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Author Topic: Greatest Superhero Movies Ever?  (Read 18244 times)
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2005, 08:09:47 AM »

Quote from: "NotSuper"
There are some honorable mentions that I'd like to include: Hellboy and Ghost World.

Hellboy surprisingly followed the source material quite faithfully, and it had a steller cast.

Ghost World is one of my favorite movies ever, and the only reason it didn't make the list was because it wasn't a traditional comic book film.


See I knew making this list I'd kick myself at least twice. The first time was for not listing X-2 and MASK OF THE PHANTASM, and now for HELLBOY, which was so cute and great and had such heart. Hellboy fighting a giant devil dog while saving a box of kittens - didn't that just make you go, BINGO! They get Hellboy?

I also would add to the list FLASH GORDON, the 1980s version, if for no other reason than extreme quotability. "Prime numbers of the Zenith system" and "No! Not ze bore vorms!" To say nothing of any phrase that starts with "Pathetic Earthlings..." Not to mention possibly the greatest casting choices ever made. Brian Blessed deserved every penny of however much he made for his role as the impossible to dislike Vultan, King of the Hawkmen. Max Von Sydow probably suckerpunched his agent next time he saw him, but he was GREAT and cold and underplayed, the exact opposite of Frank Langella in MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. I had to hose my TV down after the love scenes with the mindblowing Ornella Muti. And don't forget Topol and Timothy Dalton...it's like everybody making this movie understood how goofy it was, so none of them took it seriously. And don't forget the extravagant costumes with fins on them and the over the top soundtrack by Queen, possibly the greatest band of the 1980s? "No one but the pure in heart will find the golden grail." Whoa, man, you're messing with my head here, Freddy Mercury.

This opens up a dangerous precedent, though, because comic-book style movies are introduced into the mix, mention must be made of the following films:

Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension

They created an entire world in one movie without it feeling crowded. The paperback novelization is required, so you can figure out where Pecos went (she's a woman, by the way) and who the Kolodny Brothers and Hanoi Xan are.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

If this was a flat out superhero list, it would be number one, at least on my list. SKY CAPTAIN is a movie that in humor and characters and visual splendour is only equalled by the original STAR WARS.
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« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2005, 01:47:48 PM »

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8. Batman: the Movie (Adam West)

An over the top sense of humor, a fantastic story with fantastic villains...Batman getting rid of a bomb, and Batfanboys hate it. What could be better?


Well, I'm a batfanboy and I love it.  But that might be because my "fanboy" status is directly attributable to this film.  Fans today are spoiled with all the big-budget superhero films around, but back in the day, this film was astonishing: the costumes, the gadgets, the vehicles, the giant Bat-Cave set.  It was a comic book come to life (as opposed to the Superman TV show...which I love, don't get me wrong...that featured a guy in a suit and two or three pieces of stock "flying" footage).

Adam West is STILL Batman.

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7. Superman

I don't think anyone doubts this movie's right to be on this list, so it as a choice speaks for itself.


Yes, but it's a bit surprsing to see it so low down when conventional wisdom says it's the best or nearly so.  How about a couple of sentences on why it's just #7?

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6. Batman Begins


To my chagrin, and frustration, I still haven't seen this and at this point might not until DVD (life is a lot more complicated with two kids in diapers!).  But I'm looking forward to it.

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5. The Shadow

Superheroes ought to be played by unknowns, but I'd make an exception for Alec Baldwin. This one had it all: Tibetan temples, mind hypnosis powers, a fight in a hall of mirrors, mongols attacking mad scientists, giant invisible buildings...


Funny, when they first announced Michael Keaton as Batman, I naturally assumed they'd got it all wrong and meant to say it was that other guy from Beetlejuice, Alec Baldwin.  I still say he'd have made a great Batman, even if by now I'm pretty tired of Baldwin as a "personality."  The Shadow certainly had its good points, but in the end I think it was an awkward mix of the pulps (blazing .45s, Moe Shrevnitz and his cab, the rescue on the bridge -- although in the books it was Harry Vincent saved and not Roy Tam) and the radio show (invisibility, "The Shadow Knows..." etc).  I wish they'd stuck to the pulps.

Die-hard fans might not have liked it (I don't know), but I thought it was pretty creative to have that famous Shadow "hawk nose" be a manifestation of Cranston's illusion powers.  In the end, though, this film was sunk for me by the incongruous -- and unwelcome -- attempts at camp humor ("hey, buddy, that's the good old US of A you're talking about!")  

But I still like it better than the 90s Batman films.

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4. Superman II

With all the origin stuff out of the way they could concentrate on telling a decent story, and the most astonishing 15 minute fight in the history of superhero film.


I thought this was the greatest film ever when it came out, but I have to say it does not hold up for me.  That "astonishing" fight often looks cheap and goofy (and breaks its own, already nutty, laws of physics), the "I love Lois enough to give it all up" plotline was unconvincing and -- from my point of view -- nauseating, and the ending is the biggest cheat of all time ("There will be no way to get back your powers...no, wait, there is a way...but we'll never tell the audience what it was!").

