Kick-Ass, Iron Man 2 and superhero porn top the year’s comic book movies
- by Shawn Conner
As near as we can tell, 2010 saw at least seven theatrical releases, one straight-to-video sequel and a cable TV series based on a comic book series, character, or graphic novel. Add an animated movie that might as well have been based on a comic book, and a porn parody of a beloved superhero TV series and you have an even 10. And, believe it or not, the best of the bunch was probably the porn parody.
2010 was also the year we lost Harvey Pekar, whose comic book series American Splendor inspired a movie of the same name, that was easily one of the decade’s best movies based on a graphic series.
Anyway, here’s a rundown of the Year in Comic Book Movies. We’ve tried to be objective, but overall it’s a pretty dismal list if you were sick of zombies, vampires and Michael Cera. Filmmakers either used graphic-novel subject matter as an excuse for mindless violence (Kick-Ass, Red, The Losers), got everything completely wrong (Jonah Hex), or just threw as much as possible at the screen in the hopes something would stick (Iron Man 2, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World).
Also, we have a list of upcoming comic book movies below.
Kick-Ass – Fake and real superheros beat-up gangsters in the first of this year’s comic book movies. Kick-Ass caused a bit of a stir because of Chloe Grace Moretz‘s 11-year-old character Hit Girl’s expletive-laden dialogue. Also notable for its ultra-violence, Kick-Ass did reasonably well at the box office and earned fairly positive reviews. It was based on a Marvel Comics series (2008 – 10) on its Icon imprint, created by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.
Movie trailer – Kick-Ass featuring Hit Girl:
The Losers – Another hyper-violent saga, this one based on a Vertigo series (2003 – 6) written by Andy Diggle. According to Wikipedia’s entry on The Losers, which is about yet another elite team on a suicide mission, Scott Tobias in his review on The Onion‘s AV Club noted “the lack of humility or self-deprecation in the heroes despite their title” and that “the film tries so strenuously to be cool” but is “nothing more than style for its own sake” (for proof, see clip below with actress Zoe Saldana). According to the same entry, the New York Post‘s Kyle Smith gave it half a star out of four and described Saldana “as a femme banale”, and dismissed the film as G.I. Joke and The D-Team, and said that even though The Losers “tries to do so little, it still falls so short.”
Iron Man 2 – The anticipated sequel offered more of everything the first film had except for laughs and a compelling storyline. At least it had Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. Oh, and to no one’s surprise, it made a ton of money. (Director Jon Favreau‘s next movie, Cowboys & Aliens and starring Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde, is also based on a comic.)
Tamara Drewe – Not long after the release of Iron Man 2 came its opposite, a domestic comedy drama based on a British comic strip by Posey Simmonds. Although actress Gemma Arterton, who plays the title character, was a hit, the movie received lukewarm reviews. (Our own lukewarm Tamara Drewe movie review.)
Batman XXX: A Porn Parody – Of the six titles on this list that I’ve actually seen, this was the most fun, and not just because of the sex (though Lexi Belle‘s Batgirl is pretty hot). With costumes and the occasional set looking like they came straight off the set of the ’60s TV series, and some appropriately campy acting, Batman XXX: A Porn Parody – directed by Axel Braun whom, apparently, has never met a sex scene that has gone on too long – is colorful, funny and a turn-on in a pervy, nostalgic kind of way (that is, if you’re a fan of the original series). Also released this year: Bluebird’s BatFXXX: Dark Knight Parody. According to a review on bleedingcool.com, BatFXXX is “the superior of the two… BatFXXX draws on many different incarnations of Batman to construct an original vision of the character’s world that feels both familiar and unusual.” I dunno though, at least from the trailer it looks like it takes itself a little too seriously. At least three more triple-X superhero movies, featuring Hulk, Superman and Wonder Woman, are in the worxxx.
Movie trailer – Batman XXX: A Porn Parody:
Movie trailer – BatFXXX: Dark Knight Parody:
Jonah Hex – June 18 release date. Based on a DC Comics Western hero who first appeared in 1972, Jonah Hex featured Josh Brolin as the title character. Hex is a post-Civil War antihero, a surly and cynical bounty hunter whose visual hook is a strand of flesh extending over his mouth so he always looks like he’s clenching his teeth. Or maybe he is always is clenching his teeth. The movie did poorly, limping out of theatres despite the fact that it also starred fanboy sexpot Megan Fox. Critics savaged the flick as well, with Keith Phipps of The Onion‘s AV Club giving it a rare F, saying “the 81 minutes (including credits) of Jonah Hex footage that made it to the screen look like something assembled under a tight deadline, and possibly under the influence.” The Houston Film Critics Society named Jonah Hex the worst film of 2010.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World – Full disclosure: I hated this movie. I found it interminably facile, relentlessly and strenuously unfunny, and finally just a stupid waste of time. That said, nearly everyone else who saw it (admittedly, not many – it didn’t do well in theatres) liked its energy and video-game-like effects. (Fuller disclosure: I walked out of director Edgar Wright‘s Shaun of the Dead and couldn’t get past 15 minutes of the DVD version of his similarly unfunny Hot Fuzz.) Based on a comic book series by Canadian Bryan Lee O’Malley (who took the name “Scott Pilgrim” from a song of the same title by ’90s Halifax girl pop group Plumtree), Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World has Michael Cera as the title character fighting off his new girlfriend’s exes with inexplicable superpowers.
30 Days of Night: Dark Days – This sequel to the 2007 vampire flick 30 Days of Night went directly to DVD. Both movies are based on a comic book series by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith that first appeared in 2o02. 30 Days of Night: Dark Days, with a script by Niles, scored a 17 per cent (un)approval rating on rottentomatoes.com.
Red (Oct 15 release date) – Not to be confused with the 1994 Krystof Kieslowski French arthouse flick of the same name, Red stands for “Retired extremely dangerous”. Based on a 2003-4 Homage/WildStorm series written by Warren Ellis, Red‘s more accurate acronym might be “Regurgitated extremely dumb”. This was another gratuitously violent, senselessly plotted movie, although it did receive okay reviews from some generous critics, many of whom were probably turned on by the idea of art-house doyenne Helen Mirren shooting up the landscape with a machine gun. Also features Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman sleepwalking through their roles.
The Walking Dead (Oct 31 release date) – So far, just about everyone loves this AMC TV series, which is based on a comic book published by Image beginning in 2003 and writte/created by Robert Kirkman. The movie (and comic) follows the struggles of the last surviving humans in a world full of zombies.
Megamind – Not based on a comic book or graphic novel, just the same Megamind cribs its best ideas and jokes from comic-book source material. Decades of superhero and supervillain mythology (origin stories, motivations, powers) are played for laughs, with varying degrees of success but enough to make Megamind an enjoyable pastiche for the comic-book fan (though perhaps a little more in-jokey for a general audience). Tina Fey‘s is one of the voices. Our Megamind movie review.
Movie trailer – Megamind:
Upcoming comic book movies for 2011: The Green Hornet (Jan 14, Michael Gondry director); Thor (May 6, Kenneth Branagh director); Priest (May 13, Scott Stewart director); X-Men: First Class (June 3, Matthew Vaughn); Green Lantern (June 17, Martin Campbell director); The First Avenger: Captain America (July 22, Joe Johnston director); Cowboys & Aliens (July 29, Jon Favreau).
Also scheduled for a 2011 release: Conan, Deadpool, Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance, Men in Black 3 and Sin City 2.