The May Queen

Midsommar is like The Wicker Man if it was excessively long and made no sense. Am I missing something? Is there something in Ari Aster’s work I’m just not seeing? If I called Aster’s overrated “masterpiece” Hereditary pretentious, then Midsommar definitely deserves the crown. Unless you’re The Shining, horror movies really shouldn’t exceed 2 hours. You’re more likely to lose the atmosphere and the audience that way. Of course it didn’t help that I already have limited interest in folk horror. The only thing that drew me into Midsommar was the idea of a horror film in broad daylight.

Midsommar takes a group of American college students to Sweden, where they experience the culture and midsummer celebration of its residents. You’d think that would be the main focus, but really it’s a break up between unlikable characters. Florence Pugh as Dani is fine when she’s not almost always miserable. The runtime is dedicated to long diners, customs that are weird for the sake of weird, and more unexplained creepiness. Just like Hereditary, I still didn’t know why I was supposed to be scared. Everything in Midsommar is just vaguely pagan. Ritual suicide, drugings, and human sacrifice are unsettling, if never given enough attention to make it work.

Midsommar has beautiful Swedish locations, but I found myself disgusted once again. I’m still not gonna call Aster an auteur for lingering on dismembered heads and old naked cult members. Dani is named May Queen by the village and draped in tons of pretty flowers. I knew exactly what was disturbing about the ending of The Wicker Man, but what is Midsommar even trying to accomplish by the end?

Midsommar

Dani as the May Queen

Fourth Time’s Not the Charm

Fantastic Four (2015) is so aggressively awful I call it Fant4stic out of disrespect. Which is the stupid title stylization it has on the poster. Fant4stic is easily the second worst movie I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen bad movies, but there’s something especially bad about a movie that offends you on a personal level. As I’ve said in my previous Fantastic Four reviews, the Fantastic Four are a team I’ve loved since childhood. It breaks my heart that all 4 (seriously, 4!) Fantastic Four movies have never been fantastic. Stan Lee’s seminal superhero team deserves so much better. Since Fox wanted to be a bunch of a-holes, they withheld the rights for 8 years. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was a failure before the MCU even began.

Yet Marvel Studios is clearly better equipped for such a lighthearted team. I was cautiously optimistic when the reboot was announced. Approaching it with the same level of interest I’d give to any other Marvel film. I was a big fan of the found footage original superhero film Chronicle, so director Josh Trank was promising. Then I grew increasingly nervous each time they casually tossed around the word gritty. The problem of darkness in Fant4stic is the exact opposite of the problem of lightness in Fantastic Four (2005). Fant4stic somehow ended up worse, with a record low 9% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a shared Razzie win for Worst Picture. Fant4stic is worse than any Marvel movie I’ve ever seen (and that includes Howard the Duck)…

5. Fant4stic

The Fantastic Four brood

Fant4stic misses the point of the superhero team completely. According to behind the scenes rumors that sound more entertaining than the movie itself, Josh Trank was a bit of a jerk on set. To the point he either quit or got fired by Fox. You can tell where the studio started interfering. Despite Trank’s objection that a fantastic version of the movie exists, the movie would have sucked regardless. Making a movie dark & gritty does not automatically make it good! The Fantastic Four are the furthest thing from brooding, tormented, or complex. The Thing can get that way, but he still knows how to have fun once in a while. There’s nothing fun, humorous, or even pleasant about Fant4stic. And Trank didn’t seem to care. In retrospect, hiring someone who directed a subversive superhero movie was a horrible idea. He turned down all the lighthearted scripts in favor of something “relatable.”

Despite the horrendous reception, I still dragged myself to the theaters to see Fant4stic. Then I ranted all the way back home. Fant4stic makes the exact same mistake as Hulk and The Amazing Spider-Man. By opening on a pointless childhood flashback. Reed Richards is a boy genius presenting a scientific method to a class taught by Homer Simpson. Why they cast Dan Castellaneta in that part I’ll never know. Ben Grimm is fascinated by Reed’s idea and sneaks over to his house to learn more. But not before seriously pissing me off by turning the Thing’s fun catchphrase, “It’s clobberin’ time!,” into something his abusive brother told him before beating him. Reed invents a way to transport matter between dimensions, yet that’s still not enough to impress his teacher years later. Another distracting problem with Fant4stic is the decision to make everyone teenagers. They were younger in Ultimate Fantastic Four, but when were they ever this young?

Miles Teller is good in most of the things I’ve seen him in, but he has a very punchable face. There’s Reed being an awkward genius and then there’s just being lifeless. Then again, every actor in the movie is monotone and almost never smiles. Easily the worst casting choice is Jamie Bell as Ben. He has little to no personality and no part of him screams muscle. Reed & Ben are approached by scientist Franklin Storm and his daughter Sue Storm. Who happen to be looking for young scientists at a science fair. They’re taken to the Baxter building, which is now a science institute. For no reason whatsoever, Ben leaves because he’s not smart enough. Reg E. Cathey lowers his standards by playing Professor Storm. Yet he’s still the only actor trying even a little bit.

Kate Mara is a pale imitation of who Sue is supposed to be. All I know is that she’s vaguely scientific and likes music. Her hair was dyed blonde, but it’s clearly a wig later in the movie. Surprisingly this isn’t the only awful superhero flick she starred in (Zoom being the other one). Reed & Sue have zero chemistry that amounts to what some people might call flirting. Sue was clearly adopted, because the rest of her family is black. Michael B. Jordan is a fantastic actor who’s proven himself time and time again, but he is not Johnny Storm. Race changing only bothers me when it’s being done to an iconic character with a well defined appearance. Johnny is a rebellious street racer who’s forced to work with his dad just to get back his car. They may only be step-brother and step-sister, but that’s no excuse for zero chemistry between Sue & Johnny. I just want to see the Fantastic Four I grew up with, but it’s obvious that’s not gonna happen.

Since The Incredible Hulk didn’t go anywhere, Tim Blake Nelson appears as the government scientist heading the project. He was supposed to be Harvey Elder/the Moleman, but his last name was changed for no apparent reason. Speaking of name changes, Victor von Doom was nearly called Victor Domashev. It was literally the only fan backlash that worked on the movie. Although it wasn’t enough to change Victor from being a weird anti-social reclusive tech guy. Toby Kebbell was passionate about the villain, but this isn’t it. The project Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Victor work on is a larger version of the matter transporter. Since they lazily forgo them being astronauts. The transporter is a success after they send a CGI ape, but the team is disappointed when they aren’t allowed to go.

