Comic Book Movies 2008

Last night Beth and I went to see what has got to be the best superhero movie of the year (in a year of relatively good movies in a genre famous for bad ones) and the most visually striking superhero movie ever. It had interesting characters, great action, and almost completely avoided cliché. And unlike The Incredible Hulk or Iron Man, I could not guess where it was going next; and while it didn’t quite surprise me, it at least wasn’t as predictable as a Law & Order episode. It was still basically a summer popcorn flick, but it did border on real darkness, and set up the potential for some genuinely horrifying sequels.

Of course I could only be talking about Hellboy II.

(Yes, I know there was some other big comic book movie opening last night with some dude with ears and a cape, but the lines for that looked a little long. )

I vaguely remember the first Hellboy movie as mildly amusing, but I couldn’t tell you what happened in it or why. But Hellboy II. Wow. This was a stunning movie, especially visually. Guillermo del Toro is to the movies what Julie Taymor is to live theater. The vision and creativity on display in the characters, costumes, and sets and even plot just made it apparent how boring and repetitive most superhero movies are.

Sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book movies have really gotten stuck in a rut for the last 20 years. You’d think CGI would have enabled directors to realize more of their visions, but instead it’s only made clear just how limited those visions are. Superhero comic books have grown by leaps and bounds over the last 20 years (Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Swamp Thing, Powers, The Authority, Sandman) but movies mostly haven’t followed. The special effects are better, but there’s nothing in Superman Returns, Iron Man, or The Incredible Hulk that couldn’t have been written in 1968.

By all means see Hellboy II on the big screen. It deserves it. Don’t worry if you missed the first movie. The sequel stands on its own. But whatever you do, see it.

2 Responses to “Comic Book Movies 2008”

  1. Staci Says:

    Have you seen Dark Knight yet? That one really blew me away. (BTW, I have a ton of stuff from the Hellboy 2 premiere and junket in my blog, if you’re interested in the actors themselves.) I’ll bet you’re looking forward to Watchmen… I am finally reading it, in prep for Comic-Con. Great blog, btw… I’m subscribing to your RSS.

  2. Candace Uhlmeyer Says:

    I happened on your blog when I was searching for stuff on owls and Japan (don’t ask), and am already a committed fan (who probably should be committed). Anyway, I teach in a design school with an animation program, and I’m afraid you’re going to be quoted all next week in my classes–to wit, your remark about the limited vision of many directors, despite the promise of CGI. I haven’t seen Hellboy yet (might wait for the DVD), but I love Guillermo del Toro’s work, and agree whole heartedly with the comparison with Taymor.

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