Being a huge comic book fanboy, I am rewatching every comic book “superhero” film from 2008 until 2017 to mark the decade since Marvel Studios took the genre to new heights. We are not limiting it within the MCU and DCEU. We added films that have enough elements of being in a superhero film setting: its own intrinsic fantasy world or “alternate reality”, humanly impossible action sequences, and characters who possess near-superhuman or supernatural abilities.” We see how these films have endured the test of time in comparison today’s lofty standards. Here’s how 2012 stacked up:
5. The Amazing Spider-Man
Yawn, the Spider-Man remake nobody really asked for but got anyway. It’s a shame because Andrew Garfield, who plays the webhead was a good cast and so was Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. Garfield and Stone had great chemistry and he captured Peter’s smug qualities well but couldn’t quite make him as vulnerable or goofy as Tobey Maguire could. Going through the origin story again wasn’t as fun and making it darker and grittier with a backstory to Peter’s parents didn’t help.
Had the movie come out instead of Sam Raimi’s, it could’ve been revolutionary stuff. The action sequences were on par if not better than Raimi’s and the strong cast and chemistry made it highly entertaining but everything just felt so unnecessary and uninspired. It didn’t offer anything new to the genre and felt like a blatant money grab. ★★
4. Men in Black 3
Little known fact: Men in Black is based off a comic book series published by Marvel and Malibu Comics. This one comes a full decade after the subpar first sequel, Men in Black II in 2002. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return to reprise their roles as Agent J and K, respectively. New addition Josh Brolin plays a younger K. After the dud the second movie was, expectations were low here and it exceeded them but it’s still just another run-of-the-mill blockbuster.
The story again deals with the mysterious K’s past as J must travel back in time not only to save him but the entire galaxy. It’s another off the recycle bin of Hollywood action sci-fi movies but thanks to the great chemistry between Smith and both Jones and Brolin it manages to not only be funny but also has a good share of heartfelt moments. ★★☆
3. The Avengers
Rating the Avengers today is hard. If considering its cultural impact and the standard it raised for the genre, it is near perfect but considering the dozens of epic superhero blockbusters, some of which are better, it isn’t a classic. Director Joss Whedon pieced together Marvel’s most iconic heroes in a script that gave each a chance to shine while telling a cohesive narrative that works as both a stand-alone film or a piece in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Avengers combines fantasy and science fiction and sets it in the modern world. Marvel's trademark down-to-earth humour blended with supernatural elements is on full blast. Easter eggs are aplenty with nicely mixed action sequences with iconic team-ups straight out of a comic book. Avengers is plain good entertainment and a landmark in the genre but lacks that distinct identity to set it apart from the plethora of superhero flicks. ★★★☆
2. The Dark Knight Rises
It wasn’t the near-masterpiece The Dark Knight was but the final film from Christopher Nolan’s renowned Batman trilogy is just as gripping despite not being able to fill the void left by Heath Ledger’s Joker. The film takes place eight years after the second film. Bruce Wayne has retired as Batman but must put the cape and cowl back on after the reemergence of the League of Assassins led by the sinister Bane (Tom Hardy). Catwoman debuts and Anne Hathaway gives some much-needed credibility back to the character.
The Hollywood-esque ending that seems a bit too idyllic given the film’s tone still leaves many questioning it, a trademark from Nolan. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake is a “Gary Stew” and plot holes are plenty but overall, the film’s mature take on guilt and redemption, and a thrilling final act help deliver a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. ★★★★
Dredd has the most to offer for the oversaturated genre right now. Is it a better movie than The Dark Knight Rises in terms of general movie standards? No. But in terms of being a comic book movie, it has more to offer. Staying true to the source material, Dredd delivers an ultraviolent work of art that isn’t for the squeamish. Its outdated concept of a Dystopian future paired with cardboard characters an overly simplified plot will offend many but it stays true to the source material.
Karl Urban plays the titular character with old school western grit while a charismatic Lena Headey is Dredd’s counterpart, mob boss Ma-Ma, who traps Dredd and his trainee, Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) in a gang fortress. A similar concept to The Raid, Dredd and Anderson shoot their way through 80 minutes of dazzling visuals and furious action that will satisfy even the hardcore’s craving. Dredd is unapologetically true to itself. ★★★★