Tag Archives: Superman

4 of 2016’s Highest Box Office Earners Are Comic Book Adaptations


If you were to travel back in time just a few decades, look me directly in the eye and inform me that in 2016 there would be few, if any films hotter than comic book transfers.

It never seemed like a reality. Filmmakers were struggling to get the look and special effects up to snuff through the 90s, so when you saw a superhero movie, you knew it was a rarity. In 2016 however, it’s the expected, and the norm. Imagine pulling comic flicks from the lineup these days – raged out basement dwelling 30-somethings would overpower towns, torches and pitchforks wielded carelessly.

Well, don’t sweat it too much, nerds, we’re not going to see a drop-off of comic book films in the near future. We may never see comic book transfers fade into obscurity. This movement feels more like the birth of a new genre rather than the birth of a new fad.

Comic book movies are just too damn entertaining, gratifying and generally enjoyable to anticipate a departure from the Hollywood spotlight anytime soon.

Thank god. My inner Super Geek knows I’d cry two full rivers if the market began turning away from superhero movies. But as long as these pieces are doing the kind of numbers they’ve done throughout the first half of 2016, they’re here to stay.

Speaking of the success of these pictures, let’s take a look at how the focal four films released this calendar year have fared at the box office.

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Zack Snyder: The One Who Erased the ‘Man’ in Superman


Zack Snyder is a creative dude. When he sees something in his mind, he works with all he’s got to pull that idea from his mind and make it a true reality that worldwide fans can enjoy. Sometimes that tendency to think not out of, but far beyond the box pays off in a major way.

300 was a creation of pure brutal and mesmerizing beauty. Watchmen looked genuinely stunning, and while some aren’t too keen on the transfer, I consider it one of the better comic-to-film pieces the world has ever seen (especially given the time limitations they were forced to abide by; everyone who’s read the comic run knows it should never fit into a 3-hour slot). 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, though minimized on the digital effects front, is arguably one of the 10 greatest remakes ever made.

Zack Snyder knows what he’s doing, unfortunately it seems he’s taken on some radically different ideas about filmmaking in recent years. He’s done away with the nurturing of characters. He’s done away with deeply layered narratives. He’s traded all of that in for big explosions and outlandish battle sequences. He’s traded in artwork for a quick payoff for the attention span challenged.

His movies are a lot different in 2016 than they were circa 2006-2009.

Sometimes that tendency to think beyond the box backfires, in a big way.

It backfired in 2013’s Man of Steel, a heartless, extended battle scene that introduced us not to Superman again, but a different individual altogether. He was a moodier rendition of Jerry Siegel’s noble and selfless hero. He was edgier on every level imaginable. He rarely smiled. He rarely looked like a man light on conscience burdening. He rarely took the wellbeing of others into account. He rarely did anything other than damage property and villains.

On screen, Superman became another brute in tights… something he never, ever, ever was.

Up until recent years it seemed that Superman was always destined to be God-like under the warmest, brightest sky. Somewhere in the executive lineup of DC’s offices someone planted the seed that darkness was the way to go. The way to win crowds over… stick with that Christopher Nolan tone… even if your film shouldn’t have a hint of a Christopher Nolan tone.

Let’s just travel back a few issues of (picking from the hat here…) Action Comics issues in order to generate strong comparisons between the Superman we’ve worshipped forever and the hollow shell Snyder has insulted us with. This is a series that’s run nearly 1,000 issues and has served as a primary showcase of Superman, his skills, his respect for humanity and his understanding of the importance of blending in.

We’ll venture back an array of decades, and along the way we’ll note that the man can very rarely be deemed anything other than a symbol of hope for the people.

Take for example Action Comics #100, a book that sees “The Sleuth Who Never Failed” desperately attempting to bring Superman’s true identity to light. This chap goes to every extreme imaginable, yet fails to turn an icon into a common citizen of Metropolis. And Superman, he plays along, mildly concerned but confident in his ability to maintain a secret identity.

