With Deadpool being released this weekend, and because I just heard Stan Lee will be at Denver Comic Con, I wanted to do a whole week dedicated to one of my favorite things: super heroes. From comics, to toys, to the big screen this week The Unheard is all about clobbering time! So up, up, and away!
When I was a kid there were only a few movies featuring legit comic book heroes. And those were almost exclusively Superman and Batman. But since the year 2000, the world of comics has been mined for movie fodder like Wakanda has been for vibranium. I’ve attempted to see them all, and I almost have. But I decided to rank them, because I like making lists. This list is by no means complete, as I’ve decided to just stick to the Marvel and DC characters, so no Spawn, Kick Ass, or Blankman. Also, this is entirely based on my personal preference, so some terrible movies may be higher than they deserve, but for a reason and I’ll explain why they have a soft spot in my heart.
- Fantastic Four (2015), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Steel, Elektra, Catwoman
These ones get grouped together as the ones I have not seen because they looked absolutely horrendous. The FF reboot I’m sure I’ll see eventually. Elektra has been in my Netflix queue for ages, but its counterpart, Daredevil, was unwatchable and I really don’t like Jennifer Garner. How Nick Cage got two Ghost Rider movies is a bigger mystery than anything from National Treasure. And Shaq as a steel-plated Superman!? Nope. I had to go back and add Catwoman, with Halle Berry. Completely forgot that was a thing that happened.
- Ghost Rider
I am baffled how they were able to make a biker with a flaming skull for a head, and a thirst for vengeance so boring and lame.
What did I like about this movie? I like that it has basically been erased by the recent Daredevil show on Netflix.
- Superman Returns
Full disclosure, I absolutely hate Superman. So it’s hard to be unbiased. But this is definitely the worst of all the (actual) Superman movies, which is weird because it has Kevin Spacey and Superman III and IV are pretty awful.
- Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Like some kind of masochist I re-watched this recently. The Silver Surfer and Galactus are interesting characters that get no exploration here. This movie feels like a monster-of-the-week episode of a terrible TV show. While watching I kept thinking it feels like it was made for children then I found it got a PG rating.
- Fantastic Four (2005)
The only reason this one is better than the sequel is because they don’t shit on the Silver Surfer.
- Green Lantern
This movie has Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively. But the Lantern was never a hero I could get into, and the CGI super suit is bullshit. When a Batsuit with nipples is suddenly not the worst super suit, then you fucked up.
This was the first attempt to bring this troubled monster to the big screen. And it’s the movie Ang Lee made between Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain. But it just came across as cheesy. Lee appears to be better with practical effects than CG, though Life of Pi would argue otherwise. Whatever, this movie was not good.
- Superman VI: The Quest for Peace
The sub-title alone makes me want to watch anything else. This movie is like a late episode of a TV show than ran a couple seasons too long.
- Superman III
If The Quest for Peace is the series going too long, Superman III is when it jumped the shark. I enjoy Richard Pryor, but he has no business being in this movie.
- Batman & Robin
What can I say about this pun-tastic Bat-rave that has already been said a million times? Also, I had (have) a huge crush for Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl and could never get on board with Alicia Silverstone’s version.
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine
I liked Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth. That’s about it. Otherwise it was boring, pointless, and they fucked up Deadpool.
- The Punisher
So there are like three Punisher movies. One from the 90’s with Dolph Lundgren, one with John Travolta as the bad guy, and a third one. Other than that, they are all the same. A gun-toting, wild card with a taste for vengeance. The Punisher never struck me as interesting enough to carry his own title.
- Man of Steel
I was refusing to watch this. Then I was talked into it. After falling asleep three different times trying to watch it, I finally made it through and am now dumber.
- Howard the Duck
Anthropomorphic space duck tires to fuck Lea Thompson. That should have been the tag line.
- Blade 2
I can’t say I totally remember what happens in this. But Wesley Snipes is pretty bad ass and slices the shit out of vampires.
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2
I love Spider-Man. Far and away my all-time favorite super hero. So it’s easy to nit-pick and see all the flaws in Spider-Man movies. But even without that love you can spot all the things wrong with this garbage adaptation. But mostly it has to do with the classic flaw of too many villains.
