Which Superhero Won the Summer?
Summer 2011 brought us a ton a superheroes but with the release of Captain America: The First Avenger this weekend we find ourselves without any more superhero films to look forward to until next summer. So which was the best movie? Which one has the best hero? The best villain? Just to be clear the movies I am talking about are Thor, X-men: First Class, Green Lantern, and Captain America: The First Avenger. In this feature I am going to dissect these things and more to figure out which movie was truly the most super of them all.
Best Origin: For better or worse, all four of the superhero movies this summer featured an origin for its main character(s). Thor saw the title character being banished to Earth to gain respect for his powers. Ryan Reynolds played arrogant fighter pilot Hal Jordan who came a across a dying alien that chose him for the Green Lantern Corps. in Green Lantern. X-men: First Class brought together Charles Xavier and Magneto for the first time with other characters like Mystique and Beast getting origins as well. Captain America had Steve Rogers being chosen for the Super Soldier Serum and going from skinny nobody to superhero in a matter of minutes.
Winner: Magneto from X-men: First Class. Michael Fassbender played the future villain wonderfully. This origin involved some badass Nazi hunting and a wonderful friendship with future rival Charles Xavier. The transition into Magneto feels justified and never forced. We sympathize with him but more importantly we understand his choices to betray his friend.
Best Action: Superhero movies are first and foremost action movies. Thor featured a spectacular battle early on with the Frost Giants, but the rest of the film failed to deliver the same sense of spectacle. X-men: First Class has very little action up until the incredible Cuban Missile Crisis finale. Green Lantern had quite a bit of good action particularly the finale next to the sun. Captain America featured a lot of impressive action throughout.
Winner: Captain America: The First Avenger. There are tons of scenes I want to reference here. The zip line to the train. The motorcycle chase through the woods. The final confrontation with Red Skull. All of it was well done and did not feel choreographed at all while paying homage to other classic action sequences in films such as Raider of the Lost Ark and Star Wars.
Best Visual Style: Here is something that all four films really excelled in. Thor brought the beautiful Asgard to life. X-men First Class was beautifully filmed while looking and feeling like the 1960s. The space sequences in Green Lantern were wonderful. Captain America had a unique take on the World War 2 era while having great looking sets and props.
Winner: Thor. Asgard was too gorgeous to ignore. The costumes and props of all the Asgardians looked great too. The film was also artfully shot and had some spectacular set pieces. But there was nothing like the sweeping shot over Asgard the first time we see it in any of the other superhero movies this summer.
Best Love Interest: Like James Bond, its pretty much a rule that every superhero must have a love interest. Natalie Portman was her usual cute self in Thor but their relationship wasn’t always believable and lacked the chemistry of other great superhero loves. First Class featured the fascinating Mystique as a love interest for both Beast and Magneto. It also featured Rose Byrne as a CIA agent who has the hots for Xavier, but in a film with a lot of other things going on their connection fell flat. I’m not even going to get into how terrible Blake Lively was in Green Lantern. Hayley Atwell and Chris Evans had surprisingly great chemistry in Captain America.
Winner: Mystique in X-men: First Class. Jennifer Lawrence excelled in the only real love triangle in any of the superhero films this summer. Her end choice between Beast and Magneto felt justified and true. First Class was a busy movie yet managed to build up Mystique greatly for a terrific payoff.
Best Villain: Every hero needs a villain and comic books have delivered some of the best pop culture has to offer. Thor’s evil brother Loki was well written, but Tom Hiddleston struggles with the role. X-men: First Class has several throwaway villains used just for their powers. However Kevin Bacon and January Jones delivered as Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost. Peter Sarsgaard was laughable in Green Lantern, but the CGI creation of Parallax was pretty well done. Hugo Weaving made for a terrific Red Skull in Captain America.
Winner: Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger. To be honest, had Emma Frost gotten more screen time in First Class she would have gotten this one. But Hugo Weaving was scary as the Red Skull and was easily the best main villain of the four superhero movies. Also, however they did his face, it looked appropriately terrifying.
Best Hero: You couldn’t have a great superhero move without a great superhero. Chris Hemsworth was a perfect Thor, but he was a difficult hero to fully get behind due to how he was portrayed. First Class featured several well developed heroes that made up the first X-men roster (Xavier, Magneto, Mystique, Beast, Banshee, and Havok). Ryan Reynolds did an alright job as Hal Jordan but I never bought him as a hero. Chris Evans was pretty perfect as Captain America.
Winner: Captain America. Steve Rodgers is one of the most heroic people to ever grace the screen. He embodies America and wants to fight for the people and the country he loves. The ending is probably the most heroic scene in any superhero movie ever. Not exaggerating.
Best Movie Overall: Green Lantern was awful, end of story. Thor was well made and well acted, but it lacked the extra push to make it better than a lot of other superhero movies. It’s a good movie just not a great one. X-men: First Class is the best X-men movie to date with great characters and real consequences. Captain America: The First Avenger is the most fun movie of the summer and has great characters and action.
Winner: X-men: First Class. I cannot ignore how much I fell in love with each and every character. Watching Xavier teach them how to control their powers was fun and at some points emotional. It all comes down to a brilliantly done climax in Cuba as we see the X-men stop a major crisis from occurring and friendships fail. I’ll admit that Captain America is a close second, but First Class is everything a superhero movies should be and more.
Do you agree with my picks for all these different categories? Do you disagree with my hatred of Green Lantern? Which superhero are you most excited to see next summer? Its certainly another crowded one with The Avengers, Amazing Spider-man, and Dark Knight Rises. To be honest I can’t wait.