I hear a lot of complaints about the lack of originality in movies, something I don't really believe. There are a lot of remakes and sequels and adaptations, but that does not mean those movies lack originality. The lesser of these may be unoriginal, but for others, it takes a lot of originality to take an existing property and make it your own.
However, with that said, I thought I would look at some original comic book movies – ones that aren't based on actual comics. Some may not be great, but there has to be credit given for creating something completely unique in a superhero movie.
There was a period a few years back when the idea of people without super powers taking on crime in any way they could. This list contains three movies of this premise, and this first one actually starred Woody Harrelson as the superhero – Defendor. It wasn't as popular as Kick-Ass (because Kick-Ass was based on a pre-existing property) and was not as critically beloved as Super, but it was still a solid movie. The story is of a man who became a superhero because he wanted to avenge his mother's death and protect a prostitute who may or not may not be telling him the truth about her past. Honestly, the movie is a gut punch and has the qualities of a cult favorite.
Peter Berg set out to make a completely unique superhero with Hancock, but the movie never found its audience, honestly I feel because of Will Smith starring as the hero. It is actually an interesting story – a man with superhuman strength, flight and immortality who is also an alcoholic. Imagine Superman with a drinking problem. Thanks to his being drunk all the time, he causes millions of dollars in damage while fighting crime. When a PR man decides to help him clean up his image while Hancock decides to figure out where he came from originally.
8. The Unusual Calling of Charlie Christmas
The second of three movies on this list about normal guys who put on a mask to fight crime is Charlie Christmas. The movie is about a man who has been the victim of bullying since he was a child, bullying that continues as he is an adult, working as the janitor in his old high school. One day he starts to see Jesus in his television telling him that he should put on a scary mask and fight crime in small town Oklahoma while hoping to protect his neighbor that he develops feelings for.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, made Orgazmo as one of their first films. Trey stars as a young Mormon named Joe Young who wants to marry his sweetheart and is convinced to star in a porno to raise the money. His role in the porno is as the superhero Orgazmo, who works with his sidekick Choda Boy, a hero who uses a weapon called the Orgazmorator, which causes an instant orgasm when shot at someone. When the director kidnaps Joe's girlfriend to force him to make more movies, he sets out to save her as Orgazmo.
6. The Toxic Avenger
Troma has created many superheroes over its time, including Sgt. Kabukiman. However, the one that started it all was The Toxic Avenger. Melvin was a 98-pound nerd who worked as a janitor in the Tromaville Health Club and is picked on all the time. When he is bullied one last time and tricked into kissing a sheep, Melvin leaps out the second story window and into a drum of toxic waste where he becomes a horribly misshapen and disfigured figure with superhuman strength who becomes the Toxic Avenger, someone who battle the forces of evil while gratuitous boobs and gore take place throughout all his movies.
Before James Gunn got the job to make Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, he made his own comic book styled movie, the third on this list about someone with no actual superhuman powers. In Super, Rainn Wilson stars as a man whose wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for a drug dealer played by Kevin Bacon, so he puts on a mask and uses tools like a pipe wrench to attack and punish rule breakers. He is soon joined by Ellen Page, who discovers his identity, and the two set out to stop the drug dealer from hurting anyone else.
Much like James Gunn, Darkman was made by a director who wanted to make a superhero movie but had not earned the rights to it yet. After making his two Evil Dead movies, Sam Raimi wanted to make a Batman movie but couldn't get the rights so he created his own superhero in Darkman. He had an amazing cast – before they were famous – with Liam Neeson playing Darkman and Frances McDormand playing his girlfriend. The movie has some bad guys attempt to kill Liam's character, but when he survives an explosion, he is medically saved by a technique that takes away all his pain sensations but gives him more strength, but a weaker mind when it comes to anger and losing control.
3. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog
Joss Whedon – before The Avengers (see a pattern here?) – created this Internet movie sensation where we see the world through the eyes of Neil Patrick Harris' Dr. Horrible, someone who wants to take over the world. Much of the movie is seen through Harris' video blog as he laments his bad luck, including his arch enemy Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion), a man who is more concerned with his image than his role as a protector. Felicia Day also stars as the love interest for both men.
M. Night Shyamalan made some great movies before becoming a punch line. His first movie was the amazing horror movie Sixth Sense and then he made his superhero movie Unbreakable. Bruce Willis starred as David Dunn, a security guard who was the only survivor of a train wreck. He develops superhuman strength, but tries to live a normal life until a man named Elijah (Samuel L. Jackson) begins to stalk him. Elijah is called Mr. Glass, someone who has a rare disease where his bones break easily. He believes that, if there is someone like him, there has to be someone who is his opposite – and as a comic book fan, believes that man is his nemesis, a way to give meaning to his plights and pain.
1. The Incredibles
Pixar has made some of the best animated movies of all time, and one of their best was the superhero movie, The Incredibles. The movie takes place in a world where superheroes are forced into civilian relocation programs when many lawsuits are raised against them for their crime fighting activities. Mr. Incredible and Elastic Girl marry and have three kids, all of which have superhuman powers as well but are raised to hide their powers. When Mr. Incredible is tricked into coming out of retirement, he puts his entire family in danger and they are forced to fight together to save the world.