Movie News & Reviews

My all-time top 5 superhero movies

Our criteria here involved people with superpowers, so technically, aperfectly normal human such as Batman wouldn't qualify for this list.

Letme preempt any objections, however, by claiming that being abillionaire is a superpower at least on par with the ability to turnsmall fires into big fires or having equivalent spider-strength. Withthat out of the way:

5) The Crow: By rights, Spider-Man 2 should go here, butI'm going to throw a bone to the melodramatic, cheesy, and undeniablyfun brand of superherodom that existed before we were rescued by the'00s. And The Crow is nothing if not perversely funny andcartoonishly gothic. It's also pretty good. Try to resist itsgloomy-gloom cityscape and portentous dialogue all you like, yourefforts will be as powerless as a common street thug against theinvincible resurrected corpse of the wrongly murdered.

4) X2: I'm going to go ahead and say this is the father of themodern superhero movie, the first to effectively combine emotion andrealism with beatings and eye lasers. A 5-year-old father mightstrike you as unnatural, but just pretend the genre got bit by amutagenic retiree which accelerated the aging process several-fold.Anyway, juggling all these X-Men and X-Women within a coherent storyis a feat in itself. Shifting alliances among the mutants ups theintrigue. Showing what you can do with a superhero once that creationstory stuff is out of the way, X2 set the stage for a troupe ofawesome sequels (and decidedly less awesome three-quels).

3) The Incredibles: Rollicking animation and a clever butheartfelt take on the family dynamics of the superhero team vaultsthis up with the best. Some argue its "We're special and you normalscan't join us" undertones are fascist, but that just makes me likewriter/director Brad Bird all the more for running against the grain.Even when you disagree with its conclusions, good art earns what itwants to say.

2) Iron Man: Other than repeating my full name twice, "RobertDowney Jr. as Tony Stark" might be the six most beautiful words in theEnglish language. Director John Favreau complements Downey'sunstoppable comedy machine with some hilarious physical jokes of hisown. The look on Downey's face when he's finally blasting into the skycaptures the glee of being more than human in a way few hero moviesdo. It's good to see a hero enjoying himself for once.

1) The Dark Knight: Say what you will about canonizing a movieless than a week old, but you will be totally, totally wrong. This islike the Raymond Chandler of superhero movies: nailing the best ofwhat the genre has to offer while matching strides with the greatdramas. Christopher Nolan's plotting is urgent and dense, there isn'ta weak link in the cast, and the sense of menace is so cloying youcan't scrub it off your hands even with that gritty industrial soapthat could clean the dirt off a pile of dirt.

Movies such as The DarkKnight are why I go to the theater every week.

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