Category Archives: Movies

The Marvel Movie Decade: A Blog Retrospective

This Friday night, 7/22/11, I will most certainly be going to the movies. Captain America: The First Avenger premieres, and along with it comes the inevitable post-credit scene. In this case that scene is more than just a vague sequel setup; this time it is an official trailer for next summer’s superhero team-up extravaganza, The Avengers. Grainy footage of this teaser hit the internet earlier this week, as grainy footage is wont to do, but all of the vaguely watchable versions have been taken down by Marvel copyright claims as of today.

Avengers, be it good, bad, or terrible, is truly going to be something special. It will mark the first time in movie history that one of the grand traditions of the comic book, the all-star superhero team, will make its way onto the big screen. With the exception of Mark Ruffalo, who will be the third actor in a decade to play Bruce Banner/The Hulk, all of the main actors in this movie have already starred in films dedicated to the solo exploits of their respective characters. Marvel has been explicitly building toward Avengers for the past 4 years, but the approach of Captain America got me thinking about how next summer is really the culmination of a decade of Marvel movie dominance.

Since the superhero movie craze really started to build up steam in the early part of the 2000s, nearly all of the successes in the genre (and most of the failures) have been based on Marvel Comics characters. The only notable exception is Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the Batman franchise. Superman Returns and Green Lantern were both considered failures for DC. The Hellboy films have a following (and I’m part of it), but they didn’t set the box office on fire.

This has been a big change of pace from Marvel adaptations that pre-date the streak. In the late 70s, Marvel was best-known as the inspiration for the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno Incredible Hulk TV series. During the era when the best offerings of superhero cinema were Richard Donner’s Superman and Time Burton’s Batman films, Marvel’s movies served up stuff like this (skip to about 5 minutes in):

As for why Marvel has been so clearly on top in more recent years, there are several possible reasons — there’s the timing of a generation of filmmakers and movie-goers who grew up when Marvel was the best-selling comics publisher; there’s the producers who have a serious plan for what a Marvel movie should be; it’s even possible that the Marvel Universe’s birth in the tumultuous 1960s made it perfectly suited for this past decade of global unrest and upheaval.

Whatever the reason, for a (debatably) grown-up Marvel geek and movie nerd like me, it’s been quite a ride. So I’ve decided to take on a little project over the roughly 9 months remaining until Avengers debuts in May 2012. I am going to go back through the Marvel movie decade in chronological order, blogging my thoughts along the way. I am going to watch the great, the good, the bad, and the awful. There will even be some first-time viewings, as I elected to skip some of these when they were new based on word-of-mouth.

Here’s the roadmap:

  • Blade (1998)
  • X-Men (2000)
  • Blade 2 (2002)
  • Spider-Man (2002)
  • Daredevil (2003)
  • X2 (2003)
  • Hulk (2003)
  • The Punisher (2004)
  • Spider-Man 2 (2004)
  • Blade: Trinity (2004)*
  • Elektra (2005)*
  • Fantastic Four (2005)
  • X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
  • Ghost Rider (2007)*
  • Spider-Man 3 (2007)
  • Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
  • Iron Man (2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • Punisher: War Zone (2008)*
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • Thor (2011)
  • X-Men: First Class (2011)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (supposedly 2011; we’ll see what happens when the execs see the final cut …)

*These are the movies I’ll be watching for the first time as a part of this project.

Obviously this is actually slightly more than a decade; 14 years in total from Blade to Avengers. But for reasons I’ll get at least a little bit into in my next couple of posts, I think of Blade as a sort of prologue and X-Men as the real beginning of the Marvel movie phenomenon. But that’s 25 movies at roughly one every 3 weeks.

I hope at least a few people will read this and decide they give enough of a shit about what I think to follow along (or are at least in sufficient need of an excuse to waste time on the internet). I really hope at least one or two people decide to join me and share their thoughts in the comments.

So until next time, in the words of Smilin’ Stan, “Excelsior, true believers!”


Drop-Everything Movies

Haven’t blogged in a while, blah, blah, blah, simple first post in a while.

So The A.V. Club ran a Q&A about Drop-Everything Movies, the movies where “it doesn’t matter that you’ve seen it 13 times already, nor does it matter what point in the movie it’s at: You immediately stop flipping to watch ’til the end, even if it’s 4 a.m.”

I thought this was an awesome topic for a Q&A, and I noticed in reading professional critics reponses that these movies are not neccesarily what you’d list when you asked someone their favorite movie (although they might be). My personal drop-everything movies are RoboCop and Unforgiven. I asked my Twitter and Facebook friends what their’s were, and here are the compiled responses:

  • Elise Carr: “Dirty Dancing. lol I know, I know.”
  • Donna Hacking: “Waterboy/Moonstruck”
  • Alex Rivera: “Last dragon. Karate kid for some reason. And the Breakfast club.”
  • Beth Strobridge: “The Godfather Parts I & II and Drumline. Yeah, I said it.”
  • Joe Monzo: “JFK”
  • Chris Walter: “Saving Private Ryan, Field of Dreams, Halloween.”
  • Andy Willson: “anything with john wayne.”
  • Bill Greenwood: “Totally ‘The Fugitive.’ If I see even a second of that, I can kiss my next 2 hours goodbye.”
  • Dave Costill: “forest gump.”
  • Kyle Taylor: “Goodfellas. Even when it’s censored w/ commercials.”
  • Mike Schmidt: “Better of dead and anything with Clint Eastwood or John wayne.”
  • Ryan Phillippi: “Rocky 1-4 makes drop what im doing. Along with Halloween, Goodfellas (on dvd lol), ghostbusters, back to the future, n Shawshank.”
  • John Kuhlen: “2001 or 2010.”
  • Tanya Kuhlen: “Love Actually, Goonies, and The Breakfast Club.”
  • Perry Davis: “Shawshank.”
  • Joe Posten: “Tombstone, Top Gun, any Kevin Costner baseball movie, Searching For Bobby Fisher…”
  • Matt Butler: “ghostbusters… There’s always time for ghostbusters.”

If you are reading this and you haven’t shared your drop-everything movie(s), leave ’em in the comments section.


If Expelled turns into some sort of national phenomenon, I’ll probably go nuts and kill someone. So far it was only 9th its opening weekend, but you never know about word of mouth.

No, I have not seen the movie, and by all rights and in the interest of avoiding hypocrisy I shouldn’t be commenting on it. But it is fairly clear that the film is a presentation of all of the arguments intelligent design (ID) proponents put forth in their arguments. All it takes are a couple minutes of Googling to find that the people who were “unjustly” fired “because of their belief in ID” are seriously misrepresenting the reality of their situation–unless, of course, all you read are the countless posts by ID supporters who like to paint themselves as being persecuted.

At the end of the day, what it comes down to is this: Evolution may have holes in it, it may turn out to need serious revision at some point before it is truly understood, but that does not prove ID. Those who suggest that is the case are creating a false dichotomy. Their argument seems to be “Not fair, we have a right to our theory too!” But the problem here is that they are not actually performing science, which is the process by which they set out to do work to attempt to prove their theory. One does not prove one theory simply by pointing out problems with another theory. You need factual evidence that directly supports your theory.

Therein lies the ultimate problem. ID is quite simply not science. The ID people wish to assert that it is not religion, and I will for a moment graciously accept that. However, just because it stops being religion does not automatically make it science–it makes it philosophy. ID posits the metaphysical, which is simply not provable or disprovable in a factual manner. And if it can’t be proved or disproved, then it is not science. Period.

You’re gonna have to start being scared right now.

Grindhouse is the greatest thing in the history of ever.

That is all.

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