I kid you not, Reed, Johnny, and Victor get drunk and call useless Ben to join them on a mission to the other dimension. Leaving Sue behind for no apparent reason. Although it should have been the Negative Zone, they instead give it the inane name Planet Zero. A barren wasteland with green goo in it. Victor is left behind after a storm and that’s how they gain their powers. Inappropriately shot like a horror movie that makes another terrible decision to have all their powers be on all the time. It’s not just Ben who’s always a rock monster. Reed is constantly stretching, Sue is constantly invisible, and Johnny is constantly on fire. Completely missing the point of the Thing’s difficult situation. I was happy to finally see a CGI Thing, but why did it have to be wasted on this? Reed then abandons his friends and the movie actually jumps ahead an entire year. Skipping all the action of Ben being used by the military and Sue & Johnny still perfecting their powers.

Since they seriously thought Fant4stic was gonna crossover with X-Men, Fox stupidly makes the costumes unrecognizable from the comics in 2015. Nobody wants to see bland grey containment suits! They’re the only thing keeping everyone normal, except Ben who’s always naked. Reed is out searching for a cure while the government tries to track him down. His stretching is a bit more realistic, but it’s still silly in a movie trying to be serious. “Flame on” is just a way to turn on Johnny’s flames, which look no better than what came before. Sue’s invisibility and force fields are increased to include the flight she never had in the comics. Ben finds Reed and their fight ends before it begins. After endless miserable discussions in dark rooms, we finally get some action at the end. Which may be the worst climax in Marvel movie history.

Doom somehow survived being stranded in the dimension, but it’s given him unexplained power and a suit that’s fused to his body. This horrifically butchered version of Doctor Doom wants to destroy the world to save his new world. The PG-13 was already earned, but they go a step too far by having Doom seriously explode people’s heads with his mind. Doom’s grand villainous plan is to set off the sky beam that you see in literally every superhero movie. The final straw for me was having Marvel’s first family only be together in the last 18 minutes of the 1 hour & 47 minute movie. They seriously kept the 4 of them apart the entire movie. Amounting to a team of jerks with no chemistry defeating the crappy Doom by punching him real hard. They’re taken in by the military at the end and they’re too embarrassed to even say their team name out loud. Fant4stic is just plain insulting. I was so happy to see it bomb at the box-office, for the sequel to get cancelled, and for Marvel to finally get the rights back.

6. Fant4stic

The Fantastic Four look at a sky beam

Sunnyside Daycare

Toy Story 3 returned to the toy box after 11 whole years. Creating the most universally acclaimed trilogy of all time. Toy Story 3 won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. And it’s the third (and final) animated film after Up to be nominated for Best Picture. Proving Disney to be the only studio capable of that feat. I was a newborn when Toy Story came out and a 4 year old when Toy Story 2 came out. The toy stories were my favorite animated films growing up. They were just as special and sentimental as the toys they featured. I never thought I’d get to see a Toy Story 3 or that I’d have to wait till I was 15 to see it. The reason behind the delay was the rights issue between Disney & Pixar.

After the obvious success of Toy Story 2, Disney withheld all rights to Pixar sequels. To the point a Disney studio called Circle 7 was created just to make Toy Story 3 and other sequels. I remember first reading about the idea. Which would have featured Woody and the gang rescuing Buzz after he’s been recalled. Disney eventually purchased Pixar and the short lived studio was shut down before it began. Longtime editor Lee Unkrich took on directing duties from John Lasseter and Randy Newman returned to compose. Toy Story 3 asks questions about toys that are deeper than they’ve ever been before. The 2010 threequel was such a big deal that I went to see it with my entire family…

22. Toy Story 3

The toys meet Lotso

Toy Story 3 was seen with a unique 2D and 3D animated short called Day & Night. A fun concept where a traditionally animated representation of day & night cross paths against a computer animated background. Toy Story 3 wasn’t the only thing to come out of the franchise before its release. Pixar’s only traditionally animated direct-to-video movie Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins and its animated series filled the void in the meantime. I actually found the decade of entirely original Pixar movies to be quite refreshing. The Pixar formula connected them, but they were all free to have their own voice. Still, it was only a matter of time before Pixar revisited their flagship franchise. Rather than pick up after Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3 instead plays out in real time. Since toys will stay the same no matter how old they get. The title has a cowboy aesthetic, because Toy Story 2 had a space ranger aesthetic.

Since nostalgia is such a big theme, Toy Story 3 opens with an amalgamation of Andy’s previous play sessions. Which are shown in fantasy form. Woody, Jesse, and Bullseye fight Mr. Potato Head as One-Eyed Bart, Mrs. Potato Head as One-Eyed Betty, and there Little Green accomplices. Buzz Lightyear flies in to rescue the Troll children and help out. Bart brings his attack dog with a built in force field, but Woody brought his dinosaur who eats forcefield dogs. Then Hamm arrives as Evil Doctor Pork Chop to initiate death by monkeys. Andy’s mom videotapes his playing session and we enjoy simpler times set to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” All that fades away when Andy turns 17. RC, Wheezy, Bo Peep, and almost all of his toys are gone. Only the toys that are physically capable to manage the movie’s adventure stuck around. Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Bullseye, Slinky, Hamm, Rex, and Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head are left in Andy’s toy chest.

A lot can change in a decade, but luckily the entire cast of respectable stars returned to their beloved roles. Toy Story 3 is Pixar’s best ensemble film. Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, and Estelle Harris sound older, but it’s appropriate for the theme of growing up. R. Lee Ermey even voice cameos for the final time as Sarge. As his army men leave as well. Jim Varney sadly passed away, but his friend Blake Clark perfectly replicates his southern drawl. Computer animation had advanced a lot in 15 years. Making Toy Story 3 another visual masterpiece. Yet character designs of the past needed to be replicated. The toys were fortunate to have always been stylized, but humans were a different story. So Pixar compromised by removing minor imperfections. We see more of the older Andy, Molly, and their mom because of it. Along with an elderly Buster.

It turns out Laurie Metcalf was always the voice of Andy’s mom. With Andy off to college, the toys accept they’ll have to stay in the Attic since Molly grew up too fast. Lee Unkrich was determined to get the original voice of Andy and was pleased to hear John Morris’ voice was friendly enough to return to the role. Erik von Detten also returned for Sid. Who seems to have become a well-adjusted garbageman. Things get complicated when Andy decides to take Woody to college and his mom mistakes the other toys for garbage. Woody attempts a rescue, but instead finds them in a box being sent to Sunnyside Daycare. Molly’s aerobic Barbie doll joins them. Easily the best depiction of the famous doll. Since Jodi Benson is able to portray her intelligence. In fact, nearly every kind of classic toy is seen in Toy Story 3. From LEGO to a Fisher-Price Chatter Phone. From a toy’s perspective, a daycare is like a utopia where childhood attention never runs out. Except this daycare is hiding a dark underbelly.

Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear is a purple teddy bear who smells like strawberries and appears friendly at first. Promising the toys a place among them, but turning out to be the most evil Pixar villain ever created. Thanks to Ned Beatty’s performance. The rest of Lotso’s loyal toy followers include his previous owner’s baby doll Big Baby, rubber octopus Stretch, bug action figure Twitch, expressive rock monster Chunk, robot Sparks, a literal toy Bookworm, a terrifying psychotic monkey with cymbals, and Ken himself. Michael Keaton perfectly voices the effeminate girl’s toy. Making for plenty of fun moments between Barbie & Ken. As for the gang, Woody is most concerned with getting back to Andy. When he escapes, an imaginative girl named Bonnie takes him in.

It’s at her house that we meet even more new toys. There’s theatrical porcupine Mr. Pricklepants, stuffed gruff unicorn Buttercup, tech savvy Triceratops Trixie, and ragdoll Dolly. Voiced by Timothy Dalton, Jeff Garlin, Kristen Schaal, and Bonnie Hunt respectively. There’s also the child-like Peas-in-a-Pod and stuffed Totoro toy (meant as a tribute to Miyazaki). Woody has fun playing again, but he still plans to head back to Andy. Until he hears Chuckles the clown’s sad tale of how Losto lost it. Showing how their owner Daisy lost them and Lotso being too selfish to let Big Baby & Chuckles return. They ride on the back of a Pizza Planet truck and wind up at Sunnyside. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang have their own problems. Specifically the rough younger kids they’re forced to endure. Buzz is still a toy of action, but he also becomes the leader in Woody’s absence. Delusional space ranger Buzz returns once more, because the jokes write themselves. Lotso’s followers reset him to follow their orders. Locking the toys in a basket prison.

Woody returns in time to plan an epic prison escape. Resulting in the toys accidentally switching Buzz to spanish mode. A hilarious outcome filled by Buzz’s spanish voice actor. Jessie is the most outspoken about leaving since she’s already dealt with abandonment. It may have started as a joke, but Buzz & Jessie’s budding relationship is one of my personal favorite Pixar romances. Rex is desperate to get played with, Hamm is still very hammy, and Slinky & Bullseye are still very loyal. Mr. Potato Head gets the best jokes, especially when he swaps bodies with a tortilla and cucumber. Mrs. Potato Head serves as a link between them and Andy. Since her missing eye is back at the house. The toys escape, but Lotso corners them. Woody reminds him of Daisy and everyone starts to see Lotso’s true colors. It was satisfying seeing Big Baby throw him away, but the fun’s just beginning.

The whole junkyard sequence is fraught with danger. The aliens are scooped up and the toys are thrown into a conveyer belt. They unwisely rescue Lotso, but he coldly refuses to save them. In what is easily the darkest moment in Pixar history, the toys face their destruction in an incinerator. Rather than escape, they hold hands, and accept their inevitable death. However did they manage a G rating? I cry everytime, which becomes tears of joy when the aliens use the claw to rescue them. It’s not harsh enough, but Lotso is defeated when attached to a garbage truck. The toys hitch a ride back and Woody is faced with a decision. He sends the toys to Bonnie’s where Andy decides to give the toys away. The individual introductions are touching, but I fall apart everytime Andy gives away Woody. Easily the most tear worthy Pixar moment for me. The trilogy ends flawlessly when the toys say goodbye to Andy and they pan up to the clouds.

Followed by a fun series of vignettes showing the toy’s new life and a flourishing Sunnyside. Set to Randy Newman’s second Oscar winning song “We Belong Together” and a hot latin version of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” Toy Story 3 uses toys to explore ideas some live-action movies wouldn’t even tackle. Making it more than Best Picture worthy. Which made it the only third installment nominated without its other films being nominated. Toy Story 3 was so nostalgic that it became the first animated movie to cross the billion dollar mark. Setting a new standard in Pixar’s winning streak. Toy Story 3 proves it’s important to grow up, but also that remembering childhood things is just as important.

23. Toy Story 3

The toys face the inevitable

Preceded by: Toy Story 2 & Followed by: Toy Story 4

Dumpster Fire

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is easily one of the most horrifically awful movies I’ve ever seen in theaters. I was hoping for the darkly complex Ghost Rider from Marvel Knights. All that went away when I was bombarded with joke after joke. So I simply crossed my arms and stared blankly at the screen until it was over. I regret dragging my family to see it. Sure Ghost Rider was bad, but it was a fun kind of bad. The sequel is an unwatchable dumpster fire. The grittier design given to Ghost Rider was encouraging, so I looked forward to the sequel despite the MCU slowly taking over. I knew I was in trouble the moment I saw the unbearably juvenile flaming pee joke in the trailer.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance has cringy animated narration, fast motion editing, and the most tryhard Nicholas Cage performance you’ll ever see. Just look at the “Scraping at the door!” scene. What else would you expect from the directors of Crank. Cage is literally the only returning star. Things are set in Romania where almost nothing matches what came before. Yet it’s somehow 18% on Rotten Tomatoes worse. Johnny Blaze is tasked by an unfortunate Idris Elba warrior monk to help save what might be the devil’s son. Only this devil is Ciarán Hinds as some guy named Roarke.

The non love interest mother is a gypsy named Nadya who’s not from the comics. Her son is Danny Ketch. The second Ghost Rider in the comics who’s turned into a bratty kid. Roarke wants him for vague possession reasons that I don’t care to remember. Enlisting a mercenary that he turns into the demon Blackout. Who makes things rot instead of whatever he does in the comics. Ghost Rider has a simpler Hell Cycle, but he does turn a mining machine into fire. That’s about all since he very annoyingly stands around doing nothing most of the time. Makes me glad Marvel regained the rights. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance should be sent back to Hell where it belongs.

19. Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance

Ghost Rider roars

Preceded by: Ghost Rider

A Very Bad Thing

The Thing (2011) is the thing no one speaks of. As well as the prequel to The Thing (1982) I always assumed was a remake. It might as well have been a remake since all the best moments are rehashed in a less satisfying way. The prequel actually follows the 1982 Norwegian team that died before the events of the original. Although the Arctic researchers still need Americans in it. Otherwise it would all be in subtitles.

The Thing (2011) also includes ideas present in The Thing from Another World. Specifically the team finding the alien in a block of ice. As well as two female characters balancing the predominantly male cast. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a Ripley type who takes the lead and uses a flamethrower against the thing. The biggest problem is that CGI was used on the thing instead of the groundbreaking practical effects that came before. Making the deformed shapeshifter look half rendered with rubber partially gruesome skin. There’s just no passion behind it.

