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Marvel Movies Project: Best & Worst

After five months and 27 films, I am finally finished this Marvel Movies Project. It was a fun experience; even if a few of the movies are not of the highest quality, it was still interesting to go back and watch them all in order, seeing the evolution (and ups and downs) of Marvel on film. To wrap up, here are some of my picks for the best and worst of Marvel Movies.

Best Movies

  1. Spider-Man 2
  2. The Avengers
  3. Spider-Man
  4. Thor
  5. Iron Man
  6. X2
  7. Captain America: The First Avenger

I tried to pick a top five, but I couldn’t get it below seven. Then I tried to do a top 10, but I also couldn’t justify a number higher than seven (although X-Men came close to making the list). Basically, I think these seven are pretty easily the cream of the Marvel crop. They all feature solid casts, directors, writing, and effects, and all tell really good stories with a good mix of humour, action, and drama. All are also fun to watch — an important quality in a comic book movie.

Worst Movies

  1. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
  2. Punisher: War Zone

Again, I tried to make a top five but although there are definitely some other bad Marvel movies, I feel these two stand out in terms of total suckitude. Something like Daredevil is bad, yes, but it at least doesn’t feel like it was intended to go straight to video. Both these films are also significantly worse and more painful to watch than their predecessors.

Worst Threequels

  1. Blade: Trinity
  2. X-Men: The Last Stand
  3. Spider-Man 3

Only three Marvel franchises have made it to three instalments, and in all three cases the third instalment has been a huge step down in quality for the franchise. The first two Spider-Man movies: amazing. The first two X-Men movies: astonishing. The first two Blade movies: well, they were pretty good horror/action films. Unfortunately, Blade: Trinity features an insulting script aimed directly at the lowest common denominator, X-Men: The Last Stand sees almost all prior character development tossed out the window along with the characters’ principles, and Spider-Man 3 turns its lead character into an unsympathetic jerk to make a point about … something. The terrible threequel: a worrying trend for Marvel.

So yeah, who’s looking forward to Iron Man 3!? Don’t worry; it’s the first Marvel Studios threequel so I’m sure none of this applies to it and I will in no way regret using a vacation day to go see it on May 3.

The Noble Failure Award

I cannot in good conscience call Hulk a good movie, but I can at least see that the filmmakers were trying to do something interesting with it. Although it is a bloated, boring mess, it gets credit for its ambition.

Most Improved by Time and Lowered Expectations

Elektra, which actually seemed pretty decent this time around. It’s not a masterpiece, but in terms of comic book movies about women — a very small and not very illustrious group — it might be the best. Which also goes to show that we need more comic book movies about women.

Most Unnecessary

I’ve been told over and over by my friends from the local comic book store that the Raimi Spider-Man films have not aged well, and The Amazing Spider-Man is a big improvement. I guess this proves that even cool people can be wrong, because nothing will convince me that The Amazing Spider-Man is anything more than a tired rehash of something that was done much, much better just a decade ago. Even if it was a good movie, which it isn’t, but hypothetically — the point is, you’ve still already seen it. Recently.

Key Actors

There are two actors whose performances I think have essentially built the Marvel movie world: Hugh Jackman and Robert Downey Jr. Wolverine is of course one of Marvel’s most well-loved characters, and Jackman’s excellence ensured that his popularity carried over to the big screen. Plus, the guy has appeared in five films, with two more on the way. It’s impressive. Downey, meanwhile, deserves a huge amount of credit for the success of Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If Iron Man had tanked, things might have gone very differently for Marvel Studios. That it didn’t is in large part thanks to his charismatic presence.

Other than those two, I think Wesley Snipes has to get some credit; after all, it was Blade‘s surprising success that ushered in the modern Marvel movie era. Chris Evans is the standout actor to have played more than one Marvel character. Steve Rogers and Johnny Storm are both major figures in the Marvel universe, and Evans is great as both.

Best Female Performances

The X-Men movies give us the most to choose from here: Famke Janssen (Jean), Anna Paquin (Rogue), and Rebecca Romijn (Mystique) stand out for me, and I also think their characters are the three most interesting female mutants in the movies. In terms of love interest type roles, I like Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane a lot. Hayley Atwell and Natalie Portman are also very strong in Captain America and Thor. Speaking of Thor, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Kat Dennings’ hilarious performance. Rosemary Harris is wonderfully warm and grandmotherly as Aunt May in the Raimi Spidey films.

