Fantasy on the silver screen

By Chris Carolan

Over the last couple of years, Hollywood has turned more and more to the comic book industry for ideas. A lot of comics have strong followings, and film studios attempted to capitalize on this fact by turning out movies which too often are poor mockeries of the comics on which they’re based. The few well-made comic movies prove that with the right director, cast and crew working on a comic movie, the result can be something great. But when a studio makes a comic movie because they know a comics fanboy will buy tickets, the results can be painful to see. Here’s a list of the five best and worst comic movies made in the last 15 years.

The Five Best…
1. Batman (1989): Nobody can deny that Tim Burton managed to make a great film here. While some people still hate Michael Keaton as Batman, he did a better job than anyone before or since (George Clooney?!) Burton did a great job capturing the dark tone of the Batman comics, something which was lost in the later movies in the

2. The Crow (1993): Another movie that captured the dark tone of the original comic, The Crow is the story of Eric Draven, returned form the grave to seek revenge for his and his girlfriend’s murders. Although the script had to be altered slightly after star Brandon Lee was killed on the set during filming, the story was tight and true to James O’Barr’s classic underground smash hit comic. Well-scripted, well-acted and well-produced, The Crow is a great film and shows us the star Brandon Lee could’ve become.

3. The Mask (1994): Only Jim Carrey could play the most insane hero in comic history, and only Industrial Light and Magic could provide the effects to bring this to life. While the over-the-top comedic violence was toned down a bit from the comic, The Mask’s insanity and energy was there on screen.

4. Blade (1998): Even though this movie had a pretty poor script and somewhat sub-par acting, Blade makes the cut simply for proving that a Marvel comic could be made into a watchable film. Aside from a silly script and some pretty lame acting courtesy of Wesley Snipes, Blade was well-produced, well-directed and had nice costumes and effects–and paved the way for successful Marvel movies like last summer’s X-Men and the upcoming Spiderman.

5. X-Men (2000): Looking back on Marvel’s track record of producing really bad movies, X-Men fans feared this would turn out like the never released Fantastic Four. After failed attempts to make this movie, X-Men finally came out last summer and fans were relieved it was actually pretty good. While some of the costumes looked kinda lame and some characters only shared names with their comic book counterparts, the story and cast was strong (Patrick Stewart as Professor X was more than any fanboy could hope for). While Blade proved Marvel movies didn’t have to suck, X-Men proved they could actually be good.

The Five Worst…
1. Barb Wire (1996): Who needs things like decent acting or a coherent plot when you have Pamela Anderson Lee’s big bouncing breasts? Seriously, they were hangin’ out before she delivered her first line! I painfully watched the whole movie and still only have a vague idea what the story was about–something about a tyrannical U.S. government and some fancy contact lenses.

2. Captain America (1990): Wearing possibly the worst rubber costume I’ve ever seen in a comic book movie, Marvel’s Captain America storms a Nazi fortress and gets his ass kicked by the Red Skull. Then he is strapped to a rocket pointed at the White House, manages to redirect the rocket by kicking it and ends up frozen in ice after crash-landing in Alaska. 50 years later, Cap is freed from his icy prison and goes to Italy to kick the Red Skull’s ass before the villian can implant a mind-control chip in the President’s brain. Horrible acting, horrible dialogue and some horrible action sequences ensue. Oh yeah, and Captain America’s “mighty shield” is a painted plastic garbage can lid.

3. The Punisher (1989): Another amazing entry from “The House of Ideas.” Actually, this wouldn’t have been such a bad movie if not for Dolph Lundgren’s awful portrayal of Marvel’s vigilante. Lundgren’s acting is wretched when he’s at his best, and this is his best role. The story is actually pretty good as far as Punisher stories go, but for some reason Lundgren didn’t even wear the Punisher’s costume. A guy in a leather jacket seems as much like the Punisher as a kid with a towel pinned to his shirt is like Superman.

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Movie (1990): This might’ve been a cool movie had it been based on the original.

5. Spawn (1997): It was really sad to see this happen to Spawn. Todd McFarlane’s comic was an amazing, ground-breaking piece of work that revolutionized the industry. Then this piece of rubbish was delivered. Bad acting, ugly special effects, silly looking costumes and a rather butchered version of the Spawn story line all make this a must-miss.

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