Today, I shall share my opinions on a number of superhero movies. I realized my senior year of high school, after seeing The Avengers, that I hadn't seen almost any superhero movies. Young Justice was my favorite TV show before that, and I'd seen one of the old Superman movies, but other than that, my superhero movie experience was very limited. Ironic, considering how much I love superhero-style fiction.
So this summer, to make up for that, i watched a plethora of superhero movies recommended to me by friends. Now, I'm going to grant you the awesomeness of my opinion on them.
In the X-Men world, people with superpowers are known as mutants and are often outcasts. The conflict is not only between humans and mutants, but also between the X-Men, who want a free world for all, and Magneto's team, who would rather just kill all the humans and take over.
X-Men was a pretty decent movie, I think. I related deeply to Rogue and Wolverine, which surprised me. Rogue, whose power doesn't permit her to touch anyone's skin, I expected. Wolverine, the more animalistic character, I've never been a huge fan of. But the movie did a very good job of humanizing them. In the story, Rogue and Wolverine (who remembers little of his previous life) run from society and end up getting brought into the X-Men to protect them from Magneto. However, Magneto uses his best mutant, Mystique, to lure Rogue out. Wolverine follows with little success, and in the end, all the X-Men have to go in to stop Magneto from turning all humans into mutants with technology more likely to kill them and Rogue in particular. Rogue and Wolverine's father/daughter-type relationship came off very well in this movie.
X2: X-Men United (2003)
X2 was not my favorite. It has the same characters and some good Wolverine background, but it ends far too unhappily for me. The story begins with a presidential assassination attempt, which turns Magneto's team into a much larger, more threatening group. Through Wolverine's search for his past, Magneto traps the X-Men in the place where Wolverine was originally modified into a mutant. Then he attempts to use Dr. Xavier to kill all the humans through mind manipulation. That doesn't happen, but still, the story just didn't work the way I wanted it to, and knowing the comic book plot only made me more unhappy.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
I liked this more than X2, but it still ended too depressingly. The story of Magneto's attempt to destroy the mutant who has brought about a cure for mutantism, with the help of a former X-Men turned crazy evil, is interesting. The movie deeply examines the potential of powers to actually take over their person and looks at the different reasons why one would want to end their mutant abilities. I'm glad there was a nice resolution to the human/mutant conflict that drives the X-Men series. But I couldn't quite handle the ending.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
I really liked this prequel, more than the original trilogy. This was, as seen in an earlier post, also the superhero movie with the score I like most. X-Men: First Class had much more of a sense of wonder and power, which is what I like in this kind of story. I loved seeing the evolution and creation of the X-Men team and, later, Magneto's group. Mystique (played by one of my fave actresses, Jennifer Lawrence) is a really great character in this, with far more depth than in the trilogy. The historical connection with the Cuban missile crisis was also pretty engaging. I think this movie set up the original very well. Supposedly another First Class movie is in the works, and I'm excited to see what happens with it.
THE AVENGERS SERIES
The Avengers is one of the most thought-out, well done movie series ever. The fun thing is that the movies are totally separate, following each Avenger's own story, but then they slowly come together piece by piece into the big masterpiece, The Avengers.
