The top grossing films in the U.S. of 2008 have something in common. Three of the top four were based on super heroes (and the fourth is Indiana Jones who is not far off from being a super hero).
1. The Dark Knight - $530 million +
2. Iron Man - $318 million
3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - $317 million
4. Hancock - $228 million
5. WALL-E - $224 million
Also coming in at #14 on this year's list was The Incredible Hulk ($134 million). Heck, even Superhero Movie (a spoof of the superhero genre) came in at #100 grossing $26 million. It was definitely a year dominated by super hero movies.
The Dark Knight and Iron Man were outstanding movies, but their success along with the full slate of new super hero/comic book movies scheduled to be released in the coming years reminds me of a line from Kevin Smith's movie Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. One character said, "After X-Men hit at the box office, the movie companies started buying out every comic property they could get their dirty little hands on."
This gave me the idea of doing a top 10 list of what I consider to be the best super hero movies released. I was going to focus just on the 80s (like I would normally do) but then I would have been limited to pretty much Superman II and Batman, so I needed to expand the criteria.
Making a super hero/comic book movie is big undertaking with great responsibility to the fans. As an avid comic book reader as a kid, seeing these super heroes come to life on the big screen includes high expectations. The comic book community seems to have even higher expectations. I have to say that most of them do not meet my expectations and I will have to even include a couple of them towards the bottom of my list.
Instead of judging sequels from the same franchise separately, I decided just to rank them all together. The only exception to that is Batman since that franchise was re-launched with 2005's Batman Begins. So let's get on to OLD SCHOOL'S TOP 10 SUPER HERO MOVIES/FRANCHISES OF ALL TIME (as of 1/1/09):
Honorable Mention. Mystery Men (1999) - This movie is a comedy about a group of super heroes with relatively unimpressive and strange powers who need to come to the rescue anyways. Some of these powers include using a shovel as a weapon, throwing silverware, rage/anger, superpowered flatulence and bowling to name a few. It stars Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, Hank Azaria among others. Had a lot of potential and is very funny, but just misses becoming a true comedy classic. I thought it deserved at least an honorable mention (if not ranked on the list itself).
11. Fantastic Four (2005) and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) - I found the original quite disappointing, but the sequel had some redeeming qualities which allowed it to squeak on to the list at #11.
10. Hulk (2003) - This was going to be tough to pull off since the big green guy had to be entirely computer generated, but the choice of Ang Lee as director really did not make any sense. I was not all that crazy about 2008's attempt called The Incredible Hulk either.
9. Hellboy (2004) - The film starred Ron Perlman in the title role and I like what Roger Ebert had to say about his performance, "And in Ron Perlman, it has found an actor who is not just playing a superhero, but enjoying it . . . he chomps his cigar, twitches his tail and battles his demons with something approaching glee. You can see an actor in the process of making an impossible character really work."
8. Daredevil (2003) - This was one of my very favorite comic books as a kid, so I already liked the character and he was played by Ben Affleck, who I am also a big fan of. So I hold this film in a little better light than most have. The only major complaint I had with this film was the costume they made him wear. I thought performances by Jennifer Garner and Colin Farrell, but I did not buy Michael Clarke Duncan as "Kingpin." I would like to see a sequel or re-launch on this franchise.
7. Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980) - Notice that I do not list III and IV which were released in 1983 and 1986 respectively because I felt both were not worthy of being included. The first two movies, on the other hand, were great especially for the time that they were released. Christopher Reeve starred as the man of steel and Gene Hackman starred as his arch-enemy Lex Luthor. The original was the first epic superhero film to be made as a feature film and was quite successful. There would not be another successful franchise introduced until Batman in 1989.
6. Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997) - If I was ranking all of the movies separately, the original Batman with Michael Keaton as the caped crusader and Jack Nicholson as "The Joker" would rank near the top. As a franchise, though, the later movies did not hold up that standard though they were all entertaining in my opinion. Some of my favorite villains include Michelle Pfeifer as "Catwoman", Jim Carrey as "The Riddler" and Tommy Lee Jones as "Two-Face."
5. Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Spider-Man 3 (2007) - This is one of the most commercially successful franchises and I admit that they have been extremely well done. For some reason though, I just can't get myself to love these films as much as many others do. Tobey Maguire has done an excellent job portraying Peter Parker and I can't criticize anything specific, so I still have to keep it barely in my top 5.
4. The Incredibles (2004) - Not the same sort of film as the others on the list, this film is a digitally-animated family oriented superhero film by the Pixar/Disney team that has also brought us such films as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Cars and WALL-E. It is about a family of retired super heroes who are forced back into action. I like, again, what Roger Ebert had to say that the film "alternates breakneck action with satire of suburban sitcom life" and is "another example of Pixar's mastery of popular animation." You might be surprised that I have it ranked this highly, but watch it again and you will agree.
3. Iron Man (2008) - This was unexpected since this character was previously nowhere near as popular as Spider-Man, Batman or Superman. I was a fan of the character from my comic book days, so I was looking forward to the movie, but could not have anticipated the film being as good as it was. Robert Downey Jr. was fantastic as Tony Stark and they created a new blockbuster franchise based on the box office success it achieved. I am not anticipating the sequel, but probably even more eagerly awaiting The Avengers (of which Iron Man is a founding member) which is scheduled for release in 2011.
2. X-Men (2000), X2: X-Men United (2003) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) - I thought these movies were great and I was not even a big fan of the comics. The best character is "Wolverine" played perfectly by Hugh Jackman who will have its own film X-Men Origins: Wolverine released in May 2009. The only downside to this franchise is that there are so many interesting characters that none of them really gets the proper development. Despite that fact, these movies do an excellent job whether you are familiar with the mutant back-story ahead of time or not.
1. Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008) - These were not sequels to the original franchise which was ranked at #6. I was surprised that I liked these films as much as I did, but Christopher Nolan did an exceptional job. To be honest, I am not crazy about Christian Bale as Batman, but the story and action is so strong that it does not matter who is in the suit all that much. The Dark Knight, as mentioned at the beginning of this issue, was the highest grossing movie in the US in 2008. It was also #1 in the world bringing in just short of a billion dollars. Unadjusted for inflation, The Dark Knight is now the second highest grossing film in North America of all time behind only Titanic. It features an outstanding performance by the late Heath Ledger as "The Joker." This performance was deserving of attention even if it wasn't for his tragic passing shortly before its release in theaters. These are outstanding movies period, whether they are super hero movies or not, and I highly recommend them to anyone who has yet to see them.
There is my list. Please leave your comments below with your thoughts on this subject. I look forward to any and all feedback and hope to get lots of it on this topic. In 2008, the box office was dominated by super hero movies. With the copycat trend that seems to be rampant in Hollywood these days, this is sure to mean lots more super hero movies coming to theaters in the coming years. There are several in the works already (Captain America, Thor, The Avengers, Green Lantern, JLA) with several sequels in progress as well. This list is sure to change as new movies are released, but this is how I see it as of the end of 2008.
That will wrap up another issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks as always for reading. If you are interested in reading more of my Top 10 lists, please click there for a summary of those. You can also click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the new Fan Page where I ask you to then click on "Become a Fan". If you are not a Facebook member yet, please consider joining and registering as a fan at that page. Peace and much love.
Check this out: I thought you might enjoy this little exercise...
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL???
Try it without looking at the answers......
Please don't look down until you do it, you'll love it I promise
GET A CALCULATOR (YOUR COMPUTER HAS ONE ON IT)
1) Pick your favorite number between 1-9
2) Multiply by 3 then
3) Add 3, then again Multiply by 3
4) You'll get a 2 or 3 digit number....
5) Add the digits together
Now Scroll down ..............
Now with that number see who your ROLE MODEL is from the list below:
1. Albert Einstein
2. Nelson Mandela
3. Abraham Lincoln
4. Sarah Palin
5. Bill Gates
7. George Clooney
8. Michael Jordan
9. Old School
10. Mother Theresa
I know....I just have that effect on people....that is so kind of you..... Believe it!
P.S.: Stop picking different numbers. I am your idol, just deal with it!!!!
Quote of the day: "We can't all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by." -Will Rogers