Captain America: The Winter Soldier made a stunning $95 million this past weekend, which is a new record for the month of April. It was just further evidence that people absolutely love Superhero movies. This was clear in the late 1970s after the huge success of the first Superman movie, but it wasn't until the early 2000s that these things began completely taking over Hollywood. It seems like every summer more and more of them flood the marketplace. We asked our readers to select their favorite ones — click through to see the results.
Marvel's master plan to release a bunch of films every year, with all the characters coming together in the occasional Avengers movie, is succeeding beyond anyone's wildest expectations. The initial Avengers movie was such a crazy success, that all the subsequent Marvel films have been seen as quasi-sequels. It's brought a whole new audience to the movies. That certainly explains the incredible success of the new Captain America movie, but it was also helped along by glowingly reviews. The plot might confuse people new to the world of Marvel, but it's all building towards a second Avengers movie that'll certainly shatter all box-office records.
The second Superman movie went through a rather torturous production. The studio originally had the rather ambitious plan to film it at the same time as the original, but they stopped halfway through so director Richard Donner could focus solely on getting the first film together. The studio later brought in Hard Day's Night director Richard Lester to finish it off, leading to no small amount of bitterness all around. Audiences were barely aware of the behind-the-scenes drama and loved the story about Superman giving up his powers to be with Lois Lane. In 2006, Richard Donner released his own cut of the film.
You're unlikely to find many comic-book fans who feel that 2003's Daredevil is a better movie than Superman 11, but our readers have spoken. Even Ben Affleck, the movie's star, says it sucks. "The only movie I actually regret is Daredevil," he said last year. "It just kills me. I love that story, that character, and the fact that it got fucked up the way it did stays with me. Maybe that's part of the motivation to do Batman." We have a bad feeling about this upcoming Superman/Batman movie, but hopefully we're wrong about that.
Based on a popular graphic novel by Mark Miller, <em>Kick-Ass</em> is a deceptively subversive movie that left critics deeply polarized. Many were turned off by the site of a very young girl swearing like a sailor, getting beaten within an inch of her life and brutally killing scores of men with an automatic weapon. The movie did attempt to show what might actually happen if a teenager attempted to police the streets in a costume (he was nearly beaten to death), but then it becomes more of a standard superhero movie where he finds he's impervious to pain due to his injuries and he battles a truly evil crime lord. It made enough money for a sequel last year, but that one was a relative disappointment and it seems like a third one is a long shot at this point.
Pixar's 2004 film The Incredibles was their first time creating an all-human cast. They'd previously focused on toys, insects, monsters and fish, largely because they're easier to make life-like, though by 2004 technology had advanced to the point where they could create convincing people. The movie centers around a family of superheroes forced to live in the suburbs and hide their true power. Needless to say, a new threat forced them to come out of hiding and save the day. It's one of the greatest Pixar movies. Let's hope they don't ruin the legacy with a bad sequel.
M. Night Shyamalan's follow-up to <em>The Sixth Sense</em> teamed up Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson to tell the story of a man who slowly discovers that he has super-human strength. It was originally planned to tell the traditional story of a superhero that rises up and fights a villain, but Shyamalan decided to focus the film entirely on the character's origin. The film was a pretty big hit, but the long-rumored sequel has yet to surface.
The insane success of The Avengers has Warner Bros. salivating over the idea of a Justice League movie. The only problem was that the Superman series was in tatters and Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale are done making Batman movies. The first step towards their goal was getting Superman up and going again. They recruited Zack Snyder to reboot the series and he cast the largely unknown Henry Cavill to play the lead role. Critics weren't too enamored with the result, but it made $687 million, nicely setting the stage for the upcoming Superman/Batman dual picture.
Many fanboys feel that the second movie of any superhero series is often the best. The first one is often too dominated by the origin story, which we've all seen countless times before. The second movie give the character a chance to really live and breathe. In the second Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie, Doctor Octopus unleashes terror on New York City while Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson grow closer. It's easily the most satisfying movie of that trilogy.
Expectations were very high for the final chapter of Christopher Nolan's Dark Night trilogy. Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker in the second movie was an impossible act to follow, but this movie was less focused on the villains. It was more about Batman's slow return to power as Gotham City is nearly destroyed by Bane and his minions. Anne Hathaway was very effective as Catwoman (erasing all memories of the Halle Berry debacle) and the film made a large fortune. The team could have easily carried on with more Batman movies, but they were wise to walk away on top.
Marvel's Iron Man was never a top-shelf superhero. Comic books geeks adored the character, but until this 2008 Robert Downey Jr. film the general public largely knew thought of Iron Man as a Black Sabbath song and nothing else. But the team of Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. brought a mass audience to multiplexes that never thought they'd care about a comic book movies. Downey turned the character into a superhero James Bond, establishing himself as the most bankable star on the planet. The character's popularity has only grown over the years, allowing Downey to earn more money than many medium-sized nations.
Many comic book fans were scratching their heads when they learned that Michael Keaton was going to play Batman in Tim Burton's 1989 movie. Best known for his work in Mr. Mom and Beetlejuice, Keaton hardly seemed like the logical choice to play the caped crusader. But once the leather suit was on it hardly mattered that he was a little scrawny. He owned the role, and Jack Nicholson was an amazing Joker. Throw in a killer Prince soundtrack and you have a classic movie that set the stage for so many films to come during the past quarter century.
The Watchmen from 2009 is a great example of a superhero movie that never reached a big audience outside of comic-book fanboy circles. The late-1980s comic Watchmen comic books by Alan Moore have an enormous cult audience, but for years Hollywood resisted turning them into a movie. The world that Moore created was simply too vast and complex, but superhero movies were so hot by the mid-2000s that Zack Snyder got the green light to make a Watchmen movie. The film earned a 65 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but it barely made back its budget and a sequel remains highly unlikely.
The modern superhero movie was born in 1978 when Superman first hit theaters. Warner Bros. didn't cheap out in bringing the iconic character to the big screen, hiring Marlon Brando to play Jor-El and Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. Godfather writer Mario Puzo even worked on the screenplay. Christopher Reeve was the perfect Superman and the movie got an entire generation of kids — who had their minds blown by Star Wars the previous year — to run out and buy comic books. The 2006 movie Superman Returns tried to recapture the magic of this movie, but it felt flat and lifeless by comparison.
The Avengers is the Laff-A-Lympics of superhero movies. After carefully assembling a bunch of beloved characters in prior movies, Marvel brought them all together in one grandiose, super duper event movie. It was a blockbuster's blockbuster, earning $1.5 billion, and that's not counting action figures, T-shirts and other side deals. They're going to have to sign over Fort Knox to Robert Downey Jr. to keep making these movies, but they'll gladly do it.
A Batman movie is often only as good as the main villain. In 1997, Batman and Robin was hobbled by Arnold Schwarzenegger making an absolute fool out of himself as Mr. Freeze, while Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman seriously elevated 1992's Batman Returns. None of them can compare to Heath Ledger's Joker in 2008's The Dark Knight. The fact he died so soon after shooting certainly made the character seem more dramatic, but even if he'd lived it's likely he would have won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.