Luke’s Top 5 Superhero Movies

Written by Luke Riley

Greetings to all geeks, nerds and superhero fans. The time is finally upon us and Batman and Superman have come together on the silver screen. Many of us have finally witnessed two of the most iconic heroes battling it out in ‘Batman v Superman’, a pre-cursor to what will be the Justice League and the DC Universe. To celebrate this, I bring you my (very subjective) top 5 superhero/comic book movies. I personally like these comic book movies as they represent what I like to see in terms of action, characters and the stories. Please feel free to comment below, whether it be to tell me what a great list I’ve put together, or that I’ve made a huge mistake.


Hellboy-II-

5. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

The first ‘Hellboy’ film is a visual feast for the eyes, with an intriguing story and awesome characters, and the lovable red devil returns in this sequel. Guillmero del Toro turns it up to 11, and this is absolutely his movie. This sequel solidifies the universe that was set up in the first, with an amazing animated flashback in the intro to set up the motives of the villain, The Elven Prince Nuada. ‘Hellboy 2’ is so true to itself, everything is believable within the context it is presented. While we still haven’t seen a third in the franchise, this continuation brings it full speed to the conclusive, amazingly choreographed final fight. This movie proves that Guillermo del Toro can take source material and translate it well to the screen. Now, let’s pray for the trilogy to be completed.


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4. Avengers Assemble

The massively popular Marvel Cinematic Universe hinged on the success of 2008’s ‘Iron-Man’ – if that movie wasn’t a hit, we would never have seen an Avengers film. However, in 2012 we saw our beloved team come together to battle Thor’s adopted brother, Loki (played fantastically by Tom Hiddleston). The initial worry was whether each of these huge characters would be given enough screen time, but those worries were quickly slapped aside as each character was given their time in the spotlight in ‘Avengers Assemble’.

In one movie, we get; Iron-Man fighting Thor, Thor fighting Hulk, New York getting invaded by an alien army from another dimension and hints at the impending arrival of Thanos. Read that sentence again and remember that it all happened! What a world it is, that this material is given credence, presented authentically and respects source material as well as the audience. In Joss Whedon we trusted, and he truly delivered what is now a favourite of many comic book fans.


MAN OF STEEL

3. Man Of Steel

Following on from ‘Superman Returns’ – a movie which I actually enjoyed – the man in blue was to be given a fresh reboot. ‘Superman Returns’ wasn’t enjoyed by many, and whilst it was set to have two sequels, those plans were shelved so that Warner Bros could re-adjust. If ‘Superman Returns’ was an evening of peaceful and reflective classical music, then ‘Man Of Steel’ is a night of sweat-inducing heavy metal. From the first frame, the pace of this movie does not stop, the first 20 minutes being a krypton-based civil war. We also get a never-before-seen fighting Jor-el (Russell Crowe) as he has a brief encounter with Zod.

When we go to earth, we see Clark Kent as an adult, trying to find out who is he is. From the moment Clark finds a crashed Kryptonian ship to the final fight, the movie is quite literally a comic book on the big screen. It’s not just the conflict between Superman and Zod that has divided audiences, with this film being highly polarising and widely panned. I love it though, and the sequel, ‘Batman v Superman’, which has also divided audiences. Both films are full of action and beautifully pay homage to their comic book counterparts, which is a big tick for me.


Batman_Begins_poster6

2. Batman Begins

Warner Bros wisely put our Dark Knight on the shelf after the dreadful ‘Batman & Robin’, and it seemed like the caped crusader was done with. However, a hero would appear in the form of Christopher Nolan, a man who would strip away the needless cliches to reveal a very well-crafted story in a real world setting. Not only is this movie on an almost CGI-free diet, we are introduced for the first time to a live action R’as Al Ghul. While ‘The Dark Knight’ builds on the strength of ‘Batman Begins’, this is where the origins are so beautifully crafted. With a grimy colour palette, strong performances and a satisfying story, this is a worthy mantle for Batman to stand on high. It also comes with a bombastic soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer; not only does the music fit the tone, it enhances it ten fold. For me this is the essential solo Batman movie, as I enjoy a villain who is lordly yet able to beat some fool into the ground if needed. I do enjoy ‘The Dark Knight’, but this first in the trilogy really hits a home run for me.


x-men

1. X-Men

“Mututation, it is the key to our evolution” – Professor Charles Xavier

This is an opening quote that shows this movie will have intelligence and a respect for the source material. The first scene is particularly interesting as we see a young Magneto being taken away from his parents, as well as the origin of his power. His power is born of hatred and from being persecuted for being different and also the love for his parents. In his adult years, his motives are to protect his fellow mutants, but he also sees humans as inferior; he believes they should become mutant or die if they aren’t worthy. He becomes the things he hated, the reason why he is who is and also what created him. This hate is countered by the gentle yet determined Professor X, who believes the two species can co-exist. While we have characters such as Wolverine, Cyclops and Storm, my enjoyment stems from the conflict of Xavier and Magneto. These former friends with opposing ideologies have several conversations throughout this film which, because of their combined acting abilities, have more excitement than any fist fight. The first movie in the ‘X-Men’ series signified that Hollywood was ready to take comic books seriously, and I am thankful it began with The Children of the Atom.

