10 Best Superhero Films of All Time – Part 3

by Randy Krinsky


Continued from the previous page




#6        Captain America: The Winter Solder (2014)

Studio: Marvel

Director: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo

Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Frank Grillo

Production Budget: $170 million

Worldwide Gross: $714.8 million

I don’t care who you are this was a great movie!  With Chris Evans returning as Cap, the action was cranked up to 11, and the film didn’t sacrifice character development and suspense for CGI comic moments.  Known primarily as television directors, the Russos took a major franchise project and ran with it.  In doing so they solidified their reputations as directors to be reckoned with.  With them having been signed on to not only direct the new Captain America: Civil War, but will also succeed Joss Whedon as directors of the planned Avengers: Infinity Wars – Part 1 and Part 2.  The duo have apparently been christened as heirs-apparent to Whedon as caretakers of the MCU; no small feat for directors who made their bones in television.

This movie attracted not just comic book movie fans, but conspiracy thriller fans and dramatic film lovers.  Winter Soldier had it all; keeping viewers in suspense throughout wondering just how deep the intrigue ran within the government and S.H.I.E.L.D.  We got to see Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) being bad ass and more of the incomparable Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) displaying the skills that make her S.H.I.E.L.D.’s #1 operative (well, I guess Cap is now #1, but he never went through S.H.I.E.L.D. training so technically he’s a straight-up Avenger and not an agent).  And who can forget that elevator sequence?  Honestly?  Cap gives them all fair warning (“Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?”) and he still takes out eleven highly trained operatives in close quarters combat.  Awesome!

This was the first Marvel film that wasn’t made in the vein of Iron Man – not just a regular superhero film where the good guy goes against a baddie.  Winter Soldier changed the way Hollywood will forever look at these films, as well as filmgoers.  Credit also goes to Robert Redford lending his gravitas and commanding presence.  I mean, honestly, he’s one of the few that can stand tall and verbally joust with Cap and Fury; any other civilian trying just wouldn’t be believable.

As I said earlier, this is a great movie.  Not just a great superhero movie, but an action thriller that can seriously stand up to any other action-drama spy film out there!  This film has planted the seeds for not just the next movie, but for movies down the road. The possibilities are countless and I, for one, can’t wait until the next film!

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#5        Superman: The Movie (1978)

Studio: Warner Brothers

Director: Richard Donner

Cast: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman, Ned Beatty

Production Budget: $55 million

Worldwide Gross: $300.2 million

I crushed on this film earlier and praised its production as a pivotal turning point in cinematic action history.  Superman opened up Hollywood to the potential of big budget theatrical superhero movies. Before this film, superhero fare was relegated to campy weekend matinees for children or chapter-based serials seen before the feature presentation.  This was the first time that a superhero film targeted an adult audience. Let’s face it, had this been done wrong it would’ve been just another campy film, or television movie-of-the-week.  However, the film was a phenomenal success thanks to the action, the romance, the gosh-darn goodness of our hero, accompanied by the groundbreaking special effects and the charm of its star, Christopher Reeve.  Although to call him a star at the time is a bit misleading; he had actually only done one other big screen role and it was a small part.

Originally, the studio wanted to hire a big name for the starring role as Superman.  Robert Redford was approached, as was Burt Reynolds, James Caan, and Paul Newman; all turned it down.  In his autobiography, David Prowse, who portrayed Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, claimed he auditioned but was turned down because he wasn’t American.  The casting process was grueling.  The top actors with the muscles to pull it off didn’t resemble Superman; those actors who did resemble Superman really couldn’t act! When it was finally decided to cast an unknown, fate favored Christopher Reeve; however Richard Donner and producer Ilya Salkind thought he was too skinny.  According to casting director Lynn Stalmaster, they requested Reeve wear a muscle suit to look bigger.  Reeve refused and instead, the aforementioned David Prowse (no small guy) began to physically train Reeve and put him on a strict exercise regimen. By the time filming began, Reeve had gained 24 pounds of muscle.  The rest is history.  Honestly, can you see anyone else as Superman in that film?  That’s a big reason the film works so well.  Some actors are born for these defining roles. I mean, who didn’t believe the pain that Superman was feeling when he recovered the dirt-covered corpse of Lois Lane from the landslide-covered car.  His emotions overflowed off the screen and showed the immense heart of not only our hero but of the actor as well.   For me, Christopher Reeve will always be the best Superman.

Superman paved the way for the modern era of superhero movies.  Without this film, there would be no Marvel Cinematic Universe.  It influenced a whole generation of writers, artists, and directors; many of whom are shaping the cinematic legacy of the Man of Steel today.  If it wasn’t for this film, the DC Comics mythos of Superman would be quite different as the comics today have adopted many of the elements first seen in Superman: The Movie:

.           – Superman’s “S” logo being the family crest of Jor-El

– The computer-based essence of Jor-El inhabiting the Fortress of Solitude to advise his son

– Lois Lane being the one who first names him, “Superman”

– Martha Kent being left a widow after her husband Jonathan Kent dies of a heart attack

– Krypton having a crystalline-based technology

If that’s not enough then, boom – John Williams!  His incredible score and the iconic main theme only added to the grandeur of this film.  To this day when I hear that theme, I can feel it in my chest. It’s music that has a physical effect on people; that’s powerful.  When I hear Williams has been hired to write a theme for a movie, I know it’s going to be something masterful.

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