Tag Archive: comic book movies


This week has seen a lot of casting being announced for several high profile comic book movies. I will start with The Amazing Spider-Man 2: with the original cast on board and the casting of Jamie Foxx as Electro and Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn. Now it seems like another villain is going to be in the mix: Rhino. Although, recent incarnations of the character have seen Rhino have a more sympathetic side so that may indicate that Rhino may play a similar role to that of Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. The man in talks for the role is the ever wonderful Paul Giamatti. This would be very interesting casting as Giamatti isn’t known for being a very physically fit actor but he is flawless in his performances so this could be something to look out for!

 

Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Hugh Jackman have already signed on to a return to the X-men franchise (although Jackman never really left) but this week has seen more familiar names from the original trilogy return for X-men: Days of Future Past. Shawn Ashmore (Iceman), Anna Paquin (Rogue) and Ellen Page (Shadowcat) are all set to return. Shadowcat plays a very important part in the comic book storyline this film is adapting but it is unclear how she will feature in the film. One thing that Bryan Singer (director) has promised though, is that Days of Future Past will include time travel that ‘makes sense’ and that it will be the biggest X-men film yet. I, for one, can not wait!

Sin City is often forgotten when talking about comic book movies because it isn’t your traditional comic book type film. However, among critics and fans it is one of the most highly praised of the genre. And after the recent casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ray Liotta the title role has now been filled in the sequel – Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Playing the dame is the wonderful Eva Green, one of my favourite Bond girls ever, although that isn’t really saying a lot taking into account my view on the Bond franchise as a whole.

And finally, we knew that Marvel would be spearheading ‘Phase 3’ with Ant-Man and we now know that Dr. Strange will also have his origin told in a solo film after The Avengers 2. Also, there are rumours that Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man will be seen going into space in an end credits scene after Iron Man 3 and that he may also feature in the post-credits scene of Guardians of the Galaxy. This would indicate good signs for the future of Marvel’s franchises as it would suggest that Robert Downey Jr is to continue as the charming Tony Stark after Iron Man 3.

Advertisements

A VERY happy Mr. James Marsden

James Marsden is a recognisable face in the world of movies. Marsden has been in some very popular films of a couple of genres so it strikes me that he is not more famous than he is, but there is a very good reason (or very bad, depending on how you look at it) as to why his career hasn’t quite reached the heights that I thought it would earlier in his career. This reason is the cause of the title for this post and all will become clear in a few minutes.

James Paul Marsden began acting in the 1990s and his career began like so many others, with bit part appearances here and there in a number of, what can only be deemed unsuccessful, television shows. Luckily, in 1996 Marsden landing a lead role in family drama TV series Second Noah and this ran for two seasons, with a further three final episodes being commissioned after fan campaigns. After the shows cancellation Marsden moved into films; after a couple of made for television movies he appeared in Disturbing Behaviour alongside Katie Holmes (the film didn’t do very well) and then Gossip which only made half of its budget back and again failed. After this start it’s a wonder Marsden made it as big as he has done, but he could have been bigger. Here’s what happened…

In the year 2000, after the success of Blade, a movie was being made out of another popular Marvel property. It was of course, the best superhero team of all time, the X-Men. And James Marsden was cast in the role of Scott Summers, or as he is more popularly known Cyclops. This SHOULD have propelled James Marsden into a huge Hollywood star, should being the most important word here. Anyone who knows anything about the X-Men knows that Cyclops is the rightful leader of the X-Men. However, this was a characteristic drastically overlooked during the X-Men films (although this was the only real complaint I have about the first two films, the third is a different kettle of fish altogether). So really, Cyclops and James Marsden should have taken centre stage in one of the most successful trilogies of all time and would have rightfully become a household name; the unfortunate truth is that unless you take a real interest in the X-Men films or make a habit of watching romantic comedies, you probably won’t know who he is. Why? Simple.

