With all due respect to brain surgeons, rocket scientists and whoever manages to keep finding work for Cameron Diaz, being a superhero is probably the hardest job in the world. But every once in awhile a movie comes along that must make it all worth it. Movies like these five.
5) Batman (1966)
As dark as the last couple Batman movies have been, it’s easy to forget that the character’s first big screen incarnation was the ridiculous Adam West version. The original is preposterous in every possible way, which makes it completely amazing. The heroes and villains couldn’t be any less menacing and the campy overacting and absurd dialogue add up to a comedic masterpiece.
Best Scene: Batman, hanging from a helicopter, with a beyond fake-looking shark hanging on his leg. Luckily he just happens to be carrying his “Bat Shark Repellant.” Genius.
4) Spiderman 2
“Spiderman 2” makes up for its lack of emotional depth with extraordinary fight scenes. Alfred Molina is great as Dr. Octopus and J.K. Simmons steals every scene he’s in. It’s not “Citizen Kane,” but it does tie a lot of cool scenes together that don’t require much thinking. And it’s got a human-spider fighting a human-octopus.
Best scene: The showdown between Spiderman and Dr. Octopus on top of a speeding train helped win the Oscar for Visual Effects.
3) Iron Man
As if it was possible for a movie starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jeff Bridges to be anything other than awesome. Downey’s charisma is off the charts and the film is visually arresting from start to finish. The upcoming sequel, rumored to replace Bridges and Terrance Howard with Mickey Rourke and Don Cheadle, might be even better.
Best scene: That one scene where that thing blows up and there’s a big explosion and some rock music plays. Such a great scene.
“Watchmen” has got to be the most intelligent superhero movie, with its complex ruminations on the nature of morality. Even the dynamic climax ultimately raises more questions than it answers. What will become of Rorschach’s journal? Is Veidt the world’s savior or its greatest villain? Couldn’t anyone convince Dr. Manhattan to put on a pair of pants?
Best scene: The opening credits, which recap years of backstory while reimagining history in a way that is both artistic and captivating – that and anything with Rorschach.
1) The Dark Knight
“Batman Begins” gave the franchise a much needed shot in the arm in 2005, but “The Dark Knight” redefined a genre. Riding the momentum of Heath Ledger’s brilliant turn as the psychotic Joker, “The Dark Knight” proved that comic book movies – and, more specifically, superhero movies – could be serious fare.
Best scene: It’s an obvious choice, but the Joker’s pencil trick immediately identifies the character as a lethal agent of chaos. Even more impressively, it makes everyone take a guy in a clown suit seriously.