We’ve already been treated to Deadpool this year, and we’re set to see another bunch of unexpected heroes in the form of the Suicide Squad take to the screen pretty soon. But they are not the only antiheroes to have made it to the big screen.
Some of the darkest, weirdest and strangest superheroes have been given their chance to shine (not always successfully). And with the antihero being “en vogue” in 2016, what better time to catch up on those crazy characters and forgotten heroes than now?
Based on Mike Mignola’s Dark Horse comics, Hellboy impressed audiences and critics alike in 2004. One of the major reasons for its success was without doubt director Guillermo del Toro and his ability to combine with dark humour, fantasy and action in equal measures to create an unforgettable world viewers could get lost in. Casting Ron Perlman as Hellboy was a masterstroke from the Mexican, as his physical prowess, experience with make-up roles and comedy timing helped Perlman create one of the most iconic antiheros to date.
Years before Hellboy popped out of the firey underbelly of the earth there was another from bowels of hell on the silver screen – Spawn. In 1997, when comic book films were not the major summer blockbusters and Will Smith was on every major film poster, director Mark A.Z. Dippé tried something a little different with his debut film. To call it an ambitious project would be an understatement. Full of impressive effects (for the time) and imaginitive creations, the film sees Michael Jai White’s special agent make a pact with the demon king Malebolgia in order to seek revenge on those that left him for dead. While it may not have been a hit at the box office or with the critics, the film is worth watching for John Leguizamo’s transformation alone.
Where there is a will, there’s a way. In 1990, instead of forking out tons of money on comic book film rights, Sam Raimi decided to create his own superhero. Darkman was the result – think Phantom of the Opera meets Batman with a hint of Elephantman and you’re on the right lines. Starring Liam Neeson (before he became a bonefide action hero in his own right) the film sees scientist Peyton Westlake left for dead after a gangster attack leaves him badly burned. Rather than seeking medical help or therapy, Westlake does what every sane scientist would do, he seeks vengence! And in very (bloody) superhero style.
Unbreakable comes from a time when M. Night Shyamalans was still making films worth watching (yes, it seems like an eternity ago). The film is a refreshingly real portrayal of a “superhero origin story”. The slow pace of the film is also in stark contrast to the superhero films we’ve grown accustomed to, and it makes for a very pleasant change.
Who do you turn too when the real heroes are missing? The Mystery Men of course. Led by Ben Stiller’s Mr. Furious, this team of ragtag wannabes would not be your first choice to save the world, but you won’t find a funnier bunch of heroes out there. This wildy underrated film knows how to hit the funny bone as it plays on every ordinary person’s desire to be “special”.
Not to be confused with the very average TV series of the same name, this 2005 attempt at bringing chain-smoking, plain-talking antihero John Constantine to life was a dark, and at times violent affair. The critics failed to warm to it upon its release, but the return at the Box Office justified debut director Francis Lawrence’s decision to take the film in this darker direction. A star-studded cast including Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz and Tilda Swinton as well as impressive special effects and a solid story ensures that this film is worth a watch.
7. The Spirit
Frank Miller’s genius as a comic and graphic novel writer goes without saying (Sin City, 300, The Dark Knight Returns, Ronin and Hard Boiled), but never has the old saying “stick to what you do best” been more applicable than with The Spriit, Frank’s directoral debut (on his own). The flick is a masterclass in what not to do when making a film, as well as taking all of the elements that made Sin City a great film and milking them to the extreme. This one is a piece the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson and Eva Mendes would rather you forgot about.