Wolverine. The popularity of Wolverine among comic book fans is very rarely matched by another character and it is for this reason that in all three of the X-Men films featuring James Marsden Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine took centre stage. This forced the character of Cyclops into the background and he became a bit of an unimportant character, seemingly his only function was to marginally get in the way of Wolverine and Jean Grey’s romance and he didn’t even do that well. You can’t blame James Marsden for taking the part as leader of the X-Men but surely he would have hoped for a more heroic role in the films before tragically being sort of (I still don’t believe he actually died) killed off in X-Men: The Last Stand.

The reason for Cyclops disappearing in X-Men: The Last Stand was because James Marsden had taken a part in Superman Returns, another film in which he had a relatively small and unimportant part, there again to have his on screen ruined by the main hero of the piece (he does get a bit of bad luck this James Marsden chap) and of course Superman Returns disappeared into comic book movie obscurity rather unsurprisingly as it was very dull. But aside from comic book movies James Marsden has mainly stuck to romantic movies. He had a role in arguably one of the most popular films of all time – The Notebook. He has also starred in romantic comedies such as 27 Dresses and Sex Drive; the musical Hairspray; the fantasy half animated-half live action Enchanted and a film some critics called the worst of all time The Box.

This year, Marsden made a successful move back to television with a role in comedy 30 Rock although his time on television this time looks set to be short lived with 2013 having quite a few films slated for release with James Marsden attached. There’s dramedy As Cool As I Am, thriller The Loft, Enchanted 2 is in the pipeline to be made in the next couple of years. Perhaps the most exciting movie James Marsden is attached to at the minute though is something I am very much looking forward to and is a shoe-in for a few Oscar nominations when it is released. This is The Butler about the life of Cecil Gaines who served as White House butler to eight American presidents over three decades. The cast is full of real Hollywood stars and emerging talent: James Marsden, Forest Whitaker, Alan Rickman, Robyn Williams, Alex Pettyfer, Melissa Leo, Minka Kelly, John Cusack,  Jane Fonda, Terrence Howard, Liev Schreiber and Lenny Kravitz. James Marsden will be playing the great John F. Kennedy himself.

With The Butler, James Marsden has the chance to get the recognition he deserves and reach the heights of fame that he should have done a decade or so ago. If the films had been more true to the comic books with the X-Men then James Marsden would already have achieved so much more than he has. Of course, this isn’t to say that his career has been a washout because he has still had it pretty good; but if X-Men didn’t focus so much on Wolverine it could have all been so different for James Marsden. He never looks disappointed though, I’ve never seen a picture of him without a smile on his face!

James Marsden on set as John F. Kennedy – he’s either blinking or sneakily checking out Minka Kelly… you decide.

Fanboys exist in all walks of life however it is a term most often seen associated with fans of comic books and comic book movies and this should come as no surprise as this group, despite being still looked down upon as nerds or geeks by a large number of people, are one of the most vocal about expectations of a film, especially on internet forums. This arises out of fear: fear of one of their most beloved characters or teams from the comic books that they have read for decades (Batman, X-Men, Incredible Hulk) will be ruined by a big screen adaptation because the wrong actors/actresses will be cast, the writer won’t know the source material or because things in the movie won’t be EXACTLY the same as they appear in the comic books. I would willingly describe myself as a fanboy, I kicked off (and still do) that in X-Men: The Last Stand Beast’s blue fur is part of his mutation, that Juggernaut is a mutant, that Juggernaut is not Professor X’s brother among many other things but I am not as extreme as some fans. An example being when Hugh Jackman was cast as Wolverine there was outrage because Hugh Jackman is a good foot taller than Wolverine’s comic book height; Wolverine went on to become synonymous with the X-men movie franchise and is, to date, Jackman’s most iconic film role. But that doesn’t mean that everything fanboys do is negative.

