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Old 12-28-2012, 02:38 AM   #51
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For these next two entries, I’m going to have to get a bit “meta” and talk a bit about how my ranking process unfolded regarding them and whatnot. It’s unavoidable when talking about the next two, but don’t worry, it won’t be a trend after them.

16 and 15 (Order TBD).

Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire, Spider-Man, 2002; Spider-Man 2, 2004; Spider-Man 3, 2007)
Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield, The Amazing Spider-Man, 2012)




Fear not – this is not a tie. I wouldn’t chicken out like that.

However, I am going to do something a bit unusual with these two characters that I’m not doing with any others on the list – I’m going to analyze both of them, and then declare a “victor” at the end of the analysis. (In the listing above, Maguire is listed first above only because he appeared first.)

I definitely did not intend to have the two Spider-Men right next to each other. In fact, I deliberately went out of my way to avoid it – I would have one ahead of the other, and then purposefully move Norton and/or Character #14 in between them to give them some space. And then I would reconsider, put the other Spider-Man ahead, and insert one or two characters between them again. Then I realized I was lying to myself – if I was flip flopping on them so much, far more than any other pair of characters on the list, surely they have to be right next to each other, right?

(By the way, I think it’s important to mention that Spider-Man is my favorite comic book character and the one I’m most interested in, and it’s not close.)

Anyway, let’s start with Maguire.

Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man

If you’ll recall, I said I had a problem with characters like Jean Grey where it was hard to balance out the positive aspects of the character with the negative aspects. All the characters I mentioned that for? Piece of cake, compared to Maguire’s Spider-Man. Where can I possibly put a character that was so fantastic in Spider-Man 2 and then also so awful in Spider-Man 3? Honestly, I was even tempted to cheat for a moment and separate the two into a “Spider-Man from Spider-Man 1 and 2” and put him in the Top 10, and then put “Spider-Man from Spider-Man 3” near the bottom, at least in the bad section if not even in putrid.

There are two scenes that I keep coming back to in my mind (one good, one bad) that exemplify this dichotomy.

The first is a small moment you might not even remember. In Spider-Man 2, he’s at the dinner party, he just had to watch Mary Jane get engaged, his boss is angry at him. He sees a waiter with a plate of hors d'oeuvres in front of him at the party. He reaches out to grab it – and someone else snipes the last bit of food right before he can reach it, and he frowns. A perfect little example of the Parker luck. Nothing is going right for him, not even the small things. That one shot tells you everything you need to know about this character at this stage without any dialogue, and all within the span of two seconds. It’s a small moment, but it’s one that really made me really think “Man, they are just nailing this, even the small details.”

On the flip side of the coin is a scene I’m sure you all remember. He goes to a nightclub. He does an unfathomably ridiculous dance that has no place in this film, or any other film except maybe “The Mask.” And then we abruptly go from this zany, off-the wall and ridiculously wacky scene…into Peter hitting his girlfriend, and then brooding silently on a wall.

Spider-Man 2 is one of the best superhero films ever made. Spider-Man 3 is a ridiculously stupid, convoluted mess, and to me, it is bar none the most disappointing superhero movie sequel ever made. (and considering you’ve basically seen me write an essay about the flaws of X3 by this point, that should tell you something).

There are other characters on this list, higher than this, who appear in bad movies. Heck, there are two characters higher than this who appear as characters in four movies total, with only two of them being good and the other two being quite bad. But I can’t come anywhere close to punishing those characters for their bad movies. Close your eyes and think about Christopher Reeve as Superman. What are you thinking of? Whatever image it is, I bet it’s not him interacting with Richard Pryor or fighting Nuclear Man. No one thinks about Superman 3 or The Quest for Peace, it’s not a part of the public consciousness, we think of the good moments, the bad films are swept under the rug in our minds (and mine as well).

For that matter, what happened when Wolverine showed up for a cameo in First Class? The audience cheered! We love Wolverine! Who gives a crap about the fact that he was in X3 and X-Men Origins? No one remembers those! And when Tony Stark showed up in the Avengers movie and was his usual charming self, did ANYONE think or care about the fact that Iron Man 2 was a letdown?

Now close your eyes and think about Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man. I hope you’re lucky enough that you get a vision from Spider-Man 2 or even Spider-Man 1. Because for me, I think about him in his black suit dancing down the street in ridiculous fashion. (Sometimes it’s his outrageously stupid looking crying at Harry’s death). And I know for sure I’m not alone, because it seems like Spider-Man 3 caused the public consciousness to shun the first two movies as well.

And there’s a reason for it. Those other bad films with good characters that I mentioned, they didn’t basically ruin the character himself. I mean, hell, you could argue that Superman 3 and 4 are actually worse films cinematically than Spider-Man 3, but that was largely because of the other horrible crap going on, they didn’t ruin the character of Superman.

Spider-Man 3 had the character involved in scenes that were absolutely horrendous and downright embarrassing to watch, and were 100% caused by the character himself. It also had him hit his girlfriend. (Okay, maybe it was an accident, but still, it happened, the script made the choice of having him hit her). And now everyone thinks of Emo Peter.

And you know what’s even worse? The third film actually made it so the first two films weren’t quite as enjoyable anymore. You know how I said if I separated Peter from Part 3 from the Peter from the first two that S1/S2 Peter would be in the top ten? If Spider-Man 3 had never been made, the S1/S2 Peter would be in the top five. But the third film actually makes the first two films worse. The over the top, hokey elements that we found so charming and likable from the first two films weren’t quite as enjoyable anymore after we’ve seen them stretched to their perverted and embarrassing extremes. And unlike X3 or some of the other letdown sequels on this list, Spider-Man 3 was made by the same people who made the first two, so the enjoyment of the first two is lessened by the knowledge that the filmmakers were also capable of making something this bad. In that sense Spider-Man 3 as a film has a lot in common with the alien symbiote featured in it.

So, with all that being said, the fact that he’s still in the top 16 and maybe 15 in this list should tell you everything you need to know about how awesome Spider-Man 2 is.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the strengths of it. It was really the first superhero movie of this era to come out and be universally applauded by critics everywhere. (Oh, sure, X2 had come out the year prior to overwhelmingly positive reviews, but there was still a sense of “Oh, this is quite good…for a comic book movie.” Spider-Man 2 came out and everyone said “Regardless of genre, this is a fantastic film.”

A lot of what makes the film so good is Doc Ock and the other supporting characters like Jameson. But that’s not entirely relevant here, this is about the character of Peter Parker.

When it was announced that the villain for the film was Dr. Octopus and no one else, I was slightly confused. Doc Ock was a pretty simple villain in the comics – his origin and motivations are simple, and probably not enough to sustain an entire film. I thought it might have worked better if they flip-flopped Ock and Green Goblin so that Ock was the one in the origin film instead – he was a much simpler character that would have fit into the origin story perfectly, and Goblin was a richer character so it would have made more sense to have his arc be in a film where it could be fleshed out and given more justice.

