Thursday, May 26, 2011

Before its Time: Sports Night

As many of you are no doubt aware, I have a huge man-crush on the amazing, Academy Award winning Aaron Sorkin.

If you weren't previously aware of that fact, you are now.

That love affair started early for me.  1999 to be exact.

As a huge fan of both amazingly well-written dramatic television and of sports, it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite television shows of all time is Sorkin's Sports Night.

However, the reason that I gravitated to the show was probably more due to the presence of Sabrina Lloyd.

You might remember her as Wade in Sliders, which was a particular love of mine at the time.

Seeing that she was on a new television show, and a show about a Sports show similar to Sports Center at that, meant I had no choice but to watch.

Immediately, I was hooked.

Now, of course, we are accustomed to Sorkin's fast-paced, verbose style,
A fast paced, verbose style, which would one day win him an Oscar

but at the time, it was wholly new and refreshing.

I recently completed a re-watch of the show thanks to the magic of Netflix (I also own the complete series on DVD, but for some reason, hadn't watched it in a while until seeing that it was on Netflix Instant View), and the show has aged incredibly well.

As much as I loved West Wing...
and how could one not love West Wing, there were times when the show faltered a bit for me (especially once Sorkin left the series, although it recovered to finish strong).

I was also a fan of Studio 60, although it never quite had the magic that Sports Night and West Wing did.

For my money, however, Sports Night was the best television show that Sorkin has yet given us (sorry all of you West Wing lovers out there).

And it isn't because in the 3rd episode there is a TCU reference (GO FROGS!) or that in the 4th episode there is a mention of Toulouse (my last name).  Okay, okay, it isn't JUST because of those things.

It's because I love the characters, and the story lines are so perfect.  You believe everything that happens in the show since the drama comes out of the characters naturally.  The show also perfectly captures the drama and emotion inherent in sports.  The drama and emotion of the sports stories they are covering combine with the drama and emotion of the stories the characters are living.  It is impossible to keep from laughing hysterically one moment only to be fighting back tears the next.

Sports Night was a television show that was desperately ahead of its time, another reason that it holds up so well.

If you've never watched the show, give it a chance.  Other than Sabrina Lloyd, the show featured Peter Krause (which might be the one good thing about this show ending when it did, otherwise we might never have gotten Six Feet Under), Felicity Huffman (an Oscar nominee herself, as well as one of the Desperate Housewives) Josh Charles (now doing great work on last year's Josh's Choice for Best New Show of the Season award winner, The Good Wife),  Joshua Malina (who would go on to be an important part of West Wing, and has recently been a recurring character on the fantastic In Plain Sight), and Robert Guillaume (who is probably best known for his work as Benson on Soup and the spin-off Benson, but also voiced Rafiki in The Lion King, which is fun since the Broadway play The Lion King plays a significant role in one of the episodes of Sports Night).  The acting is top-notch, as it should be when the writing is this good (Aaron Sorkin, after all).

Sadly, the show only ran two seasons despite being a huge critical favorite.  It never quite got the ratings that ABC was looking for.  There was a time where it seemed that some other network might pick the show up and save it from cancellation (which led to some fun meta stuff late in the second season when Sports Night itself, the fictional version, was in danger of cancellation).  However, that didn't occur, and so I am forced to imagine that somewhere every night there is the familiar refrain...

Casey - I'm Casey McCall alongside Dan Rydell, those stories plus

Dan - Lightening struck 5 times to force a game 7

Casey - While the Thunder were silenced in game 5 in Dallas

Dan - Those stories and more.  You're watching Sports Night, so stick around.

Until Next Time, check the show out for the first time if you somehow missed it and watch it again if its been awhile. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

There Are No Words...

They should've sent a poet...

(Super extra awesome points to you if you know what the title and first line are from, btw...)

I have been excited about this ever since it was first announced, and I can't believe that my friend Justin Tiemeyer of the exquisite Cavemen Go posted this trailer before me.  I apologize for being scooped on this, but better late than never right.

Trust me, stick through the whole thing before deciding that it is just a crappy, rom-com (although just Jason Segal and Amy Adams could probably get me to a unoriginal rom-com).


Until Next Time, are you as excited as I am?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Thoughts on HBO's Game of Thrones

Halfway through the first season, any anxiety or worry I had about one of my favorite series of books being adapted for the screen have completely evaporated.

I admit that it is a little difficult for me to judge the television series separate from the books since I am so closely connected to the books.

