Rated Greg’s Top 5 Superhero Movies This Century
- The Dark Knight
- Batman Begins
- The Dark Knight Rises
65 movies. SIXTY-FIVE. That’s how many mainstream superhero movies I counted that have come out since 2002’s Spiderman. For my entire adult life, the practice of gearing a franchise around a brave individual with super abilities has been the most popular avenue towards blockbuster success for the big studios. I sure wish they would spread the wealth to the more mature genres, but given the revenues flowing in I don’t see a major shift coming anytime soon. The main reason I started this blog last year was to talk about movies that I was passionate about, but I’m pretty much fresh out of takes for conventional comic book cinema at this point. Most are fine, two-hour distractions, but what else is there to say?
A Ringer favorite of mine, Chris Ryan, mentioned that he was “aging out of this shit” on The Watch podcast recently and I have to agree. Superhero stories just don’t excite me anymore. The Dark Knight trilogy holds up so well because, other than Katie Holmes’s mysterious ability to shapeshift into Maggie Gyllenhaal, it was fairly grounded. CGI was kept to a minimum and the plot developments were “mostly” based in realism. In comparison, the current crop of Marvel and DC films incorporate our heroes literally exchanging roundhouse punches with gods and aliens. There’s time travel and alternate dimensions, infinity stones and floating battleships. The stakes are way out of wack as an average of 1.5 bustling cities are completely leveled per movie and yet the heroes (and villains) are basically immortal due to the well known multi-picture deals of the actors. Sidenote – In the case of Marvel, I also don’t think Disney is comfortable killing off anyone with a speaking part. That would be off brand for them unless we’re talking about cartoon parents (RIP Mufasa).
Because we’ve seen the conventional superhero in 3 arcs story so many times, DC and Marvel films will require other, more interesting elements than green screen action alone to earn higher praise. I got cised for Guardians 2 (A-) because it was, matter of factly, really fucking funny. I got cised for Logan (A+) because the director disguised a brutal, gut wrenching, R rated Western as a superhero movie. But those are the exceptions. The majority of these films, at this juncture, don’t stray too far from the corporate formula which ultimately limits their ceiling.
So how does Wonder Woman stack up against the other films? Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news. Let’s tackle the good news first. First off, the titular character is WAY more interesting than the average beefy template in a cape. WW is only the third of these sixty-five films with a female lead, and the first of which that’s also directed by a woman (clearly Hollywood doesn’t have it’s own Title IX), so it’s no surprise that a different perspective is brought to the table. What was surprising, at least to me, was how entertaining Gal Gadot is in this role. She hadn’t shown much in the Fast and Furious franchise previously, but clearly they didn’t give her enough to do. She’s fantastic. In fact, on a charisma scale I’d put her well ahead of her Justice League counterparts Ben Affleck (Batman) & Henry Cavill (Superman), but still behind my #1 STUNNA Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn).
The other good news is that this movie’s got jokes. It’s not one of the best comedies you’ll see all year like Guardians mentioned above, but it has several good bits that hit. And intertwined within the movie’s lighthearted banter is a moving romance between Gadot and Chris Pine. Most superhero movies contain love interests, however for some reason they almost always come off as clumsy (Thor and Natalie Portman) or even borderline creepy (Superman and Louise Lane). This one works.
Onto the bad news. It’s one thing for action to be the same old song and dance (Marvel), it’s another thing for the action to actually take away from the movie. I have the same issue regarding the combat sequences of this film as I did in last year’s DC movies (Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman). It all looks too way much like a video game or cartoon. During much of these scenes, you can tell that Wonder Woman isn’t even a stunt double but actual computer animation (at least I think so, maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me). Anyways, I’m just not a fan of the look. I will say it’s pretty cool seeing Gadot kick the shit out of a bunch of Germans but I would prefer the use of a more realistic filter. Also, can we stop it with the whole final boss battle at the end trope, where he explains his diabolical plan to the hero and presents how all-powerful he is? Haven’t we evolved past that? Why does this have to happen in every movie?
All in all, Wonder Woman is good. It’s not great, but very solid and worth seeing, probably on par with the average Marvel movie. It’s definitely a step in the right direction for the DC universe after a disappointing 2016. Grade: B-