The 411 Movies Top 5 06.14.13: Week 378 - Top 5 DC Comics Properties
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 06.14.2013
From The Dark Knight and Superman II to Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Human Target and more, the 411 staff counts down the top 5 DC Comics properties of all time!
Welcome to Week 378 of the Movie Zone Top 5. My name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.
The 411mania writers were given the following instructions: With Man of Steel coming out this week, lets look at DC. What are your TOP 5 DC Comics related PROPERTIES in movies or television. This includes movies, TV shows (like Wonder Woman, Smallville, Arrow, Batman) and ANIMATED TV shows and movies.
Honorable Mentions: A History of Violence (2005), Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), Swamp Thing (1982), Batman (1966-1968)
5. The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)
As much as I love Swamp Thing, directed by Wes Craven, the sequel The Return of Swamp Thing, directed by Jim Wynorski, has always been, to me, the better movie. It's ridiculous, yes, but then it's meant to be ridiculous. It's a low budget sci-fi action flick featuring all kinds of weird monsters, including the ultimate monster, Swamp Thing, played once again by the great Dick Durock. The immortal Louis Jourdan shows up again to play the diabolical Dr. Arcane, who is apparently not dead, and he has the Sarah Douglas helping him out trying to find the secret to immortality. Heather Locklear is goofy fun as Arcane's stepdaughter Abby, and Joe Sagal is the ultimate douchebag mercenary as Gunn. The opening segment is a little too slow, but once the main titles hit and CCR's "Born on the Bayou" is finished it's non-stop low budget monster movie fun. I'm also a fan of Omar and Daryl, the kids that provide comic relief (look at the way they hide the "dirty" magazines). Still great stuff 24 years later.
4. The Flash (1990)
The Flash came out on year after the mega successful Batman movie, and to a certain extent that's what CBS was trying to do each and every week; a dark but funny, serious but not that serious adventure show based on a comic book (the show's theme, by Batman composer Danny Elfman, made it incredibly obvious for everyone paying attention). Everyone involved more or less succeeded (John Wesley Shipp was great as the Flash, and Amanda Pays was phenomenal as his sidekick Tina) but the show never really caught on. I suspect The Simpsons, which was just starting, had an indirect hand in making The Flash just an okay ratings performer, not to mention all of the time slot changes. The show's special effects were great for early 1990's TV, there was just enough action to make things exciting, and it was just cool to have a superhero show that wasn't campy like the 1960's Batman series. It was also cool to see various Trancers people involved in the show, like Biff Manard, Tim Thomerson (he was in the pilot movie), and Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo. It's just too bad that it didn't get a second season. I bet it would have rocked.
3. Human Target (2010-2011)
When Human Target was on the air, it was, hands down, the best show on television. It had everything: a great cast (Mark Valley, Chi McBride, and Jackie Earle Haley were phenomenal), plenty of action (every episode involved some of the best action stuff in the history of television), a kick-ass opening theme, and an overall sense of fun that hadn't been on TV in a good long time. The second season wasn't as good as the first, as the show added two new cast members the show really didn't need, but it was still the best show on TV. But no one watched, and Fox cancelled the show as soon as the second season ended. We should be in the middle of season four right now. It's just a damn shame. Christopher Chance should still be helping people, and Guerrero should still be kicking ass and taking names.
2. Superman II (1980)
While we all owe director Richard Donner a great deal of thanks for making a comic book superhero movie that people could take seriously with Superman: The Movie, we probably owe Richard Lester, director of Superman II, more, as he made a genuinely exciting, engrossing, and funny comic book superhero movie that's still as good as it when it came out. Superman: The Movie is just a bore compared to part two. And while it's true that Donner directed most of the big action scenes and whatnot when he was doing The Movie, he didn't finish the movie, Lester did. And what Lester did was make a superhero movie that's accessible to everyone. I'd imagine that when most people think of Superman they're thinking of this movie, even if they're not aware of it. It really is that kind of movie. Donner did get a chance to "finish" his version of part 2, and while it's a good movie in general, it's nowhere near as good as Lester's. It couldn't be.
1. Batman (1989)
Tim Burton's Batman is the reason we have big budget superhero movies today. It came out at a time when comic book movies were considered a big risk and a bad idea and just blew everyone away. It was dark, serious, fun, kind of goofy, and had an overall aura of awesomeness about it that no other movie at that time had. It was insane watching Michael Keaton beat up the bad guys as Batman, Jack Nicholson play the ultimate villain in The Joker, and Robert Wuhl not play the comic relief (he's kind of goofy, sure, but Knox is, deep down, a serious journalist). And that music by Danny Elfman still gets me amped up. In this writer's opinion, this is still the best Batman movie, and I have a feeling that it's going to continue to be the best of the bat bunch for quite some time.
I never thought I'd love this show so much but it works beautifully. Green Arrow is perfect for a show but they way they are able to weave famous DC faces so flawlessly (much better than Smallville) is great. Stephen Amell is terrific as the playboy turned warrior, intense to defend his city and haunted by his island experiences while his support group (especially quirky Felicity) are just as heroic in their own ways. The touches of DC lore are great from the major (Oliver trained on the island by Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke) to the small (Kate Spencer of "Manhunter" is the Starling City DA). Its slam-bam finale was perfect comic book action and we can only hope the second season keeps it up to show how you don't need super-powers to make a great super-hero TV show that is still quite faithful to the character.
