Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Speak Your Brain! Part XXVIII. Pre-MCU comic book movies and TV shows.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon

The Steve Does Comics Megaphone
Image by Tumisu
from Pixabay
A wise man once declared, "Thank God it's Friday."

I've no idea who he was but all I can say is, "Thank God it's Tuesday," because that means we get to plunge, once more, into the hottest feature the internet has ever bestowed upon the world.

In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's the reason the internet was invented.

It's the feature in which the first person to comment gets to decide what the rest of us get to discuss!

That could be art, films, flans, plans, books, bagels, cooks, nooks, crooks, pixies, rocks, music, mucous, fairy tales, fairy lights, Fairy Liquid, fairy cakes, Eccles cakes, myth, moths, maths, magic, tragedy, comedy, dromedaries, murder, larders, Ladas, mystery, mayhem, molluscs, Moorcock, May Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Doris Day, Marvin Gaye, the Equinox, parallelograms, pomegranates, sofas, sodas, sausages, eggs, whisky, broth, Bath, baths, Garth Marenghi, Garth Brooks, Garth Crooks, Bruno Brookes, Bruno Mars, Mars Bars, wine bars, flip-flops, flim-flam, flapjacks, backpacks, see-saws, jigsaws, dominoes, draft excluders, dunderheads, flowerpots, flour pots, bread bins, bin bags, body bags, body horror, shoddy horror, doggy bags, bean bags, coal sacks, cola, cocoa, pancakes, pizzas, baking soda, sci-fi, Wi-Fi, Hi-Fi, sewage, saunas, suet, Silurians, Sontarans, Sea Devils, sins, suns, sans, sense, sludge, slumps, sunshine, slime or sandcastles.

Then again, it might not be.

Only the unfettered power of democracy - and you - can tell us.


Anonymous said...

Pre-IRON MAN / MCU Comic book Movies and TV shows : Best and Worst and In-Between


Anonymous said...

Fleischer SUPERMAN animated shorts
SUPERMAN II (‘Donner Cut’)

70s Marvel Series and TV movies — pretty much ALL of them — the two CAPTAIN AMERICA pilots are particularly awful
WONDER WOMAN pilot (Cathy Lee Crosby)
Joel Schumacher BATMAN movies
JUSTICE LEAGUE live-action pilot
JUDGE DREDD (Stallone)

WONDER WOMAN (Lynda Carter — better in the WWII setting but still not great)
Fox X-MEN movies
HELLBOY movies
Sam Raimi SPIDER-MAN movies (I can’t get past the casting)



Matthew McKinnon said...

Superman The Movie holds the top spot for me still. Drearily predictable, but nostalgia dictates that one. And it's also massively charming and funny, and it has THAT John Williams score [which I'll be hearing played live at a screening at the Albert Hall next month, a true bucket list event].

Does 'The Dark Knight' count? It was the same year as Iron Man. I know it's been discussed to death, but the first three-quarters are still pretty airtight. I really liked the way it mimicked Miller's Dark Knight, with all the clipped little scenes in tight widescreen suddenly bursting open into IMAX at key points very much like FM's tiny little frames jumping to splash pages.

Ghost World gets better with every passing year. I need to see American Splendor again, but I liked that. Mystery Men was an odd one - it took me a full half hour to get into it and then it suddenly clicked and was hilarious.

I liked Batman Returns when it came out, but have absolutely no desire to ever see it again. I thought Burton's 1989 Batman was pretty boring at the time.

Worst...? I mean, Superman 3 and 4 was shockingly bad. Hard to believe the same guy who made them made Hard Day's Night, Petulia and The Bed Sitting Room.

I never saw either of the latter Batman films because I was in my 20s when they came out and knew better. I know he's just died so RIP etc, but Joel Schumacher was a shit director all-round.

Judge Dredd! Mean Machine and Hammerstein looked great, and some of the MC1 effects looked spot-on, but what fucking pile of shit. Yeah. That one. That's the worst. Man, I went to see that on a sunny Saturday in 1995, and it really ruined my weekend.

Matthew McKinnon said...

BT - I couldn't get into the Raimi Spiderman movies either. The first one looked dreary and cheap, and the second was better, but...