It is a difficult tightrope to walk for HBO, keeping the fans of the book happy while still making a show accessible for and entertaining to the people who have never read, or possibly even heard of, the books.  Yet, I believe that the home of some of televisions all time best shows (The Wire, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under) has done just that.

So, how are they accomplishing this difficult feat?

One part is certainly the fantastic actors they have gotten for the series.

While I was originally a little upset with how pretty Peter Dinklage looks (Tyrion is anything but pretty in the books, he's not only short, he's also described as grotesque), his unbelievable performance each and every week in every single second that he is on screen has made that issue completely unimportant in my opinion.

He imbues every scene with so much emotion and reality that I long for his scenes as I'm watching the episodes, much as I long for his chapters when I'm reading the books.

As amazing as Dinklage has been (and he seriously is stealing scenes left and right) it would be a crime to not mention that everyone in the cast is nearly as incredible.

Lena Headey, last seen as Sarah Conner in Terminator on FOX, plays Cersei, the Queen I love to hate, although she seems to be slightly softer in the series than she is in the books, at least according to a scene with the King (played masterfully by Mark Addy making up for his role as Fred Flintstone in Viva Rock Vegas) in last weeks episode.

Her twin brother Jamie is played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and is doing an amazing job so far with one of the most well drawn characters in all of literature.  While you might find yourself hating him now, you could come to empathize with him.  Just so you know.

The children play an incredibly important role in the books, and they have gotten some incredibly actors to portray them here.  So far only Arya has really gotten to shine, but the way that Maisie Williams has played her has blown me away.  I look forward to the stories that are going to be told through her eyes.

Bran and Sansa haven't gotten as much to do as of yet, but that will shortly change, and the little that they have done so far gives me hopes for the performances that Isaac Hempstead-Wright and Sophie Turner are going to be giving soon.

Recent episodes have brought Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish to the forefront, and it is awesome to have Aidan Gillen bringing a power hungry city official to life again so soon after his time as Tommy Carcetti on The Wire ended.

One of the strengths of the series is that there are so many incredible characters, and the show has not ignored that.  I've talked about a number of the fantastic characters and actors who portray them and I haven't even mention Sean Bean (aka Boromir in Lord of the Rings) as Stark patriarch and Hand of the King yet!  And there are many other amazing characters and actors/actresses that deserve mention as well, but I don't want to be writing all day!

Speaking of writing, the writing is top notch as well, many of the best lines of the books are intact in the series, but the flow and pace works even with all of the action that has had to be cut in order to work as an hour long weekly television series.

The sets look absolutely stunning.  The Wall is incredible; King's Landing is breathtaking; and the Dothraki Sea is luscious.

If you aren't watching this show for some reason, remedy that as soon as possible.

If you haven't read the books, you should probably get on that as well.

Until Next Time, if you are watching the show without having read the books, let me know your thoughts, and if you have read the books, let me know if you agree with my assessment!  Either way, I'm very glad that Winter is Coming so clearly to our television screens!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Doctor Who, The Rebel Flesh, first thoughts

As always Spoilers if you aren't caught up...

Nice to see everyone survived the end of the world, let's get to this week's episode of Doctor Who.

If I had to sum up the theme of this week's episode, it would be...

Sometimes, the humans are the monsters.

The Doctor had the Gangers (short for Dopplegangers, the name that the humans employed for their created/cloned counterparts that did all the dirty work at this factory) ready to work with the humans, but the leader of the humans retaliated by killing one of the Gangers, resulting in their deciding (as do the humans) that it is an "us or them" scenario.

What is interesting about this idea is the fact that essentially, the humans and the gangers are identical.  They share the same personalities, thoughts, and memories.  And yet the inclination for each is to destroy the other.

Sometimes, the humans are the monsters.

I really liked that Rory was able to have more of his own storyline this week, and prove to be more than just "the pretty one" as the TARDIS called him last week.  He empathized with the gangers, one of them in particular, and sided with them against the humans, much as the Doctor did.  When you have the same inclinations as the Doctor, you know you're doing something right.

Amy also felt a little jealousy, I think, which is probably pretty fair payback considering how jealous Amy often makes Rory feel about her relationship with the Doctor.  And I don't think that Rory was trying to make Amy jealous, he was just trying to do what was right.

