Dave, Joanna, and Neil argue for their respective picks for the best on-screen superhero introduction for Trial by Content. This week’s debate is inspired by Thor: Love and Thunder, in which Dr. Jane Foster makes her highly anticipated debut as the Mighty Thor.
Some notable pretrial dismissals include Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War, Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, and Queen Maeve in The Boys. Also, this week’s Category Crown goes to two of the most introduced on-screen superheroes in Batman and Spider-Man, and inversely the Category Clown is awarded to a slew of terrible introductions in X-Men Origins: Wolverine—but specifically Gambit and Deadpool.
Dave came in second in last week’s poll—behind only the listener submission—which means that he gets to kick off this week’s opening statements.
Dave goes with 1998’s Blade as the best superhero entrance ever put to film.
“We pan up over body armor and a long black coat,” he says, “all the vampires are freaking out, saying ‘It’s him, the daywalker’ then the crowd parts, giving us our first look at the man who wears his sunglasses at night and in dark rave caves: Blade.”
Dave continues to make his case by describing the gnarly opening sequence and its significance in the trilogy.
“[Blade] then proceeds to slaughter them all with every tool in his arsenal … from various guns and stakes, finally to the blade of Blade: a sword which he draws and scratches a line of control before slicing some vamps,” he says. “Blade doesn’t even need to speak, he’s Blade fully formed, right from when he shows up.”
Joanna goes next, opting for a much more family-friendly choice in Superman.
“I would like to take you back to 1978, when a young man named Christopher Reeve burst on the scene as Clark Kent,” she says. “This is the moment when the intrepid reporter Lois Lane is dangling from a helicopter off the roof and Clark knows what he needs to do.”
She bolsters her argument by setting the scene and emphasizing the urgency of the situation.
“He starts running—he sees a payphone, it’s not a phone booth, though, so he can’t use it—and then he super-speeds his way through a revolving door. As he’s running toward the revolving door he pulls open his suit,” she said. “Then, he flies up and everyone in the crowd gasps—they might as well say, ‘It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman.’”
She puts an exclamation point on her argument by acknowledging the Superman snub in the previous John Williams episode.
“Is this inclusion a make-good for the John Williams episode where we did not include the Superman theme song?” she asks. “Maybe, but it’s iconic for a reason.”
Neil is up next and he goes with a much more modern choice: Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, from Thor: Ragnarok.
“There’s a scene in Thor: Ragnarok when we’ve already met Valkyrie and she seems to be down on her luck. In fact, characters are now starting to discover that she was in fact one of the fabled Valkyrie,” he says.
He closes out his statement with a much more technical approach than his cohosts, pointing out the filmmaking techniques used in the scene.
“It involved a camera that could shoot at 1,200 frames per second. It involved an innovative light rig that has 200 lights on it and is 35 feet wide,” he says. “It begins with a flirty fight between Loki and Valkyrie. They’re just being playful and all of a sudden Loki realizes that she’s a Valkyrie and realizes that that must be a very painful memory. As he touches her head, we get Valkyrie’s stunning introduction.”
Be sure to check out the podcast below for more from Dave, Joanna, and Neil, including their full opening statements, cross examinations, listener submissions, and their closing arguments!
Don’t forget to vote for what you think is the best superhero introduction after you’ve listened to the episode! You can vote below, on The Ringer’s Twitter feed, and in the Spotify app, where you’ll find Trial by Content. The winner will be announced next week!
This excerpt was lightly edited for clarity.
What is the best superhero introduction?
This poll is closed
Da7e: Blade in ‘Blade’
Neil: Valkyrie in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’
Joanna: Superman in ‘Superman’
Listener (Stef): Spider-Man (Miles Morales) in ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’
Hosts: Dave Gonzales, Joanna Robinson, and Neil Miller
Associate Producer: Carlos Chiriboga
Additional Production Supervision: Arjuna Ramgopal
Theme song and other music credits: Devon Renaldo
Blog post: Kai Grady