Can't really understand the adoration they get.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see the first Raimi Spidey til much later Matthew, but I saw the second in the cinema on release and while it was a bit dumb, back then there was a certain novelty value in seeing super-hero fights actually look like they did in comics,
Kinda like the appeal watching a steam train move on screen for a couple of minutes must have had at the end of the 19th century...

b.t., The comic book films that work for me are pure nostalgia choices.
Like the original Batman, which I first saw at the cinema on a Saturday morning in (I think) '73 - before the episodes were shown on tv here - and its still great.
A shame the Nolan Dark Knight wasn't actually a Miller adaptation, with Adam West as an ageing Batman coming out of retirement and Cesar Romero as the Joker. What a missed opportunity that was.

I also have a er... soft spot for Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, although even at the time it was obvious the programme was a bit dumb.
Can't say the first two Superman films did anything for me (pretty sure that puts me in the minority among my age group there).
Theres really no logic to it though, because I do recall enjoying the Dr Strange pilot.

Wasn't sure whether to count the first Conan - mit Arnolt - but it seems it was the comics that created enough interest to justify making the film, so yeah, why not?
Its a bit corny, but the bleakness still works.
The second one was for the lamentation of women though. Probably because they got Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway to write it rather than John Milius and Oliver Stone (hey, at that age I even liked the Stone flick with Michael Caine as Barry Windsor-Smith).


Anonymous said...

Although I didn't watch much tv in the 90s, I do recall seeing a few episodes of that Superman series with Terri Hatcher as Lois Lane.
That seemed ok...?


Steve W. said...

Thanks for the topic, Bt.

The Good:

The first two Raimi Spideys.
Adam West's Batman.
The Michael Hasslehoff Nick Fury movie.
Superman I and II.
Lois and Clark.
The first two X-Men movies.
Justice League.
The Hulk TV show.
1990s X-Men TV cartoon.

The Bad:

Every Batman movie that didn't star Adam West.
Superman III and IV.
Tank Girl.
Captain America.
Howard the Duck.
Wonder Woman TV series.
The Wonder Woman TV movie.
The Spider-Man TV show.

The So-So:

The Blade movies.
Judge Dredd.
The Shadow.

Defies Critical Analysis:


Redartz said...

I did enjoy the Raimi Spider-Man films, and the first couple X-men films. I liked Burton's 1989 Batman film, and the 1978 Superman. I also liked the Hulk series on tv, although I knew it little resembled the comic.

Didn't care for the Nicholas Hammond Spider-Man tv show. Did watch "Lois and Clark".

By the way, are animated shows allowed under this discussion? Didn't see them specifically prohibited, so...

LOVED: 1967 Spider-Man and Fantastic Four. Also the Filmation Superman and Batman shows.

Didn't much follow Super Friends. Did watch Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, but felt it was overshadowed by the 67 series. Which was probably sentiment, but man, whatta soundtrack...

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to rate the other Batman movies…

BATMAN ‘89 (first Tim Burton) — loved it on its original release, liked it less and less on repeat viewings. Watched it about two years ago and I couldn’t get through it. I do appreciate the attempt to make a ‘Tentpole/ Summer Blockbuster’ Franchise movie with a ‘straight’ approach, Elfman’s Bernard Herrmann-esque score, the grungy Goth-retro look and distinct absence of ‘camp’ elements.

BATMAN RETURNS — almost the exact opposite reaction. LOATHED it originally, but it grew on me. Every minute that Michelle Pfeiffer is on-screen in her Catwoman outfit crackles with weird electricity. Need to watch it again sometime.

BATMAN BEGINS — again, I appreciate that it’s a 180 degree course correction from Schumacher’s obnoxiously garish and silly approach, but honestly I think Nolan threw the baby out with the bat water. I think it’s remarkably dull. THE DARK KNIGHT is much more entertaining overall.

Steve, do you mean the direct-to-video CAPTAIN AMERICA from the early 90s? With the Italian Red Skull and really bad vinyl Captain America costume? Because if so, hell yes, that one was effing horrible.

Ang Lee’s HULK — what a mind-boggling mess. I literally couldn’t tell what was happening at the climax.

Sean: yes, that Spidey/DocOck fight in SPIDER-MAN 2, up and down the skyscraper with Aunt May as the football (in broad daylight) was one of the first times we ever saw a genuine ‘comic book style’ fight on the big screen and it was pretty thrilling. And the scene with Spidey stopping the out of control train was pretty intense. But the rest of it…(shrug). The thing I dislike the most about the Raimi movies is their take on MJ. One of the most vivid supporting characters in all of comics , and they turned her into a mopey, whiny, nagging sad-sack.

