History of Superheroes in Movies

superman

While there were superhero movies in the 1940s, 50s and 60s it wasn’t until the 1978 film Superman opened the door for comic books and their characters to be taken as serious movie ideas, but that faded over ten years until 1989’s Batman put them back on the map again. Unfortunately, with the exception of Batman Returns (1992) the popularity of superhero films declined again until 2000 when X-Men got it right.

xmen

Since X-Men superhero movies have been on the up and up. Production companies started taking the concepts seriously again rather than trying to make it comical and camp (I’m looking at you Joel Schumacher). 2002 saw Spider-Man swing on to the silver screen and both the X-Men and Spider-Man films spawned major film franchises for Fox and Sony respectively. But we’ll get to the major production companies later. Fox continued it’s push with Daredevil (2003), X2 (2003), Elektra (2005) and Fantastic Four (2005) while Sony (Colombia) released Hellboy and Spider-Man 2 in 2004. Following the success of
these franchises DC and Warner Bros. took a different angle and rebooted the popular Batman franchise with Batman Begins (2005) which had a much darker tone to it than the Marvel films that were being released at the time. Superhero films cashed in on the success of the early 2000 hits for a few more years X-Men: The Last Stand and Superman Returns in 2006 and Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer in 2007 (which might I add were all franchise killers) but come 2008 something clicked in the minds of Marvel, DC, production companies and audiences… Superhero Movies could be better than exciting. They could be exhilarating the perfect escape for people young and old just like the comic books they were based on were for people years ago.

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2008 was a big year for Superheroes, with Marvel’s start of their Cinematic Universe (Actually owning the rights to these characters this time) Iron Man blasted on to the screen, reviving the dwindling superhero audiences and Robert Downey Jr.’s career at the same time. On top of that the reboot of the Hulk franchise with The Incredible Hulk re-established another character for something in the future. Iron Man would have been the walk-away hit of superhero films that year had the follow-up to Batman Begins not been released. The Dark Knight wowed audiences and box officenumbers proved that superhero movies were not just a sub-class of action films. They were their own genre. Mixing comedy and drama with action, visual effects and the characters people of all ages could enjoy. The superheroes were here.

avengers

The late 2000s brought us a prequel to X-Men in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and a surprise cult classic with Watchmen. The start of the new decade brought in more of the independent heroes in to the spotlight, Kick-Ass and Super depict average joes standing up and answering the call against villainy and Iron Man 2 delved deeper in to the mystery behind S.H.I.E.L.D and why they were showing up in all these Marvel movies. 2011 was another big year for Marvel with Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger setting up for the biggest superhero team up in film history. Fox released a re-invigoration of X-Men going back to the early days of Professor X in X-Men: First Class and DC unfortunately missed the mark with Green Lantern. Last year blew me away though with The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises three of the four big superhero movie powerhouses put everything they had in to these films and they were incredible.

The superhero film genre has risen over the last twenty or so years to become films that provide drama, comedy, explosions and an all round entertaining visit to the cinemas.

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The Avengers – Review

What can I really say about The Avengers? Joss Whedon has directed a possible contender for movie of the year? I could say that. The Avenger’s truly is the ultimate Super-Hero film? I could say that too. Hell I’ve even heared people say it was better than Batman… The truth is Marvel’s The Avengers is absoultely, 100%, with out a single itty-bitty shadow of a doubt one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen. You might say; “Thats a bold claim Nick, how can you really say that?” Well I can confidently say that because I have only been seen a handful of movies that I have walked out of and thought, ‘I wouldn’t change a thing’. The Avengers is one of them. It had everything I was expecting and more and I would not change one single thing about it. Joss Whedon has really raised the bar in Super-Hero films. I might even say; “Watch out Nolan”.

S.H.I.E.L.D. (the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) has the Tesseract, the glowing blue cube as seen in Captain America. During a routine inspection by S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), a visitor from a strange world arives through a gate way created by the Tesseract, that visitor… is Loki Laufeyson (Tom Hiddleston). After an attack on the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, Loki makes off with the Tessract and some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents he has mind-controlled. He intends to hand over the Tesseract to the Chitauri and claim the Earth as his payment. Nick Fury will have none of that… AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!

Captain America – Steve Rogers (Chris Evans): The World War two veteran who was frozen in the arctict circle for about 70 years is back with a new suit and a new vision of the world. He’s dissapointed at what the world has become but still believes in the same ideals that America stood for during the War. Evans contiues to play the valliant Captain America very well, he has accepted that he is in the future and can’t go back and he is trying ever so hard to enbrace it… but it is difficult.

