Welcome to the first edition of my written Weekly Top 5. I got the idea for the weekly top five from a YouTube web series I am a part of by the same name, under the channel Common Culture. If you know me at all, you know that I am obsessed with ranking my favorite things, such as: my top five favorite television shows, top five favorite bands, top five favorite pizza parlors and so on. After searching the web, I found that there are plenty of other ranking systems and websites built under the premise - like Yelp for example. So, why not create a blog right here where I can share my top five movie related rankings and get feedback on what you all think.
For this first edition of the Weekly Top 5, I decided to write about my top five favorite superhero movies. Right now, we are truly in the golden age of superhero films. In an era in which they are dominating the box office, it seems as though there is a new superhero blockbuster coming out almost every month. I do believe that the market has become a little over-saturated with this specific genre, but there still are a lot of great films to choose from. So, let's get started.
As I was constructing this list, I realized there were a lot of movies that I wanted to squeeze into the top five, but just couldn't. Still, I wanted to recognize some of them though, so, here are a few of my honorable mentions.
One of my favorite films also features my all time favorite superhero, Spider-Man. You guessed it, it's Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2. A lot of people think this to be better even than the original, which is a tall order. I love this film and the casting is absolutely fantastic with Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus - but it ultimately falls just short of making my top five.
The Avengers is a movie that is a top many's list of favorite superhero films, and for good reason. I wasn't completely sold on it upon my first watch through, but as I have revisited it over the years, it gets better and better. It is the first time we get to see all of these Marvel heroes on screen together - and fits a lot more narrative into this movie than you'd think.
This was the hardest movie to place, and at one point, I had it all the way at number two. If I had six spots, it would easily go at number six, but I had to make a cut off and this movie just misses the list. Iron Man is easily one of my favorite superhero movies of all time. It is super fun, and the absolute standard for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In my opinion, the MCU is still chasing the greatness of this first film. Bringing in Robert Downey Jr. was a big risk at the time, but it paid off - as was bringing in Jeff Bridges to play the villain. The casting was fantastic, and this film very much set the pace for for the rest of their success on this current streak.
Both X-Men and X2: X-Men United are top notch films. I only slightly prefer the original but completely understand the argument for contrary. Both films handle a loaded cast very nicely as well as make the world of mutants feel like something non-fiction - meanwhile keeping the fun and spirit of superhero movies alive. These two movies are always worth a re-watch and really hold up, despite both, respectively being over a decade old. That being said, they are both kept from the top five, due to another movie in the series that I believe to be even better than these two.
5. X-Men: Days of Future Past
Firstly, X-Men: Days of Future Past has an absolutely loaded cast that includes, but is not limited to: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Peter Dinklage, Evan Peters, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart - most of which provide fans with memorable performances even with their shared and limited screen time. Although, time travel movies are sometimes hard to follow, Bryan Singer does a masterful job of navigating the audience through this visually stunning film, as well as ingeniously erases the massive stink pile that was X-Men: The Last Stand. Action sequences in this film look beautiful, the story gets enough time to shine, and it is wonderfully told through the eyes of the main character, Wolverine. 'Days of Future Past' really puts the exclamation point on the previous film, X-Men: First Class, and certified the comeback for the franchise. At a time when superhero movies can feel like a dime-a-dozen, 'Days of Future Past' sets itself apart from the pack and proves that the success of 'First Class' was not a fluke.
Sam Raimi's original Spider-Man is considered by many to be the father of the modern day superhero films. The overwhelming success, both critically and monetarily, of this film ushered in a new area for cinema - the superhero blockbuster era. Raimi proved that superhero movies can be fun, serious, comical, mentally engaging, and emotionally stimulating all at once. Even thirteen years later, this film still holds up. It is a movie that can be enjoyed by adults, yet is still kid friendly. It features an all-star cast of: Toby McGuire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Willem Dafoe, J. K. Simmons, Joe Manganeillo, and showcases excellent performances from relative unknowns, Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris - who play Uncle Ben and Aunt May respectively. This film showcases action that was far ahead of its time - trying stunts and effects that were revolutionary in its day. Not to mention, Spider-Man features one of Danny Elfman's greatest musical scores. There are definitely parts of this movie that feel cheesy (such as Spidy's banter with the Green Goblin), but most of it fit with the context of this movie. Overall, Spider-Man is not a great superhero film, it is a great film, and a deserving member of any top five.
3. The Watchmen
Zack Snyder's The Watchmen is an absolute masterpiece, both visually and from a story telling perspective. This is a film that is very much hit and miss for a lot of movie goers, but for me, The Watchmen sometimes vies for an even higher spot on my top five. Snyder hands in one of his best looking films from both a cinematography standpoint, as well as a choreography - which is saying something. The Watchmen stays true to its comic origins as it condenses it into an action-packed and dialogue driven three and a half hours. The cast may not look as star-studded as the rest on this list, but Snyder gets the most out of the actors and actresses respectively, and the result is fantastic performances across the board. It is definitely a darker film, intended for adult viewers, but offers some memorable lines, as well as some takeaways to ponder when the credits finally roll. Even with a narrative that jumps around from differing perspectives, as well as different time periods, it is still fairly easy to follow. The music feels out of place at times, but can be easily overlooked when considering everything that the film does right. This is the film that really excites me when I start thinking about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as well as the future of the DC Cinematic Universe.
2. The Inceredibles
The Incredibles is not only one of the best superhero films of all time, but it is one of the best Pixar films of all time - which is truly a feat considering the grand amount of fantastic pictures they have put out over the years. Brad Byrd delivers one of his best films, which is thoroughly enjoyable for audiences of all ages. Extreme attention to detail is evident with its outstanding music by Michael Giacchino, as well as its excellent cinematography. Both elements work in harmony to give the film a cross between a fun superhero flick, and the feel of an old spy thriller - all while feeling very relevant and current. Byrd deals with adult themes and witty comedic elements, while simultaneously blending them in a way that truly encapsulates the best of Pixar films. The Incredibles is worth another look if it has been a while since the last time you've seen it. It is the definition of what it means for a movie to 'hold up.' This is not a kid's movie - it is a superhero, and coming of age film that is kid friendly - and its one of the best.
1. The Dark Knight
If you are looking for the perfect superhero movie, this is as close as it gets. The only flaws I can really see in this movie are the, at times, lackluster action choreography, and the casting change from Katie Holmes to Maggie Gyllenhaal. It's not that I think Gyllenhaal did a particularly bad job, its just that the casting change takes the viewer out of the movie, if just for a moment. Although, these are minor flaws in the face of everything else that this film has to offer. Firstly, I would be remiss if I did not mention the all time greatest performance in a superhero film from the late Heath Ledger. Regardless of his untimely death, he most certainly deserved the academy award for best supporting actor. That being said, great performances were given across the board from actors such as: Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, and Gary Oldman. With a glowing resume of excellent films, this stands among Nolan's best. From screenplay to cinematography, he really puts on a masterclass of how to make a superhero film. Getting the great Hans Zimmer to write the score also helps make this movie a most memorable movie watching experience. Seven years later, it is still the gold standard for not only how superhero movies should be made, but how stories should be told on camera.
Leave a comment below and let me know what superhero movie is your favorite, and whether or not you agreed with my top five. Sound off on which movies you thought were ranked too high, and which films were snubbed on this edition of the 'Weekly Top 5.'