What I didn’t realize until I saw the film, however, was that it made sense to have a simpler villain (although he is obviously greatly fleshed out in the movie as opposed to the comics character) because Spider-Man 2 is a movie that is so deeply about Peter Parker. So, yeah, Ock was great, Jameson was great, but Maguire’s Peter Parker himself is what made the movie excellent, so he gets most of the credit. Sure, he’s a little dopey, corny, and whiny at times – but that’s also a big part of what makes him human. He was raised by an older generation of parental figures, it makes perfect sense that some of his attitudes seem a bit old-timey and anachronistic. We see his struggles, his fears, and we have a blast at each moment even if the film seems a bit too corny at times.

Obviously I’m oversimplifying things a bit here – Spider-Man 2 had some bad moments regarding Peter (some of the stuff with Mary Jane, some of the scenes got a bit too cheesy) and Spider-Man 3 had some good ones (the fight with Sandman in the subway was awesome). But for the most part it’s a battle of two extremes. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve hardly talked about Spider-Man 1, for good reason. This is a battle of two heavyweights, one on the side of good, one on the side of evil. Spider-Man 1 is a flawed but overall good set up film whose main purpose was setting us up for the awesomeness of Spider-Man 2, using it as some sort of tiebreaker would be like settling the Superman vs. Batman debate by saying that “Batman has a pretty competent sidekick named Robin in his corner, so he wins.” So let’s analyze Garfield instead.

Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man

When I first heard that they were rebooting the franchise so soon, I was slightly angry and saw it as a pretty cheap money grab. A movie that shouldn’t even exist, and was only going to exist because of the stupid “have to make a movie or lose the rights” laws. I WANTED Spider-Man to revert to Marvel so I could see their take on it and have him interact with Iron Man and the Hulk on the silver screen. Still, when Garfield was cast, I was cautiously optimistic, as I thought he was great in Social Network and other works and could see him as Peter Parker.

I really hoped against hope that this film would NOT be an origin movie. Everyone knew Spider-Man’s origin, everyone already knows what happened, I desperately wanted this to be a movie where it started with him already being Spider-Man and told its own new storyline. And then…I heard that it was going to be the origin again. I was pissed. We already saw this stuff not that long ago, are you seriously going to make me sit through the spider bite and him failing to nab Uncle Ben’s killer and all that crap AGAIN? Because of the original comics, the movie, the Ultimate version, and the various Spidey cartoon shows, I had seen that story a million times and wanted something new, like they did with Incredible Hulk where they started en media res.

So despite the fact that Spider-Man is my favorite comic character by far, heading into the summer of 2012, it was actually my least anticipated comic book movie between itself, Avengers, and TDKR. I just thought it was so unnecessary and blatantly made for commercial and business purposes that I felt bad about it.

Despite that, it’s not like there was any doubt that I was going to see it. So my friends and I went to the theatres and saw it.

And I loved the hell out of it.

Say what you will about the producers and their nefarious intentions, Marc Webb and the other people involved in this film did their damndest to create a great Spider-Man film, and they succeeded.

In all fairness, I may enjoy this film more than most because the two biggest complaints about the film I heard about it were things I was totally okay with. Both of these complaints involve “dropped subplots.” The first “dropped subplot” is about the mystery of Peter’s parents. I didn’t consider this a dropped subplot at all, and thought it was very clear that it was a mystery they were saving for the sequel. The second “dropped subplot” is the fact that he gives up on finding Uncle Ben’s killer and never actually finds him – again, I never thought that this was a “dropped subplot,” and thought they resolved it and thoroughly enjoyed their take on it – after he saves the kid from danger, he decides that his revenge on Uncle Ben’s killer doesn’t matter, and gives up this pursuit in order to pursue a life of general heroism.

I also greatly enjoyed the portrayal of Peter Parker, in a modern update. He’s not a 60’s era total nerd – he’s a loner, sure, but he’s a longer because he likes to skateboard by himself while listening to Coldplay instead of the fact that he’s a science geek with a pocket protector. And he shows himself to be noble – he gets beaten up by the jocks not because he’s the ultimate nerd on the bottom of the totem pole, but because he’s the loner guy who speaks up for the nerds on the bottom of the totem pole who are getting beaten up. This, I thought, was a great change. (on a side note, even though this doesn’t relate to the Parker character, I absolutely loved the fact that we actually see a character arc for Flash Thompson in this film, albeit briefly – as evidenced by the current excellent Venom series, Thompson is actually a very compelling character with a lot of depth, even before he became Venom, and the Raimi films portray him as a one-note stock character while this film actually gives him some depth as he shows Peter a great deal of sympathy after Uncle Ben’s death. What a wonderful touch to add to the movie.)

In many ways, this film was both hamstrung and also aided by the fact that there was an existing Spider-Man origin film released ten years ago. It was hamstrung by it in the fact that it did its best to avoid recreating scenes that happened the 2002 version of the film, so they tinkered with elements of his origin a bit. Peter never becomes a wrestler, and the circumstances causing him to not stop the burglar are completely different and involve a greedy shopkeeper not letting him buy milk instead. In addition, he never actually stops Uncle Ben’s killer, likely because they didn’t want to recreate a scene that we already saw. So in some cases this is a bit weird, and the fact that he never actually catches the killer was a big negative point in a lot of people’s reviews. In both cases I think they handled the maneuvering around the classic scenes pretty deftly, although maybe not allowed to go to their full emotional impact.

So while those elements slightly hamstrung it, the movie’s obvious pre-existing knowledge of the Raimi films and their flaws also served as a benefit.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the film…hell, probably the thing I enjoyed the most about the film…was how damn efficient the relationships between the characters are. There is no hemming or hawing or pausing or silent knowing looks between them, they all get to the point and express what they want, and very quickly, and for the most part, get it. There is no long, drawn-out “will they or won’t they get together?” drama between Peter and Gwen…they are attracted to each other, so instead of pussyfooting around, they start dating almost immediately. Yes, thank you! And then, she starts to suspect that he is Spider-Man, and he realizes his identity as Spider-Man might complicate their relationship. Uh oh, will this be another drawn out thing where he has to protect his identity, and he has to hide this side of himself from her….no, it’s not! He just comes out and tells her…almost immediately! And she’s cool with it! Yes, thank you! You just accomplished in 45 minutes what the Raimi films took four hours to do. Later on in the film, Peter, with knowledge that a lizard villain has been terrorizing the city, visits Dr. Connors, suspects some suspicious activity and then sees a lizard rat. Is he going to take this into his own hands? No, he goes to visit the police to tell them about it like a normal person would! Thank you! And he tells the police of this suspected connection, and George Stacy dismisses him, saying he thinks Curt Connors is a good man…okay, typically contrived “force the hero to work on his own” stuff. I was fine with it. But then…Stacy turns towards the other police officers and decides “Hey, that sounded a bit off, but just in case he has a point, let’s investigate Curt Connors anyway.” Hell. yes. No contrivances or misunderstandings here, let’s cut through the BS.

