This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. Since we’re visiting the year 2004 this week, and in-between seasonal flagship superhero movies debuts, thought I’d look back how my summer began back then. Rather than how it ended for me. With one of the very best flicks the genre ever produced. Which like this one, occurred during a leap year; even had a certain spidery someone1 returning to movie screens.
The Downey Cinema 10:
Images c/o Cinema Treasures site
June 30, 2004: I remember a time when comic book superhero movies were the rare thing. I mean after Superman: The Movie landed, to be sure. And I say that with a straight face, having been one of those pre-teens back in ’66 who couldn’t wait till the weekend to go see Adam West again in “tights” (yikes!) for a campy feature film2. An offshoot of the equally campy Batman TV series and one of only a handful comic book heroes adapted to the screen in those days.
Outside of TV, more than a few the animated variety, our paneled characters had little impact. Only in our own imaginations. Even as this decade slammed past and the ’70s readied to slap us silly, solely Richard Donner’s effort made a return on investment at the box office and in fans hearts. Yet, what followed was either forgettable (chiefly any Captain America movie published by Marvel Comics pre-1998), occasionally great (Superman II), everything else in-between.
Till Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) arrived, that is.
The frequency of the good ones (Darkman, The Rocketeer) bumped higher before Schumacher’s Batman & Robin almost permanently derailed this kind of movie. Luckily, the new millennium brought with it X-Men and especially Spider-Man to the forefront and turned around the comic book superhero adaptations. The latter showcasing Sam Raimi’s splendid work in the genre4. So much so, most enthusiasts I knew couldn’t wait to see the Spider-Man 2 sequel this month.
Then, fate’s checkers5 lined up; the cascading jumps finished with a “King me!” moment. The Wednesday this opened I was to attend a work seminar in of all places, Downey. Same city We Dared in my youth that had expanded its cinema offerings only a few years back. Being a “tent-pole” movie extended early and multiple screenings to eager patrons. Like 8 AM early. So I showed up at the Downey Cinema 10 at a quarter to, got a ticket, and watched the first that day.
So what I was a tad late to the workshop, wasn’t like they were going to reveal my secret identity or the like.
- This the second “reboot” of the Spider-Man character as a film franchise. ↩
- Will skip the Batman: The Movie (1966) screening at this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival, though Mr. West will intro the movie. ↩
- I know this old program offers fond memories for some my age, but don’t get me started with its ridiculous word overlays used during the fight scenes…”Kapow” this! Besides, the Green Hornet put it to shame anyway. ↩
- That is until he and Sony followed up with one of the worst! ↩
- Known as Draughts in the UK. ↩