Preview: The Great Superhero Movie Project

[EDIT: The Great Superhero Movie Project now has its own page. You may leave movie suggestions and/or comments here or there.]

Mystery Men
I’ve gotten some interesting feedback (both in the comments here and on Twitter) regarding my Top Ten Superhero Movies Since the Dawn of Time lists. Some folks agree with me, some don’t, but the question I hear most often usually begins with words along these lines: “Hey, you forgot about…”

And I did. The first time around, I definitely snubbed Mystery Men; after the second iteration The Kingfish wondered where (or if) Hancock placed on the list, David Mead asked about Darkman and Rachel “Nycteris” Ross brought up Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

I Have a Plan

I’m not one to leave a stone unturned—whether that stone was bitten by radioactive bats, sent to Earth by a race of alien vampires or just found some sexy tights and decided to start kicking people in the face—so I’ve come up with a plan to turn all the stones in one fell swoop.

Okay, two fell swoops.

The First Swoop: My Job – Two Lists

First, I’m going to make two lists: every superhero movie I’ve ever seen and superhero movies I know about but haven’t seen.

The Second Swoop: Your Job – The Third List

Second, I want you to submit movies that I’ve overlooked. Yes, you. If you’re reading this and you’re aware of a superhero movie that is not on either of my lists, I want you to comment here and tell me about it. I’ll add all of these to my third list: superhero movies I didn’t know (or forgot) existed.

The Third Swoop: My Job – Watch, Rate, Review

Oh, wait, there’s a third fell swoop: I’m going to watch every one of the movies on all three lists. If I haven’t seen the movie in the past two years, I’m going to watch or re-watch it and then I’m going to write a review (unless I’ve already written one, in which case I may tweak an existing review).

Sound like fun? Sound like a lot of work? It might be, but let me set up some guidelines here so we don’t get all crazy-go-nuts with the lists. Pay attention.

What is a Superhero Movie?

  • The “movie” part of the definition is easy: All movies, whether they were theatrical releases, straight to DVD or even made for television; if it’s a movie, it gets on the list. Note that movies made as pilots for or as direct spinoffs of a television series don’t count, so The Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno is not eligible, 1This includes The Incredible Hulk Returns, The Trial of The Incredible Hulk and The Death of the Incredible Hulk, movies that were made after the series was cancelled. Don’t worry, these will … Continue reading but Captain America II: Death Too Soon starring Reb Brown and Christopher Lee is.
  • The tricky bit of the definition is “superhero”, as I’ve already been asked whether Transformers is a superhero movie (it’s not) and if Hellboy should count (it does). I can’t exactly pin the energon cube on why Transformers doesn’t qualify; it just doesn’t. Comic book movie, yes; superhero movie, no. 2I’ll do a separate Comic Book Movie list later, so all you 300 fangirls can nominate your favorite computer-enhanced pectoral muscles. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ll decide whether a movie qualifies as superheroic or not. If you’re not sure, nominate it and if I reject it I’ll do my best to tell you why.
  • Superheroes do not need to be in or come from comic books to be eligible. The Incredibles is a great example of an original superhero movie that was not a comic book first. Black Scorpion is also an example, though under no circumstances should the word “great” be associated with it.
  • Oh, and movie serials aren’t elibigle. They’re just not.
  • If in doubt, nominate.

