We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
Tobey Maguire's spidey senses, Heath Ledger's joker smile, kneeling before Zod ... we'll get to that in a second. First let me explain this list. Any outlet could hammer out a Top 10 (or 7) list taking into account every single sequel of superhero films. That way, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and Batman and Robin would have a chance to play. OK, bad example, those would never have a chance. But here at The Scorecard Review, we're not just any outlet. We're taking it a step further. Only the first sequel has a chance on this list. That's why the title doesn't read "Superhero Second Sequels" because that would in fact further to the third in the series. Only part two is allowed to play. This is, of course, because Iron Man 2 starring Robert Downey Jr. is on the verge of opening (May 7) and while all signs point to it having a place on this list ... that's to be continued. Here now are TOP 7 Superhero Sequel Seconds.
Recap: Hellboy (Ron Pearlman) is back as the demon/man caught between two worlds who secretly helps humanity. The mythical world starts a rebellion against the humans in order to rule the Earth, so Hellboy and his team must save everyone from the creatures. Reason: There are moments, but not a movie. The moments almost always happen when Hellboy is around. My favorite is when the gang heads under the Brooklyn Bridge, bringing to mind Star Wars Mos Eisley cantina. Another good one is Hellboy and Abe drunkenly singing “Can’t Smile Without You.” Guillermo del Toro makes a great looking world, but the story doesn't keep up. The romance is a bore and if you're going to put "Golden Army" in the title, please make sure they are part of the film besides the last couple of minutes.
6. Blade II (2002)
Recap: Blade (Welsey Snipes) is back as a part human/part vampire. He rescues Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) and now must deal with a stronger strain of vampires known as reapers. Blade is stuck joining his enemies to fight a new one. Reason: First of all, look at Guillermo del Toro. Who would have thought he'd be the director to score twice on this list? Well done, sir. Well done. Ron Perlman is here again as well. Back to the story, I was a little surprised they brought Whistler back, but then again, it's a great character so my complaining is kept to a minimum. The special effects, fight sequences and gadgets improve on the original. The reapers are a scary bunch as well, which makes the very end with Nyssa actually tragic. The only thing that drops off in this sequel is the main villain. I'm a sucker for Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff). No, "sucker" wasn't a nod to vampires.
5. Batman Returns (1992)
Recap: Michael Keaton returns as Batman, and Tim Burton returns as the director. This time, Batman must deal with the Penguin (Danny DeVito) trying to run for mayor and a messed up lady named Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer). Reason: This is the only sequel on this list that is actually worse than its original. The fact that it still appears at number five is pretty impressive. Look, it took years for the Batman franchise to get close to Jack Nicholson's Joker. The villains here are the problem. Oops, maybe I shouldn't have used the plural here. I don't blame DeVito, but the Penguin is a problem. Having an uncomfortable looking and acting man run for mayor ... that was a mistake. A villain like that should only live in the underground. Catwoman on the other hand leads the "sexpot" category by leaps and bounds. Has anyone attempted to re-cut this film and completely remove DeVito? Isn't this what youtube is made for? Sure we might be down to 45 minutes, but it'd be close to perfect.
4. Superman II (1980)
Recap: Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) starts to think Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) may just be Superman. To be closer to her, Superman says goodbye to the powers, but he picked a bad time. General Zod (Terrence Stamp), Ursa and Non have the same powers Superman does and have come to take over Earth. Reason: Two directors hurt. Richard Lester brought the funny, but not the good kind (like ice cream in a man's face while bad guys are destroying a city). Richard Donner's version is better, but still not perfect. I could dissect this more, but let's talk about the good. The best thing this film has going for it is General Zod. He commands attention. There's also something cool about realizing the time frame during the first Superman film had the bad guys stuck in glass, floating through space. Still, did you notice when Superman is in the diner (without his powers) he has totally and utterly forgotten how to fight? Really? And why can't Superman be with Lois and keep his powers? Super sperm? It needs to be discussed. Plus, how long has the world known Superman before he chooses to give up his powers? It's just a couple of months, right? Seems premature. I also like thinking about how the actual day-to-day world would change with General Zod in charge. Does he raise taxes? Bring back slaves? I want to know his political leanings. Too many questions means it can't make the Top 3. Still, a 1980 superhero film is still impressive.
3. X2: X-men United (2003)
Recap: All of the X-Men join together to find a mutant assassin who attacks the President. The military goes after the Mutant Academy and the Brotherhood (the evil mutants). Plus, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) learns more of his past from Stryker (Brian Cox). Reason: The first scene with Nightcrawler making his way through the White House is a great start. There's also a great escape from Magneto thanks to a little iron in a guard's blood. I'm always a fan of a villain being forced to join the good guys for a little while. The moment where I am in superhero ecstasy is when Wolverine must kill. He has no choice. After all, he's got to protect the kids. When the military attacks the Mutant Academy we get a taste of all the other mutant powers and what they are capable of. More than that the claws come out and play. The film's ending gives us a taste of Phoenix. For those who read the comic books, it was exciting to know she was coming. Unfortunately that realization, seen in X-Men: The Last Stand ruined that good taste. But that's not this film's fault.
Recap: Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is a superhero, but that doesn't mean his life is perfect. It gets even worse when he must do battle with a brilliant scientist named Doctor Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina). Doc Ock has mechanical tentacles that have plans of their own for taking over the world. Reason: I wasn't a huge fan of Willem Dafoe's green goblin in the first Spider-Man. When Molina was cast as the main villain for the second, I remember thinking, "oh well." I was wrong. Very wrong. Intelligence, powerful and a little demented, Molina captures the essence of Doc Ock and the special effects are fantastic as well. Seeing Peter stuck in an annoying life is leaps and bounds better than when Superman II does it, and you actually feel for the teenage kid. The subway battle is amazing, and it's surprising how many people actually find out who Spider-Man actually is. In typical superhero fashion, Spider-man decides he can't be with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), but in untypical fashion, she says the hell to that.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
Recap: Batman (Christian Bale) is back. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman sets out to destroy organized crime in Gotham for good. A new criminal known as the Joker (Heath Ledger) is out to make sure that doesn’t happen at any price. Reason: Ledger is the best superhero villain we have. If you want a superhero movie for adults, this is the best we have. I don't want to hear about length complaints either. Two and a half hours of a nearly perfect film is nothing to yawn about. Yes, I do wonder what it would have felt like for the film to end with the Joker driving away with his head out of the window, screaming like a mad man. But I wouldn't trade it for the final hour. The toys (including the Bat Pod) are improved. Bruce Wayne's love interest is slightly improved from Katie Holmes to Maggie Gyllenhaal, and there's an actual moment where Batman must choose between saving two people where you feel concerned. Christopher Nolan made the perfect sequel. He'll have another chance to do that with part 3. No pressure.