Full Movies list 2013

Top 10 superhero movies | Film

Spider-ManSpider-Man Photograph: Getty

When Stan Lee came up with the idea for Spider-Man in 1962, the wisecracking web-slinger was a revelation. Here was a callow teenage superhero with the same doubts and foibles as the audiences reading the comic, desperately trying to balance his duties to the people of Manhattan with his studies, chores and need to earn enough pocket money to take Mary Jane out on a Saturday night.

Fittingly, the incredibly successful 2002 film version saw director Sam Raimi transforming what had become a tired and directionless genre with a character-led approach that similarly invited viewers to identify and empathise with its wall-crawling, skyscraper-straddling hero. Suddenly, Batman and Superman felt like distant, statuesque figures representing vague concepts of fearless, epic valour.

As portrayed by goggle-eyed Tobey Maguire, Spider-Man/Peter Parker was defined by a likeable, everyman quality which made his romantic adventures just as tantalising as his battles with the bad guys. Speaking of which, has there ever been a better big screen super-villain that Willem Dafoe's sneering, leering, gurning Green Goblin? This was the movie which, more than any other, ushered in a new era of high-quality, visually spectacular comic book adaptations. BC


It's a measure of how far the Marvel movie has come that its first box-office hit was produced by New Line, a Hollywood-owned indie that specialised in high-end B-movie fare (Nightmare On Elm Street, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Though it foreshadows the later Marvel preoccupation with subplots and digressions – a simple tale of humans versus vampires suddenly drifts into a quest by the latter to raise a "Blood God" called La Magra – Blade is a much darker and violent (though by no means shorter) action thriller when compared to the more shinier, mainstream likes of Thor, Captain America and Iron Man.

Played by Wesley Snipes, immortal vampire hunter Blade channelled the kick-ass likes of Jim Brown (Slaughter) and Fred Williamson (Hammer), while a soundtrack featuring KRS-One, Mobb Deep and Mystikal played right to the urban demographic. Adding to the blaxploitation vibe, the film even has a vein of social comment, with the vampire elite preferring to stay in the shadows and rule by infiltrating the establishment rather than declare all-out war on the human masses.

Christopher Reeve as SupermanAt a time when superhero movies now attract A-list stars, the casting of Snipes, then taking a dip, now seems wilfully bizarre, especially putting him against a swan-diving Stephen Dorff and a doozy of a left-field choice in Kris Kristofferson as Blade's munitions man. But this, like casting camp Warhol legend Udo Kier as a vampire elder, is what gives the film its bite, a reminder of a not-so-distant time when comic-book stories were declassé and underground. Damon Wise

Matthew Vaughn's bombastic and ultra-violent 2010 paean to comic book culture may not have been the first movie to satirise the fanboy worship of superheroes. But in the potty-mouthed, pre-teen form of Chloe Moretz's Hit Girl, a lethal whirling dervish with the ability to slice and dice bad-guys like a butcher cutting up carcasses, the movie easily featured the most outlandish example of a masked vigilante ever seen on the big screen. It is also the film that opened the doors for The Avengers, Joss Whedon's more subtle take on the post-modern comic book caper, with its ability to simultaneously lampoon and celebrate the superhero phenomenon.

Vaughn and Jane Goldman's fiercely contemporary script, chock full of now-dated references to MySpace, gives us protagonists who are at best idiots, at worst brainwashed children. It recognises that attempting to be a "real-life" costumed vigilante is a recipe for rib-cracking, lip-busting disaster. But it is also savvy enough not to completely undermine the genre's most beloved tropes.

X-MEN, Hugh Jackman, James Marsden, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, 2000Kick-Ass may be an ersatz version of Spider-Man, with a rubbish moniker and a costume based on a wetsuit bought from eBay, but he achieves final victory in just as explosive a manner as his genuinely-superpowered forebears. It turns out you don't need laser-vision or super-strength to take down the bad guys after all - just a giant bazooka and balls of steel. BC

While the likes of Batman and Superman, even Spider-Man, tried to go dark and existential and serious, what Joss Whedon seems to be saying with the Avengers is: "Hey folks, it's a comic book movie!" Why take pains to establish the mechanical functionality of, say, a Batmobile? Here's a flying aircraft carrier!

FILM 'BATMAN' BY TIM BURTONGiven the absurdly high stakes of this movie, Marvel were taking a gamble handing it to a renegade like Whedon. It's the climax of possibly the most ambitious multi-movie masterplan ever attempted (after Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, etc). And Whedon's career had been chequered with big hits (Buffy) and prematurely cancelled misses (Firefly). Weighed down with this colossal baggage and expectation, though, Whedon's approach is more like, "let's see what this baby can do." Whedon's masterstroke was to turn the movie's greatest weakness into its strength. Namely, here are a bunch of supremely powerful egotists, how can they possibly work together? That's the problem, and that's the movie, too.

Despite all the CGI bangs and crashes going on around, the real joy of the Avengers is seeing characters we know and love learning to get along (seeing them not get along turns out to be rather fun, too). For some, Mark Ruffalo's Hulk steals the show with his softly, softly, then VERY LOUDLY approach, Tom Hiddleston's Loki is a delectably atypical supervillain. Robert Downey Jr is Hollywood's preeminent deliverer of wisecracks. The list goes on.

The Avengers is so jokily irreverent at times, the movie threatens to capsize entirely, and the plot is so nonsensically crowded it could easily disappear up its own Tesseract. Somehow, though, Whedon keeps it all under control, telling this bloated story with wit, clarity and genuine excitement. It's a mark of great movie-making that you can happily enjoy The Avengers without having seen the previous movies, or caring a jot about the silly names or the Top Trumps superpowers.

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