By Stacey Budd
With the release of The Dark Knight Rises on DVD and Blu Ray, and the excitement surrounding the release of Iron Man 3 in 2013, we can’t help but think that there probably hasn’t been a better time to be a superhero. Following the overwhelming success of Kick Ass back in 2010, the last two years have spiralled into a whirlwind of Marvel-mania, as comic book heroes from across the decades have congregated on our screens in a fight against evil and a triumph for spandex.
Over 70 years on from the foundation of Marvel Comics, geeks and film-lovers alike are still going crazy for caped crusaders, mad for masked vigilantes, and wild for iron-clad warriors. Whether its uber strength, the power of flight, x-ray vision, or extra-sensory perception you’re looking for, we have it all here in our look back at the best superhero movies of the past two years.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
The highly anticipated sequel to the original Iron Man movie, starring Robert Downey Jr., blasted onto our screens in 2010 with Tony Stark having revealed his true identity as the steely-suited superhero. Iron Man must do battle with the colossal Ivan Vanko (Micky Rourke) and, in turn, contend with the publicity and government interest surrounding his double-life. With the return of Gwyneth Paltrow as ‘Pepper Potts’ and the introduction of Scarlett Johansson as ‘Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow’, Iron Man 2 brings the same sassy, swaggering charm as its predecessor. This really is superhero movie indulgence at its very best.
The Green Hornet (2011)
In January 2011, Michael Gondry’s adaptation of Trendle and Striker’s masked vigilante hit cinema screens, perhaps not to the best critical reception. The film stars Seth Rogen as Britt Reid, a wealthy young heir who teams up with his late father’s assistant Kato to become a crime fighting duo. The film was slammed by critics for its poor use of 3D, and for a paper thin plotline. However, with Christoph Waltz starring as the villainous Chudnofsky, and the comedy genius of Rogen, this comic book caper isn’t one to be totally cast aside. Some great special effects and tongue-in-cheek fight scenes make for a zany adaptation of a comic-book classic, which dares even the most sceptical movie lover not to be entertained.
Green Lantern (2011)
It’s not easy being green, as Ryan Reynolds found out in his role as Green Lantern last summer. Granted super powers by the alien ring of Abin Sur, Hal Jordan (Reynolds) must defend mankind from the evil Parallax, a super-villain intent on destroying the universe by feeding on the fear of his victims. Yet another emerald hero who failed to live up to box office expectations, the film did receive praise for its self-deprecating humour, and its playful delivery of the classic American Comics’ storyline. Is it the greatest superhero movie of the last two years? Probably not. But the sheer ambition of the film alone earns it a well-deserved place among its peers, as a great adaptation of a legendary comic-book mythology.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
Following the success of the previous X-Men franchise, Matthew Vaughn’s offering of X-Men: First Class was gladly devoured by movie-goers and film critics alike. The prequel to the original X-Men trilogy charts the relationship between Charles Xavier and Magneto, and the origin of their respective groups; the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants. Starring the likes of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence, the movie certainly lived up to the hype and was an absolute smash at the Box Office, earning a worldwide gross of over $350 million. With a stellar cast, a great script, and the stylish direction of Matthew Vaughn, this is one history lesson that we’d all gladly take, over and over again.
The mythical character of Thor, adapted from the Stan Lee Marvel comic of the same name, thundered onto our screens over a year ago. And yet, the tremors of his first on-screen appearance are still shuddering through the movie world, with no sign of letting up. Chris Hemsworth took to the screen in 2011, as the powerful but arrogant warrior, cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live amongst humans on Earth. Thor soon becomes our planet’s finest defender, and must fight against his brother Loki, in order to prevent total destruction falling upon all of mankind. With a great supporting cast to include Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, and Tom Hiddleston, Thor was a roaring success. Shrouded in magnificent Marvel mythology, Thor is a loud and lively adaptation of our favourite hammer-wielding hero.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
World War II superhero Captain America was brought to life back in 2011 by Chris Evans, who portrayed the military hero in The First Avenger movie. Deemed unfit for service, Steve Rogers (Captain America) volunteers for a top secret experiment, which turns him into the patriotic hero, dedicated to defending the USA. The film seamlessly paved the way for the Avengers Assemble movie that was set to hit cinema screens the following year, and was an overall success among the critics. But possibly our favourite thing about Captain America was the impressive digital reduction of Chris Evans’ brawn, in order to achieve his dramatic transformation into Captain America. The cast and crew spent many hours, painstakingly shooting scenes from every angle, and then adding careful editing during the movie’s post-production. And we think it was worth every second!
Avengers Assemble (2012)
Wouldn’t it be great, if we could have a movie, where all of our favourite superheroes are gathered together in one arena, for an action-packed couple of hours of world-defending frivolity? Joss Whedon certainly thought so, and after almost seven years in the making, he released Avengers Assemble onto our screens, for comic book fans across the globe to unashamedly gorge themselves on. The movie sees law-enforcement agency S.H.I.E.L.D. gathering together Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye, to defend the planet from the attack of Loki and his army of alien attackers. The film cleaned up at the box office, and was an overwhelming success with movie critics. We’re just counting down the days until the next instalment in 2015.
The Amazing Spider-man (2012)
Do we really need another Spider-man movie, so shortly after Sam Raimi had worked his magic with Toby Maguire, only a few years earlier? Well it turned out that we did – we needed it real bad! The success of the film speaks for itself, and the decision to re-make the Marvel classic really did pay off. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone had electric on-screen chemistry as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, and Rhys Ifans delivered a sinister and show-stopping performance as The Lizard. Most of all, The Amazing Spider-man boasts one of the best uses of 3D filming in modern cinema, with the ground-breaking use of 3ality resulting in no shaky 2D-3D footage conversion. The mesmerising digital footage of Spider-man flawlessly soaring through New York City is absolutely mind-blowing, and had comic-book fans all over the world asking themselves; ‘Toby’ who?
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
We had to wait four years, but the final instalment in The Dark Knight trilogy certainly delivered what it had promised. Set eight years after the last Batman instalment, The Dark Knight Rises sees terrorist leader Bane taking over Gotham City, following Batman’s exile by the strapping psychopath. Christopher Nolan’s directorship offers stunning visual effects, an action-packed plotline, and a blood-curdling villain to rival the late Heath Ledger’s portrayal of ‘The Joker’. With a star-studded supporting cast, and a few cheeky nods to possible spin-offs, TDKR is an utterly explosive finale to The Dark Knight trilogy.
Man of Steel (2013)
Looking forward to 2013, the highly-anticipated Superman movie Man of Steel will finally be hitting our screens. The release date has already been moved back from December 2012 to June 2013, but we’re hoping that the wait will be well and truly worth it. After the disappointing release of Superman Returns back in 2006, it’s about time Clark Kent fans were rewarded with a truly good Superman flick, and we have every faith that TDKR’s Christopher Nolan will deliver. Starring Henry Cavill as Superman, the movie is set to portray the origins of the Kryptonian caped-crusader. Amy Adams will star in the role of Lois Lane, and the film also boasts movie legends Russell Crowe, Laurence Fishburne, and Kevin Costner. Set to hit our screens next summer in 3D, we’re expecting big things from Man of Steel, and we’re almost certain we won’t be disappointed.