X-Men: Apocalypse arrives in American cinemas this weekend, and like another recent superhero movie, it has received a bit of scorn from the critics. Subsequently, the fan base has become massively polarised once again!
Good movie or bad? True or false? Threat or Menace? (Hush, Jameson!) Ultimately, only you yourself can decide whether you like the film or not. Either way, Apocalypse joins a select group of middling superhero films, which have fans deriding or debating about them to this day.
However, as the old saying goes, even the darkest cloud has a silver lining, and this is the case with films; yes, we can write a movie off, but for some parts we can’t help but say "yep, they did good there!"
So, here is a collection of cool or effective sequences from otherwise maligned superhero movies (in no particular order). I've compiled this list from Rotten Tomatoes scores and the rants of fans across the internet.
Does a guilty pleasure make the list? And are your beloved moments mentioned?
Read on to find out!
10. “None of us can.” - Batman and Robin (1997)
Oh boy! Amongst the Bat-nipples, ice puns and Uma Thurman’s atrocious overacting, it’s hard to find a moment which really resonates in the movie that killed the Batman franchise. Yet this is an otherwise nice exchange between Bruce Wayne (George Clooney) and Alfred (Michael Gough), which sheds some light on Batman’s somewhat obsessive, controlling nature. It’s a shame that the rest of the movie disregards this introspection in favour of corny quips and a thick layer of camp.
Worthy of Mention: “What killed the dinosaurs? THE ICE AGE!” So gloriously bad that it’s good.
9. Brawl in a Bar – Daredevil (Directors Cut) (2003)
Famously staining Ben Affleck’s career, The Man without Fear’s first cinematic outing was brooding, dull and unremarkable enough to please audiences, who then had to wait until his Netflix debut for a better, pulpier version. Yet this fight scene is nicely realised, and its dingy setting and harsh choreography are very similar to the approach of the recent Charlie Cox iteration.
Worthy of Mention: The final confrontation with Michael Clarke Duncan’s Kingpin is a suitable showcase of the late actor’s talents.
8. King’s Interrogation - Blade Trinity (2004)
Notorious for its problems behind the scenes, Trinity sidelines its main character in favour of a new cast of characters, which in the case of Ryan Reynold’s Hannibal King isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Come on! He’s a total beefcake, gifted us the insult “thunder-c*nt,” and in all likelihood wouldn’t have become Deadpool if not for this movie. So there’s that.
Worthy of Mention: Any time that Jessica Biel kicks vampire ass.
7. The Brooklyn Bridge - Fantastic Four (2005)
A man trying to commit suicide is saved by another man with suicidal thoughts. But soon, the situation escalates to cause a mayhem that involves the saviour’s friends. OK, so it isn’t THAT dark and dramatic, but on paper it definitely sounds that way. Tim Story’s movies were maligned for being too far too cheesy, but in this light-hearted set-piece, it’s nice to see that the filmmakers recognised that the Fantastic Four are heroes first and foremost. Plus there’s a nice bit of a scantily clad Jessica Alba for any interested lads or lasses, of which I am not part...much...
Worthy of Mention: The Powers/Pranking Montage. In the case of Johnny Storm, (Chris Evans, pre-Captain America) this scene is a harmlessly amusing look at what anyone would do if they were cooped up with new powers. To be honest, I would have included the final confrontation with a certain Julian McMahon, however the mere mention of either cinematic Doctor Doom is enough to prompt a berserker-rage in even the most mild-mannered of Marvel fans.
6. Farewell Xavier- X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
This sequence starts as a tense confrontation and swiftly escalates into a sprawling fight and an epic battle of the wills. Though it wasted the potential of the Dark Phoenix and Mutant Cure story lines, John Powell’s excellently epic score coupled with some great acting and special effects, ensures that this fight is probably one of the finest parts of the film (and, dare I say it, the series) with consequences that resonate with characters and audience members alike.
Worthy of Mention: Magneto lifts the Golden Gate Bridge. Just, yes.
5. We Are Venom – Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Watching this scene, it’s very hard to tell that Sam Raimi hates the Spidey villain Venom, because the impressive imagery on show is reverently taken straight from the comic books. It’s therefore saddening to think that if it hadn’t been for the dancing Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the miscasting of Topher Grace, the weird retcon of Uncle Ben’s killer and the fact that the movie was generally very full of subplots, then we may actually have had the definitive version of Venom on the silver screen. Sadly, we’re still waiting on one.