He never grows spiteful of this PI. He never loses patience with this PI. He never crosses a line and physically punishes this PI; the latter being something we could easily envision from a Snyder Superman film.

But let’s continue to move forward, picking random books to compare who Superman truly is, as opposed to the Superman that Zack Snyder wants us to follow.

In Action Comics #578 Superman rushes into a burning building. His first priority is getting those inside of the building out and far from flame. He wants these people safe, so of course he saves them, and with a smile on his face the entire time. Believe it or not, he even puts that fire out using the quickest, neatest way possible, so as to save the building from a “condemned” future. Instead of being recognized as a hero, he’s trashed by the fire department.

It’s a cold blow for a warm hero.

That’s just the beginning of Superman’s (and Clark Kent’s) troubles in the issue, as just about everyone turns on the man. Still, he maintains his cool and takes the lashings he’s been dealt in stride. It’s all very human, and very mature. When every last resident of Metropolis turns on the heroic figure, he doesn’t lash out. He doesn’t decide he doesn’t care about human beings. He tries, with everything he’s got to be appreciated again. It matters that much to him. He wants to squeeze into the warm spotlight, and he wants to do that the right way. He’s that human.

In the end, it turns out that Parasite has been working one of his twisted attempts to get the upper hand over Superman. It of course backfires, and all the wrongs in Superman’s universe are eventually righted. But what’s important is that no matter how hard and how far Superman is pushed, he never loses himself. He never loses sight of why he’s in Metropolis, parading about part-time in tights going out of his way to put the well-being of every last one of Metropolis’ residents at the very top of his priority list.

He’s still Superman… the one we care about.

Batman nd Superman

Moving forward about 10 years to (another random selection) issue #708 we see Clark examining himself in the mirror, a mean five o’clock shadow covering his face. How ‘bout it Clark? The retro Don Johnson look? Clark thinks to himself in one of the countless moments that remind us of how astonishingly ordinary he can be. And how informed on pop culture he can be, as well.

In this issue he’s got marriage on his mind. He’s still as busy as ever, but he’s got love circling his noggin to the extent that he has trouble not losing himself and constantly swooning over Lois Lane. He cracks jokes, he delivers flowers. He contemplates a perfect honeymoon. Once again, Superman – or Clark Kent – is very everyman, like you and I. And these character traits stretch back about as far as we can remember.

In fact, if you get your hands on one of the many reprints of Action Comics #1, initially released in June of 1938, you’ll notice an important frame, located on the very first page. We see Superman in a heroic pose, and beneath that image read the words Superman! Champion of the oppressed. The physical marvel who has sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need.

Perhaps far more relevant than that particular announcement, are the moments that Superman is destined to face in the very near future.

Take a peek at the “Death of Superman” storyline. During one scene – midway through the arc – Superman essentially bypasses a chance to end the existence of Doomsday when he hears the cries of a young boy, trapped with his mother and younger sibling in a burning home, their future doomed.

Guess what Superman does? He finds a way to make it back to earth (Superman and Doomsday had been ascending into the clouds up to that point) and save that family. Why? Because that’s what he swore to do, right from the beginning.

While the “Death of Superman” story arc is three levels beyond amazing, it’s really just important to remember that Superman has always been a pure, sublime individual. And that last quote from Action Comics #1 really sums up Superman’s existence as a whole.

It’s about others, long before the man with an ‘S’ on his chest. It’s been about a lot more than super-fights for Kal-El. It’s always been about offering his own life for others.

But it sure does sound like we’re talking about an entirely different individual than the one Snyder re-introduced us to, doesn’t it?

It’s hard to imagine the humorless, edgy, unapproachable Superman of Zack Snyder’s films even pretending to entertain the idea of Superman’s true nature with any seriousness. I mean, really, does Snyder’s Superman even like anyone? Does he do anything other than work around the farm and cause 100s of millions of property damage?

