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Let me start by saying that I love the Marvel movies … really I do! I’m not some grump who wishes things were as they used to be. I love ‘Iron Man’, ‘Captain America’ and all the rest. However, I DO think that the superhero genre has become less impactful and somewhat stale as this shared universe trucks along.
Back before ‘Iron Man’ came storming onto our screens, we had films like ‘Superman’. Obviously, I wasn’t alive when it was released but I near enough destroyed my video copy because I watched it so many times as a kid.
Duds aside, there was an added magic to these superhero flicks, something I think is missing from the current crop of spandex crusaders.
Up until 1989, the only live action Batman the world had seen was the campy TV show with Adam West and Cesar Romero. So when Tim Burton’s take on the Dark Knight hit cinema screens, we were all stunned. It was dark yet goofy and utterly mesmerising. As you watched Bruce Wayne do battle with the Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker, you realised that THIS is what superhero movies could be.
Heck! Even the followup, ‘Batman Returns’, was just as good. However, this is the one that really ushered in a new era for the Caped Crusader.
Hands down, this is my favourite superhero movie ever.
Why? Because it just had that ‘it’ factor. So did the sequel if you’re wondering, but not the third one or the reboots … they just plain sucked!
I’ve always loved Spidey. I’d watch the cartoons religiously and read all the comic books. I’d sometimes even kid myself that I had a spider sense and could climb walls … I broke an arm and got beat up a lot. But seeing Raimi bring Peter Parker to life and pitting him against one of my favourite villains ever, Green Goblin, was just a rare cinematic treat that is yet to be topped. ‘The Avengers’ is a novelty, but this ‘Spider-Man’ is magic!
If ‘SpiderMan’ proved how fun superhero movies could be, and ‘Batman’ proved how dark they could be, then the ‘X-Men’ movies proved just how badass filmmakers could go! I opted for the second because it just felt like the pinnacle of the genre at the time, far surpassing the impressive original. We see mutants at war with a society that doesn’t want them, fighting a private army led by the delusional and malicious Stryker.
Hugh Jackman tears stuff up as Wolverine while Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen give credence to the larger-than-life plot and characters.
And that Nightcrawler opening scene? Oh my word, what a rush!
Whether you’re a hardcore comic book nerd or just a casual movie fan, there’s no doubt you’ll pick up on the religious similarities between ‘Superman’ and … well, God. After all, he is near enough omnipotent and can even bring people back from dead. If you’re wondering what other movies portray characters with a similar connotation, then look no further than these next suggestions!
If you haven’t seen ‘Watchmen’ I can assure you it’s unlike any other superhero movie you’ve seen before. Darker than ‘Batman’ and more mature than say ‘The Punisher’ or ‘Blade’, ‘Watchmen’ is an epic story set in alternate universe where nuclear war threatens to destroy the world and masked heroes are the only ones who can stop it.
While this isn’t the best installment in ‘The Matrix’ series, the parallels between Neo and a deity are clear for anybody to see. Is he prepared to sacrifice himself for humanity? Check. Is he all powerful? Pretty much yeah. Is there an element of reincarnation? Of course … and he kicks Hugo Weaving’s butt while doing it all!
See! He’s practically Jesus!
So there you have it, a list of awesome pre’Avengers’ superhero movies that double up on the action, fun and nostalgia. Of course, I’ll be in line for ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and all the rest, but I don’t think they’ll ever capture the magic of all those that came before them.
Are you a Marvel fanboy (or girl) or do you prefer the old classics off the genre as well?
Let me know in the comments section below!
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