Iron Man – Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.): Tony Stark has a few new surprises in his suit this time around but it’s his quick wit agian that steels the spotlight. Downey Jr. and Whedon are a match made in heaven!

Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth): The god of thunder is sent by his father to put a stop to Loki and his plans. Once again, on of my favourite characters of the franchise does not dissapoint. Although out of the team he gets probably the least screen time (not by much though), Thor has a fantastic presence in the team and seems to be the target of many jokes.

The Hulk – Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo): Last played by Edward Norton in the film The Incredible Hulk, Ruffalo’s Banner is a very interesting character played very well. Ruffalo captures the bumbling scientist and tortured soul that is Bruce Banner in a way that the other actors of the role in the last few films (Eric Bana and Norton) havn’t been able to pull off. I wa very worried about having the Hulk on the team but I am convinced that it was a good choice… and I will say… the Hulk definately does, SMASH!

Black Widow – Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson): Joss Whedon loves his strong female characters and Black Widow is definatley one of them! We see a little more of her bad ass skill that we got a glimpse of in Iron Man 2 as well as her sexy demenor and a little of her back story involving her run ins with S.H.I.E.L.D. and their most  loyal (?) agent, Hawkeye.

Hawkeye – Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner): No need for that purple cowl, Hawkeye in this film proves that rangas can be bad ass! I have read articles that his shooting (with a bow and arrow) style is competely wrong but who cares? It’s a movie guys… serioulsy. I have to say I loved this character and I’d really like to see a spin off film in the next Avengers phase (see Cinema Forecast Week 16 & 17) to focus on the back story between Black Widow and Hawkeye. Even just a short would be good.

Secondary Cast members include Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Colbie Smulders as Maria Hill, Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig, Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson and Gwenyth Paltrow as Pepper Potts.

It is so good to see such a huge cast all get enough screen time, this was my main concern going in to the film am I going to see Iron Man and Captain America hog the spotlight. But I didn’t and that is part of what made the film so damn good. You really felt like there was a team forming here and although the heroes had their differences, believe me the whole first act highlights this, when the Avengers assemble… my god is it worth it.

Technical Points: The film was converted in post in to 3D but to be honest… it’s not half bad. It’s your choice weather to see it in 3D or not seeing it in standard (2D) wont take anything away from the amazing film that it is. It brings a new maening to the Hero’s Journey (i’m calling it the Heroes’ Journey now) it keeps it simple with a fantastically developed 3 act-structure, which alot of films try to muck around with. Joss Whedon is brilliant at what he writes and directs and I would definately say that it’s the simplicity of the film that gave it the freedom that it needed. Everything is explained but I would recommend seeing the films in the franchise at least once first. Just so you get a scope of whats going on and where they’re up to in the story.

The Avengers is the perfect balance of action and comedy that the Super-Hero films of today have needed. It’s not meant to be completely serious… the films are based on comic books, I mean it works for Batman, but who says saving the world from aliens can’t be fun as well as deadly serious. Joss Whedon really does leave his mark on the franchise (in more ways than one) and the producers of the film have an option open for Joss to return to do The Avengers sequel in probably 2015 or 2016 (my estimate: based on the way the films are looking – Thor 2 and Iron Man 3 in 2013 & Captain America sequel in 2014). This is a film I would see again in a heart beat. It’s action-packed, funny, exciting, and a little bit sad. A true cinema expierence!

5 Stars

The Avengers is in Cinemas in Australia now. In the US, it opens on May 4th.

Forecast – Week 1, 2012

Well, here we are… According to Roland Emmerich, 2012 is The Day After, The Day After Tomorrow. So we have until Samuel L. Jackson’s birthday to enjoy the world of films. Good News is most of the anticipated movies will have come out by now… The bad news… Two Words… The Hobbit. But with any luck it’ll all be as much of a wind up as 2011’s Sucker Punch.

So without any further ado… Lets look at this week’s Forecast… the first for 2012!

ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED

Playing around while aboard a cruise ship, the Chipmunks and Chipettes accidentally go overboard and end up marooned in a tropical paradise. They discover their new turf is not as deserted as it seems. I honestly can not believe that these high-pitched rats are still making money. I mean surely, kids have realised that the real versions of the songs they cover are ten times better. Personally I would avoid this like the plague, and if your kids are begging you… take ear plugs.

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS

Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty. That’s right, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law are back in action as the Dynamic Duo of the Edwardian Era. This should be a good film marking the beginning of a brilliant year. Look forward to seeing Robert Downey Jr. later in the year in The Avengers and next year is expecting big ones for him too with Iron Man 3 and a third Sherlock Holmes.

DVD

THE SMURFS

When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village, they tumble from their magical world and into ours – in fact, smack bang in the middle of Central Park. Just three apples high and stuck in the Big Apple, the Smurfs must find a way to get back to their village before Gargamel tracks them down.

