If you can’t tell already, I am a big fan of movies based on comic books. And I love looking at the history of them as well, to see where we started and how we ended up where we are now.
It seems that every ten years or so, we get a new era in comic book movies. That said, the first four decades were dominated by only two heroes: Superman and Batman.
For the record, I am skipping through the movie serials and going straight to the first full-length (though very short by today’s standards) superhero movie.
George Reeves donned the red and blue tights for the first time back in 1951 (though, back then, they were black and white to viewers). Superman and the Mole Men debuted in theaters and was to act as a pilot for the TV show Adventures of Superman that followed a year later.
Even though I’ve had the film on DVD for years now (as a special feature on my Christopher Reeve collection), I hadn’t taken the time to watch it until the other day.
The movie takes place in an oil mining town that is all of a sudden being plagued by radioactive men who dwell in the Earth’s crust. With a synopsis like that, you’d think that the Mole Men were the villains in the picture, but no, turns out they’re the helpless victims. The townsfolk are the villains as they progressively become more mob-like in their hunt for the strange creatures. Superman then comes to the aid of the Mole Men, but instead of fighting, he preaches.
This movie fascinates me because there is no climatic fight scene. There is a peaceful end and a message of equality for all people – including Mole Men.
Moving into the 60’s, the Dark Knight takes over as the superhero of choice, though he’s not so dark in this incarnation.
Say what you want about Adam West and the 1960’s Batman, but I love everything about its campy goodness. The movie, which bridged the first and second seasons of the show, still had the preachiness to it that Superman did (though this time the message was about World Peace) but it also had super-villains and lots of action and fight scenes.
I love the colors and the over-acting and the classic dialogue (because honestly, somedays you just can’t get rid of a bomb). Is Batman: The Movie the best superhero movies? No, but it’s still one of my favorties.
We’ve gone through the 50’s and 60’s, but our next stop will actually be in the 80’s. Fortunately, this means that I get to re-watch Superman and Superman II. Unfortunately, this also means that I have to re-watch Superman III and Superman IV.