There’s still a sense of paranoia, but you don’t really feel a strong lack of trust. The blood test is replaced by a less tension filled tooth inspection. The flying saucer is seen, but it all feels like too much for something claiming to follow the original. The only indication of the decade is one 80’s song. There’s some feeling of mild dread, but the ending that ties directly into The Thing (1982) is the only reason to care. Like the thing itself, The Thing (2011) is just a cheap imitation.

thing-2011

The Thing emerges

Followed by: The Thing (1982)

Evil Ancestry

Hereditary might be the most overrated horror movie of the last decade. I don’t get why its been called the scariest movie since The Exorcist. I’m always interested in independent A24 films, but I didn’t really know how to react to Hereditary. The longer I waited to watch it, the more I was bombarded by people calling it top tier horror. Sure Hereditary has a creepy atmosphere and great performances, but I didn’t know why I was supposed to be scared.

Hereditary refers to evil occultish traits that are passed down to the unfortunate Graham family. They just lost their grandmother and that begins to unravel miniature model maker mother Annie. Along with the welcomed lack of forced jump scares, I agree that Toni Collette’s career best performance deserved more recognition. Everything else was an incredibly slow family drama with only the occasional unexplained creepy moment. The father Steve is just sort of there. So it’s really the pot smoking teenage son Peter facing the most abuse. His most talked about moment is his possessed classroom freak out. Alex Wolff has come a long way, but I have a hard time believing someone as tan as him is biologically related to the rest of the family.

It’s creepy kid Charlie who I was most intrigued by. With her tongue clicks and bird killing. If you’ve seen the movie, you know my intrigue doesn’t last long. Some have called newcomer director Ari Aster an auteur, I’d call him pretentious. Lingering on a decapitated head isn’t high art, it’s disgusting. I know why the endings of The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby are disturbing, but I just don’t know how I’m supposed to feel at the chaotic end of Hereditary.

Hereditary

Charlie is entranced

The Night Gwen Stacy Died

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 once again kills an entire Spider-Man franchise in one fell swoop. By recreating the exact same problem that Spider-Man 3 had. Yet somehow ending up the worst reviewed Spidey flick ever made. It’s definitely the one I’ve seen the least. I expected a sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man, but I was only sort of on board with the new franchise. All that initially changed when the cast was revealed. Then I realized Sony was gonna stuff the movie with an excessive amount of supporting characters all over again. They didn’t even have to get to 3 movies this time. The obvious reason was the continued success of the MCU.

Sony was so desperate to have a cinematic universe that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 feels more like a preview then a continuation. At this rate, I don’t think we’ll ever see the Sinister Six or Black Cat on the big screen. The other problem was a very noticeable tonal shift. Marc Webb’s first movie was plenty humorous, but its look was consistently dark. The sequel is brighter with the colorful very comic accurate Raimi inspired costume to match. But while that tone worked for that trilogy, it feels more out of place here. The juvenile humor, over-the-top villains, and cringy moments don’t belong in a Spider-Man movie that tackles a storyline Marvel fans could see coming from a mile away…

10. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man vs. Electro

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 began to lose me in the first 10 minutes. With an unbearably long opening action scene featuring no Spider-Man whatsoever. Why did they think that was a good idea? It’s enough to know Peter Parker’s parents perished in a plane. We don’t need to see Richard and Mary Parker fight an assassin on a crashing plane before downloading vague scientific research. Things at least start to pick when Spider-Man shows up. Even though Andrew Garfield’s Spidey banter can get childish at times, he does continue to embrace the role. Which is easier when the costume looks like it leapt off the Ultimate pages. As Spider-Man, Peter is a hero beloved by New York. Along with the usual debate about superheroes and vigilantism. Which is shown in a semi-cheesy montage.

As far as High School is concerned, Peter once again graduates. This time it’s in the beginning with another in your face Stan Lee cameo. This time as a guest who sees Peter change out of his costume. Since Garfield was dating Emma Stone at the time, Peter and Gwen Stacy hold the audience hostage with even more cutesy relationship stuff. Gwen’s valedictorian speech is all about how young people aren’t immortal and living life to the fullest (I’m sure it’s not foreshadowing anything). Despite being so in love, Peter breaks up with Gwen after seeing visions of the ghost of Captain Stacy. Which looks a lot more bizarre than they probably intended. Easiest money Denis Leary made. Despite graduating, Peter is still living with Aunt May. Although Sally Field wasn’t a fan, she does give May more depth. Her comically not discovering her nephew’s secret identity is fine, but there’s no reason to include a subplot about nursing school. At least Peter finally starts selling pictures of Spider-Man to the Daily Bugle. It’s just a shame J. Jonah Jameson is an unseen cameo.

During their breakup, Peter begins stalking Gwen as Spider-Man while she gets accepted at Oxford in England. I get that Andrew Garfield is British, but do they have to be so on the nose. The totally unnecessary parent subplot is finally addressed in the most convoluted way possible. As Peter creates a crazy obsession wall, he discovers coins in his father’s calculator that lead to a subway train which contains answers that lead back to Oscorp. I still like how Oscorp is represented, but the series of conveniences is a lot even for Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 once again has too many supervillains to know who the primary threat is. Yet they surprisingly never overlap.

The villain the posters, international title, and interviews favor the most is Electro. A classic Stan Lee/Steve Ditko antagonist I always hoped would appear in a Spidey film. If only he didn’t turn out to be one of three truly terrible villain interpretations. How can you take an Oscar winner like Jamie Foxx and turn him into a cartoonishly unrealistic nerd? This Max Dillon is a “nobody” electrician who develops an equally over-the-top obsession with Spider-Man after he saves his life. Instead of a freak accident on a power line, Max is shocked by a power cable and falls into a tank of electric eels. The electric current somehow gives him electrical powers and fixes his teeth for some reason. Turning him into an Electro that’s the furthest thing from the original comics. I get that his yellow & green lightning suit from the comics looks ridiculous, but the blue skin look isn’t much better. Same with his generic black suit. Electro’s weak reason for hating Spider-Man is thinking he’s selfish for getting attention.

Their first fight at Time Square would have been better without the one liners that aren’t even ironically fun. His web shooters are fried, but water shorts him out. Electro is then taken to Ravencroft where a ridiculous Russian scientist version of Dr. Kafka examines him. Since Oscorp is so important, it was only a matter of time before they did the Osborns all over again. Except ten times worse. Dane DeHaan plays a bizarre bratty rich kid version of Harry Osborn. Meanwhile Chris Cooper briefly plays a butchered version of Norman Osborn. Who dies due to “Goblin disease.” Harry inherits Oscorp and spends his time searching for a cure to his hereditary affliction. He’s been friends with Peter for years despite zero mention of that (and a sheer lack of chemistry between the actors). Harry discovers Spider-Man’s blood might be able to cure him. So his weak villainous motivation is thinking he’s a fraud for not doing that.

