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. I know some about the comic world, and the C4 series is on the borderline of that genre.
So this summer, to make up for that, i watched a huge number of superhero movies recommended to me by friends. And now, I'm going to grant you the awesomeness of my opinion on them. Cuz I'm sure you care that much, haha.
*Spoilers for multiple superhero movies*
The X-Men series follows a world in which people with extra powers are known as mutants and are often outcasts. The main conflict is not only between humans/mutants, but between the X-Men, who want a free world for all, and Magneto's team, which would rather just kill all the humans off and take over. First of this comes the trilogy:
X-Men was a pretty decent movie, I think. I related very deeply to Rogue and Wolverine, which surprised me actually. 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 characterizing both those (and the other) characters. In the movie, Rogue and Wolverine (who remembers little of his previous life) run off from society and end up getting brought into the X-Men to protect them from Magneto. However, Magneto knows what's up, and he 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 trying to turn all humans into mutants with technology more likely to kill them, using Rogue's ability (and pretty much murdering her). Rogue and Wolverine's father/daughter-style relationship came off very well in this movie.
X2 was not my favorite by any means. Same characters, some good Wolverine background, but it ended far too unhappily for me, with the supposed death of a central character. The story begins with a presidential assassination attempt, which becomes the evolution of Magneto's team into a much larger, more threatening group. Through Wolverine's search for his past, Magneto gets the whole team trapped in the place where Wolverine was originally modified into a new mutant. Then he attempts to use Dr. Xavier to kill all the humans through a mind manipulation with Cerebro. That doesn't happen, but it ends badly. The story just didn't work the way I wanted it to, and knowing the comic book plot only made me more unhappy here.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
I liked X-Men: The Last Stand more than X2, but it still ended too depressingly for me. A very tragic movie, powerful and dramatic, but as a romantic, it horrified me. I did like the concept. The story of Magneto's attempt to destroy the mutant who has brought about a cure for mutantism (which is a horrible ethical conflict as it is), with the help of a former X-Men gone overpowerfully wrong, is quite interesting. The movie deeply examines the potential of mutant powers to actually take over their person, and looks at the different reasons why one would want to end their mutant abilities. I do get why the ending, which involved a terrible sacrifice by Wolverine, had to be so tragic. And 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.
Then comes the prequel...
X-Men: First Class (2011)
I really liked X-Men: First Class, more than the original trilogy for sure. 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, and 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, who is also, duh, Katniss) 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 well done. 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 SET
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, I believe, came before the Avengers concept. Nonetheless, Iron Man is (obviously) a huge part of the Avengers team, so this movie counts. Iron Man follows Tony Stark, the jerkish, self-obsessed billionaire, as he faces the reality of what his father's weapon empire has done to other countries. 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 only superhero I've heard of who actually didn't keep the secret identity thing for very long.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
This Hulk movie set off the beginning of the Avengers idea, though at that point it was still very underformed. The actor for Hulk in The Avengers is totally different, for one (and cuter, yay for Mark Ruffalo!). But I thought The Incredible Hulk did do a nice job of introducing the concept of Hulk (it's pretty much the only superhero movie that didn't begin BEFORE the transformation), 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 the nice romantic touch I like.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
This is where the Avengers thing comes into full play at last, with the little preview storyline in the background, and the introduction of another Avengers character, Black Widow, who is the only woman and mostly just very kick-butt. Iron Man 2 is all about how Stark is now falling severely ill due to the technology that both 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 partier and is driving everyone nuts. Viewers actually relate to him pretty well. Everyone in the movie kinda hates him. On top of all that, 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 (the originator of the Avengers Initiative), and of course, happy enemies that like to kill people. Yay. I think the movie was pretty good, actually.