I’ve got an astounding collection of print and digital superman comics (well over 1,400 different books) to rifle through at any time. And at any time I can pull up countless examples of a hero whose purity and selflessness completely eclipses every other superhero in existence. That’s the Superman that DC introduced and nurtured for what now feels like forever. And the beauty is, DC never stopped nurturing Clark Kent’s personality, either. He’s a good man that we can invest in, whether or not we know he’s a powerhouse superhero in his almost-free time.

Zack Synder doesn’t give a damn if you like the Superman we’ve respected for damn near 80 years. He cares about leaving your eyes bulging at the next massive battle scene. And, apparently, he cares about you, caring about the Superman of old.

Snyder’s films are cluttered with puzzling actions, the bulk of which are made by Superman himself.

In the earlier stages of Man of Steel we see Clark and his family find themselves trapped in the middle of a tornado. Clark stands by, yards away, and watches as his adoptive father (who he certainly seems to have a stellar relationship with) is swept away by Mother Nature’s uglier side. It’s the first major moment that we realize this Clark Kent isn’t going to develop into the Superman we’ve known for decade upon decade. That Superman would have flown over to his father, snatched him up and pulled him to safety before anyone not already preoccupied with the terror of the tornado (you’d think these people really did have some other serious concerns in a situation like this) could notice.

And don’t pretend Superman couldn’t do that; remember that through the years, in the DC world Superman raced The Flash on multiple occasions (Superman #199 – 1967, The Flash #175 – 1967, and DC Comics Presents #1 – #2 – 1978, most notably), and while I can’t point to a single race in which Superman clearly won, he sure as hell made those races competitive. If you can keep pace with The Flash, you can fly 30 feet and rescue your old man in the blink of an eye.

But again, Zack Snyder’s Superman is a far cry from the Superman we know.

Throughout Man of Steel we see a great deal of subsequent scenes that seem to completely shatter the core of the character we all love.

Superman isn’t racing to save citizens from falling debris. Hell, he’s causing mass collateral damage himself, shattering streets, exploding through buildings; no worries in the world what becomes of the tons of concrete, rebar and shattered glass crashing down on anyone and everyone unaware of the catastrophe unraveling hundreds of feet above their heads.

batman vs superman banner image

Superman, in Man of Steel feels far closer to a vigilante than a hero. Superman in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice  – at times – feels like an outright villain as opposed to a standard vigilante.

There may be 12 minutes in a 151 minute (what in the name of… 153 minutes? You’ve got to be kidding! We’re not kidding.) feature that throw out hints of a somehow humanized character. The remainder of the film is ever worse than Man of Steel… by a long shot.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice has no soul. It has no humor. It offers no enjoyment. It showcases no humanity.  It treats itself as the most explosive comic book film in history. And that, I’d venture to say it is. But what do we care? If Batman’s a total jerk, and Superman spends his time stomping about with the fury of a woman in the middle of her menstrual cycle, why do we give a damn? Why would we invest in a film that doesn’t even understand the basics of human nature?

Sure, Zack Snyder made a big, explosive superhero movie. But he made a big, explosive superhero hero movie that showed not a hint of respect for human beings… or those of who ventured to the nearest cinema.

Zack Snyder didn’t make Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice because he loved, or even had a hint of respect for either character, Snyder made the movie to ensure his bank account grows exponentially in a miniscule time frame.

Congratulations, Snyder. You’ve made yourself quite a bit wealthier. You’ve also shown longtime comic fans that you don’t give a flyin’ F-bomb about Superman or Batman.

Way to gain fans there, Zack – I couldn’t possibly think of a better way to destroy Superman than to pull the ‘man’ from his moniker.

Superman and Batman: Public Enemies Review


I’ll always be a sucker for three specific DC characters: The Flash, Superman and Batman. They’re all compelling characters with great depth, diverse personalities and an assortment of cool villains to tangle with. While we don’t get to see any crazy involvement from The Flash in Superman and Batman: Public Enemies, we get more than enough thrills from Supes and the Bat.