But the best moment, by far, comes at the end. Captain Stacy, as he lays dying, tells Peter to respect his dying wishes and stay away from Gwen because of the danger. Respecting him, Peter keeps his distance, not attending his funeral and staying away from Gwen.

And then Gwen comes to him. She asks where he has been, why he hasn’t been there for her…he gives some cryptic answer…

And then she IMMEDIATELY figures out exactly why he’s giving that answer! “Oh, my father told you to stay away from me as he was dying, didn’t he?” Oh. Hell. Yes. I almost did a fist pump at this moment.

Ok, so now we’re left at a crossroads. Even though Gwen knows the reason Peter wants to keep his distance from her, will he actually do it? Will this be something that keeps them apart, that we will be left wondering about in the next movie? Nope! Peter comes to her and says “You know, rules are meant to be broken.” No “will they or won’t they get together?” crap. He comes to her and says they should be together. These characters are too smart to fall for any faux-relationship drama bullcrap.

How can you even compare this against the Raimi films? It’s not fair. It’s like putting a boxer with no knowledge of his opponent against an opponent who has been able to meticulously study the first boxer and observing his weak points, who then attacks him brutally with full knowledge of how to do so. The Amazing Spider-Man has studied its opponent, and its weak points, and can cut through them with a knife, while the Raimi films had no idea what hit them.
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:45 AM   #52
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The Verdict

As I said above, I loved the Amazing Spider-Man, even though it was a bit stunted by the presence of Spider-Man 1.
Still, this comparison seems a bit unfair, as the Garfield version only appeared in one film while the other appeared in three (one pretty good, one excellent, and one bad).

I guess it would be easy to say that Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 cancel each other out, and that the verdict is left to determining which is the better film between Spider-Man 1 and Amazing Spider-Man.

To that end, I say that Amazing Spider-Man is a better film than Spider-Man 1. I actually thought Spider-Man 1 was a deeply flawed movie…although most of that was because of the cheesiness of the Green Goblin himself and not the Spider-Man character. To be sure, Spidey uttered lines like “You’re the one who’s out, Gobby – out of your mind!” so the character can’t be completely exonerated from the cheesiness, but the Goblin’s Power Rangers outfit and terrible lines were the majority of what I considered offensive about the film, and Spider-Man’s origin was handled quite well overall.

That being said...I’m not using that as the tie-breaker. Instead, as a fan of fantasy sports, despite the fact that I pretty much listed nothing but positives about Amazing Spider-Man and half of my Maguire Spider-Man analysis consisted of complaints, I’m going to pull out an insight from my years as a fan of fantasy sports to settle the score. And that trick is…

“In a fantasy trade, the manager who gets the best player in the trade wins.”

And to that end, even thought Amazing Spider-Man is a tight and extremely effective movie that I enjoyed the hell out of, and even though Spider-Man 3 was a putrid piece of crap that makes the other movies worse and is the worst movie that appears in the top 24, Maguire’s “best” is better than Garfield’s “best.” Spider-Man 2 is the best Spider-Man movie ever made, out of the four.

I loved Amazing, but the highs experienced by Spider-Man 2 overcome the rest of the odds. Maguire wins. By a hair.

16. Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield, The Amazing Spider-Man, 2012)
15. Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire, Spider-Man, 2002; Spider-Man 2, 2004; Spider-Man 3, 2007)
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:42 AM   #53
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I also am a huge fan of The Incredible Hulk. It was the perfect Hulk movie, but the stench of Gamma Poodle from the Ang Lee disaster was still lingering on the character. I actually liked The Incredible Hulk more than Iron Man. I grew up on the TV show version of The Incredible Hulk, as well as the short lived cartoon from the eighties, so I was already familiar with the characters, even though I never read the comics. Norton's version paid it's respects to the TV show, while Ang Lee's ignored it aside from the cameo from Lou.

I liked Liv Tyler, but the scene between Betty and Bruce as they are both going to bed was horribly awkward for no readily apparent reason which we see on-screen. This is actually the editor's fault, due to all of the missing scenes which should not have been cut. The scene is awkward because her new boyfriend is just in the next room. It would be absurd not for them to feel awkward under those circumstances, but the audience doesn't get this information on-screen. I only know it because I've seen the deleted scenes from the bluray. The following scene between Doc Samson and Bruce was a key scene to establish the situation which should never have been left on the editing room floor. It was so important, some of it was used in the trailer for the film.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:52 AM   #54
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I've been loving this and have agreed for the most part, but I absolutely hated Garfield's take on Spider-Man.
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:56 AM   #55
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Ang Lee's Hulk is flawed but at least it took risks. Incredible Hulk is a good movie, but it's too safe and by-the-numbers, and results in a pretty unmemorable film. Granted, if you're a fan of the character you'll love the movie, but for everyone else it was nothing special.
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:17 PM   #56
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Quote:
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Ang Lee's Hulk is flawed but at least it took risks.
Well we obviously have very different opinions, because I thought Lee's version was a horrible mess. I'm not going to reward a film for taking "risks" when those risks resulted in a bunch of idiotic crap happening, like the climax being starfish dad thunderbolting around in a dark and dizzy haze of madness. Norton's Hulk may have played it safe but it gave me a very enjoyable film experience (and I'm not even that big of a Hulk fan in the comics) and Lee's didn't.
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:35 PM   #57
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Ang Lee's Hulk dealt with abuse. Incredible Hulk was, well, Hulk smashing things. Ang Lee's version is a bad movie. I'm not saying otherwise. But it dealt with big themes and that made it..... interesting. Incredible Hulk is simply forgettable unless you're a fan of the character. That's why it's the black sheep of the Marvel universe. It has nothing to do with it following Ang Lee's adaptation. Batman Begins followed Batman & Robin and managed to resurrect the franchise.
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Old 12-28-2012, 01:16 PM   #58
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Sure, it's a fun action movie, but I definitely don't think its forgettable, and I think it's a little smarter and better than you're giving it credit for. The movie doesn't dwell on the duality of humans like you would think a Hulk movie should - it doesn't really talk about how the Hulk is a manifestation of Banner's pent up rage, it's treated like a separate entity. The theme of the movie is control - Banner trying to control the Hulk, and the other people trying to control him, and his rejection of it. It ends with a story arc that culminates in Banner using the Hulk as a super hero, giving up his obsession for control when he sees Hulk can be used for the greater good. The movie also gives the audience credit and lets things happen without overly explaining things. In the scene in the beginning, Banner doesn't say "Oh no, a drop of my blood fell in!" or tell anybody that, we just see him running around frantically telling everyone to stop production.

In addition, I think a big dumb action movie tends to be filled with stock characters that the film doesn't care about (like Transformers). Banner and Betty are definitely not that, and have a believable relationship, and we are allowed to see some depths of their characters. Hurt and Roth's characters are also good, albeit their characters are more single minded. There are only five characters who really matter (and one of them only appears in one scene) so the characters are given ton of breathing room, which I liked.

