With Age Of Heroes Tom Breihan selects the most important superhero movie of each year, starting with the early big-budget moments of the genre and moving to today's most multiplexing monsters.
Here's a funny mental exercise: describe Venom to a child. I tried. It is ridiculous.
It goes something like this: So Spider-Man is sent into an alternative dimension, right? All the world's most famous heroes are there to fight against the most famous villains because a mystical god-like creature thought it was a good idea (but Marvel could really have an excuse to sell toys). While he's there, Spider-Man gets this new black costume (again: toy), which consists of alien slime. But the mud is a creature ̵
So anyway there is also this reporter who is really mad at Spider-Man, I forget why, and then the mud finds him and connects with him, and then this guy turns into a big and angry version of Spider-Man. He's obsessed with killing Spider-Man, and he has all those teeth and that big, funny tongue, and sometimes he eats people. But sometimes he is good too. And sometimes the costume goo goes and connects with other people, like the guy who used to be the scorpion. And sometimes it brings out these other costumes, and they become different characters, and they are even more evil.
So this is poison. An absurd and incoherent character with a Byzantine chaos of a story and a pronounced and integral bloodlust. The best superhero movies take their heroes and focus on what matters to them, what drives them. Batman is a traumatized, paranoid billionaire focused on his just revenge against the forces of darkness. Superman is a foreign deity who is also a great idiotic idiot, and he is here to serve as an inspiration to all of us. Spider-Man is a nervous kid who is always inferior but is still doomed to do good because of his guilt and innate goodness. Blade is a half man / half vampire who hates vampires for killing his mother when he was born. The same goes for the rogues. But Venom has no core. He is a hungry blob who hates Spider-Man. That's his thing.
As a character, Venom is far too clumsy and too free of human motivation to work in a children's movie. But in the late '80s and early' 90s, when Marvel was booming, Venom became a hugely popular character. This was partly because the famous cartoonists of the time were all competing to see who could draw the most ridiculous version of Venom, in part because of the general hunger at that time for any hyperviolent and exaggerated comic characters , (See: Wolverine, Punisher, Lobo … We thought they were all cool !) And so the producers of Spider-Man 3 decided that Venom was finally ready for his movie debut. And to play this huge mass of muscles and teeth, they have thrown the child out of That & # 70s Show . He too does not know how that happened.
The producer Avi Arad, who also worked on the new Venom movie, has taken the blame for the badger Spider-Man author Sam Raimi including Venom in the third installment of his Franchise. So Raimi had to incorporate the whole story of the black costume and Venom into his film by condensing years of comic storylines into a single piece. (The new Venom movie, though deeply awkward, had at least the good sense – or the corporate crossover luck / bad luck – to keep Spider-Man out of the story.) Besides all this Venom Saga Raimi also sought to engage Peter Parker's relationship struggles, his ebullient ego, his love-hate relationship with his amnesty's super villain spawn best friend Harry Osborn, and his struggle for the details of his uncle's death. He also stuffed himself into the Sandman – a former Spider-Man villain who, in Raimi's version, became both a tragically suffering, escaped convict and a King Kong-like, sentimental monster. All this is in a movie . The pro-wrestling term for this type of storytelling, which does not require much elaboration, is "10 pounds of shit in a five-pound bag".
To tell these many vaguely interconnected stories in a single movie, Raimi has to rely on the magical power of chance. So, the venom blob comes to Earth on an unexplained meteorite, breaks unnoticed in Central Park and slides on the first person he meets, which is Spider-Man. Later, when Spider-Man breaks away from the blob, the one who happens to be in the empty church under Eddie Brock is the greasy, deceitful photographer who happens to hate Peter Parker. If Spider-Man rescues a lady from a cranial collapse, the lady happens to be his colleague lab partner. (She can not be just someone working in an office, she has to be a model doing an office shoot.) The criminal who accidentally killed Parker's uncle happens to be the same one who turns into a sensitive sandstorm. I could go on.
All this coincidence is not the only abbreviation. We also have Harry Osborn's Amnesia, a storytelling device that is so cheap and awkward that it has stopped in sitcoms a generation ago. Towards the end of the film, Harry has his big climatic change of heart just because a random butler finally shows up to tell him that Spider-Man did not really kill his father, what that useless butler could have told him years before. And because there is no time for anyone to express any awe or disbelief, the brilliant scientist Peter Parker and his even more brilliant scientist professor (Dylan Baker as Curt Connors, who would probably have turned into the lizard if Raimi had kept them) Spider-Man films make alien life and they barely react. Connors only glances at this blob, which was to be the largest scientific discovery in human history, and hoards in wood, "He has the characteristics of a symbiote."
But if you look at Spider-Man 3 it's really remarkable how the movie does its job, so wide and chunky and mannered that the whole thing seems desperately worried that it might lose the movie watching someone's attention. Characters have no inner life; They send the most theatrical versions of everything they like to feel. Characters do not lead a dialogue; they just recite their motivation. This applies to Raimi's Spider-Man films, including the masterful [Spider-Man2 . But in a film like this he found room to turn Doctor Octopus into a rich and contradictory character. In Spider-Man 3 .
That is the downfall of the film, but also the charm. Raimi has found fun and understandable ways to do CGI superhero action in front of everyone else, and some of the fighting scenes in Spider-Man 3 are fun. But Raimi is more interested in telling a story of silly melodramas, with a few bits of screwball comedy here and there (see: Bruce Campbell's extended Pepe Le Pew reef), as in any of Spider-Man 3 Superhero stuff. Raimi, for example, brings endless energy into the scene where Harry reveals himself as Peter's romantic rival, as in any of the Spidey / Green Goblin fights. And of course that brings us to the best remembered film. It brings us to damn dancing.