Knowing how much I adore these characters, this is hard to admit, but I get a morbid kick out of any opportunity to see both Superman and Batman made to look like true villains. You can bet with Lex Luthor having been recently elected as the president of the United States, these two are going to take a public shellacking. Lex Luthor doesn’t disappoint.

Luthor plays the manipulator here and gradually encourages the people of Metropolis, as well as every hero and villain alive to view these two in a different light. Obviously, Luthor wants to be done with Superman, and if he can take out the bat in the process, great. But it won’t be easy, even after recruiting every savage you can think of.

So who exactly wants to kill these two? Captain Atom, Captain Marvel, Solomon Grundy, Metallo, Gorilla Grodd, Starfire, Mongul, Lady Shiva and… well, the list just goes on and on. And that means that Public Enemies is really just a showcase for every awesome DC character on the roster. It’s a blast to see!

The script is solid, the artwork is beautiful and seeing Superman and Batman bond over tough times is good fun in my mind. The flick is non-stop action, which also holds some huge appeal. All in all, director Sam Liu did a bang up job of creating one of the more entertaining feature length Batman/Superman films.

If you’re a DC freak, this is a must-see!

Rating: 4/5

The 25 Greatest Superheroes


Superheroes have held the attention of the young and old alike for decades. Comic books – the primary channel in which superheroes appear – have given us that avenue to escape reality, even if only for a short period of time. Who hasn’t read a Batman book and thought, I wish I could rid the streets of my city like that, looking sleek in that black suit! Most comic book lovers have always been able to relate to the human side of heroes while admiring their otherworldly gifts. Those are natural responses. We love heroes. We love what they typically stand for. We love the fact that heroes can do what we can’t. That’s why we admire them. That’s why we admire the following 25 superheroes, because there’s humanity and courage in every last one of them.

Savage Dragon

Savage Dragon

Massive, amnesiac green dude equipped with a head fin. Did we mention he’s a cop? Still going strong after well over 200 issues, this is one dude you simply don’t want to tangle with. Kudos to creator Erik Larsen for creating a genuinely fresh superhero.

Sub-Mariner

Namor

Namor is so overlooked it’s really quite heartbreaking. Maybe Marvel should pull his tail out of the depths and let the company’s first official mutant actually get some shine! All the options on the table… all swept away by the sea.

Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)

Green Lantern

Okay, so Green Lantern went through a few sketchy times. Who doesn’t nearly destroy masses when possessed by some weirdo? What matters is that Hal got his head clear and his mojo back. This dude is game for any showdown. Big or small, fast or slow – line ‘em up and Green Lantern will handle his business.

Spider-Man

Spider-Man

Peter Parker’s become much trendier over the last few decades. In fact, read just about any Spidey title on the shelves and you’ll note that he’s now become something of a cool cat. He’s still got jokes, though, and that’s a big relief. He’s also got an assortment of enemies to throttle that is rivaled only by the great Batman.

Aquaman

Aquaman

It feels like Aquaman doesn’t kick ass with as much flare of some of his fellow DC heroes. That’s probably because everything moves in slow motion once fully submerged. While that may never change, there are options to transform this noble stud. I mean, really, why not a modern day crossover that pits Aquaman and Namor? That would be awesome!

Captain Marvel

Captmarvel

Be honest with yourselves: You love Captain Marvel. He’s a little pipsqueak kid with big dreams, a big heart and the ability to transform into a hulking crime fighting machine, just by using a silly childlike word: SHAZAM!

The Flash (Barry Allen)

49_BarryAllen

I’m not going to lie to you, I’m a fan of every man to ever embrace the Flash moniker. Jay Garrick, Wally West, Bart Allen and of course, Barry Allen. Regardless of who donned the suit, these guys were amazing. Using their brains to contact outrageous inventions in labs, speeding through the city to prevent a mugging, speeding right back to the other side of the city to ensure Captain Cold gets a dose of warmth before he ruins some unsuspecting soul’s meal. The Flash is amazing, and Barry may be the man who has done him most justice over the years.

