Wednesday, January 04, 2012
There were two notable TV series in the late 70s, one about Spider-Man and the infinitely superior The Incredible Hulk with Bill Bixby. If I remember correctly, there was a pilot for PowerMan, too, but it wasn't the Luke Cage PowerMan and so I didn't pay attention to that. Various cartoons including a Fantastic Four series and Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends came and went but no movies.
Then in 2002 there was Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. Wow. As Spidey swung through the canyons Manhattan in that movie I was ten years old. Despite the obvious problems of plot and casting, the execution of Spider-Man was a high point. I really liked it. It didn't compare at all to the best superhero film of all time (Superman II [The Dark Knight hadn't been released yet and stands on par with Superman II for me]), but it looked like we were heading for a new era of superhero movies.
Marvel has put out quite a few more live action films than DC has and that means that the law of averages has taken over. There's quite of bit of dreck from Marvel out there (Daredevil, Elektra, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man 3, the Punisher movies) but some real gems, too. I haven't seen them all, but I've seen the good ones. Here then is my completely subjective and very personal list of how I think of the Marvel films.
BEST OF THE BUNCH: X-Men, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Blade, Thor
MIDDLE OF THE PACK: The Incredible Hulk, Blade 2, Fantastic Four, X2
BOTTOM OF THE BARREL: Daredevil, Elektra, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man 3, Punisher (both 1989 and 2003 versions), Hulk, Punisher: War Zone, Howard the Duck, Blade: Trinity, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, X-Men: the Last Stand
STILL TO BE DETERMINED: X-Men: First Class, Man-Thing, X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Though they're grouped, they are not in any particular order. You'll notice that with the exception of The Incredible Hulk (a film I particularly liked but is realistically not as good as the others), the Marvel Studios films are the cream of the crop.
However, none of these films approaches The Dark Knight for making believable superheroes come to life. Superman II is still a cut above even thirty-plus years later. This isn't a list of the best comic book adaptations, just my feelings about the Marvel films I've seen. I hope that The Avengers continues the winning record of the Marvel Studios stuff. If they continue to hire excellent directors and spend the money and time to write a GREAT story, they will.
That hasn't been the track record to date, though. Time will tell, I suppose. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises (a title I dislike) this summer. Sooner or later, I'll rank the DC movies, too, and the best comic book adaptations.