Definitely Hollywood.

Let me just say, before everyone (anyone?) jumps all over me for not liking the first two Spiderman movies, I will give the people involved credit for really trying, but it just didn’t work for me.  The dialogue, the kind that DOES work well in a comic book, was laughable on the big screen.  They also had a huge strike against them in that I cannot stand Kristen Dunst, and so to buy her as Mary Jane is difficult for me and frankly I just don’t want to make myself do it.  I will admit that I find the train sequence in Spiderman 2 to be shockingly powerful.  I almost cried the first time I saw that scene…which was a huge surprise to me since I found the rest of the movie to be pretty terrible.  Let’s talk about the new Incredible Hulk movie for just a second.  Why the F’ is this movie being made?  I don’t know anyone who is interested in seeing this movie.  How did the project get a greenlight?  Just because Edward Norton was interested?  I really don’t understand.  The first film, only five years ago by my beloved Ang Lee was a very obvious and horrible miss (I’ve seen enough of the horror to agree – though I never saw the whole thing), so why is there a need for another bad Hulk?  Looks terrible.

You’ll notice I only really included the “new” comic book movies, I didn’t go all the way back (too much work) and deal with the original Superman series, and the Batman movies and all that.  Suffice to say most of those are hit and miss…I mean is there anything better than Michelle Pfieffer’s Catwoman in Batman Returns?  Is there anything worse that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin?  No.  No there is not.

Also absent off my list this morning I realized is Sin City.  I have issues with Sin City.  I love the graphic novels by Frank Miller, and I really wanted to love the movies because I respected the exact literal translation they did for the film, and I also respected Robert Rodriguez for giving Frank Miller co-directing credit (it was well deserved) even though it consequently got Rodriguez kicked out of the Directors Union (jerks and their jerky rules).  But for me, it doesn’t really work on screen.  The exact translation, much like in Spiderman, involves behaviour and dialogue that feels stilted and false, or worse laughable.  Which is really sad, because it had my beloved and adored Clive Owen in it, among other talented powerhouses…but it doesn’t matter, it still ultimately failed.

The best of the best, for me, in comic book films, are the first two X-Men films by Bryan Singer.  I never would have expected to like these films because X-Men were my favorite comics growing up and so they were precious to me like few other characters and stories.  But Singer handled the material expertly.  He understood that a direct translation of what was in the comic books would not work on the big screen, but he also understood that these were truly beloved characters that had to be treated with respect.  He did treat them with respect, and he stayed as true as he could to their personalities and storylines, and as such he established the standard on which future comic book movies should be built. 

I’m finally seeing Iron Man this weekend, and I have high hopes that my beloved Jon Favreau built his Iron Man on these standards.  If the masses can be believed, he did, and he was successful. 

Sidenote:  Though Singer gets mad props for the first two X-Men films, I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to forgive him for abandoning X-Men 3 (one of the worst comic book films of all time), allowing a hack like Brett Ratner to get ahold of my beloved characters; and all so that he could make a terrible new Superman movie. 

Sidenote 2:  Sin City is when I first really lost respect for Jessica Alba – there were plenty of opportunities to lose respect for her prior to this I know – but this one sealed the deal.  The fact that she plays a stripper, but doesn’t take her top off?  C’mon.  If Nancy from the Sin City graphic novels didn’t take her top off I’d be okay with it, but Nancy is topless for at least 30 to 40 percent of her time in Miller’s books – so what happened to our frame for frame literal translation?  Suddenly Jessica Alba’s boobs are so precious they can’t be shown?  They should have gotten a real woman, who could have respected the material and the character more than her “precious reputation” which is crappy anyway.  Boo to Jessica Alba (who I’ve always wanted to like – ever since the surprisingly good Idle Hands). 

Sidenote 3:  Apparently the world and I are very in synch, as I found today, the 20 worst comic book movies of all time on EW. I don’t know that I agree with their order (is it even in order? I can’t tell) but I agree that all the films on the list well deserve to be there.  Except maybe Barbarella.  Not that Barbarella is a great film, but the clothes and craziness alone should maybe save it from the list.  Notably missing are Hack Ratner’s X-Men 3; Lee’s Hulk; Spiderman 3; and Fantastic Four #2 (though it’s at least implied that the whole Fantastic Four franchise is terrible).   


  1. Paul’s avatar

    First off, did you know you’re the only blogger on WordPress to use the tag “Jessica Alba’s Not Naked Boobs”? I was kinda hoping there’d be a few others out there, but alas…no.