Human Torch

Human Torch

I recall reading an ancient copy of Fantastic Four, and while little of the details stick out to me (I read the book back in 1988/1989 and it was already an older issue), I still haven’t let go of this minor tirade that Johnny Storm launches into, pissing and moaning about the challenges his super-powers bring about. As I recall, Thing put him in his place. But, to get that self-loathing from a guy who enjoys putting up a cocky front was great. It was a rare moment spent looking at the real Human Torch, who, as it turns out, has just as many inhibitions as you and I.

Martian Manhunter

Martian Manhunter

Martial Manhunter should, theoretically, be the baddest hero in existence. He should, realistically, have a half dozen monthly titles dedicated to him. He’s like Superman multiplied by 100, with telepathy, invisibility, telekinesis and the ability to shape-shift (I feel like I’m missing a few of his other powers). And that should pretty much guarantee the Manhunter can and will win every battle he ever engages in. Unfortunately, despite his tremendous skill set, Martian Manhunter often goes overlooked by fans. My theory? You’re all a bunch of racists, unwilling to give a green man a fair shake.

Cyclops

Cyclops

The first deeply mature and refined pupil of Professor X, Cyclops always has his head on straight, always looks out for his fellow X-mates and never hesitates when it’s time to react. He’s one of the leaders of the X-Men for a myriad of reasons. And to his credit, he’s found himself in some very precarious situations. And he always stagger emerges from the dust and rubble. To top it all off, he’s been engaged in some great feuds, each vying for Jean Grey’s love. Guess who put a ring on it?

Nick Fury

Nick Fury

Nick Fury is basically a super spy extraordinaire with the skills to treat the Avengers like simple puppets. Although Nick holds those powerful strings, he can also be a threat in good old fashioned hand-to-hand combat. Need another reason we love Fury so much? He makes every man on earth want to wear an eyepatch. You gotta be a special son-of-a-gun to make the eye patch cool.

Green Arrow

Green Arrow

A socially conscious and heavily opinionated gent, Oliver Queen is gnarly in the best of ways. He’s equipped with all kinds of tricky gadgets although that bow and arrow function as the true trademark. I’ve also got to praise Arrow’s ruthlessness when it comes to the villainess type. This man has no mercy and he believes in severe punishment. Respect to you, Mr. Arrow!

Hellboy

Hellboy

Hellboy might be the greatest superhero not related to Marvel or DC. Mike Mignola’s creation is loaded with sharp humor but he’s all business when it comes time to take down demonic beasts from hell. Hellboy is awesome, flat out, and the fact that he’s red doesn’t hurt his cause!

Professor X

Professor X

Charles Xavier is kind of like the Godfather of superheroes. If not for this gentleman would we even have characters like Jean Grey, Cyclops, Wolverine, etc., etc.? Probably not. This man earns huge points on his accomplishments alone, but when he really opens his mind, he’s fully capable of tearing the bad guys apart. No one wants to lose a fight to a guy in a wheelchair.

The Thing

The Thing

The Thing is a brute. But you know what? He’s also kind of a nice guy. He tends to bicker with his fiery ally, but it’s typically in good fun. If it wasn’t, you can guarantee that Johnny Storm would find himself one with the pavement. It’s the Thing’s charisma and gentle heart that ultimately land him on this list. He’s just a good guy, and he’s always got the backs of his fellow Fantastic Four members.

Thor

Thor

A major player of classic mythology, Thor has now become synonymous with a long haired blonde gent capable of taking a building down with a single swing of the hammer. Thor can come off as a little arrogant from time to time, but you would too, if you were a god… right? The fact that the man earns respect from measly humans as well as nobles from other worlds is a reminder that he’s one to follow.

Jean Grey

Jean Grey

One of the founding members of the X-Men, Jean Grey is arguably the most powerful telepath on the planet. She also seems to struggle with her identity a bit. Is She Jean Grey? Is she the Phoenix? Is she dead, or alive? Who knows… who cares, her influence on the X-Men is still unwavering. Plus, she’s uber hot!

