The past decade was SUPER, SUPER, SUPER (but not all of it was good!).

posted by efriedmann on December 10, 2009 at 7:55 am

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!

Comments (16)

danpetitpas on December 10, 2009 at 9:10 am

It certainly was the decade of taking comic book super heroes SERIOUSLY! Director Richard Donner many times has told of his fight with his producers to make a “serious” Superman movie, and how they fired him and proceeded to make Superman silly and slapstick in Superman 3. Michael Uslan, who bought the rights to Batman in 1979 for a song, has told of his 10-year fight to get a serious Batman movie made because studio execs could only see the character from the campy 1960s TV show perspective. Eventually Warner Bros. made Batman sillier and sillier in the third and fourth movies after director Tim Burton left.

Finally, in the 2000s, we have Hollywood execs who have grown up reading comics who no longer look at super heroes as silly or funny. In fact, directors may be taking super heroes TOO SERIOUSLY! Certainly the two Batman reboots by Chris Nolan are grim affairs bordering on the sadistic. “Superman Returns” is extremely humorless, lacking the sparkle Chris Reeve gave to the character. “Watchmen” is downright depressing. The Hulk reboot was not a lot of fun either, and Spiderman 3 went off the rails by being too self-indulgent.

Maybe producers and directors can ratchet things back a little in the future and just treat super heroes as they would treat any serious movie character and not go too overboard with angst!

efriedmann on December 10, 2009 at 10:02 am

Throughout the past decade, I’d have to say that my favorite super hero films were X-MEN (2000), SPIDER-MAN (2002), HULK (2003) and THE DARK KNIGHT (2008). Clearly, in 3 out of 4 cases, I went for and enjoyed the dark and the grim nature of all these characters. While I certainly am not an expert or a historian of the superhero, perhaps the idea is that being a superhero and fighting evil is SUPPOSED to be a grim, gritty and humorless job.

I avoided seeing THE DARK KNIGHT for weeks after its release because I decided that I was fed up with sequels of all kinds. Finally, though, I could not ignore the positive hype any longer and went to see it one afternoon at the Hampton Arts Theater in Westhampton Beach, Long Island and, admitedly, fell in love with it. However, I think Batman (as well as all superhero films) is finished with me. I’ve seen enough tales on the screen and I would prefer to end it on the positive note of THE DARK KNIGHT for myself.

moviebuff82 on December 10, 2009 at 12:30 pm

the dark knight became the highest grossing superhero movie of all time when adjusted for inflation.

KingBiscuits on December 10, 2009 at 4:50 pm

On the belief that comic book movies are too dark: rent the Hellboy movies. Despite the concept (the son of Satan becoming good and fighting the forces of evil), it has a lot of humor to balance out the fantasy and action elements. Also, Hellboy is one of the most likeable superheroes in a movie.

Also, Kick-Ass (based on a comic book by Mark Millar) opens in April and is a satire of superheroes and comic books.

moviebuff82 on December 10, 2009 at 5:09 pm

Don’t forget movies based on graphic novels start to become popular, as was the case with 300.

JSA on December 10, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Setting aside the super heroes for a moment, I will remember this decade as pivotal in terms of the projection (i.e. digital, 3-D, Imax, etc.) and sound technology shifts. The future is now…

Pesonally, I still prefer 70 MM. I have high hopes for Ron Fricke’s upcoming “Samsara”, shot in Super Panavision. But in all fairness , I don’t think it will be a game-changer at this point.

BTW, the decade ends in 2010.


Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on December 10, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Without a doubt, the worst decade in 100 years of movie-making…

Comic book CGI movies will go down in history the same way we now view early sound movies with insipid dialogue written by incompetent writers just to make dialogue noise.

The nadir is the fatalist mess that was “THE DARK KNIGHT” with tractor trailers stupidly flying into the air and blowing up just because a motorcycle hit them and a wimp BATMAN outwitted by the JOKER in the editing room in order to capitalize on a mediocre young dead actor’s fame. It has already killed the franchise.
The peak will be the last “STAR TREK” movie, the only CGI movie that actually understands the concept of suspension of disbelief. It resurrected the franchise and was solid entertainment.

In the future CGI will be used the way it was in “BENJAMIN BUTTON” and “SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE” and not as the tired gimmick it is being mostly used for in moron movies like “2012”.

