Heroic Films of 2011
Every year seems to be a good year for movies (unless you count 2006, which produced Superman Returns and Eragon, two of the worst films I have ever seen, but oh well). 2011 is no exception. Some very good films came out this year, especially ones regarding superheroes. I know it seems kinda weird to jump right into a hero blog right after I just did one, but I don't care. I wanna do another one anyway. So, here we go.
MOVIE: Green Hornet
WHY: The Green Hornet is a superhero/vigilante-type film based off the old radio and TV show, but it was good and is one of the funnier movies I have seen. Here's the story. Seth Rogen plays Brit Reid, the son of a recently-died billionaire (okay, how many heroes are the kids of dead rich people? Haven't we used this one up by now?) who's living the good life. He's got it all. However, with his dad dead, he inherits his newspaper company. Sadly, his city is one full of crime (yet another superhero stereotype, but the hero gig never seemed to work in peaceful cities), and he plans on doing something about it. With his sidekick Kato, the Green Hornet bursts onto the scene, battling crime and trying to take down a lethal mob boss who does not flinch from killing whoever gets in his way. Pretending to be a villain, the Green Hornet wants to smoke out his enemies and take them down. What's funny about this movie is the whole fact that the Green Hornet is, well, kinda a lousy hero. Kato is really the dude who does all the crime-busting. However, there is always the chance he gets better...What makes this movie good is, first of all, the humor. There are some pretty funny scenes and lines in this film, including a scene where Kato and the Hornet demolish the Hornet's living room during a spat. Also, I am a sucker for superhero stories. I don't recall a hero movie I didn't like (okay, I do...Superman Returns). The Green Hornet is a fun movie, which is really odd in the superhero genre. There are some funny hero movies, but most of them are serious. I guess that contributes to why the Green Hornet is good.
MOVIE: Green Lantern
WHY: Same color, different hero. The Green Lantern shares little in common with the Green Hornet, other than the fact that he is the least likely guy you'd expect to be a superhero. Hal Jordan is a pilot. He really likes to fly. He's also a risk taker, daredevil dude. Normally, we see heroes as conservative and perhaps even methodical. Hal's more the compulsive type. Maybe these are the some of the qualities that make him the perfect host for the ring. No, not the Lord of the Rings ring. The Green Lantern ring. And how does he get it? First, a bit of back-story. There's not one Green Lantern. There's a whole bunch of them who belong to this Green Lantern Corps, run by these Smurf-colored dudes called the Guardians. They're basically space cops, and the rings they wear have the power of will. Well, there's also another power they tried to tap into. The yellow power: Fear. However, this wasn't seen as a good thing, so the Guardians decided using it was a no-no. However, one of their members was so into the idea that he allowed himself to be taken over by the yellow power and became a energy-vampire monster called Parallax. Imprisoned for a long time, Parallax broke free and went after the Lantern who arrested him: Abin Sur. Abin Sur escapes, but crashes to earth. Dying, he makes his ring select one who is worthy to wield it. Guess who that is? Hal Jordan is now the Green Lantern of our sector. That means he has enemies, one of them being Hector Hammond, a scientist who inspected the dead body of Abin Sur. A bit of Parallax was on Sur's corpse and infected Hammond, making him a super villain with a big head who wants Hal's girlfriend, Carol Ferris. So now Green Lantern has to contend with both the big-headed dude and Parallax, who's coming to earth. While I'm not a huge DC fan (unless it's Batman), Green Lantern was still a fun, sci-fi hero film full of action and really cool graphics.
MOVIE: X-Men: First Class
WHY: Unlike Green Hornet and Green Lantern, First Class was done by that amazing, fantastic, and uncanny comics group known as Marvel. Marvel has done other X-Men movies before, but this one goes back into the past of many mutants, including Professor X and Magneto, two men who are, in the present, mortal enemies. Welcome to the Cold War. Mutant Sebestian Shaw has been working with Russia to make war on America. Well, certain people don't want that to happen. The government pulls together a group of mutants, including Charles Xavier (Professor X, who has telepathic powers), Eric Lensherr (Magneto, who controls mental), Raven Darkholme (Mystique, a shape-shifter), Hank McCoy (the Beast, who has huge hands and feet for super agility and climbing), Alex Summers (Havok, who shoots energy), Darwin (who can evolve in order to adapt to his surroundings), and Angel (who can fly). This group trains to battle Shaw and his own band of mutants. Unfortunately, Erik remembers Shaw from his past, and swears to stop at nothing to kill him. Not really a team player, Erik promises that not even Charles will stand in his way, despite Charles' protests. What happens could alter the course of their friendship, and the rest of human and mutantkind, forever. A good story with plenty of action, First Class gives a good look at various different mutants who haven't had their chance to be in the spotlight in previous films.
