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.


AA

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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Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

In 2012, Joss Whedon brought together the band of Marvel superheroes known as The Avengers, for the hugely successful ‘Avengers Assemble’. Financially, there are very few films to match the success of ‘Avengers Assemble’, grossing $1.5 billion to make it the third highest grossing film of all time (behind Titanic and Avatar). With a budget of $220 million, that’s a pretty nice little profit. Critically, the film has garnered 31 awards and 65 nominations, as well as ranking in the top 200 films of all time on IMDB. Marvel and Disney’s partnership has produced an incredibly successful, lucrative global phenomenon which has seen the superhero genre dominate the box-office in recent years. With both Marvel and DC boasting a hectic schedule slate over the next five years, the power of the superhero movie shows no signs of stalling. But is it all getting a little too much?

What is it about superheroes which very rarely allows us to leave the obsession behind with our childhood? My own love of superheroes started as early as I can remember, with my favourite, Batman. I wanted to be a hero just like him, I had the outfits and the toys, I watched the cartoons and the films religiously, I was hooked. Far from neglecting this addiction, it has thrived as I have grown older and discovered more and more superheroes. I always harboured a certain reluctance, even ignorance, to the world of Marvel, aside from The X-Men and the detestable Spider-Man movies of the early  2000s. But then, in 2008, along came Robert Downey Jr. and Iron-Man to save the day, inspiring me to delve deeper into Marvel’s rapidly expanding cinematic universe, to find Captain America and Thor.

With the world adequately educated on the stories of these three heroes, the Avengers were ready to assemble. Throw in The Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Director Nick Fury and you’ve got yourself a formidable team. For me, there is something about a super-team joining forces which really excites me. ‘Avengers Assemble’ was a truly amazing film; it’s exciting, fun, full of action and more importantly, it was NEW. A truly groundbreaking film, in terms of visual effects of course, but also a pioneer in the genre of superhero movies itself. To give the world a live-action film, featuring all the best characters Marvel has to offer, this was something special. Even with the resounding success of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy, it is hard to deny that ‘Avengers Assemble’ took the superhero movie to the next level and placed itself firmly at the heart of a thriving market.

Three years later, and the world is dying for more from The Avengers. The sequel, ‘Age Of Ultron’, arrives in UK cinemas on April 23rd, with the USA having to wait another week on top of that. We have been treated to three pretty special trailers, to tantalise our excitement for the grand spectacle, but what exactly do we know about ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’? Taking its title from a 2013 comic-book story arc, the film seemingly diverts from the graphic novel plot in many ways, in which the villainous Ultron has already ravaged planet Earth and New York City in particular. Ultron is created by Tony Stark, as the final step towards artificial intelligence, but his creation turns rogue and targets humanity for annihilation. In the comic-book, Ultron is portrayed as being exceptionally powerful, and whilst it seems he will still have a devastating effect on NYC, Joss Whedon has admitted that he had to tone down the robot’s powers for the movie.

Everyone is back for this one, even the dastardly Loki, plus Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver, Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch and an appearance from The Vision. The multiple trailers for ‘Age Of Ultron’ depict an army of AI robots, led by Ultron ravaging New York City and causing a lot of trouble for the Avengers, in scenes which resonate with the Sentinels from ‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’. The aspect of the trailers which has caused most excitement though, is the appearance of The Hulkbuster, another of Stark’s controversial creations. The Hulkbuster is Stark’s way of saying “I don’t trust you man” and it seems The Hulk doesn’t take too kindly to such a precaution, with the two pitted against each other in a destructive battle. There are clear tensions amongst the Avengers, and the Hulkbuster underlines this, tensions which Ultron is delighted to manipulate and exacerbate, whilst enjoying a reign of mass-destruction. But the good guys will win in the end, right?

If Marvel’s upcoming schedule slate is anything to go by, then yes, the good guys will prevail. The post-Ultron schedule is headed by ‘Captain America: Civil War’, which will place Captain America against Iron-Man in another internal battle within the troubled Avengers team. With Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury and more set to return for the Captain America sequel, we are left with no uncertainty as to the survivors of ‘Age Of Ultron’. By providing us with details of this film, before we have even had the chance to enjoy the Avengers sequel, Marvel have removed all elements of surprise and suspense from the experience. Only The Hulk, with no standalone film to come and no cast list released for 2018’s ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, is at risk of being killed off in ‘Age Of Ultron’. Unfortunately, the financial benefits of Marvel’s marketing campaigns means that we can no longer enjoy a little mystery and ambiguity surrounding our favourite films, but then again, we hardly expect the good guys to lose.

Ultimately, all of the upcoming films in Marvel’s cinematic universe SHOULD be incredible and I am personally very excited for ‘Age Of Ultron’ in particular. Indeed, I can’t recall being this excited for any film before. Maybe it’s a good thing that we know what is in the pipeline, I mean, the more the merrier when it comes to the superhero movies. This may be Joss Whedon’s farewell to the franchise, but ‘Age Of Ultron’ is set to be even better than its predecessor, an unfathomable thought. Long live the superhero movie!