As the symbiote enters Parker's brain, he becomes a self-confident and selfish asshole. Raimi and Tobey Maguire give this with pony, cartoonish Hepcat slang and aggressive jazz hoof. The scenes of Maguire dancing immediately became a punchline when the movie came out, and I remember that I was flipping through the theater, embarrassed for myself and Maguire and Raimi and everyone else who participated in it. But if you watch the movie today, those scenes are the best thing about the movie. They are exaggerated and deep, wonderfully silly. It helps, I think, that Maguire has spent the rest of the movie playing Parker as a brutally crazy goofy. When he suddenly appears at the piano bench of a jazz bar, then whirls through the air, he seems like a moment of ecstatic liberation. With these scenes, the film reaches a kind of absurd drama nerd transcendence.
There are other good things about Spider-Man 3 . Sandman's CGI effects are primitive but expressively horrifying. Thomas Haden Church is doing his best to find the seriousness in a completely taken over role. J.K. Simmons gets more chances to steam up delightfully like J. Jonah Jameson. Raimi continues with the strange trope of New Yorkers gathering to marvel at superhero fights that apparently are not even slightly worried about the looming debris. James Franco makes the shoot in astonishingly incompetent ways. Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, although not their actual storyline, do a compelling job portraying a couple who came together as children and really have no reason to be together.
Venom does not show up until the end of the film. That's another good thing, because Topher Grace plays him as the least intimidating or compelling villain that ever existed. That's not even Grace's fault. As a sitcom star and occasional cameo in Steven Soderbergh films, Grace always had his own charisma. In Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman he wrought his insincerity and turned it into something similar to evil. But in this Venom role, he can only insist that he's fine when he's bad. He jumps around and growls a little, and then Spider-Man kills him with a few piles and one (1) pumpkin bomb. Tom Hardy's lobster-munching slapstick version of Venom is not exactly a cinematic icon, but it could only be a huge improvement.
Despite all the titanic mistakes Spider-Man 3 still made a lot of money: nearly $ 900 million, the best of it every Spider-Man movie ever. All these people have paid to see it, but nobody really liked it. Once the world had seen Batman Begins a movie in which characters at least show some semblance of recognizable human emotions, it was hard to make anyone love this mannered and incoherent bullshit, even though it was lucrative , There were plans for Raimi to make one or two more films, but he left for creative differences and Sony launched the entire character just five years after the release of Spider-Man 3 [.
The year after Spider-Man 3 made all his money, two very different superhero films told their silly stories with a level of sophistication that a movie like this just could not reach. Most studios stopped jamming their films full of characters. Instead, they slowly and patiently built stories, trying not to offend the intelligence of their audience. For all the money it made, Spider-Man 3 was a dead end, the spectacular extinction of an experiment. We will never get another movie like this. And as stupid as Spider-Man 3 is, it also makes me nostalgic for the era just before studios have really figured out how superhero films could or should work.
Other Remarkable Superhero Films 2007: Nicolas Cage had no chance to become Superman as he wished. But he got his chance to enter the superhero encyclopedia with Ghost Rider adapting the supernatural Marvel character, whom I considered the coolest in the world when I was in fourth grade. Cage has a lot of fun as Johnny Blaze, the biker stuntman who turns into a flame-headed skeletal dragon demon, but the story of the film – from Daredevil author and director Mark Steven Johnson, inexplicably made another shot at superhero film -Ding – and his ridiculous visuals make it hard to see.
Worse was Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer  19659003] which recorded one of the most iconic stories in the history of Marvel Comics and made her a simplistic CGI malakkär. There is ambition in the film that more than a decade ago attempted to turn the superhero movie template into something cosmic and all-consuming Avengers: Infinity War . But the way she tells this story is not nearly satisfying. Perhaps her greatest sin is the way she transforms the planet-devouring Galactus, perhaps Marvel's greatest destructive destructive power, into a damned cloud.
The year had a few superhero films that were even more explicit for children than Spider-Man 3 . Underdog is a live-action film about a talking CGI superhero dog with Jason Lee's voice; Future Lois Lane Amy Adams, Future Tony Stark's Father John Slattery, and Future Giant Hammer Forging Infinity War Cameo Peter Dinklage play all the roles. TMNT gave the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise an animated theater reboot seven years before it got another theatrical restart. And the former Bill S. Preston, Esq. Alex Winter directed Ben 10: Race Against Time a TV adaptation of a Cartoon Network show. While this may not be a superhero movie, the documentary  Confessions Of A Superhero tells the stories of people posing as superheroes and posing for photos on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
There were also many non-superhero comic adaptations. 300 was shown in 2006, but it came out in theaters, made piles of money, and helped inspire a whole new wave of American fascism in 2007. Meanwhile Persepolis has been nominated for an Oscar and 30 Days Of Night turned out to be a lot of fun horror film (with a better Ben Foster performance) than it probably would have may be.
Next time: 2008 is the most important year in the history of superhero films, and that depends on two films. Iron Man began the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, and his tone – sunny, antique, knowingly clever – established the voice of the most dominant entity in film today. But The Dark Knight was a true cultural phenomenon – the first superhero movie ever to be taken as a masterpiece rather than a frivolity. It could certainly be argued that Iron Man was more important for the development of superhero films, but one could also argue that The Dark Knight was more important to culture overall. And in his overwhelming success The Dark Knight was almost as important to Marvel's success as Iron Man . I went back and forth many times, but we go with The Dark Knight .