Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ranking Super-Hero Films

In a summer of big blockbuster super-hero films, inevitably one starts thinking of ranking those they've seen in some kind of order. I'm a fan and am no different than others. So, here's my list from worst to best - my top 25 (or so) super-hero films. Remember: these are only the films I have seen personally (either on the big screen, on cable or on DVD). If you have some to recommend that I do see, please let me know and I'll keep an eye out for them.

Note 1: If I had included animated films Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Justice League: the New Frontier would have been there as well. I don't know if either of these ever came out in theatres or if they went direct to video. They are good, but unfair to rank with the others because you can pretty much do a lot with animation that you can't do otherwise with live action. One animated film does make my list below, but I'll explain why when I get there.

Note 2: Of this summer's releases, I did not see Hancock or the Dark Knight. I'll likely catch both on cable in the future. I haven't seen either of the Hulk films (I hear I should skip the first entirely) - again, might catch the new one on cable someday. I've never read Hellboy comics so I've skipped those films. Ditto with the Crow, V For Vendetta and the 300 - though all technically aren't super-heroes per se.

27. X-Men: the Final Stand
26. Superman Returns
25. My Super Ex-Girlfriend
I've blogged about the above three within the past year. See individual entries.
24. Superman III
This felt more like a Richard Pryor comedy than a Superman film. Just a mess. Not near as bad as Superman IV though (never saw that one, heard it stunk).
23. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
I blogged about this one within the past year too. Just didn't work for me.
22. X-Men II (X2)
This film suffered, like the third in the series, of too many characters to cram into one film. Made it too hard to enjoy. Plus, it did a weak job at handling the whole "Dark Phoenix Saga", a comic masterpiece.
21. Supergirl
The lead had the right look but the story really was just a bit too hokey.
20. Fantastic Four
I enjoyed how the pulled off the team origin, but they botched up Dr. Doom big time. That lost points big time with me.
19. Batman Forever
Three heroes plus three villains equals too many new characters for a film to do justice to.
18. Daredevil
I never read much of this character's comic. The film was good but not great.
17. Batman and Robin
I liked the introduction of Robin to the franchise. I disliked Val Kilmer in the Batman role. Too much Jim Carey lunacy and not enough Tommy Lee Jones.
16. Spider-Man III
Hated Venom in this film but the effects on Sandman worked really well. Would have been just as happy with a single villain and none of the symbiote junk.
15. X-Men
A nice attempt at a team film, but too many characters got the short end of the stick so that Wolverine could shine.
14. Howard the Duck
Technically not a super-hero film, but I felt the first 2/3rds of the film did the Steve Gerber creation justice. I really want to get this on a DVD release, but I doubt it will happen. Waaaauuuuugh!
13. Spider-Man
A near perfect origin adaption. The only thing that ruins this film for me is the unmoving mask that Willem DeFoe must wear as the Green Goblin (it truly put a damper on his performance and it ruins the entire final act for me).
12. Batman Returns
Love Michelle Pffiefer as Catwoman (but not the costume). Penguin was a little too much (and too gross).
11. Batman Begins
Wasn't excited to see this in the theatres so I waited on the DVD. I liked the portrayal of the Scarecrow, and the reboot of the franchise worked well enough too.
10. Mystery Men
This film is more comedy than adventure, but I first saw it with my good buddies in San Diego during Comic-Con. That goes a long way. It did adapt the comic pretty well all in all.
9. Ghost Rider
I blogged about this film within the past year as well. The effects and the story worked well on this one, as did the rocking soundtrack.
8. Batman (1966)
I grew up on the campy 60's television show, so this one gets high marks just for nostalgia alone.
7. the Rocketeer
I never read the comic per se, but the film does a great job setting the tone and the believability of the concept.
6. Batman (1989)
What can I say - Keaton did a better job than expected, I liked Nicholson as the Joker, and then there is the Prince soundtrack. It all works for me.
5. Spider-Man II
Best of the trilogy. Spidey versus just a single villain makes it all work. The effects to make Doc Ock worked well too.
4. Superman: the Movie
Given the times, this was a well crafted film. Despite a few plot flaws, it very much captured the silver age Superman from origin to debut in Metropolis. Great cast.
3. Iron Man
I blogged about this one earlier in the summer. This film worked for me on many levels. It was a good adaptation of the origin, modified for modern times. Robert Downey Jr. worked out splendidly in the lead role. Can't wait for the sequel.
2. The Incredibles
Technically a computer animated film from the folks at Pixa, but it definitely is a gem. This original story with original characters. I have the DVD but if I catch it on TV I'll stop and watch it to the end (like I did last night).
1. Superman II
Building upon the first film, this one is near perfect with the Phantom Zone criminals and all. Only minor complaints are some of those odd powers Superman uses near the end. Beyond that, great film. And the opening with Lois in Paris - perfect portrayal of the character at the time.


Jim McClain said...

Batman Mask of the Phantasm did come out in theaters. I was lucky enough to see it there.

It's funny that you rank Superman II at #1, as I was watching it when I noticed your blog had a new post.

Michael O'Connell said...

Totally appropriate putting Incredibles in there. Definitely one of the best super-hero films ever made.

KC Ryan said...

Mask of the Phantasm did come out in the theaters. I not only saw it there, I have a cool cel from the movie with Phatasm crouching menacingly in the shadows (if you can crouch menacingly... threateningly? :) )

I guess there have been a few more superhero movies out there that I haven't seen... and a few I have.

The Hellboy movies should rank up in the top ten, I think, and Batman Begins really played better in a theater than on TV (though I'm surprised it holds up so well on TV).


Michael O'Connell said...

Oops! Couple of corrections I noticed. You mention that X2 did a lousy job with the Dark Phoenix saga, but that was actually X3 where they did that. And you've got Batman Forever and Batman and Robin switched around. The intro of Robin was Batman Forever (not "Batman and Robin", which would have made SENSE), and the final film of the horrifying Schumacher run was Batman and Robin (which made no sense, since the last film was about Batman and Robin, and this one was about Batman, Robin & Batgirl. And about 40 other characters...).

And yes, big points for not forgetting Mystery Men, as most people do. Casanova Frankenstein = coolest supervillain EVAH. "Quickly! To ze disco room!"