Tag Archives: Spider-Man 2

This Week’s Countdown of Capes, Masks and Tights

We were impressed enough by the Thor sequel to begin pondering … which are the best superhero movies ever made?

10. Iron Man

Among the most inspired pieces of casting in cinematic history, indie film’s bad boy Robert Downey Jr. shoulders a blockbuster superhero flick and becomes the highest paid actor in history. He may even deserve it. Wry humor, believable bouts of self loathing and narcissism, and the intelligence to pull off the character of Tony Stark, he redefined superhero and caused a ripple effect still being felt in the genre.

9. The Incredibles

Pixar takes on the superhero with heart, humor and the kind of spot-on insight that made their image of toy life, robot romance, and elderly adventure so magnificent. Consistently fun and full of surprises and wisdom, The Incredibles rocks.



8. Batman

Back in the Eighties, goth-god Tim Burton breathed new life into the superhero concept with this dark, stylish, almost campy classic. It would be nearly 20 years before Jack Nicholson’s then-iconic version of The Joker was outdone.



7. X-Men: First Class

Michael Fassbender keeps his pants on for this inspired origins story. Writer Jane Goldman and director Matthew Vaughn, who’d done the genre proud with Kick-Ass just one year earlier, re-team to collect mutants in time to thwart the Cuban Missile Crisis. A killer cast and really clever writing mark this as easily the best X-Men movie.



6. Kick-Ass

Hey, speaking of Kick-Ass – how great was that?! In a sea of mock superhero movies, this one turned out to be fresh, a bit twisted and incredibly funny. It also delivered on action. Endearing, relentlessly entertaining, fearlessly violent yet well-meaning, the film hits on all fronts. Plus, Nicolas Cage, with his Adam West impersonation, is utterly priceless.

5. Batman Begins

Talk about a game changer. When Memento director Christopher Nolan turned his attention to the genre, well, the genre was never the same. Any hint of camp is abandoned. Dark and brooding, the film is as interested in story and character as it is in action and bat-gizmos. For the first time, an outright brilliant actor is cast in the hero’s role, and the weight of the decisions made by a vigilante crime fighter is finally felt.



4. Spider-Man 2

Like Superman 2 back in ’80, the second of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man flicks ponders the ramifications of true love on superherodom. Tobey Maguire’s inherent tenderness helps the most moving scenes stick with you, in a movie that celebrates humanity in a way few films – superhero or no –  have managed to do.


3. The Dark Knight Rises

Finally, someone gets Cat Woman right! Nolan’s trilogy capper is a wildly satisfying, emotionally resonant, dramatically impeccable ride. Every choice is as fitting as it is surprising. He’s responsible to the source material without giving an inch of his own creative control, plumbing cultural currency and comic ethos to create a movie that leaves a mark.


2. The Avengers

Joss Whedon, everybody! He’s every fanboy’s dream. If there any nerdy thing this man cannot do? Buffy, Serenity, The Cabin in the Woods – hell, he even made Shakespeare hip! Plus, he wrote Toy Story – how awesome is that? And while it looked like the Avengers franchise would amount to the gathering of multiple barely interesting individual heroes, plus another Hulk debacle, it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable, well crafted, character driven and fun superhero flicks of all time. And someone finally did the Hulk justice! Well played, Mr. Whedon.


1. The Dark Knight

For the first – and likely last – time in history, the villain from a superhero flick earned the actor an Oscar. And it was flat out obvious, because Heath Ledger’s hauntingly perfect performance as The Joker left a blood chilling impression. And though he is the best reason to watch The Dark Knight, he’s hardly the only exceptional element the film has going for it. The emotional weight to some of the scenes will leave you breathless, and though Nolan has established a very dark view in this series, there is a single, blistering scene in this film that emphasizes the deep optimism the filmmaker and his franchise have for humanity.

Countdown: Top 5 and Bottom 5 Sequels

Yes, the humorless Kick-Ass 2 disappointed, as sequels so often do. Which are the biggest disappointments? And on a brighter note, which sequels lived up to – even exceeded – expectations? Read on!

Most Disappointing Sequels

5) Hangover Part 2

In 2009, Todd Phillips shared a clever conceit starring an amiable, talented threesome with real chemistry on film. Oh, how we laughed. In 2011 he found out that a clever conceit is only clever once. Revisiting every single joke was, indeed, Hangover 2’s only original joke. What we’ve learned is that one joke in 102 minutes does not a comedy make.


4) Exorcist II: The Heretic

Jesus. A drunken and flummoxed Richard Burton wanders through Africa on the advice of a demon locust; a hypnotized, angelically dressed Linda Blair looks on from her bedroom in the States. They followed perhaps the greatest horror film of all time with this lunacy? Who’s responsible for this atrocity? Is it Regan’s dangerously incompetent therapist? Director John Boorman? Satan?

3) Jaws 2

Hey, you know who’s not Steven Spielberg? Jeannot Szwarc. Wait, who’s Jeannot Szwarc, you ask? Exactly! He’s the guy who used to direct Beretta episodes who inexplicably helmed the story of a little island community that looks positively delicious to sharks. Szwarc’s disinterests? Character development, storytelling, understatement, bathers.

2) Caddyshack 2

For the love of God. Eight years after one pesky gopher and a slew of vulgarians beat Judge Smails at his own game (golf), a new set of classless sportsmen descend upon Bushwood. What happens if you swap out Ted Knight for Robert Stack, Rodney Dangerfield for Jackie Mason, and Bill Murray for Dan Aykroyd? Nothing funny, I’ll guarantee you that.


1) Ghostbusters II

Stop it! Just stop it right now! Need you crush all our childhood happiness with your greed and listless comedies?! Why is this the most offensive of the sequels? Because the same director, writers and cast returned to cash in on the joy their first film left in our hearts by telling us that we can fight off the bad ectoplasm if we have more joy in our hearts. Ironic, since that’s what they killed with their movie.


Best Sequels

5) Spider-Man 2

Better villain, less predictable storyline, equal parts exciting and tender, Spider-Man 2 exceeded expectations. Few (if any) superhero films can boast such joyous thrills tied to such well-crafted storytelling because few (if any) superhero films care as much about the “human” as the “super”.


4) The Bride of Frankenstein

In 1931, the great James Whale rocked the cinematic universe with a familiar story, one outstanding performance, and the greatest make up job to date. But with Frankenstein’s 1935 sequel, he was able to show some real talent. This subversive, darkly humorous gem betters the original by a mile.

3) The Empire Strikes Back

When the time came for George Lucas to second his mind blowing ’77 blockbuster Star Wars, he made one terrific decision. He hired somebody else to write and direct. New characters, exceptional battles, and epic surprises help this unpredictable storyline not just live up to the original, but exceed it.

2) Aliens

Oh, hell yes. How was James Cameron to top Ridley Scott’s breathlessly terrifying original? By taking it in an entirely different direction, from terror in space to intergalactic ass-kicking. Bigger-better-faster-more doesn’t always work, but put Sigourney Weaver in a giant metal suit, and things turn out OK.


1) Godfather Part II

Francis Ford Coppola outdid himself. The origin story, the familial conflict, Fredo.  Oh, Fredo. You break our hearts. Godfather Part II doesn’t just follow one mob family, it finds its heartbeat and exposes what it is that differentiates them from us. Flawless.