There are a lot of superhero flicks out there. Some might say too many. I say not enough, however; there are plenty of superhero flicks that go either unnoticed or unloved. I plan on dedicating the month of January to re-watching and shedding some light on superhero flicks that have either been largely forgotten, scoffed at or ignored by the viewing public. You won't find stuff like The Avengers on this list. No Dark Knights or Hellboys. If there's a movie you'd like to to tackle, comment and let me know and I'll do my damndest to find it and add it to the series. The criteria for this is pretty loose, if the movie features a superhero, you're in. It doesn't have to be a DC or Marvel guy. Anyways, let's do this thing.

Illustration for article titled Underappreciated Superhero Movie Month - Dick Tracy

When I was a kid, I didn't appreciate Dick Tracy. The older I get, the more I adore it. Warren Beatty directing from a script by Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr. that's got laughs, action, genuine detective work and incredible acting top to bottom, with Al Pacino's Big Boy Caprice the standout and a puberty-inducing performance by Madonna as Breathless Mahoney.

Dick Tracy is probably the sexiest movie on this list. From Madonna's completely-visible breasts to the various sight-gags and innuendo, Dick Tracy does a great job of balancing the hero's desires to walk on the wild side with sticking to the straight-and-narrow of acceptable society. There's even a scene where Tracy is literally holding a sack of nuts. The obvious indication that Tracy's got Caprice by the, proverbial, nuts.


It's important to remember that Dick Tracy struck at the peak of Madonna's popularity. It's also hard to ignore the fact that she was most likely fucking Beatty at the time. Maybe Dick Tracy is a metaphor for Beatty's difficulty in rationalizing the bad-girl appeal of Madonna with the painfully-average Annette Benning, who he would star with one year later in Bugsy. I think, for the men reading right now, it's almost impossible to choose between the impossible sexiness of Madonna and the genuine sweetness of Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headly), but we all like to walk on the wild side every once in a while. Dick Tracy might be an amazing hero, but he's also a man.

Big Boy is a screaming ball of rage. Pacino is essentially satirizing all the gangsters he's played throughout his career by tackling the Big Boy character. There's even an homage to The Godfather by having James Caan pop up as a rival gangster to Caprice.


The various henchmen that hang out with Caprice are all terrifying freaks. From Little Face to Flat Top, they're all freaks. The comic strip was filled with these characters, too, but the miracle of this movie was translating them in even a semi-believable way, which is exactly what makeup magicians Doug Drexler and John Caglione Jr. really delivered on the concept. These aren't simple makeups like something in the Schumacher Batman films, lame latex appliances with heavy paint jobs, these are legitimate full-rubber and latex appliances that allow the actors to shine through underneath. You can absolutely tell that semi-legendary character William Forsythe is underneath the Flat Top makeup. It would've been easy to cake on the makeup and ignore the actor, but Drexler and Caglione Jr. nailed it.

The overarching narrative of a man's struggle with the two sides of his personality is better-tread in Dick Tracy than in a lot of other films. Blue Velvet is another movie that does an awesome job of depicting the struggle between sex and safety. It's funny to think of Dick Tracy as being in the same vein as Blue Velvet, but it's accurate, in my opinion, at that base level.


I don't know how Warren made this movie with a PG-rating. From incredibly violent shootouts, stellar action, the sex, the innuendo, I just don't get it. It's not a movie for kids in any way, shape or form, but I'm damn glad he made it happen.

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