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Home Is Where the Hero Is – The Best and Worst Comic Book Movie Lairs


They say a man’s home is his castle. That’s doubly true if the man lives underground surrounded by bats. The best lairs reflect a superhero’s character and provide a place to keep cool gadgets and vehicles. And they don’t have to be some elaborately created Hall of Justice — some of my favorite hideouts can blend into any suburban neighborhood. Let’s take a look at five of the best super-domiciles, and also five that are in serious need of renovation.

5. Skull Cave, The Phantom (1996)
phantom-125.jpgWhile not the most discreet hideout (nothing says “secret headquarters” less than a structure that resembles your belt logo), I have to give the Skull Cave points for sheer ridiculousness. First of all, The Phantom sits on a throne. That’s more than a little awesome. Billy Zane’s flick did a pretty decent job of recreating the many features of the Skull Cave, like the Chronicle Chamber where Phantom keeps the journals of past Phantoms, and the Treasure Rooms which house some of the world’s greatest artifacts.

4. Aunt May’s House, Spider-Man (2002)
aunt-may-125.jpgWhere else can you get flapjacks and hide out from the Green Goblin? It’s not the most elaborate lair, but who would suspect that the amazing Spider-Man lives with his elderly aunt in Queens? Peter Parker’s dingy apartment with that creepy Mr. Ditkovich in Spider-Man 2 had nothing on May’s cozy abode. And for somebody trying to get by on Peter’s salary, it offers Spidey by far the most bang for his buck. Manhattan rents are enough to make any hero turn to a life of crime

3. Malibu Beach Pad, Iron Man (2008)
ironman-125.jpgDirector Jon Favreau nails Tony Stark’s exorbitant wealth and gallivanting ways with this beachside bachelor pad. (It’s the perfect setup for both womanizing and testing out your new armor.) Fully stocked with wrap-around windows, a private garage and more, all run by voice-activated artificial intelligence JARVIS (familiar to comic fans as the longtime butler to the Avengers), Stark’s home is the ultimate in superhero indulgence. Plus, setting it in Malibu provides a refreshing change of pace from the usual New York City skyscape.

fortress-125.jpg2. The Fortress of Solitude, Superman II (1980)
Superman’s Fortress of Solitude has become an everyday metaphor for a personal sanctuary. (Though your Fortress probably contains more video games and fewer projections of Marlon Brando.) In every Superman movie, the Fortress of Solitude is where The Man of Steel goes to recharge, learn from his father Jor-El’s “memory crystals,” and occasionally romance Lois. It also boasts one of the more melancholy names for a lair, sounding more like the title of a mopey emo song than a crystalline casa.

1. The Batcave, Batman Begins (2005)
Batcave-125.jpgIs there a cooler superhero secret hideout? Along with Alfred, the Batmobile, and Bruce Wayne’s parental issues, the Batcave is an essential part of any Batman movie. Stocked with various costumes, nifty gadgets, and a supercomputer to rival anything Steve Jobs could produce, the Batcave is the easily the most comprehensive superhero hangout. (And the creepiest, what with the bats and all.) Plus, unlike most superhero HQs, it serves as an extension of Batman’s troubled psyche. And talk about convenience — it’s located right under stately Wayne Manor, where sandwiches can readily be prepared by Alfred after long nights of crimefighting.

And now, five places where no hero should hang their cape…

5. Warehouse, Blade II (2002) — You’re more likely to catch pneumonia than vampires in the dank, generic warehouse the Daywalker calls home. Blade might have the strength of a vampire, but the vampires themselves have far posher cribs.

4. Basement, Watchmen (2009) — Yes, he’s retired and all. But couldn’t Daniel Drieberg store his Owl Ship in, say, a nice airplane hanger instead of some dusty place he keeps his old costumes and utility belts? Not to mention that Silk Spectre nearly burned the place down trying to light her cigarette.

3. Sewer, The Punisher (1989) — Few sights are more disturbing than Dolph Lundgren meditating buck naked in the sewer. Couldn’t Frank Castle just once skim a little Mafia money and upgrade from life as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle?

2. The Baxter Building, Fantastic Four (2005) — In the comics, it’s a sprawling, technological home to the Fantastic Four. In the movie, it’s any generic Manhattan high-rise. Blame the housing market.

1. Sidewalk Bench, Hancock (2008) — Hopefully when the inevitable sequel arrives, Hancock will have graduated to an actual house. Or at least a tent.

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When not writing for places like The Onion and HBO, Nick Nadel is in line at the comic book store alongside the other geeks, er, fans of speculative fiction. Want more comic book movie news and opinions? Follow Nick Nadel’s column on Twitter.

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