Old Superhero Movies and TV Shows

We are currently in the middle of a superhero movie craze. If you look at the list of upcoming blockbuster movies, it is full of comic adaptations. Just this year we will see Captain America, Thor and Green Lantern and there is much more to come. As a geek, I’m really loving this. Granted, half of these movies will probably be shit, but for every turd like Wolverine: Origins or Fantastic Four there is a pretty decent Iron Man movie, or something as brilliant as Christoper Nolan’s Batman films.

Not to mention that even the crappiest modern day productions are still better than the kind of crap Hollywood used to churn out in the 80′s and the 90′s. Don’t believe me? Let’s check out some craptastic superhero licensed movies that came out in the past:

Good example here is this the Captain America film from 1990:

This was before Hollywood costume designers figured out how to make hero costumes. Clearly just giving a dude some brightly colored spandex is not the greatest idea. Sure, it might look good in a comic, but it does not translate directly into the real world. Oh, and it helps if your hero does not look as a slow and lumbering buffoon. Trick cinematography? Wire work? Stuntmen? Bah, just let the Cap roll around on the ground very slowly – that will look awesome.

Even if the new Captain movie turns out to be complete failure, it will still probably be better than this.

Actually, let me take that back. For what is worth, Roger Carman’s Fantastic Four from 1994 looks just about as campy as the more recent version:

I must admit that I love how Mr. Fantastic’s only move in this movie is to elongate his hand. On the other hand, The Thing looks remarkably close to the costume used in the 2005 version. I guess we still don’t have the technology to capture poor Ben Grimm’s rocky form.

In the past, a winning formula for a comic book based movie was to take a big muscular action hero, and then write a script only very loosely based on the source material. Bonus points if mainstream audience do not even know they are watching a comic book adaptation. This is exactly what they did for the first Punisher movie:

I’m pretty sure the script for this was recycled from some other Dolph Lundgren action movie seeing how they are all pretty much the same.

Speaking of Dolph, do you guys remember him as the He-Man. It’s not necessarily a DC/Marvel hero but I think it’s worth mentioning. I love how this movie has almost absolutely nothing to do with the original cartoon other than the title, and names of few prominent characters:

Also, I love how they immediately relocate the action to modern day New York. Eternia? Whee the fuck is that? The audiences won’t be able to relate. Fuck that. Let’s say they fall into some magical portal, and then everything else happens on earth. Cue dozens of confused/frightened reaction shots from random extras. Brilliant!

Another action hero who was given a comic book role Sylvester Stalone:

Thankfully they did not relocate this movie to present day New York, but I think it was a close call. Also, movie has almost nothing in common with the comic. Other than the costumes. They sort of got these right. Which is bizarre, since costumes almost never look right in these things.

Here is another spandex failure: CBS’s Flash from the early 90′s:

Once again, this is Flash with original cast of characters doing stuff that isn’t even remotely related to the comic. Which wasn’t nearly as bad as the Spiderman series from the 70′s. I watched pretty much the entire thing on VHS tapes when I was a kid:

You know, I’m pretty sure these effects and stunts were still laughably bad, even by 70′s standards.

Yes, yes, I know this is 70′s and I was suppose to be talking about stuff from the 80′s and 90′s. I watched it in the 80′s though… Does that count?

Also, Japanese people did it better – their version of spider man had a giant robot:

I don’t want to go back in time any further. At this rate I will have to mention Adam West’s Batman in about 2 paragraphs, and I just don’t want to go there.

Here is the interesting question: I wonder if in 20 years we will look back at the current batch of super hero movies and feel the same mixture of amusement and embarrassment as we do watching these gems? I hope not. After all, some of them (like Nolan’s Batman films) are just solid entertainment.

What do you think? Also, did I miss any amusing hero movies from 80′s and 90′s? Post them in the comments!

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One Response to Old Superhero Movies and TV Shows

  1. jambarama Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    When I watch those animated xmen shows, I’m pretty embarrassed now too. I think that old stuff looks campy – partially because we’ve gotten older and more discerning, and partially because technology and techniques have improved. I don’t think trend is limited to superhero movies. Even good movies are subject to this. Have you rewatched any of the LOTR movies? They’re OK, but not nearly as impressive as when they were released. They swept the academies early in the decade, but they didn’t make very many critics “best of the decade” lists. A few classics hold their value, but by and in large, we can just do better stuff now, and as I get older and I understand more about people & the world, I’m more skeptical.

    There is this postmodern composer of classical music, I forget his name, but I believe he was Polish. Anyhow, I was reading about him several years ago, and I ran across a criticism of his work. The critic hated this composer because his work was technically so much better than all the big classical composers: bach, beethoven, mozart. Had those composers had the training and education and theory of current composers, undoubtedly they’d have been much better than they actually were. But now they only stand out amongst their peers, not against all others. Computers today can create new works that sound distinctly like these composers. Through the computers, we have access to unlimited hayden and strauss and salieri. Eventually we may get to the same place with movies and CGI.

    So I’d say it isn’t typically the writers/directors/actors fault that the old movies look so ridiculous now. We’re just technologically spoiled and far more discerning.

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