5 Superhero Movies That Are Only Worth It For One Scene
Bad superhero films are a treasure. Not only does one make you disappointed with Hollywood for creating a bad movie, but it also makes you doubly frustrated because they're messing up something that you know is good in comic book form. However, we shouldn't write off a bad superhero movie immediately. Upon closer examination, these terrible films can contain little glimpses of promise -- little glimpses that make you say "This might be a secret masterpiece." Or at least, "This doesn't suck every poop."
Batman & Robin -- The Criminal Property Locker
In the annals of bad superhero films, Batman & Robin stands alone. It isn't a "Well, maybe it's not THAT bad" film like Superman Returns or Spider-Man 3. It isn't a "I'll forget the plot of this before I even leave the theater" film like X-Men: The Last Stand or Daredevil. It isn't a "That's a damn shame" film like Superman IV: The Quest For Peace or Robocop 2. And it isn't a "If there is a God, they wouldn't let this happen" film like Catwoman or Spawn. Instead, it's a film that somehow gets both more amazingly terrible and more inexplicably enjoyable with time. I hate it and I love it in equal measure, and years after I'm dead, researchers will discover my skeleton clinging to a VHS copy of it, like Quasimodo and Esmeralda at the end of Hunchback Of Notre Dame.
But the movie does have one extremely cool split second. Now, there is a well-known Easter egg in Batman & Robin: When Bane and Poison Ivy are breaking Mr. Freeze out of Arkham Asylum, you get a glimpse of the "Criminal Property Locker." And in the locker are the costumes of the Riddler and Two-Face from Batman Forever. That's kind of neat -- though since Two-Face died by falling into a spiky underwater pit, it does imply that some poor Arkham intern had to dry-clean and sew his fucking suit back together.
But the rest of the stuff in the room implies that when the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman wasn't eviscerating clowns or neon terrorists, he was still pretty busy. Beside the Riddler's suit is a doll, so at some point, was Val Kilmer punching the shit out of B-list villain Toyman? Or is that the work of the Dollmaker, a guy who made dolls out of his victims' skin? Is that dude still in Arkham? It's unlikely, considering that Michael Keaton's Batman was one part hero and nine parts sadist, and probably attached a bomb to Dollmaker and peed on him a little bit before even learning his name. But still, the scene adds history to a series that seemed to be mostly about Batman sitting around in his office, waiting for crime to happen.
And then, on the right side, we see a pair of boxing gloves. So good luck, guy who was using those. I'm sure your career as Two-Punch Man was really hitting its peak just before Michael Keaton ripped your intestines out through your eye holes.
But the most interesting part is the big mechanical suit that we see, and on first glance, you'd probably assume that it's Mr. Freeze's suit, since that's what Poison Ivy broke into the locker to get. But Mr. Freeze's suit looks nothing like that. So either Mr. Freeze has been fighting Batman and Robin for so long that he's had to upgrade his technology in order to keep his chilly ass un-kicked, or it belongs to another mech-suited villain. The pyromaniac Firefly, maybe? That would be so awesome, and now I'm so pissed that I never got to see Val Kilmer stare expressionless around a bug man with a flamethrower. What were you even good for if you couldn't give us that, the '90s?
Judge Dredd -- The Angel Gang
Judge Dredd came out in 1995, when we were still trying to figure out whether superhero movies were going to be a thing. Sure, Superman and Batman had been pretty successful, but was there hope for anyone else? The answer to that was "Not yet," as proven by the lackluster Judge Dredd, which featured Sylvester Stallone. I know that we're all currently pretty high on Stallone after Creed, but between Rocky IV and Rocky Balboa, he was having a rough time being in any movie that someone could honestly call good. At his best, he was in films like Demolition Man -- or as my dad would call it, Daniel, we need to talk.
Judge Dredd has sweet set design, but other than that, it's a lot of Stallone and Armand Assante shouting at side characters who are too useless to be given their own shouting dialogue. The only time it really perks up is when Stallone and his little buddy Rob Schneider get captured in the wastelands by the Angel Gang. The Angel Gang are cannibals, and their role in the movie almost feels like Judge Dredd DLC. But during the gang's brief vacation in your eyeballs, Judge Dredd ceases to be a humdrum exploration into the beauty of shoulder pads, and starts feeling special.
There are plenty of movies wherein superheroes fight random gangs. There are just as many superhero movies where the hero is forced to fight a guy who could've been a hero, but instead went evil. But there are very few superhero films in which the hero has to tangle with the cast of The Hills Have Eyes. The Angel Gang is a bunch of wild cards. They don't want to build a city-sinking torpedo or open up a portal to release an ancient evil whatever; they just want to snack on you a little bit. They won't say any clever lines or reveal any master plans. At most, they'll maybe give you a recipe for you, medium-rare.
Sadly, their stay is brief, because Stallone soon escapes and jams an electrical wire into the head of most monosyllabic among them. Of course, the mutant does get to say, "You killed my Pa," so it's not a total waste.
Blade: Trinity -- The Human Farm
Throughout the Blade series, characters are constantly mentioning the fact that the vampire universe is bigger than you know. Sure, you think we live in a world of humans and puppy dogs and hit singles from Evanescence, but underneath it all, there's a society of vampires. And when that society decides to rule the world, Blade will ... take them out pretty easily, actually. For a race that's apparently thiiiiis close to dominating the world, they sure seem to be divided into easily spin-kicked pockets.