The First List – Superhero Movies I’ve Seen

  1. Batman: The Movie (1966)
  2. Batman (1989)
  3. Batman Returns (1992)
  4. Batman Forever (1995)
  5. Batman & Robin (1997)
  6. Batman Begins (2005)
  7. The Dark Knight (2008)
  8. Black Scorpion (1995)
  9. Captain America (1979)
  10. Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979)
  11. Captain America (1990)
  12. Catwoman (2004)
  13. Daredevil (2003)
  14. Darkman (1992)
  15. Darkman II: The Return of Durant (1994)
  16. Darkman III: Die Darkman Die (1996)
  17. Doctor Strange (Animated, 2007)
  18. Elektra (2005)
  19. Fantastic Four (2005)
  20. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
  21. Ghost Rider (2007)
  22. Hellboy (2004)
  23. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
  24. Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms (2006) [Added 19 July 2008]
  25. Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron (2007) [Added 19 July 2008]
  26. Hulk (2003)
  27. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  28. The Incredibles (Animated, 2004)
  29. The Invincible Iron Man (Animated, 2007)
  30. Iron Man (2008)
  31. Justice League: The New Frontier (2008) [Added 18 July 2008]
  32. Lightspeed (2006)
  33. Mystery Men (1999)
  34. The Phantom (1996)
  35. The Punisher (1989)
  36. The Punisher (2004)
  37. The Shadow (1994)
  38. Spider-Man (2002)
  39. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
  40. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
  41. Superman (1978)
  42. Superman II (1980)
  43. Superman III (1983)
  44. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
  45. Superman Returns (2006)
  46. Superman: Doomsday (2008) [Added 19 July 2008]
  47. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
  48. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
  49. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time (1993)
  50. TMNT (2007)
  51. Ultimate Avengers (Animated, 2006)
  52. Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther (Animated, 2006)
  53. Unbreakable (2000)
  54. X-Men (2000)
  55. X2: X-Men United (2003)
  56. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

Okay, that’s a lot of movies, many of which I haven’t watched in well over two years. Some of them, like the 1994 never-released version of The Fantastic Four, will be a bit tricky to track down, but I’ll do my best. For science!

The Second List – Superhero Movies I Haven’t Seen

  1. Black Mask (1996)
  2. Black Mask 2: City of Masks (2002)
  3. Black Scorpion II: Aftershock (1997)
  4. Blankman (1994) [Added 19 July 2008]
  5. Dr. Strange (1978)
  6. Fantastic Four (1994)
  7. Hancock (2008)
  8. The Meteor Man (1993) [Added 19 July 2008]
  9. Silver Hawk (2004)
  10. Steel (1997)
  11. Underdog (2007)

That’s a short list. Much shorter than I anticipated. It may get even shorter if I decide to disqualify Black Mask and Silver Hawk in order to prevent a deluge of martial arts movies masquerading as superhero movies. A guy has to set limits somewhere, right?

The Third List – The Ones I Don’t Know About

Now it’s your turn: if you know of a superhero movie I missed, please leave a comment and nominate it!

1 This includes The Incredible Hulk Returns, The Trial of The Incredible Hulk and The Death of the Incredible Hulk, movies that were made after the series was cancelled. Don’t worry, these will all be eligible for a future list: The Best Television Superheroes in the History of Televising Superheroics.
2 I’ll do a separate Comic Book Movie list later, so all you 300 fangirls can nominate your favorite computer-enhanced pectoral muscles.

Summer Movies: Hulking Dark Man-Boy Knights of Incredible Iron

Iron Man
I have now seen all 1Oops! Forgot about Hancock, starring The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Sorry, Will! of this summer’s slate of superhero movies. I’ll do a more in-depth write up shortly, but for those wondering whether The Dark Knight managed to unseat Iron Man from the number one position on my list of the Top Superhero Movies of Forever and Ever, Amen, the short answer is no.

The slightly longer answer is: not by a long shot.

The Dark Knight is not a bad movie—I gave it a solid 7 out of 10 stars—but it’s note a great movie, either. I’ll be posting a full review in the next couple of days, so let’s get back to the list.

Though Iron Man remains safely (for now; Watchmen is coming and the trailer is absolutely stunning) in the top spot, the summer blockbusters have shaken things up a bit in the middle and lower ranks.

Without going into excruciating detail, here are The Ten Superhero Movies (Summer 2008 Edition):

  1. Iron Man
  2. Hellboy
  3. Batman Begins
  4. X2: X-Men United
  5. The Dark Knight
  6. X-Men
  7. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
  8. The Incredible Hulk
  9. The Incredibles
  10. Spider-Man

Something feels a bit off about the middle of this list; I may have to tweak it a bit once I’ve written reviews of The Dark Knight, The Incredible Hulk and Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

1 Oops! Forgot about Hancock, starring The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Sorry, Will!