This summer has been all about superhero movies with Avengers Assemble setting the record for biggest opening weekend and The Dark Knight Rises scooping over $289 million since its release.
The trend of big superhero movies looks set to continue with Thor 2, Iron Man 3 and a Superman reboot, Man of Steel, all coming to our screens in 2013.
With this in mind, we look back at five of the best superhero blockbusters released so far:
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
Director Christopher Nolan built on the gritty realism he had created in 2005’s Batman Begins and raises the tension to breaking point. Christian Bale dons the Batsuit once again to take on the psychotic Joker, and Nolan masterfully switches from big budget action sequences to intense emotional performances.
Heath Ledger steals the show with his mesmerizing portrayal of the Joker, creating one of the most iconic re-interpretations of a character ever seen on screen, and was given a posthumous Oscar for his efforts.
2. Avengers Assemble (2012)
In terms of scope, this film certainly is huge. It combines some of the biggest names in the Marvel universe such as Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Hulk. Director Joss Whedon fairly distributes screen time between all of the superheroes without the film ever feeling overly crowded. The film ties in several already established superheroes; Iron Man, Thor and Captain America had already been brought to the silver screen.
3. Superman (1978)
This is the film that really broke the superhero genre into mainstream movies. It was the second highest grossing film of 1978 and won praise from critics. Earlier adaptations of superheroes to the screen were somewhat less inspiring; think Batman (1966), a film version of the TV series which sees Adam West using a can of shark repellent bat-spray! Superman director Richard Donner and writer Mario Puzo were the first team to take superheroes seriously on the big screen and have therefore shaped the way in which superhero movies have been made ever since. We cannot forget Christopher Reeve who has never been bettered as Clark Kent/Superman.
4. X-Men: First Class (2011)
This movie is a prequel to the X-Men movie series. It brings us back to the early 1960s and shows the foundations on which the X-Men was set up. The real strength in this film is its masterful casting. Michael Fassbender shows us a younger charismatic Magneto while James McEvoy portrays a young Professor Charles Xavier, before he needed a wheelchair and while he still had a full head of hair. Matthew Vaughn returns to the directing seat to begin filming a sequel in 2013 with the release date set for July 2014.
5. Batman (1989)
Director Tim Burton’s dark depressing portrayal of Gotham shocked some fans and critics, as did his choice of Michael Keaton, who was known as a comedy actor, to take on the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.Keaton was revealed to be an inspired choice and Jack Nicholson brought the Joker alive perfectly, staying more loyal to the comic book version of the character than Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. This was the first superhero movie to edge a superhero movie into darker territory and to introduce a sombre tone.
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