As for the overall storyline, we got a couple of things this week, although nothing earth shattering.  We see that the Doctor is still confused about Amy's positive/negative/positive/negative/etc pregnancy readings.  It appeared that he was about to try and find something out about those troubling readings when the TARDIS was thrust into this future earth.  When Amy claims that it is typical TARDIS landing in the wrong spot, the Doctor doesn't seem to agree, which could be a callback to last week's episode when the TARDIS told the Doctor that she takes him where he needs to go as opposed to where he wants to go, or it could be that the Doctor was planning on finding his way here for some reason after he dropped Amy and Rory off for some fish and chips.  In which case, this place might have something to do with the overall storyline that isn't quite apparent yet.

The Doctor certainly did seem to know quite a lot about the situation.  He seems familiar with the Flesh (the substance that the gangers are made out of), and called the current Flesh incarnation "primitive technology."

Amy also saw the strange eye patch lady again, as she pops up almost as often as the crack did last season.

She is quite creepy.

The popular theory that will last for at least a week is of course that the Doctor's Ganger will somehow be the one who is killed by the Impossible Astronaut 200 years in the future, meaning our Doctor is completely safe from the future tragedy.  For that theory to hold longer than a week or two, both Doctor's will have to survive the next episode (which will air next week in the UK, but won't air for two more weeks here in North America due to the Memorial Day holiday).

It would be an interesting fix, and is, at the moment at least, a definite possibility.

Thanks to the scan that the Flesh did of the Doctor while the Doctor was scanning the flesh, I'm sure that the ganger version of the Doctor is most complete, and actually, currently, more complete, since our Doctor doesn't currently have any shoes, but the Ganger version presumably would since the scan occured before the Doctor melted his own shoes.

The episode itself reminded me quite a bit of Silurian episodes, the most recent are of course last seasons two-parter The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood.  The first appearance of the Silurians was in the 3rd Doctor story Doctor Who and the Silurians.  They later returned (well an aquatic version of them) in The Sea Devils, also the 3rd Doctor, and then again (both versions) in Warriors of the Deep, a 5th Doctor story.  In each of these stories, the Silurians aren't truly evil, but trying to reclaim what was originally theirs.  The Doctor, unsuccessfully, tries to reach a mediation between the humans who roam the earth now and the Silurians who used to.  Sadly, in those episodes, as in this one, the humans prove unable to reach a compromise with those they view different from themselves, refusing to see the similarities and turning potential allies into enemies.  That point is brought home even more potently this week, as the enemies they make are quite literally themselves.

Until Next Time, the series continues to impress!  See you after the next episode!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thoughts on the Death of Wonder Woman

The TV show, anyway.

NBC passed on the pilot, and given that every other network passed on the show pre-pilot, the hopes of a Wonder Woman television show airing in the fall are now over.

My feelings are conflicted.  For one thing, I really thought that Adrianne Palicki would do an outstanding job as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and am sad that her time as the Amazon warrior is already over.

On the other hand, David E. Kelley's take actually sounded pretty terrible, and I never thought that he was a good fit for the person to guide the stories of this character.  (Too bad we never got that Joss Whedon Wonder Woman movie, because he actually would be the perfect person to tell her story, but he's kind of tied up with Marvel right now, in case you hadn't heard.)

I also am sad that there won't be a DC comic character gracing our small screen next season.  Smallville, a retelling of the beginnings of Superman, just aired its series finale and Human Target (also based on a DC comic) has been canceled by FOX.

We are in a time when it seems we needed Wonder Woman, but I'm not sure that I blame NBC for their decision.

After all, most of the reports coming out of the show were negative, and if David E. Kelley was spinning Wonder Woman as one of his typical confused and quirky females (see Ally McBeal), I'm not sure that we would have been getting a worthy version of Wonder Woman anyway.

Maybe after this failure the project will land in the care of someone else and we can get the Wonder Woman television show that we do deserve.  Or somebody can just give us The Question.

Until Next Time, if someone else does give a new Wonder Woman show a shot, I hope they give Adrianne another shot at the character.  I stand by the belief that she would have been terrific.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Doctor Who, The Doctor's Wife, first thoughts

Sorry, Blink.  Sorry Steven Moffat.  I have a new favorite episode of Doctor Who.

Neil Gaiman's fantastic episode, The Doctor's Wife.

Considering that many of us believe that River could be married to the Doctor, when the title was released, we thought that some more information about the Doctor and River's relationship might be revealed (and I would argue that perhaps it was, but more on that later), or perhaps it might mean that there would be revelation about the Doctor's Time Lord wife, assuming he had one at one point that led to his having a grand daughter, Susan Foreman, who traveled with him when the show began back in 1963.

