28 October 2006

Superheroes on Screen - Retrospective 2000

Following in the tradition of retrospectives past, behold, I bring you the superheroes on screen in 2000.


January brought the sequel no one asked for, The Crow: Salvation AKA The Crow 3 (There was also a short lived Canadian Television show The Crow: Stairway to Heaven in 1998 between Crows 2 & 3). This direct to video title stared current MJ, Kirsten Dunst, though she didn't get to be the one with the smeared mascara make-up. I am not sure how well this video sold, but there must have been some demand as The Crow: Wicked Prayer would follow in 2005. It seems those crows really are tough to kill.

In July, X-Men opened and rounded up an impressive $157 million box office, ushering in the current wave of comic book movies. Adapting the X-Men into a film had proven difficult, but director Bryan Singer was able to pull it off by focusing on a few of the most recognizable mutants. While Magneto and Mystique were good choices for villains, Toad and Sabretooth turned out to be fairly lame. This film is pretty good, but nowhere near as good as its sequel, which was given adequate time for all the characters involved. Also notable is that this movie has one of the worst lines of all time, "Do you know what happens to a toad when it's struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else." ZAP!

It is amazing that the X-Men series has proven so profitable for Fox, as they have never given it much respect. Everyone knows that X3 suffered from rushed production and last minute director changes, but so did the original X-Men. The film was to be a holiday release in 2000, but production was rushed for a July release date after Minority Report was pushed back. I just wonder how good this trilogy could have been if it had been treated as more than just a cash cow.

In November, M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable, the anticipated follow-up to The Sixth Sense, opened. The film introduced comic book heroes and villains to a real world setting while maintaining the fantastic elements as well. Samuel Jackson's Mr. Glass is an awesome character, worthy of a seat next to Lex Luthor in the Legion of Doom. Bruce Willis's character is flawed, but proves to have a hero's heart. In my opinion, this is M. Night's best film, but movie goers looking too hard for big twists after the Sixth Sense were underwhelemed. In the end, Unbreakable still banked $95 million, a fair enough take. The new show Heroes seems to have taken a page out of Unbreakable's book with a similar treatment of flawed heroes in the real world. With the early success of Heroes, maybe the time is right for Unbreakable to be revisited. Originally, the idea was to make a trilogy of films with Mr Glass and David Dunn facing off in the final part. Hopefully, some day that showdown will be seen.

December brought forth a true gem, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. This direct-to-video release set in the Batman Beyond world featured a number of flashbacks to the time period of The New Batman Adventures when little Tim Drake was Robin. The film is very well done, and finds a way to bring back that pesky Joker for one last tale. This film was also a bit controversial as the original PG-13 cut was deemed too violent by WB suits. The film was edited down and softened up, but eventually (thanks to fan outcries) both cuts were released. I highly recommend the unedited cut for maximum entertainment.

2000 also brought 2 new animated series: Static Shock and X-Men: Evolution.

Static Shock was based on the Milestone Comic's character of the same name. Static AKA Virgil Ovid Hawkins an African American high school student in the fictional city of Dakota gained the power to manipulate electromagnetism after exposure to a mutagen. Others were exposed as well gained various powers, and came to be known as bang babies, most of which needed to be dealt with by Mr. Shock and his buddy Gear. Throughout the 52 episode run, there were a number of crossovers with DC characters including Batman, Superman, the Green Lantern, and the Justice League.

X-Men Evolution took the lead from X-Men the movie and reimagined many of the characters as teens in a mutant high school. In this continuity, Cyclops, Jean, Nightcrawler, Rogue, and Spyke went to school, and Wolverine and Storm were the grown-ups. As the series continued, a whole slew of X-Men were added to the cast building to an epic showdown with Apocalypse. While the show started slow, it really delivered by the end of its 52 episode run.

Previous Retrospectives

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