It’s superhero movie season. But then again, what time of year isn’t these days? As we brace ourselves for the release of Zach Snyder’s Justice League next week, we’re looking back at the movie which was supposed to kick of Warner Brothers’ slate of DC Comics-based movies. Marvel makes it look easy with the success of their Cinematic Universe. But Green Lantern reminds us of everything that can (and did) go wrong.
As headliners today, we feature directors who have in common that each of them was responsible for bringing a pre-MCU version of a Marvel superhero to the big screen.
Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee celebrates his 63rd today. After his service in the Taiwanese navy, he studied theater at the University of Illinois, and then earned a master’s in film at NYU, where one of his classmates was Spike Lee (no relation—but you knew that 😉 ). Although his master’s thesis film was highly praised, it took several years before he had the chance to direct. In 1990, he won a contest for screenplays sponsored by the Taiwanese government, and as a result was able to make the three films that are informally known as the “Father Knows Best” Trilogy.
In between the second and third of those films, Lee made his Hollywood debut in 1995, directing an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility which starred Emma Thompson. Later in the 1990s he returned to the US to make The Ice Storm and Ride With the Devil, both critical but not commercial successes. He capped the decade by making one of his most famous films, the wuxia action drama Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which won several Oscars, including Best Foreign Language Film, and was nominated for Best Picture.
The X-Men franchise, with its wiggly continuity, spin-offs, reboots and cross-overs, is an odd duck. Perhaps that’s appropriate for a series of movies about mutants. Over the last several years, the series has certainly mutated in some unexpected ways. Seventeen years ago, who would have expected movies like Deadpool or Logan would ever get made? With the latter representing Hugh Jackman’s final performance as Wolverine, Jeffthewildman marked the occasion by ranking all ten of the X-Men movies from Worst to First. Of course we wanted to hear from you readers as well. Let’s see how readers ranked the X-Men movies.
Hugh Jackman hung up his claws earlier this year with his final performance as Wolverine in Logan. The ending of the Jackman-as-Wolvie era got me to thinking about the X-Men movies on the whole. How do they rank when you stack em all up together?
Here, as opposed to other series tackled in the Worst To First series, the overall quality is somewhat higher. When you add together the 10 X-Men movies , 6 are very good, two are passable and the other two are a toss-up as to which is worse. Here, we will sort out the good mutants from the bad and the ugly. And of course, you will get to share your rankings as well.
Ryan Reynolds is turning 40 today. His first acting job was in a Canadian TV series called Hillside (renamed Fifteen in the US). American audiences got to know him in the sitcom Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place (the pizza place was dropped from the show, and the title, after two seasons), where he played one of the leads.
Reynolds first lead role in a film was in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, a critical flop but a modest financial success given its small budget; the remake of The Amityville Horror was much the same story, with somewhat bigger numbers across the board. He also began to find a niche in romantic comedy:
The original Blade came along at a time when comic book movies were deemed “too risky”. The year before, a hat trick of comic-based failure consisting of Batman and Robin, Steel and Spawn all struck out at the box office. Marvel movies weren’t cool yet, so the first Blade was sold as a low-budget vampire movie rather than the adaptation of a comic book. Blade was a decent enough hit to generate two sequels and a TV series. Writer-director David Goyer clearly had plans to carry on the Blade franchise. In fact he seemed to be using the third Blade movie to set up a series of spin-offs. But instead, Blade: Trinity killed the series and ended up with everyone embroiled in a bitter lawsuit.
When Green Lantern hit the big screen this past summer, it was savaged by critics. So much so, that this super hero fan gave the movie a pass at the box office. Most fans I’ve talked to liked the movie better than the negative reviews would suggest. When I finally watched Green Lantern for myself, I wondered whether I would agree with the critical consensus or the general public. Now that I have seen it, I can weigh in that both groups are right.