3D will continue to be only for kid films like “UP”. I think Pocahontas rip-off “AVATAR” will make sure 3D is never again used for anything but kid films.

efriedmann on December 11, 2009 at 5:53 am

I agree with you, AIAlvarez – without a doubt, the WORST decade in the history of movie making!!! I think Hollywood sunk to its lowest level with a very obvious statement that they have completely run out of even semi-original and semi-intelligent scripts and stories.

The real tragic part of it all is that Hollywood just might stop and take notice of things if people would simply refuse to stop wasting their hard-earned time and money on sequels, threequels, remakes, franchise movies and CGI-based movies that offer nothing even resembling a semi-intelligent story.

Rise up, people! Stope allowing yourself to be insulted and taken in by the demons and monsters who control the movie industry!

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on December 11, 2009 at 7:43 pm

I would like to believe that the profits of successful low budget films like “PRECIOUS” will bring in a slew of socially conscious well-acted urban dramas about real people.

I am afraid we are in for a few years of heroin-chick, retro-goth, pale, over-bloated, big budget, cliched teenage vampire flicks instead.

And of course there will be more lousy money-losing dumb comic-book action films strictly designed to sell gaming software.

JSA on December 11, 2009 at 9:41 pm

For me, some of the most satisfying movies in recent years have been animated. Two recent examples are “Up” and “Coraline”.

Also, Clint Eastwood produced some of his best work as Director during this decade.


MPol on December 14, 2009 at 5:20 am

It’s no wonder that I personally prefer the older classic films, most notably of the 1960’s and from some of the 1970’s! Not only does Hollywood seem to be running out of ideas for moviemaking, but it’s yet another indication of the dumbing down of the United States of America, which has gone on for the past 25-30 some odd years, and is continuing, imho.

Bring back some of the great, golden-oldie-but-goody classic films to the great big, wide movie theatre screen! They’re missed, and probably by more people than most care to believe…or to realize.

Jonybhai on December 15, 2009 at 3:51 am

NBC sells last Super Bowl spots on eve of game, netting record total of $206M in ad They’re not as funny, but I don’t think funny is cost-sensitive. Kellogg, Pedigree to advertise good causes in Super Bowl: Pedigree is roles in the “Transporter” series, rushes from decade to decade


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raysson on December 17, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Speaking of the Superhero movies of the decade…..I’m surprised that G.I. JOE and TRANSFORMERS aren’t on the list……And coming soon……“Wonder Woman”, “Captain America”,“Thor”,not to mention Hanna-Barbera toons of the 60’s and 70’s turned into live-action motion pictures: “The Herculoids”,along with “Jonny Quest”,and “Space Ghost” are coming to a big screen near you!

COMING: “Thundercats”, “M.A.S.K.”, “He-Man And The Masters of the Universe”,and the live-action version of “Thundarr The Barbarian”.

LouisRugani on December 23, 2009 at 8:15 am

Life is a Theatre.
Invite Your Audience Carefully.

Not everyone is spiritually healthy and mature enough to have a front-row seat in our lives. There are some people in our lives that need to be loved from a distance.

It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we let go, or at least minimize time spent with draining, negative, incompatible, not-going-anywhere relationships, friendships and fellowships.

Observe the relationships around you, and pay attention to which ones lift and which ones lean; which encourage and which discourage – which ones are on a path of growth uphill, and which ones are going downhill.

When you leave certain people, do you feel better or feel worse?

Which have drama, or don’t really understand, know and appreciate you and the gifts that lie within you?

When you seek growth and peace of mind, and love and truth, the easier it will become to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of your life.

You cannot change the people around you but you can change the people you are around.

Ask God for wisdom and discernment and choose wisely the people who sit in the front row in the theatre that is your life.

Merry Christmas.

MPol on December 25, 2009 at 2:26 am

One could safely say that, yes, the past decade was SUPER, SUPER, SUPER, but not in a good way, for the most part.

WayBackWhen2008 on January 21, 2010 at 4:34 pm

I had heard that Hollywood was working on or talks of working on filming The Secret of Isis. Does anyone remember her? She was my first female superhero (before Wonder Woman). Albeit I love to watch “socially conscious” movies sometimes I just want to be entertained even if it is a cheesy movies, dare I say, I enjoy a cheesy movie or two. Ooooh! I would welcome a cheesy movie about about the Wonder Twins. Wonder Twin Powers………..

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