Avengers Week: The 25 Best… Superhero Films of All Time

Avengers Week: The 25 Best… Superhero Films of All Time

Best... Other Cr*p

In our continuing regular feature, Phil (of Phil’s Quick Capsule Review)  along with podcaster Josh Morris, Writer Mike Parkin, Grosse Point Geek’s Will Strong and Motion Picture Manic Jamie Robinson breakdown the 25 Best Films Of a particular genre… 

 

This time out: The Best Superhero Films of All Time

 

The close but no cigar Films: Batman Vs Superman, Thor Ragnarok, Mystery Men

 

 

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In Preparation For Batman V Superman – Motion Picture Maniac

In Preparation For Batman V Superman – Motion Picture Maniac

A Blog Motion Picture Maniac

This is pretty much my excuse to have a fan moment before the actual film.

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is my most anticipated movie of all time, more than the latest Star Wars, more than the next Tarantino rollercoaster; more than anything. I recall seeing Man Of Steel back in 2013 and being completely awestruck at just how much it seemed to do what I wanted it to do, I understand it’s a controversial statement to make but I love Man Of Steel, I can and still do watch that film whenever I can, even now I am overcome with chills by the Krypton prologue, when Kal El learns to fly for the first time, the battle of Smallville, the triumph over the tentacle wielding world engine and of course the climactic decision that results in a neck being broken. It’s a film that divided fans like a broken continent, with uncountable naysayers, defenders and those in the middle, I love it though, I’m fairly certain I’m in love with it, and now it seems I get to relive that love all over again.

For the past 3 years, ever since they announced their plans to pit Batman against Superman in Man Of Steel’s follow up, I have waited, more and more anxiously with each passing month, every trailer, every clip released has sent me rocketing into the air and the fact that we finally get the film on Friday, words cannot describe the excitement within. Could I be wrong though? Is this mindset a recipe for disaster? Am I destined for disappointment because my attempts to remain indifferent to prevent such hope crushing have failed? For now I cannot say, I have not yet seen the movie, but I feel my early joy might not be such a bad thing as feedback from screenings have begun to roll in and everyone is shouting at how great it is, while it may not be wise to speculate I believe I’m safe, we’ll have to wait and see won’t we?

Funnily enough I was not all that much into Superman before Man Of Steel, at least as far as movies go (believe it or not, but Man Of Steel follows the comic book Superman extremely well), I understand that the first two Christopher Reeve movies are extremely well regarded and more or less everyone seems to love them, I think they’re ok – perfectly serviceable, call me crazy but I can’t really agree that they are untouchable masterpieces, I can never get past the cheesiness or scenes like in Superman 2 pulls his logo from his chest and flings it like a net, it’s like that that stop me from being on the same page as everyone else, but they’re still good though, don’t get me wrong. Then of course there’s the infamous 3 and 4 which… you know what, I’m not going to waist time on, and Superman Returnzzzzzzzzzzz oh, sorry, what happened? Man Of Steel was the first cinematic incarnation of Superman I loved with all its visual mastery, grand story telling and the kind of action I thought we would only see in Dragonball Z, shame not too many agree with me there though.

Like it or not, Superman has killed in the comics, many times (and even if he hadn’t I’d still say it’s about time he got his hands dirty), and no, he didn’t let Jonathan Kent die because he wanted to hide his powers, I mean did people who complain about that even see the movie or are they jumping on the bandwagon? You can clearly see he’s about to do something when Kent puts his hand up and tells him not to, it’s not like Kal was happy about it either, I mean did he, or did he not start crying once he realized what his father wanted him to do? But it’s ok, while it saddens me that I was one of the few back in 2013, this year things are looking up, could I actually be part of the majority this time around, looks like I could be – could be.

I have quite a few reasons for being as excited as I am, one being my apparently blasphemous love more Man Of Steel but I’m also quite a stickler for Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns and taking inspiration from it was the best thing the filmmakers could have done given the conflict here. Superman and Batman fighting is something nerds, like myself, have talked about since… I don’t know how long for, but I know I’ve certainly discussed it with friends and now we get the first ever cinematic pairing of these two great characters. Now even though Batman stands victorious when they fight in Dark Knight Returns (for a few seconds anyway, long enough to give a cool speech), for the movie, my money’s actually on Superman. I like Batman more than Superman but looking at character motivations, at least what we know from the trailers, it looks like Batman could lose, because he seems to be mistaken about Superman, believing him to be an enemy and losing the fight against him only to be spared would teach him a lesson, and provide a good character arc, that’s not a spoiler, I have no idea what’s going to happen, all just fan speculation.