A movie with great action scenes that has likable, fleshed out characters and a believable theme and character arc gets a lot more credit for me than a movie that tries to deal with big themes that it has no business exploring.

If a mediocre scientist tries to deal with dangerous high-risk chemicals that he's not prepared for because he intends to create something great, but the experiment blows up in his face and creates a mess, we don't give him credit for "trying," we say he's an idiot for dealing with chemicals he wasn't capable of dealing with. And that's pretty much what Ang Lee's Hulk is.
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Old 12-28-2012, 03:41 PM   #59
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a movie that tries to deal with big themes that it has no business exploring.
Ang Lee's interpretation comes straight from the comics. The source of Hulk's rage comes from his repressed memories of abuse as a child. It gives the character more depth and a better psychological profile. I feel that's superior to the simplicity of Incredible Hulk and even The Avengers where The Hulk is essentially a B-movie monster. That may have worked in the 1960's Stan Lee comics but only because it was used as a metaphor for the counter-culture (man vs. government/military). But it's just too boring for today's standards. That's why Joss Whedon made his version more comedic and Mark Ruffalo had to give Bruce Banner some quirks. They had to spice it up. But still, Ang Lee's interpretation is the more interesting one.
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:36 PM   #60
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Obviously the difference here is that you're giving it credit for things it TRIES to do, which is a viewpoint I understand, but personally I think that if it fails I'm not giving any points for trying.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:11 PM   #61
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I would put Garfield ahead of Maguire, but otherwise I've agreed with you pretty much all the way here.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:25 PM   #62
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you're giving it credit for things it TRIES to do
No. I'm giving it credit for what it does. The movie is bad, but the character isn't. And that's the point of your list.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:17 PM   #63
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And I remain the only person on earth who genuinely likes Ang Lee's Hulk.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:19 PM   #64
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I would put Garfield ahead of Maguire, but otherwise I've agreed with you pretty much all the way here.
Same here.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:44 PM   #65
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I would put Garfield ahead of Maguire, but otherwise I've agreed with you pretty much all the way here.
Honestly it was a coin flip for me. Actually, while in the middle of writing that analysis I would going to end it by saying Spider-Man 1 was the tiebreaker and that Peter in ASM was better than Peter in Spider-Man 1, but I changed it once I thought of the "best player" thing and because I thought it was a bit unfair as Maguire had to carry six hours and Garfield only have to carry two so he had a small sample size advantage.

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No. I'm giving it credit for what it does. The movie is bad, but the character isn't. And that's the point of your list.
Well, we disagree, as I also think the character is bad, and that's what it boils down to. Different strokes for different folks.
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Old 12-29-2012, 03:07 AM   #66
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14. Blade/Eric Brooks (Wesley Snipes, Blade, 1998; Blade II, 2002; Blade Trinity, 2004)



As a relatively minor character in the comics, Blade seemed like an odd choice for a character to base Marvel’s first film in nearly a decade, considering the staples of Marvel (Spider-Man, the X-Men, etc) were still yet to hit the silver screen.

Still, it did make some amount of sense, as since the character dealt with vampires the film could be used as more of a horror/monster movie rather than a superhero movie (which people had slight misgivings over considering it was so recently after Batman and Robin).

As minor as the character may be, the movie and Snipes’s portrayal really put the character on the map and made him popular.

The first movie was quite good. Although I mentioned that they could have chosen a more horror/monster movie route, it definitely feels like a comic book superhero movie, thanks to the fast pace and story structure.

As for Blade himself, Snipes does a great job playing a stoic badass who doesn’t speak that much but makes it count when he does. This was a departure from the much more talkative and arrogant Blade of the comics, but it’s a great cinematic choice. He is cool and collected, and always is prepared and has contingency plans which as seen to satisfying effect in the films. The fact that he (despite not having any other vampire weaknesses) still has a blood lust that is being suppressed with increasingly-less-effective formula also makes the character more compelling and gives him a bit of a “potential time bomb” edge.

And they didn’t forget about the human elements of the character, either, which are mostly on display with his relationship with Whistler. We really see and feel the relationship between Blade and can see how much his paternal figure means to him, and we feel for Blade when Whistler “dies.” The relationship with the female lead in the first movie is also interesting, as the relationship between her and Blade remains platonic. There is some chemistry between them, but they’re only working together, they don’t fall for each other or really even mention the possibility. At the end of the film, we can feel his pain as he gives up the potential to become fully human because he knows there are people out there who need saving from vampires and his unique skill set makes him the man for the job.

Blade II is an even better film, very well directed by Guillermo Del Toro. The character of Blade continues to be very satisfying, especially in the way some of his contingency plans and his tendency for being “one step ahead” of other characters (best exemplified when Scud thinks he’s surprising Blade by revealing he’s a traitor and that the bomb was a dud, but Blade already figured this out and replaced it with a real bomb, which he satisfyingly uses to blow Scud up). He’s forced to work with a team of vampires who, until the Reaper threat showed itself, had actually been trained and were planning to take down Blade himself, creating some good tension. Blade makes sure to come prepared, however, and we’re continually impressed with how efficient and calculating he is.

The character doesn’t have a huge amount of depth or anything, but we also get more character insight and a pretty good arc in the second film, as we see Blade have to come to terms with his previously black-and-white view of “all vampires must die.” We see him considering his viewpoints as Nyssa raises the argument that she was born a vampire and can’t help it, and we see Blade struggle with some new conflicting feelings, which culminates as he refuses Nomack’s offer to join him since the two of them both want vampires dead.

And then we get to the third film…which, in classic superhero trilogy fashion, is an enormous let down. Actually, “let down” isn’t strong enough – it’s a terrible movie, and very hard to sit through. Blade himself loses all of his charisma, and it seems like Snipes is here only to collect a paycheck. He doesn’t seem like an awesome badass anymore, he seems like a tired older guy who’s sick of all this vampire stuff and just wants people to leave him alone and get off his lawn. He spouts off a few terrible one liners. He has zero chemistry with his two sidekicks, he seems to regard them as nuisances (Reynolds much more so than Biel) and never even really has an arc where he learns to appreciate or accept them, or any arc, really. The worst part, though, is the fact that in the early parts of the film, Whistler dies (which in and of itself is a bit redundant, seeing as how he already “died” in the first film) and Blade’s reaction isn’t much. This is a cheap device used because they remembered the genuine emotion at Whistler’s “death” in the first movie so they recreate it, for real this time. Blade’s relationship with Whistler was the most humanizing aspect of the character, and his reaction to his father figure’s death in this movie is nothing even remotely close to the feelings we felt in the first film. And then throughout the rest of the movie, he barely thinks or talks about Whistler at all, despite the fact that Jessica Biel’s character is Whistler’s daughter. Couldn’t the two of them had some quiet moment where they talk to each other about Whistler and how much he meant to both of them? Nope, can’t waste time on a scene that isn’t people shooting vampires that’s set to techno music.