4. Wonder Woman
It stuns me that no one in Hollywood has been able to crack how to make the greatest comic book heroine work for a feature film. Of course, a factor is that people still have fond memories of this 1970's TV series which did nice justice to the character. Lynda Carter was utterly perfect as Diana, whether a fighter or pushing peace to settle conflicts and watching her do that transformation spin never got old. The 1940's vibe of the first season was good and moving it to modern times didn't hurt the show as the gorgeous Carter made you believe in her as an Amazon. One can only hope we get a movie as fun and faithful that the classic heroine deserves.
3. Justice League
A close race between this and the Batman animated series but have to give this one the nod. Seeing the big guns of the DCU together was great but they added to it with amazing stories that took you to space, Atlantis, through time and more, packing in practically every major foe you could ask for. You had adaptations of classic stories like "For the Man Who Has Everything" but also some great pieces that showcased lesser-known characters like the Question and Booster Gold. From character pieces to stunning arcs like the final battle with the Legion and Darkseid, it was everything a DC fan could ask for and set the bar for animated super-heroes that every season before or since has to do their best to follow, which means a great thing for all comic fans.
Christopher Reeve's shadow continues to cover all who follow in his footsteps. As Superman, he's amazingly, powerful and yet relatable, wanting to help others more than himself. The true genius is his Clark Kent, the way he makes the stammering, stumbling and mild-mannered persona so real that for the first time, you can understand people not looking past the glasses to see the truth. Richard Donner boosted it to amazing heights with a great story, Gene Hackman as a fun Lex Luthor and feats that reminded you why this is the greatest hero of all time. You believed in him and that's the core of Superman and why this film still resonates so well today.
1. The Dark Knight
What else could it be? Batman Begins was a fantastic return to form for Batman under Christopher Nolan but the sequel was even more fantastic. Nolan crafted a powerful tale, showing what a real-world crime-fighter would be like with the gangs and conflict with a man who just wanted chaos. Heath Ledger's Joker was fantastic with his scheming but also how he was truly a dark mirror for Batman while watching Aaron Eckhart's fall from noble Harvey Dent to twisted Two-Face was gripping. It reminded you what makes Batman special, his desire for justice above all and the great conclusion showed the darkness of his world, just the thing to conclude a true classic that rises above merely a "comic book film" to become a great cinematic experience in its own right.
Shawn S. Lealos
5. Young Justice
When I was a little kid, I loved watching the Super Friends. Looking back now, that was just not that good of a cartoon, but I like keeping my rose colored memories. Honestly, the comic book based cartoons now are just miles above anything I had growing up. From Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes to Spectacular Spider-Man, these cartoons are just fantastic for anyone who grew up with the comics. For DC Comics, one of the best to ever come along is Young Justice. The cartoon basically focuses on younger superheroes, similar to the Teen Titans but instead more of a Justice League in training. What makes this show so great is that it looked at the characters and their development as heroes and villains and wasn't just a bad guy of the week cartoon. The stories on this show was right up there with live action television series, and this is one of the smartest comic book cartoons ever made.
I think Watchmen remains one of the best comic book adaptations out there, and feel that Zack Snyder did a masterful job at bringing one of the most beloved comics in history to the big screen. I know some purists didn't like that he changed the ending, but I thought it made the story better in the long run. The end in the comics, with the weird tentacle aliens was just weird. The end in the book was a perfect conclusion to the stories of Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias and Rorschach. It is one of the cases where the changes helped the story. Plus, the visuals were amazing while the movie kept the spirit of the amazing source material. Any comic book fan who didn't like this movie … well, I just don't get it.
3. Batman: The Animated Series
Batman is one of the most oversaturated superheroes in the world, from a live-action show to numerous movies and animated series. However, outside of my number one pick this week, one property rises above the others in my eyes. Batman: The Animated Series stands tall as one of the best animated series, whether you like DC or Marvel. Televised form 1992-1995, Batman: TAS really played a strong homage to the original source material and introduced the world to one of the best comic book voice actors ever with Luke Skywalker himself Mark Hamill as The Joker. This show is one of the best ever.
2. Superman II
With Man of Steel coming out this weekend, a lot of people are looking back on the Superman franchise. However, while many people love the original Superman and hold it up on a pedestal, I feel that Superman II is the movie that stands tall as the best of the franchise until now. The fact that we have some serious bad guys in the Kyptonian villains led by General Zod means that Superman actually had someone up to his level to fight. This movie was fantastic and one of the few times that Superman came to the big screen in a movie that lived up to the hype.
1. The Dark Knight
There is only one. The Dark Knight is one of the best movies of the last decade, and that is not just one of the best comic book movies, but one of the best movies – period. Heath Ledger was fantastic as The Joker and Aaron Eckhart's Two Face was one of the most perfect villains ever created, a tragic hero that made the story almost perfect. There isn't much to say about The Dark Knight that hasn't already been said, but this is No. 1 with a bullet.