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the joker

Movies, Special

The 5 Best Superhero Movies

When I grew up superhero movies weren’t something to be excited about. Most of them were mediocre at best and  “X-Men: The Last Stand” at worse – a movie so bad that 20th Century Fox decided to make “Days Of Future Past” a good movie that basically exists to erase the events of a bad movie.

But, around 2008 something changed in the genre. It became good. Suddenly the movies weren’t all about overused tropes and too tight costumes with clearly visible Clooney nipples. Suddenly they started asking real questions and portrayed real characters with real flaws.

 Tony Stark used to be an arms dealer with questionable morals building his fortune on the misery of war. Bruce Wayne had to face the concept of nihilism and The Joker actually had a point in his idea that if we take away a human’s comfort, they basically turn into wild animals. It was a massive step up from Toby Maguire’s dance in Spider-Man 3.

So with Marvel Comic’s 10-year anniversary officially over we felt it was a good time to take a retrospective look over the movies we’ve enjoyed the last decade.

These are my favourites and of course, my list is the objective truth. If you disagree let’s talk about it. Leave a comment somewhere and I will explain why you are wrong.

 

WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS! IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE ON THE LIST GO WATCH AND COME BACK! GOOD? GOOD! LET’S DO THIS!

 

Number 5: “Deadpool” (2016)

 

(Photo: www.telegraph.co.uk)

Finding the number 5 spot was arguably more difficult than the number 1 spot considering my massive man-crush on Ryan Reynolds and the fact that I have probably read Deadpool comics for 15 years. The movie shows amazing chemistry between Wade Wilson and Vanessa and the jokes are funny and hit 90% of the times. It showed you don’t need a huge budget for a great film and the passion behind the project is obvious.

However, the reason why I put it at number 5 is that even though the movie is amazing, it doesn’t work by itself. It serves as a massive satire of the superhero genre which only works due to the massive saturation of the genre. The movie feels like an inside joke in the ways it pokes fun of Green Lantern and licencing issues between studios jokes that you only pick up if you are “in the know” in the superhero universe. My dad with no relationship to superhero movies would not enjoy the film the same way I would.

It is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen and it was a massive breath of fresh air; it was just that, a breath of fresh air. It is the mate you hang out with once a year and have a great time with but if you were to hang out with him more it would lose a lot of the magic. And that’s why I put it at number 5. Still amazing, just not the best of the best. (Sorry Ryan, please respond to my love letters)

 

Number 4: “The Dark Knight” (2008)

 

(Photo: www.variety.com)

Another one that is probably one of my favourite movies of all time. The late Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the psychotic clown, prince of crime has made it into a modern classic. Its theme of order vs chaos is both interesting and thought-provoking.

What makes the movie interesting though is that Batman is not a hero; he is a necessary evil. Bruce Wayne really wants to be replaced by Harvey Dent – someone that can create real societal change in the dark pit of corruption and debauchery that Gotham City is. Wayne’s perfect world is one where he is not needed and it is a goal he actively seeks out to achieve and I feel that is an idea not widely explored in superhero movies. And of course Michael Caine as Alfred is amazing: I cried extremely manly tears during the “I failed you” speech in the sequel “The Dark Knight Rises”.

 

Number 3: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)

 

(Photo: www.whats-on-netflix.com)

The movie was just released but man, what a movie. A lot of charm, hilarious jokes and great animation. It also featured the movie debut of fan favourites Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen.

When I first saw the trailer I was a bit sceptical to the animation style, but it really does work and the movie ended up being both hilarious and heart-wrenching. Nicholas Cage as Spider-noir quickly became a favourite and I still burst out randomly overly dramatic quotes in the office: “Wherever I go, the wind follows…. and the wind smells like rain”.

The trailers also did a brilliant job hiding the reveals. I genuinely did not see the Doc Ock reveal coming and let out an audible “no way” in the theatre. John Mulaney does a surprisingly good job as Peter Porker – a character that proved to be more than just comic relief.

 

Number 2: Wonder Woman (2017)

 

(Photo: www.vox.com)

A movie that really surprised me was “Wonder Woman”. I recently re-watched the film to try to figure why a movie featuring an Amazon coming to Europe during the worst conflict in human history ended up blowing me away like that. I think a lot of it comes down to the movie asking the question “is humanity essentially good or evil”?