Iron Man (2008)
The original Iron Man movie follows Tony Stark, a jerkish, self-centered billionaire, as he faces the reality of what his father's weapon empire has done. He becomes a superhero, the self-named Iron Man, using his knowledge of technology, and decides to stop making weaponry. I thought the character development was marvelous, and even though Stark is a total jerk, I sorta liked him. The amusing part is that he's the rare superhero who actually doesn't keep the secret identity for very long.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The actor for Hulk in The Avengers is totally different (and cuter, yay for Mark Ruffalo!). But I thought The Incredible Hulk did a nice job of introducing the concept of Hulk and how Bruce Banner begins to gain control of his alter ego. The military wants his power, of course, which turns real bad considering how uncontrollable that kind of mutation is. So there's a big smackdown, and it's pretty cool, with a nice romantic touch.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
This is where you start to see the little previews of the larger storyline, with the introduction of another Avenger, Black Widow, who is the only woman and mostly just very kick-butt. Iron Man 2 is all about how Stark falls severely ill due to the technology that runs the Iron Man suit and keeps him alive. He's likely to die soon, which means he's gone back to being kind of a jerk and is driving everyone nuts. Viewers relate to him pretty well, but the characters in the movie kinda hate him. He's given his business empire to his secretary, he's searching desperately for another technology that will NOT kill him, and the government wants the Iron Man suits, even though Stark insists he doesn't want more weaponry out there. There's a lot of family background here and some crazy governmental involvement that becomes the beginning of SHIELD. I think the movie was pretty good, actually.
Thor, despite the bad critical reception, was one of my favorite superhero movies that I saw this summer. Part of this is because it takes place in New Mexico, which is my home state. Another part is that I really like mythology. The biggest part is that I'm a terrible romantic! Thor is the thunder god from Norse mythology, meant to be king but exiled to Earth after he decides to massacre Frost Giants. He's a bit cocky and jerkish at first. But watching him adjust to Earth ways is hilarious, and his romance with Jane (Natalie Portman, another favorite actress of mine) makes my heart bleed, especially since it's the whole reason he ends up going back to his home, after a big showdown with his adoptive brother Loki, who is a scheming chaotic who just wants to be loved. I found that an interesting take on adoption and mixed families. This movie also intros another Avenger, Hawkeye, who is an archer.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Captain America was also a very good movie. In The Avengers, he was my favorite character. Why? Because he's the most morality-based, romanticized, classic superhero of them all. And he's a great leader. This movie takes place back in WWII, when dear little Steve Rogers is too physically weak to be enlisted no matter how hard he tries. But then, on the whim of a scientist looking to create a supersoldier, he's inducted into a special unit. The supersoldier serum not only makes someone, um, super, but it increases their internal selves, and Steve Rogers is the most heroic, self-sacrificial, good man of the bunch. The moment he jumps on a test grenade to sacrifice himself instead of running off like the other soldiers took my breath away. So for a while dear Captain America just advertises the war, but when he hears his best friend is imprisoned on the enemy side, he goes to be heroic. It has a little bit of good old tragedy and a great romance. In the end, Captain America performs his usual self-sacrificial stuff--and wakes up in the modern day after being frozen alive. Which is how he becomes an Avenger! This movie is awesome, and so is Captain America.
The Avengers (2012)
In the grand finale of this phase of the series, The Avengers brings all these heroes together to protect a cube of energy that originally comes from Thor's home. Dear old Loki and his new band of evil friends want to destroy Earth with it. The majority of the film is about how these characters cannot get along. This involves lots of fighting, running, yelling, and insulting and then more fighting, running, yelling, and insulting. It looks really bad for the world for a while because this group is probably just gonna make things worse. But somehow, they pull it together and become a full-on team, unofficially lead by sweet, misplaced Captain America. There's lots of fun special effects, and great character exploration. So, yes,. The Avengers is pretty darn good.
Anyone who doesn't know the basic story behind Spiderman already doesn't deserve my awesomeness. Still here? Okay. Let's begin with the original trilogy, which is, even in my romantic opinion, slightly too focused on Mary.
