It was in the last decade in which the superhero genre really came into its own. Now, as things stand, superhero movies are almost a sure-shot formula for studios to earn millions.
Whether it is a good thing or not solely depends on your opinion about spandex-clad heroes. But the thing is, everybody, be it studios or critics, takes superhero movies seriously. Here are ten such films that contributed to this development in the last decade.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
A loving ode to comic-books and superheroes, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse became possible because some of the finest screenwriters in the industry collaborated with some of the most talented VFX artists. This film was simply a damn good graphic novel come alive. Every single frame appeared as if it was handcrafted; every scene whether it was action-packed or sombre, had distinctive touches that made the visual experience unique. The action scenes were some of the best you will ever see — animation or otherwise. The story was funny, heartfelt, poignant, and still the classic Spider-Man story. A staggering achievement. Sublime in every single way.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
While Endgame was more predictable than Infinity War (I do not think anybody anticipated Thanos’ snap and subsequent disappearance of about half of all the superheroes), Endgame is by far the better movie in my opinion. As the Russos had said, Endgame was dedicated to the original Avengers for the most part. It also echoed the moments of their past, their families, their relationships and got them the perfect send-off.
Wonder Woman (2017)
Without trying to accomplish an overarching objective, Gal Gadot starrer Wonder Woman checked all the boxes and delivered a fantastic origin story of the most popular female superhero in the world. Patty Jenkins did what a veteran in comic-book movies, even MCU filmmakers, could not do: tell an earnest, inspiring and lovable story of a strong heroine. The No Man’s Land scene in the film is the stuff superheroes are made of. This film is the reason the sequel is one of the most-awaited superhero movies of this year.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
It took two mediocre movies for the God of Thunder (and Chris Hemsworth) to show what he was capable of, and you would never imagine that a film about the literal end of the world could be uproariously funny. It is not perfect, but you’ll be laughing too much to notice any flaws. Humour apart, this Taika Waititi is also a very solid film – a fast-paced, thrilling, exciting, and dynamic adventure.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Despite its many flaws, Infinity War was an undertaking of mammoth proportions. A veritable army of superheroes and other characters were fiddled around with pretty ably by the Russo brothers, and almost everybody got their due. The highlight was Thanos, a herculean strongman obsessed with balance in all things, with lifelike CGI and motion-capture technology.
Ryan Reynolds returned to comic-book movies in style with Deadpool after the debacle that was Green Lantern. And Reynolds proved to be the perfect actor to essay the character. Here was a superpowered being not afraid to laugh at himself. Or other people. Or pretty much anything. He picked plot holes in his own storylines and movies. He frequently broke the fourth wall, addressing the audiences directly. Even though his origin story is pretty dark, it is hard to stay sad when the man himself does not dwell upon his cruel fate, unless to crack jokes about it.
While not a superhero movie technically speaking, Joker was a pretty solid comic-book film thanks to an absolutely convincing central performance by Joaquin Phoenix, excellent writing by director Todd Phillips and Scott Silver, and stunning cinematography by Lawrence Sher which provides some unsettlingly pretty visuals, especially one towards the end (those who have seen the movie know what I am talking about). It appears more low-budgeted comic-book movies are in development at Warner Bros after Joker’s success, which would be absolutely swell.
The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
This Batman movie is the most Batman-esque movie. In fact, if you see only this movie and don’t know Batman, you will have a pretty good idea as to what Batman is about. Will Arnett’s superbly written and voiced Caped Crusader is as much a tribute as a parody of every live-action version of Batman. And it is nuts. Funnier and more self-referential than Deadpool, even. Voldemort and Sauron are two of the villains that the Joker recruits to take down Batman, for crying out loud.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy was the first all-out comedy film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While earlier movies had humour as an important element, James Gunn’s directorial brought it to the front and centre. The filmmaker took some of the most obscure Marvel characters and made them interesting and relatable.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
The first Captain America film, The First Avenger, was entertaining but a standard superhero fare. The second film introduced the Russo Brothers to the MCU. They turned Cap from a self-righteous bore to a cool costumed superhero with a strong moral core in The Winter Soldier. The modern setting helped the Russo explore topics like mass surveillance, Big Brother and so on.
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