in Toronto with another who thought it was missable enough to make out through the whole thing. I’ve definitely stood in line for midnight showings, never because I wanted to, but I’m sure I saw Spiderman 2 at midnight because it was ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

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  4. keziarhh

    I used to think that The Dark Knight is one of the greatest films I’ve ever watched, but let’s just say some words sway my opinion.

    Well, I guess I have to re-watch that film.

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  5. sweetarchive

    I love this idea for a post! So cool! All great choices indeed, but I’m totally with you, Jay, on Unbreakable. I absolutely love this film and think the story behind it is just brilliant 🙂

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  6. Wendell

    Yay! Another who agrees that Unbreakable is M. Night’s best flick. Love just about every movie here. Glad to see some love for Confessions of a Superhero. Great work!

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  7. Myerla

    I argued that David Dunn was sick in Unbreakable, I argued he had depression and that is a sickness. I feel that he felt that he served no purpose in life, and when he discovered that he had a special talent he discovered that purpose he has in life.

    Anyway, many of these picks are great films.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Well I believe Sam Jackson himself asks him about the sadness. But I don’t think it’s depression so much as him knowing he’s lived an inauthentic life. I think on some level he knows he’s been denying some aspect of himself. He faked an injury to please his wife, but now his marriage is crumbling anyway, because he can’t really be happy when he’s hiding.

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  8. Bubbawheat

    Great picks all. I like the inclusion of Confessions of a Superhero and another great documentary that came out last year is Legends of the Knight which is a much more uplifting and inspirational documentary about people who have been inspired by Batman. No surprise to see the Dark Knight take up two spots, it’s still the pinnacle of superhero movies.

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  9. joelnox

    I haven’t seen a several of these but I saw the Superhero doc mentioned on another site and it sounds fascinating in a sad way so I’ll definitely be seeking that one out. I’m not an animation fan so Incredibles and Big Hero 6 are ones I never get to. Dark Knight I’ve avoided because I don’t care much for Bale though I’ve seen Batman Begins so I get to it eventually if only for Heath Ledger’s performance.

    Many of the genre films have become so dark and sour that Guardians was all the more enjoyable for its sense of humor. My favorite of the Maguire Spidermans is the first, it’s one of my picks this week actually, but this second one is a very close runner-up. You’re so right that he was a good Spiderman because he was so right as Peter Parker. I liked but didn’t love both Unbreakable and The Crow.

    My three this week:

    Fantastic Four (2005)-A group of astronauts on a routine mission unexpectedly run into a cosmic radiation shower that reformulates their DNA in remarkable ways. This lacks a little focus and takes itself too seriously at times but Chris Evans saves the film with a high spirited performance as Johnny Storm.

    Spider-Man (2002)-Terrific effects and tight direction make this one of the best superhero movies. Tobey Maguire’s quiet almost recessive screen presence is a good match for someone who is supposed to be unobtrusive in his daily life. That calm also plays into the control he shows when he is fighting the villain. Everybody else is good but without Maguire the picture wouldn’t be what it is. The CGI is impressive but Raimi doesn’t let it overwhelm the film’s story.

    Superman (1978)-This really revolutionized the whole superhero genre taking it from a Saturday matinee cheapie feature into a mass crowd pleaser. Full of fun and some cool effects with perfectly cast leads. Margot Kidder may not be the most glamorous actress but she is absolutely right as the spunky Lois Lane and Christopher Reeve gets the mix of dorkiness and heroism without overdoing either. Gene Hackman, Valerie Perrine and Ned Beatty, understand that their villains are supposed to be slightly ridiculous and join into the spirit of the movie.

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  10. Matthew Thompson

    I’m not the biggest superhero guy. I think Jay’s list probably leans more towards my taste though I still need to see Big Hero 6 which looks really fun. I did like Batman Begins/The Dark Knight a lot even if those types of superhero movies aren’t really my thing.

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    1. Jay Post author

      I can still appreciate some of the better ones too, and I love RDJ, but there’s just too much. It’s really trying my patience! Big Hero 6 is pretty cute. I really liked the San Fransokyo imagery, and the idea that intelligence is its own super power.

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