§ Nice art: Hellboy comics are unaffected by media adaptations; the character is still a great one and he’ll be around on page and on screen for years to come. Art by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart.
§ I haven’t kibbled in a very long time because I was at the Death March of Cons and also my hand was messed up and it was hard to type. But the cons are over and my hand is almost all better! I still can’t do yoga for another two months, but I can use chopsticks and comb my hair, and that’s what really matters.
§ The Association for Library Service to Children has released its lists of recommended graphic novels for 2019. There are three lists: K-2, 3-5 and 6-8. The lists include “classics as well as new titles that have been widely recommended and well-reviewed, and books that have popular appeal as well as critical acclaim.” So if you want to catch up on the kids comics revolution – or just pick up some books for the kids – this is a great starting point.
§ Everybody is ranking things all the time. Recently my feed came across this 2017 list of The 51 Best Superhero Movies Ever. The list includes Mystery Men so it is solid, although many will find the rankings of pre-Nolan Batman films alarming. And it was before Black Panther.
§ But then there’s this ranking of the Best DC Comics Movies: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, More from usually reliable Vulture. The list is by two folks named Tim Grierson and Will Leitch who do many rankings, but right in the opening I was forced to set my suspicions to “kill.”
So, today, we rank the 31 DC Comics movies. We excluded films made from imprints later purchased by DC Comics, so sorry, Hellboy, Road to Perdition, and A History of Violence: You’re excluded here.
What. The. Fuck. DC never purchased Dark Horse or Mike Mignola so they have nothing to so with Hellboy? Also Road to Perdition and A History of Violence were both published by Paradox Press, an imprint wholly founded and run for the entirety of its existence by DC Comics. Were the fact checker literally out to lunch the day this was written?
With such a flimsy lead in, I was not predisposed to like this like this list. The list itself is also a hodge podge, going Shroedinger on the cake by trying to have it both ways. The list includes the notable animated films Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and The Killing Joke but not the dozens of other DC animated films such as Son of Batman and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. Wikipedia tells us there are 34 original animated DC films, so I guess these guys just didn’t have time to watch them all. Throne of Atlantis, I knew you once.
To be fair, the DC Cinematic Universe is a loosely aligned scrapbook cabinet of different visions and characters. Anyone trying to make a list has a lot more to take in than the relative uniformity of the MCU which makes ranking the films so fun and easy. And there is one thing about the Grierson/Leitch ranking atht I secretly do like: they give Superman II its due!
2. Superman II (1980) In the annals of big-budget rescue jobs, Superman II is high on the list of success stories. Initially meant to be filmed simultaneously with the first installment, the sequel faced internal battles, forcing initial director Richard Donner to be booted from the project. Enter Richard Lester, who had to take over the movie, as well as reshoot already existing material. Remarkably, Superman II shows little sign of its difficult birth. Here’s where Supes declares his love for Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), who comes to discover his true identity. It’s also the film that let the fearsome Zod (Terence Stamp), who was briefly shown alongside his evil chums in the 1978 original, strut his stuff. Inconceivably, Superman II is even more thrilling and stirring, not to mention touching and romantic, than its predecessor.
Superman I director Richard Donner was mentor to both Kevin Feige and Geoff Johns, and he’s rightly revered for giving the world the very first superhero movie that didn’t smirk at the subject matter, so he’s usually spoekn of in hushed and respectful tones. Thus it is that Superman II is generally not mentioned in polite company, since Donner was fired from it. But, true confessions, as a kid I found Richard Lester’s comedic take so much more fun. Plus it had “Kneel before Zod!” and Sarah Douglas’s Ursa, as close to an ass kicking lady as you could get in those days.
Lester also made the Three Musketeer series that mixed swinging 70s humor with dashing swordplay, the same crowd pleasing brew that he bought to this film. Sadly, he also made that Richard Pryer Superman movie, and his career drifted apart soon after.
A “Donner Cut” of Superman II actually exists – I haven’t seen it so perhaps something to put on my to do list for next winter’s rewatch season.
Anyway, there aren’t that many DC movie rankings out there for the reasons I’ve outlined above, but if you’re going to do one, at least include A History of Violence! It’s a really good movie.