We’ve made no secret in the past of the fact that we at ComicBook.com love us some Mystery Science Theater 3000, and its children Cinematic Titanic and Rifftrax. But back when The Avengers was in theaters, we reached out to the fine folks at Rifftrax to get hold of some superhero films from their catalog. Our mission? Finding five great superhero Rifftrax that could serve as backdrop for a party we were throwing the night before the release of The Dark Knight Rises, widely expected to be one of the great comic book films of all time.
Well, we never did throw that party, but there was, nevertheless, a lot of great material we turned up in our travels. Below are our picks for the most entertaining Rifftrax ever put to comic book movies.
Zack Snyder’s 300 remains one of the most stylish comic book movies ever made and the only non-superhero comic book movie included on this list. Why did it make it? Partly because the over-the-top visual style that Snyder imported from the comics and the stilted, often silly dialog Frank Miller created for this world make it an easy target, even if you like the film on its own merits.
And partly for “This…is…Spart-of a balanced breakfast!”
I know, right? Remember when “This is Sparta” jokes were funny? That one still is.
Batman and Robin
This one is great in part because it speaks to the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 mission statement: find the worst movies of all time, subject people to them, and offset the pain by providing hilarious commentary.
“Hey, don’t go blaming DC Comics for this movie,” the Rifftrax crew chastise the filmmakers as the publisher’s credit rolls across the screen. “This is your screw-up.” With Mike Nelson aboard for the track, the crew take after one of the most-loathed comic book movies of all time, Bat-nipples and all, and come up with a commentary track that renders the film shockingly watchable.
This one’s also made even cooler because it was written for the Rifftrax crew by a pair of dedicated fans. Chris Hanel and James Whistler of Riff Raff Theater, take a bow!
Following Batman and Robin, we needed a palate cleanser, and figured that watching an actually-good movie might be an interesting experiment.
When you watch a Rifftrax over a movie that’s not actually particularly bad, it can sometimes run the risk of being less entertaining, at least for those of us who love the cruelty leveled at movies like Batman and Robin, but for Iron Man, it worked really well. It’s a little lighter and more playful, but then again so is the movie. It all works very nicely.
Watch this one, if for no other reason than the broom hockey joke.
“Oh, he’s finally going to confession for his performance in Gigli,” jokes the crew when Affleck steps into a Catholic church at the beginning of one of the most (I’d argue unjustly) hated comic movies of the last twenty years.
There’s a mountain of Ben Affleck humor in this film and, if you think back to the moment in time when this film was made, a lot of it made total sense. As both a fan and a critic, I think Affleck gets a bad rap, but honestly, he’s just so easy and entertaining to make fun of–and the Riffers do it so well here–that it’s hard to argue against it.
It’s interesting, though, watching these back to back–the Rifftrax guys certainly have a thing for self-love.
The Dark Knight
Called “the greatest movie of all time” by the Rifftrax crew, this film once again goes to show that you can riff the ones you love.
In fact, the write-up that exists on their website and on the Youtube clip for the film is actually almost funny enough to make the commentary by itself. It reads, in part:
“If you can spare a minute, think back on the greatest work of cinema that you have ever seen. Did you think about The Dark Knight? No? Then you are a moron. Because while you were out doing whatever it is morons do…demolition derbies or…croquet, (we wouldn’t know, we loved The Dark Knight), The Dark Knight pimp-slapped Andy Dufresne, spat in the Godfather’s face and gave Charles Foster Kane a big ol’ wedgie on its way to becoming the greatest movie of all time.”
Whether you agree with them or not, mainstream consensus seems to be that Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker in the film is probably the best supervillain ever put to screen–and this riff is worthwhile if only for the fact that they got so much mileage out of his wonky speech patterns!