Black Panther dir. Ryan Coogler (2018) Marvel superhero films tend to be much of a muchness, but Black Panther offers something different through its depiction of the highly advanced—but with a tribal monarchy—(fictional) African nation Wakanda. The characters are written and played with strength and personality.
Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio by Steven Moffat (BBC, 2016) The New Series Christmas invasion takes a new twist when the Doctor, through rather comic happenstance, creates a bona fide superhero. Peter Capaldi revels in the light-hearted humour while the Superman homage dovetails nicely with the longstanding dynamic between Doctor and companion.
Arrow, Season 2 (2013-2014) Some degree of mishap is necessary for our superheroes not to have it all too easy, yet season two seems a bit early for Oliver Queen to be making *such* bad decisions. Still, the tormented ebb and flow remains hard to resist.
The Flash, Season 2 (2015-2016) The Flash suffers a grandiloquent second series let-down. “My name is Barry Allen and I am the fastest man alive,” proclaim the opening credits. “Yes,” mutters the frustrated viewer, “just not between the ears.” Jesse L. Martin is once again the standout.
Arrow, Season 1 (2012-2013) Arrow champions a darker strain of superhero vigilantism. The action scenes are stylishly choreographed and filmed, while Oliver Queen’s rather impassive (‘brooding’, in comic book terms) character is given some depth through flashbacks to his torturous five year stint as a castaway.
The Flash, Season 1 (2014) Although initially comical in all senses, The Flash quickly develops into a top-notch superhero programme: action-packed, dramatic and divertingly — not annoyingly — larger than life. The effects mostly work, and Tom Cavanagh and Jesse L. Martin bring a maturity to the support cast.
Mystery Men dir. Kinka Usher (1999) A rare instance of a spoof that takes itself seriously enough to be funny, Mystery Men follows the exploits of wannabe superheroes the Shoveller (hits people with a shovel), the Blue Raja (throws cutlery) and Mr Furious (loses his temper a lot).
Dracula Untold dir. Gary Shore (2014) Though by no means as bad as the trailer would suggest, this attempt to turn Dracula into a brooding action hero (presumably for use in a modern-day sequel) is disingenuous at best. Students of Tinseltown relativity may delight in space-time’s incorrigible duplicity.
Spider-Man 3 dir. Sam Raimi (2007) In this overlong third instalment Spiderman shrugs off impalement and collides wantonly with buildings, seemingly impervious to physical injury. The plot manoeuvers like a semi-trailer and Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker slumps to a new and excruciating nadir of teen romance slush. #Unwatchable.
Ant-Man dir. Peyton Reed (2015) Deliberately as formulaic a superhero movie as possible, scripted with a view to then humorously undercutting audience expectations. There are genuinely funny (dare we say, laugh-out-loud) moments, but in terms of spoof Ant-Man’s straight parts needed to be played with more conviction.