There is one scene in the movie where Diana gets ice cream from a vendor and is so excited about it and tells the owner to be very proud of their creation. There was a genuine wholesomeness where she sees one of the best qualities in humanity: just basic kindness.

But simultaneously it does show the brutal side of humankind with Dr Poison and her gas attacks. Ares explains that humanity is only capable of death and selfishness, yet Steve Trevor sacrifices himself to save London showing that humanity is way more complex. I think the movie’s message is that humanity is imperfect and that makes us perfect. And I love that.

 

Number 1: Logan (2017)

 

(Photo: www.livinghours.com)

Wolverine was probably my favorite superhero as a kid and “X-Men” was maybe the first comic I started reading. I always loved his character and I consider X-men 2 one of the few good superhero movies before 2008.

Full disclosure: I have a near and dear relationship to Jackman’s Wolverine and I loved the “Old Man Logan” comics (which the story is loosely inspired by). Yet, I was blown away. I don’t know if I can honestly say it is a superhero movie since (if we are going all movie technical) it checks off more boxes in the western genre. Watch the movie and imagine Red Dead Redemption 2’s Arthur Morgan saying the lines and it still fits.

The movie follows a lone gunslinger (just in this case the guns are claws) that roam around the wilderness just looking for peace after a life of brutality. This Logan isn’t the bulletproof god of X-men origins: this is just a broken dying man driving a fancy Uber so he and his surrogate father Charles that suffers from Alzheimer’s can buy a boat.

The movie portrays Logan as the last of his kind, after most of the others mutants got killed. He is a lonely alcoholic. But after meeting his “daughter” Lauren aka X-23, he does earn a higher purpose even though he originally did it for the money.

The movie isn’t a superhero movie and I guess in some way that’s what makes it such a great superhero movie. It’s less about the greatness of being superhuman and more the realization that nothing last forever; even the greatest stories have to come to an end – regardless of if you have got claws or just normal, boring human hands.

 

Well there you have it: my top 5 superhero films! What’s your top 5? Add a comment somewhere and I will explain why my list is better!

Have a great week/weekend/year/whatever.

-Alex Dante

Find all your Marvel and DC merch at EMP!

EMP, Fashion, Gifts, Movies, Special

Gift Ideas for a Superhero Fan! (Or a Supervillain fan – who are we to judge?)

 

As a kid, I remember my dream job was “Spider-Man”. Some wanted to be police officers, other wanted to be lawyers or doctors, and some wanted to be marine biologists specialized in whale migration. But whenever the teacher asked: “What do you wanna be when you grow up, Alex?” I would always answer with confidence and self-assurance: “superhero”.  I wanted to be a mutated combination of Spider-man and Super-Man. I don’t really know why, I guess I was extremely power hungry at 8 and wanted to rule the schoolyard with an iron fist spreading fear into my enemies, or more likely I just wanted to have awesome abilities. Unfortunately, for every year that passes, it seems less and less likely that I will get bitten by a radioactive spider, be called upon by a magic ring, or in the case of Marvel hero “Free Spirit”, getting exposed to radioactive self-help tapes (seriously, google it.) Yeah, I suppose, I have to fall back on my backup plan: getting called to Hogwarts and become the next teacher in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Well, since I am Scandinavian my local school would be Durmstrang and I am honestly okay with that too.

In the meantime though, one of the muggle traditions is Christmas, and that means Christmas presents. If you know someone who also has a dream of getting superpowers but you aren’t able to give them super-speed or the ability to create shockwaves equal to their blood alcohol content (again not kidding, Google “Gin Genie”), then I understand your conundrum. But relax, ya boi Alex got the next best things, so get a cup of hot chocolate, lean back and enjoy:

 

Alex’s 7 best gift ideas for a superhero/supervillain fan! ™

 

Number 1: Batman bathrobe

Sometimes after a long day of locking up The Joker or getting into a battle of wits with The Riddler, even Batman likes to relax, and I like to imagine that his ego is so big that he wears a robe with the famous bat symbol on its back, and a cool bat hood in case he needs to get up in a hurry. The robe is super comfortable and is perfect for those lazy mornings. Throw in some of our Batman slippers, and you will never want to wear anything else. It’s literally the perfect bathrobe, or should I say “batrobe”?