As I mentioned in the Maguire analysis, there are some characters that I can overlook the bad films they appeared in, but I don’t know, something about Blade Trinity and the way Snipes was totally checked out really did kind of ruin some of the mystique and coolness of the character. I mean, come on, after the credits ended, they showed text on screen that literally just said “Word.” WORD? WORD? You seriously just threw “Word” up on screen after the credits…because the film featured a cool African-American protagonist? What? If this film was written by someone different than from the first two films, I would probably be willing to overlook it, but this one was also written by Goyer (who also stepped into the director’s chair for this one, a big mistake) so I have to assume this was the ending he wanted all along and take that into consideration.

I’m not punishing Blade in terms of his overall ranking because of Trinity, but I will punish him slightly by making him the highest rated member of the “Great” tier instead of the last member of the “Excellent” tier.

Which leads us to…

The Excellent Tier
This is the penultimate tier. The top seven are in the “Elite” tier, but these next six are right up next to them.

13. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy, X-Men: First Class, 2011)



Seeing as we never really got to see too much of Charles Xavier as a young man in other mediums (I’m sure we saw it a little at some point in the comics, but I don’t remember seeing any issues with a young Xavier in them myself) this character was largely new, and had a very difficult role in the film – they had to create an essentially new character who would be believable turning into a character we’re familiar with in 40 years, while also creating essentially a new character with his own traits as well. Obviously, Charles can’t act the same way 60-year old Professor X did, people behave differently when they’re in their 20s than they do in the 60s, but we still need glimpses and to believe that he COULD become the man we’re familiar with.

Given that task, the filmmakers did a great job. When we first see him as an adult, Charles is a little bit of a party guy, but not excessively so. His intelligence and knowledge is put on full display as he uses his intelligence to try to pick up girls, a great way to incorporate elements of the character we know while still letting us know that this is a version that is younger and more immature. We also see him using his mind reading powers only to the extent of “guessing” her favorite drink – that’s maybe a bit unethical, further letting us know he isn’t fully mature, but we also get some sense of morals as a less ethical telepath could obviously use his powers well beyond that extent.

Since Xavier’s defining trait is his intelligence, the filmmakers could have gone the easy route of showing young Charles as a nerd or an outcast. They wisely chose not to go this route, as he’s still incredibly intelligent but also respected, and seems to be quite popular at Oxford.

Throughout the film, McAvoy plays Xavier expertly as a very likable guy with lots of natural charisma, committed to his morals and wise but still with a lot of maturing to do. There is absolutely no doubt in our minds that this is the younger version of the Professor X we’re all familiar with.

The most important thing about the movie and the character, of course, is his interaction with Fassbender’s Erik. While I thought that having them introduced and then separated all within the span of one film might be a bit rushed (or at least, have the film take place over a longer period of time), McAvoy and Fassbender sell the relationship completely. They reaffirm that they are friends, but the movie makes sure to show you and doesn’t just rely on telling (like, say, the relationship between Tony and Rhodes in Iron Man 2). They nail all the big emotional moments, like when Charles is going into his mind to find the suppressed memories, but also nail the small ones as well – the scenes where they are just hanging out and talking, the more whimsical ones where they are out and about collecting members of their team.

I was surprised that the film ended by having Erik become Magneto and leaving and then having Charles become paralyzed, as we saw the two still working as partners when they visited Jean Grey in the X3 flashback, and Xavier also was shown walking in Wolverine. I had no idea until then that they were purposefully ignoring the continuities of the two bad movies like Superman Returns did. (I didn’t remember the Cerebro dialogue that made this film’s depiction an inconsistency, and I assumed the Stryker we saw here was the father of the one we know.) The other mistakes may have been errors or plot holes, but there is no way they forgot about the fact that X3 showed them as still working together and Xavier walking. It was a deliberate choice. And I kinda liked it. Why let the continuities of two bad films get you down? Just ignore them, it made for an ending that was (despite being a bit rushed) more climactic and we get to see the natural results of what we expected.

12. V (Hugo Weaving, V for Vendetta, 2005)



Housekeeping note: Is V really anything resembling a superhero, or should I have not considered him one and left him off this list? It’s definitely up for debate in the graphic novel, but I think he pretty clearly fits the criteria of this list in the movie. He’s a character with artificially enhanced physical and mental capabilities from a lab experiment, who wears a costume and has a codename to disguise his identity. So that alone, I think, qualifies him for either superhero or supervillain status. Regarding which of those two categories he fits into, in the comic book version it’s left up for the reader to decide for themselves if he’s a hero or a villain, and the movie version clearly has him as a protagonist and the people he fights against are clearly “bad guys.” So being as there are two votes and one of them is “Hero” and the other vote is “Abstain,” Hero wins and V gets entry onto this list.

There is a lot that can be said about V for Vendetta and how it compares as a film against the graphic novel. A lot has been changed – most primarily, the fight between fascism and anarchy is more or less changed into being a fight between extreme neo-conservatism versus modern liberalism. The leader of this fascist dictatorship, Adam Susan/Sutler is changed from being a fascinating and sympathetic man who thinks he’s doing the right thing into a pretty stereotypical comic book movie villain.

But this analysis isn’t about those nuances – it’s about V as character. And to be sure, V is dramatically softened. He’s given a kind hearted and romantic edge that was missing from the graphic novel version. The comic book V is absolutely brutal, stopping at nothing to eliminate everything that’s in the path of his goals, and his human side is barely felt. With the movie version, however, we absolutely feel V as a character, and recognize that he is a human underneath it all, and feel his motivations and have sympathy for him.

Is the movie version better? No, I wouldn’t dare to say that. The comic version V fulfills his own role, being an ambiguous being who dies while letting the audience decide whether or not the character was a hero or just a costumed vigilante who went too far – and while, yes, the movie version may have went too far in making V sympathetic in the eyes of the movie-going audience by having him be much more noble and a protector of innocents and more "power to the people" instead of pure anarchist, the character is still quite compelling. But the version where we can see his human side, although its different from the comics, I found to be quite compelling and tragic in many ways. I'm not saying I think the ruthless cold hearted comic version should have been changed to be more sympathetic, I just think there's room for both.

While I understand that Moore purists wanted to see a much less sympathetic and true V on the silver screen, I still think the complaints were mostly from comic book purists and that the character of V himself was excellent onscreen despite all the changes.

Most of all, I enjoyed the hell out of Hugo Weaving’s portrayal. I’m sure Moore purists are angry that the elements of his death and its aftermath (and the nature of the government he’s rebelling against) aren’t exactly the same as the comics and will will elicit some rage, but nonetheless, I felt that this movie was great despite its deviances, and V himself is portrayed masterfully and well deserved of a spot in the “excellent” tier.
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Old 12-29-2012, 01:56 PM   #67
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So, I realized that there was one character I totally forgot about when I made these rankings. I thought I went through each film pretty meticulously and grabbed every character who qualified, but for some reason I totally blanked on the fact that Ryan Reynolds’s character from Blade Trinity was named after a comic character that has powers and is pretty clearly on the superhero side of the fence more so than the supporting character side. In my defense he is absolutely nothing like the comics character besides the name.

