For years, superhero movies have been capturing the imaginations of audiences around the world. From the original “Superman: The Movie” to 2011's “Captain America: The First Avenger," superhero movies have become a cornerstone of today’s pop culture. Everywhere you turn, images of Spider-Man, Batman and Superman are seen all over clothing, posters, and even human skin. The following is a collection of some of the best superhero movies to hit the big screen.
"Superman: The Movie."
Starring Christopher Reeve at the Man of Steel, “Superman: The Movie” set the tone for all superhero movies to follow. Following the comic book story closely, the film introduces Superman as an infant being sent to earth by his parents just before his planet explodes. On earth taken in by a couple and given a new name, Clark Kent grows up to realize he has special abilities, and decides to become Superman, almost immediately attracting the attention of Lex Luthor. Every superhero movie needs a good villain, and Gene Hackman pulls off the role perfectly.
Prior to 1989’s “Batman," the Caped Crusader had been portrayed by Adam West in the television series of the 1960s. That series portrayed Batman and Robin in a tongue-in-cheek, campy manner. Warner Brothers hired director Tim Burton to create the feature film, and what they got was a darker, grittier version on the Dark Knight. Michael Keaton was cast as Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego. The villain threatening Gotham City was the chemically disfigured Joker, played by Jack Nicholson. Burton stayed away from the camp and gave Batman a tortured, edgier depth.
The X-Men are a team of mutants, each with their own special ability or superpower. As superhero movies gained popularity, it was only a matter of time before the popular team found their way onto the big screen. Directed by Brian Singer, the film follows the story of Professor Xavier, played by Patrick Stewart, and his team of mutants as they try to stop the evil Magneto, played by Ian McKellan, from trying mutate world leaders at a U.N. summit. Many of Marvel’s most popular characters are on display in “X-Men," including Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman, Rogue, played by Anna Paquin, and Storm, played by Oscar winner Halle Berry.
Director Sam Raimi’s vision of Spider-Man raised the bar for superhero movies. Employing the use of computer generated special effects, Marvel’s web slinger came to life, swinging through the skyscrapers of New York City, doing battle with his biggest enemy, the Green Goblin. Prior to Raimi’s version, Spider-Man had been depicted in movies in the same way Batman had been portrayed on television – a little too cheesy. With the technology at their disposal, Columbia Pictures cast Toby Maguire in the lead role, with Willem Defoe taking on the duties of the Green Goblin, and Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane, Spider-Man’s love interest. “Spider-Man” was a blockbuster, breaking box office records around the world.
“Batman Begins” returned to the darker, more serious Batman. Director Christopher Nolan decided to tell the story of Bruce Wayne, played by Christian Bale, in his earlier years, studying martial arts and learning the ways of criminals. Instead of going the obvious route for a villain by introducing the Joker, Nolan decided a couple of Batman’s earlier, lesser known bad guys, including the Scarecrow.