7644 Jacob Silverman in Tablet:

Pity the comic-book fan who, with plucky optimism, skips to the movie theater to see one of this summer’s superhero flicks, only to leave two-and-a-half hours later with a CGI-induced hangover. Green Lantern was a travesty—you could feel the producers looming just off-camera, pleading with whatever fallen deities they pray to that this overdone stew of a movie would earn enough money to enable a franchise. Thor had moments of levity, and its star, Chris Hemsworth, appears to know his way around a Shake Weight, but the title character and his brother Loki seemed more like cosseted brats than Norse immortals locked in fratricidal conflict. Captain America, which will be released this Friday, is directed by Joe Johnston, a man who would probably rather forget the aughts (when he brought us Jurassic Park III, Hidalgo, and The Wolfman), and stars an actor, Chris Evans, whose best performance—by far—was a 10-minute cameo as an imbecilic action star in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Need we even bother?

There are plenty of other examples of terrible recent superhero films. There are some exceptions, of course, but most of the last decade—an era when Hollywood has supposedly rededicated itself to producing quality superhero movies featuring iconic characters—has been a wash.

What happened? Popular entertainment, after all, need not shy away from complexity or genuine moral conflict; the recent revival of Batman as the Dark Knight proved that well. Rather, the problem is one common to most superhero movies: Too often, filmmakers treat comic books as a brand rather than as source material, emptying them of all the intricacies and ironic reversals that made the beloved characters beloved in the first place. Put simply, contemporary superhero movies suck because they’ve forgotten their Jewish roots.