While I agree with some of what my compatriot says, I have no compunctions about adding new or recent movies to my top lists. Nor do I have some sort of nostalgic hang-up where Christoper Reeves’ Superman brings back memories of hot vinyl backseats and trapped B.O.
However, I will readily admit that my love for various characters, and various portrayals of them, will promote movies to a higher standing than they likely deserve. Then again, we’re talking superhero movies; not “Citizen Kane.” Characters are the tent poles upon which the gauzy veil of plot and logic is draped.
My list after the jump!
3. “X-Men: First Class” Forgiving January Jones, Jennifer Lawrence and…well…everyone who wasn’t McAvoy, Fassbender, or Bacon, this was my favorite of the X-Men movies (and, if it had been better overall, would have made up for the execrable “X-Men 3”). The story was a solid introduction into a softly rebooted X-Men movie-verse that did a better job of explaining why Magneto hates humanity than the first X-Men movie. Here, we see Magneto’s origin depicted in one of the most viscerally executed origin stories I can remember (“Just stop the bullet.”). Really, it’s Magneto’s story as it plays out through his adolescence of hunting down Sebastain Shaw, then culminating with him literally donning the mantel of the villain as he takes Shaw’s helmet from him. Additionally, the interaction between Magneto and Xavier is brilliantly done. If the entire movie had been “X-Men: Charlie and Erik’s Big Day” this would’ve been number one on my list. McAvoy and Fassbender owned the characters (a feat, considering how well they were depicted in the previous X-Men movies) and their roadtrip to find new mutants was one of my favorite from all the X-movies (“Go fuck yourself”). It’s a shame the other cannon fodder had to be in the movie to muck things up – the only time they shine is when Mags or Charlie show up.
2. “The Dark Knight” When I was 15, Tim Burton’s “Batman” was released and single-handedly redefined what superhero movies should be like. It also gave us one of the most iconic depictions of the Joker ever; one who would color all other depictions for years to come. Jack Nicholson owned the character and I would argue that closing the door for his return is what killed subsequent movies in the Burton-verse. When Nolan relaunched the Batman franchise, I was disappointed to see that Joker was not the focus of the first movie. It’s not just peanut butter without jelly. It’s peanut butter, and then denying that jelly ever existed. If I had known that we’d be getting Heath Ledger’s Joker as a reward for our patience, I wouldn’t have been as worried. His performance, paired with the downward spiral of Harvey Dent, made for one of the bleakest, most psychologically wrought, Batman movies I’ve ever seen. I think back on it often; and even years later, I’m not sure I’m ready to dive back in and see it again. Not because it wasn’t good; but because of how it made me feel. Ledger gave us insight into one of the great secrets of the comic world. To succeed, you don’t need a superpower; a truly unhinged mind has power enough to unmake the world.
1. “Avengers” Adam and I agree on this one, at least. “Avengers,” simply put, is the greatest superhero team-up ever to be committed to screen. Five years ago, when “Iron Man” came out, I was impressed. When Nick Fury showed up at the end and dropped his “Avengers Initiative” bomb, I was guardedly elated. But once I got wind of Marvel’s master plan, I was even more wary. “Five years? There’s no way they can pump out that many movies of this caliber and still have enough left in the tank to do a good job with the Avengers.” I have never been more happy to be completely wrong.
Every actor simply owns their part (nevermind the fact that RDJ is Tony Stark) and this is Whedon’s best big-screen run as writer and director (this is coming from a VERY hardcore Whedonite). The character I was least invested in, Hulk, became my favorite. The coming together of the team, which could have been a disaster, was made into a testosterone-slinging brawl that could have been ripped from the comics. And while Adam found the middle of the movie to be a drag-fest; I loved it. The smaller character interactions gave us enough of a humanizing core so that, when they’re thrown into danger at the end of the movie, we have just enough investment to bring on that squick of “Oh crap, I don’t want anything to happen to X.” It’s a movie I will gladly own as soon as it hits the stands. And will rebuy when the Director’s Cut comes out. And will likely buy again once I upgrade my system to Blu-Ray. And probably buy again digitally. No other superhero franchise has ever had me geeking out more and I can’t wait to see what’s next.