Worthy of Mention: The Birth of Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church) is effectively realised with great CGI and nuanced moments. You can really feel his sorrow when he fails to pick up the pendant.
4. Full Metal Jackman - X-Men Origins Wolverine (2009)
In a movie with many dumb moments, you can find some satisfactions in seeing the world’s favourite mutant unsheathe his claws for the first time. It's admittedly too child-friendly in contrast to the bloody and disturbing glimpses of Bryan Singer’s earlier installments, but there is a sense of tragedy in the proceedings. And Hugh Jackman’s intimidating, primal scream is now iconic. Rumour has it that he saw the finished version of the movie before channeling his anger into this scene.
Worthy of Mention: The opening credits through various points in history are a nice touch, even if we’d like to have spent more time in them. Plus the early scenes with Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) now serve as a nice little teaser for the characters' riotous, crowd-pleasing outing that came out seven years later.
3. Sinestro’s Beat Down - Green Lantern (2011)
Gas-cloud villains, CGI costumes and Peter Sarsgaard screeching aside, there is a lot to still like about Green Lantern such as Ryan Reynold’s easy chemistry with Blake Lively and the casting of Mark Strong as fellow Green Lantern, Sinestro, who wastes no time in showing his contempt for the Corps’s newest recruit. It’s a decently constructed fight sequence, with some sturdy dialogue and a fine delivery from Strong; if the rest of the movie had been this robust then it may have fared better.
Worthy of Mention: It’s not part of the film, but it would have to be this: The post-credits scene with the Yellow Ring. It’s clearly tacked on and doesn’t really fit with what’s happened in the movie, but it’s an intriguing teaser to a story line that sadly, will not come to pass any time soon.
2. The Mining Machine Scene - Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)
The movie’s bad scripting and the ever-loony Nicholas Cage failed to endear Spirit of Vengeance with audiences, but there is some guilty pleasure to be found in seeing him gleefully dispatch Blackout’s (Johnny Whitworth) men with a handy mining machine. With its heavy guitars and loud screams, it’s so potently aggressive that I’ve witnessed boys become men whilst they watch it.
Worthy of Mention: The end fight with Ciarán Hinds's Roarke does admittedly have some striking imagery. And wait, wasn't Idris Elba in this film?
1. The Death of Gwen Stacy - The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Grab the tissues! After the defeat of Electro (Jamie Fox), a tense and claustrophobic battle with Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) ensues with catastrophic results. It's the climax of a rushed storyline, which is stuffed into an already tonally muddled film, yet it’s an undeniable gut-punch of a scene and one of the saddest in the genre; stunningly emoted by Andrew Garfield, he had adults sniffling to themselves and children exclaiming aloud in horror both times that I saw it in cinemas. If this storyline is ever re-adapted, the filmmakers will struggled to overcome the power of this scene.
Worthy of Mention: First Encounter with the soon-to-be-Rhino (Paul Giamatti). A breezy action sequence with plenty of zany, eye-catching Spidey action.
BONUS! Enter Wonder Woman - Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
The jury is still out on whether this movie rocked or sucked (I'm not getting involved either way!), but the majority agrees that this section of the film was awesome. The trailers had already spoiled part of it for us, yet seeing Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) leap into action alongside Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill,) with her own theme tune to boot, caused eruptions of joy in theatres everywhere.
Worthy of Mention: The Warehouse Scene is already up there as one of the best ever Batman set pieces, even if it is a tad brutal for some.
DOUBLE BONUS! The Quicksilver Dash - X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Too soon to include on the list? Like his revered scene in Days of Future Past (2014), the rebellious Quicksilver gets one of the most eye-catching and memorable sequences of the movie. It may be too long and fails to be as captivating as its predecessor, but its set to the classic song Sweet Dreams by Eurthymics, is solidly executed and elicits the biggest laughs of the movie.
Worthy of Mention: The Phoenix Rises. The moment where Professor X (James McAvoy) calls upon the young Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) to unleash her formidable, flaming powers was not bad at all. We know where this is going, but its nicely handled, and cool to watch nevertheless. Plus, briefly seeing Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) in his Weapon X regalia was pretty sweet in itself.