Blade: Trinity is the worst Blade film. The best thing about Blade and Blade 2 is that they feel inventive and fresh. You're getting things from them that you wouldn't get from a Spider-Man or X-Men film -- namely, Wesley Snipes cursing and reducing screeching henchmen to ashes. It's why they're two of my favorite superhero films. On the other hand, Blade: Trinity features boring-ass Dracula and his something or another quest to vaguely rule the world. After years of tackling rave mutants and goth Nosferatus, Blade's final fight is with a bad Witcher cosplayer.
Luckily, we do get one scene that feels like it came out of the earlier films. Blade finds a human farm, where a bunch of comatose people are vacuum-sealed into big Ziploc bags and used as a constant source of vampire food. It's super creepy, and when Blade gets told that they're all brain-dead, he shuts the whole thing down with barely a second thought or a quietly growled "motherfucker."
It also gives the movie (and the series) a sense of grand scale that it had been lacking. Oh, THIS is what the vampires were hyping up when they were jabbering on about their big vampire plans. Well, I apologize for not paying more attention, emo ghouls. My bad. My bad.
X-Men: Apocalypse -- Wolverine's Introduction
Before Logan, we only got tastes of Wolverine's full potential as a fighter. One taste was in X2, when he has to defend Xavier's School for Kool Kidz and Cyclops from William Stryker's men. But the best pre-Logan scene of Wolverine grinding his way through bad guys in order to level up for the final boss was in X-Men: Apocalypse. Wolverine appears for only a few minutes in this movie, and he looks like an absolute monster.
Imagine you're a security guard for some mutant research project. You don't really worry about those mutants escaping, because why would you? They're usually sedated and subdued, and if they did start waking up, there's a whole room full of guys with heavy firearms who would blow them away. Then one day, you're eatin' a microwavable chicken pot pie and thinking about your novel when you hear "Weapon X is loose." You know, the most dangerous experiment in a whole building full of dangerous experiments. Will the gun they've given you work against someone with adamantium claws and, if the rumors you heard are true, healing powers? Maybe.
That's the feeling you get during the scene in which Wolverine escapes: pure, pee-your-pants, "Oh my god, I was not properly trained for this" terror. Sure, Logan has a lot of scenes where he cuts his way through dudes, but that movie frames it as action, while this turns Wolverine into a slasher villain. It doesn't hurt that the scene ends with a splash of blood coming from offscreen, which is slasher movie code for "Daaaammmnnn."
The rest of the movie is pretty subpar. The X-Men's most powerful villain, Apocalypse, is handled so poorly that you just wish Magneto could be the main bad guy for the fourth time. But I guess it's to be expected that the best part of an X-Men film would include Hugh Jackman. Oh, Hugh. Was it something I said? Please come back.
Batman v. Superman -- The Warehouse Fight
Batman v. Superman didn't give us a lot of what I would call "iconic" Batman moments. At one point, he does ask Superman, "Do you bleed?" and that's pretty cool. But then Superman flies off because he has more important things to do than to lightly argue with some billionaire manchild, leaving Batman just standing there. So what does Batman do? He says, "You will," and TOTALLY WINS THAT CONVERSATION. You sure got him, dude helplessly standing in the wreckage of his super car. I'm sure the shower argument that you had by yourself later was full of similar zingers. "DO YOU BLEED? WELL, I BET YOU DO. AND THEN I'D FUCKING PUNCH HIM LIKE THIS, AND SUPERMAN WOULD BE ALL LIKE, 'NO, PLEASE, STOP, BATMAN. I BET YOUR PENIS DOESN'T EVEN SLIGHTLY CURVE TO THE LEFT.' AND I'D BE ALL LIKE BAM. POW. SHUT UP."
On a more positive note, Batman v. Superman does have one awesome scene: the warehouse fight. Now, before I get into why this part is so great, I do have to say that a lot of it has to do with the critically acclaimed Batman: Arkham games, which make every other Batman fight scene in every other medium look like a slap fight among friends. In the Arkham games, you can sneak up behind a dude, choke him out, zip up to a gargoyle, fly over and drop-kick a man's torso off his body, zip back up to another gargoyle, tie a guy up to said gargoyle, throw a smoke pellet, hit a thug with an electric shock gun, choke out another dude, and then run up to the last dude as he fills you with bullets and hope that your body armor holds up for long enough so that Batman can someday wear the man's skull as a shoe.
That's the kind of thing that we got in the Batman v. Superman warehouse scene, during which Batman goes back and forth, rearranging an entire gang's internal organs using everything in his disposal. Here are a few highlights:
- A guy comes into the room brandishing a grenade, so Batman kicks a guy he already has hanging from the ceiling into the grenade man.
- Batman Rock Bottoms a dude into the floor -- a technique most assuredly taught to him by Ra's al Ghul when Batman trained with all of those ninjas. "You must learn to conquer your fear, Bruce," I remember Ra's saying in Batman Begins. "CONQUER IT WITH THE PEOPLE'S ELBOW."
- Batman uses his grappling hook gun thing to sling a box into a guy, and the guy gets hit so hard that he flies into a wall and the back of his goddamn head apparently comes off.
There are a lot of people who have a problem with Batman committing murder, but since my favorite superhero film is Batman Returns, I don't think it's that big of a deal. At the very least, it gave us a chance to experience an Arkham City level on the big screen, narrated entirely by Ben Affleck's grunts.
Daniel has a Twitter. Go to it. Enjoy yourself. Kick your boots off and stay for a while.
Live long enough to see yourself become the villain with your own Batman Utility Belt!
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