Friday, November 11, 2011

Top 10: Comic Book Movies

This is a total cop-out really. Until I saw the first X-Men movie, I never liked comic book or, more precisely, superhero movies so I'm not exactly what you'd call a good judge, well-informed or anything like that. But I do know what I enjoy, and that's enough for a list.

  • V for Vendetta
The great thing about this is even though I saw the film first, it never detracted from my appreciation of the graphic novel. I love them both, but in completely different ways. They're very true to each other and yet somehow they still operate as separate texts. I think the acting in the film is just phenomenal, especially Hugo Weaving who manages to evoke so much with so little to use. The visuals are also perfect. Whenever I watch this film (and I admit, that is a lot) I always end up wishing that I could believe in something that much. Oh, to have a cause! An ideal! I think it was Che Guavara who said, 'We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it.'

  • Batman Begins
I didn't particularly care about Batman until this came out. Sure, I saw the Tim Burton ones with Michael Keaton and the George Clooney films - and wasn't there one with Val Kilmer? Honestly, I though they were kind of lame. Batman just seemed kinda...flat to me. Admittedly, I was only 10 when Batman & Robin was released, so it's not like I was exactly the target audience. But I think Nolan's Batman films added pathos to the character that was lacking before, and made it much more 'real.' Plus I love a believable, fallible hero. It's why I can't buy into Superman - far too perfect, it's just not right.

  • The Crow
I actually always forget that this was based on a comic book. I've never read it but I have seen the film countless times and just love it. I think it's a desperately romantic film, which no doubt speaks volumes about my idea of romance, but come on. Guy rises from the dead to avenge your murder? Eternal love and devotion right there.

  • X-Men 

When this film first came out on video or DVD or whatever it was, I must have watched it at least three times in the first week. I loved it. Again, it's that idea of a fallible hero - of being flawed and human (well, you know what I mean) and finding yourself capable of extraordinary things. It also carries a lot of subtext about societal pressures and difference and ostracism which can be easily related to.

  •   Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

I think my favourite thing about Scott Pilgrim is that offers absolutely no explanation for its world - it just is the way it is, and you have to roll with it. You always hear people carry on about introducing responders (be they readers or viewers) to your world and providing context and blah blah blah, but with this you're just in this seemingly real Toronto, until suddenly there are people with mystical powers and epic showdowns happening all over the place. No explanation to how or anything, it just is. And I love that. It's so tongue in cheek, witty and, well, awesome. In that fab pop-culture heavy way I adore. Just love.

  • Iron Man
I never expected to fall for this like I did. I didn't know anything about the character and the only bits I knew were from an Avengers cartoon I caught a glimpse of on tv maybe once or twice and didn't find particularly interesting. Up to this point, comic book movies I was familiar with had consisted of the Spider-Man, X-Men and Batman films...and they're all kinda dark and broody. Iron Man, while still dealing with heavy things, is also just a hell of a lot of fun. It's funny, it's fast and it really is just a joy to watch. Up until this year, this was hands-down my favourite comic book film.

  • Thor
As with the above, I didn't really expect to have a blast going into this but that's what ended up happening. All the set photos and stills leading up to it had looked a little fake and disappointing, but in the end, I think it delivered a well-executed action film that I thoroughly enjoyed...and really, I can't ask for more. I was surprised by how funny it is actually, and that really was the clincher. Of course it has it's flaws, particularly where Natalie Portman's character is concerned, but it has Thor and Loki being all Mufasa/Scar and who couldn't want that? Also, Sif. Also also, Hawkeye cameo. (Considering how few of his films I've seen, my championing of Jeremy Renner is somewhat disproportionate.)

  • X2: X-Men United

I know I'm not the only one who watches these films and then starts hoping every random twitch is signs of a mutation manifesting. 'I just had a muscle spasm in my leg, I'm developing super-speed!' The thing I love the most about this entire world is that nothing is really black and white, it's all so messy and convoluted. Good can be bad and bad can be good, and they can switch at any time without you knowing. It's handled well in this film and there's a lot of things that work fine superficially, but have so much more happening under the surface.

  • The Dark Knight

This doesn't need any explanation surely? Epic film is epic. Every time you think it's ended, something else happens (a good or a bad thing depending on your mood really). Also, two words, Heath Ledger. That is all.

  • X-Men: First Class

What's that? I've never mentioned this one before? It must come as a huge surprise then that it's my favourite. Why are your eyes glassing over? Fine. I won't bore you with the hows and whys. Dissertation on X-Men forthcoming as soon as I finish my other academic things :P

Honourable mention: Red. Such a clever, quirky action film with a really stellar cast who I think all did a fantastic job. I really enjoyed it and definitely recommend everyone check it out. If you need incentive, Helen Mirren assassinates people and Karl Urban fights Bruce Willis while looking really fine in a nice suit. How could you possibly go wrong?

Also: Sin CityKick-Ass, Hellboy, A History of Violence.

Bad films of note: Any of the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man's. I'm sorry (especially to you, R, I really am) but they are dull and Spider-Man is such a whiny little shit. Oooooh noooo, a spider bit me. Mary Ann doesn't love me. No one knows who I aaaaaaam. Waaaaaah. Dude, come on. And I don't think he's supposed to be that bad in the comics really (not like Batman, who can be a real downer - I get it Bruce! Your parents are dead, you made them a promise, you don't have to keep bringing it up.). I've only really read him in a Deadpool arc, but he was actually pretty funny in that so...I don't know. I don't care enough to investigate further. Also Wanted, which is I think is probably a rare case of the movie being pretty bad, but the comic book being even worse. Pedestrian is putting it kindly. Blah. Only watch the film for James McAoy being deliciously bad-ass, and also to make fun of looms. Looms are good. Oh, and then there's Jonah Hex. It has pretty much no story. But it does have Fassbender acting crazy and Irish so, you know. You just have to ask yourself how much nonsense that's worth.

Music: Eloise - Say Anything


  1. I will be reviewing Jonah Hex in my next Film Study blog... I had ZERO idea what was going on for the entire film... but I have to admit that Fassbender makes a pretty sexy tattooed, Irish psychopath...

  2. Fassbender makes turtlenecks sexy, the man has powers. But oh, Jonah Hex. So devoid of a point and proper character development. Plus it's so short! I don't think they thought it through properly at all.