But most of all, there is Scarlett Johansson, who is doing spectacularly as the Black Widow and giving Marvel its first legitimate shot at making a really good female-centred movie, if they would just freaking take her up on it.

Best Villainous Performances

  1. Tom Hiddleston as Loki in The Avengers
  2. Ian McKellen as Magneto in the X-Men trilogy
  3. Michael Fassbender as Magneto in X-Men: First Class

Magneto just has a certain … animal magnetism. Unfortunately for him, he got Loki’d.

Best Comedic Performances

  1. Chris Hemsworth and Kat Dennings in Thor
  2. Mark Ruffalo/CGI Hulk in The Avengers
  3. Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and The Avengers
  4. Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis in Fantastic Four
  5. Tobey Maguire in the Spider-Man trilogy

It’s true that, strictly speaking, these aren’t all 100% comedic performances, but they all have very funny aspects and I would say the movies listed are the funniest Marvel movies. I would also give an honourable mention to Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2, because he’s so absurd and Tony’s hatred of him is so hilarious.

Tobey Maguire has a lot of haters for some reason I do not understand, but just think back to the sequence in Spider-Man 2 where Peter, having given up being Spider-Man, dons his glasses and happily goes about his everyday nerdy life. It’s very funny stuff. How much of the “comedy” in Spider-Man 3 is intentionally funny, or funny at all, is very debatable, but I think credit goes to Maguire for trying to go along with whatever Sam Raimi was trying to do.

Best Action Sequences

  1. The Avengers: Helicarrier Attack
  2. Spider-Man 2: Train (the Bank/Saving May sequence is also superb)
  3. X2: Wolverine Is the World’s Most Badass Babysitter
  4. Iron Man: Building the Suit/First Flight (this is a bit of a cheat because it could include most of the movie, but hey)
  5. Spider-Man: Wall-Crawling & First Webs

It’s tough to pick just a few scenes from 27 such action-packed movies. In the end, though, there’s a handful that stand out.

Best Cast

The Avengers wins this automatically, but other than that: Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy has a truly marvellous cast. Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Rosemary Harris, Cliff Robertson, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, J.K. Simmons (who is like the old Spidey cartoon come to life), Elizabeth Banks, Bill Nunn, and Ted Raimi are all fantastic. They also have great chemistry as a group.

The cast of Thor would be my other choice. The Asgardians: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Rene Russo, Jaimie Alexander, Josh Dallas, Ray Stevenson, and Tadanobu Asano, plus Colm Feore as Laufey. The Earthlings: Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, and Clark Gregg, with a cameo from Jeremy Renner. All of these people are good actors, and incredibly, almost all of them make a memorable impact on the movie.

Best Stan Lee Cameo

As much as I hate The Amazing Spider-Man‘s existence, I do love Stan Lee’s appearance as an oblivious school librarian. However, his cameos in the Iron Man movies as “Hugh Hefner” and “Larry King” would probably top the list if not for the fact that he plays the FF’s lovable mailman, Willie Lumpkin, in Fantastic Four.

Some Favourite Dialogue

“That’s my secret, Captain. I’m always angry.” – Bruce Banner, The Avengers

“I need a horse!”
“We don’t have horses, just dogs, cats, birds …”
“Then give me one of those large enough to ride.”exchange between Thor and a pet shop employee, Thor

“This is really … heavy …” – Peter Parker, Spider-Man 2

Those are my impressions of the movies themselves. I’ll be back tomorrow with a few final thoughts on comic book movie adaptations in general, and that will be my very last Marvel Movies Project post (as far as I know). My goal was to finish before Iron Man 3 — I made it!

Marvel Movies Project: Ghost Rider (and Half-Way Roundup!)

Movie poster for Ghost Rider (2007).