THE CHANGE-UP

Growing up together, Mitch and Dave were inseparable best friends, but as the years have passed they’ve slowly drifted apart. While Dave is an overworked lawyer, husband and father of three. Following a drunken night out together, Mitch and Dave’s worlds are turned upside down when they wake up in each other’s bodies and proceed to freak out. Despite the freedom from their normal routines and habits, the guys soon discover that each other’s lives are nowhere near as rosy as they once seemed.

SUPER

Super is a comedy that takes aim at the superhero genre. An average guy takes on the pseudo-superhero alter ego of the Crimson Bolt, after watching his wife fall under the spell of a charming drug dealer. Lacking super powers, he compensates by swinging a trusty wrench.

Happy New Years to Everyone!

Cowboys and Aliens – Review

Cowboys.  Aliens.  Cowboys fighting aliens.  James Bond and Indiana Jones vs. otherworldly Martian scum.  A horrible conglomeration or a whole lot of awesomeness?

Cowboys and Aliens, directed by Iron Man’s Jon Favreau, centres on Daniel Craig’s character Jake Lonergan.  Your quintessential tough guy from the west, Lonergan wakes up in the middle of the desert, with no recollection of who he is, or what the funky contraption locked around his wrist might be.  After discovering he is able to deliver damn good ass-kickings, he swaggers into the little-old town of Absolution.  Lonergan wastes no time in giving the local shit-stirrer Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano) what for.  Cue some ominously familiar shaped lights in the sky and tendrils viciously yanking the townspeople away.  It’s here we find out Lonergan’s bracelet is a whole lot more than a pretty fashion accessory.  Now it’s up to the rag-tag bunch of gun-toting men (and woman) to get their people back.

If you go into it expecting an intellectually stimulating storyline with soul searching characters and emotions galore, don’t.  Go see, I dunno, The Smurfs or something.  This is a no holds barred shoot-em-up Western crossed with heavy SFX and CGI aliens.  It’s exactly what the title says it’s going to be, and, it’s actually pretty decent.  Daniel Craig plays Lonergan straight and narrow.  Silent and somewhat stereotypical, but it works with the clichéd dynamic of the film.  Olivia Wilde plays the mysterious Ella, whose relationship with Lonergan is a bit disjointed and unusual.  I suppose they had to put a pretty lady in there somewhere though, didn’t they.  But its Harrison Ford’s Woodrow Dolarhyde that I was most anticipating, and his menacing exterior coupled with moments of genuine but subtle tenderness do not disappoint.

This is an enjoyable piece of mindless, explosion ridden gun slinging entertainment.  Have fun, go along for the ride.  The battle scenes are effective (the sound effects were actually a standout), there’s a little comedy, a little romance, a little bit of everything that makes a blockbuster.  It’s a film that’s not ashamed of what it is.  The alien’s themselves are quite unique, in that their motive is exactly that of the humans of the set time period.  And I’ll say no more.  They have absolutely no empathetic qualities.  And that’s ok.  (And boy, they look disGUSTING.)

In short, a fun mindless action-western romp that’s extremely likeable, clichéd and unashamed.

2.5 Stars

Cowboys and Aliens is in cinemas now.

Captain America: The First Avenger – Review

In the midst of the Second World War, the Americans joined the efforts against the Nazi threat. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) attempts to join the U.S. Army to fight in the name of his father, who fought in WW1. Unfortunately, due to a list of medical conditions and his scrawny phisique, a topic of many jokes during the film, he is rejected. After five tries in five different cities, Rogers is given the chance to serve.

He is chosen for a super soldier program, headed by German Ex-Pat, Abraham Erskine and the father of Iron Man, Howard Stark. After the programs’ sucess and first result of Roger’s new abilities, he is put on the theatre circut to raise War Bonds. He is named Captain America and becomes a symbol of the American’s efforts against Germany.

Captain America is then sent to Europe to inspire the troops where he finally puts his abilites to good use… Rescuing his best friend and the rest of the 107th from the clutches of the evil super-soldier-gone-wrong, Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). Now seen as a hero of the U.S. Army, Captain America and his band of soldiers take out Red Skull’s remaining ‘HYDRA’ bases. The last base in the Alps is the headquarters of ‘HYDRA’ and the home of Red Skull and his ultimate weapon, derived from a tesseract that belonged to the god, Odin. Red Skull and Captain America fight each other as the fate of America’s largest cities and the world hang in the balance.