    That said, FINALLY, I’ve seen some movies that you are talking about. Heh, I’m always in the shadows most of the time, but superhero/comic book films I do like to partake in.

    But X-men 3 totally shattered the franchise. It was bloated and dumb, overly dramatic (that guy playing the President of the U.S.A. needs to stick to daytime TV soap dramas, please), and it was just a big ol’ mess. However, I loved the first film and still have fond memories of seeing it with my sister and just getting that “ooooh they got a lot of right” vibe.

    I’m waiting for Iron Man on DVD…but frak yes I’m going to see The Dark Knight once it is out. Hollywood can do a lot of wrong, but every now and then…the smog lifts and a little sunlight slips on in.

  2. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    Whoo-hoo! I was hoping I’d be the only one with that tag. Maybe I can turn that into a strip (can we tell I’m becoming desperate? if not, let me clear things up – I AM).

    I love that you saw X-Men with your sister and got that “vibey thing” because I saw it with my brother and I literally almost crawled out of my skin I was so excited to see them get it right…from the beginning. The opening scene with a young Magneto tearing up those holocaust gates gave me chills I didn’t think I could get as an adult. I have chills right now. The kind I used to get as a kid opening up a new comic book and so excited about what was in store for me.

    I’ll let you know how Iron Man is. I’m sure I’ll be seeing Dark Knight in the theaters…it’s one of the few that’s getting it right lately…Batman Begins was quite right…not like X-men for me, but close enough…and filled with good intentions, unlike most of them.

  3. Mike’s avatar

    I really liked the first Xmen movie, but come on, Batman Begins is the stuff. For me, that movie is the comic book “movie” yard stick.

    They are remaking Hulk so it can be franchised.

    Also, no mention of Hellboy? I recall really liking that.

    I also really enjoyed Sin City, and was really surprised and annoyed at Alba and her inability to “shake what your momma gave ya”.

    XMen 3 is like a TNT movie that found its way into theatres.

  4. Mike’s avatar

    The Imax prologue of the Dark Knight made me do full out donkey kicks.

  5. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    Batman Begins is good. But there are some misses in there for me. The stuff with his family/early life was a little too precious (as it usually is) and I didn’t buy Katie Holmes as much of anything. Otherwise, it’s a pretty good hit for me…though I don’t get any real chills…which is the mark of the “right” superhero movie for me.

    Yeah, but this Hulk looks about the same as the last? Are they just going to keep trying with first Hulks until they get one right and then hope they can franchise from there? From the looks of it we’ve got a ways to go.

    Hellboy was alright. Not great. The characters were good and the effects were better than average (with some obvious exceptions) and were especially good for the three main characters, but I again, no real zings for me.

    We pretty much agree on Alba. LAME.

    X-Men 3. A worse horror I can’t imagine for my eyes. As much as I hate Brett Ratner, he blew even me away, he could not have torn a movie (and franchise) and characters into any more shreds than he did. Quite a feat.

    Didn’t see the Imax prologue but it sounds awesome.

  6. kfugrip’s avatar

    Mike is hilarious. “full out donkey kicks” That was LOL funny.

    Comic book movies… ah. Well the core of what you are getting at by talking about the bad ones is the inherent ridiculousness of people dressing in brightly colored tights and fighting crime. The further they get from the costume aspect the better, like with the X-Men movies. They dress in leather. That’s better than if Wolverine and Rogue were in their comic costumes.

    I wish that I was a kid right now because I would wet myself with all the movies about comic characters I could go see. When I was a kid/teen it was The Crow, The Mask, Tank Girl, Mystery Men, Superman movies, Batman movies… the pickin’s were slim. If the Hellboy movie came out in 1997 I would have shit myself with excitement. Now… didn’t like it. My tastes have changed and it’s sad because the teenage version of myself wished so hard for there to be comic book movies.

    I actually wrote a paper about this in film school. The failure of the superhero movie. I got an ‘A’ on it. (I also wrote a paper on David Fincher taking the Kubrick-perfectionist-filmmaker mantle… got an ‘A’ on that too)

    Batman Begins was successful. So was Spiderman, X-men 2 (X-men 1 wasn’t a faliure I just thought it wasn’t very good) and others that I’m forgetting. I don’t mean to say it can’t happen, it’s just nearly impossible for one to actually work. Iron Man has the makings.

  7. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    How can I have known you for ten years…and for at least 30% of our lives/conversations revolve around either superheroes, comics, films, or some combination of all three and I don’t know that you wrote a paper at SCAD about the failure of the superhero movie?!?!?!?!

    Next question…can I please read it (and the David Fincher one if it’s lying around as well).

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