However, the title seems to be referring to the TARDIS itself, and after travelling together for 700 or so years, the title probably works at least in common law purposes.

House, the junkyard planet outside the universe (voiced brilliantly by Michael Sheen, who played Tony Blair in The Queen and David Frost in Frost/Nixon, and David Frost was, of course, just referenced a couple of episodes ago) lures the Doctor to the planet in order to eat the TARDIS.  First, however, House must remove the matrix from the TARDIS and he places it instead in Idris.

This allows the Doctor and the TARDIS to finally have a face-to-face.

There were many beautiful moments throughout the episode as the Doctor, called My Thief by the TARDIS, and the TARDIS, as always, called Sexy by the Doctor, got to finally have the conversations which for 700 years had been too one sided.

In one fantastic moment, the TARDIS points out that she chose the Doctor as much as he chose the TARDIS, stealing him as much as he stole her.

But the best bit was confirmation of something that I had expected for quite some time.  While the Doctor doesn't always go exactly where (or when) he intends to, the TARDIS always makes sure the Doctor ends up where (and when) he is needed.

(Interestingly enough, another bit of confirmation that we got in this episode was that Time Lords can regenerate into the opposite sex.  Is a female Doctor in the future?)

I also loved that we saw a little more of the TARDIS interior this week, even if it was just a never-ending repetitive corridor.  But the running down those corridors was very reminiscent of Classic Who.

And we also got a return of the TARDIS console from the David Tennant era, so that was nice.

And a TARDIS re-materializing inside that console room.  A TARDIS, incidentally, designed by a young viewer in a contest on the British children's show Blue Peter.

I like to think of it as a TARDIS convertible.

The TARDIS herself was a little out of the regular flow of time, and therefore kept referencing things that hadn't quite occurred yet, such as the smell of rain hitting the dust.

Something she kept repeating as she died might be quite important, "The only water in the forest is the river."

If you did your homework from a few weeks ago, you'll already have re-watched the two part intro of River Song, Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead, so you'll know that River's consciousness is housed, and kept alive, in the Library computer, and you'll know that the Library is referenced as a forest.  Therefore, the line "the only water in a forest is the river" signifies to me that perhaps River's future isn't as bleak as it appears to be from our standpoint.

Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon really highlighted the anguish that River was feeling, since every new experience in her and the Doctor's relationship from the Doctor's perspective is actually the last from her perspective.  And she knows that one day she will see the Doctor and he will have no idea who she is, and she has said that that might just kill her.  We, of course, know that in a way it does.  But maybe it doesn't have to.

Her consciousness is still alive, so maybe there is some hope.  The Doctor saved her consciousness by placing it in the Library, not knowing how important she would become to him, maybe after he knows how important she is to him, he will be able to revive her in some other way and they will finally be able to continue their relationship in a more linear fashion.

Considering that River is in prison for killing a good man and an upcoming episode is entitled A Good Man Goes to War, which is also the mid-series finale, I have a feeling that very soon a lot more about the River/Doctor relationship will be clear to us.

I can't wait to see what happens next.

For an episode of the past to rewatch, I recommend School Reunion, which will give you a chance to remember Sarah Jane Smith but also features a great moment between Sarah Jane and Rose where they talk about the Doctor's relationship with the TARDIS, and, if you can get your hands on it (it has been released on DVD), The War Games, the last story of the second doctor.  It is the story where the name Time Lord is revealed and it is the only other story to include the distress cubes shown in this episode.

Until Next Time, seriously, I believe that was my favorite episode of Doctor Who ever.  Thank you, Neil Gaiman.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Doctor Who, The Curse of the Black Spot, first thoughts

Amy Pond, Pirate
 As always, spoilers if you haven't seen the episode yet...

So, Pirates!

Arrrgh, and such.

Let me start by saying that I did enjoy the episode, it was fun.  The twists were classic (I loved the Doctor continually realizing his theory was off after receiving new information, very much like this series is treating us, I'm sure our theories will also get continually revised. If you watched LOST, I'm sure you understand.)

However, one thing really bothered me, and I wonder if it is just a scene that got cut for time, but the pirate that the Captain's son cuts to keep him at his post (the pirate at the far right of the picture above) just disappears after that. When the storm was raging and Rory and Amy were attempting to furrow sails or whatever it is sailors do I was wondering where the other experienced sailor happened to be, because we never saw the Siren take him.  A little annoying.

