Criticwire asked the question (but I forgot to send the answer. D’oh): In honor of “Iron Man 3,” what’s the best comic book movie ever made?
The 1978 superhero movie “Superman” or “Superman: The Movie” is the best comic book movie ever made. The movie, directed by Richard Donner, starred the then relatively unknown Christopher Reeve. In bringing this DC Comic character to the big screen, Donner established the superhero movie as a genre that was to be taken seriously instead of falling into a campy comedy trap (and yet I still love the Adam West Batman series). It was Donner who brought in Tom Mankiewicz to re-write the script as a creative consultant.
The cast was superb. Reeve who was 26 at the time had a beautiful face with a strong jawline, a smile that produced delightful dimples, and steady blue eyes that shone with courage and sincerity. Yet his version of the man of steel was a man with physical features are sharp as his mind. That ridiculously placed curl on his Superman forehead made very woman want to rush her fingers through his hair and yet his goofy, gawky Clark Kent (or rather Superman playing Clark Kent) was a lovable puppy of a man who had yet to gain control of his long legs and arms.
Reeve held his own against the once beautiful Marlon Brando as his father Jor-El and ever reliable (and once-voted least likely to succeed by fellow actors) Gene Hackman as Superman’s nemesis, Lex Luthor. Margot Kidder as Lois Lane was gutsy and more vulnerable than Noel Neill’s had been in the TV series. Could there be a better foster father than Glenn Ford who gave us Tom Corbett in the 1963 “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”?
A close second would be the more recent adaptation of the Marvel Comics superheroes team, the 2012 “The Avengers.” Writer/director Joss Whedon brought humor and layered characterizations to this movie. Instead of being a team of simplistic heroes in hero mode to save the world, we had a bunch of independent, strong-willed individuals who didn’t always know how to play well with others. What Whedon couldn’t explain is why Thor (Australian actor Chris Hemsworth) and his adoptive brother Loki (British actor Tom Hiddleston) spoke with decidedly different accents.
However, I admit that my interest in “The Avengers” was largely based on my delight at Robert Downey, Jr.’s portrayal of Iron Man. I enjoyed Downey’s smart-alecky superhero reined in by Gwyneth Paltrow’s confident and competent Pepper Potts in the 2008 “Iron Man” and the 2010 “Iron Man 2,” so I eagerly await the opening of “Iron Man 3” although I have some reservations about the arch villain in the new movie.