The past decade was SUPER, SUPER, SUPER (but not all of it was good!).
The decade is almost over! Reflecting on it, it would seem that we were bombarded with more sequels, remakes and CGI effects-driven-who-cares-about-a-good-story films than ever before. But I think if someone were to ask me what I’ll remember most about the movies between the years 2000 through 2009, I’d have to definitely say it was the decade of the SUPER COMIC BOOK HERO!
Not to say, of course, that the screen has not graced generations of moviegoers with legendary superheroes before – the 1930s and 1940s provided the weekly serial cliffhangers of Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and Batman. Max Fleisher gave us the best short Superman cartoons ever made.
For my generation (35+), the screen superhero had a fresh new beginning when Warner Brothers brought “Superman”(1978) to the big screen, and it was larger than life. Between 1978 and 1982, it seemed the screen super comic heroes were back in action, and it also included films like “Flash Gordon” (1980), “The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1980), "Superman II” (1981) and “Conan The Barbarian”(1982). The rest of the decade, unfortunately, brought super-disasterous results with turkeys like “Superman III & IV”, “Supergril” and “Conan the Destroyer”.
Ah, but then in 1989, Tim Burton turned it around and gave us “Batman” (1989), which revisited some of the hero’s dark knight origins. Despite how negative fans felt about a comedian (Michael Keaton) playing the caped crusader, he turned out pretty all right, in my opinion. And Jack, of course, was Jack! But then, of course, Warner Brothers had not learned its lesson with the bad Superman movies of the ‘80s and gave us three more overdone, over-acted and over-killed Batman movies (George Clooney played him with nipples, for crying out loud!). It seemed that by the end of the 1990s, the superhero film had become a campy, pathetic joke!
But then the new decade began, and so did a fresh start on things – Bryan Singer gave us “X-Men” (2000) and “X2”, bringing these comic book heroes to the screen for the first time and showing the dark drama behind their history and their powers. In 2002, Sam Raimi swung into action with “Spider-man” and we loved it, loved it, loved it (“Spriderman 2 and 3”, not so much). “Hulk” (2003) smashed his way into our faces with a foreign director at the helm – and even though it received mixed feelings, I loved its darkness and its mystery. In 2005, Batman returned and returned real big with the likes of an independent, art-driven director like Christopher Nolan. “The Dark Knight” (2008) surpassed the first effort and even got its fair share of Oscar nominations and awards. Superman returned, too, in 2006 and didn’t quite have the super impact that was probably hoped for. And lets not forget that “Iron Man” (2008) graced the screen for the first time (personally, I’d rather enjoy the Black Sabbath song than watch THAT movie again!). In between all of the successes, there were also the fair share of super duds like “Mystery Men”, “Daredevil”, “Elecktra”, “Ghost Rider”,“The Incredible Hulk” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”.
Mind you, these were just the classic super comic book heroes of traditional background. An entirely seperate commentary could likely be written about all of the graphic novel-based films that also seemed to monopolize the past decade (I’m not going to write it).
So, as 2010 approaches and the dawn of a new movie decade draws closer, who is left to grace the screen with their wonderous super powers? Wonder Woman? Aqua Man? Captain America? Thor? Hey, how about those silly Wonder Twin from the ABC Saturday morning Superfriends show from the 1970s??
Have a super new year and a super new decade at the movies, everyone! I probably won’t be in the theater much. Because, as you all know, I love movies, but hate going!