The Spandex Awards: The Highs And Lows Of The Summer's Superheroic Cinema The Summer of Superhero Movies is over; we award the best, worst, dumbest, most effective, and much more.
NPR logo The Spandex Awards: The Highs And Lows Of The Summer's Superheroic Cinema

The Spandex Awards: The Highs And Lows Of The Summer's Superheroic Cinema

Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern. Warner Bros. Pictures hide caption

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Warner Bros. Pictures

Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Welcome, everyone, to the Dorothy Chandler Secret Underground Headquarters here in glamorous [REDACTED] for this, the 63rd Annual Spandex Awards, which honor excellence and execrableness in the art of celluloid superheroing.

(The Dexy, as the award is popularly known, is a handsome gold statuette of a skinny British dude in overalls.)

Without further ado, the awards:

Most Assiduously Faithful to its Source Material: The Green Lantern

The Green Lantern was steeped (some would say drowned) in Lantern lore cut-and-pasted from the comics page: Parallax, Sinestro, Hector Hammond, Tomar-Re, Kilowog, Abin Sur, etc.

Will this faithfulness extend to the planned sequel? If so, we may yet see Ryan Reynold's Hal Jordan quitting his job as a test pilot to become an insurance claims adjuster (no, seriously) and, later, a traveling toy salesman (again, !), as did our hero in his Silver Age comics adventures.

See! Our hero make cold calls! Thrill! To his risk estimates!

"In Brightest Day,

In Blackest Night,

I Will Assess Flood Damage Right!

Let Those Who Think My Payouts Tight,

Take It Up With My Manager, Mr. Philbrick!"

Least Effective as a Damn Movie: The Green Lantern

See above, in re: Assiduous Faithfulness. Movies are not comics. Comics are not movies. Adaptation from one medium to another is a perilously difficult prospect. As I tried to explain here, when comics-to-film transitions go wrong, they tend to go either self-serious or hopelessly hokey. The Green Lantern managed to be a singular mix of both. So, you know. Kudos for THAT.

Most Effective as a Damn Movie: Captain America

It just kept moving, managing to fit six Alistair MacLean-like set pieces into its running time, and featured a surprisingly subtle, underrated performance from its star that'll get noticed once more people watch it at home.

Best Costume: Thor

Granted, The Green Lantern's pixelated skin came the closest to emulating the physically impossible look of the super-suits that adorn the comics page. But as we've noted, mere faithfulness in service of the silly is no virtue.

No, Chris Hemsworth's Thor outfit did more than slavishly adapt Jack Kirby's really-shouldn't-work, domino-dots-on-the-chest, I-have-a-seagull-on-my-head classic look — it interpreted it for the screen. Best touch? The way the cape doesn't lie flat on his shoulders, but rises gently above them in a suitably gravity-defying/god-like way.

Worst Costume: X-Men: First Class' Beast

Big blue kitty-man in a flight harness. Is your blood stirred yet?

Best Villain: Captain America's Red Skull

Seriously: Dude's a mad demon-headed Ratzi super-scientist who embraces the occult in his bid for ... wait for it ... world domination. What more do you need? That's, like, bad guy Bingo!, right there.

Worst Villain: X-Men: First Class' Angel

Foxy? No doubt. But her powers simply didn't translate well: In the comics, the dragonfly wings and the fire-spitting register as cool. On the screen, she looked like a bug that goes around hocking up gross fire-loogies at all and sundry.

Best Sartorial Evocation of Thurston Howell III: X-Men: First Class' Sebastian Shaw

Kevin Bacon didn't look much like the comics's version. But in a key scene in XM:FC, he rocked some yachting gear that kicked ascot.

Most Romantic Couple: X-Men: First Class' Xavier and Magneto

Together, their love can move giant honkin' radio telescopes.

Biggest Scene-Stealer: Thor's Kat Dennings

It never failed: Every time your brain would start to question the credibility of Natalie Portman as a rogue ... meteorological ... astrophysicist? ... Dennings would make with a deadpan quip that'd bring you right back into the story.

Most Dogged Attempts at Scene-Stealing Comma Unsuccessful: Thor's Warriors Three

They were meant as comic relief. They proved to be neither.

Best Use of an Al Gore Ex-Roommate: Captain America's Tommy Lee Jones

Sure, on one level he just Tommy-Lee-Jonesed around the place, but every time he showed up onscreen, that gruff and irascible schtick of his lent the primary-colored, gee-whiz proceedings a much-needed bit of ballast.

Dumbest Super-Rescue: Green Lantern's Hal Jordan Turns a Helicopter Into a Race Car And Creates a Huge Hot Wheels Track On Which it Slides to Safety. Eventually.

"Rube Goldberg of Earth. You have the power to overcome great fear. Welcome to the Green Lantern Corps."

Most Urgently Needed Spin-Off: Hot Magneto: Nazi Hunter

Okay, Hollywood, I'm getting tired of repeating myself here: Michael Fassbender + crisp white shirt + Argentina = License to print money.

The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for Excellence in Torso Musculature

This was a close one — and if there were an award for the sculpting of abdominal obliques, Hemsworth would win the day easily — but this year's Thalberg goes to Chris (Captain America) Evans' charger-plate-sized pectoral muscles, Louie and Ralphie Evans.

Congratulations, boys. Looking forward to seeing you reprise your good work in next year's The Avengers.