With the 75th Anniversary of Superman occurring this month as well as Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel hitting theaters tomorrow, it seems only appropriate to pay homage to the genre of superhero movies with a list of my personal favorites. Now I’m not going to pretend I’m a superhero movie aficionado and I don’t read the comics on which most of these movies are based. But I still love superhero movies. Personally, I’m a Batman girl. I had all the late 80s/90s Batman movies on VHS when I was a kid, and I now own them all on DVD. In all seriousness though, I will watch any Superhero movie and I’ve seen many of the films listed on Wikipedia’s comprehensive list. Right now in particular is a great time to be a superhero fan. Since Marvel’s The Avengers became the third highest grossing movie of all time and now Iron Man 3 holds the fifth spot in the ranking, it seems Hollywood is churning out more and more super-flicks.
Additionally, you can also find some superheros on television. The CW’s Arrow recently finished its first season and ABC announced during the network’s spring upfronts that they had picked up the Avengers offshoot, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which will premiere in the fall season. Then of course, there’s everything still to come from Marvel including Thor: the Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy. But those are still a little ways off (The Dark World hits theaters on Nov. 8th) and since Man of Steel doesn’t come out until tomorrow–or rather, tonight at midnight–I’ll be watching my favorite superhero flicks to gear up.
The Punisher is an origin story movie recounting what happens to Frank Castle, super cool FBI agent, in order to turn him into the Punisher, but it’s not a happy story. However, it is a badass story: Frank Castle’s family is murdered and he uses his skills as an ex-FBI agent to avenge his loved ones. This is the story of one guy who takes his knowledge and skills and turns himself into a superhero, some might argue an antihero. The Punisher goes around literally dishing out revenge to people for their wrongdoings and although maybe they don’t always deserve the retribution they receive, Frank Castle does look out for the few good people he meets after his transformation into a vigilante assassin. There’s also something very tragic about the character in that he’s resigned himself to a terrible life of solitude. Sure he gets to kick some bad guys’ butts, but there’s no way he’ll ever be happy again in the way that he was at the opening of the movie. Between all the great action scenes and how easy it is to identify with Frank Castle, The Punisher quickly became one of my favorite superhero movies.
By all means, X-Men: First Class might not be most people’s favorite X-Men flick. It certainly took me a minute of deliberation between 2000’s X-Men, X2, and The Last Stand before I even remembered First Class. Even though they take place in the same universe, the most recent X-Men movie feels so much different than the earlier films, which might be due to the fact that the reboot was written and directed by a different team. First Class is another origin story flick, showing the audience how Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr met, became friends, and then took on their personas of Professor X and Magneto. I like this movie especially because almost all of the acting talents are phenomenal (January Jones fell a little flat as Emma Frost for me, but the argument could be made that she’s supposed to be playing a cold character.) James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are the pillars that hold this film together and their friendship–as well as their own personal struggles–felt completely real. Their fantastic performances didn’t surprise me though, when McAvoy and Fassbender signed on to the project was the exact point when I knew I was going to love X-Men: First Class.
Even though the 2011 Captain America movie was referred to as “The First Avenger,” Iron Man starring Robert Downey, Jr. in the titular role was the first movie to actually hint at Marvel’s The Avengers–four years before the biggest movie of 2012 hit theaters. Iron Man was the movie that taught audiences to always–ALWAYS–stay until after the credits roll or else you’ll miss something extremely important (if you’re wondering, yes, I will argue that the Avengers eating shawarma after their battle in New York is pivotal to the entire film.) Besides the final scene that sowed the seeds for another amazing superhero flick, Iron Man is fantastic. If you’ll notice, I have a tendency to enjoy origin stories, which in this case recounts how Tony Stark transforms from a wealthy playboy technological genius to a world famous superhero. Downey, Jr. brings the perfect amount of wit, charm, and heart to the character of Tony Stark; he is Iron Man.
To the general populace, 1997’s Batman & Robin is not a good movie. It’s cheesy and campy with a horrible script and terrible character development, but it was my first favorite superhero movie. I watched Batman & Robin over and over again when I was young. While in college, I found a group of friends that also appreciated the campiness of Batman & Robin–plus we had discovered the drinking game to accompany the movie. Of course, I still love this movie even when watching it home alone and giggling at all the puns. I even own two copies of it on DVD (plus there might be a VHS copy floating around my house somewhere.) No matter how many times I watch Batman & Robin, the puns are never not funny; I do really love puns, though. As the last of the Batman movies before Christopher Nolan took over the franchise, it’s really not the best, I can admit it. It’s certainly not the best example of a “good” superhero movie, but it’s entertaining as hell. I always have fun when I watch Batman & Robin.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Marvel’s The Avengers is at the top of my favorite super-flick movie list. Besides being the entire country/world’s favorite movie of 2012, it also took up the place on my list previously held by Batman & Robin. But how could it not? The Avengers combines Iron Man, Thor (Chris Hemsworth,) Captain America (Chris Evans,) the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo,) Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson,) Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner,) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson,) to create a powerhouse of a superhero team. Plus adding the efforts of Thor’s evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston,) good-guy Coulson (Clark Gregg,) and the directing capabilities of Joss Whedon, this movie was destined for greatness. The Avengers is a lot of fun because of the way the characters interact with each other, there is enough emotional depth to keep viewers interested, and on top of that, it’s a great action movie. Seriously. What’s not to love about The Avengers?
Well that wraps up my list of my 5 favorite superhero movies, but I’m sure everyone’s got their own choice super-flicks. Man of Steel might even knock some of those movies out of fans’ top spots. We’ll have to wait and see (though it thankfully won’t be as long of a wait as we’ll have to endure until The Avengers 2.)