Tomorrow, the 29th April, sees the release of Marvel’s latest big blockbuster Captain America: Civil War. To celebrate that I have brought along my friend Michael Hamon, who knows more about actual comic books than anyone else I know, to run down our top 5 Superhero films. As per usual I want to name check some of the other fantastic films that failed to make my Top 5, including Batman Begins, Superman II, Man of Steel (yes I’m a big fan), The first 2 Blade films, The Avengers, Captain America The Winter Soldier, Spiderman 2, and Iron Man amongst many others.
- Shuggie: Dredd – Dredd was a film that sadly almost no one saw, but what we got a violent, self contained, beautifully shot faithful adaptation of 2000 AD’s comic (unlike the first attempt that butchered the character, HE TAKES OFF HIS DAMN HELMET for crying out loud). Karl Urban was superb casting as the eponymous Judge Dredd, and was well supported by the rest of the cast. It’s such a shame that Dredd didn’t make the money to spawn sequels as it created a world that I absolutely wanted to see more of, but what we got was superb.
- Michael: Kick Ass- In terms of actual superheroes, this film is probably using the term loosely compared to the rest on my list. A black comedy that shot to fame very quickly after release, probably to do with how there’s a touch more realism compared to other superhero films. A boy who reads comic books wonders what it’s like to actually be a superhero, who hasn’t, but he takes it one step further and decides to do it. Obviously he sucks at it and gets the beaten up bad, but the way this film was written keeps it light hearted enough so that it’s not brutal and shocking, but real enough to keep us hooked. Of course no underdog story is complete without the help of an expert/old master. In comes Hit Girl and Big Daddy. A father-daughter, DIY super hero duo who help our main protagonist on his way to becoming a real hero. One of Nicholas Cage’s better modern performances leaves him as a very strong supporting character and helps to put this film on the map.
- Shuggie: Deadpool – The newest entry on this list, Deadpool managed to succeed on so many levels. It is honestly one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time, the action was great and Ryan Reynolds was perfect as Wade Wilson. Deadpool also had what was quite possibly the greatest advertising campaign of all time that had me so assured that this was going to be a great film before I even got to see it. The film is not just funny though, the action is great, despite the smaller budget, and makes fun of itself, which it absolutely had to do.
- Michael: Ant man- I was pretty excited when I heard the news about Ant man being released, because I love the idea that more of the lesser known comic book superheroes are getting a turn in the limelight, although Ant man is a fairly well established character within the pages of marvel comics, to a lot of the public who don’t read comic books, he was unheard of and a lot of people thought he sounded like a bit of a joke. Which is why I think they told the story the way they did, instead of using the original Ant man (Hank Pym) as the main protagonist, they used Scott Lang, his successor. I wasn’t too sure about this move going into the film but it turned out well and I liked Paul Rudd’s portrayal of the character. The film had a good mix of humour and action but for me, strayed just a little bit too far from the source material, using yellow jacket as a villain.
- Shuggie: Hellboy – Probably another slightly left field choice, but Hellboy is one of my absolute favourite comic book characters ever. Unlike my other favourite, Superman, Hellboy has had a film adaptation that I love. It’s dark, it’s funny, it’s action packed and as with the previous films the star, Ron Perlman, is so perfectly cast. It also has something to say about the nature of humanity and that really elevates it for me. I still hold out hope that Del Toro and Perlman will manage to get everyone back with some backing for a final film in the trilogy, but by now that is more of a fools hope.
- Michael: Judge Dredd – Now I know this film doesn’t have outstanding reviews, but I personally love this film. I love almost any film set in a dystopian future, there’s something about seeing interpretations of what our world could be like that fascinates me, and that’s exactly what this film did when I was a child, so it’s fair to say that nostalgia plays a fairly hefty role in this. Having found an interest in comic books has only made me like this film more, as Judge Dredd as a character, is awesome. The reason I’ve picked this version however over the 2012 Dredd title, which is also a great film, is because I think that the earlier title did a better job of capturing the atmosphere of mega-city one and just how bad things had become on earth, showing “the cursed earth”. We also saw much more of the judges as an organisation, which was something that I always thought was so interesting.
- Shuggie: Guardians of the Galaxy – So most of the other films on this list have all been kind of dark in their own way, but Guardians is pure fun. Are there better Superhero movies? Probably. Are there Superhero movies that capture Guardian’s level of fun? Absolutely not. Guardians managed to brilliantly introduce and set up 5 outlandish characters that probably should not have worked, and they made us fall in love with a talking raccoon and tree. This film also turned Chris Pratt into a bona fide superstar and showed the world that Dave Bautista has acting chops. It also expanded the Marvel universe which is certainly a good thing. If you don’t agree then Dance off bro!
- Michael: The Dark Knight – Not a very surprising second place choice, as this film is among the greats, and not just of the superhero genre. I had somehow completely missed the first installment of this trilogy, but all that meant was that my first experience of this batman trilogy introduced me to the legendary performance given by the late Heath Ledger. Yes, Christian bale was a great batman, and the same can be said for Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent/Two face, but I think this film was such a success because of The Joker. They paired a brilliant story line with the outstanding portrayal by Ledger, making for many unforgettable moments in cinema history. Such as his famous “why so serious?!” line, and his amazing improvisation during the hospital explosion scene.
- Shuggie: The Dark Knight – The Dark Knight is a superhero film that manages to transcend the genre. This is a film that people don’t just talk about in terms of a great superhero film, but one of the greatest films of the 21st century. As a sequel it managed to top the already brilliant Batman Begins, and it also introduced us to possibly the best villainous performance ever from Heath Ledger as the Joker. He managed to win the academy award for his performance in a genre that is generally ignored outside of the technical awards, and has become a huge part of pop culture. The film is probably the best constructed and thought out of all of Nolan’s Batman trilogy and for almost everyone, myself included, stands out alone at the pinnacle of superhero film making.
- Michael: Deadpool – So, I’ve been a fan of Deadpool as a character for a long time, and I had been saying, “we need a Deadpool film so badly!” So you can imagine my excitement when Ryan Reynolds announced that one was on its way. First off, I think that Reynolds is absolutely perfect to play him; he has the wit, the kooky-ness, and has such a creative mind when it comes to brining this character to life and doing him justice (after all, he had to make up for that “other” Deadpool he played). Alongside Reynolds awesome performance, were brilliant marketing and writing teams, they really captured the atmosphere of how Deadpool is supposed to be, the general lack of morals, the pure randomness, the breaking of the 4thwall. The list could go on forever. But to sum up, they managed to stay true to the source material and apply it to the big screen flawlessly.
So that’s our Top 5 superhero films. What did you think? What are your favourites of the genre? Let me know, and will be back very soon with a review of Captain America: Civil War.