Rated D for Doom: A Look at Superhero Movies in ’08

Last year was a pretty rough year for comic book superhero movies. Things varied from the laughably pathetic without the laughs Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer to the perhaps worst comic book movie of all time, Ghost Rider. And let’s not forget the franchise killing SpiderMan 3. All in all, I can’t say there was a single superhero movie released in the past year that I walked away from having fully enjoyed.

I had high expectations around this time last year for 300, but those expectations turned out to be a bit too high, and I was mostly disappointed with the final product. Still, though, I must give credit where it’s due, and 300 cut probably the greatest trailer of all time. Way better than the actual movie.

Oh, and don’t get me started on how much I hated Transformers. I’m no Transformers purist, far from it, but that movie hurt my head to watch, it was so full-on stupid. Hey, look, Shia Lepoof is exchanging witty banter with the guy from the Coens Brothers movies. Great, where’re the robots?

Luckily, this coming year, we have what promises to be a couple really great looking movies, along with a couple of hopeful franchise reboots. Time will tell who the winners and the losers will be, but let’s take a look at what’s on the docket for 2008. It surely has to be a little bit better than what we got this year. And, if not, I promise I won’t write a blog where I fake interview Jack Kirby about how god-awful Hellboy 2 turns out to be. Old comics creators say the darndest things!

iron manRemember when I said that we had a couple really great looking superhero movies coming out this year? If not, you should really lay off the sauce. I seriously just said it in the last paragraph. One of those really great looking movies, though, is Iron Man, which will come to theatres on May 2nd.

It looks like they’re showing the source material a great deal of respect when it comes to this movie, which is something that was sorely lacking in a lot of Marvel’s recent “franchise” movies. The fact that the leaked footage from ComicCon or the first theatrical trailer made use of the Black Sabbath was also a nice little touch that shows that the guys in charge of making this have a definite grasp of what makes superheroes cool.

It’s a dude in a giant suit made of armor, flame-throwing bad guys, and in the background, there’s a kick-ass heavy metal song reinforcing the idea that this rocks out. It just frickin’ fits, and I have super high hopes for this movie.

Plus, the casting of Robert Downey Jr. is the most brilliant casting for a comic book movie I’ve seen yet. Unless they cast Stephen Hawking as Captain America, I can’t see that changing.

About a month later, on June 13th, we see a reboot of a pretty shitty comic book movie from a couple years ago, with The Incredible Hulk.

I find this hard to believe, since we haven’t seen a trailer for it, or even very many production shots to speak of. The first Hulk, directed by Ang Lee and “starring” some dumbass, was hyped like crazy. Who doesn’t remember buying Hulk Slim Jims? I guess they switched sponsors when Macho Man became a bit too unstable for them to keep having him endorse their overly-processed, wrinkly meat sticks.

I have no expectations for this movie, and, since I’ve seen next to nothing about it, I can’t really say much about it. Suppose it’s a good thing that the whole movie started by everybody involved admitting that the first one was garbage. Also, I guess it’s a good thing that they cast Ed Norton, since he’s an actor I don’t mind watching on film, which is more than I can say for that nancy they had in the original.

Next up, after the Fourth of July rush of trashy summer blockbusters, we’ll get another glimpse at an old favorite, with the release of Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

It looks like most everybody from the first one is back for the second, which is always a plus, and Guillermo del Toro is an amazing director, so I’m excited for this. I love the way he uses puppets and animatronics instead of the typical boring computer graphic nonsense. Sure, they use computer effects, but not nearly as much, and it makes this movie feel realer, and it just feels more natural, which I can’t think anybody would argue is a bad thing.

Like I said, I’m excited for this, even though I didn’t really care for the original. And I mean exactly that. It’s not that I disliked it, but I also didn’t like it at all. I simply didn’t care about any of it. I believe the words I uttered after seeing it were, “Yep, that was a movie, all right.”

dark knightHellboy II had better enjoy its opening weekend, because I can’t see it staying on top for very long, considering the very next week, we’ll see the release of the most anticipated (for me, at least) release of the summer, when The Dark Knight opens everywhere on July 18.

This movie has me really pumped. Everything I’ve seen of it looks just as good as Batman Begins, which is probably my favorite superhero movie that I’ve seen.

The news of Heath Ledger’s untimely passing has kind of tainted what was, up until this point, just pure love of movie hype. I don’t mean that to sound selfish, either. His death has been one of the biggest tragedies Hollywood has seen, it looks like (they’re saying now it was just a heart attack with no foul play), and it’s bummed out all of us fans that were, and still are, so looking forward to his promising role as the Clown Prince of Crime.

A friend noted, a few days after his death, though, that it’s going to really add to the creepiness of the character, knowing that the man who played him is no longer living. I guess there’s a silver lining to every cloud, although that one ain’t much.

Still, I hold out hope that this will be everything I hope for it to be. And more.

The last big superhero movie of the year is set to be released on September 12th, and it, too, is a reboot of a previously failed superhero franchise, in the form of Punisher: War Zone.

They’re saying this one is going to be darker, grittier, rainier, and tougher than the original, which didn’t live up to expectations, apparently. I freakin’ loved the original Punisher. Tom Jane is totally awesome. However, the comic-book movie-going public apparently has more discriminating tastes, and they collectively groaned at the ridiculousness of some of the more ridiculous moments, while ignoring the more amazing ones (like the fight with Kevin Nash). So now we get a grumbling, angry, pissed-off Punisher movie.


I don’t really know anything about this movie, other than they say it’s going to be more in line with their MAX title, which is something I’ve never had the displeasure of reading. Oh well. If Batman Begins can relaunch a franchise, I suppose every shitty comic movie has a second chance at success.

Coming in 2010, a reboot of another movie that should’ve been great but wasn’t, that now stays true to the character and is more realistic and grittier and depressinger, when we’ll see the release of Elektra: Boredomed to Death! Only in theatres!