So Harry teams up with Electro and they get revenge on Oscorp for casting them aside. Although he might as well have played Adrian Toomes, Colm Feore plays another minor antagonist. An Oscorp CEO who’s covering up the fact that the company is trying to weaponize their research. Which is what Peter’s father was trying to fight. The most convoluted part was making his father the reason the spider gave him superpowers. An unnecessarily complicated detail that nobody asked for. It’s why the spider blood turns Harry into a literal Green Goblin. I can’t believe a movie that has a near perfect costume for the hero, can create such a horrible looking villain. The glider & pumpkin bombs are about the same, but the scales, swooped hair, green armor, and pointy teeth are awful. The climax begins after Peter chooses to stay with Gwen. Except she foolishly puts herself in harm’s way.

The Electro fight matches the already cartoony character with electric dubstep and all his other random electric powers. He’s eventually defeated using a whole lot of science. Saving the planes and hospital that they continuously cut back to. In case it wasn’t glaringly obvious by the inclusion of Green Goblin or Gwen Stacy’s infamous death outfit, this is based on “The Night Gwen Stacy Died.” Except the tragedy takes place in a clock tower instead of a bridge. When Harry is incapacitated, Peter desperately tries to grab Gwen with a symbolic web hand. Sadly, he doesn’t catch her in time. As cheesy as the movie can get, this comic accurate moment is easily the best. It’s impossible not to cry.

Just like the first movie, it’s the speech of his deceased loved one that gets him back on his feet. The first and last villain is an excessively hammy Paul Giamatti as the Russian hitman Aleksei Sytsevich. He’s not too bright like the comics, but their first fight is just ridiculous. When the mysterious “Man in the Shadows” returns, it’s to set up the Sinister Six that we’ll never see. All we get is Doc Ock’s tentacles and Vulture wings. Then Aleksei becomes a less than accurate version of the Rhino at the very end. Dressed in a weaponized mech suit instead of just being a muscular dimwit with artificial rhino skin. I know what they’re trying to do, but the kid dressed as Spider-Man standing up to the Rhino is just painful to watch. Spider-Man returns and the fight we were promised in the trailer is never seen.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is all show with no real payoff. Obscure villain Alistair Smythe is just a throw away employee who sets Electro’s origin in motion. Felicity Jones is completely wasted as Felicia Hardy. Rather than become the Black Cat, she’s just an Oscorp employee who Harry promotes. The most intriguing tacked on character wasn’t even in the movie. Shailene Woodley was actually cast as Mary Jane Watson. Her unflattering set photos made me nervous, but I was still disappointed to learn she was cut. They already crammed in a bunch of other characters, why not throw MJ in as well. The only deleted scene that survived was one involving Peter’s living father visiting him at the cemetery. Which makes no sense. Although I feel bad for Garfield, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was just the kind of failure Sony needed to ensure Ol’ Webhead’s home in the MCU.

11. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin

Preceded by: The Amazing Spider-Man

Amazing Fantasy

The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t exactly amazing, but it is a fine reintroduction to the friendly neighborhood wallcrawler. Even though it was only made so that Sony could keep their stinky fingers on the character. I’ve always been a big Spider-Man fan, but even I had to question the point of a reboot a mere 5 years after Spider-Man 3. I was at an age when I started to follow superhero productions very closely. So I distinctly remember the talk surrounding Spider-Man 4. It was meant to come out in 2011 with Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and everyone else returning. John Malkovich was cast as the Vulture and Anne Hathaway as Black Cat (who ironically went on to play a different feline fatale).

I was excited, but I started to get nervous the more I learned. Felicia Hardy was gonna become Vultress instead and I began to lose faith in the sequel. So did Sam Raimi apparently. He was replaced by the ironically named romantic comedy director Marc Webb. Who sought to make the movie darker and more realistic. I was skeptical when I saw the costume & trailer, but The Amazing Spider-Man title that pays homage to the Marvel comic series was encouraging. My brother and I casually went to see the reboot and we were willing to accept the changes that were made…

8. The Amazing Spider-Man

Spider-Man swings into action

The Amazing Spider-Man tries to be different, but it still comes across the same here and there. The main theme doesn’t quite give off a Spider-Man feel. However, I did like the use of spiders crawling on a webbed opening title. Rather than jump straight into the action, The Amazing Spider-Man takes Peter Parker’s iconic origin as far back as his childhood. Which was excessive to say the least. That means the inclusion of Peter’s mysterious parents. In the comics, Richard and Mary Parker are CIA agents affiliated with S.H.I.E.L.D. The movie depicts them as secretive with mostly vague scientific research to cover up. They drop Peter off with Aunt May & Uncle Ben who are also given a lot more attention.

I’ll always have an attachment to Tobey Maguire, but Andrew Garfield did the best he could do with Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Giving off a stronger Ultimate Spider-Man feel. Despite being almost 30 at the time, Garfield had a youthful look and the right slender physique for Spidey. He was also British, but his American accent is convincing. I’m just not a fan of him being a stuttering mess. Which isn’t enough to distract from his good looking, stylish, likable, intelligent, skater boy image that somehow gets him bullied. Chris Zylka is the most accurate portrayal of Flash Thompson put to film. He’s actually blonde, his bullying towards Peter is believable, and he becomes a fan of Spider-Man just like the comics. The reboot was also an opportunity to follow Peter’s love life more accurately. So Gwen Stacy is Peter’s first love instead of Mary Jane Watson. Emma Stone looks like she leapt right off the comic pages. Although she prefers red hair, Stone is a natural blonde. She makes for a very pretty Gwen Stacy who maintains her sweetness, but gives her more charm and intelligence.

The chemistry between Garfield and Stone is so adorkably believable that they went on the date in real life. My only problem is how unbearably cringy their romantic conversations can become. Peter’s home life is also given a lot more attention then you’d think it would. Although Peter stays in Midtown Science High School the entire movie, there’s really not too much focus on it. Martin Sheen is a suitable replacement as Uncle Ben. He’s caring and more no nonsense towards Peter. Since becoming an orphan is more present, the main theme is Peter’s search for a father figure. Sheen gets plenty of time to flesh out Uncle Ben in that way. You can’t go wrong with Oscar winner Sally Field as Aunt May. She’s at least 20 years younger than the usual elderly Aunt May, but that just gives her a more feisty personality. While still being loving and concerned for Peter.