Spider-Man follows Peter Parker in high school. He's a pathetic little nerd who is obsessed with his popular neighbor, Mary Jane. The one thing I do like here is that Mary Jane has an abusive father. I think that gives the relationship a little more dimension. On a field trip, Parker gets bitten by the radioactive spider, and he becomes Spiderman, although it takes him beating up a fellow high schooler on accident, becoming a wrestler to get money, and then letting go the man who ends up killing his Uncle Ben for him to get there. Then his best friend Harry's millionaire dad self-administers a serum that turns him into Green Goblin, so there's this epic fight, and Green Goblin uses Mary Jane against Spiderman, and things go kinda bad. It's a good story, but a little overdone, somehow.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
In Spider-Man 2, after losing just about everything because of his secret life--Mary Jane is engaged to someone else, Harry hates Spiderman for supposedly killing his dad, and NYC is now anti-Spidey--Peter Parker gives up being a hero. Except then another scientist gets half-taken over by his electronic tentacle creations and becomes the evil Doctor Octopus. He then kidnaps Mary Jane, again. That's the big issue I have with this series. Everyone always kidnaps Mary Jane. Like, why? There are a really good couple scenes here, though, first with this train that Spiderman rescues in which people recognize him as a hero and protect him, and then second when Harry tells the memory of his dad that he won't turn against Peter. Romantically, it ends on a high note--almost ridiculously so. I'm not a fan of this movie, really.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
To me, Spider-Man 3 is one of the best superhero movies. It combines three villains, severe inner turmoil, and lots of new information into total epicness. And I love the ending. It begins with Harry deciding to become New Goblin after all and going after Peter before losing his memory. Then, a convict who is now being blamed for Uncle Ben's death escapes and gets himself turned into Sandman. Peter wants to propose to Mary Jane, but stuff keeps getting in the way. Then Harry remembers what was up and forces Mary Jane to break up with Peter. This is where everything goes really wrong. Peter dons a new black suit that is actually an alien symbiote. The issue is, the suit distorts the evil side of someone's personality. So Peter acts like a total jerk, walks around like he's a stud (which was definitely super awkward), and eventually actually punches Mary Jane. That is one of the freakiest things I've seen. But then Peter realizes what's happening, and he fights the symbiote. Problem is, the suit attaches to Peter's business enemy, and he becomes Venom and goes after--guess who?--Mary Jane, with the help of Sandman. In the end, Harry comes around to help Peter, and that, I think, along with the revelation that Sandman's murder of Uncle Ben was a complete accident, shows the paradox of good and evil and the possibility of redemption. Though it ends tragically, I think it was effective. It left me happy and thoughtful.
After the trilogy, a totally new rendition of Spiderman was created:
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
I did like The Amazing Spider-Man more than the first trilogy. In this story, Peter is less nerdy and more rebel-smart. Mary Jane isn't in this one--it's Gwen Staci instead. Peter goes off looking for a clue as to his original parents' disappearance and ends up getting bitten by a radioactive spider in a lab that Gwen and his parents' old friend Dr. Connors, an amputee, work in. So Peter becomes super, but he's more worried about his parents. So he confronts Dr. Connors, who says that he and Peter's father were trying to find a way to regrow limbs. Peter manages to help with the formula. However, the loss of time results in a fight with Uncle Ben. Peter goes off to a store, where the manager is a jerk to him. Then a thief comes, and Peter lets him go, and he ends up shooting Uncle Ben. Peter becomes a superhero (?) set on vengeance. The police, however, seriously hate him, and the Chief of Police is Gwen's father. Still, the romance with Peter and Gwen goes on--very well, I might add. This is one of the sweetest, most awkward romances ever, and that's why this gets such high points with me. Then Dr. Connors uses the serum on himself prematurely and becomes the crazy-big Lizard, who goes on this rampage to turn everyone into lizard people. Gwen creates an antidote that ends up saving everyone, and there's a truly fabulous scene where the city comes together to get Spiderman where he needs to be to stop the Lizard. It's really well done, although, naturally a little bit of tragedy.
FANTASTIC FOUR MOVIES
The Fantastic Four movies are low-rated, which is sad, because I do like them. They aren't as thorough as others, but funny, certainly.
