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.

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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!

Film News Friday – Week 33, 2011

Here’s what’s been happening in the Movie World this week…

  • Ridley Scott to make a new Blade Runner film. No word as yet weather it’s a sequel or a prequel.
  • Will Smith is in discussions for Fantastic Voyage
  • With The Avengers almost complete, Robert Downey Jr. states that he’s excited to work with Iron Man 3 director, Shane Black.
  • Warner Bros. Pictures hits the $2 Billion mark again this year.
  • The Trailer for Underworld Awakening has been released.

  • The troubled film The Wolverine is set to shoot in Vancouver in November. It is essentially a sequel to Origins: Wolverine and it expected to be directed by James Mangold.
  • A synopsis of Man Of Steel has been released with a Vancouver Casting Call:

In the pantheon of superheroes, Superman is the most recognized and revered character of all time. Clark Kent/Kal-El (Cavill) is a young twentysomething journalist who feels alienated by powers beyond anyone’s imagination. Transported to Earth years ago from Krypton, an advanced alien planet, Clark struggles with the ultimate question – Why am I here? Shaped by the values of his adoptive parents Martha (Lane) and Jonathan Kent (Costner), Clark soon discovers that having super abilities means making very difficult decisions. But when the world needs stability the most, it comes under attack. Will his abilities be used to maintain peace or ultimately used to divide and conquer? Clark must become the hero known as “Superman,” not only to shine as the world’s last beacon of hope but to protect the ones he loves.

  • Films The Dark Tower and The Lone Ranger are undergoing some financial troubles for their respective production companies. The Lone Ranger may be able to get out of the woods by cutting back a science fiction/fantasy/Native American element.
  • Coming February next year is Daniel Radcliffe’s new film… The Woman In Black.