Thor, though the critiques weren't so good, was one of my most favorite superhero movies. Part of this is setting bias. It takes place in New Mexico, which is my home state. The other part is that I really like mythology. And the biggest part is that I'm a terrible romantic. Thor is about the thunder god from Norse mythology, meant to be king but being exiled to Earth after he decides to kill lots of Frost Giants. He's a bit cocky and quite jerkish at first. But watching him adjust to Earth ways is hilarious, and the romance with Jane (Natalie Portman, another favorite 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 crazy who just wants to be loved. That I found an interesting take on adoption and mixed families. AND I LOVE LOVE!!!! 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. Of course, they're all pretty great. But Captain America rocks the world. Why? Because he's the most good-old-morality, classic-superhero, romanticized-concept of them all. And he makes a great leader. Captain America, this movie, takes place back in WWII. It's about dear little Steve Rogers, who is too pathetic to be enlisted no matter how hard he tries. But then, on the whim of a scientist looking to create a supersoldier, he gets inducted into a special unit. And despite his weak body, he gets selected. Why? Because 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 officially took my breath away. So for a while dear Captain America is a dancing monkey who just advertises the war, but finally, when he hears his best friend is imprisoned on the enemy side, he runs off and goes to be heroic. It's all very awesome, with a little bit of good old tragedy, great romance. The main villain here is another prototype supersoldier, but one whose internal self was evil. So they all fight and stuff, and there are bombs and stuff, and in the end Captain America performs his usual self-sacrificial stuff--and wakes up from being frozen alive in the modern day. Which is how he becomes an Avenger. Sorry for the bit of spoiling, but I had to explain how a guy from the 1940s ended up in 2012. Overall, the point here is that this movie is awesome. And so is Captain America.
The Avengers (2012)
The grand finale of this set, The Avengers combines all these heroes into the Avengers group, which is trying to protect this great cube of energy that originally comes from Thor's home from dear old Loki and his new band of evil friends, who want to destroy Earth. The majority of the film is a really amusing examination of how these characters cannot get along for the life of them. 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, through the starkness of Loki's army, perhaps, they pull it together and become a full-on team, unofficially lead by sweet, misplaced Captain America. Lots of fun special effects, and great character exploration. So, yes,. The Avengers is pretty darn good.
THE SPIDERMAN MOVIES
Anyone who doesn't know the basic story behind Spiderman (radioactive spider transforming nerd boy into a spider-based superhero), leave. You don't deserve my awesomeness.
Still here? OK. The Spiderman movies begin with the original trilogy, which is, even in my romantic opinion, slightly too focused on Mary Jane and the bit love story there. But let's break it down...
Spiderman is of course following dear Peter Parker in high school, who is a pathetic little nerdface who is obsessed with his popular neighbor, Mary Jane. The one thing I do like about that premise is that Mary Jane has an abusive father, and Peter can hear some of what goes on over there. I think that gives the relationship a little more dimension. So on a field trip, Parker gets bitten, and he becomes the superheroical 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. Which is where he gets all heroey and starts saving people and catching villains. Except then his best friend Harry's millionaire dad is forced over the edge and administers to himself a serum that turns him into Green Goblin, so then 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.
Spiderman 2 (2004)
The second movie in the trilogy, in Spiderman 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 the city is pretty much 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, who then kidnaps Mary Jane, again. That's the big issue I have with this series. Everyone always kidnaps Mary Jane. WHY? It's overdone.
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 the second Spiderman, really. The first was good. The second didn't work for me.
Spiderman 3 (2007)
To me, Spiderman 3 is one of the best superhero movies out there. It combines three villains, severe inner turmoil, and lots of new information into one of the most epic movies ever. And I love the ending. In Spiderman 3, Harry decides to become New Goblin after all, and goes after Peter, then loses 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, totally upset, 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 goes crazy. He acts like a total jerk, walks around like he's a stud (which was definitely super awkward, I'm not sure about that part), and eventually actually punches Mary Jane. That is one of the freakiest things I've seen, I'll admit. That was disturbing. But then Peter realizes what's happening, and he fights the symbiote, whom he finally removes.
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. Peter goes up against insurmountable odds to save Mary Jane. What I really like about this movie is actually the end. Because guess what? Harry comes around to help Peter. And that, I think, along with the revelation that Sandman's murder of Uncle Ben was a complete, desperate accident, shows the paradox of good and evil, and the possibility of redemption. Though it ends tragically, I think it was extremely effective. It left me happy and thoughtful.
Following the trilogy comes another new version of Spiderman:
The Amazing Spiderman (2012)
I did like The Amazing Spiderman more than the trilogy. In The Amazing Spiderman, Peter is less nerdy and more rebel-smart. Very hot, I think. Mary Jane isn't in this one--it's Gwen Staci instead (who actually he meets in college, but here it's in high school). 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, all of this time loss 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. Same kind of line, totally different take. So then Peter becomes a superhero-ish set on vengeance. The police, however, seriously hate him. That happens a lot in superhero movies. 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.