- Spider-Man 3
Like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 there are too many villains here. Venom (and the symbiote story) deserves his own movie. You can’t just wedge him in while Spidey is fighting Sandman as the Green Goblin is reborn. Also Topher Grace as meat head Eddie Brock was a poor decision.
This really got the ball rolling on super hero movies, and Christopher Reeve was a pretty good Superman, I guess. But whatever.
- Batman Forever
It always bothered me that Tommy Lee Jones played Two Face with the crazy turned up to 11. I always saw Two Face as a cool and calm mafia boss type. But here he feels like the second coming of Jack Nicholson’s Joker. It could have been a nice balance to Jim Carrey had Two Face been played more straight.
- The Incredible Hulk
What I really liked about this adaptation was the little nod to the old TV series. When Bruce Banner turned into the Hulk there would be a close up of his eyes changing. It was a nice touch.
- Blade Trinity
This movie is actually quite terrible. But Patton Oswalt has some amazing stories about working on this movie. It becomes more fun to watch him and Ryan Reynolds knowing the shenanigans they were involved in. Also, apparently Wesley Snipes is a total ass.
- X-Men: The Last Stand
“The Phoenix Saga” is one of the greatest comic book stories and X2 was setting it up. Then X-Men: The Last Stand threw in some crap at the beginning to basically say fuck that story, we’re doing something else, something worse. At least it had awesome Vinnie Jones as one of my favorite villains, The Juggernaut.
- Thor: The Dark World
This movie isn’t bad, but there’s nothing that really stand out about it. I had to look it up to remember if I even saw it.
- Superman II
This movie is a little weird, but in the fun way. And as much as I like Michael Shannon, Terrence Stamp will always be my General Zod.
“Watchmen” is such a fantastic and seminal graphic novel that there would be no good way to do a good movie version short of just animating the exact panels. The film makers took the next logical step and made a live action shot-for-panel movie. No need for story boards, we have exactly what we want in this comic book.
- The Amazing Spider-Man
This was the Spider-Man reboot we didn’t need, or want. The Spidey origin story was visited again. This a story I’m pretty sure I have heard more times than Jesus’ birth story. I don’t need or want to see it on the big screen anymore, unless Spider Gwen gets a movie, which I am fully on board with. Also Gwen Stacy > Mary Jane Watson.
- The Dark Knight Rises
There was no way Christopher Nolan was going to top Heather Ledger’s Joker and the awesomeness that is The Dark Knight. But of course he had to try. It’s not a bad super hero movie, but as part of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy it’s as weak as this simile.
- The Wolverine
Wolverine is ripped as shit in this one and fucks up samurai.
- Batman Returns
It’s dark. Christopher Walken is there. Michelle Pfeiffer in tight leather triggers some bondage fetish I didn’t even know existed in me. I’m not sure if I just described the movie or page 236 in my dream journal.
- Batman: The Movie (1966)
Bat. Shark. Repellent.
- Iron Man 2
Robert Downey Jr returns in the role he was meant to play, Tony Stark. He cracks wise while fighting Mickey Rourke’s electrical whip deals. If that didn’t do it for you then let me add Sam Rockwell.
- Captain America: The First Avenger
I expected to like this more than I did. Which probably worked against me. I think the film makers were trying to not make a World War II movie but were stuck with a World War II hero. So instead of embracing that, they were working too hard to make a different WWII film.
A half vampire slaying the fuck out of whole vampires? Yes please. And Snipes may be a complete ass, but he’s full on bad ass in this.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
There are far too many characters in this movie, however it’s still an Avengers movie. All these people are fun to watch together. This movie would have ranked better had it eliminated whatever the shit that Thor in the cave scene was.
- Iron Man 3
So there’s a ton of Iron Man suits all blasting the shit out of everything. The use of the Mandarin was a great choice. And this movie bled into the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D showing us how Marvel was about to win the super hero video media game. Seriously, have you guys watched Jessica Jones? It’s awesome and is the movie or show I think is most like a comic book.
