by David Christopher Bell
The boring problem with almost every superhero is that if they existed in real life they would just win all the time. This is why we have super villains, of course, and this is why those super villains tend to get the upper hand at some point in the film. After all, what’s a good third act without some kind of obstacle to overcome?
If your character can shoot fire from his or her nipples then the baddies better have some kind of ray gun that shoots ice pasties.
Point is, we need a point where the hero gets their ass handed to them – something that some movies handle better than others. Here are eight of the darker moments where the hero hits rock bottom (usually in a pool of their own blood).
8. Lady Deathstrike Bleeds Out Wolverine in X2
This isn’t so much of a fight scene as it is a collage of Hugh Jackman hurt faces and manly cries. Deathstrike has almost twice the cutting power as Wolverine with 90% less hair and noise. That’s seriously one thing she must have over Weapon X, who screams like a lumberjack whenever he lurches at something. Not to mention that she probably also smells considerably better. I don’t want to be mean or anything, but Wolverine strikes me as a funk factory.
It’s only luck that Wolvie is able to subdue his attacker as he stumbles upon an entire vat of adamantium by his side. Had they been fighting in a Pottery Barn (which would have been awesome to watch) it probably wouldn’t have turned out as well for our Canadian friend.
7. Raphael Is Put In A Coma in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Out of all the Ninja Turtles who can and probably should undergo a gang beating, Raphael is it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Raphael, I think he is cool – but as the tale tells, we mustn’t forget he is also rude. But cool.
Then again, Raphael is also a teenage kid who has been indoctrinated by an old man with a grudge and taught how to kill on instinct – so in a way his rebellion is the healthiest of all of the turtles. Now look at Michelangelo, who kills with absolutely no conflict to be found therein – to the point of jubilance even. That’s the motherfucker you have to watch out for.
6. Tony Stark Is Nearly Drowned in Iron Man 3
Honestly it’s kind of the reason this list exists. Long time writer and pretty new director Shane Black simply knows – in his heart – why we watch movies. He knows how to make them interesting and fun. You put that kind of mind in charge of anything with Robert Downey Jr. and you’re cooking with some serious gas right there.
I’ll try not to spoil anything – but I will say that, from everything from the funny-talking villain to the damsel in distress, he managed to take every superhero film trope and breathe new life into them. Probably the most striking observation for this film is that, unlike most superhero films, this one actually passed the Bechdel Test. In fact – it does much more than that at one point as well, but I don’t want to give anything away.
5. Peter Parker Gets Torn Up in Spider-Man
The supposed rule of the sequel is that with every new confrontation we get an even worst outcome. The ante – in theory – should be upped considerably with each film, right? What’s interesting to me about the Spider-Man series is that while that may be true – no ass kicking has really compared to that first one against the Green Goblin.
While it only lasts 2 minutes tops – the scene plays out silent as the Goblin just beats the web out of Mr. Parker, who has already been quite bloodied by the initial bomb that tears his suit up. It’s a great low point that ends with a Looney Tunes-like wall crushing and even more Looney Tunes-like Wile E. Coyote style self-demise.
4. The Man Of Steel Gets Shanked in Superman Returns
There’s no defending Lex Luthor’s idiot plan in this film, however his prison gang-style beating of the Last Son Of Krypton was downright evil genius. Once you get that green rock around this guy he just becomes a weirdo in a cape – so it’s only proper to get gritty on his ass with a good hearty punch and kick session. And boy does he take it like a 13-year-old band kid. Just wussy flails all the way.
But then comes the crowning moment when Lex, an ex-inmate himself, sneaks up behind Big Blue and sticks him right in his side with a Kryptonite shiv – uttering a scornful, “Now fly” and dumping his ass in the ocean. If you ask me, if they had the balls they would have just rolled credits right there for the hell of it.
3. The Comedian Gets Tossed Out A Window in The Watchmen
Who the hell wears a button pin on their bathrobe? That, my friends, is how you wake up with a prick. Then again, the Comedian already seems like kind of a prick to begin with. Man – that’s just the kind of joke he would have loved.
This music definitely helps the scene as the Comedian gets his comedian ass handed over to him to the tune of Nat King Cole doing “Unforgettable.” But man, you’d think he’d do a better job of defending himself, what with the power of slow motion. You know when you take that into account – in reality they probably only got through the first 30 seconds of that song before he hit the ground.
2. Bane Humiliates Batman in The Dark Knight Rises
It’s simple. No big score, no explosive flips or crazy gadgets, just two men who happen to be dressed like bondage gimps going hand-to-hand in a sewer waterfall the size of a mall. Okay – maybe it isn’t simple, but boy is this scene dark and dirty.
Bane is the most charismatic villain of this series in terms of people that you don’t mind seeing killed – if that makes any sense. He’s eloquent and entertaining enough to carry his tremendous evil with every step but no so funny that it’s hard to see him go. Also he has the voice of a Venture Brothers character.
1. Big Daddy Goes Down in Kick-Ass
On a scale from “put the bunny back in the box” to “I’m a vampire” I’d put this Nicolas Cage freak out somewhere in the vicinity of “killing me won’t bring back your goddamn honey!”. I mean – it’s justified, what with the fire – in fact it’s probably the most justified freak out of his career, which will no doubt be studied by scholars sometime in the not too distant future.
This scene is great because it shows the real-world threat of dressing up like an asshole and going after mobsters: sometimes they won’t build an elaborate contraption but rather just beat the shit out of you before lighting you on fire. It’s much more effective than creating a rocket powered surf board or trying to think of the perfect riddle to stick on a security guard’s corpse.