 

 

Number 2:  Spider Gwen zipped hoodie

 

Spider Gwen came onto the superhero stage fairly recently making her debut in the excellent 2014 Spiderverse storyline. Spider-Gwen explores an alternative universe where Peter Parker’s tragic love-interest Gwen Stacy gets bitten by a radioactive spider instead of Peter, turning her into Spider-Woman. I remember when I first got introduced to her I immediately loved her; she is cool, plays drums in “The Mary Janes”, her costume design is amazing and the plots are intriguing. Goes without saying that she has become one of my personal favorite heroes, and therefore I love this hoodie. Spider-Gwen’s unique costume has made reoccurring appearances on multiple Comic-Cons with good reason it has a brilliant pink/white color scheme that looks extremely cool, and with the animated film “Into The Spider-verse” hitting the cinema December 12th, she is guaranteed to just keep surging in popularity.

 

 

Number 3: Aquaman Leather Jacket

 

Unless you have been living under a rock, or have seriously no interest in superheroes (in that case I wonder how you ended up here? And how is the internet connection under that rock?) you know that DC’s the Aquaman movie is out in December, showing the story and royal lineage of the often misunderstood Arthur Curry. Aquaman has often been represented by media as the boring useless hero, but he is really awesome! And so is this jacket! Surprisingly well-made, and stylish. The Aquaman logo is there but floats perfectly into the rest of the design. People outside the superhero/nerd world wouldn’t even think twice if they saw it. Unfortunately, it’s not vegan leather… but nevertheless a cool jacket that I personally love.

 

 

Number 4: Deadpool Dirty Door Mat

 

Deadpool used to be an obscure wisecracking merch up until Ryan Reynolds leaked… I mean someone else we obviously don’t know who… leaked the Deadpool test-footage 4 years ago and he has since become a hilarious household name. His movies have become huge successes even with a PG-13 edited version of “Deadpool 2”  “Once Upon A Deadpool” hitting cinemas December 12th. I might not be as brutal as the original but I am sure it will be a blast regardless considering DP’s quick wits. And quick wit is what you also get with this doormat, who welcomes your guests in the best way possible, while reminding them to wipe their feet.

 

Number 5: Sane & Crazy Harley Quinn Hoodie

 

Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, better known as The Jokers partner in crime “Harley Quinn”,  is a villain I’ve never felt gets enough justice in the movies: in reality (well comics) she is hilarious, her story is heart aching, a great fighter and capable of impressive acrobatics. She is so much more than DC’s less known clown and that’s why I love her. This zip hoodie has got an awesome “Skull Harley” design and have clearly taken inspiration from an Ouija board creating this “Cool girl look”. I think it looks awesome. If you don’t then fine – I am not your supervisor and you just have to live with being wrong.

 

 

Number 6: Black Metal Rocket T-shirt

 

 

If someone said to me in 2012 that Guardians Of The Galaxy would be a major blockbuster, I would get them thrown into a mental institution for severe disillusions… but here we are! The movies are truly great; they are actually so great that they changed the comics. Peter Quill in the original Guardians Of The Galaxy was not the wisecracking vagabond we know today. But after the success of Chris Pratt’s portrayal they changed him to be more familiar to new readers, and honestly it was a welcomed change. My personal favorite on the crew, however, is Rocket, the destructive rodent voiced by Bradley Cooper fills my heart with joy. And so does this black metal inspired T-shirt that fills in the gap between Black metal logos and Marvel merch, and it works way better than it probably should.

 

Number 7: Captain America Christmas Jumper

No Christmas list would be complete without an ugly Christmas Jumpers, and to be honest I never liked Captain America when he was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe but he has really grown on me and as a consequence so has this jumper. I love the color scheme and the small “8-bit” Steve Rogers dancing around the entire jumper ready for battle with his shield. Perfect for that lazy boxing day, where all you wanna do is lay down and digest food.

 

So there you have it! My personal 7 recommendations for stuff you can pick up for your friendly neighborhood superhero fan. It isn’t as good as the ability to eat almost any matter regardless of form (once again, no joke… “Matter-eater lad”) but it helps to fill the void. Now I am back to waiting for my summoning to the Durmstrang Institute but until then I will be enjoying muggle traditions and I hope that you will too. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

P.S: If anyone knows where I can get a radioactive spider I would much appreciate a heads-up.

Alex Dante Rundhaug – EMP Norway