The Avengers: Best Superhero Movie Ever?, by Michael Stradford – The Tall Guy’s Gear Guide | @MDWorld
Not quite yet, but it’s in the running. Now a record breaking $200 million weekend may strongly suggest otherwise, but it’s not a title I’m ready to bestow on what is at the very least, a solid, entertaining movie. Highly enjoyable, great performances by all except Scarlett Johansson (who in fairness, did make more of an impression here than in Iron Man 2), humor and great action, but I’d be hard pressed to call it the best ever. I do give high props to director Joss Whedon for masterfully integrating seven main characters, giving each a fair amount of screen time while continually pushing the story forward.
A number of critics have assigned it that label and it’s understandable, particularly if comic books and superhero films aren’t really your thing. But if you’re a diehard comic book head (like yours truly), it’s difficult to call it the definitive comic book movie, because there’s a nice selection of contenders to choose from.
What’s “the best”, who’s “the strongest”, what is “the best written and drawn comic book”, are part of the fun of the hobby. Everyone has what they think is a concrete reason why ‘no one could ever defeat The Hulk’ or ‘Jack Kirby is the greatest comic book creator in the history of the medium’, but it can never be proven definitively. It must be said that the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee creation, The Hulk, virtually steals the show in ‘The Avengers’.
‘The Avengers’ is fresh in my mind and with ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ yet to be released, it’s a bit too early for me throw down the gauntlet of ‘Best Comic Book Movie Ever’. But it is a fine time to offer my personal list of favorite comic book films. To be clear, this is one man’s POV, not meant to represent all movie or comic book fans globally, so if you don’t see your favorite, feel free to let me know. Click on each title to see each film’s trailer.
1. The Dark Knight: One of my favorite films of any genre’. It’s like watching ‘Heat’ crossed with ‘The Godfather’- big, dark, epic and unforgettable. An immortal performance by Heath Ledger and the definitive Bruce Wayne/Batman from the overlooked Christian Bale. Almost flawless.
2. Blade: This 1998 Wesley Snipes starrer is actually the film that got Marvel into the movie game. Well done, well reviewed, the film did well and spawned two sequels and a television series. Wesley’s charisma and martial arts prowess is on full display in this action packed flick.
3. Iron Man: A second tier Marvel character blessed with the perfect casting of Robert Downey, jr. as the self-destructive playboy Tony Stark. Inspired direction by Jon Favreau led to great reviews and more than $300 million in US box office.
4. The Batman/Superman Movie: World’s Finest: Animated but very adult. This film chronicles two heroes reluctantly teaming up to face their arch villains, Lex Luthor and The Joker. Funny, with great comic book action and the best characterization on film of these iconic characters yet, live or animated.
5. Superman: the Movie: This was the first comic book movie that I ever saw that embraced the mythological aspects of comic book superheroes. Richard Donner respected the source material and created a charming fable that is a favorite of most comic book movie fans, regardless of age.
6. Batman Begins: Finally the Dark Knight’s origin makes the big screen with weight and grandeur. At last, Batman is the focal point of the movie, not relegated to the sidelines in Tim Burton’s films, and not a color coded moving piece in Joel Schumacher’s campy films.
7. X-Men First Class: I had no interest in seeing this film, but I’m glad I did. Michael Fassbender as Magneto throws his hat in to be the next James Bond with his cold but tragic performance. If Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were mutants, this would be there story, expertly told.
8. Captain America: The First Avenger: One of my favorite characters with one of my favorite origin stories. Director Joe Johnston gets the period right, while Chris Evans makes patriotism admirable without being corny.
9. Spider-Man 2: Still difficult for me to watch, due to my difficulties working with Sam Raimi on the Spider-Man DVDs, but that aside, this is an exciting comic book movie that hits all of the right notes.
And a two way tie for number 10: The Rocketeer and The Phantom: Two old fashioned adventures, both set in the 1930s against the backdrop of WWII. Square jawed heroes and dastardly villains as well as beautiful damsels in distress. Both are great for kids and the kid in you.
That’s my 10. Let me know what you think I missed. By the way, if you haven’t seen ‘The Avengers’ yet, be sure to stay through all of the credits. There’s an extra scene at the end of the initial credits that won’t mean anything to anyone not into Marvel Comics. But the second scene following all of the technical credits is the funniest scene in the entire film and well worth the wait.
Take care of yourself and have an outstanding week!