Iron Man

Iron Man

Those who only watch Iron Man films and avoid reading the comments may not realize it, but Tony Stark is something of a ticking time bomb. All the money in the world doesn’t change his well disguised death wish. He’s always pushing the borders of his suit, and there’s a very human reason for that. In some ways, Iron Man is the most complex character on the Marvel roster. Regardless of any mental issues the man has, we love him. And his armor.

Daredevil

Daredevil

Do we really need to dive into this one? Daredevil is badder than bad. The dude literally destroys villains… and he’s blind. HE’S BLIND!! ‘Nuff said.

The Hulk

Hulk

When Bruce Banner rages, the world feels that rage. Sometimes the good guys feel it too, as Hulk kind of… loses himself from time to time. All the same, Bruce is a great guy with a brilliant mind, and the Hulk is a wrecking ball that no villain would voluntarily tangle with. I’m always up to see the big green man in purple pants tear a few buildings down.

Captain America

Captain America

Captain America is like Marvel’s father figure. He’s an amazing guy, pure in intentions, always respectful and capable of dismantling just about everyone. This is the first true Avenger and his counterparts treat him as such. There’s no shortage of respect for the man who always acts as an upstanding citizen. He’s quite literally the prototypical All American Good Guy. Cap rocks!

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

Somehow Wonder Woman can whip a villain with ease with that Lasso of Truth, all the while maintaining her purity and connection to the peaceful side of life. That sentence feels like a whole bunch of oxymoron’s battling each other in just a few words. But that’s what Wonder Woman does. And she represents female empowerment like none other in the comic world. Sexy, dangerous and influential, Wonder Woman was an obvious pick for this list. Who doesn’t love the Amazonian?

Wolverine

Wolverine

There’s a reason Wolverine is such a beloved character; he’s as human as you and I. Of course he does indeed have some nifty super powers, but he’s a haunted human being. Like so many of us, he battles his own demons on a regular basis. He’s lost a lot of what he once loved about life. That too, eats at him. In short, Wolverine is a sad story… a haunted soul in unending pain, and that’s something that a lot of us can truly relate to. 40 years ago no one would believe you if you told them a mutant with nasty claws that burst from his flesh would prove to be an insanely relatable and human character, but that’s exactly who and what Logan is.

Batman

Batman

Gotham’s wealthiest detective moonlights in a stunning suit designed to prevent any bodily damage. How’s that sound? Sounds accurate! Batman and Wolverine share a lot of similarities. Both have lost individuals that they deeply love. Both are constantly troubled by their own pasts. And both have a major desire to rid the world of the scum that wanders freely, looking for the vulnerable, hoping to snatch some cash, or murder for no reason. Every bit as haunted as Wolvie, Bruce Wayne is a sympathetic character whose only fault is his obsession with cleaning up the streets of Gotham.

Superman

Superman

Kal-el isn’t human. But he sure does behave as though he is. Well, at least when he’s disguised as Clark Kent. When the spectacles are removed and the suit is peeled away, Kent becomes Superman, the archetypical superhero. The superhero that other superheroes wish they could be. But Superman’s near-limitless abilities have never once gone to Superman’s head. He was raised (by Jonathan and Martha Kent) to be a respectful, responsible and decent man. The Kent’s did a brilliant job. The last thing Superman wants to do is see an unsuspecting pedestrian hurt (unless you base your opinion of the man on Zach Snyder’s miserable flick, Man of Steel, in which case you see Superman as a superhero who doesn’t give a rat’s tail about the well-being of anyone other than himself; there’s a building crumbling and it’s going to crush a lot of civilians! Eh, who cares, I’m in the middle of a fight Zod!), and he always goes far out of his way to protect humanity. Outside of Snyder’s crappy movie, Superman has always been selfless, and he’s always commanded a respect that few, if any, other superheroes will ever know.