Recent decades have seen a lot of comic book adaptations. But in the wake of Marvel’s
avenging role call and DC’s imminent Batsunami
, you’d be forgiven for thinking they merely amount to The Avengers
, its four forerunners and a trio of gravelly voiced 2+ hour epics.
Yes, the comic book film is about more than just overgrown muscle and husky voices, anger management and space worms.
But, honestly, that’s the main draw!
Somehow among the deluge of special effects, we have omitted the hits of yesteryear, (300, V for Vendetta, The Rocketeer,Watchmen
) selectively forgotten the flops and the farces (X-Men Origins, The Punisher, Daredevil, Elektra
) and been surprised at the origins of others (TheShadow
, The Phantom
Inevitably, certain gems were lost along the way. So, as the topic of second chances is so prevalent in the superhero mythos, why not revisit one of these forgotten romps?5. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
The most recent entry on this list, the grey matter may not exactly struggle to recall highlights such as the Troll Market, Tooth Fairies or the Golden Army itself.
But despite a cult fanbase since inception with San Diego Comic Con Comics #2, when the first Hellboy
hit cinemas back in 2004 it was well received and soon forgotten. Ditto its vastly superior sequel, though it would be untoward to neglect mentioning the bat-shaped singularity that swallowed Summer 2008.
Four years on and we’re still no wiser as to the continued fate of Hellboy after his exit from the B.P.R.D. This a real shame because in terms of spectacle, excitement and good old fashioned adventure Guillermo Del Toro’
s efforts far outstripped Nolan’s
drips in atmosphere, with some solid lore as its foundation, built on consistently derisive humour and fortified with excellently compiled chase, effects and fight sequences.
Do yourself a favour: Rent Hellboy II.
It’s about time you knew what you were missing!4. Spawn (1997)
Full disclosure – Spawn
isn’t terribly good.
It SHOULD have been a platform both for the imaginatively twisted escapades of Todd MacFarlane’s Spawn
and the immensely talented, yet criminally underutilized, Michael Jai White.
Instead it was a derivative revenge tale, saturated with (then groundbreaking) CGI and focused more on crass humour and ultra-violence than the character’s sinister tone, otherworldly appeal and Jai White’s
natural charisma and phenomenal martial prowess.Spawn
quickly descends into a farce of profanity, post-production, bullets and blood when by all rights it should have been a project awash with striking notions, brooding threat and bone cracking fights.
But... on the other hand: It’s daft fun, gory as hell, got President Bartlet and Black Dynamite in it and is, for better or worse, wholly unique in a genre more or less defined by its diversity.
Worth a look, if just to see how low the genre can fall.3. Constantine (2005)Constantine
is better than you remember.
It has perfect casting in the form of Tilda Swinton
as the androgynous angel Gabriel, a gunfight reminiscent of Blade’s
opening, a lethargic hero (portrayed by an on-form Keanu
) who’s more bag-of-tricks than champion-of-destiny, one of cinema’s cooler exorcisms and finally, it openly acknowledges that cats are evil and conduits to reality’s darkest recesses.
Adapted from Vertigo’s Hellblazer
has a sordid way of making the Abrahamic religions sexy and intriguing. Focusing on earth as a battleground, Angels on both sides as opportunists and Lucifer (Lou!) as a nonchalant omnipotent, it’s not so much the narrative as the atmosphere and constant nods, winks and nudges to subverted icons which linger in the mind.
Overshadowed by the Dark Knight’s
recent success, and outmuscled by Superman’s
on-again off-again romance with celluloid, it’s easy to see why most assume DC
have been lethargic in their efforts to adapt comics.
They clearly haven’t. Constantine
is right there, itching for a second glance. Indulge it!
Besides, it’s got a character called Papa Midnite in it.
What more encouragement do you need?!?!2. Blade II (2002)Blade II
is ten years old in March. Did you miss its birthday? Well, I can think of at least one way to make it up to Daywalker and Friends...Blade II
is Guillermo Del Toro
in his element. The horror setting allows for some gloriously disgusting creature design, while Blade’s militaristic agenda, not to mention superhuman strength, speed andcoolness give ample excuse for some set smashing, scene stealing fisticuffs.
Anyone who’s so much as enjoyed a sidelong glance at Wesley Snipes
realises his shoulders can easily withstand the burden of an entire franchise. But he’s helped by a diverse cast including B-Movie Royalty (Ron Pearlman)
Asia’s premier martial arts superstar (Donnie Yen
) a country western singer (Kris Kristofferson)
and The Cat from Red Dwarf (Danny John-Jules.)
Somehow, this motley crew (uh, cast) complement each other wonderfully, their joint performance a happy diversion while you await the next visually arresting effect or thunderous one on one between Blade and Goss’ seemingly unstoppable Nomak.Blade II
is perhaps the finest example of a popcorn film. That is, popcorn is about the only thing safe for consumption throughout. So enthralled will you be by Del Toro’s nonsense, you might forget to chew!1. Hulk (2003)Hulk
get’s an awful rap.Ang Lee
is guilty only of trying to inject the tried and tested comic book formula with that same sense of intelligence and thoughtfulness so frequently found in graphic novels.
And for this he was crucified. His efforts labelled boring, confusing.
Honestly, I don’t know how anyone could be bored by the sight of a two-story beast flexing his delts with such ferocity it snaps the jaw of an oversized pit-bull trying to consume him!
That’s cinematic gold, bitches!
Accurately described by Jennifer Connelly
as a five person psychodrama, she alongside a simmering Sam Eliot
, explosive Nick Nolte
and slow boiling Eric Bana
(another favourite in these parts) wrestle themes such as obsession, reticence, protection, adoration and raw, unfettered wrath with a conviction scarcely mirrored elsewhere.
And as if Connelly’s
inhuman beauty, Nolte’s
inexplicable mania and Eliot’s
irresistible tashe wasn’t enough, you also have extended sequences of a CG Ang Lee
brawling dogs and flipping tanks.
Just no pleasing some people!
This summer, Ruffalo
thoroughly cleansed the pallet of that bitter taste left by 2008’s The Incredible Hulk
. Need a Hulk
fix before the Avengers
’ DVD lands? Journey back to 2003 and enjoy!