The 1990’s were weird when it came to superhero movies. Studios weren’t willing to invest in actual movies starring mainstream characters from Marvel or DC Comics. And in 1989 after the success of Tim Burton’s “Batman” movie, studios left the financial success with the wrong idea. Rather than opting to take a shot on other big line superhero movies, they chose to instead aim for the pulpy nostalgia that the film brought audiences. So they mined the comic book world and began adaptation pulp superheroes from the 1930’s and 1940’s, all of whom were very popular in their time.
Only a few them took off, while sadly many failed to translate in to humongous success. That said, the pulp superhero movie era of the 1990’s was a great time for fans like me that just adored pulp superheroes. I don’t care. I loved pretty much all of it, and I still do. In celebration of the upcoming “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” I compiled a list of my absolute favorite pulp movies of all time.
The way these serials kept people coming back to theaters to see them were by repetition and a steady stream of it. If you can appreciate the kitsch value and camp behind “Commander Cody” you could probably ignore the inherent repetitive storylines that follow it. Commander Cody is doing something top secret. There’s a villain who is spying on him. Commander Cody is also spying on them, oddly enough. The villain’s gun wielding henchmen take Commander Cody’s sidekick, the spunky Joan, hostage. Cody then has to go and save her, and wins the day. These serials deliver what the audience wants, even if it can get kind of tedious; especially since the compilation of “Sky Marshal of the Universe” episodes amount to almost four hundred minutes total.
It’s a good time to be a Batman fan. With another movie coming up, a new prequel series, and the Adam West Batman show finally coming to DVD this year, Mill Creek is wise to release the forties theatrical serials for Batman fans daring enough to venture in to the sketchy movie serials of the 1940’s. Don’t go in to this string of movie serials expecting modern Batman, or even Adam West Batman. It’s a very low budget adaptation of the Bill Finger character that also is heavily steeped in racial stereotypes. If you can consider the context of the serials, you may just enjoy the two disc DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment.