Top 10 Superhero DVDs
With a slew of superheroes in theaters this summer - X-Men: The Last Stand, Superman Returns, My Super Ex-Girlfriend - we feel a musclebound DVD assessment is in order. Batman Begins, a benchmark title, ascended beyond this list to the pantheon of torture test discs and will be revered in a future issue. If you don't agree with the rest of these choices, we'll sic Jack-Jack on you posthaste.
1. SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE (Warner). The 1978 film with Christopher Reeve - the perfect embodiment of the ultimate superhero - gets a DVD with picture, sound, and effects updated to contemporary standards. Read "Doing Superman Justice" (Ed. Note: Want to get prepared for the new Superman movie, Superman Returns? Visit Premiere.com's Superman Central.)
2. SPIDER-MAN 2 (Columbia). A rare webbed feat: the better sequel! Better villain with a better costume (Dr. Octopus), better action sequences (the subway and pier battles), better digital effects (all that Spidey swinging). Plus a friendly neighborhood full of extras. Read the original DVD review of Spider-Man 2 Read the original theatrical review of Spider-Man 2 at Premiere.com
3. THE MATRIX (Warner). He stops bullets by force of will, leaps across buildings, wears a cool black outfit, and even has an alter ego. By any definition, Neo/The One is a superhero. This DVD has become a legend of the format, wowing audiences with its highest-quality transfers and standard-setting extras. Read the original DVD review of The Matrix
4. UNBREAKABLE (Touchstone). M. Night Shyamalan's underappreciated follow-up to The Sixth Sense will convince you that comic-book heroes actually walk the earth. Mr. Glass's tumble down the subway stairs is one of the most disturbing but effective uses of sound in recent memory. The THX-certified picture is free of artifacts but rightly a bit fuzzy to avoid the Hollywood sheen found in other men-in-tights flicks. Read the original DVD review of Unbreakable
5. X2: X-MEN UNITED (20th Century Fox). X2, like Spidey 2, is that double rarity: a successful translation of comic book to film in a sequel that improves on the original. The detailed, well-contrasted images allow you to appreciate the, er, originality of Rebecca Romijn-Stamos's form-fitting Mystique outfit (left). And the aggressive, highly directional surround mix totally immerses you in the action. Read the original DVD review of X2: X-Men United Read the original theatrical review of X2: X-Men United at Premiere.com
6. BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (Warner). Simply put, the most faithful comics-to-screen adaptation there is - even if it was made for the small screen. Here, Batman is a dark, brooding hero who strikes quickly, then vanishes into a dark, Art Deco-styled Gotham City - so check it out on a display that can handle the rich blacks. And Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamill is no joke as The Joker.
7. THE INCREDIBLES (Disney/Pixar). Even Mr. Incredible's receding hairline and expanding waistline can't stop this two-disc set's flawless THX transfer and super supplemental materials from making your short list of show-off discs. As for the audio, the pic was nominated for Best Sound and Best Sound Editing (winning the latter), so 'nuff said! Read the original DVD review of The Incredibles Read the original theatrical review of The Incredibles at Premiere.com
8. THE TICK (Sony). A TV tech- nicolor scream dream. Patrick Warburton (Seinfeld's Puddy) is a twisted vision in a blue rubber suit. It bugs that the commentaries by Barry Sonnenfeld and Ben Edlund are hard to find, but they're worth navigating for the mirth and insight.
9. SMALLVILLE (Warner). In this inventive TV reimagining of the Superman mythos, young Clark Kent must contend with the onset of unwieldy superpowers and the discovery that his real Mom and Dad had an out-of-this-world address. The transfer is clean and bright enough to rival a burning hunk of Kryptonite. Read the original DVD review of Smallville: Season 4
10. DRAWN TOGETHER (Paramount). Cartoon characters and superheroes live together in an animated reality show à la The Real World. Uncensored hilarity ensues. The freewheeling commentaries are a hot tub of belly laughs, but don't expect many scene-specific observations.