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Superhero film


Superhero film

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Adventures of Captain Marvel, the first superhero film. Adventures of Captain Marvel, the first superhero film.

The superhero film is a style of fantasy, science fiction or horror genre film that is focused on the actions of one or more superheroes, heroic individuals who possesses superior abilities relative to a typical person. These films are almost always action-oriented, and the first film of a particular character often includes a focus on the origin of the special powers including the first fight against the character's most famous supervillain enemy. The plot typically revolves the efforts of the superheroes to thwart some dire peril of significant consequence.


Almost immediately after superheroes rose to prominence in comic books, they were adapted into Saturday movie serials aimed at children, starting with 1941's The Adventures of Captain Marvel, which has been hailed as the best example of the film format. Serials featuring The Phantom, Batman, Superman and Captain America followed. These films were successful despite their limited budgets, primitive special effects and silly plotlines and dialogue.

Raphael goes undercover in the first TMNT movie Raphael goes undercover in the first TMNT movie

In the coming decades, the decline of Saturday serials and turmoil in the comic book industry put an end to superhero motion pictures, an exception being 1966's Batman, an outgrowth of the television series.

Christopher Reeve in Superman Christopher Reeve in Superman

1978's Superman, directed by Richard Donner, is considered the first, and often the best, modern superhero film. Almost a biopic of the character instead of an action movie, the film won praise for its lavish production values, state-of-the-art special effects, Christopher Reeve's sincere performance as Superman, and John Williams's majestic and often imitated film score. Superman and 1980sí Superman II were extraordinarily successful but subsequent installments became increasingly less lucrative and critically respected.

Michael Keaton in Batman Michael Keaton in Batman

The 1989 film Batman, directed by Tim Burton, was the first attempt to create a superhero film with the darker mood of recent comic books. Praised set designs by Anton Furst and acclaimed performances from Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as The Joker made the film a model for many later superhero movies. One of the immediate influences was The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series which ran for three films with the first one surpassing many comic book fans' expectations with a story based more on the original comics than the animated television series. The Batman series continued throughout the 1990s, grossing millions and drawing several star actors, until the fourth film Batman and Robin (1997) became a critical and commercial failure. This film, along with unsuccessful movies based on Spawn, The Phantom and The Rocketeer, made movie studios nervous about superhero movies. However, many consider it influential since it made studios take future adaptations more seriously then they did in the past.

Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man

Nonetheless, several movies based on Marvel characters began production in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The company had a minor success with 1998's Blade,, (which was styled more along the lines of a horror/martial arts film than a full superhero film), but 2000's blockbuster X-Men opened the door once again to highly successful superhero movies and 2002's Spider-Man broke the record for money grossed in a film's opening five days thanks in part to Tobey Maguire's acclaimed performance in the title role.

X-Men and Spider-Man led to a widespread revival, which included 2003's Daredevil, Hulk and X2: X-Men United; 2004's Punisher, Hellboy and Spider-Man 2; and 2005ís Batman Begins (unrelated to the previous Batman films) and Fantastic Four, which met with varying degrees of critical and commercial success. Batman Begins itself is considered to be one of the most psychological portraits of a superhero ever, having noted by many critics to be the most thematic and complex superhero movie to date.

Halle Berry as Storm and Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler in X2: X-Men United Halle Berry as Storm and Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler in X2: X-Men United

There were also original films that took unusual looks at the superhero genre. 2000ís Unbreakable is a dark tale about a man who learns from a mysterious comic book dealer that he is destined to become a modern day superhero. Pixar's digitally-animated The Incredibles (2004) combined a more comedic, but affectionate, approach with commentary on the superhero genre and its history while Sky High successfully combined the superhero and teen comedy genres to create a fusion of the two.

Despite many critics' (and even some fans') complaints about Hollywood milking an idea dry, the comic book superhero has become a promising subject for blockbuster filmmaking. Even without highly expensive stars, the film is likely to get some level of attention with its distinctive visual style. Furthermore the serial nature of their source material makes story material for sequels easy to come by while the producers of at least the Daredevil film have used the pages themselves as preliminary storyboards to help establish the adaptation's visuals and action.

As of 2006, many superhero films are hotly anticipated, especially Superman Returns, a follow up to Superman II (retconning films three and four). X-Men: The Last Stand, the third installment of the X-Men films, opened with tremendous success and plans for sequels to 2005's Fantastic Four and Hulk are underway. Marvel's popular franchise Ghost Rider is also being made into a film starring Nicolas Cage.

See also

External links

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Movies, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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