WHY: Why? The guy looks like Heath Ledger. Nuff said. No, there's more to it than that. Thor is a Norse god, one of the sons of the All-Father Odin. He's the God of Thunder, and his short fuse and violent temper make than moniker appropriate. With his hammer Mjolnir, he's ready to bash anyone over the head. When Frost Giants from the realm of Jotunheim (which I think is pronounced with a "y" instead of a "j") sneak into Asgard to steal a relic of importance, Thor seeks revenge. Against his father's wishes, he takes a band of friends and goes to the Frost Giants' realm, demanding retribution from their king, Laufey. in the end, chaos erupts, and Thor's temper gets the best of him until Odin comes and takes him and his friends. Odin is not one happy All-Father. For his disobedience, Thor is stripped of his armor, powers, and hammer, and is banished to earth. There, he makes friends with Jane Foster and her companions, while trying to find a way to get his hammer back, which is now in custody of (who else?) the United States government, who are trying to figure out why a hammer has landed in the middle of New Mexico. But getting it won't be easy. Thor must prove he is worthy to wield it before he can use it. Meanwhile, back in Asgard, Odin has fallen into one of his occassional "Odin Sleeps," and his other son Loki takes the throne. Turns out, Loki is actually a Frost Giant himself, adopted out of Odin's compassion. Odin knew this, but Loki has only figured it out recently. Loki sets up a plan to prove to Asgard (and his father) that he is more than some Frost Giant spawn and Thor's inferior. And unless Thor can somehow intervene, Loki may win. But that's pretty hard to do when a giant mystical robot from Asgard is trying to kill you and you're without your magic hammer. Thor's had better days, I'm sure. Full of the same action which characterizies all Marvel movies, Thor is always unique due to the magical quality it posesses. It isn't Disney magic, but Marvel still pulls it off just fine...Heath Ledger would've been a better Thor, though.
MOVIE: Captain America: The First Avenger
WHY: This is the third movie put out by Marvel this year. You may recognize the actor who plays Steve Rogers. He's also the guy who plays the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four films. Like in First Class, this movie takes place during a war. World War II, to be exact. Steve Rogers wants to join the army. There's only one problem. He's a little on the small side. Not really soldier material. Fortunately for him, he runs into a Doctor Erksine, a scientist who has recently concocted a Super Soldier serum (say that five times fast). Steve become a guinea pig for the serum, which leaves him bigger and more muscular. Sadly, Doctor Erksine is killed before he can enjoy his success, but Steve avenges him (Oh! Marvel pun!). Steve becomes Captain America and goes around the country as a performer in a show to raise money for the war effort. Huh? This guy's a superhero? Oh, the heroics will begin soon. One night, Cap hears that a bunch of soldiers are being held prisoner at an army base. He goes off to rescue them, meeting two enemies in the process. One is the scientist Armin Zola. But he's not the major threat...Cap also comes face-to-face with the man who will be his archnemisis: Johann Schmidt, the Red Skull, who, uh, has a red skull. Nothing obvious there. Now a full-fledged war hero, Cap finally joins the good fight as he tries to bring down the Red Skull before the Nazi antagonist can unleash a plan of catastrophic proportions. This movie is different from other Marvel films in the respect that it drifts away from America and, more specifically, New York City, which is a veritable breeding ground for Marvel superheroes. Cap fights his foes in Europe, which gives the movies an interesting feel. As always, Marvel pushes the bar for action. Now, all we have to do is wait until next year...when Cap and Thor will join forces with other heroes to become the Avengers (totally have a blog for next year!)
I think that, as long as people take interest in them, superheroes will be the subject of many more movies in the years to come. I love superhero movies, whether they're funny or serious. I can't wait for next year, and for further years that will bring the stars of the comic book onto the big screen.