Again, I assume that there was a scene showing his fate that got cut for time, and we'll probably see it on the DVD release, but it took me out of the episode some.

The other thing that sort of bothered me, but at the same time didn't really surprise me, was how trusting the Doctor was with these supposedly bloodthirsty pirates.

I can buy that they weren't showing themselves as particularly bloodthirsty or menacing under the circumstances, their entire crew had been picked off one by one in less than a week, but that doesn't change who they fundamentally are.

Captain Avery might be different at heart, and the Doctor, I believe, recognized that, but the point remains, that the Captain had gunned down hundreds if not thousands of innocents as a pirate.  Mysteriously disappearing pirate even makes that clear to Toby, Avery's son.

And yet, the Doctor gives the Pirates a space ship to menace all of the galaxy.  Not sure that was the Doctor's best move ever.

But, I still can kind of believe he would do it.  He believes in people, sees the best in them, and there is good in Avery, I believe, perhaps brought out further by his son, but that doesn't mean there is good in the rest of the crew, and now they are all aboard that space ship, and I have to wonder if the good Captain Avery can keep the bloodthirsty lot in line as they traverse the stars.

Something tells me we'll be seeing these pirates again.

Those two quibbles aside, like I said, it was a fun episode.  I loved the twists throughout, and the explanation for the Siren.  Good stuff.

Plus, in the background, we were given a few more hints that all is not what it might have seemed.

There was the return of strange eye patch lady who can apparently open windows from where (when) she is to wherever (whenever) Amy is.  Last week we saw her in the orphanage, conveniently peering out of the door that would turn out to be where the Little Time Lord was staying.

This week, she looked in on them while they were in the magazine, in the center of the ship!

Let the speculation begin on who she is, and where she is watching from.

Is Amy kept captive somewhere and reliving these experiences?  Is all of this somehow a dream in Amy's head while she is captive (I really hope not)?  Are they somehow in Amy's mind watching from inside?

I don't know, but I am sufficiently intrigued since they are appearing this season with more regularity thus far then the crack had last year.

The other thing that struck me as significant was that Rory seemed to be brought back to life by some other means than Amy's less than effective CPR.  She and the Doctor had given him up.  He laid there after they had given up for quite some time.  I believe something else revived him, not Amy.

Something else is going on, something that has the power to completely escape the notice (or at least the knowledge) of the Doctor (because he does seem to know something is off kilter, but I don't believe he has any idea of what).

Whatever it was that brought Rory back from near death might also be what is somehow messing with Amy's body, keeping her simultaneously pregnant and not pregnant, confusing the Doctor and his scanners.

Or, of course, in a few weeks it could all turn out to be something completely different and I will return saying, "Ignore all my previous theories!"

As for episodes from the past to watch this week, I highlight, just for fun, a classic storyline featuring the Doctor and Pirates, The Pirate Planet, the second story from Season 16, which was the Key to Time series; the entire season had an overarching story line where the fourth Doctor and Romana are seeking out pieces of a powerful artifact.  The Pirate Planet is about a planet that has been turned into a pirate ship.  It was written by Douglas Adams, best known as author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and the episode features his signature humor as well.  Check it out, it is on Netflix instant viewing.

Until Next Time, speaking of Sci-fi writers writing Doctor Who episodes, Neil Gaiman's episode is next week, and apparently we will meet the Doctor's mother!  In an episode entitled The Doctor's Wife!  Should be fun!

Friday, May 6, 2011

And By Hammer I Mean...

Marvel has done it again.

Along with Iron Man, Marvel Productions has proven that a hero doesn't have to be well known in order to be successful, because I guarentee you this movie will be successful.

The hero just needs to be in a fantastic film.

Like in Iron Man before it (and following in the footsteps of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man and Christopher Nolan's Batman), the characters and the story matters.

This isn't a Michael Bay film tied together from Special Effect to Special Effect.  The plot and characters are well thought out and superbly drawn.

Part of what I wondered about Iron Man before it came out was how the character of Tony Stark would be received by a movie going audience.

Part of the strength of Marvel is in their character's weaknesses.  Unlike in DC where the weakness is often tied to the character's power, in Marvel the character's weaknesses are actually tied to their character.  Tony Stark is a womanizing, egotistical drunk.

Robert Downey Jr. portrays those traits while at the same time walking a fine line (that is more difficult than he makes it appear) keeping the character extremely likable despite his faults.