From there, 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 and get rid of Peter. Gwen plays a good part here, creating 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. The great part is in the characterization and the fresh take. And the great romance!!!! hahaha.
THE FANTASTIC FOUR MOVIES
The Fantastic Four movies are generally very low-rated, which is sad, because I do like them. They aren't as thorough as others, but very funny, certainly. First is...
The Fantastic Four (2005)
Which follows how these 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, who promotes them like crazy and is generally amusing. The thing about this is that it made me want to be a superhero bro/sis duo with my little brother. Otherwise, everyone wants a cure. 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 a fun deal.
The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
I actually did see this one in theaters, but I resaw 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 dear 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 have some trouble understanding that, personally. I'm a Superman girl--all them basic, good morals. Batman is darker, almost a little melodramatic to me. But--that didn't stop me from liking the movies. Not as much as other people do, but I still do like them.
Batman Begins (2005)
Batman Begins starts out nice and confusing, with richy-rich Bruce Wayne all unsure what to do with himself, with the memory of his parents' murder driving him, and somehow ending up being trained by a supervillain who wants to destroy Gotham, which has become a rotting field for gangs and such. From there, he returns home and regains a real life - which involves him pretending to be a rich party boy but really using his new skills and endless money to become Batman, the dark superhero who is determined to keep Gotham alive. He chooses bats, apparently, because he used to have a phobia of them. That just weirds me out, personally. Like, I'm not going to become Beegirl because I used to have severe melissophobia. Also, he talks in a weird dark voice when in costume, which is both amusing and cool.
He has to stop this plot by his original teacher to destroy Gotham using fear gas, which is probably the most interesting idea in the movie. The fear gas is creepy to a level that I like, and it's demonstrated plenty of time. But, romance is essentially dead with Batman, which makes sense. I don't totally trust him either. 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. So, basically, it's a good movie, and I respect Batman more now. But I'm not all over this one still.
The Dark Knight (2008)
I really liked The Dark Knight, actually, but not because of Batman. No, I like the Joker. A lot. I think he is the epicest, coolest, funniest, creepiest villain ever, and he pretty much made my day when I watched this movie. So the plot is that a bunch of gang people want Batman dead for destroying their nice crimeness, and they end up getting the Joker to do it. The Joker is insane, literally. He doesn't do this for any reason but because 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, widely recognized and idolized for his work at cleaning up the city. He's also dating Batman's old sort-of love. Well, 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. So in the end, Dent must remain recognized as a hero, the hero Gotham needs, and Batman, though truly the hero Gotham deserves, becomes the recognized enemy. I really like this concept, personally. It's different. But it comes off with a nice meaning - and I still get to see the nice policeman and the crazy Joker.
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 going. But I do intend to see it soon, if I can. I'm sure it's good, if not totally my style.
GREEN LANTERN (2011)
This is the final superhero movie I saw this summer (I'd like to do the old Supermans again soon, though), and the only solo film as well. I surprised myself by actually liking it. Green Lantern is all about the Green Lantern Corps, who live to protect the universe using the green force of willpower. That's the main reason I like this movie--it's a new concept, a different thought. Fear vs will. That interests me. So, Green Lantern follows Hal Jordan, the only human to ever be chosen for the Corps, who is generally considered inept, and gives up on being a Green Lantern. The big enemy is Parallax, once a Green Lantern who tried to use fear instead of will, and became evil. Hal Jordan is forced to face a human taken over by Parallax, gets involved in a nice little romance that forces him on, and then realizes he needs to protect Earth from Parallax. One of the Corps wants to fight fear with fear (which seems really dumb considering what happened with Parallax), but Jordan stops that--but doesn't get help. So he goes up against Parallax himself and realizes the strength that comes with will--not a lack of fear but a fight against it. So he burns lovely little Parallax up and becomes a big hero. Yay!! I do really like it. A new concept. New things are good.
And that is all for today, boys and girls. Come back Wednesday for another College 101 installment!
Images via collider.com and the respective movie studios.
I'm an unpublished novelist, primarily of YA fantasy, and a freelance editor. I love psychology, cats, social justice, and love! I'm also a huge fangirl. Basically, stories are my life.
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