My Top 15 Superhero Movies, #11-15
First, a few ground rules. I have excluded animated films from the list, although had I chosen not to, then The Incredibles would not doubt have made it. Likewise I am excluding made-for-television movies which regrettably knocks the two-hour pilot episode of The Flash off.
So here is my list of the greatest superhero movies in ascending order.
This movie represents the anguish of unfulfilled promise. All the pieces appeared to be in place: a well-respected, artistic director (Ang Lee) and a solid cast of Oscar-nominated actors in service to one of the most well-known and intriguing superheroes in the marvel pantheon. Where did it all go wrong? It seems to me that Lee's artistic instincts got in the way of this one. His attempt to film the movie as though it were a comic book, complete with a paneled layout, did not work for me. I find it needlessly distracting. The saving grace of the film are those scenes when Bruce Banner is Hulked out. Although some criticized the movie's special effects, I found the Hulk himself to be riveting. Unfortunately, the movie drags whenever the Hulk is not on screen.
14. Batman Forever
I love the Batman character and am quite fond of this film as a whole, but certain features conspire to keep it near the bottom of the list. First, this film represents the beginning of the downward trend for the Batman franchise due to director Joel Schumacher's decision to move the franchise into a campier mode, eventually culminating in his next Batman movie -- a film of which we shall never speak. Second, the film wasted a couple of potentially outstanding villains. I like Jim Carrey, but the film could have exploited his role as The Riddler in a better way. Likewise Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face. Two-Face is such a multi-faceted (pardon the pun) villain that he is wasted in what amounts to little more than a supporting role. Finally, the scene at the end where Batman decides that he is Batman not because he needs to be, but because he chooses to be, is a violation of the very nature of the character. What makes Batman interesting is the desire for vengeance that drives him and, at times, almost consumes him.
Not your traditional superhero, Blade is a part human, part vampire, hunter of all that is Undead. I could attempt to wax eloquent about the metaphorical use of vampires in horror movies throughout the century, but the fact is that what makes this movie work are the intense and seemingly non-stop action sequences.
12. X-Men 3
Another example of a new director taking over an established franchise and moving it in a different direction. In this case, Brett Ratner does a good job of sticking with the ongoing story line, but he largely removes from the film the underlying angst and dramatic tension that made Bryan Singer's first two attempts so effective. The metaphor of the X-Men as representative of the outsider, be it racial, social, sexual, etc, was employed subtly and to great effect in Singer's movies, but here is made too obvious. Some of the action sequences are outstanding, but the film ultimately adds up to little more than action scenes linked together by plot contrivances.
The first Superman movie was great for its time, but the special effects don't quite hold up as well today. Gene Hackman does a fine job as Lex Luthor, but the whole villain angle here comes across as somewhat campy, thus robbing it of full resonance.