In Chris Hemsworth, Marvel has again found a perfect actor for a part.  Hemsworth (basically an unknown before Joss Whedon helped him land this role, and Hemsworth has paid him back by getting Cabin in the Woods released due to his sudden popularity) is able to make the arrogant, all powerful Norse God Thor completely charming and likable without losing the arrogance and power.  Like Downey Jr., it is an amazing performance, but where we might have expected it from Downey Jr., it is an incredible surprise from Hemsworth.  He has quite a future ahead of him.  He can flat act.

Everyone else in the film is spot on as well.

And as we should have expected, Brannagh's direction is flawless.

The visuals are amazing, and the 3D incredibly natural.

A friend pointed out that there are a few cliched moments in the story, but they didn't bother me at all, perhaps because they felt more archetypal to me rather than cliched.  After all, Thor is quite an archetypal character.  I will just say that I feel like the moments work.

Like Iron Man, this is a film first, a comic book movie second (something that is harder to achieve than you might think, Iron Man 2 did not achieve the same success, it was a wonderful Comic Book movie, but not a great film). 

If Marvel continues to focus on story and character, while also remaining able to pander to the hardcore comic book fans, things are only going to get better as this world (nay, this universe) continues to come together.

Until Next Time, it is clear that my Top Ten Comic Book Super Hero Movies of All Time list has a new occupant.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Archive Files #4, The Top Ten Comic Book Super Hero Movies of All Time

On Friday, December 18, 2008, I wrote a post entitled The Top Ten Comic Book Super Hero Movies of All Time.

In this particular post I counted down the top ten comic book super hero films out of all of the comic book super hero movies that had been released up until that time.

Since that time, many more comic book super hero movies have been released, and there have been significant changes to the list, however, rather than do a new post right now when there is every indication that it could change again very soon due to the plethora of Comic Book Super Hero movies being released this very year,

THOR - May 6





Therefore, before that slate of films begin to hit theaters this very night, I present out of the Archives, the soon to be very outdated Top Ten Comic Book Super Hero Movies of All Time

This year saw the Super Hero genre come into its own.  It is entirely possible that a Comic Book Super Hero movie will win the Best Picture Oscar once and for all legitimizing the genre.  So, what better time to look back and pick the ten best Comic Book Super Hero films of all time.  (Note: I'm looking specifically at Super Hero movies based on Comic Book characters leaving out great films such as The Incredibles)

10. Mystery Men (released August 6, 1999)

directed by Kinka Usher

A completely underrated satirical masterpiece about the lesser known heroes overshadowed by Captain Amazing (possibly related to Dr. Horrible's nemesis Captain Hammer?) starring Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, William H. Macy, and Janeane Garofalo.  It is a hilarious take on comic books and super heroes in general as well as an outstanding super hero film in its own right.  It is based on the Dark Horse comic Flaming Carrot Comics by Bob Burden.

Mr. Furious: That's because Lance Hunt is Captain Amazing!

Blue Raja: Oh, here we go.

The Shoveler: Don't start that again.  Lance Hunt wears glasses.  Captain Amazing doesn't wear glasses.

Mr. Furious: He takes them off when he transforms.
The Shoveler: That doesn't make any sense.  He wouldn't be able to see!

9. Batman (released June 23, 1989)

directed by Tim Burton

A fantastic rebooting of a series too dominated by the vision set by the television show over twenty years earlier.  It completely erased that understanding of Batman and returned him to the dark interpretation of his past.  Tim Burton was the perfect director to reimagine the Dark Knight and Jack Nicholson completely embodied the Joker to the point where I became sure that no one else would be able to play him on the big screen.  Ultimately, of course, I was wrong, but I was right for 19 years and that's not bad.  As for Michael Keaton, to this day he is still probably the best version of Batman/Bruce Wayne.  Don't get me wrong, Christian Bale is good, but Keaton's Batman and Bruce Wayne were completely different characters.  Bale's Bruce Wayne has just a little too much Batman in him for my taste.  The DC comic was, of course, created by Bob Kane.
Joker: Where does he get those wonderful toys?

8. Batman Returns (June 19, 1992)

directed by Tim Burton
Even better then the first, Burton returns (no pun intended) to deliver an even darker Batman.  As perfect as Nicholson and Keaton were for the first movie, the casting for this film topped itself with Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny DeVito as Penguin.  While generally not considered by the masses as a superior film to its predecessor, this is a film that gets better with each viewing and still stands up as a great comic book film to this day.  Sadly, it would be a long time before Batman looked this good on the big screen again as after this film Joel Schumacher tried to take the Dark Knight away from the dark territory Burton had placed him in and return him to the cheese of his sixties sitcom.