After discovering his father’s briefcase, Peter discovers his connection to Oscorp, and researches it using Bing for some reason. Since Dylan Baker was finally set to become the Lizard in Spider-Man 4, Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard instead became the primary antagonist in The Amazing Spider-Man. Rhys Ifans is a strange actor, but a convincing scientific genius searching to restore his missing arm. I just wish a tormented supervillain like this wasn’t missing the wife and son that make him that way. After a whole lot of exposition, Peter is finally bit by the genetically altered spider in a cross species genetics lab in Oscorp. Where Gwen is conveniently an intern. I actually love the idea of Oscorp being at the center of every threat in the movie. Norman Osborn is a hidden figure with some kind of illness Irrfan Khan’s character alludes to.

Peter discovering his powers is different, but just as funny as before. His Spider-sense is more of a high pitched sound, he’s extra sticky, and has a spider-like appetite for some reason. Peter uses his newfound powers to embarrass Flash in a less satisfying way. Which leads him to neglect his home life in order to work with Dr. Connors. It made sense for Peter as a half spider to face a villain who’s half lizard, but it still defeats the purpose of the more realistic tone. Their decision to be different backfires when Uncle Ben delivers a rambling speech that’s trying really hard not to sound like “With great power comes great responsibility.” Even the inevitable scene with the thief isn’t half as satisfying when it’s Peter trying to buy milk at a convenience store. Uncle Ben’s death feels about the same. Instead of catching the killer, Peter seeks revenge by searching New York for every criminal with long blonde hair. Of which there are many.

It’s never resolved, but it does succeed in giving Peter convenient inspiration in an abandoned wrestling ring. Another positive is the much needed inclusion of web shooters. Peter is already a scientific genius, so it’s not that unbelievable for him to compact Oscorp’s lightweight cables into a wristwatch. The Spider-suit is different to say the least. It obviously doesn’t abandon the classic red & blue, but the webbing is less prominent, the colors are darker, the eyes are a distracting shade of orange, and the material looks like a basketball. But at least Peter finally suits up after what seems like an hour. If Maguire was a more convincing Peter, then Garfield is a more convincing Spider-Man. His wisecracking jokes are just as funny as you’d expect.

Since the Daily Bugle is sadly not featured for obvious reasons, the police department are instead the ones who call Spidey a menace. Unlike the comics, Captain George Stacy has a vendetta against Spider-Man. Which is the exact opposite of the kinds of characters Denis Leary is known for. Gwen loves her father and has a happy home life. Peter’s conflicting views lead to tension, but he finds comfort in Gwen by revealing his secret. Giving Gwen more to do as a love interest. Dr. Connors manages to regrow his limb, but it leads to the unwanted side effects. The Lizard is a giant deadly reptile who would have looked a whole lot better with a snout. Only wearing his trademark lab coat once. Their fight on the bridge gives Peter a chance to embrace his destiny as Spider-Man. Rescuing a kid by unfortunately taking off his mask (something he does a lot). Their next fight in a sewer is more brutal and the Lizard learns Peter’s identity because it was ridiculously labeled on his camera.

Seeing Spider-Man and the Lizard fight at school is an awesome sight with one of Stan Lee’s all time best cameos. As a librarian hilariously oblivious to the fight behind him. Curt’s plan to turn New York into lizard people is just like the comics, but it comes out of nowhere in the movie. At the climax, Peter’s identity is revealed to Captain Stacy as well. Leaving Spider-Man injured after he agrees to let him go. New Yorkers embrace Spidey by giving him cranes to swing from. Leading to the final fight atop Oscorp. An antidote cures Connors long enough for him to redeem himself. Captain Stacy fulfils his comic book destiny by dying at the hands of a villain. Giving Peter words of encouragement and making him promise to keep Gwen out of it. Peter stays away at first, but he decides not to after listening to Uncle Ben’s final message. Ending in a new final swing that isn’t quite as epic as the 2002 version.

The Amazing Spider-Man does have a fine grasp on what it means to be a teenager in the modern age. It’s realistic to a degree, but there is more comedy then the trailers revealed. The web slinging is also more scientifically plausible. The first person look isn’t always present, but the CGI makes for an exciting experience. Same with the scales on the Lizard. Since the MCU was in full effect, there is a mid-credit scene. Albeit one that’s vague and doesn’t reveal anything worth getting excited about. Oscorp nearly appeared in The Avengers, but I’m still not sure what that could’ve meant. The Amazing Spider-Man is best viewed as Spider-Man’s serviceable transitional period.

9. The Amazing Spider-Man

Spider-Man vs. The Lizard

Followed by: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Everything they Built will Fall!

X-Men: Apocalypse ends up the lousy third installment in an X-Men trilogy all over again. How is that even possible? Like X-Men, X-Men: First Class was a great introduction to the team of Mutants. Like X2, X-Men: Days of Future Past was a vast improvement that deepened its themes. And like X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: Apocalypse overstuffs things with more style than substance. After the accidental success of Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse was released just a few months later. Obviously trying to emulate the MCU. Well at this point, the only excitement I could maintain was for the idea of a larger than life X-Men villain like Apocalypse. Plus seeing younger versions of Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm.

Unless you count the after-credits scene in Days of Future Past, Apocalypse doesn’t feature a single new Mutant. Apart from Caliban, but that’s another story. Every single Mutant appeared in some form in a previous movie. The only draw was seeing slightly more comic book accurate versions. Something that 20th Century Fox and Bryan Singer have continually denied us Marvel fans. Apocalypse is proof that Singer can make a bad X-Men movie. Frankly, the decision to bring him back was a flawed one. His subtle thought provoking style may have worked for the deeper X-Men movies, but not for a CGI heavy disaster flick…

17. X-Men Apocalypse

The X-Men

X-Men: Apocalypse is not equipped to handle a villain like Apocalypse. Apocalypse is supposed to be the X-Men equivalent of Thanos. He’s an ancient world conquering Mutant with heavy armor and an enormous body. So of course he’s played by Oscar Isaac in bad Ivan Ooze makeup. The one Mutant who should have used CGI motion capture. X-Men: Apocalypse begins in ancient Egypt where Apocalypse is worshiped like a god. Like the comics, his powers are immeasurable. Except his body weakens and he needs to replace it with another Mutant. During the process, his followers turn on him and his Four Horseman preserve his body deep beneath his pyramid. The historical opening credits lead up to 1983. Another problem with Apocalypse is their continued use of the decade hopping gimmick. There’s no reason to set the movie in the 80’s other than nostalgia for big hair, bright colors, and Tab.

