A tie for number one?

A tie for number one?

What are the two CBMs in my opinion that share top billing??

“I was hugely struck by the Donner films in the ’70s when I was a kid,” he said. “In 1978, I saw ["Superman"] and it had such epic scope to it. It took on this incredible, iconic figure and gave that iconic figure an appropriate framing. It made quite an impression on me. It’s definitely one of my childhood touchstones of what epic cinema can be.”

This is a quote recently given by Christopher Nolan and it got me thinking…. What CBM if any would "Superman: The Movie" humbly allow to share the number one spot? The person quoted at the beginning isn’t a coincidence….BUT to start off, let's talk about the above mentioned movie a bit seen through my eyes.

Since 1978, "Superman: The Movie," the CBM that many tout as the untouchable, greatest Heavyweight Champion of the world, has been sitting alone atop a long and sometimes disastrous list.

From the opening scenes on Krypton to the iconic looking Smallville right to the giant utopian city that is Metropolis, this movie is already a work of art. The sets and locations are ripped straight from the Comic Books along with the supporting cast of Lois, Perry, and Jimmy all of whom could keep you interested alone. I will NEVER forget the first time I saw Superman on screen. I was seeing a superhero, a real living and breathing superhero in our world who was sent here to protect us. Finally, there was proof that superheroes with amazing powers existed.Of course, this wasn’t true, but it’s this emotion, along with help from John Williams score, that is evoked EVERYTIME I watch this movie. So what movie finally gave me that same feeling?

THE DARK KNIGHT, the follow up to Batman Begins, or as many (including myself) view as the middle piece to one epic film. Released in 2008 to critical and commercial success, TDK hit us like a long overdue spark, jolting us from a coma we had been in since the final scene in Batman Begins. Since that movie ended, we had been waiting, clamoring and musing aboutTHE JOKER and it was well worth the wait.

Like many, I was skeptical about casting The Joker, but anyone who’s seen the film knows that Heath Ledgers' portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime is anything short of terrifying and brilliant. He is chaos mixed with precision planning and all out anarchy. The make-up approach of a punk rock flashback gone horribly wrong, the disappearing act, the multiple scar stories, and the feeling that this creature was just dropped in this city from nowhere, only a few reasons why Heath Ledger IS The Joker (no offense Mr. Nicholson, you were great in your own way). I could go on for days about how amazing Heath Ledger is as The Joker, but the proof was left on film and speaks for itself. (RIP)

Along the way on the runaway roller coaster ride that The Joker takes you, you are privy to picking up a character that is very important to the Batman mythology, Two-Face. If done incorrectly this character could have easily turned out to be an unnecessary “filler” villain. I was worried but I should have known to put my trust in Nolan. The key to Two-Face is how to make someone look like half of his face and almost all of his humanity has been destroyed. Be it by acid, fire, or an explosion, half of someone’s hair wouldn’t turn white, the skin wouldn’t turn and stay green, and one eyeball wouldn’t expand greatly in contrast to the other. Burnt, charred, and melted away, The Two-Face of TDK rivaled Jokers scars (emotional and physical).

This is never more evident than in the expertly crafted and very crucial hospital scene. It was in that moment, much like seeing Superman, that I thought I was seeing the real Joker and Two-Face interacting for the first time. It’s scenes like this and the interrogation that skyrockets this movie high above the rest. It’s a knockdown, drag out, old fashioned western mixed with action adventure and a pinch of drama and horror.

The biggest thing that Superman: The Movie and The Dark Knight share isn’t a publisher or sales figures: it’s heart, it’s story over selling action figures. On a side note, Batman Movie Masters are awesome so come on Mattel, where are Superman: The Movie masters? These movies are what to do RIGHT, not what to do RIGHT NOW. It’s about making the story just as important as getting the costumes right. For example, in TDK, beyond the stellar performances by the villains and once again like Superman, the supporting cast is nothing to pass over. Commissioner Gordon, Alfred, Lucius Fox etc. flesh out this already complex story, giving it more and more humanity as the movie moves forward. This movie isn’t your typical CBM, take away the Batsuit and fancy toys, and you still have a man on a mission(albeit sometimes impossible), determined to try and make this world a better place. Take away the Joker make-up and you still have a psychotic criminal mastermind who truly believes that his actions AREN’T insane, that chaos really is the answer, and aims to achieve this by any means necessary.

Hopefully other filmmakers are paying attention to what Richard Donner and Christopher Nolan have achieved in trying to give us CBMs that rival if not surpass those Oscar winners that don’t wear costumes. People said that Christopher Reeve didn’t look the part because he wasn’t a big muscular threat, but being Superman isn’t about muscles. Take a look at what Frank Quitely did with Clark Kent and his alter ego in the Grant Morrison written All Star Superman. It is a direct nod to what Christopher Reeve showcased in the 1978 powerhouse. Christopher Reeve (RIP) IS Superman, just like Christian Bale IS Batman, even though I agree the voice needs some work. A simple scaling back of the growl in the editing would have sufficed. Those are both roles requiring a portrayal of dual characters, one more complex than the next.

So, with Green Lantern hitting theaters in 2011, the Joss Whedon helmed Avengers in 2012 (come on Marvel, bring back Edward Norton!), Batman completing his trilogy in 2012, Superman returning to the screen in The Man of Steel with Christopher Nolan (coincidence?) attached, we might soon be adding more names high up on the list.

So what does everyone think, is it a tie for the number one spot? I think so.What do you think?

For the full Christopher Nolan interview click on the link below

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