A-List: Best Scenes from Superhero Films
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
June 16, 2011
Green Lantern is hitting theaters, and we have to be honest. It looks bad. Really, really bad. I mean, we like Ryan Reynolds, Peter Sarsgaard, Greg Berlanti, rings and the color green as much as anyone (okay, we just lied about the color green), but this is stuff we wouldn't wish on our worst enemy. The DC Comics character isn't the strongest one in the catalog - sure, he's better than Jonah Hex, but that's not saying much. Seriously, the Green Lantern is averse to the color yellow. Sure, they fixed that in later iterations of the story, but it's just awfully hard to get past that sort of character flaw. Yes, we're going to be there opening night, but only because our friend (and occasional BOP contributor) Pete Kilmer wants us to.
To ease our pain, we've decided to pick out few of our favorite scenes from recent superhero films. We've limited ourselves to one per character and/or franchise, so while we acknowledge that a lot of these films (*ahem* The Dark Knight *ahem*) might have a multitude of great options, for purposes of this column, it gets only one entry... but what a great entry it is.
The Bank Robbery (The Dark Knight)
The scene zooms to a large skyscraper covered in glass windows. Silence surrounds us. Suddenly, a window bursts, and the camera shifts to show us the culprit responsible – a thin man in a modified clown mask. We cut to a man standing on a street corner. In his hand, he holds a similar clown mask. A large bag hangs from his shoulder. He puts on the mask and climbs into an SUV. Two men hop on a zipline and ride it across to the roof of the building on the opposite side of them. When we return to the SUV, we learn that there are five men in this group with specific assignments, but the cut will go six ways, because there is one more man involved – The Joker.
As the heist unfolds, the various “Jokers” pick each other off one by one as per the instruction of the man with the plan. Eventually, only one Joker remains – the only one who matters. He’s been on the scene the entire time, overseeing and making sure everything goes according to plan. He has ripped off a “mob” bank, putting himself squarely in their sights.
This intricate scene is only about six minutes long, but perfectly encapsulates the mad genius of the Joker. Not only has he devised a bank heist wherein he eliminates every one of his henchmen, but he has also sent a message to all of the (very) bad men in Gotham City. When watching the scene in retrospect, it’s easy to see that the “real” Joker has always been the focus. The camera lingers on him far more than the others, and at one point his demeanor changes as he begins to use the shambling gait that we’ll come to associate with him during the film. He sidesteps a bus, allowing it to take out a stooge who has become aware that his cronies are disappearing. And finally, he shows us his real face, telling the mob plant at the bank (played by the great William Finchtner), “I believe whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you…stranger.” He hops into the vehicle and drives it away, perfectly timed, into a waiting line of other school buses. (Of course, that bus would show up later in the movie as the Joker uses it to haul around some hostages. When he finds a toy he likes, he keeps it.)