The List: Super great films beyond the genre
Like the greatest of all superheroes, I have returned from the darkness to save humanity, get the girl, and deliver my newest list.
Ahem ... is this thing on?
OK, back the the real superheroes.
With the highly anticipated release of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” this weekend, what better way to celebrate than with a list of some of the best superhero and comic book movies in movie history?
I thought about finally committing to a ranking system, but these choices vary so much that comparing them wouldn’t really be fair. Like we all were during our kindergarten days, they’re all special in their own way.
Sure to be the only purely computer-animated selection in this list, Disney Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” like it’s cast of superheroes, can stand up to anything. The movie owns a 97 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s “Toy Story” territory for an animated feature. Bob Parr, possibly better known as Mr. Incredible, and his family are hilarious, endearing, and strangely human throughout the movie.
Christopher Reeve is Clark Kent, and he is Superman. Gene Hackman is Lex Luthor. There’s no debating the 1978 classic crushes every other adaptation of Superman that has followed. The movie practically created the foundation for the genre that has seen much success at the box office the last 10 to 15 years. “Superman II” followed and barely missed a beat. Now, “Superman III”? Can we just pretend that movie never happened?
It’s unfortunately poetic that Brandon Lee’s accidental death during the filming of 1994’s “The Crow” taught us that we all are, indeed, human. Lee’s final performance is chilling and memorable. I watched this movie at a young age. Probably too young. It’s dark, and it took a viewing further down the road to really grasp what makes the film so special. It’s a must-see.
It’s the first installment of the X-Men film series, and it’s the best. The cast gets the job done, mostly thanks to stellar performances from Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, and Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier. Halle Berry also is great in her role as Storm. I’ve been somewhat disappointed with the franchise since the release of “X-Men” in 2000, but the first movie deserves a place in the top class in the genre.
Marvel hit a grand slam with “The Avengers” in 2012. The casting is phenomenal. The Avengers is filled with actors and superheroes who have their own franchies, such as Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor. Throwing those successes together doesn’t automatically guarantee a winner at the box office, but when you add that to excellent writing and first-class special effects, you get a super-humongous blockbuster. The best kind.
Robert Downey Jr. is my guy, and I know, I’ve discussed this before. He’s simply a great actor – one of the best of a generation. The actor again proved he could do anything, delivering an outstanding performance as Tony Stark/Iron Man. Terrance Howard compliments Downey well with a great supporting performance, and Jeff Bridges is absolutely perfect as Obadiah Stane. But, without a doubt, one of the best parts of the franchise has been the on-screen chemistry between Downey and Gwyneth Paltrow, in her role as Pepper Potts. It’s unfortunate “Iron Man 2” wasn’t up to snuff, but “Iron Man 3” came back with a vengeance last year.
‘The Dark Knight’
It’s the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world when it comes to superhero movies. Forget the comic books for a moment. “The Dark Knight” is a masterpiece of film. At its core, it’s a fantastic crime drama that happens to have Batman, Joker and Two-Face in it. When Christopher Nolan, director, began his take on Batman with 2005’s “Batman Begins,” you knew it was going to get good. But this good? I don’t know if even Nolan expected that. Heath Ledger’s posthumous performance was chilling, downright breathtaking at times. Through Batman, Christian Bale has found one of those career-defining roles. “The Dark Knight Rises” follwed in 2012 and honestly is good enough to earn its own spot on this list.
But it’s got to stop somewhere. What are some of your favorites? As always, I’d love to hear them.