Thank god the one character I missed was a horrible one and not a good one, so I don’t have to go in and edit too many of the numbers, only a few at the bottom.

In any case I’ve edited this entry into my earlier posts that contain the bottom portion of the list but I’ll post it here as well.

58. Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds, Blade Trinity, 2004)



The Jar Jar Binks of the Blade movies. First of all, Reynolds is just playing Ryan Reynolds here. His character has absolutely nothing to do with Hannibal King in the comics in the slightest besides the fact that he’s a former vampire that fights vampires (King in the comics is an older stoic man, Ryan Reynolds is Ryan Reynolds). He is supposed to be the comic relief, but his jokes are absolutely terrible, usually revolving around genitalia. His brand of humor is only funny to elementary school children, and I don’t think elementary school children were allowed to watch this movie, so why include it? He gets kidnapped by vampires and somehow shoehorns in a joke about the fact that he has a Hello Kitty tattoo on his ass. What?

The funny thing is, Blade himself seems to have the same opinion of him that the audience does. You would think in a movie called “Trinity” that the natural story arc would be for Blade to learn to work as a team, to understand and come to accept working with the others. But no, even at the very end he never softens his stance towards Reynolds and still barely tolerates him. But probably the most baffling element is that Reynolds is then given the task of being the ending narrator, the one who says “Blade must continue his journey blah blah…” Wait, what? Biel’s character was flat but at least she was taken seriously and had some sort of connection with Blade. Why on earth wasn’t she the ending narrator? If the guy who just clowns around making dick jokes the whole movie is the one delivering the "serious" ending narration, you know your movie has problems.
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Old 12-29-2012, 02:21 PM   #68
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I like the part where he says "c**k-juggling thunderc**t".
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Old 12-29-2012, 02:30 PM   #69
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Really good thread
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Old 12-29-2012, 02:41 PM   #70
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I remain the only person on earth who genuinely likes Ang Lee's Hulk.
Now you know how I feel about Batman Returns. Or in case Nick1998 is around, Batman Forever.
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Old 12-29-2012, 02:57 PM   #71
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As someone who actually read a number of the Nightstalkers comics, I was seriously P.O.ed by the incarnation in Blade: Trinity. I cannot imagine WTF the writers were thinking when they came up with this nonsense.

Fortunately, the movie rights to Blade have reverted back to Marvel Studios. I greatly look forward to their reboot of the character. I'm sure the Nightstalkers will come along for the ride. Maybe include Rachel Van Helsing into the mix as well, so it's not such a sausage fest.
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Old 12-29-2012, 03:04 PM   #72
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the writers
Mr. David Goyer.
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:45 AM   #73
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11. Thor (Chris Hemsworth, Thor, 2011; The Avengers, 2012)



The idea of a film based around Thor has been kicked around for ages but steel was never put into the ground, with most producers thinking that it’s just a bit too silly of a concept or character.

Naturally, a lot of those reservations did come into play when Marvel studios announced that they were actually making a Thor movie. This is a very hard character to pull off – you have to get the audience to understand and accept a larger than life character and surrounding world that could very easily come off as silly or even stupid. When Kenneth Branagh was cast as the director, a lot of our fears were assuaged, as his history with Shakespeare films seemed like it could lend itself well towards the world of Asgard coming off as distinguished.

That being said, I was still somewhat skeptical. Kenneth Branagh has an overall good track record but still has made some underwhelming films in the past (Frankenstein, Sleuth), and this interpretation was now further burdened by the fact that this movie about space gods had to exist in the same universe as the somewhat more realistic Marvel films like Iron Man that have already been released.

Luckily, my skepticism was proven to be unwarranted. Thor is a great movie. I know this is a character ranking and not a film ranking, but I have to talk a little bit about the world established around him first, because without it, the character wouldn’t work. Branagh’s adaptation of the world of Asgard is fantastic – we don’t think that’s silly for a minute. The epic sets, visuals, and fight scenes are excellent, and we totally buy into them. As surreal as the world of Asgard is when you think about it, it’s totally nailed on film and we buy into the drama and what is shown on screen and accept it for what it is. One of the most common complaints about the film is that people wished there was more time spent on Asgard instead of Earth, which tells you all you need to know about how well the world was portrayed onscreen. It really is epic.

Which is absolutely critical in understanding and selling the character. Thanks to the fact that we understand and appreciate this world, we are able to understand Thor and his mentality and take him seriously. He is arrogant, overconfident, and a bit pompous – but the way Hemsworth portrays him, we still really like him. Despite his character flaws, he still has noble and heroic intentions. When he leads a cavalry to fight the Frost Giants against his father’s wishes, we know that it’s a mistake caused by the aforementioned character flaws, but still sympathize with him because he’s doing it for entirely heroic reasons – his arrogance has simply caused him to misjudge the proper “how” and “when” of his plan. Think about it – this character is the arrogant, overconfident and pompous heir to the throne, who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth…in a lot of movies, a character fitting that description would be the villain. Despite carrying all these traits, we still really like Thor, which speaks volumes of Hemsworth’s performance and the film overall.

As if all of these character traits weren’t enough to make it very difficult to pull off the character on the silver screen, the script calls for an additional complication to the character. Not only do we have to accept him as a person within the context of an unusual supernatural world, but then in addition, for a good deal of the second act, this character also has to be the source of comedy in a series of Encino Man-esque “fish out of water” comedy sequences…but without us losing enough respect for him to not appreciate him becoming the noble and seriously-treated hero at the end of the movie.

And somehow, it works seamlessly. The “fish out of water” comedy sequences with Thor on earth are very funny, and it’s pretty hilarious as he misunderstands American customs and culture; smashing silverware on the floor, declaring how he’s the God of Thunder before being tasered down, and walking up to a pet shop demanding a horse. And yet, despite the fact that he’s involved in wacky comedy scenes, the Asgardian scenes have set up enough respect for the character that we don’t lose respect for the character or see him as less of a potential hero. We understand that the comedy comes from a difference of perspectives and world view, and not because the character himself is a joke or a loon, and so when the final battle comes along, the payoff is satisfying and we still see him as a legitimate superhero that has learned something and undergone a satisfying heroic arc.

Quelling another hesitation, when the Avengers movie rolled around, somehow Thor seemed to fit naturally within the parameters of the more realistic characters like Iron Man and Captain America despite the fact that his story and origin is much more over the top and unrealistic than the others. Now, while I mostly have nothing but praise for the character, he probably wasn’t really considered a major highlight of the Avengers movie despite fitting in seamlessly, and that fact coupled with the fact that he doesn’t quite reach the top ten tells you everything you need to know about the quality of the top ten characters on this list.

