This week, the theme for Wanderer's Thursday Movie Picks Meme is Superhero films, or films about superheroes. That's pretty self-explanatory. Generally superheroes are characters (often but not always originating from comics) who have extraordinary abilities and use them to fight crime. There are a lot of superhero films to choose from, especially now with the success of Marvel's superhero franchise and the various (so far unsuccessful) attempts by D.C. to compete with them. Now, I figure the Marvel films are too obvious, plus they're all in the same continuity, so I'm going to refrain from including any of those in today's list. Instead I am going to pick some less obvious choices for superhero films.
Tank Girl (1995)
Oh boy, talk about a weird but insanely entertaining film, if only just because of the bizarre directions it goes. I mean, this is a superhero film that even has a spontaneous musical number at one point. The title character is quite possibly the ultimate logical extreme of the "wise-guy" action hero. Say what you will about John McClane, but he at least understood the danger he was in. This girl seems to treat everything like it's a party, even when storming the enemy base. It also has a pre-Mulholland Drive- Naomi Watts as Tank Girl's best friend Jet Girl, and a psychotic Malcom McDowell delivering an over-the-top performance as the villain. It's campy, yes, but one you really should see, if only just because of how insane it can get at times.
Mystery Men (1999)
You wanted superheroes? Well, too bad! All we have are... these guys... and girl. Mystery Men is a film that shows another side to superheros, namely the rejects. This 1999 superhero parody involves a group of superheros who all have the most seemingly useless powers imaginable such as hitting people with a shovel, throwing forks, getting angry, being "mysterious", and being able to turn invisible but only if no one else is looking. They're not so much superheroes as they are superhero wannabes that are not really all that good at fighting crime... except of course they ultimately turn out to be far greater heroes than the one "superhero" who actually gets anything done in this world.
Okay, whether Dredd himself is a superhero is somewhat debatable, but after the disastrous 1995 attempt to film the cult comic book character of Judge Dredd with Sylvestor Stallone in the title role, this attempt makes him work. It's a curious combination of several action movie trends with elements of urban vigilantism, hardbodied action heroes, the buddy cop film, Hong Kong action cinema, and the "Die Hard on an X" formula. There are also some similarities to The Raid but that's total coincidence (they both came out around the same time), and at least this one has two strong female leads, including a female villain which is an unusual touch for a superhero film. It's definitely a great experience and worth the watch.