Max Shreck: Selina Kyle, you're fired.  And Bruce Wayne, why are you dressed up like Batman?
Selina: Because he is Batman, you idiot.
Max Shreck: Was.

7. Hellboy (released April 2, 2004)

directed by: Guillermo Del Toro

As perfect as Tim Burton was to rescue Batman, no director has ever been a more perfect fit for a comic book than Del Toro was for Hellboy.  Del Toro is simply the most imaginative director the world has ever known when it comes to creatures of the non-human variety (more commonly referred to as Monsters).  His work is always visually stimulating as well as smart, exciting, and perfectly executed on a technical sense.  He understood the world of Hellboy and transferred it perfectly, as far as story and themes go, to the big screen.  If Hellboy were a character on the level of Superman, Batman, or Spiderman, this would have been instantly hailed as a masterpiece.  As it is, it is only a cult classic.  And for what it is worth, no other actor could have played Hellboy.  Ron Pearlman as Hellboy might just be the greatest casting choice of all time, especially considering how relatively unknown he was (and sadly still is on a large scale).  Probably the best thing that could happen for Hellboy is the fact that Del Toro will be directing The Hobbit and its sequel.  And I have little doubt that they will be far better then anything Peter Jackson ever did with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but then I think Del Toro is probably one of the 5 best young directors working today.  Hellboy is a Dark Horse comic created by Mike Mignola.

Abe Sapian: Remind me why I do this again?
Hellboy: Rotten eggs and the safety of mankind.

Abe Sapian: Ah.

6. Superman: The Movie (released December 15, 1978)

directed by: Richard Donner
For nearly 15 years this was the greatest Super Hero movie ever made, nothing else came close.  Unlike many movies in the Super Hero genre, this film stands on its own as a Film, as a movie that appeals to people across all walks of life.  For many people of my generation and older, Christopher Reeve is Superman in a way no other actor is associated with such a famous character.  Although many, many people have played the Big Blue Boy Scout, none of them are actually Superman the way that Christopher Reeve is.  And despite the fact that it came out in 1978 long before today's advancements in special effects, this movie truly did make us believe that a man could fly.  The DC Comic Superman was created bySiegel and Joe Shuster.

Miss Teschmacher: Lex, what's the story on this guy, do you think it's the genuine article?

Lex Luthor: If he is, he's not from this world.

Miss Teschmacher: Why?

Lex Luthor: Because if any human being were going to perpetuate such a fantastic hoax, it would have been me.

5. Spider-man 2 (released June 30, 2004)

directed by Sam Raimi
The first time since Superman that one of my childhood heroes really came alive again was with the first Spidey film, when they released the sequel, it topped the original in every way possible.  Not only did it seem real that Our Favorite Neighborhood Spider-Man was swinging throughout NYC, but the film completely captured the problems that have always plagued Peter Parker, who I have no doubt would be much happier had he never been bitten by that damned Radioactive Spider.  Also, this film had what to this day is the most breath-taking and perfectly shot action-fight sequence in a super-hero movie as Spidey and Doc Ock battle atop the el train.  Marvel comics and the genius that is Stan Lee brought us Spider-Man.

J. Jonah Jameson: I'll give you $150 for all of them.

Peter: $300

J. Jonah Jameson: That's outrageous.  Done.

4. Batman Begins (released June 15, 2005)

directed by Christopher Nolan
Returning Batman to his darker roots once again Christopher Nolan also did something no Super Hero movie had tried to do before, he grounded his tale in a reality that was much easier to believe in then the standard Super Hero fare.  It helps, of course, that Batman is the one Super Hero without any real super powers, but what Nolan did was make a believable Super Hero film that is bigger then the genre itself.  Or at the very least he set up a world in which he would do just that.  This film also contains the greatest Super Villain of them all.  One few people who don't spend a lot of time at comic book shops might not know, Ra's Al Ghul.  Batman's real arch nemesis served a greater purpose in this film, he also helped make Batman who he is.  While it was a reboot, it was also a perfect reimagining for the more realistic world in which this Batman exists.  Christian Bale also did a fine job reminding us how Batman should be portrayed helping to erase the horrific job done by George Clooney (who otherwise I like quite a lot.)

Earle: Why is no one answering the phone?