Put me in the camp that will forever pine for a Donner-helmed Superman II.  Who knows how great it might have been?

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3. The Rocketeer

May not technically be a superhero movie, but it's so good that recognition of it trumps classification.


A fantastic film which has been undervalued and ignored since the day it came out.  I love it!

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2. The Phantom
It also could have been titled "Ghost Dad," but I think that was already taken.


I liked a lot about this film, though the super-powered rings were a bit much.  Your "Ghost Dad" remark brings up one thing that never worked for me, and that's Patrick McGoohan as Phantom #20.  I love Pat, but honestly can anyone imagine him in the skin-tight outfit Billy Zane wears?  And yet that's what he's supposed to have been wearing when that bad guy killed him.  How drunk, blind or insane must that guy have been that he couldn't tell McGoohan's 70-something physique from that of Zane?!  

I really wish this movie had done better, if for no other reason than I want Zane to be recognized for it and not that incredible waste of celluloid known as "Titanic."

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1. The Incredibles

Great superhero film with great drama.


Agreed.  Best superhero film, ever.  And for that matter, the best James Bond movie in at least 20 years.
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Genis Vell
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« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2005, 02:04:29 PM »

I'm not a fan of movies based on comics.
By the way, my favorit is, and always will be, Superman II. It's like to see a comic on the silver screen. I love it.
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« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2005, 07:21:03 AM »

Quote from: "NotSuper"
There are some honorable mentions that I'd like to include: Hellboy and Ghost World.

Hellboy surprisingly followed the source material quite faithfully, and it had a steller cast.

Ghost World is one of my favorite movies ever, and the only reason it didn't make the list was because it wasn't a traditional comic book film.


I haven't seen Hellboy but I'm sure it will join my list of Modern Faves.

Ghost World, one of favorite films (and comics) of the last 10 years -and of all time, didn't make my list because this thread is titled "Greatest Superhero Movies Ever".  Although I am willing to grant that both Steve Buscemi's skinny, record-collecting loser character and the confused young punk girl character of Enid qualify as superheroes in my universe.

The screenwriter and cartoonist behind Ghost World, Dan Clowes, published his latest opus this year and it's a comic book about a superhero, called "The Death Ray".  Very Highly recommended.  For fans of superhero comics and for fans of great art.  Maybe some day it will be a movie...
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« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2005, 08:07:57 AM »

Quote from: "nightwing"
I thought this was the greatest film ever when it came out, but I have to say it does not hold up for me.  That "astonishing" fight often looks cheap and goofy (and breaks its own, already nutty, laws of physics), the "I love Lois enough to give it all up" plotline was unconvincing and -- from my point of view -- nauseating, and the ending is the biggest cheat of all time ("There will be no way to get back your powers...no, wait, there is a way...but we'll never tell the audience what it was!").

Put me in the camp that will forever pine for a Donner-helmed Superman II.  Who knows how great it might have been?


Interesting point about a Donner-helmed SUPERMAN II. I recall one extra scene on the DVD that shows Lois using her intelligence to discover who Superman is, by shooting at Clark Kent with a gun. Watching him stumble and fall down, Superman rises, and says, "You know, if you'd been wrong, Clark Kent would have been killed." Lois taps the gun lightly and grins wide. "With blanks?"

How absolutely genius this Donner idea was, and so true to Lois's cleverness and intelligence, compared to the bumbling way that was used in the finished SUPERMAN II, which was achieved despite Lois instead of because of her.

I'm with you that the movie could have been better. (Yeah, a minute ago I put it at #3 at superhero movies of all time. So freakin' what? Consistency is the hobgoblin of a small mind.)

Though I stand by my comment about the gigantic fight scene. Wherever else this movie may have done, at least that was impressive, if not necessarily in execution, than in sheer scope.

We superhero fans take it for granted that superhero fight scenes are going to be big. Whether it's the Thing vs. Dragon Man destroying an entire warehouse district, or the JLA vs. a 50 foot Despero rising from the water, these fights involve lots of good natured mayhem and lots of collateral damage. Who wins? Everybody, especially when you've got an artist like Kirby. Who loses? The city the fight is held in, for sure.

But compared to the fight scenes in the comics, those in movies are downright muted. The only one that even comes close to the destruction, energy, power, and mayhem is the fight in SUPERMAN II, at least in concept; in that scene, cars were flipped over by superbreath, manhole covers are used like frisbees and entire billboards are vaporized by heat vision. Maybe by today's standards it isn't as mindblowing, but they had the right idea.

Here's a question for the forum: what are the greatest superhero fight scenes? In comics or otherwise.

For me, at least, the three greatest fight scenes in comics are as follows:

3. IRON FIST (Chris Claremont, Iron Fist).

I've said for many years that comics about Martial Arts are fairly pointless. For one thing, Kung Fu movies are all about motion and acrobatics, whereas on a comics page, they just lie there and there is no motion. Martial Arts fight scenes, I said, were a waste of time, just like a car chase in comics form is a waste of time: not thrlling in a medium without movement. That was, until a friend sat me down with dogeared 70s issues of the Byrne/Claremont run on IRON FIST, and said, "Look, just read these and shut up."

