July 13, 2008

No Headline Identified: We Submit Our Best of the Best in Superpowered Movies

By Nick Chordas and Patrick Kastner, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

Jul. 13--ook, up on the marquee! It's another superhero movie! -- The deluge of incredible men (and occasionally women) wearing capes, cowls or tastefully designed leather bodysuits will continue when The Dark Knight opens Friday. -- In anticipation of Batman's return to the big screen, we assembled a Justice League-type panel of film and comic-book aficionados to decide which superhero movies are the most super of all. Our panelists ranked from best to worst all superhero films they have seen -- feature-length movies released in U.S. theaters. (Sorry, Big Red fans: Hellboy II: The Golden Army was past our deadline.) -- The votes were then tallied and averaged to reveal the true identities of the Best. Superhero. Movies. Ever. Here is the ultimate top 10.

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1. Batman Begins

Christian Bale stars in director Christopher Nolan's reboot. (2005)

"It is amazing what good direction, writing and acting will do for a film. Batman Begins captures the essence of why the character has endured for generations." -- David Filipi, Wexner Center for the Arts -- "No. 1 -- at least until

The Dark Knight hits." --

Laughing Ogre employees

2. Iron Man

Marvel Comics' metallic avenger has already proved his worth to audiences and critics. (2008)

"This movie not only stays true to the comic's story;

it tells it beautifully." -- Daniel Ahrens, high-school student and comics fan -- "Robert Downey Jr. gives the best superhero acting performance yet."

-- Patrick Kastner,

Dispatch artist

3. The Incredibles

Pixar's computer-animated tale imagines a suburban family with superpowers too fantastic to keep secret. (2004)

"No back story, no primers. And yet I believed in these characters. Bob Parr was a real guy." -- Victor Dandridge, creator of the comic Hotshot -- "The pixelated characters have more depth than most live-action ones." -- P.K.

4. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

The much-lauded '90s animated series makes it to the big screen. (1993)

"Animation allows one to more fully retain all of the superpowered action of the comics without having to worry whether George Clooney looks ridiculous in the Bat-suit." -- D.F. -- "This version is the closest screen adaptation to the Batman of the comics." -- P.K.

5. Batman

Director Tim Burton seems an odd choice, as does Michael Keaton in the title role. (1989)

"The movie will always mean the world to me because it brought the concept of a 'serious' Batman to the general public." -- Mark Reinhart, author of The Batman Filmography --"The only problem is that it set the bar too high for any of the follow-ups." -- V.D.

6. Superman

Christopher Reeve, along with director Richard Donner and crew, makes viewers believe that a man could fly. (1978)

"Donner brought a respectful approach, and Reeve helped by taking the role seriously. The movie also features John Williams' best score." -- Frank Gabrenya, Dispatch film critic -- "Christopher Reeve will always be Superman." -- D.A.

7. Spider-Man

Geeky Peter Parker goes from zero to hero after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Action -- and puberty metaphors -- ensue. (2002)

"In my opinion, it stands as the most literal comics-to-film translation of a superhero ever created." -- M.R. -- "A great beginning -- even with the Power Ranger Green Goblin costume." -- L.O.

8. Spider-Man 2

The web slinger deals with a new nemesis, Dr. Otto Octavius, while still pining for Mary Jane. (2004)

"This film has heart and some brilliantly realized battles between Spidey and Doc Ock." -- Sean McKeever, DC Comics writer -- "A strong improvement in villains; plus, the runaway-train scene is an action triumph." -- F.G.

9. X-Men

Marvel's team of mutants is brought to life by director Bryan Singer, whose second choice

for Wolverine is Hugh Jackman. (2000)

"Perfect casting, lots of fun, very human." -- S.M. -- "OK, who didn't feel a little tingle of excitement the first time we got to see Wolverine's claws pop out in that bar fight?" -- D.F.

10. X2: X-Men United

After the first film's success, the studio gives Singer a bigger budget, meaning more mutants and special effects. (2003)

"Captures the X-Men's innate coolness with deep characters and breathless action. Plus, it's filled to the brim with fanboy Easter eggs." -- P.K. -- "The standout of the X trilogy." -- L.O.

Just missed the cut: 11. The Incredible Hulk (2008); 12. Unbreakable (2000); 13. Hellboy (2004); 14. Superman II (1980); 15. Darkman (1990)




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