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100 Essential Superhero Movies: 2016 Edition

100 Essential Superhero Movies: 2016 Edition

It’s been quite a while since I’ve updated my 100 Essential Superhero Movies. I initially made the list in 2014, and then I updated and ranked them to include the previous year’s movies in 2015 with the intention of updating the list each year; adding the most important and/or best movies of the year and removing some of the movies that only just barely made the list, or ones that have been eclipsed by newer movies for one reason or another. So here I am to update this list of the 100 superhero movies that I think are essential to understanding superhero movie history. These aren’t the 100 best superhero movies, each one is included because it contributes in some way to superhero movie history.
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Ranking every Comic Book Film of 2016

It’s the beginning of a new year and for most movie blogs that means the year-end wrap-up list. And even though it took me a couple extra days, I once again managed to watch every superhero and comic book movie released in the US (that I’m aware of). The only other film that I haven’t watched was the bollywood superhero film A Flying Jatt which I don’t believe ever got a US release where I could watch a subtitled version. And instead of merely going through some number of my favorites, I decided to do something just a little bit different and go ahead and rank every single comic book film of this year from worst to best. And one quick disclaimer, while the title reads “Comic Book Film”, as I always do for this site I include superhero films that were never based on comics as well as comic book adaptations that aren’t about superheroes.
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Max Steel

Max Steel 2016

I’m a few days behind, but after watching this, I have covered every single comic book and superhero movie released in the US in 2016. I missed it in theaters because everyone else did. It was only in my area for one week and I was busy that week, but it’s out on home video now so I reluctantly caught up with it. I knew nothing at all about Max Steel the toys, or the cartoon, but based on the trailer it looked like a lesser version of Power Rangers without the giant robots and only one teen. And that’s pretty much what I got out of it. This is really the definition of standard teen superhero origin story that hits all the markers and never really makes a name for itself to stand out in the crowd. It’s not an awful movie, but it’s so mediocre and unoriginal in nearly everything it does that it’s a complete bore. And even though it’s unlikely that it matters, since this is a relatively new movie, here’s your warning that I will be discussing the movie in full, including potential spoilers.
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Silver Hawk

Silver Hawk 2004

I took a bit of an unexpected break over the holidays, but the other day I decided to pop in another movie that’s been sitting in my DVD collection for a while just waiting to be reviewed. I hadn’t heard much about this movie aside from the fact that it has Michael Jai White in a villain role and Michelle Yeoh in the lead. I also had a feeling that it was a bit of a cheesy action movie. I didn’t quite expect the level of humor that was present throughout most of the film, but especially in the latter half. There were some good elements, some familiar elements, but it could have been improved quite a bit with some better cinematography as much of the fighting was marred by poor camera work and odd moments of slow motion. It wasn’t quite the camp level of Batman 66, but there was some fun to be had here.
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Crimson

Crimson 2013

I’m always on the lookout for superhero and comic book movies, especially some of the more obscure ones. But it still came as a surprise when I was looking through the DVD section of my library in a relatively small suburb of Chicago when I happened to see a DVD that caught my eye for this film. It surprised me even more when I looked it up on IMDB and saw that it only had 13 user ratings which made me wonder how it ended up in this library in the first place. But less surprisingly was that it was an ultra low budget film along the lines of something like Captain Battle or the Amazing Bulk, only with surprisingly lower production values, acting, or much of anything else.
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Antboy 3

Antboy 3 2016

Continuing on in my catching up of the last few 2016 films that have slipped past me is the latest in the Danish superhero Antboy franchise. I thought the first Antboy was ok, the second one was a lot of fun, so I was excited to finally get the chance to watch the third and supposedly final entry in this series. Not to mention that all three are currently available to stream on Netflix in the US. Since they are still marketed as kids movies, they are dubbed in English, but do yourself a favor and if you’re watching it because you’re a fan of superhero movies, do yourself a favor and watch it in the original Danish audio. Typically I tend to watch dubs over subs, but that’s usually due to one of two reasons: either it’s a cheesy film to begin with and the bad-to-mediocre dubs add to the camp factor, or it’s a newer animated feature and the dub is done in a highly professional manner that’s a similar quality to the original performances. This one falls between the two, what little I listened to of the dub is very mediocre in quality so it really detracts from the overall film. That said, I did think that this was a fitting end to the trilogy and quite possibly the best of the bunch.
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Spaghettiman

Spaghettiman 2016

You’d think that when I told you that there’s a movie about a guy who develops incredibly weird super powers and is a bit of a schlubby roommate with his overweight friend that it’s also a movie unlike anything else I’ve seen. But when it comes to this site and the amount of indie movies I’ve seen, there are actually quite a few bizarre similarities. This is not the only movie I’ve seen where the hero as a main character has the power to shoot food out of his hands. This also isn’t the only low budget movie involving superheroes where two friends and roommates have a friendly-yet-contentious relationship with each other. This isn’t even the only movie I’ve seen that seems to have chosen a random word out of the dictionary and added “man” to the end. The point is, I’ve seen quite a few of these movies, and I’m not trying to say that any of them are copying off each other, I highly doubt that any two projects had ever even heard of each other. But I have, and when looking at them comparatively, this ends up falling somewhere in the middle of these quirky, low budget, superhero movie concepts.
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Inseparable

Inseparable 2011

Something that I realized while watching this movie is that it’s actually a fairly common trend, especially for lower budget superhero films to present the actual superhero as someone with some type of mental break. Whether they are delusional in some way where they don’t entirely realize what’s going on, and often they are represented with an actual version of a psychotic break where they are seeing hallucinations and/or what they’re experience isn’t entirely real. This film is yet another one along those same trends and while I didn’t know it before I started watching it, I caught onto the thread very early on. It’s also interesting that it is a Chinese production, and yet it brought on Kevin Spacey and pushed him into essentially a lead role in front of the supposed main character. Like many of these superhero films with a delusional main character, the film becomes a mix of comedy and drama, though it doesn’t quite go into very dark territory that others tread into. It doesn’t do anything entirely new, but the leads are likable, especially Kevin Spacey and overall it’s a fun story.
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Superbob

Superbob 2015

It’s time to catch up with another movie from last year that I wasn’t able to see because it wasn’t released here in the US. This is a little independent comedy from Grain Media and first time director Jon Drever. Often, I think to myself that there’s almost nowhere new that a superhero movie can go, it just has to do something that’s been done before well. And while there have been several concepts out there about a loser who gains super powers to become a superhero, there hasn’t been anything that’s gone quite the same way about it that Superbob does, and that’s not even discussing the pseudo-documentary style of it either. I initially wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie, but the nervous charm of Bob made me laugh quite a bit throughout the film and it has a nice heart at the center of it all. A pleasant surprise of a movie and currently available in the US to stream via Flix Premier.
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The Last Superhero

All Superheroes Must Die 2: The Last Superhero 2016

It’s been a bit of a slow August, at least slow as in posts appearing on this site, the complete opposite when it comes to outside of this blog. But I was able to check out another recent release. Back when I first caught All Superheroes Must Die, I thought it was a great little ultra-low-budget gem that brought some new ideas and a horror vibe to superhero movies. Writer/director/star Jason Trost has gone a slightly different direction with his sequel that follows the events after his first movie along with revisiting events well before in a pseudo documentary style that becomes more like a mystery than a superhero movie. And it succeeds quite well as a mystery, it kept me guessing until near the very end without falling for obvious Macguffins and the documentary style was a nice touch to help explain the low budget feel, though there were a few moments of special effects that looked good despite the low budget.
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