It is because of fanboys that these huge blockbuster films are possible; if the comic books never achieved a following in the first place then the characters would never have become known to mainstream audiences and would never have turned in to icons of the silver screen like they have done today. The characters owe their movie adaptations to these very fanboys. It is also these fanboys that will go and see films like The Dark Knight and The Avengers five, six or even as many as ten times! They’re passionate about what they love but if you do it right then you can win fanboys over forever, do it wrong and you will most likely be demonised and thought of as the spawn of Satan himself every time your name is mentioned.

Fans had every right to kick off when the might Galactus was represented as nothing more than a cloud in Rise of the Silver Surfer.

Among the majority of Batman films Christopher Nolan is held up as a God. He took their beloved Bruce Wayne and transferred his persona to the screen with all these very fine similarities to his comic book character without sticking directly to the source material. And if Christopher Nolan is God then Joel Schumacher is surely the devil; his camped up Batman & Robin with the infamous bat-nipples are often thought of a the worst comic book movies ever made. Other films to incur the wrath of the fanboy include X-Men: The Last Stand (as mentioned earlier), X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hulk, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and one of the worst movies I have ever seen, Catwoman. Get them wrong and they can be really really horrible creations but if handled in the correct way a masterpiece can be achieved (see Iron Man, Batman Begins).

Whilst fanboys have their good parts as well as their bad points the real thing that annoys me about them is the rivalry between DC fans and Marvel fans. Of course, most of these people will watch films made by both companies and enjoy the characters. I read mainly Marvel comic books but I can sit and enjoy the Batman films more than some of the Marvel ones because I am a film fan most of all. But a minority of fans (we’re talking hardcore ‘Nolanites’ and ‘Whedonites’) will only see DC films or Marvel films (whichever they read) and will go out of their way to boycott the rival films, meaning that some pour souls out there have limited themselves to only seeing one of either The Dark Knight Rises or The Avengers which are two of the best films I have ever seen, let alone of this year.

Two examples of internet memes created by Whedonites and Nolanites.

The extent of the rivalry should be put aside in favour of the huge spectacles that are brought to the big screen and while sometimes the fanboy community can go over the top in it’s dislike for a film, their passion should not be simply dismissed.

In a blatant marketing ploy, Sony is advertising this Spider-Man reboot as the most anticipated movie of the summer. However, this is clearly not true with the arrival of The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus all released this summer as well. The Amazing Spider-Man is like that kid in school that everybody knows who they are, but nobody really wants to hang out with them; this may change as we approach its release date of July 3rd but right now, lets have a look at why we should be anticipating the new Peter Parker’s arrival.

Sony recently released the above preview; four minutes of footage from The Amazing Spider-Man and, although some scenes we had seen already, we were offered a new look at Spidey saving a child on a bridge which looks just as amazing as the title of the film suggests. It is possible to tell from what we have seen already and what we know that Marc Webb’s reboot of the character is really trying to distance itself from its predecessors.

Andrew Garfield unmasked as Spidey.

Andrew Garfield looks perfect as Peter Parker and he seems to be bringing some much needed wit and humour to New York’s friendliest web slinger, something that lacked with Tobey Maguire’s incarnation of the character. Being a fan of the comic book hero himself Garfield brings great enthusiasm to the role and his performance as Spider-Man is something to look forward to in itself. It will be interesting to see how the story plays out because we have seen more than one image of Spider-Man without the mask so will people know the secret identity of our hero? How will that work?

Ooh la la… Spidey’s love interest is blonde this time around.

One person who does know Peter Parker’s identity is love interest Gwen Stacy, played by the talented and wonderful actress Emma Stone. Gwen Stacy was Peter’s first love interest in the comic books and was largely unmentioned until she made an appearance in the final instalment of the previous trilogy played by Bryce Dallas Howard. In the comic books Gwen was unaware of Spider-Man’s true identity and her father knew Peter Parker was Spidey but in the film these roles have been reversed and it will be interesting to see how the fact that Gwen knows about Peter plays out and how their relationship develops with that knowledge.