- Batman Begins
After Clooney donned the cape and cowl, we were in desperate need of a Batman reboot. Christopher Nolan swooped in with a dark and gritty version of the caped crusader and gave us a part of Batman’s history we were missing on the big screen. It wasn’t the Batman we deserved, but it was the one we needed. No fuck that. After watching Schumacher’s, we did deserve Nolan’s Batman.
This movie was just fun. Totally won me over with the fight between Ant-Man and Falcon. My only issue being it was supposed to be directed by Edgar Wright, who I absolutely love. I would watch 2 hours of paint drying if he directed it. How does one direct paint drying? But something happened and he didn’t make this movie, so I’m left pinning for what could have been.
- Captain America: The Winter Solider
Cap is now firmly in the 21st century. An old friend is now his enemy. Black Widow is still an ass kicker, and now there’s another ass kicker (Falcon) teaming with these two. Events in this movie also come into play and affect the world in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Oh and there’s a great Pulp Fiction reference subtly thrown in.
As a young comic book reader, I loathed Thor. He was this blond, pretty boy with phenomenal strength. I was bored. I felt Norse mythology didn’t have a place in my books of super people. I was not looking forward to this movie. But I suppose if you put such a character in the hands of a Shakespeare enthusiast, you’re going to get amazing results.
- Iron Man
Like Thor, Iron Man was a character I never cared for. But the right casting, and the idea of new era of Marvel films made this a fun flick.
- X-Men First Class
Many people want to call this a reboot. I don’t. The X-Men have always had wonky timelines. So this is clearly just a past story of the X-Men. Jackman is still there as Wolverine. Rebecca Romijn makes a cameo as Mystique. The X-Men of X-Men aren’t erased, this is just their obviously young versions. It’s like what Lucas wanted to do with the prequels, only here it was done by people who know how to write and make movies that don’t shit on source material.
This was Marvel’s first real foray into adapting their comics into movies. It was crucial for them to get it right. And from casting to story, they nailed it. There are a few missteps in some of the dialogue, which definitely don’t hold up, but nothing even close to the destruction of the English language in Batman and Robin.
Spider-Man has always been my favorite super hero. I had been waiting years for a Spider-Man movie. Then the director of The Evil Dead was going to be the one who makes it? Holy shitsnacks! I didn’t even mind sitting through the origin story again. It was Spidey on the big screen!
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
This was a bold move. “Days of Future Past” is not only vast story line, but also a fan favorite. But the filmmakers did a fantastic job. It was also a great way to combine the old and young X-Men. Bryan Singer didn’t create the X-Men, but he damn well knows them better than nearly everyone.
- The Avengers
The Avengers took super hero movies and fully changed them into comic book movies. All these heroes who had their own stories and movies could suddenly come together just like in the comics. It ushered in a new era in movies.
- Guardians of the Galaxy
This movie featured a walking tree that could only speak three words, yet it was widely successful and a blast. But why not? It’s a sci-fi space fest with super heroes and a killer soundtrack. And just for good measure they tossed in a snarky raccoon.
When I was six years old I had my tonsils removed. This also happened to be at the time this movie was released. So I was given a ton of Batman shit for being brave or whatever. Also, Jack Nicholson here shows what became of Randal McMurphy, you know had his brain not been super zapped.
- The Dark Knight
Even the parts of this movie that don’t work are completely overshadowed by how great Heath Ledger’s Joker is. Not only was this performance amazing, but they kept the Joker a monster by never telling us his motivations or back story. The best and scariest villains are the ones we know the least about.
I mentioned several times how movies suffer by having too many characters. Somehow X2 was able to include a bunch of characters and not get bogged down. Remember everything I said about X-Men? It’s all those things and none of the missteps. It makes me not even care about those questions I had yesterday.
- Spider-Man 2
I can’t stress enough how much I love Spider-Man. Sam Raimi was still at the helm for this film. Dr. Octopus is one of Spidey’s most iconic villains and Alfred Molina nailed the part. We also got Spidey facing his greatest foe, a balance between super heroism and normal life. And of course J.K. fucking Simmons!
Holy cinema, Batman. That is a ton of movies. And I’ve seen most of them at least twice. I need a girlfriend.