Am I glad he said that. There's a law somewhere that states that Byrne's art gets worse the more popular he became, and this is certainly true; here on IRON FIST, when he was a newcomer and a nobody, it was never better. The multiple image fight sequence was a pioneered invention by Byrne and  never better than where used here. Bodies clashed and unusual positions were entered. Nunchaku were twirled. The only thing I regret about IRON FIST's fight scenes is that I did not read them when they first came out. So much of what was done there has entered into comics' lexicon now that while it is great, it doesn't feel as pioneering as it must have back in the Silver Age.

Reading Byrne do great work here is sort of like seeing a cute, potential-filled young Anakin Skywalker in Episode I, aware of the evil that he eventually would become.


2. DESTROY! (Scott McCloud).

Yeah, it was meant as a joke, a semi-parody of Kirby's style. But what resulted were the most muscular, crane-chucking battle scenes yet seen. How I wish Scott McCloud would quit dicking around with his pretentious independent comics read by like, 2,000 people and do a decent superhero science fiction comic.

Only, y'know, as long as the fights are held away from MY city.  Cheesy


1. THING VS. SILVER SURFER (Stan Lee, Jack Kirby). FF #51 (or thereabouts, my memory is bad).

Long live the King!

Of course it would be a Kirby battle at number one. Feet were never more than five feet apart with a single punch. People turn entire skyscrapers on one another like clubs. His Thing vs. Hulk fight in that same comic may be more famous, but between FF #40 and FF #70, Kirby was at the peak at his game in a career that is already a mountain range. This one, and a close second in that very FF run, the battle of the Fantastic Four against the ground-quaking Gorgon, showed Kirby at his best: the monstrous Thing bending and attacking the Silver Surfer; they wrestle with arms that can move mountains; the Silver Surfer morphs into a comet of pure energy to beam right on the Thing. and Benjy hurls our glaze coated spaceman out a mile with one titanic love tap.

Don't take my word for it, read it for yourself![/b]
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« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2005, 08:03:14 AM »

Yeah, Kirby is just about the final word on fight scenes and even McCloud's DESTROY! was little more than a comic homage to the King.

Pick anything from those late-60s runs on Capt America, FF, or Thor.  Although recently I've rediscovered some of the 4th World stuff, including Guardian appearances in Jimmy Olsen --classic fights.  And his 70s Cap and Black Panther have a special place in my heart as well.  Most of these still hold up for me.

Off the top of my head, fight scenes I liked as a kid but may be a little cool on now include Superman vs Muhammed Ali (several good scenes), and George Perez on FF/Avengers/early Teen Titans (vs Terminator & vs Brotherhood of Evil).  Lots of rubble.  A Black-and-White Gil Kane issue of Conan really affected me once --Conan and some viking team-up to conquer a disappearing castle --lots of swordplay and dynamic fighting.  Joe Kubert's Hawkman vs Superman/superman robots in JLA 200 was an eye-opener for me.

Nowadays I would have to pick Popeye fight scenes from Segar's Thimble Theatre.  The tension and pacing in these old strips are simply marvelous and Popeye is really one of the great American characters --indeed, one of the aspects of U.S. culture I admire the most.  Long, multi-week battles, full of humour and pathos/bathos, demonstrating the uncrushable will of Popeye and the power of love, friendship, and fatherhood. (A close second would be Roy Crane's Buz Sawyer and Capt Easy strips for great pugilistics)

Interesting that I can't think of any real Superman scenes, especially Silver Age/Curt Swan.  A lot less in the way of fisticuffs --more inventive solutions to conflict.  The same thing of other (40s-50s) classic strips like Jack Cole's Plastic Man, Wonder Woman, and later Capt Marvel.

Do the best superhero fight scenes necessarily involve the destruction of buildings?  I would say yes.
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« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2005, 11:57:22 AM »

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Interesting that I can't think of any real Superman scenes, especially Silver Age/Curt Swan.  A lot less in the way of fisticuffs --more inventive solutions to conflict.  


Interesting you should point that out. One thing I've noticed as being unfortunate, is that the artists that are most likely to be overlooked by fans are the ones who don't draw and do layouts the way Kirby did. I mean Curt Swan, Don Heck, and to a lesser extent, Jim Aparo and Gil Kane. Don Heck could draw good looking women and he made superhero costumes look like real clothes. Gil Kane always was at his best with Westerns and historical works. Perhaps it is that when comics became more and more about superhero adventure (and consequently superhero fights) that Kirby's excellent visual style became the benchmark, and so artists who used a different visual language are (unjustly) interpreted as being "boring."

Interestingly enough, Frank Frazetta bucks the pattern; he draws differently than Kirby and primarily worked with other genres apart from superheroic adventure, but he is hardly overlooked.

Incidentally, I love seeing "Man Who Stole the Sun" on this very website in B&W. It isn't a disadvatage, because you see Curt's clean, correct inks. Some artists, like John Totleben and Swan, are seen better in black and white.
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« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2005, 06:53:19 PM »

Fights?

Well, as a little kid I notice that for fights there was Marvel and for plots there was DC.
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