Spider-Man’s foe in this reboot is Dr. Curt Connors or The Lizard as he may be better known to fans. The Lizard is a very popular nemesis of Spider-Man among fans and was to be featured in Sam Raimi’s next film if he continued his own franchise. Other differences from the original trilogy include mechanical web slingers rather than the controversial biological ones Peter inherited before and also the back story of Peter Parker. With his family’s past being a key plot detail in The Amazing Spider-Man it has been hinted that it won’t just be the spider bite that gives Peter his powers, but maybe something to do with his parents tampering with his biological structure. How this move will go down with fans remains to be seen yet.

With Marc Webb directing I think that a great importance will be paid to the relationships between characters as this is something that Webb brought out superbly in (500) Days of Summer. He has claimed that this reboot will hint at future villains and storylines and has even said that he will be working on the sequel, therefore he and Sony must feel that they have a hit on their hands here.

A brief look at Spider-Man taking on The Lizard featured in one of the trailers.

The Amazing Spider-Man has been largely pushed to the side do far this year and maybe rightly so; The Avengers was something everyone was waiting for to see their favourite heroes on screen together while The Dark Knight Rises concludes Christopher Nolan’s near perfect Batman trilogy but hopefully the film won’t suffer because of the other comic book movies out this year. The trailers show promise, as do Garfield and Stone and I for one, am hotly anticipating Spider-Man’s next arrival.

Marvel’s The Avengers is out right now and breaking records left, right and centre; it has smashed the record for highest grossing opening weekend and is on course to break into the billion dollar club, who knows whether it will become the highest grossing film of all time. The highest grossing comic book movie to date is Batman flick The Dark Knight, the sequel to which, The Dark Knight Rises, comes out later this year and along with The Avengers looks to make this summer one for the comic book fans to really enjoy, but will The Dark Knight Rises be able to outdo The Avengers in terms of profit?

Batman Begins, the first of Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s Batman franchise, took in over $370 million at the box office which was pretty standard for a superhero movie at the time, putting it on a par with the very below average Superman Returns and the lacklustre Men in Black 2. However, The Dark Knight rose to critical acclaim worldwide and managed to rake in over $1 billion worldwide, becoming not only the highest grossing comic book movie of all time but also the eleventh highest grossing film of all time.

So The Dark Knight Rises has a tough act to follow and will it be able to follow that? Batman is a popular character and the huge scope of the audience that The Dark Knight managed to reach went beyond everyone’s expectations and now everybody knows about Batman and everyone knows what kind of film they will be getting going to see Nolan do another Batman movie. This is a good thing as you would expect a sequel to one of the highest grossing, and arguably best, films of all time would be able to make just as much money if not more, especially with the cast and crew all returning and the public hype the film is receiving.

However, something that could play against The Dark Knight Rises is that The Dark Knight created such high expectations in the minds of the audience that The Dark Knight Rises may not be able to reach. You have to assume that a lot of the money made from The Dark Knight was also made by a lot of people going to see the film on more than one occasion and if The Dark Knight Rises fails to live up to its predecessor then will fans really want to go and see it again? Probably not.

The reason for The Avengers making so much money so quickly, in my opinion, is because this is what a lot of comic book fans have been waiting for since the birth of the superhero movie; it is all of Marvel’s big hitters on screen at the same time: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and The Hulk all sharing screen time. These characters were already introduced via their own movies in Marvel’s very clever and special approach to film making which meant that even if some fans didn’t like Thor or The Hulk, they would still see The Avengers for Iron Man or Cap. The Dark Knight Rises isn’t in that position; if you don’t like Batman you more than likely won’t want to watch a film about him.