Ghost Rider (2007) is the story of stunt motorcycle rider and monkey documentary devotee Johnny Blaze, who sells his soul to the devil, here named Mephistopheles, in order to cure his father’s cancer. To work off his debt, Johnny is forced to become the “Ghost Rider,” which involves being the devil’s bounty hunter. Then there is some deal about a contract so evil that another Ghost Rider hid it, and now Mephistopheles’ son, whose name is Blackheart, wants to used it to show his father up … or something. Meanwhile, Johnny reunites with Roxanne, the love of his teen years. Eventually, Blackheart threatens Roxanne and Johnny has to save her.

Nicolas Cage is a fun actor and he seems to enjoy being Johnny Blaze, who is an offbeat character with some absurd quirks. The whole movie, really, is odd and cannot be taken seriously, with its paper thin plot and the cheesetastic delivery of lines like “I am speaking to the fire element within me” and “My name is leeeeeeeeegion. For we are maaaaaaaaaaany.” Most of the cast give silly performances to match the movie’s tone. Peter Fonda hams it up as Mephistopheles. Sam Elliott, making his second Marvel movie appearance after playing General Ross in Hulk, is in full mysterious stranger mode as a former Ghost Rider named Carter Slade.

Eva Mendes plays Roxanne. It’s not much of a role; she wears tight, low-cut clothes and looks pretty — as if to drive home the point, Roxy even desperately asks a waiter at one point if he think she’s pretty — and gets rescued after making ineffectual attempts to help Johnny. Ghost Rider is probably the worst movie so far in terms of female representation.

Ghost Rider also marks the half-way point of this Marvel Movies Project, being the 14th of 27 films! To celebrate this milestone, here’s a quick look back on some of what we’ve seen so far.

Origin Stories

Blade, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Hulk, The Punisher, Fantastic Four, and Ghost Rider all show us how the heroes got their powers. All of these except Blade and Daredevil, which pick up the action with the protagonist already in evil-fighting mode, also show the characters’ transitions from normal person to something more.

In every case but Fantastic Four, the hero’s story involves the death of a parent or loved one — several loved ones in poor Frank Castle’s case. Castle, Matt Murdock, Peter Parker, and Johnny Blaze have all lost their fathers, while Bruce Banner is haunted by the sudden reappearance of his. Castle, Blade, and Banner’s stories are different enough that you almost don’t notice the similarity, but I think Daredevil and Ghost Rider probably suffer from being too similar to Spider-Man, which is the original and still the best dead father figure story in the Marvel Universe.

It’s also worth noting that Daredevil acts as an origin story for Elektra in some ways, and it’s the death of her father that prompts her to put all her martial arts training to use.

Sequels & Spinoffs

Blade, the X-Men, and Spider-Man all feature in more than one film. I’ve watched three sequels and two threequels so far. The X-Men films rely strongly on continuity, with developments that take place in the earlier films affecting the later ones. The Blade movies are less continuity-based: there are very few references to the earlier films in the sequels; it would be pretty easy to follow Blade: Trinity without having seen Blade. Spider-Man 2 most definitely builds on a foundation established in Spider-Man, and in my opinion the two movies work best when seen in relation to each other. The core characters are all the same and many scenes in Spider-Man 2 call back directly to scenes from the first movie.

Elektra is the lone spinoff so far. The link to Daredevil exists but the filmmakers obviously intended Elektra to be a standalone movie.

Villains

Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and the Green Goblin (sort of) are the only villains who appear in sequels. Every other villain appears in one movie only. Most of the main villains have personal connections to their adversaries: either they’ve known each other for a long time, or the villain was involved in the murder of someone close to the hero. The exceptions are the Blade sequels, where the villains want to kill Blade mostly because he’s a pain in the butt.

My picks for standout villains are probably Magneto and Mystique from the X-Men series, as well as Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man 2. Doctor Doom was unfortunately disappointing; I was all ready for him to be awesome after I saw the first photos of his costume, but then he pretty much just relived Norman Osborn’s arc from Spider-Man.

Romance & Love Interests

Doomed pairings (Bruce and Betty, Daredevil and Elektra), token love interests (Eva Mendes in Ghost Rider, Goran Visnjic in Elektra), some extremely disinterested heroes (The Punisher, Blade — no woman in the Blade trilogy even makes it into more than one film), and one love triangle which turns into a doomed pairing (Wolverine-Jean-Cyclops) add up to not much in the way of heartwarming romance in the Marvel movies. There are a few bright spots, though. In the X-Men trilogy, Bobby and Rogue’s young love is very sweet. In Fantastic Four, Ben Grimm meets the kind-hearted Alicia after being dumped by his horrible wife. Reed’s hilariously inept attempts to woo Sue are also enjoyable, and their story ends well.