ROBOCOP and THE INCREDIBLES. Both of em better than most ‘real’ Superhero movies.


Steve W. said...

Bt, I do indeed mean that Captain America movie.

Steve W. said...

I've just realised I called David Hasselhoff, "Michael Hasslehoff." I'm now worried David'll never forgive me.

Anonymous said...

Ditto what Red wrote! Id add that i really enjoyed the b&w Superman TV serial from the 50s/60s along with Batman 1966 TV series.

Lastly got to give a shot out to the Green Hornet TV series around 1966. Cool characters, Bruce Lee, the way that car came out. Super sexy and Smokin hot!!!

Anonymous said...

Charlie wonders why You folks refer to the first Spider-Man movies by the name of the Director? Why don’t we just refer to them as Spider-Man one Spider-Man two in Spider-Man three?

Anyhow, Charlie really really enjoyed Spider-Man one Spider-Man two movies.

And, in Charlie’s world Spider-Man sort of pretty much ceased to exist after the death of Gwen Stacy so it is perfectly irrelevant however Mary Jane was portrayed

Steve W. said...

Charlie, I can't speak for the others but I refer to the early Spider-Man films by their director's name in order to avoid them being mistaken for the Andrew Garfield movies.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Thanks Steve.

Also RED rightly pointed out the SPIDEY and FF cartoons of the 1960s. I would, if I may, add that THE MIGHTY HEROES was a righteous cartoon as well.

It was created by RALPH BAKSHI and featured Strong Man, Rope Man, Tornado Man, Cuckoo Man and Diaper Man. Ahhhh yes.... Diaper Man saved the day many a time! And yes, I do remember watching this show as a 5 year old in 1966 and thinking it was AWESOME! I mean... I still remember it so...

Redartz said...

Charlie- oh yeah, "Mighty Heroes" was mighty cool. Great, weird villains- the Scarecrow, the Frog, etc. Every now and then I will watch a few on YouTube. Oh, cool theme, too....

Anonymous said...

Ralph Bakshi? Eh.
'Fritz the Cat' was terrible. No wonder Robert Crumb killed the character off.
And then theres the inane 'Wizards', which is one for b.t.'s 'NOT QUITE COMIC-BOOK MOVIES THAT MIGHT AS WELL BE' category.

Also under that 'NOT QUITE...' heading -

Rene Laloux's brilliant 'La Planete Sauvage', which I recall first seeing on late night tv as a teenager, around the time I first got into Heavy Metal/Hurlant.
I expected something similar from the actual Heavy Metal film which came out not long after. What a disappointment that was...
Same goes for 'The Fifth Element', although to be fair, it would have been ok(ish) without Bruce Willis in the main part.

Fairly sure I've suggested here before that both 'Kill Bill' films are basically 'Elektra', even more than 'Robocop' is 'Judge Dredd' (by a curious coincidence, in the official adaptation, Jennifer Garner was as convincing an Elektra as Stallone was Dredd).
As it hapens, 'Kill Bill' was also in part a rework of the 70s Japanese flick 'Lady Snowblood', which was based on Kazuo Koike's manga, so I think it qualifies as a comic book film (or pair of films).


Anonymous said...

I’ve mentioned it here before (I think) but ROBOCOP was inspired by DEATHLOK THE DEMOLISHER, JUDGE DREDD and Miller’s DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. The writers admitted it themselves in more than one interview, IIRC. In any case, it definitely qualifies as ‘Comics Adjacent’ at the very least.

Ah yes, LE PLANETE SAUVAGE, released here in the States as FANTASTIC PLANET. A whole lot of work went into that thing, but even when high on some kickass weed, I thought it was a chore to sit through. Or maybe a snore. Just dullsville, baby.

I actually kinda liked THE FIFTH ELEMENT. About twenty minutes in, I realized Besson was doing an unofficial ‘HEAVY METAL’S GREATEST HITS’ movie and got into the groove. Splashy visuals, futuristic cities, flying taxicabs, weird aliens, sexy ladies — colorful, exciting and kinda stoopid — it really is very HEAVY METAL-like. It’s much better than that ‘official’ animated anthology from the 80s. Well, I could do without Chris Tucker. He was so insanely annoying, this one movie turned me off to him forEVER.