Also, with The Avengers doing so well, the tide may turn for comic book movies and fans may want to see the colour of comic book pages brought to the big screen once again, they want the fun element of the comic books back on the screen and The Dark Knight Rises may be seen as TOO dark by some fans. However, Batman fans will be used to the darkness as his story has always been a dark one (minus the camping up by Adam West and Joel Schumacher over time) so that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Personally, I don’t think that The Dark Knight Rises will make more than The Avengers; The Avengers is still going strong and will still be earning top dollars at international box offices for the coming weeks, then we shall have to see how The Dark Knight Rises does. But the originality that made The Avengers so popular is not there in Nolan’s ‘threequel’ but if achieves the same acclaim throughout its previews as The Dark Knight did then it would come as no surprise to see it break The Avengers‘ new opening weekend record.

He's so happy!

There are some actors who work incredibly hard but never reap the rewards that Brad Pitt or George Clooney do; there are some actors who appear in a lot of films but not many people would know who they were. If you enjoy films, especially those directed by Guy Ritchie or Matthew Vaughn, then you will know the face of Jason Flemyng.

Flemyng boasts a wide variety of films in his back catalogue: gangster flicks, comic book movies, big budget blockbusters, small budget indies but interestingly, Flemyng continues to return to his television roots despite, by many people’s opinion, making it as a film star.

Lock, Stock: Flemyng's big break.

In 1994, Flemyng made his first film appearance after dropping in on a number of television series. This film was a version of The Jungle Book, but it was four years later that he got his big break in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, directed by Guy Ritchie and produced by Matthew Vaughn. Ritchie then went on to direct Flemyng again in Snatch.

In the early 2000s Flemyng made a transition to big budget Hollywood films. The two notable films of this time are From Hell, alongside Johnny Depp, and unfortunately the heavily criticised League of Extraordinary Gentlemen where he starred with Sean Connery.

The fun that Jason Flemyng had with Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels‘ co-star Jason Statham led to Flemyng being cast in action sequel Transporter 2. The relationships that Flemyng has forged in the movie industry are clearly important to him as he continued to work with Ritchie, Statham and Vaughn on more than one occasion.

Helping to reboot the X-men franchise

Matthew Vaughn has described Flemyng as his ‘lucky charm’ and this is why Flemyng features in most of Vaughn’s films, whether Vaughn is producing or directing. The partnership formed on Lock Stock has seen Flemyng given roles, however big or small, in Snatch, Mean Machine, Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass and a brilliant role in X-men: First Class as teleporting mutant Azazel. This is a role Flemyng will more than likely return for, especially as Vaughn is once again signed on to direct.

Jason Flemyng’s work has not gone ignored by others in the industry and he has appeared in several other films such as Soloman Kane, Clash of the Titans, Ironclad, the critically acclaimed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and even an uncredited appearance in The Social Network.

With such a wide range of films to his name it is almost impossible to avoid Flemyng’s work. He is a really really good British star who doesn’t get half the recognition that he deserves. No matter what role he plays, big or small, Jason Flemyng gives it his all.

 

Okay, so from the title you might think that this is a ridiculous question to ask, but at least hear me out before you shoot me down.

Everybody knows that Robert Downey Jr. is a brilliant actor, his talent is undeniable. He has been nominated for two Oscars in his career already for Chaplin and Tropic Thunder and on top of that has received plenty of critical acclaim for his performance in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, his portrayal of legendary detective Sherlock Holmes and obviously Tony Stark himself.

I am aware that very few summer blockbuster type films get nominated for Oscars and even fewer comic book movies; The Dark Knight did not even get a nomination for the category of Best Film yet it is viewed by many to be one of the best of all time. However, Heath Ledger’s unforgettable performance as Joker did get the actor a posthumous win, possibly creating a pathway for comic book movies to be taken more seriously among the Academy Awards.

And comic book movies do not get much bigger than The Avengers. Lots of attention across the globe is being paid to this movie at the minute; the very best of Marvel’s superheroes brought together on the big screen at long last. And at the forefront of Marvel’s ambition and ability to carry out this master-plan of an interweaving universe between movies was Iron Man and the man  carrying that film, Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal as Tony Stark/Iron Man is up there with the best comic book performances of all time without a doubt and even in the slightly slow paced and below par second film, Downey Jr’s performance was a joy to behold. Downey Jr is being used heavily by Marvel in their marketing campaign and will no doubt receive positive reviews for his performance once again.