The one epic love story to be found is Peter and Mary Jane’s. Their courtship plays out over the course of the first two films and Peter’s love for Mary Jane drives a lot of the action. They’re both fully-developed characters who know each other well and support each other, even though their actual relationship has its fair share of bumps. By the end of Spider-Man 2, Mary Jane is aware of Peter’s secret identity and has made the choice to be with him anyway. The final shot of the movie is a closeup of her worried face, setting up their relationship to continue as a major source of drama in Spider-Man 3.

Best & Worst

Spider-Man 2 is possibly my favourite movie of all-time, so obviously I’m sticking with that as my choice for the best film so far. X2, Spider-Man, and X-Men are also a cut above the rest. Blade and Fantastic Four stand out as very enjoyable, too.

I’d probably place Blade: Trinity, The Punisher, Ghost Rider, Hulk, and Daredevil in the bottom five.

One thing I’ve noticed is that I haven’t found some of the movies I thought were awful the first time around as painful this time. Even Daredevil and Hulk, though I still don’t think they’re good, don’t seem quite as bad now that my expectations are lower. Elektra is probably the movie that benefited most from this “adjusted expectations” effect: I remembered it being terrible, but this time it seemed ok. On the other hand, I remembered thinking Ghost Rider was ok at the time, and when I watched it again I was disappointed.

My opinion of Blade: Trinity hasn’t changed. It sucked then and it still sucks now.

Marvel Movies Project: Blade: Trinity

As of Spider-Man 2, I am one third of the way through this Marvel Movies Project. Nine movies based on six Marvel characters/teams. Three sequels. Seven movies about solo (male) heroes and two ensembles. Today, as we enter the second leg of our journey, we encounter our first threequel.

Movie poster for Blade: Trinity (2004).

Blade: Trinity (2004) sees Blade pick up a couple of new allies in Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel), daughter of his old friend Whistler, and Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds). The three team up to take on the legendary first vampire Dracula, aka Drake (Dominic Purcell). Drake, who’s not a huge fan of our modern civilization, has been raised from a lengthy slumber by a crew of vampires whose leader is Danica Talos, played by the always awesome Parker Posey.

Given that Wesley Snipes actually went so far as to file a lawsuit against the producers of Blade: Trinity because he claimed “the director, screenplay and supporting cast of Blade: Trinity were forced on him in violation of his contract,” and this movie was “merely intended to set up spin-off movies,” the new additions to the cast seem like the obvious thing to talk about. The film marks the first chapter in Ryan Reynolds’ less-than-stellar comic book movie career: he’s also played Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (pretty lame) and of course Hal Jordan in Green Lantern (just plain awful). Apparently, there are still plans to go ahead with a Deadpool movie, too. Why? I don’t know. Anyways, Reynolds is not bad in this movie; he’s entertaining at times, his beard is very attractive, he looks good with his shirt off, and his scenes with Parker Posey (“HANNIBAL KING!!!!!!”) are fun. Reynolds just doesn’t have any chemistry with Wesley Snipes. At all. Their characters aren’t supposed to like each other, it’s true, but normally when two characters don’t like each other, you can get some humour or dramatic tension out of it. With Blade and Hannibal King, there’s only awkwardness. All King’s jokes fall completely flat when Blade is around. It’s terrible.

Jessica Biel fares better. Abigail is like a female version of Blade, not very talkative (though obviously not on the same level of taciturnity as Blade … because no one is), and she and Snipes have a decent vibe in their scenes together. No seething hatred here: I am thus forced to conclude Snipes’ main problem was with Ryan Reynolds.

Each of the three Blade movies had at least one good female character. Blade: Trinity actually has about three, which is pretty amazing for a comic book movie. There’s Abigail, obviously, and Danica is a very fun villain. Natasha Lyonne also appears as Sommerfield, a member of King and Abigail’s vampire-fighting gang, the Nightstalkers. Although Sommerfield doesn’t have that much to do, just her presence is kind of interesting: she is blind, a woman, and a computer geek, plus she’s a mom. It’s an unusual combination of traits for a comic book movie character. Her young daughter Zoe appears as well, and thanks to a couple of conversations that involve her this movie might technically pass the Bechdel Test. Of the movies I’ve watched for this project so far, I think X2 is the only other one that would pass. How sad.