James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Lucas Till, and Rose Byrne look like they’ve barely aged since the last 2 decades. Professor Charles Xavier stays in a wheelchair, but he still has glorious long hair. He teaches a more established school of Mutants alongside Hank McCoy. Hoult continues to be stubborn about his Beast makeup. But not as stubborn as Lawrence. Who’s far too famous to be bothered with makeup. Despite Mystique being a Mutant who’s proud of her blue skin, she maintains a human appearance for no good reason. I’m also annoyed that a villain like her is now treated like a hero. All because she stopped Magneto. Her new mission is rescuing Mutants like Nightcrawler. It’s nice to see a more comedic take on the teleporter played by Kodi Smit-McPhee. Ben Hardy’s cage fighting take on Angel is pretty awkward though. At least we see a more faithful albeit brief look at Blob.

Meanwhile, Erik Lehnsherr is living a peaceful secluded life in Poland. Where he now has a wife and daughter. At the same time, Scott Summers is brought to the X-Mansion where he receives his ruby quartz visor. Alex Summers is his older brother instead of younger (despite being old enough to be his father). Tye Sheridan is a fine younger Cyclops, but Sophie Turner looks nothing like a younger Jean Grey. If the movies even care about continuity anymore. Jean struggles with her powers, but it’s only a half baked attempt at Phoenix. Scott does develop a romance with Jean and they go to the mall with Nightcrawler & Jubilee because 80’s. Lana Condor is the most faithful Jubilee to appear in the movies, but she continues to have nothing to do. Moira MacTaggert still has no memory of her time with the X-Men, but she’s brought back after discovering the awakening Apocalypse. Later it’s revealed that she has a son in a nod to the comics.

Alexandra Shipp is more of a glorified extra as Storm, who’s a pickpocket with a much better African accent. She runs into Apocalypse and he’s responsible for her white hair. Which is done in the mohawk she had in the 80’s. Apocalypse is just your average villain with generic goals of world domination. Like the comics, he assembles a team of Mutants to be his Four Horseman. They consist of Storm, Psylocke, Archangel, and Magneto. Olivia Munn’s nerd cred made her the perfect choice for a very faithful version of Psylocke sporting the sexy costume she has in the comics. Which is made more revealing with a boob window. Better than whatever The Last Stand was trying to do. Angel becomes Archangel with metal wings, but he’s still a useless member.

Fassbender truly shines after tragically losing his family when his powers are discovered. Although he drops a very forced F-bomb when encountered by Apocalypse. Magneto gains even greater power over metal and Apocalypse uses Xavier’s power to launch all of the planet’s missiles into space. It’s easily Stan Lee’s most dramatic cameo (that he for once shares with his wife Joan). Havok destroys Cerebro, but it’s not enough to prevent Apocalypse from kidnapping Charles. Havok’s blast detonates the X-Jet and the X-Mansion with it. Just in time for Quicksilver to run in and save everybody in an equally awesome speed sequence. The Mansion continues to explode as Quicksilver hilariously takes his time to methodically rescue Mutants to the decade appropriate tune of “Sweet Dreams.” He returns to see the Professor after learning Magneto is in fact his father.

As if out of nowhere, Stryker shows up to kidnap Moira, Mystique, Beast, and Quicksilver. Leaving Cyclops, Jean, and Nightcrawler to rescue them. The sole purpose of the detour was to shoehorn Wolverine into the plot. Hugh Jackman has it easy by simply grunting and slashing guards while wearing the ridiculous Weapon X headgear he had in the comics. Jean eases his mind and Cyclops jokes about that being the last they’ll ever see of him. Mystique, Beast, Quicksilver, Cyclops, Jean, Nightcrawler, and Moira then take a jet and once again dress in black leather armor to rescue Charles. Apocalypse causes chaos around the world and plans to transfer his consciousness into Xavier’s body. The X-Men fight the Four Horseman in an epic battle that highlights their respective powers. Nightcrawler’s teleportation is too powerful, so he goes unconscious after bamfing too many people. Quicksilver’s speed is too powerful, so his leg is broken after knocking around Apocalypse.

Psylocke uses her psionic weapons on Beast, but she’s taken out and simply walks away afterwards. Meanwhile, Archangel pointlessly dies. Storm faces Cyclops, but she obviously decides to join the X-Men along with a redeemed Magneto. Apocalypse strangles Mystique before a now bald Professor X attacks him in a comic accurate psychic plane. In the end, Apocalypse is defeated by the combined power of Cyclops’ optic blast, Magneto’s metal, Storm’s lightning, and Jean’s out of nowhere Phoenix abilities. Despite there being several subplots going on at once, there’s still enough time for Charles to give Moira back her memory. Jean & Magneto easily fix the X-Mansion with their telekinesis. Ending with a direct callback to the exchange between forever frenemies Charles & Erik.

Followed by an extremely satisfying reveal of every comic accurate costume that Mystique, Beast, Cyclops, Jean, Storm, Nightcrawler, and Quicksilver wear. As well as Sentinels in the Danger Room. It was great to finally see those costumes, but I knew it was just fanservice. Apocalypse is full of colorful X-Men callbacks with little development. The after-credits tease for Mr. Sinister will clearly never happen now. There’s also answers to things that don’t make sense in the old timeline. Like how did Professor X become bald if it wasn’t by Apocalypse? At this point I expected Fox to continue readapting characters no matter how many times they’ve been done in the past. X-Men: Apocalypse tries to keep up with the omega level scale of the X-Men, but it completely derails the winning streak Fox was having.

18. X-Men Apocalypse

Apocalypse and his Four Horsemen

P.S. The rest of the X-Men franchise with be reviewed at a later date.

Followed by: Deadpool & Logan

The Merc with a Mouth

Deadpool proved R rated superhero movies could be successful as long as enough Maximum Effort was put into it. All things considered, there’s no way Deadpool should have worked out the way that it did. R rated superhero movies were pretty common in the 90’s and 2000’s. They just weren’t always successful. And if they were, they weren’t adaptations of major characters. I had no knowledge of Deadpool before seeing X-Men Origins: Wolverine. So I didn’t begin to hate its extremely unfaithful interpretation until I learned more. Deadpool is a totally 90’s Mutate who first appeared as a villain in The New Mutants #98. Before becoming an instant fan favorite anti-hero. Deadpool is more than just a parody of Deathstroke. His snarky sense of humor and yellow fourth wall breaking speech bubbles were perfectly unique.

