Tag Archive: superhero genre


With what seems like an ever-widening move away from superhero movies for kids in the live-action arm of DC Entertainment–from a too-long recut of Justice League to another Suicide Squad movie aimed at adult audiences–fans of comic book movies for all ages should be glad to hear three big pieces of news this month from Warner Brothers about forthcoming film projects.  It’s hard to beat word that Helen Mirren has been cast as a new villainess in Shazam: Fury of the Gods, the sequel to Zachary Levi’s Shazam!, a good-hearted favorite of the DC live-action movies.  Along with her untouchable slate of acting honors, Mirren’s performances in the RED and Fast & Furious franchises make her perfect casting. 

Now Pierce Brosnan is returning to theaters in a major role since we last saw him in the great action-drama The Foreigner (reviewed here).  He’s playing Dr. Fate opposite Dwayne Johnson, who has the title role, in Black Adam, coming in July 2022.  That DC project keeps sounding better and better, and Johnson has been talking about it publicly since at least 2008.  It will feature Sarah Shahi (Fairly Legal, Life, Psych) as Isis and Aldis Hodge (Leverage, Black Mirror, Star Trek: Short Treks) as Carter Hall aka Hawkman.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

M. Night Shyamalan is an auteur in a small league of directors that includes Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Wes Anderson, the Coen Brothers, and Stanley Kubrick.  First, you either love or hate each creator’s oeuvre, their signature, their style.  But their works are unmistakably their own.  Shyamalan’s impact to modern film can’t be overstated.  You can look at films before and after his surprise hit The Sixth Sense and see a shift toward films that require that surprise at the end.  That trademark is now an integral part of cinema, even though it has been used as a story tool throughout the history of film and storytelling.  But his use of this, his success from it, made everyone else jump on the bandwagon.  Each of his films has something new to say, but his approach is unique compared to his peers.  His take on superheroes is entirely different from anything else, and yet his love for comics and his genius in digging into what makes a great superhero tale proves his knowledge of the genre.  If you’re a fan of the modern Detective Comics, where Batman is so dark it’s almost as much horror as superhero crimefighter, then you should check out his trilogy, beginning with Unbreakable, followed by Split, and now streaming on Vudu, GooglePlay, YouTube, Amazon, and other home video media, his third chapter in the trilogy, Glass It is truly an epic film, the kind of story written by a comics reader and for a comics reader.

Most superhero movies follow a certain formula.  The tropes are all there for the plucking, so it’s how the story is told that makes the exceptional superhero movie.  Shyamalan’s slowly simmering follow-up returns to Bruce Willis′s David Dunn and Samuel L. Jackson′s Elijah Price from the 2000 first chapter Unbreakable.  We find Dunn has continued his pursuit of justice, brilliantly partnered with his own “man in the chair,” his son from Unbreakable, played again by Spencer Treat Clark (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) now all grown up, in an intriguing update to the character.  Price, however, has been relegated to a medical facility, visited frequently by his doting mother, played by returning actress Charlayne Woodard (Pose, Medium).

Sarah Paulson (Ocean’s Eight) proves exactly why she’s been cast as a young Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in the coming series Ratched, co-starring in Glass as Dr. Ellie Staple, a psychiatrist studying people who think they are superheroes, out to prove them wrong and get them the mental help she believes they need.  Enter Kevin Wendell Crumb, who has multiple personality disorders–24 personalities in all–brilliantly portrayed by James McAvoy (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Dark Phoenix) who introduced the character in the suspense-horror film Split.  Split was a surprise for everyone, carefully marketed as just another creepy Shyamalan movie, with the surprise ending that Crumb’s supervillain persona was The Beast, and an even bigger surprise: that Split was a sequel to Unbreakable.

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Guardians poster

Review by C.J. Bunce

After so many dark and dreary superhero movies, did Hollywood forget what drew everyone to comic books in the first place?  Somewhere along the way drama began to bog down the genre resulting in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, and it looks like it’s not going to let up with the first images for the 2016 release Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  “Why so serious?”  And it hasn’t just been movies based on DC Comics.  Marvel’s X-Men franchise gave us all those Academy Award winning actors all so grim and in such dire circumstances.  Sure, they’re good films, but Guardians of the Galaxy proves superhero movies don’t have to be so grim to be good.

If you don’t find yourself laughing out loud with this flick then the superhero genre is not for you.

The same kind of excitement you remember from your first viewing of Star Wars and Superman is waiting for you.  For certain Guardians of the Galaxy is neither movie, but it isn’t trying to be.  Good escapist fun underscores every scene, and its greatest achievement is not taking itself too seriously.  Its characters have a familiar and likeable chemistry like our favorite crews of Serenity or the Millennium Falcon.  Writer/director James Gunn and co-writer Nicole Perlman pull together familiar elements from The Fifth Element, Flash Gordon and even “The Tholian Web” to make a fully-realized new sci-fi/superhero universe.  And it’s as good an adaptation of a comic book series as you’ll ever find.  Even better, its second tier cast of characters–unfamiliar to most movie watchers–means expectations and preconceptions filmmakers may be more concerned with in a Batman, Superman, or Spider-man story are just not an issue here.

The Guardians

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