The Summer of Superheroes

When I think of summer, I think of the awesome superhero movies that are released during the season, and this was a good summer for superhero movies. We got the crossover blockbuster The Avengers, the reboot of The Amazing Spider-Man, and the final entry in the Chris Nolan Batman movies, The Dark Knight Rises.

We’ll look at the big blockbuster, The Avengers, first. This film delivered what it promised; a whole bunch of superheroes banding together and doing what they do best. We have the ultra patriotic Captain America, the Norse god Thor, the Incredible Hulk, master archer Hawkeye, the dangerous Black Widow and last but not least the playboy philanthropist billionaire, Iron Man. These six heroes team up to battle the god of mischief, Loki, and take on his plans to take over the planet.

Did any of those names catch your interest? If so then The Avengers is most definitely worth watching. Every character does their part. Not a single hero felt unneeded.

The interaction between the characters was also well done. When they aren’t fighting evil they like to bicker amongst each other. I’m not going to lie, Iron Man stole the show at these parts. We couldn’t have asked for a better Iron Man when Robert Downey Jr. put on the suit.

The entire main cast was fantastic. I don’t think I ever looked at any of these characters once and thought that they were not the actual superheroes. This movie was well acted, the action was great, and the characters and story were solid.

So who should see this? If you like any of these superheroes and if you like big, grand, epic storylines, then this is your movie. If you like serious storylines with a few laughs, this film has both. There’s not much to dislike but if you only want one superhero in your movie, let us move on to The Amazing Spider-Man.

At first I wasn’t going to see this one. I thought the last three Spider- Man movies did a mediocre job at telling his story and felt a reboot explaining his origins was rather unnecessary. However, after seeing the reboot I was very impressed with the new direction taken.

Andrew Garfield is now taking Tobey Maguire’s place in the red and blue spandex. This kid has talent. He is going to be a star. Just like how Robert Downey Jr. captured the cocky and confident Tony Stark, Garfield captured both the socially awkward super nerd, Peter Parker, and also the wise cracking web slinger.

The story is pretty solid. The first half of the flick is setting up Peter to become Spider-Man and the second half is him dealing with the villain, The Lizard. It also has him juggling the life between Peter and the life of Spider-Man in a believable way.

There are two major differences from this remake and the three movies before it. This film’s tone is notably darker and grittier while still covering the key aspects that defined Spider-Man, as opposed to the other three in their campier set up and tone. Ironically, when this movie has its funny moments with Spider-Man wisecracking while fighting crime, it does a better job than the other movies did with their attempt at comedy (I’m looking at you Spider-Man 3).

The other main difference is the characters. To my surprise, they are all incredibly likeable and believable people who you want to see stay around. Even the bully, Flash Thompson, is more memorable in this movie.

Also the characters were all extremely well played. A lot of the characters were played by actors that I wouldn’t immediately think of. Case in point: Dennis Leary as the police captain George Stacy. But you know what; he’s awesome in the role, as are just about everyone else.

Another plus of this film is when bad stuff goes down the characters act competently and realistically. Again, not to bash on the other three films, but most of the previous supporting cast just waved their arms around in terror when evil things happened.

The action was incredible. It was fast paced tense action and when Spider-Man took a hit we saw how it affected him after the fight.

My only complaint was of a certain scene. Someone felt the need to make a scene replicating a scene from the other Spider-Man movies and it almost lost me because it was so far-fetched. Other than that, it was a solid film.

If you like your superhero movies more realistic and somewhat darker with good characters, this is your movie.

Now for those of you who want a super dark and super realistic superhero movie, you might want to see The Dark Knight Rises.

This film was definitely one of the most anticipated movies not only of the summer, but all of 2012. I’m not going to lie when I say this isn’t a movie for everyone. If you’re expecting a movie like The Dark Knight, where half of it is Batman doing what he does best, get ready to be sorely disappointed. This film is very different in that most of the movie doesn’t follow Batman, but Bruce Wayne and his struggle to return as Batman. It’s still a really good movie, but it’s awfully diverse from many other superhero movies.

The acting is, once again, fantastic. The returning supporting cast like Michael Caine and Gary Oldman are still top notch. The two new main characters are Catwoman and Bane. Both are great in their roles. Bane especially as the physically imposing and intellectually dangerous antagonist.

However, I had a major problem with the villains’ plans. There were some seriously conflicting parts of their schemes as well as their motivations. I think the problem lies in the concept of Bane carrying out Ra’s Al Ghul’s plan from the first movie when it should have just been his own scheme, like in the comics.

I also disliked the progression of the return of Batman. They put so much time in Bruce Wayne’s ‘rise’ as the dark knight that he didn’t have any time to do much of anything else. I did not have a problem with the ending, other than the fact that they foreshadowed it too much. Otherwise it is a solid film, despite its flaws. I preferred The Dark Knight.

If you like a superhero movie with more of an inner focus on the man behind the mask, then this is your movie. If you wanted more of The Dark Knight where Batman beat the snot out of everyone, this might not be your film.

So what’s in store next summer? For you DC fans, you’ll be interested to hear that a Chris Nolan Superman movie is scheduled. That’ll probably be the big superhero movie next year. If you liked the Marvel movies, this summer you’ll be happy to hear that Amazing Spider-Man 2 and The Avengers 2 are in the works. Like The Dark Knight Rises, our expectations for these movies rise and if this summer is any indication, I’m confident that they will be met.