We are in an amazing place when it comes to the superhero and comic book genre onscreen. There’s nothing that cannot be realized through the magic of special effects and the imaginations being put in charge of the projects being pushed through production. Yes, we exist in a world of remakes, sequels, reboots, and marketing-fueled adaptations. But, if that’s the world that we exist in at least it is one that has the capacity to win us over.

Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is possibly the culmination of all that came before. Successes. Failures. Oddities. Classics that won’t be considered such for years. Massive hits that are massive shits. The Avengers is an excellent movie and one that defies the modern stigma of big summer movies that either numb us to death, dumb us to death, or lack the scope and spectacle to warrant the overused “tentpole” moniker.

How did we get here? What are the building blocks for this heyday in comic book and superhero movies? What “team” of movies, when banded together like Marvel’s litany of tough guys and gals when combined form the DNA of the modern superhero event film?

Here’s my perspective, a list of ten filled with good movies, bad movies, and surprisingly important movies paving the way for what now stands as the benchmark for the genre:

Day Four: Zathura


Day One: The Matrix / Day Two: The Fellowship of the Ring / Day Three: Transformers

Fuck Jumanji.

But Zathura, from the same writer and somewhat affiliated with the Robin Williams hate crime, is rather swell. That’s not why it’s here, though. There’s nothing in this film that warrants any superhero comparisons. But it did something even more important. Jon Favreau parlayed his work here (and one would expect, some very good meetings with skeptical studio executives) into a gig directing Iron Man. We know how that went. Zathura wasn’t a hit. It barely recouped its budget domestically. But home video was very kind and coming off the massive hit Elf Favreau hadn’t tarnished his brand.

Iron Man changed everything. For a good reason. While it may have still been good and successful, it’s hard to imagine many directors connecting with Robert Downey, Jr. as well as Favs.

Historically this film is significant in moving the machine forward and frankly, it’s more obscure things like this which are the most important when it comes to the odd and rarely linear logic of film.

What it brought: Balls. Zathura is a fun movie that employs techniques old and new, but its real longstanding contribution is somehow revealing Jon Favreau as a mainstream director.

Its legacy: This is a fact. No Zathura, no Jon Favreau Iron Man. No Jon Favreau Iron Man, no foundation in place for an Avengers. In fact, Favreau helped create a comfort zone that enabled folks like Kenneth Branagh and Joss Whedon opportunities. Of course credit also ought to go to Sam Raimi, Chris Nolan, Bryan Singer, and Ang Lee but Favreau really helped break the mold.

Remnants in The Avengers: None. But it doesn’t diminish the role this film plays in history.

Does it hold up today: DO you have children? Then yes.

Buy it from CHUD’s Amazon link: HERE.

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