Anonymous said...

Oh, and yes, WIZARDS has a shit-ton of Comics DNA in it. Prominently features a straight-up ripoff of Bode’s Cobalt 90, for one thing — the Weehawk character was originally from a TV cartoon pitch by Wally Wood — and of course there are all those nifty storybook style tableaux lavishly illustrated by Mike (GIANT-SIZE MAN-THING) Ploog. I remember seeing it in the theatre (and a purple and silver poster in the lobby with the words ‘COMING TO A GALAXY NEAR YOU…STAR WARS’) and thinking it was kinda cool. I’d watch it again occasionally and liked it less each time. Finally, bought it on DVD sometime in the early 2000s, got about halfway thru and decided ‘Nope, it’s not a good movie, I’m not enjoying it on almost ANY level.’


Anonymous said...

D’oh! The STAR WARS poster actually read: ‘COMING TO YOUR GALAXY THIS SUMMER’. Which is cleverer, less clunky. And all the images I found on Google look like they’re BLACK and silver. Hmm! I wonder what purple STAR WARS item I’m confusing it with. Maybe a button or something.

Oh, and STAR WARS itself is probably a ‘Not Quite But Might As Well Be’ Comic Book Movie too. It owes more to Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers than to actual ‘Science-y’ Sci-Fi sources.


McSCOTTY said...

Great to see Wizards getting some love here it was one of my favourite fantasy type films at the time and the fist Video I bought, then again I’m a big Vaughn Bode fan –similar to b.t. it hasn’t aged well for me but still, for its time it was good.

There were some really awful made for TV and/or straight to Video superhero films made pre 2008 and most have been mentioned here put particularly Spiderman and Spiderman strikes back (1977/78 respectively) Dr Strange (1978) and Captain America(1990) –

Batman the animated series
Blade II
Batman - Mask off the Phantasm (animated)
X-Men United
X-Men last stand( I liked them all and IM not a big X-Men comic book fan)

The Rocketeer
The Phantom
Superman the movie
The Crow
The Incredible Hulk
Spiderman (2002)
Flash Gordon
Hellboy 2
The Mask
FF Rise of the Surfer
Wonder Woman
Sin City (but could be in my list below as well)


The Hulk (2003)
Blade Trinity
Batman Returns
Batman and Robin 91997)
Steel (stunk)
The Spirit (think that was pre 2008) 2008)

Sadly I watched them all and more!

Anonymous said...

Star Wars also drew quite heavily on 'Valerian' b.t., particularly Jean-Claude Mezieres' designs.
He actually worked on 'The Fifth Element', with his pal Moebius, so its hardly surprising it has a Metal Hurlant vibe (Luc Besson is a fan). Although while its possible to see it as HM's greatest hits, I would say it also specifically has quite a bit in common with the Incal. As indeed does Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Arguably Heavy Metal/Hurlant has shaped the whole look of science-fiction on film since the 70s, as besides George Lucas it was also a big influence on Ridley Scott and James Cameron.
Besides working with Moebius - and the rest of Jodorowsky's 'Dune' design team - on 'Alien', Scott has cited 'The Long Tomorrow' as the key visual inspiration for 'Bladerunner'.
And 'Avatar' totally looks like a Richard Corben comic (well, apart from the scenes based on old Roger Dean record covers ;)

And bringing things up to date I think Zac Snyder credited HM for the look of 'Sucker Punch'. Er, not that thats anything to rave about.


Anonymous said...

PS For anyone interested, theres a short doc about Moebius and Mezieres' work on 'The Fifth Element' -



Steve W. said...

Thanks for the link, Sean.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see you rating X-MEN: THE LAST STAND equally to the previous two Singer X-men movies. Personally, I didn’t hate THE LAST STAND either. I can’t honestly say I LOVED it or anything, but I didn’t think it represented a severe drop in quality from the first two, both of which I think were seriously flawed. In some ways, I actually liked LAST STAND better — it somehow felt more ‘Comic Book’ than the first two.


Matthew McKinnon said...

I didn’t mind ‘Last Stand’ either.
I think a lot of the controversial/brutal things it did would have been hailed as brave had Singer done them and not Ratner.

I mean, I didn’t like it all that much either but it did get a bit of an unfair pile-on at the time due to getting a hack director attached at the last minute.