What makes fight scenes good or bad? Which fight scenes in superhero movies do you consider good or bad?
I like when the skill and martial arts moves of the performers are clearly seen and not obscured by choppy editing or too much shaky camera. I like when the impacts of the hits feel powerful.
Personally I can’t stand excessive shaky-cam + rapid choppy editing. That’s the worst style of action. I think they do it either to gloss over sloppy choreography, so that you can barely see what’s going on anyway, or as a lazy way of preventing you from spotting the use of stunt doubles.
Here are my thoughts on some superhero fights.
Batman Begins, dir. Christopher Nolan.
Excessive shaky-cam + choppy editing + disorienting rapid cuts. It’s so visually chaotic and confusing that Batman’s fighting moves are barely comprehensible.
Batman V Superman, dir. Zack Snyder
This is the best Batman fight in any Batman movie. Batman fights fast and efficiently, like he’s leapt straight out of an Arkham video game. The impact of every hit feels powerful. And the bad guys aren’t just standing around waiting to get hit, they actually feel dangerous the way they’re really trying to take Batman down. It’s fast paced, but perfectly shot and edited, so that Batman’s moves are all clearly seen.
Dark Knight Rises, dir. Christopher Nolan
This is an improvement over Batman Begins, because Nolan abandons his old shaky choppy style in favor of a steady camera and long shots. But the sloppy choreography is too obvious. Some punches and kicks look like they don’t connect. Stunt guys are just standing around until it’s their turn to get hit, some even fall down without getting hit. Hits don’t look powerful.
Wonder Woman, dir. Patty Jenkins
This was awesome. There’s emphasis on Wonder Woman’s power and fighting skills and we really see and feel both. The lasso looks incredible in combat.
Captain America Civil War, dir. Joe & Anthony Russo
Another example of too much shaky-cam & choppy editing. You can tell the stunt performers are talented, but their moves are obscured by the distractingly bad camera work and editing.
Man of Steel, dir. Zack Snyder
Fights between superpowered combatants don’t look any more intense than this. This is the best depiction of super strength we’ve ever seen. There’s not much that looks more powerful than impacts strong enough to produce window shattering shockwaves.
Black Panther, dir. Ryan Coogler
This suffers from floaty-looking physics. They look so lightweight. The hits look soft, like we can barely feel their impacts.
Aquaman, dir. James Wan.
Awesome emphasis on their power and fighting skills. The long held circling camera shot makes this extra impressive on a technical level.
Watchmen, dir. Zack Snyder
This is why Zack Snyder is one of the best action directors ever. Holy ****, this looks good. Their moves are both beautiful and fluid and powerful and brutal at the same time. It’s impossible not to be impressed by how not a single one of the Comedian’s attacks lands on his opponent, really emphasizing how dangerous he is. Even the lighting is amazing, with the “intruder’s” face perfectly obscured by shadows the whole time.