Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans picks sides in "Captain America: Civil War."

‘Captain America: Civil War’ on Disney+

Captain America: Civil War (2016) is an Avengers movie in everything but name. It’s got Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) as team captains picking sides in the hero-vs.-hero fight over government oversight of the self-appointed world policemen. Thor and Hulk are MIA but everyone else, from Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) […]

‘The Avengers’ – the birth of the Marvel supergroup on Disney+

The Avengers (2012) is a superhero epic years in the making. Unlike The X-Men, which arrived full formed in 2000, The Avengers is the comic book version of the supergroup, with stars in their own right coming together (not without some friction and ego-thumping) for a battle royale. So Marvel put together a long term […]

‘Watchmen’ – Superhero redux on HBO Max

Zach Snyder delivers perhaps the most faithful adaptation of Watchmen (2009, R), the landmark graphic novel by writer Alan Moore (uncredited on screen, as is his tradition) and artist Dave Gibbons, that anyone could hope for. Moore’s story reimagines the history of comic book superheroes in the real world of global politics and complicated (and […]

Iron Man – Photo credit: Marvel Entertainment

‘Iron Man’ – the MCU begins on Disney+

Iron Man (2008) is a superhero in both the mythic mode and the modern world, the hero felled by his own arrogance and revived with an Achilles heel. Behind the mask of the heavy-metal superhero is a playboy gazillionaire and armaments mogul with a bad heart and a high-tech pacemaker that powers not just his […]

‘X-Men: First Class’ on HBO Max and HBO Now

X-Men: First Class (2011) is both a reboot and a prequel to the big screen comic book series about a team of mutant superheroes with new, younger models of the series elders Charles “Professor X” Xavier (James McAvoy as a flirtatious, precocious incarnation of Patrick Stewart’s more professorial figure) and Erik “Magneto” Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender, […]

‘The Incredibles’ – super-powered family dynamics on Disney+

Brad Bird works with the computer animation pros at Pixar for the first (but not the last) time in The Incredibles (2004), which drops cartoonishly exaggerated super-heroics into the typical (by all outside appearances) suburban nuclear family, creating a super-powered dynamo of dysfunction and frustration in hiding (they’re in witness protection from years of personal […]

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman

‘Wonder Woman’ on HBO Max

Wonder Woman (2017) is, if you’ll pardon such an obvious comment, a wonder of a superhero movie, a film that doesn’t transcend the genre but most certainly sets a high bar, especially next to the ponderous, humorless films of the new big screen universe of interconnected DC Comics heroes. Gal Gadot debuted as Amazon princess […]

Heath Ledger is The Joker in the Christopher Nolan Batman sequel starring Christian Bale

‘The Dark Knight’ vs. The Joker on HBO Max

Superhero films became increasingly sophisticated and decidedly darker as they become (for better or worse) a full-fledged genre in the 2000s. With Batman Begins, writer/director Christopher Nolan (drawing inspiration from the revisionist Batman comic books by Frank Miller and Jeph Loeb) rebooted the Batman mythos for the big screen, bringing the often lighthearted hero back […]

Christian Bale is Batman in Christopher Nolan's 'Batman Begins'

‘Batman Begins’ – Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight on HBO Max

One of the defining films in the elevation of comic book movies to adult fare, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005) rebooted the Batman mythos for the big screen, bringing the often lighthearted hero back to the shadows, both figuratively and literally. It’s quite a leap from the previous Batman revival launched by Tim Burton’s 1989 […]