Speaking of those trailers, bloody hell, are you guys seeing all this? Good God, that last trailer where Superman grapples Batman upwards through that building, and catching what looks like a bullet, and swinging a punch only for the heavily armored Batfleck to BLOCK HIM… sorry about that, I lost my mind for a second. My final reason for being so excited is because, and I’m not ashamed to admit this, I love Zack Snyder, I really truly do, he is one of the best action/comic book filmmakers out there. The Dawn of the Dead remake was awesome, I can’t praise 300 or Watchmen enough, I quite enjoyed Legend of the Guardians, and I cannot believe that Sucker Punch has the reputation that it has, I really like that movie and the hate just doesn’t make sense to me (I’ve looked at reviews to at least try to get some kind of understand, I gave Mark Kermode’s review a try and all he did was say “Zack Snyder” with a squeaky voice so that got no where). I love Snyder’s filmography and I want to see him do well, I hate that his films don’t get the recognition they deserve and I’m anxious that this time he could get his first fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating since 2008.

I can’t wait for this movie, the early positive buzz keeps me sane and reassured but I’m salivating here people, 3 long years I’ve waited for this film and now it’s here I can hardly believe it. I’m hoping, after seeing the film, I’ll be walking down the street like Toby Maguire in Spiderman 3… or perhaps less creepy than that, I’ll be skipping that’s for sure, if the film’s a disappointment I doubt I’ll even have the life-force to get up from the chair. That being said, this Friday can’t arrive soon enough. I know there are concerns, there are whispers that it could have too many characters and so on, but I’m more cautiously optimistic, they asked the studio for more time so they could get the story right and cut out characters from the final cut, not because they had to but because they wanted to, I’d say we’re in safe hands.

Grosse Point Geek: Marvel Studios vs DC And Why Man of Steel 2 Could Be A Very Bad Idea…

Grosse Point Geek: Marvel Studios vs DC And Why Man of Steel 2 Could Be A Very Bad Idea…

A Blog Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

I am not ashamed to say it – I am a film geek, i have been since I was 4 years old and will remain so until I shuffle off this mortal coil to the great cinema in the sky. However, I’ve never been that much into comics –in my youth I dabbled in 2000AD and Dark Horse’s Alien/Predator series, plus I own a couple of Alan Moore graphic novels – but that’s about it.

However since seeing Richard Donner’s Superman in 1978, I have probably watched every single theatrically released superhero film ever made – as a result I feel I am more than qualified to write this article and voice the concerns I have about DC’s upcoming Man of Steel 2 and their proposed Justice League production.

Since the release of Iron Man in 2008, we have been living in an almost golden age of Superhero cinema – this has virtually been down to one studio – Marvel.

Of course  DC produced the Dark Knight Trilogy and last years Man of Steel, but its been Kevin Feige and his team at Marvel Studios that have really hit the jackpot, dominating the market with X Men and the quite astounding Avengers characters.

On paper none of this should have worked – lets be honest, 6 years ago, unless you were a massive comic fan you would  have had very little idea who Iron Man, Thor or Captain America were – let alone Nick Fury, Black Widow or Hawkeye  – or for that matter who the hell the Guardians of The Galaxy are.

But thanks to some serious risk taking (i.e. unusual choice of directors/casting the previously uninsurable RDJ as Tony Stark) and a quite brilliant slow build marketing campaign – Marvel have pulled off the impossible and created a high quality multi billion dollar superhero franchise the likes of which has never been seen. The crowning glory was, of course, the Avengers in 2012 – and continues to this day with the upcoming Captain America 2, X Men Days of Future Past and the aforementioned Guardians of The Galaxy.  Ok, it hasn’t been all plain sailing  – The Fantastic Four film was awful as was its sequel, X Men 3 and the two stand alone Wolverine’s were a bit iffy, and their track record of character reboots is chequered to say the least – The Punisher has had 3 screen incarnations – all of which fell flat, they only got the Hulk right on the third attempt (and that was down to Joss Whedon) and don’t get me started on Ghost Rider as I’m still trying to get over the monstrosity that was Spirit Of Vengeance.

However Marvel’s hits have far outweighed their failures and this,  brings us neatly to DC.