From the trailers and clips that Marvel have so graciously allowed our eyes to lay upon, we can already tell that he is carrying off that same fun, charm and wit that we love Tony Stark for. It may only be a few clips but Downey Jr acts consistently and the enjoyment he gets from being Iron Man will not allow him to falter in his performance.

It is very early to be talking about Robert Downey Jr’s performance in The Avengers, of course, and even earlier to be talking about Oscar nominations and so forth, but it is something worth considering, I feel.

Below is the ‘Headcount’ clip from The Avengers which sees Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark in a verbal back and forth with the villain, Loki. Here, showcasing a little of the wit and style he brings to the role, is a little teaser of what to expect from everybody’s favourite billionaire playboy philanthropist.

 

When casting someone in a comic book movie it is vital that you choose the right person or you face the wrath of the fanboys whom, when they get together, are a force to be reckoned with. If the casting is wrong in a comic book movie it puts fans off, the money doesn’t come in and usually (but not always) when the casting is wrong, the film ends up being total and utter rubbish. The following were all criticised by fanboys and are my chosen 8 worst comic book movie castings.

8. Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane

In 2006 Warner Bros. tried to give new life into the Superman franchise as they have done with Batman. Brandon Routh (miscast himself) played Superman whilst Kate Bosworth took the role of Lois Lane. The problem here is that Bosworth was not believable as Lois Lane; she was too nicey nice and didn’t put across the image of the feisty news reporter that worked her way up to the top of the chain that comic book fans admired her for. She had lost her character.

 

 

7. Jessica Alba as Sue Storm/Invisible Woman

Everyone knows that the Fantastic Four films are not good, but this casting was on of the worst decisions of the film makers. It seemed like Alba was there because she has sex appeal; the scene on the bridge where she stripped down to her underwear in the first film was only written after Alba had taken the part. This must show that when casting for Sue Storm she was there for her looks, not because she suited the role, and fans made sure people knew about that.

 

 

6. Chris O’Donnell as Dick Grayson/Robin

Widely considered by many to be the worst comic book movie of all time, this little piece of casting was one (of thousands) of the things that contributed to the awfulness of Batman & Robin. It was never going to work and whoever thought that casting O’Donnell in the role would be a good idea needs their head checking and how he managed to last two films as Robin is beyond me!

 

 

 

 

5. Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom

Eddie Brock, when he becomes Venom, is Spider-Man’s most famous enemy, his arch nemesis. Before that, when he is just Eddie Brock he is already a physical powerhouse that could beat up pretty much any normal person he wanted. So why on earth was Topher Grace cast in this role? He was nothing like his comic book counterpart in physique and fan reaction showed that this was a very unpopular decision indeed!

 

4. Ioan Gruffud as Reed Richards/Mr Fantastic

The male representative of Marvel’s most miscast couple on screen is Ioan Gruffud as Mr Fantastic. Even if you get past the fact that someone like Gruffud manages to pull Jessica Alba, there is still the problem with the character. Gruffud manages to drain all life out of one of the cleverest minds on the planet and makes for a very dull performance in an already under-par film. Not good Ioan.

 

 

 

 

3. Halle Berry as Catwoman

For some reason, unbeknownst to everyone, the film Catwoman was made. And for an even more obscure reason that even fewer people know the answer to Halle Berry was cast in the lead role. Berry won a Razzie for this film for the worst performance by a leading actress. The writers and film makers didn’t do her any favours to be honest but at the end of the day she was totally miscast and gave us a horrible portrayal of Catwoman.

 

2. George Clooney as Bruce Wayne/Batman

Arguably one of the best actors of his generation with an Oscar to his name, but unfortunately the most handsome Batman is also the worst Batman to grace the screen. Clooney has one of his rare blips with this film but it is not all his fault. The film itself is terrible anyway, but casting George Clooney as Bruce Wayne was never going to work, I don’t know what it is but Clooney lacks a certain spark, a quality that Bruce Wayne needed. Luckily though, this film did nothing to hamper Clooney’s career.