Usually the “top ten” is a big and major breaking point, but I’m just going to blaze right into the top ten without any fanfare. In this list the top seven (who are in the “Elite” tier) is more important than the top ten.

10. Batman/Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, 1993)



Like I said with the 1966 Batman analysis, even though this film is an extension with and is in continuity with a television show, this character is not being considered for anything in the TV show and is only being judged by the theatrically released film itself.

The fact that Mask of the Phantasm bombed at the box office really is a huge shame in terms of the history and potential of comic book movies. It pretty much killed the possibility of future animated superhero movies at the box office, which could have had a world of potential.

Without giving too much away about my upcoming Michael Keaton Batman analysis, I will say that one of the major attributes of this character is that he starred in the first theatrically released Batman film that actually felt like it was mostly about Batman.

As I said in my Val Kilmer Batman analysis ages ago, there are really only three possible stories you can tell about Batman/Bruce Wayne himself as a character. This portrayal combines the “origin story” story with the “Should I hang it up?” story by telling a story about whether Bruce should start a life as Batman or ignore his quest because of his potential for happiness and not start a more formalized vigilante quest altogether.

Out of the nine theatrically released Batman films, this is probably the film that best displays the fact that Batman is a detective. There is a mystery to solve here (the identity of the Phantasm), and while ultimately Batman draws the wrong conclusion (that the Phantasm is Andrea’s father instead of Andrea herself) we don’t lose respect for the character since all the clues we’ve had up until that point seem to agree with his analysis, and he isn’t that far off.

To be sure, this movie has some flaws (it’s pretty obvious from early on to the audience who the Phantasm is, how on earth did Andrea get her apparently supernatural skills, and why is she able to suddenly disappear better than Batman can despite having less experience?) but the character of Batman himself isn’t one of them.

In this film, Bruce is struggling between having a chance at happiness in real life by settling down with Andrea, or doing what he vowed to do by becoming a vigilante who stops crime. In real life, the death of relatives hurts less and less as time passes, and this movie addresses it in a fascinating fashion. Bruce visits his parent’s graves and asks if it’s okay to not fight crime because it “doesn’t hurt as much anymore.” In a world where several Batman adaptations completely ignore the reality of the situation of people eventually accepting or at least not being quite as broken up about the passing of relatives and able to move on with their lives, this is a fascinating issue to tackle.

Also, we clearly see and identify with the fact that the decision to become Batman comes in direct conflict with his own personal pursuit of happiness. In that graveyard scene, Bruce tells his parents’ graves that he “didn’t count on being happy.” In the end, he comes to accept his fate after Andrea leaves.

As the Burton Batman films began with Bruce already being Batman en media res (and this one does too, but shows flashbacks), this is also the first theatrically released film to show what is basically the “origin of Batman,” showing us the first moment where Bruce put on the costume and became Batman. This is illustrated brilliantly in the scene where Bruce first puts on the Batman mask and turns to Alfred – and Alfred trembles for a moment in fear. Is this a fear because of the fact that he is genuinely frightened of the mask and vision itself, or fear of the potential his surrogate son has established?

In any case, a brilliant moment in a brilliant movie, and the fact that so much character development and depth was able to be established in a PG-rated animated movie speaks volumes.
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Old 12-31-2012, 07:42 AM   #74
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Might have out Hemsworth higher and definitely would have put Conroy higher, myself.

One of the things I liked a lot about Thor is that he wouldn't continue to make the same mistakes, as far as his comedy stuff on earth went. He'd do something weird (smashing the coffee cup), be told that is not accepted behaviour, and move on. He wouldn't bicker or claim he was a God who can do what he wants, he'd just learn and adapt. I liked that a lot.
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:26 PM   #75
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Excellent tier, cont.

9. Dr. Manhattan/Jon Osterman (Billy Crudup, Watchmen, 2009)



As I said in some of my earlier Watchmen entries, there have been several essays written on the character of Dr. Manhattan and his philosophies, importance and social themes from the comics, and as the movie more or less adapts them faithfully, I’m not going to discuss the larger themes brought to the table by the character here and only will only discuss how he was portrayed when adapted to the silver screen.

And, as aforementioned, the answer is pretty much perfectly. Dr. Manhattan is a very unusual character in the comics, who perceives time differently than anyone else, experiencing it all at once instead of bit by bit like the other characters do. Obviously these themes and his time dichotomy can’t quite be as adapted and felt by the reader the same way in the comics as they are on film, but the filmmakers do a fantastic job with it through the use of carefully placed flashbacks. Dr. Manhattan’s origin story is more or less portrayed onscreen word per word and scene by scene. Crudup absolutely nails the character’s growing sense of robotic detachment from humanity while still letting us know that this character, despite his powers, is still human and not quite a God and we do see some of his underlying humanity. Although much of the lines he has to say are quite mechanical, Crudup lets us feel sympathy for this very unusual, robotic, and detached character. And yet, at the same time, we still can find the character and the implications of his powers quite terrifying, and we are made uncomfortable by the possibilities of a character with powers like this who can be swayed to either protect the world, ignore it, or destroy it and yet is also human enough to be swayed by something as human as his girlfriend leaving him. A very difficult character to pull off, but is pulled off extremely well and is just as compelling in the movie as he is in the comics.

One other choice the movie should get credit for is not being afraid to show his genitalia like the comics did. It was a risky move as it opened up a lot of “LOL blue dong” jokes from less mature viewers, but it’s an important aspect of the character, as it displays that as Manhattan becomes more detached from humanity, he shows less concern for human customs. There is no practical reason for him to ever wear clothing, he only does so because it is a custom and formality of human culture, and the moments where he isn’t wearing them display his growing lack of concern for such things. I’m sure you could argue that you could arrange the shots so that his genitalia is always obstructed and we don’t actually see it, but that would severely hamstring the blocking and angles of the scenes and could easily come off as ridiculous, and would remind people of the scene in Austin Powers where the genitalia are always being covered up by ridiculous objects.

The character is also quite visually impressive and the special effects are flawless, and some of the visual displays of his power are impressive. The scene where a giant Manhattan lumbers through Vietnam, effortlessly vaporizing Vietnamese soldiers without showing any concern, is genuinely terrifying. The scene at the end when he comes back as a giant and tells Adrian that he’s no more concern to him than the world’s smartest ant is to a human is also pulled off extremely well onscreen, displaying this character’s grandiose and power.

I’m sure most people agree with me about Crudup’s performance and the other aspects I described above…but yes, I do realize I haven’t brought up the giant elephant in the room. Or, to be more precise, the giant squid in the room.