Now, once again, unless you are comic book reader, there are probably only two DC characters that you can name  – Batman and Superman. To be fair Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy will stand the test of time as 3 of the greatest films ever made and, despite being too CGI heavy, last years Man Of Steel was very good indeed. The only other character DC recently  got to the big screen was The Green Lantern,  a horrible SFX driven load of nonsense, featuring an annoying Ryan Reynolds in the title role and Mark Strong with a massive pink forehead  – needless to say it was a critical and commercial flop.

Putting it mildly, DC are now a distant second to Marvel, seemingly lacking the same risk taking flair as Marvel and seemingly frightened to try any thing new, they appear to only have Batman and Superman as viable products, resulting in the now in production Man of Steel 2, which for the first time ever will see The Last Son of Krypton face off against Gotham’s Dark Knight.

When this film was announced at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con, the cheers and screams of joy from the assembled audience nearly blew the roof off  -some weeks later, this was replaced with hoots of derision and general gnashing of teeth when it was revealed that none other than Ben Affleck would be donning the  cowl and cape opposite Henry Cavill’s Supes. In addition, it was recently announced that Fast and Furious’ Gal Gadot had been cast as Wonder Woman, Jeremy Irons would be Alfred Pennyworth and oddly, Zombieland’s Jessie Eisenberg had been tapped for Lex Luthor.

Now none of this bothers me – I personally like Ben Affleck  – his output of late has been fantastic and, despite the critical and fan boy kicking he had as Matt Murdock in 2002’s Daredevil – I actually thought he did a pretty good job. I have no opinion ether way on Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and whilst the casting of  Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor seems odd, it will certainly be interesting to see what he does with the role.

But that folks is where my enthusiasm for this film stops. Granted the whole thing seems interesting and I will be the first in the queue to see it when its released in 2016. However here are my 5 reasons why Man of Steel 2 and the already mooted Justice League movie are potentially very bad ideas – none of which have anything to do with the cast:

  1. The Avengers was too good  -Literally millions of people saw Joss Whedon’s 2012 masterwork  – adding up to the fact that audiences will be very cynical about another multi character super hero film coming out so soon, one can almost hear the  cries of  “rip off” and “shameless cash in” already.
  2. Batman vs Superman/Justice League is happening too fast. It took four years, five inter weaving films, a lot of planning and a great deal of very clever end credit teasing to get to the Avengers – DC just seem to be ploughing ahead with an almost in your face sledgehammer approach that smacks of urgent desperation to capitalise on Marvel’s success.
  3. Zack Snyder – Don’t get me wrong Snyder has made some smashing films – 300 is incredibly entertaining, Watchmen was a damn good adaptation of a previously thought unfilmable graphic novel  and his Dawn of The Dead remake was outstanding. The problem is that, very much like George Lucas and James Cameron, his films lack a bit of  humour, his scripts are no where near as sharp as Joss Whedon’s and he uses too much green screen and CGI. So Zack if you want to succeed– my advice  is to do what Joss would and focus on character and inject a few laughs.

  4. Plausibility – Superman and Batman have featured many in multiple separate films – so the idea of two very well known , good guy heroes ending up battling each other in the same universe just doesn’t seem plausible – just a bit – well – silly.
  5. Batman –  For me this is the major flaw of the whole thing.  The main question is – how do you bring anything new to  a character that has been rebooted twice already and played by 4 different actors?

The Affleck Batman is supposed to be totally unrelated to both the Chris Nolan and Tim Burton films. They cant squeeze in an origin story as Man of Steel 2  would end up being too long, and without one no one will have any clue as to what incarnation of the character he is supposed to be – most will wrongly think he is a continuation of Nolan’s version, others will just be confused. The Dark Knight Trilogy concluded Batman almost definitively, and the only way to plausibly bring him back in Man of Steel 2 was to bring back the Christian Bale version as we saw in Nolan’s films or continue with TDKR’s Robin as played by Joseph Gordon Levitt.  – this of course is not the case and is the main reason why Superman vs Batman may well not work.

Of course I sincerely hope im wrong, no one loves a good blockbuster more than me and I never like to see any film flop.  I will be very interested to see what the final movie looks like, no doubt it will be entertaining and make millions for DC  – but unless Messrs’ Snyder and Nolan can capture the same magic Marvel have done to such amazing effect so many times  – this really could be as bad for DC as the disaster that was Batman and Robin – and that my friends is a very sobering thought.

I invite any rebuttals to the above from my fellow film fans  – no doubt my erstwhile friend Mr Phillip Hobden will have something to say on the matter…

Writer: Will Strong