Despite his large superhero filmography, Ryan Reynolds always wanted to play Deadpool. Even if it meant playing a horribly inaccurate version. 20th Century Fox initially agreed to a more faithful R rated Deadpool, but then Green Lantern complicated things. Since it was impossible to rework it as a PG-13 movie, Fox foolishly scrapped the project. Until someone was brave enough to leak the CGI test footage. Like everyone else, the clip was so funny and violent that I wanted to see more. I got an even better grasp of Deadpool after reading a couple of comics, but I still couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The same studio and actor that butchered the character, bringing a faithful, gleefully R rated niche superhero to life…

15. Deadpool

Deadpool locks and loads

Deadpool came out at a time when superhero movies were hugely successful. Between the family friendly PG-13 rating of the MCU and inaccurate costumes of most Fox superheroes, Deadpool was a major exception. Ryan Reynolds was born to play Deadpool. And not just because he’s Canadian. I felt like I already knew Deadpool long before his movie ever came out. Due to the aggressively clever marketing campaign. It was impossible to avoid Deadpool either popping up in trailers, doing a PSA for cancer, appearing in interviews, doing a lead up to Christmas, having unconventional billboards, or feuding on social media. It got to a point where I was almost tired of Deadpool before even seeing the movie. Of course I was proven wrong afterwards. It’s a good thing I was 20, because I’d seen every X-Men movie in theaters since I was 5. There’s no way I would have wanted to see Deadpool with my parents. It’s always annoying seeing parents take their kids to something that’s clearly not for kids. Even if it looks like a conventional superhero movie on the outside.

Deadpool is very much an R rated comedy. Some jokes are a bit crude for my taste, but most of the profanity latent one-liners are hilarious. As are the fourth wall breaking observations about superhero clichés, Marvel, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Green Lantern, and Reynolds himself. Along with a handful of 90’s references. Although there’s an uncomfortably scarce amount of chimichangas. The perfect opening credits showcase a freeze frame of creator Rob Liefeld’s coffee, a picture of Green Lantern, Ryan Reynolds as the “Sexiest Man Alive,” and an honest description of the cast & crew. All to the inappropriate tune of “Angel of the Morning.” Deadpool is still an origin story, but it’s intercut with a recreation of the leaked test footage. From its red & black mock Spider-Man design to his use of guns & katanas, Deadpool is a Fox owned superhero that actually leaps off the page. The badass costume looks awesome and the white eyes work surprisingly well.

Deadpool is so cheap that he has to take a taxi to his enemies. Dopinder is fun, but he’s not from the comics. To the tune of “Schoop,” Deadpool crassly informs the audience that Wolverine helped get him his own movie. Hugh Jackman may not physically appear, but his presence is felt throughout. The use of his “Sexiest Man Alive” magazine is a particular highlight. I think I prefer the random chaos of the test footage, but the recreated highway fight is just as inappropriately funny. The R rating is put to good use when henchmen are shot, stabbed, and dismembered in the most over-the-top way possible. Deadpool’s accelerated healing means he can be mutilated any creative way without consequence. The countdown gunfight and subsequent sheskabobing directly leads to the first of many flashbacks.

Like the comics, Wade Wilson is an ex-special forces mercenary with a mouth. He gets his pay from a bar filled with other mercs that take part in a dead pool. Most of Deadpool’s obscure supporting cast appears in the film. T.J. Miller plays his friend/comic foil Weasel and Leslie Uggams is his sarcastic elderly roommate Blind Al. Deadpool has had many sexual conquests in the past, but the movie settles on Vanessa as his love interest. She’s sort of a discount Mystique in the comics, but here she’s a hooker with a heart of gold. Morena Baccarin fast became a welcome presence in superhero projects. Wade’s relationship with Vanessa is humorous, but it is taken seriously. After a steamy, sort of cringy holiday sex montage, Wade proposes shortly before discovering he has late stage cancer.

Back in the present, Colossus sees a report of Deadpool’s violent shenanigans on TV in the X-Mansion. This version of Colossus is very comic book accurate. He has the giant metal CGI body, Russian accent, and acts as a noble member of the X-Men. Negasonic Teenage Warhead is his trainee. She’s an extremely obscure Mutant that was only added for her cool name. More bizarre is that her powers were changed after striking an unrelated deal with Marvel. Deadpool’s primary antagonist is Ajax. One of his long time enemies with a high pain tolerance. Ed Skrein is your standard British villain. Like in the comics, Wade volunteers for an experimental Weapon X type procedure that’ll make him a superhero. As long as the super suit isn’t green or animated. The physically imposing Gina Carano is Angel Dust, another Mutant working with Ajax. Expect Ajax real name is Francis. Something Wade mocks until his Mutation is unlocked through torture.

I guess his disfigured face is hideous, but it’s nothing compared to how gruesome he looks in the comics. Pretty much the entire revenge plot consists of Wade finding Francis so that he can fix his face and return to Vanessa. The funniest scene for me personally is Deadpool attempting to fight Colossus after he and Negasonic arrive in the X-Jet. Even funnier is Deadpool cutting off his hand before another flashback. After Weasel’s constant face jokes, Wade gets his name from the dead pool board. Then he murders several criminals, makes his costume, and begins breaking the fourth wall. Eventually everything comes together and Wade decides to give Vanessa a chance. He goes to her strip club where they take full advantage of the R rating by showing several naked ladies. It’s one of Stan Lee’s funniest cameos as the stripper MC. Unfortunately, Vanessa is kidnapped and Deadpool loads up his arsenal of guns to kill Francis. He also recruits Colossus & Negasonic while making a joke about the studios obvious lack of money for other X-Men members.

They all take a taxi to what looks suspiciously like a Helicarrier. Cue “X Gon’ Give it to Ya,” followed by Deadpool hilariously forgetting his guns. Angel Dust makes a totally impractical superhero landing and fights Colossus in a brutal fight. Meanwhile, Negasonic blows things up. Deadpool cuts through everyone expect for the sneaky use of Bob (Agent of Hydra). Deadpool fights Francis and narrowly rescues Vanessa. Although Colossus gives a passionate speech about being a hero, Deadpool just abruptly kills Francis. Proving Deadpool is the anti-hero we know him to be. Vanessa crudely accepts Wade’s face and they croon to “Careless Whisper.” Followed by a clever after-credits parody of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a Nick Fury joke, and confirmation of Cable. Deadpool has all the R rated insanity I hoped to see from an adaptation like this. Even with a lower budget, it became the highest grossing R rated movie internationally, and earned a whole new legion of fans. I just wish studios didn’t use its success as an excuse to give other properties an unnecessary R rating. Deadpool worked because a passionate cast & crew were dedicated to making the most faithful superhero adaptation they could.

16. Deadpool

Deadpool is shocked

Preceded by: X-Men: Days of Future Past & X-Men: Apocalypse