And to be honest…I kind of liked the ending of the movie. As much as Watchmen is a classic work of literature, the fact that Adrian has convinced the countries of the world that an alien invasion is happening because of his genetic mutations could be seen as a bit hokey on screen. And, really, thematically, not much has changed – Adrian has convinced the world to unite behind a threat that destroyed New York which he based on harnessing Dr. Manhattan’s powers. Convincing them that Dr. Manhattan is the culprit behind them instead of an alien invasion makes a great deal of sense – Dr. Manhattan is something that the world has already seen and accepted and has felt some degree of unease about. The movie also earns this unease through a slight change in the comics – when Jon freaks out on the talk show thanks to the cancer accusations in the comic book, it is made quite clear that all the people around him that he makes vanish were teleported to the roof, while in the movie it’s unclear if he teleported them or vaporized them in a moment of anguish. It’s also interesting how Adrian’s plan with the talk show extend beyond just taking Manhattan out of the picture for a little while and fit into a larger scheme.

There are a few major complaints about the change in the ending, which I’ll address here. The first is that, at the end of both the book and movie, Dr. Manhattan decides to explore the universe to explore if there is any other life – as the movie has him be the big source of world-unifying danger, if he is gone they have nothing to be concerned about so the world peace will be short lived when they realized Manhattan is no longer around. My response to that is, Adrian has clearly harnessed the power of Manhattan to some extent, and so I assumed that Adrian will be the one to continue to attack places and make it seem like Manhattan was the culprit, the same way in the comics that he presumably would have continued the alien threat through his mutations. The second complaint is that the USSR and other countries wouldn’t have bought into him as a unifying factor as Osterman was an American citizen and would have blamed America for him…but I think the fact that he apparently nuked New York would have served as an adequate enough notice that he was the global threat to be united against and not someone on America’s side that America was responsible for anymore. There may be some suspicion and unease about the fact that Osterman was an American, but I think the self-preserving fear of not having their cities befall a similar fate to New York would be the foremost concern of the USSR and other countries. The third complaint is that if the genetic mutations are not addressed that it makes Bubastis completely pointless and we have no idea why Adrian has a big purple cat or why he cares about it. I don’t have an answer for that one, but that aspect doesn’t affect Manhattan as a character.

Furthermore, I was extremely pleasantly surprised that even after knowing everything that was going to happen up until that point, the movie was able to surprise book readers with a variation on the ending in a way that still made sense thematically.

And the ending also made Manhattan and his story arc much more integral to the story as a whole. There is a bit of fear and unease about Manhattan throughout the entire story amongst the other characters and the general public, obviously playing upon the fears that would be natural if a character with tremendous powers like Superman was real. We’re happy he’s on our side, but the lingering knowledge that he could decide to conquer or destroy at any moment would give anyone some degree of unease. This is touched upon and is kind of important in the comic, but in the movie, it becomes one of the most critical and important themes, as the ending now plays upon and relies on it.

Thus, Dr. Manhattan is actually more important in the movie than he is in the comics, so it becomes even more critical for the film to make us sympathize with him but also understand his growing detachment, as well as feel unease about him at times and genuine terror at others. Balancing all of those elements is a tough job, but I thought the movie and Crudup knocked it out of the park.

8. Captain America/Steve Rogers (Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011; The Avengers, 2012)



Similar to Thor, Captain America is another property that people were incredibly suspicious of. This was a character and movie concept that could easily turn out incredibly hokey or cheesy, and also seemed like a risk given the fact that overseas gross has become absolutely critical for movie studios.

With Thor, we were given some relief when Branagh was announced as the director. We didn’t get that with Captain America, as Joe Johnston (despite making the Rocketeer and other films that seemed like a fit) has a much shakier track record, what with Jurassic Park III and whatnot.

The biggest misgivings about the film, however, came about when Chris Evans was cast as the lead. This seemed like an odd choice at the time, as most people were thinking of the guy from Not Another Teen Movie and Johnny Storm and (since most people haven’t seen Sunshine) hadn’t really seen him in a serious role. There were definitely fears that he would bring an unfitting cockiness to the character.

Luckily, our fears were completely assuaged when seeing the film, and Chris Evans really gets his chance to shine.

One thing I will note is that I liked the Captain America movie a great deal (mostly because of Evans) but not as much as some of the other Marvel movies. In all fairness it’s the only one I saw on DVD and didn’t see in theaters so maybe I wasn’t getting the full experience. Some of the pacing of the film seemed a bit uneven and Red Skull didn’t really do it for me. My biggest complaint with the film (which seems minor, but it really took me out of a lot of it) is the fact that so many futuristic weapons and vehicles - it just seemed a little ridiculous that everyone was shooting lasers instead of guns by the end. Furthermore it makes it so Captain America’s eventual revival in the present day won’t be quite as jarring towards him, as he’s already used to being around futuristic and high level technology. I still thought it was really good and enjoyed it, but it did have a few issues for me. Overall, I think I enjoyed the Thor movie more, although that was largely because the Asgardian world was so cool.

Despite that, between Cap and Thor as characters, there’s no doubt which one was better. None of the problems I had with the film had much of anything to do with the character himself or Evan’s portrayal, which were both excellent.

To start off the film, obviously the character can only work if the audience connects with pre-serum Rogers. Obviously the movie accomplishes this in spades, as we see and connect with Steve and the movie makes him extremely likable. It would have been easy to make Skinny Steve some sort of outcast or timid nerd of some type, but the movie avoids this, and Steve actually has a certain confidence and belief in himself and isn’t timid despite his small stature (put most on display when he takes down the flagpole that the other troops were trying to climb up and wins the free ride back smugly. A great little moment showing us the character’s ingenuity.)

When he transforms into the strong Captain America that we are more familiar with, he never loses his likability and charisma. The romantic relationship is pretty good and his friendship with Bucky seems natural despite not much screen time between the two.

This character doesn’t have too much of a character arc in the film in so far in that he doesn’t have any character flaws that become corrected or anything. His arc is more of a coming of age, developing into a hero story, but the time period between him getting the serum and becoming a hero is pretty short. One of the hardest things to pull off about the character is the fact that he really doesn’t have many character flaws and is more noble than the people around him, which could have easily led to a situation where we saw him as a Mary Sue or lost interest in him. Evans makes the character so extremely likable, however, that we never have those feelings at all.

In the Avengers, the character is still given a chance to shine. There isn’t too much time to show the serious aspects of him adapting to the modern world, but that plot point is used to great comedic effect (“I got that one! I got that reference.”) without diminishing our respect for the character. Even though he doesn’t have special powers or a suit, the movie does him a ton of justice in showing why he is a major and critical asset. He is able to hold his own physically, but more importantly, it demonstrates his value by showing us his leadership skills and ability to make tactical decisions. The scene where he makes determinations of what each member of the team should be doing and where they should be during the invasion (and everyone, including the arrogant Stark and Thor, know to shut up and listen to him) does a ton of justice towards the character. While watching I thought it was a perfect way to demonstrate the character's leadership and it was exactly the type of scene I’ve always wanted to see Cyclops have in one of the X-Men movies.

And throughout that movie as well, the character is totally sold by Chris Evans’ performance, creating an extremely likable character that is also relatable despite the fact that he has no real character flaws, which is no easy task.
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