 

 

 

And the award for most totally miscast person in a comic book movie goes to…

1. Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider

This was awful. The film. The acting. The characters. The casting. There was nothing good about Ghost Rider and when they decided to ‘reboot’ the franchise with a sequel, they stuck with Nicolas Cage as the main character. Bad decision. Nicolas Cage is a horrible choice for Johnny Blaze, he just does not embody the character at all! If you have to CGI your stars body then you clearly haven’t made the right casting choice. Just because he is a fan of the character does not mean he would play them well; somebody younger required. And please, please, please… STOP with the Ghost Rider films!

 

(Dis)Honourable mentions

Halle Berry – Storm

Ben Affleck – Daredevil

Jennifer Garner – Elektra

Ryan Reynolds – Green Lantern

Vinnie Jones – Juggernaut

Casting is a vital part of the film; if you get the wrong actor to play a character it can go horribly wrong and the whole movie could fail because of it. Never is this more true than in the world of comic book movies. Millions of fans all over the world are already in love with the characters before they are brought to the big screen and if you cast someone that the fans are not happy about they will not hold back, you shall know about it! But when casting goes right, it brings out some of the best performances and best characters in the world. Here are my top eight perfectly cast comic book movie characters.

8. Chris Evans as The Human Torch

Known to many comic book fans now as Captain America, Evans made his first appearance in comic book movies in the awful Fantastic Four films. Despite both films being criticised heavily by almost everyone, fans and critics alike, nobody could criticise Chris Evans as Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. He outperformed the rest of the cast by a country mile and bought a much needed charm and sense of humour to the role.

7. Ed Norton as Bruce Banner

When it was announced that Ed Norton would not return for The Avengers as Bruce Banner fans were outraged and with good reason. Norton’s performance as the troubled scientist who turns into the Incredible Hulk was brilliant. Norton had a lot of hard work to do because of the negative fan reaction to Ang Lee’s 2003 interpretation of the character but the casting of Norton and his incredible performance won the hearts of many Hulk fans.

6. J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson

The original Spider-man trilogy, directed by Sam Raimi, may not have been the most perfectly cast Spider-man film in the world but J.K Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson was a masterpiece. He looked identical to the comic book portrayal of the character and fans loved his performance. A highlight of the, soon to be rebooted, Spider-man franchise.

5. Christopher Reeve as Superman

Does this really need explaining? The man IS Superman. There has never been a better Superman before or since on neither the big screen or small screen. Reeve was an excellent casting as the Man of Steel and is still celebrated among comic book fans.

4. Heath Ledger as The Joker

Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his appearance as the Joker and rightfully so. Ledger managed to bring this psychotic vision of The Dark Knight’s arch nemesis to the screen and make him genuinely scary. It was a sad loss when he passed away but he will always be remembered as the Joker and one of comic book movie’s finest castings.

3. Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl

Many people don’t think of Kick-Ass when they think of comic book adaptations but this is where the origins of the story lie. Chloe Moretz is great as the ‘hero’ Hit Girl. She is a small girl who packs a powerful performance and is the star of Kick Ass without a doubt. She has a huge career ahead of her built on this performance.

2. Patrick Stewart as Professor X

Straight off, Patrick Stewart looks the part, down to a tee. But his performance further proves why he was the perfect choice to play the mentor to the X-men, Professor X. His calm and cool demeanour brought a lot of character to the role and then in the second instalment, X2 (one of the best comic book movies ever made) he was able to show off the emotional side to his character even more. And as well as that, his chemistry with Ian McKellen’s Magneto was a joy to behold. A fine casting decision.

And finally…

1. Robert Downey Jnr. as Tony Stark

Perfection!