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Which Alfred Is The Best?

Written by Patrick Alexander

Much hullabaloo has been made in the recent weeks, months and years as to where Ben Affleck does, has and will stack up in the overall Batman role sphere. Is he better than Christian Bale? Probably not. He’s got to be better than Michael Keaton, right? A push, maybe. Yeah, but he kicks Val Kilmer’s butt? Definitely. However, forget being caught up in the endless debate over Affleck’s position on Mt. Batmore, inevitably carved out of the wet walls of the Batcave. We’re here today to talk about the butler of all butlers, Albert Thaddeus Crane Pennyworth, and where his various portrayals in film and television stack up. 

First, a little history about Alfred. As any comic book nerd will tell you, Albert hails from Great Britain, having been a highly skilled British Intelligence Operative, making him the perfect guardian to protect young Bruce Wayne from the cruelties of a dark Gotham City. Outside of being the most overqualified babysitter and tea-man in the world – from his expertise in domestic sciences to his proficiency with mechanical and computer systems – Alfred always had Batman’s back, even putting his emergency medical acumen to work numerous times to save Master Wayne’s life. So where do the representations of the legendary chamberlain stack up? Let’s find out.


 

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5. Jeremy Irons 
Films: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

The latest enactment of Alfred left much to be desired. While his role is scant in the new DC universe picture, Irons does flex his proficiency with mechanical and computer operating systems, helping Batfleck out several times, such as taking control of the Batplane whilst Batman has to skydive smash through a wall to go kick some criminal butts. Irons certainly looked the part as an aged and tired Alfred, ready to give up the reins to his care of Wayne Manor, finding his role rather diminished as Master Bruce had aged gracefully into a Kryptonite induced mid-life crisis. However, there is hope yet for Mr. Irons with ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Justice League’ pictures in production, and the possibility of appearing in solo Batfleck movies, we could still see Irons and his Alfred ascend this list.


 

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4. Michael Gough
Films: Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin

Gough carried nearly a decade’s worth of the Alfred torch, spanning the runs of Keaton, Kilmer, and lastly, George Clooney. Whilst Gough never portrayed the more tactical and eternally youthful former military man version of Alfred, Gough served his role as Batman’s foremost confidant in an ever-changing Gotham universe. The most dapper of this list, Gough seemed to always be there with a joke, or to light up a smoke when Master Wayne needed it most. Despite a heralded four film run, spanning three different Batmen, Gough’s finest hour, perhaps, might have been this 1990’s Diet Coke advert. 


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3. Alan Napier
TV Series: Batman 

A throwback to the 1960s live action television series that any older American male can remember watching, spliced into the Saturday morning cartoons. Napier’s portrayal might well have been the most savvy in the pre-super-darkness era of Gotham. Napier’s lighthearted portrayal – before Batman got uber-techie – won hearts as Batman and Robin’s main man (servant). During a storied, three season, 120 episode run, Napier had the Batphone on lock down, always promptly answering and alerting Batman to the dangers of Gotham. Indubitably things got easier once they invented sonar tracking devices and advanced communication platforms, including computers, so it’s hard to say if Napier’s Alfred would have made it in the modern era.


Sean Pertwee

2. Sean Pertwee
TV Series: Gotham

Pertwee makes a strong case for the title belt here, combatting his way onto the Alfred scene. The youngest Alfred to date, known for protecting the young Bruce Wayne in the immediate aftermath of his parent’s demise, Pertwee’s protective instincts for young Bruce and his knack for continuously felling the villains of Gotham come in handy, as Bruce has yet to fully realise or actualise his future as the bodyguard of Gotham. The ‘Gotham’ TV series has been praised as a hot new show from Fox, and it’s casting of Pertwee really delivers, from Wayne Manor brawls with former British Intelligence Operative pals (psychopaths), to always putting himself in harm’s way to shield Master Wayne from the lurking evils of Gotham’s craziest menaces.


Michael Caine

1. Michael Caine
Films: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises

Let’s be honest though, we all know Michael Caine is the greatest of all time when it comes to Alfred. Readily beside Christian Bale’s side through the best installment of the Batman franchise, his fame through association certainly buffers his ranking. Competent in (all too often) medical procedures, Alfred never wavers in his faith of Master Wayne as mainly a confidant and ally in his later years. Despite lacking the fighting ability other Alfreds reveal, Caine had perhaps the most quotable Alfred because he understood his role in Wayne’s life as a father figure better than any other. In ‘Batman Begins’, after the house burns down, Wayne belittles Alfred in a rough way saying: “why do you give a damn, Alfred? It’s not your family”. Caine replies in a manner representative of the Alfred who got it most, “I give a damn, because a good man once made me responsible for what was most precious to him in the whole world”. Beautiful, Michael.