I was a mild comic book nerd when I was a kid. Though I didn’t own any extensive collections I would always get comic adaptations of movies so I could have a mild reminder of what film I just saw. Contrarily, I would often find myself browsing the comic book section of B. Dalton when my mother would do her mall shopping and get her celebrity scoop and soap opera updates once a month.
Comic books are as American as apple pie and baseball. Hollywood movies are also media by which comic books have an outlet that can be visually stunning and make for great storytelling. Some of my favorite movies are based upon comic books and here’s my top three of the many wonderfully complex and sometimes campy movies about our beloved comic book heroes.
Superman II (1980)
The original Superman movie was a visual stunner but my favorite in the original four sets of movies was Superman II as we got to see how the Man of Steel got to handle three baddies that had similar powers to his own. General Zod, played very cunningly by Terence Stamp, was so evil that he sat in the Oval Office and demanded that the son of Jor’El “kneel before Zod.”
Superman literally become human and gave up his powers for love. Unfortunately, just after he bleeds for the first time in his life he sees the horror of his father’s enemies on live television threaten to destroy all the humans until Kal’El submits to his will. In traditional Kryptonian fashion, there was always a way to get Superman’s powers back thanks to a glowing green crystal. The ending satisfied me much better than the original when he twirls the earth back in time and the antics that Clark Kent and Lois Lane have in this movie are priceless.
Mystery Men (1999)
Based upon a series of comic books by Bob Burden, the mystery men were rejects of sorts in the underground of the world of superheroes. When you have getting angry as your super weapon, there’s not much you can do up against the likes of Batman or Superman. Billed as a comedy from the start, the ensemble cast was fantastic with Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, Geoffrey Rush, Janeane Garofalo, Hank Azaria, and Greg Kinnear.
Who can forget such lines as “God gave me a gift. I shovel, I shovel very well.” Think of this movie as the Charlie Brown for superheroes and you’ve got funny and even sometimes uplifting stories of the rejects of hero-dom. Despite the campiness of the movie, I still love it as a parody of what it truly means to be a superhero.
As a writer I absolutely think that Spiderman, as well as the other two, has some of the best written lines ever to be penned for a comic book turned into a movie. Every line has a connection to something deeper in the film whether it talks about revenge, love, fatherhood or growing up. The oft-quote “with great power comes great responsibility” had a double meaning to the two characters who heard the line and should be a motto of many of today’s politicians.The cast was perfect from top to bottom, even down to the wrestling announcer as Bruce Campbell and Macho Man Randy Savage who gets Spiderman for “three minutes of play time.” As far as a comic book movie with many layers, Spiderman is as good as it gets.