Fantastic Four (2005)
This movie follows how four people, the genius scientist (Mr. Fantastic), the ex-girlfriend (Invisible Girl), the girl's idiot-in-a-funny-way brother (Human Torch), and the scientist's friend (the Thing) get involved in a business venture that turns them all into superpowered people. The only one who really likes it is the Human Torch. (The thing about this is that it made me want to be a superhero bro/sis duo with my little brother.) But when it turns out the guy who originally got them into this has become an electrical crazy supervillain, they all have to fight him, and come to terms with their gifts. The romance backstories here are pretty good, I think. It's fun.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
I actually did see this one in theaters, but I re-saw it this summer and am pleased to say I do still like it, although I don't think the Silver Surfer is as hot as I used to. In this case, the disaster that Silver Surfer is bringing onto Earth disrupts the wedding of the century and makes Invisible Girl very unhappy, even as something weird starts to happen with their powers. I think the dichotomy of the Silver Surfer's personality is still really cool, but I'm not as impressed as before. Generally, the concept I like is the romantic and character undertones that still go pretty well here. Also, some good special effects. So it's not bad.
THE BATMAN TRILOGY
Lots of people have a thing for Batman. I'm more of a Superman girl myself--all them classic good morals. Batman is darker, almost a little melodramatic. But that didn't stop me from liking these movies.
Batman Begins (2005)
Batman Begins starts out nice and confusing, with rich Bruce Wayne all unsure what to do with himself, while the memory of his parents' murder drives him. Somehow, he ends up being trained by a supervillain who wants to destroy corrupt Gotham. He returns to Gotham and pretends to be a rich party boy while really using his new skills and endless money to become Batman. He chooses bats, apparently, because he used to have a phobia of them. That weirds me out, personally. Like, I'm not going to become Beegirl because I used to have melissophobia. Anyway, he has to stop a plot by his teacher to destroy Gotham using fear gas, which is probably the most interesting idea in the movie. But romance is essentially dead with Batman, which makes sense. What I really like about this movie, besides the fear gas idea, is the main police character. The actor also played Sirius Black in Harry Potter, and I just naturally like him. Plus, he's the only policeman ever to like a superhero. Basically, it's a good movie, and I respect Batman more now.
The Dark Knight (2008)
I really liked The Dark Knight, but not because of Batman. No, I like the Joker. A lot. I think he is the coolest, epicest villain ever, and he pretty much made my summer. The plot is that a bunch of gang members want Batman dead for destroying their criminal empire, and they end up getting the Joker to do it. The Joker is insane. He doesn't do this for any reason but that he likes to. So the Joker kills lots of people in an attempt to lure Batman in. One attempted murder is on Harvey Dent, who is the "White Knight" of Gotham. He's also dating Batman's old sort-of love. The Joker, recognizing Batman's response to this, ties the old love and Dent up in different places with explosives. Batman saves Dent, recognizing that Gotham needs a hero, and the girl dies. Dent is also half burned, which leads to him going mad and becoming Two-Face, a villain who works with the flip of a coin, with the encouragement of the Joker, who loves nothing more than to mess with everyone's head. In the end, Dent must remain recognized as the hero Gotham needs, and Batman, though truly the hero Gotham deserves, becomes the recognized enemy. I really like this concept, personally.
Here's where I admit to not having seen The Dark Knight Rises yet. The shootings in Aurora threw me off of that. Plus, I don't do much movie theater attendance. But I do intend to see it soon, if I can. I'm sure it's good.
GREEN LANTERN (2011)
This is the final superhero movie I saw this summer and the only solo film. I surprised myself by actually kinda liking it? Green Lantern is all about the Green Lantern Corps, who protect the universe using the green force of willpower. That's the main reason I like this movie--the fear vs. will concept. Hal Jordan is the only human to ever be chosen for the Corps, but is generally considered inept, so he gives up on being a Green Lantern. When he is faces a human taken over by fear-driven Parallax and gets involved in a nice little romance, he realizes he needs to protect Earth. One of the Corps wants to fight fear with fear (which seems really dumb considering what happened with Parallax), but Jordan stops that. He goes up against Parallax himself and realizes the strength that comes with will.
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