The wait is finally over. Zack Snyder’s vision of the comic book they said could never be filmed, Watchmen, makes its way onto DVD this week. So, like the masked vigilante Rorschach, we’ve dug up some film favourites from our superhero vault and taken a look at some of the most unconventional superheroes likely to save the day.
Covered from head to toe in an assortment of lycra, sometimes with a side kick in tow, the superhero is synonymous with its superhuman abilities, used to fight crime. The first ever comic book, also known as the graphic novel, made its way into households in the United States in 1934 and since then fans have never looked back. Superheroes eventually made the transition from two-dimensional drawings to the big screen, through a string of filmic adaptations based on the original comic book series or its characters.
Usually a do-gooder, with his or her objectives completely in synch with the moral ideals of society, the superhero is often identified as a beacon of hope and a saviour to mankind. However, the creation of the superhero has also seen the emergence of the anti-superhero; a super-human being who breaks the stereotypical save-the-day formula. The average joe who obtains super powers, the protagonist with villainous qualities and the hero who doesn’t live up to the responsibilities attached to his or her title, are just a few types of anti-superhero to have graced our screens in the past few years.
Cinema has also seen a rise in non-comic book heroes, whose original birth place was on the big screen.
While Tim Burton was busy delving into Gotham’s underbelly with the 1980s version of Batman, Sam Raimi was perfecting his own brooding superhero. Unable to obtain the legal rights to any graphic novels, Raimi seized the opportunity to be creative, paying homage to a string of 1930s horror classics with Darkman. After suffering horrific burns and lapsing into a coma, Liam Neeson’s character, Peyton Westlake awakens to find that he is completely immune to pain – an affliction which he uses to his advantage.Rent Watch Trailer
Will Smith signed up to play Hancock, a superhero whose favourite pastimes are drinking too much and causing mayhem. Smith’s involvement in the project guaranteed strong box-office takings, but with a typical good-guy–gone-wrong plot it is easy to see why Peter Berg’s anti-superhero tale fell short of superhero fans’ expectations.Rent Watch Trailer
Bruce Willis stars as the all-American hero with a twist. After surviving a horrific accident unscathed, he begins to question his unbreakable exterior. While character David Dunn is grappling with his new-found status, he runs into Elijah (Samuel L Jackson) aka Mr Glass – who later reveals he is the villain to Dunn’s hero. M.Night Shyamalan wanted to explore the idea of superhero mythology by placing it in the realms of reality.Rent
Special follows an avid comic book fan’s belief in his own super powers. After taking experimental anti-depressants, Les (Michael Rapaport) is thrilled to discover he is the modern day superhero. Making it his mission to fight crime, Les begins tackling civilians in the nearby store. But when he divulges his secret to close friends they begin to fear for his health. Hal Haberman andRent Watch Trailer
Appearing in the X-Men trilogy and a self-titled film, Wolverine leads the way in a string of superheroes who have crossed over from the comic book adaptation to the big screen. Like many anti-superheroes before him, Wolverine is haunted by a troubled past. Forced to live with the pain of his father’s death, the beast within is awakened when his girlfriend is brutally murdered. Sporting a killer quiff for the role, even Hugh Jackman’s hair alone, needed some serious taming.Rent Watch Trailer
The Shadow is a character best known from the pulp fiction series by American author Walter Brown Gibson in 1931. He has since appeared in comic books, a television series, a radio show and, in 1994, got the silver screen stamp with Alec Baldwin as the starring lead. With the power to manipulate minds, The Shadow can become invisible to the human eye. The idea of a superhero lurking in the shadows creates a somewhat sinister picture, but the character’s stealth serves for the greater good. After flopping at the cinema, the film went on to gain a cult following.Rent Watch Trailer
Originally a Marvel Comics’ character, Blade is a half-vampire, half-human hybrid who defends mankind from a vampire underworld hell-bent on sucking the human population dry. A leather clad Wesley Snipes, fully kitted out with a sword and coat (reminiscent of a cape), signed up to spill blood by the bucket load in this filmic take on the comic book character. In his original form, Blade is a human immune to any vampire’s bite, opposed to Stephen Norrington’s half vampire version.Rent Watch Trailer
Driven by the desire to avenge his family’s death, The Punisher is a vigilante who will stop at nothing to take down criminals. First written into The Amazing Spider Man series, the character of The Punisher was depicted as Spider Man’s enemy; a former U.S. Marine with black and white notions about right and wrong. A film adaptation of the comic book hero was given the green light in 1989 and several other versions followed, including The Punisher (2004) and The Punisher: War Zone (2008).Rent Watch Trailer
Set during World War II, Hellboy is a demon hero summoned by the U.S. government to defend the country from Nazis and a Slavic witch by the name of Baba Yaga. The film version of the comic book series places Hellboy in the 00s, after sixty years of being nurtured by humans. Ron Perlman took on the lead as Hellboy in 2004 and later reprised the role in the 2008 sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The film was well received by both comic book fans and critics alike.Rent Watch Trailer
Johnny Blaze is a stunt motorcyclist by day, demon vigilante Ghost Rider by night. Based on the Marvel Comic of the same name, Ghost Rider is a bounty hunter for the damned, collecting corrupt souls. Not within Nicolas Cage’s usual remit, the 2007 film originally attracted Johnny Depp to the role, but after a slow start getting off the ground, Cage eventually agreed to put pen to paper.Rent Watch Trailer