Bruce: It's Wayne Enterprises, Mr. Earle, I'm sure they'll call back.

Earle: Bruce? You're supposed to be dead!
Bruce: I'm sorry to disappoint.

3. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (released July 11, 2008)

directed by Guillermo Del Toro
Hellboy returned to the big screen with a lot more Del Toro imagination behind him in this amazing, inventive, and utterly gorgeous sequel.  Where the first Hellboy was very much a literal translation of Mignola's creation to the big screen, this film took Mignola's characters, themes, and world and merged them with the themes and worlds that exist only in Del Toro's magnificient brain (which lucky for us translates very well to the movies).  With the magical imagination that helped make Pan's Labyrinth such a surprising hit, Hellboy II was considerably deeper and more thoughtful and incredibly more visual then it's outstanding predecessor.  Again I hope that the fact that Del Toro will be behind the lens for The Hobbit will cause more people to seek out Hellboy and this amazing sequel.  Sadly, like it's predecessor, Hellboy II never got to occupy the top spot as Greatest Comic Book Super Hero Movie Ever Made as it also debuted at number 2.  However, where Hellboy debuted at number 2 behind a movie released almost 15 years earlier, Hellboy II missed being number 1 by a mere nine weeks.

Hellboy: You're in love.  Have a beer.

Abe Sapian: Oh, my body's a temple.
Hellboy: Now it's a playground.

2. Iron Man (released May 2, 2008)

directed by Jon Favreau
A mere nine weeks before Hellboy II would come out, Iron Man was released and blew audiences away.  While many predicted it would be a hit, no one predicted it would be as critically acclaimed as it quickly was.  While Iron Man wasn't the known quantity of a Superman, a Batman, or a Spider-Man, or even as The Incredible Hulk who would be getting a new film a few months later, Favreau showed that a Super Hero doesn't have to already be a house hold name in order to become a movie star, it just needs a really great movie and Favreau delivers on that front.  Much like Superman: The Movie did 20 years earlier, Iron Man was much more then it's genre, it was simply a great film.  Outstanding story, characterization, acting, action, and dialogue all helped turn this into far and away the best comic book super hero movie ever made at the time of it's release (and for a whole 10 weeks after it).  Robert Downey Jr. was pitch perfect casting for the role of rich industrialist/playboy turned super hero Tony Stark due in large part to his empathy of the characters playboy past and new desire to make something greater for himself.  Iron Man was a Marvel comic also created by Stan Lee.

Pepper Potts: What is going on here?

Tony Stark: Let's face it, this is not the worst thing you've caught me doing.

Pepper Potts: Are those bullet holes?

1. The Dark Knight (released July 18, 2008)

directed by Christopher Nolan
So many things deserve to be said about this film.  Much like Iron Man and Superman, this film truly is more then just a Super Hero movie or a Comic Book movie, this is a movie about good and evil and how closely the two can be sometimes, about how they are two sides of the same coin, and about how hard it is to remain good while fighting evil, something that this country hasn't always been able to do.  While the story itself is, like Batman Begins before it, a super hero story that is completely believable, with a villain who is so frightening precisely because you can believe that someone like him could exist (much like Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh in last year's best picture winner No Country For Old Men) and there really is no good reason or explanation for him, which is even more terrifying.  Last year, I felt that Bardem so infused Chigurh that he would win the Best Supporting Actor because he had brought to the screen the scariest villain since Hannibal Lector.  This year I have no doubt that Ledger will win Best Supporting Actor (and would have even if he hadn't died) because his Joker is scarier even then Chigurh was.  Despite the fact that he was working with a character that people were familiar with, he was able to reinvent it and make it completely his own.  In fact it made the take that Nicholson had on the character almost completely obsolete.  And that is something that deserves to be awarded, posthumously or not.   As for the story, it works on that level, as a story about Batman verse the Joker, but like I mentioned before, the film also works on an entirely different level in these times in which we live, and it is because of that that this film is so important.  Sure the movie is expertly made, the acting is perfect, the cinematography is stunning, but the messages are so much more.  They are important, they are timely, and they are true.  It's a Super Hero movie, but it also just might win Best Picture.

Harvey Dent: The famous Bruce Wayne.  Rachel's told me everything about you.

Bruce: I certainly hope not.

There you go.

As soon as the Season of Super Heroes ends this summer, look for a new and updated Comic Book Super Hero Top Ten.

Until Next Time, look for my review of Thor to be up tomorrow.