July 01, 2004, 8:49 a.m.
The Best of the Worst
Calling the new Spider-Man film the best comic-book movie ever made — and it is, without a doubt, the best comic-book movie ever made — is a little like calling a Chicken McNugget the best processed fast-food poultry product ever produced. It's praise, but how substantial can the praise really be, given the source?
Movies and television shows based on comic books constitute the worst single genre in the history of filmed entertainment (with the exception of porn). ...
The moral clarity of Christopher Nolan’s Batman series.
Jul 30, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 43 • By JOHN PODHORETZ
Christopher Nolan’s astounding third Batman feature, The Dark Knight Rises, represents the true maturation of the superhero movie—and provides the key to understanding the bottomless craving moviegoers have for these films, 34 years after the Christopher Reeve Superman gave birth to the genre. It’s not because the odds of seeing something good go up when you buy a ticket to a superhero picture, because most of these movies are lousy (a point on which even diehard fans agree).
Nor is it about the dazzling special effects, the killer action sequences, or the empowerment fantasy that the stories provide to young kids and teenagers who feel so powerless in their own lives—though all that helps, to be sure. You can have all of these, as John Carter did earlier this year, and fail miserably.
What people adore about superhero movies is the signal quality of the Christopher Nolan films—their complete lack of irony when it comes to the portrayal of heroism and the need for heroes to confront evil. When they grab you, and the utterly riveting and entirely gripping The Dark Knight Rises grabs you as few movies do, it is because the filmmakers discard the knowing winks and go all-out, turning their stories into moral pageants dedicated to the elevation of self-sacrifice, selflessness, and heroism.
Somehow Podhoretz failed to notice that this was exactly what Sam Raimi was aiming at in Spiderman 2. Did he not notice it back then because there was a Republican president in 2004? ;-)