We all know that Kick-Ass
is going to kick some this weekend at the box office. The characters Kick-Ass, Hit Girl, Big Daddy and Red Mist are destined to become part of the pantheon of unforgettable big-screen superheroes (and you’ll get a sneak peek at your friends’ Halloween costumes this year for no extra charge). Here are 10 other super superhero flicks you should rent before you kick ass at the theater.
Iron Man: If you’ve got Robert Downey Jr. as your titular character, your superhero flick is going to soar. Downey nails the role of brilliant inventor/international playboy Tony Stark, the head of a major military contracting company. He builds a really cool exoskeleton metal suit that allows Stark to fly around and, well, kick ass. See kids, if you have enough money to buy high-tech gadgets, you too can be a superhero. After we see Kick-Ass again, Iron Man 2 is the only superhero film on the brain.
The Dark Knight:
Christopher Nolan’s sequel to Batman Begins
is the highest-grossing superhero film of all time and won Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar for his brilliant portrayal of the Joker. You can make fun of Christian Bale’s guttural growl voice all you want, but it doesn’t detract from the movie’s stunning action sequences and heavy atmosphere. Rent the Blu-ray to see the eye-popping IMAX footage incorporated into the movie.
Spider-Man 2: Director Sam Raimi got everything right in this first sequel to Spider-Man that brings back Tobey Maguire as the web slinger and Kirsten Dunst as his girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson. In this installment, Maguire’s Peter Parker is a conflicted hero who wants to hang up his costume so he can have a normal life, but he can’t because Doctor Octopus’s failed fusion experiment threatens to destroy the whole city. Plus, Peter’s best friend, Harry (James Franco), is hell-bent on finding out Spider-Man’s true identity and killing him to avenge the Green Goblin, Harry’s father. It’s Shakespeare in Spandex.
X2: X-Men United: Director Bryan Singer’s second installment of the X-Men franchise is also the strongest as the X-men and their mutant enemies must unite to stop a genocidal colonel from using the mutant-tracking computer Cerebro to kill all the world’s mutants. Most of the favorites from the first film are back, including Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Ian McKellen as Magneto, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Anna Paquin as Rogue and Famke Janssen as Dr. Jean Grey. Even Halle Berry comes back as Storm, but this time with a better fright-white wig.
Forget about the over-praised “Richard Donner Cut” that kills a lot of the action and recycles the ending from the original Superman
. The theatrical cut of this second Superman
(director Richard Lester finished filming after Donner was removed from the project) is Superman’s most unforgettable adventure as our Kal-El (Christopher Reeve) gives up his super powers to be with Lois Lane (Margot Kidder). Bad timing, though, because three criminals from Superman’s home planet of Krypton have just escaped and have arrived on Earth with the same powers he has. “Kneel before Zod!” Sadly, only the Richard Donner Cut is available on Blu-ray, so the DVD of the original is the way to go.
Watchmen: The movie ruffled the feathers of geeks and split critics, but this ambitious adaptation of the iconic graphic novel about masked vigilantes in an alternate-universe 1985 is an epic superhero film. Be sure to check out the director’s cut on Blu-ray, but no need to watch the Ultimate Cut (that incorporates the entire Tales of the Black Freighter animated story into the film) unless you want to sit on your couch for a week.
Batman Returns: Tim Burton’s second (and final) Batman film introduces Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman—the only cinematic Catwoman that gets us purring (Halle Berry’s later turn as Catwoman is used kitty litter). Pfeiffer’s slinky and dangerous Catwoman is split right down the middle, making her the perfect match for Michael Keaton’s Batman, the Dark Knight of Duplicity.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army:
Fresh off the critical acclaim he received for the fantastical Pan’s Labyrinth
, director Guillermo del Toro returns for the second chapter in his Hellboy
series with a renewed sense of vision. This time Hellboy (Ron Perlman) and pals become immersed in an underworld of bizarre creatures that is surrealist eye candy.
The Incredible Hulk: Director Ang Lee's beautiful little haiku about the angry green guy known as the Hulk had fans scratching their heads when it came out in 2003. Apparently Hulk fans want their not-so-jolly green giant meaner, greener and with more action, which is exactly what they got in this 2008 reboot starring Edward Norton as Dr. Bruce Banner and Liv Tyler as his girlfriend, Betty Ross. Be sure to watch until after the credits for an appearance by Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man's Tony Stark--a big hint that these two super superheroes might team up on the big screen in the future.
The Crow: Star Brandon Lee died making this Gothic superhero movie about a rocker named Eric Draven who is murdered along with his fiancée on the day before their wedding. Draven rises from the dead as the Crow to exact revenge and to create a dark champion for everyone you know who wears black as a second skin.
What's your favorite superhero movie? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.