Honorable Mention: The Incredibles
Pixar is its own standard. Every one of their movies is enjoyable. Some might make you even shed a tear. Or two. FINE! I have a special Kleenex box ready for me whenever I decide to go Pixar. And when the Incredibles came out, I restocked.
I’m exaggerating of course, because I’m a manly man. Who just so happens to love watching this particular family film. There are several reasons this is a must movie. 1) It’s Pixar. 2) It contains all the sitcom elements of a dysfunctional family who you pull for no matter what. 3)They all have super powers. And guess what? The world just so happens to be in danger. If that isn’t a box office formula, I don’t know what is.
Did you see this one coming? Probably not. Yes, Shyamalan is becoming more and more of a toxic name when attached to any project. But here’s one exception. Unbreakable is a supernatural thriller with a very dark overtone bringing an unknowing superhero to life: Bruce Willis. Who can’t get behind Bruce Willis? Seriously? Put your life in his bald hands and he’ll save you. Then you’ll thank him for it as he dodges bullets and crashing helicopters. And as far as my boy Mace Windu…uh…I mean Samuel L. Jackson, his screen presence is something nobody can ignore. Try it. Try and look away from that picture. You can’t can you? He’s got magic abilities. And in The Avengers he’ll use them with one eye.
Marvel brings it’s contribution to the list through a very nerdy Tobey Maguire. Peter Parker is a cheesy character. He just is. He’s a high school outcast because he’s a smart science geek who dreams of the IDEAL girl next door. We all have our opinions about Kirsten Dunst but here’s one that’s impossible to refute: Her portrayal of Mary Jane Watson is half of the movie’s worth.
Spider-Man may not be everyone’s favorite superhero but here’s why he beats out most other comic-turned-movie heroes. He’s relatable. Superman was born super. Iron Man is a genius engineer. Thor is a god. Peter Parker is a high school photographer who has nothing to loose. So he takes his given destiny and puts on the hero mask allowing him to save New York City time and time again with little or no reward. His struggle to balance the two lives is something most other comics don’t focus on. And to be honest, he’s not that powerful. Enough for us average acne driven joes to strive for, but he can’t turn back time by flying quickly around the world. Nor is he rich enough to live out of anything other than his own bedroom. I can confidently say Spider-Man is the easiest hero to see ourselves as. I mean, why not? Everyone roots for the underdog.
3. Batman Begins
In some ways, but not all, Batman is the most relatable superhero of all. Yes, he’s wildly rich and wildly physically talented. But he’s straight human. Which begs the question: Is Batman a Superhero? Sure, he’s a hero. Nobody challenges that title. But super?
Unlike the noble stunts our previous webbed crawler could pull off, Batman’s are more…selfless. And I have to add a disclaimer right here: I love dark movies. It adds character depth and opens the audience to a visible suffering that any human can relate too. But with the character depth comes height. Batman saves more than just the girl. When you tally up all the thankful survivors, he’s probably in Superman’s league. (Get it?)
Now most of you have scrolled through this list quick enough to realize I haven’t named The Dark Knight. I’ll tell you why. The title of this post says “..for your inner Nerd”. I love the moments in Batman Begins when it slows down. He might be walking through the mountains struggling for his breath when the music hits your heart hard. Or when he falls in the cave and rises with the swarming bats. Cue the music. Cue the revelation. Cue the Nerd’s foggy glasses. I love The Dark Knight. I really really do. But there’s so much story, the film can’t stop for a breath. So in essence it turns into a much faster paced action movie. And for this list I’d rather pick the strong origin story.
In an alternate timeline when Nixon never left office, we find ourselves on the brink of The Cold War becoming an actual war. In a complex socio-political multiple character driven story, you’ll find beautiful cinematography. Thanks to Zach Snyder’s visually edible story telling, you can’t stop watching. Watchmen is the top selling graphic novel of all time. And although it’s read like a comic book, the amount of detail and the storyline intricacies give weight to the “novel” part in “graphic novel”. Every Watchmen is a normal powerless person just trying to do the right thing, with one exception. Dr. Manhattan is more like a god with limitless vision and abilities defying all known physics.
What gets my nerd juices flowing in this movie is that it’s dirty. It becomes a moment of “Which is the lesser evil?”. A creative moral debate swarms your head allowing you to converse with other nerds for hours on end. It’s amazing. People die. Love is found. Tears are shed. And I can’t get enough. I WANT MORE! (Sometimes I swear being a Nerd is an addiction.)
1. Mystery Men
A rag-tag team of mildly powered heroes ban together to save the city. It’s hilarious. I love it. And to prove to you how funny it is, check out the cast. Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, William H. Macy, Janeane Garofalo, Kel Mitchell, Paul Reubens, Wes Studi, Greg Kinnear, Geoffrey Rush, and Eddie Izzard. I guarantee you’ll be laughing like Steve Urkel by the time credits role. And if you seriously doubt me, watch this movie alone. Free of the artsy fartsy snoody comments from your so called smart friends. Let yourself go. Either tighten your suspenders or wear your leather cape hiding in the back of your closet. Because this is one trip you and your WoW Avatar won’t forget.