That said, Blade: Trinity is full of sexist and homophobic language, not to mention plenty of stupid dick jokes. It’s noticeably much more lowest-common-denominator than the other two movies in the Blade series, which is too bad. The series wasn’t mindblowingly innovative or anything, but at least it wasn’t stupid. Blade: Trinity is stupid.

We have come to the end of Blade’s movie career so far. What’s next for Blade? Well, Marvel got the film rights to the character back, but apparently they don’t have plans to make a new movie at the moment. Wesley Snipes is currently in prison for tax evasion, but Wikipedia says he’ll be out in July and before he got locked up he said he’d be interested in doing a fourth film. You never know — stranger things have happened.

Marvel Movies Project: The Punisher

I’m seven films into this Marvel Movies Project and one of the most interesting things so far is the widely different target audiences for these first few films. There’s Spider-Man, which despite being quite violent is fairly kid-friendly. The X-Men franchise seems aimed at teens and up.  The rest of the movies, perhaps surprisingly, are more adult in tone. Daredevil is not as dark as it probably should be, but it does hold the distinction of including the first Marvel movie sex scene. (Granted, it is about as non-graphic as sex scenes get, but still.) Eric Bana’s bare butt makes an appearance in Hulk; on top of that, it’s hard to imagine kids being very interested in Bruce Banner and his weirdo father. Finally, there’s the Blade movies, grotesque and darkly violent with plenty of swearing: definitely not for the children. Which brings us to movie number eight:

Movie poster for The Punisher (2004)

Marvel’s most twisted hero character made it to the screen in 2004 in a movie I hope no one took their kids to see. The Punisher, starring Thomas Jane as Frank Castle, is sadly not about a superhero who loves puns, but rather a retired FBI agent who turns to vigilantism after his entire family is massacred. When I say entire family, I mean his wife, child, mother, father, siblings, nieces and nephews, uncles and aunts, cousins — this is a very thorough job. (Luckily, cousin Rick and his daughter Alexis skipped the family reunion that year.) Castle just wants his family back, but this is impossible. So, instead, he decides to seek revenge on the man responsible for their deaths — Howard Saint, played by John Travolta — by taking out his entire family, plus his entire criminal empire.

While carrying out his plan, Castle lives in a very strange apartment building with some very odd neighbours, two of whom are played by Rebecca Romijn, also known to Marvel fans as Mystique, and Ben Foster, who would go on to co-star in X-Men: The Last Stand. His interactions with these individuals gives the vengeance-obsessed Castle a bit of a connection to the human world and their scenes serve to lighten things up for a few minutes … until a team of hitmen shows up at the building and Foster’s character is having his piercings ripped out because he won’t give up Castle’s location.

Overall, this film is a dark and violent affair with offbeat characters and several bizarre moments (singing assassin Harry Heck!). Dark, violent, and weird: based on the stuff I’ve read (admittedly not that much), that is a pretty faithful representation of what Punisher comics are like. The movie contains a few very cool sequences, notably Castle’s insane fight with the blond Russian giant and his absolutely epic final revenge on Howard Saint, but I don’t think there are any outstanding performances. Thomas Jane is acceptable but not excellent (though hunky) and John Travolta is, well, John Travolta. It’s not a bad movie. It’s not a great one either.

The Punisher, who first appeared in an issue of Amazing Spider-Man in 1974, can be an interesting character; unlike Marvel’s other heroes, he kills people on purpose and he does it without much regret. He’s a descendant of wild west vigilantes — a lineage the film seems to draw on by including a couple of western elements, notably in the opening credits — and the ancestor of Dexter Morgan and other anti-heroes who right wrongs by illegal and morally questionable means. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t deal with the character’s shades of grey at all, never really questioning whether what Frank Castle is doing might be wrong, and ending with the idea that “in certain extreme situations, the law is inadequate. In order to shame its inadequacy, it is necessary to act outside the law.” The whole thing ends up feeling a bit like an NRA propaganda piece. It’s unfortunate.