The perfect casting of a comic book character if ever there was one. Downey Jnr doesn’t just play the character, he actually is Tony Stark. He has the look sorted; he has the charm, the wit, the charisma and you believe his intelligence. Iron Man was the beginning of the whole Marvel Universe which comes together this summer with The Avengers so a lot was riding on this first film and Robert Downey Jnr drew the plaudits right from the offset. Tony Stark came to life in the Iron Man films and made Downey Jnr a household name again; his performance was a joy to behold and I sincerely hope he is Tony Stark for a long time to come.

Honourable mentions

Ian McKellen – Magneto

Kelsey Grammer – Beast

Ron Perlman – Hellboy

Jackie Earl Haley – Rorschach

Anthony Hopkins – Odin

He is considered by many to be one of the greatest directors of the modern world and by the time he eventually retires his name will undoubtedly be up there with the all time true greats of film making. By comic book fans he is thought of as the man who saved Batman from it’s earlier embarrassments in the cinema and Warner Bros. now have him producing Man of Steel, the new Superman movie, in hope that he can bring another hero back from the cinema dead zone. However, Christopher Nolan does have his haters, but why? Is he really THAT good?

Without exception every single one of the feature length films directed by Christopher Nolan has been a critical success. Whether it be the small scale Memento or the huge big budget summer blockbuster that is Inception, Nolan never fails to impress the critics. Nolan has been nominated for three Oscars (one for directing, another two for writing) and despite not yet winning the award he is being recognised by his peers as one of the best directors around.

Nolan’s writing prides itself upon it’s mysteries. Memento was something new, something brilliant. And the mystery was kept going by the fact that the film played out backwards and nobody, not even the main character, knew what was going on. The Prestige had a fantastic shock ending that nobody had predicted upon first watch, yet when watching again it becomes clear that Nolan has left some clues along the way for any viewer intelligent enough to spot them. All the while, Nolan is teaching the arts of a magic trick whilst creating his own in The Prestige at the same time. The essence of mystery is something Nolan followed through with Inception and I think everyone who left the cinema after seeing Inception got confused at least once whilst watching and the ending still causes arguments a couple of years on (even though it is pretty clear what the ending actually is if you look for the clues).

However, one of Nolan’s biggest downfalls is his writing of female characters. This is a criticism that is levelled at the director again and again, upon the release of every one of his films and audiences have a point. The female characters in Nolan’s films have very little purpose but to act as plot devices and have an effect on the main character; in themselves they have little story and virtually no development. Scarlett Johansson in The Prestige is a good example of this and Ariadne in Inception too, along with the women in his Batman films. There really seems no need for them to be there and they add next to nothing to the story. With the inclusion of Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises it seems maybe Nolan is trying to prove that he can write a captivating female character to compete with the men of his films.

It has been said that Nolan gets the best out of all the actors he works with, but look at the people he has worked with: Guy Pearce, Al Pacino, Robin Williams, the brilliant Hilary Swank, Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine… the list goes on. Point is, every one of the aforementioned actors was already established and thought of as a very good, if not some of the best, performers at the time. Even I could have made a film with Michael Caine and Leonardo DiCaprio and got good performances from them because they are already brilliant actors! Nolan doesn’t seem to challenge himself, but then again, if you can work with the best around then you’re going to do that and who can really blame him.

As briefly mentioned earlier, Christopher Nolan has brought a new life and new energy to an otherwise dead and buried franchise in the form of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, the latter being described as one of the best films of all time. It may be a stretch but Nolan could be seen as the saviour of comic book films. Before him, of course, there was already Spider-Man and X-men that had been successful but Nolan showed what successes comic book movies have the potential to be.

Whether you like him or not nobody with a sensible view on movies can argue that Christopher Nolan is not a good director. His films are among the best of modern cinema and he is definitely one of my top three directors of all time. With The Dark Knight Rises coming out this year it seems certain that Nolan is set to rise yet again and receive even more praise as he brings the curtain down on one of the best trilogies of all time.

The hype surrounding this man is definitely justified.