Captain America: The First Avenger is the third Marvel movie this year and the last one before the currently in-production, Avengers flick. The film sported good scenes with humour and action as well as the most obvious tie-ins to the Avengers franchise to date… The HYDRA superweapon is derived from Asgard technology, from Thor, while a major character in this film is Tony Stark’s father, as well as the usual cameo from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), foreshadowing the involvement in the Avengers, because the title, “The First Avenger” apparently isn’t enough.

I found the movie was good, however, I think I enjoyed X-Men: First Class more. I have been a fan of the Captain nythos since the 90’s cartoon, Spider-Man, where the events of WW2 are reserected and Red Skull and Captain America come out of a time-locked vortex and I found it interesting how they played around with his journey to the present in this story. Overall, Captain America: The First Avenger was very enjoyable and I cannot wait for The Avengers, next year.

Captain America: The First Avenger is in cinemas now.
4 Stars

Superheroes To Save Us From The Apocalypse

With the supposed Apocalypse coming at the end of 2012 the superhero films are coming out hard and fast with this year and next year looking to be bigger and better than previous years.

2011-

Green Hornet – Hopefully not a sign of things to come as far as the next two years in Superhero films go.

May, June and July (around the American Summer Break) seem to be this year’s Super Months. Thor, featuring Australian, Chris Hemsworth is set to be released around Late April – Early May. It’s the story of Marvel’s least original superhero, the Norse god of Thunder Thor and his exile to earth. Next on the bill, in June is X-Men: First Class. This film is about the first generation of mutants – Professor X, before he was a professor, Magneto, before he was a total evil badass… and many more. Modelled after the new Star Trek film, the producers want to take the series in a new direction with a fresh young cast. This film is seen as the first film in a new trilogy in the franchise.

To DC’s only release this year, The Green Lantern. Ryan Renolds plays Hal Jordan, one of the first characters in the comic books to don the ring and fight for the Green Lantern Corps. The movie is seems to have a Iron Man sort of feel to it and from the trailer it’s difficult to say how this movie will go. Hopefully it will do well and one day DC might follow Marvel’s suit and create a Justice League movie.

Wrapping up the summer of super is Captain America: The First Avenger, the film is a chronicling of the first Avenger, from his rise out of the super soldier program to his status as “America’s Greatest Superhero”. Chris Evans plays the scrawny come super, Steve Rogers. While Hugo Weaving plays the evil Nazi, Red Skull.

2012-

Casting has been announced for the new Nolan produced Superman film with Diane Lane joining the cast as Martha Kent. Earlier this year Henry Cavill was cast as Superman for the film. The casting of Cavill made me think that maybe Christopher Nolan wants the world’s super heroes to be british? Batman played by Christian Bale and now Superman standing up for Truth, Justice and The Way of the Queen. That aside the director of the reboot tentatively titled “Superman: Man Of Steel” is Zack Snyder. This mix of Nolan and Snyder could be a strong one! – Superman: Man Of Steel is set to be released the end of next year. Another Nolan addition to the ranks is The Dark Knight Rises, the third and final instalment in the rebooted Batman series. Christian Bale returns as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Anne Hathaway is slated to play Selena Kyle (Catwoman) and Tom Hardy to play Bane. Could Batman’s back be broken in this film by the deadly Bane? All I know is it’s Batman and it’s back… Nolan Style. Prepare for epicness! – The Dark Knight Rises is expected to be released July 20, 2012.

Marvel returns in 2012 with 3 movies so far… a Ghost Rider sequel, the Spider-Man Reboot: “The Amazing Spider-Man” and the ultimate superhero team up movie… The Avengers.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance will star Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider again. It’s been several years since making a deal with the Devil and Johnny Blaze (Cage), living in self-imposed isolation, finds himself as the only person who can help save 10-year-old Danny – and ultimately the world – thanks to his unwanted and uncontrollable power – he has the ability to transform into the hell-on-wheels monster known as the Ghost Rider. Andrew Garfield, famous for playing the co-founder of Facebook in The Social Network returns to the screen in 2012 as Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man, the reboot of the series that ended only a few years ago. Marc Webb, the director of (500) Days Of Summer, has signed on as the aptly named director of this film. The Lizard and Van Atter, the Proto-Goblin are billed as the villains of the film.

The ultimate cross over sequal, The Avengers is Marvel’s flagship movie for 2010-2012 with almost all their films tying in to this movie. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow & Nick Fury are all planned as cast in this movie directed by the one, the only… JOSS WHEDON! The ultimate comic-y fanboy has signed on to direct what will hopefully be an epic film of epic proportions!

The next two years are going to be incredibly super if all the movies work out… the are a few at the moment I’m not too sure about at the moment but we’ll see how they go. Who knows maybe 2013/2014 will be just as good… although the only Super-Film planned at the moment is Iron Man 3 :/

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