Marvel Movies Project: Blade II

The third film in the Marvel Movies Project is also the first of many Marvel sequels: Blade II (2002), in which we rejoin Blade and Whistler in a new adventure.

Blade II movie poster

Yes, Whistler, thought dead at the end of Blade, actually sort of survived his self-inflicted gunshot wound. Sort of, because Whistler is now a vampire and being held captive by some other vampires. Blade’s first order of business in Blade II is to find him and administer what I assume is the cure for vampirism developed by Karen in Blade. Once Whistler is back in action, he, Blade, and their new ally Scud — who, in Whistler’s absence, has taken over as Blade’s weapons guy, but he’s younger so he knows more about technology — are approached by a group of elite vampire assassins called the Bloodpack who want to join forces with them in order to defeat a new breed of super vampire called Reapers. Why are these vampires interested in killing other vampires? Well, because the Reapers feed on regular vampires. A further twist: the Bloodpack was formed with the purpose of killing Blade himself. Awkward.

Having decided that the Reapers are a worse scourge on humanity than the regular vamps, Blade teams up with this squad of people who want him dead. One of their leaders is Nyssa (played by Leonor Varela, the original Marta from Arrested Development), a scientist vampire who is the daughter of a vampire nobleman. Nyssa, it turns out, is pretty nice for a vampire. She’s also pretty pretty, and she becomes the closest thing Blade has to a love interest this time around. Nyssa is a fairly interesting character; she’s a scientist, she’s a good soul, and she makes a daring decision to go against her father and sacrifice her own life at the end of the film. But, she’s no Karen Jenson from Blade. I don’t understand why Karen didn’t make it to the sequel. I liked her.

Anyways, Blade and the Bloodpack discover that sunlight is the only conventional vampire-killing method that works on the Reapers. With help from a sunlight bomb developed by Scud, they start taking out the super vamps. There is a very long sewer battle sequence, and then it is revealed that the Reapers are actually a creation of Nyssa’s father Damaskinos, who has been conducting genetic experiments with the goal of creating a vampire without weaknesses. (Another result of his experiments: a bunch of vampire fetuses in jars. Ewww.) Blade’s blood, naturally, would be of great use to Damaskinos in this project so, just as he did in Blade, our hero finds himself being bled. After being rescued by Whistler, Blade takes a dip in a blood pool and emerges even more awesome than before. Carnage ensues, the Reapers are defeated, and Blade goes back to killing regular vampires. Bonus: the elite squad of killer vampires specifically created to kill Blade has been completely eliminated through a combination of Reaper activity, suicide, and being killed by Blade.

Maybe it’s just the fact that I love Buffy, but I spotted some Buffy similarities in Blade II, just as I did in Blade — the main one being that the super vamps are quite similar to the uber vamps in Buffy‘s regrettable seventh season. Blade II came out in March 2002; Buffy season seven started in September of the same year. Perhaps Blade II provided some inspiration for the Buffy team. In what may be a gesture of solidarity between slayers, Blade II seems to pay tribute Blade’s little sis: I can’t help feeling Blade’s sword-grabbing power shot is a nod to the almost identical shot of Buffy from “Becoming, Part 2” (an episode which also features a character named Whistler).

Blade and Buffy take matters into their own hands.

But it could be my imagination.

The other thing with obvious ties to Blade II is Hellboy: Guillermo del Toro directed both movies; Ron Perlman, who played Hellboy, also plays Blade’s Bloodpack nemesis Reinhardt (he’s the one holding the sword) in Blade II; Hellboy creator Mike Mignola was a concept artist on Blade II; and Scud wears a B.P.R.D. t-shirt throughout the movie.

I didn’t think Blade II was quite as good as Blade, but it has its moments of greatness. The last half hour or so, after Blade regains his full strength and starts kicking ass again, is the best part. Wesley Snipes, it must be said, is a total badass, and his performance is definitely one of the highlights of the Blade films.

By contrast, there is very little badassery involved in the performance of the lead actor in our next Marvel movie, which came out less than two months after Blade II in 2002: it’s Spider-Man, the first film to feature the wall-crawling character who is probably Marvel’s most popular creation (and my personal favourite).