They have become our modern day mythology. Characters with unique gifts who embark on extraordinary adventures. They have become the stories of legend and admiration. Devotion to them can border on obsession. Some fans know every
facet of information and piece of trivia about them, adorning themselves with tattoos, t-shirts with logos and costumes of their favorites. The ancient Greeks might have been in awe of the worship we bestow on our Superhero Gods.
Fans follow the evolution of superheroes through comics, cartoons and now films. Once motion pictures starring superheroes were the stuff of B-Movies – silly pieces of tripe entertainment for children. Now these films have become their own genre. Superhero films are now tent pole events for studios and are anxiously awaited by fans. They are no longer cheap productions with cardboard sets, but now are big budget extravaganzas starring respected actors and featuring talented directors at the helm.
Fans voice an opinion on everything from casting to costume designs to the story. Everything is scrutinized with high expectations. Comic Con, which was once a handful of fans getting together to share their affection for comic books and the characters, is now a Hollywood-wide industry event. Comic fans are now seen as important audience members whose opinions matter and whose approval is sought after, and is expected to generate positive buzz for the movies.
Since their inception in the late 30’s, early 40’s superheroes have dazzled fans. Wowing them with super cool ideas, like how can someone possibly be able to pick up car, bend steel or fly! Since then, with each passing generation, they have recruited new followers and don’t seem to be going anywhere.
We’re now in the age of the Superhero Film. It took them awhile to catch up, but Hollywood finally got it through their heads that audiences will go to the theater and marvel at their stories. If filmmakers do it right, their reward is truckloads of cash and endless accolades for the filmmakers. Done wrong…..well let’s just say Joel Schumacher might not be the honored guest at any comic convention anytime soon.
So, here is an examination of the Superhero Film Genre, starting from its early beginnings. Consider this an ongoing review series with thoughts and observations from a fellow Superhero Fan that will examine ‘The Great’, ‘The Good’, ‘The Forgetable’and ‘The Downright Embarassing’. And maybe even highlight some obscure film that most haven’t even heard of.
Also examined will be superhero ventures into the world of television. Live action superhero adventures were not only contained on the big screen, but for periods of time could be seen on a weekly basis on the tube. While they may not technically qualify as ‘films’ I still think they’re worth talking about and in some cases have become known as the quintessential presentation of some characters.
The criteria of films/television covered is strictly at my discretion. Films that get bypassed could easily be regarded as automatic inclusions in the list and vice versa, but everyone has an opinion and fortunately for this series I get to make up the rules as to what gets covered and what doesn’t. Some might just get covered simply because it’s close enough to be qualified as a Superhero Film in my mind and it would just be fun to take a look at them, even if it might really be stretching things. While others just didn’t make the cut for various reasons.
However, if you have any suggestions as to a film that might be worth taking a look at feel free to drop me a line.
Also, this project series is going in chronological order. I’m trying my best to keep things somewhat consistent as to the release dates of the featured projects, along with any information or trivia that is mentioned. I would like to be as accurate as possible, but if there’s a mistake anywhere along the lines, let me know. Plus, I’m not going to lie, there is no timeframe as to when the next entry will be completed. These do take a bit of time to put together and although I would like to finish them on a more consistent basis it’s just not possible. It would be much easier if I had a Superhero Research Team to call upon. So basically whenever I have some free time and get motivated is when the latest entry will be done.
What’s been covered so far…
Since starting this Superhero Series of mine it’s been an ever-expanding project that when I get the time a new entry is added. Entries are left up to me and I decide whether they qualify or not for the distinction to be included in this series.
CHAPTER 1 – SUPERMAN AND THE MOLE MEN (1951)
CHAPTER 2 – BATMAN (1966)
CHAPTER 3 – RAT PFINK A BOO BOO (1966)
CHAPTER 4 – DANGER DIABOLIK (1968)
CHAPTER 5 – BARBARELLA (1968)
CHAPTER 6 – WONDER WOMAN (1975)
CHAPTER 7 – THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1977)
CHAPTER 8 – THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1977)
CHAPTER 9 – DR. STRANGE (1978)
CHAPTER 10 – SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE (1978)
CHAPTER 11 – CAPTAIN AMERICA (1979)
CHAPTER 12 – LEGENDS OF THE SUPERHEROES (1979)
CHAPTER 13 – HERO AT LARGE (1980)
CHAPTER 14 – SUPER FUZZ (1980)
CHAPTER 15 – THE PUMAMAN (1980)
CHAPTER 16 – POPEYE (1980)
CHAPTER 17 – FLASH GORDON (1980)
CHAPTER 18 – SUPERMAN II (1980)
CHAPTER 19 – THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO (1981)
CHAPTER 20 – CONDORMAN (1981)
CHAPTER 21 – SWAMP THING (1982)
CHAPTER 22 – THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN INVINCIBLE (1983)
CHAPTER 23 – SUPERMAN III (1983)
CHAPTER 24 – MANIMAL (1983)
CHAPTER 25 – SUPERGIRL (1984)
CHAPTER 26 – THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984)
CHAPTER 27 – MISFITS OF SCIENCE (1985)
CHAPTER 28 – HOWARD THE DUCK (1986)
CHAPTER 29 – SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE (1987)
CHAPTER 30 – THE SPIRIT (1987)
CHAPTER 31 – THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING (1989)
CHAPTER 32 – BATMAN (1989)
The Punisher (1989)
After the character of Howard the Duck introduced a Marvel Comics character to the big-screen, only three short years later fans would get to see another Marvel hero leap from the comic pages to movie screens. Holy mackerel are fans getting spoiled!
This time out it’s Frank Castle aka The Punisher. Castle is an ex-cop whose family has been murdered by powerful criminals. After seeing them walk away without any repercussions Castle takes to the city sewers, sets up shop and becomes The Punisher. His mission – to become the city’s judge, jury and executioner. He becomes a deadly vigilante and won’t rest until those responsible for murdering his family are punished severely!
As Castle becomes a superhuman force of unleashing lots of gratuitous violence, his ex-partner Jake Berkowitz is trying to catch up to his old friend and stop him from filling the city with bullets, explosions and a growing mountain of bad guy bodies.
Starring Dolph Lundgren and Louis Gusset Jr. I go back and check out a film that unmistakably feels like a 1980’s action flick with all the violence and vulgarity that audiences were accustomed to seeing – The Punisher.