A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away there existed a planet called Earth that was populated with a people unlike most others, there. They were smart, creative, strange, and somewhat socially awkward. They dreamed of flying through the skies or swinging through the air, of fighting bad guys and getting the girl, ad of living in a place where they weren’t odd. These people were called Nerds and those days were pre-1977. Those were dark times for these proud people. But, a new hope was dawning.
In 1977, George Lucas released “Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope”, and, for probably the first time ever, a nerd-type movie not only garnered respect but, years later, would come to be revered as one of the greatest movies ever on film. More importantly, for those of us who love superhero movies, it showed Hollywood that there was an actual audience for sci-fi if the story was good enough. That was important, because, that brought about the first, big-budget try at a Superhero film, 1978’s “Superman: the Movie”. For the first time since the campy, pre-matinee serials of the early 1900’s, an audience was asked to believe that a man could fly. And, for two hours, they believed. While other movies such as 1989’s “Batman” or 1998’s “Blade” have been given credit for the beginnings of the Superhero movie era, and rightly so, those of us, of the nerd persuasion, know that an alien farm boy from Kansas gave us our beginnings.
And, since that time and up to the present, we have been given many, many superhero movies. And, while a large portion of them are gems like: 1980’s “Superman 2”, 1989’s “Batman”, 2001’s “Spiderman”, or 2012’s “Avengers”; there have also been some huge stinkers like 1990’s Captain America, 1996’s “Steel”, 1997’s “Batman and Robin”, 2003’s “Hulk”, and God help us, 2006’s “Superman Returns”. Oh, and lest we forget, the horror that is “The Fantastic Four” (don’t try to fool yourself, the best FF movie is still pretty bad).
Superheroes are cool. Superheroes are so cool, in fact, that there are quite a few very good ones out there that were released that come from neither Marvel or DC Comics. And, while most times we harp on what we dislike in the world of comics, today we are going to pay homage. So today we will list the superhero movies not released by Marvel or DC.
METEOR MAN (1993, Metro Goldwyn Meyer)
It’s a little campy, but the first black Superhero movie has plenty of action- for a 90’s superhero movie- a lot of heart, and a message about community. Starring Robert Townsend as the titular hero, Meteor Man is the story of Jefferson Reed, a Washington, DC, high school teacher who lives in a gang-run neighborhood where everyone is afraid, until he is stricken by a green meteor that gives him both his Superman-like powers and his name. Using his new abilities, as Meteor Man, Jefferson tries to make a difference by giving his community something they desperately need- hope.
SPAWN (1997, New Line Cinema)
Based on the comic book of the same name, “Spawn” is the story of Al Simmons, a government assassin who is murdered and given powers from Hell itself in order for him to lead the forces of the dark realm against Heaven. However, Spawn’s love for his fiancé- from before he died- Wanda makes him choose the path of the hero. Judged by today’s standards, this movie has bad CGI, but , in its time, it was state of the art, the story, however, still stands the test of time.
THE INCREDIBLES (2004, Disney/Pixar)
What if the “Fantastic Four” had been a good movie? Then it would have been a live action version of “The Incredibles”. “The Incredibles” is the best superhero family movie ever, even though there have been four FF movies. They got the comedy of a bickering family right, and there are very few slow moments in the movie… oh, and they gave us a backstory.
HELLBOY (2004, Columbia Pictures)
Another Hell-based Superhero, “Hellboy” is the story of a demon from another dimension that is brought to Earth with dual destinies: to either be the savior of mankind or the key to our destruction. This action packed, supernatural romp is a lot of fun, and judging by the fact that a new sequel seems to be in the works, a favorite of many comic book fans.
SKY HIGH (2005, Disney)
“Sky High” is the story of a high school for superheroes and their progeny. If Superman had existed in this world, much of the destruction in “Man of Steel” wouldn’t have happened, because young Clark would have had 4 years of superhero school to teach him how to think and act. “Sky High” follows Will Stronghold, the son of the 2 best superheroes in the world as he learns how to be a hero like his parents and foils a plot 20years in the making. And Danielle Panabaker is in this movie as Will Stronghold’s girlfriend, Layla, who has powers like Poison Ivy.
ZOOM (2006, Columbia Pictures)
“Zoom” is the story of a superhero who lost his powers when he lost his brother. But now, his brother- who is apparently the most powerful super ever- is coming back, and he’s evil. Zoom, without his powers, is no match for his brother, so the government plans to train a new group of super children to fight him. Since it stars Tim Allen, this movie is high on comedy, but it gets the feel that the FF movies could never capture. And, co-star Kate Mara is good here in all the ways she was bad in FF.
HANCOCK (2008, Sony)
Starring Will Smith, Hancock is the story of an invulnerable super-being who lost his memory and who is alone in the world, so he drinks, is grouchy, and is generally an unlikable guy. But, one man believes in the hero he could be and wants to help him achieve those heights. Of course, there are a few twists along the way, and the ending is, somewhat, anticlimactic, but Hancock is a good superhero movie. Just make sure the unedited version is only seen by the adults in your house.
So, there you have it, a list of some of the best superhero movies out there that are not Marvel or DC. Let us know if you have others you’d add to the list. We’ll be waiting.