While I've been working out stats for various Villains & Vigilantes characters, I've been thinking about superhero games and worlds. There's an aspect of fantasy worldbuilding that isn't present in most modern-day games, in that the worldbuilder has to consider effects of fantastic powers on the setting, and personalities loom large in ways that they do not in the actual world.
But that's not what I'm going to talk about right now. What I was thinking about was what if we were to design a superhero (or metahuman, if we don't want to consider costumed crimefighters) world, but without the direct influence of any comic books at all. What if, instead of comic books, we design the setting so that movies provide the canonical source material. And, to make it a little bit tougher, let's avoid any movies that are based on comic books, or which present superheroes directly (so, no Zoom, no The Incredibles, and so on). To that end, here are the movies that I would want to use as source material, treating the events of each movie as if it occurred in the same setting as all of the others, just like Doctor Strange's weird astral journeys coexisted with Thor's Asgard, the Fantastic Four's journeys to strange dimensions, and so on. The fun part is trying to rationalize the stories that don't fit precisely:
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension (how could I not?)
Archer (superspies! plus comedy!)
Big Trouble in Little China (ancient Chinese curses and martial arts magic)
The Bourne Identity and sequels (superspies!)
Dead Like Me (the afterlife and times of a group of grim reapers)
Dog Soldiers (werewolf packs, compatible with The Howling)
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (an unusual hit man works for the mob; kinda like superspies)
The Ghost Whisperer (spirit communcations)
Hanna (superspies! With the implication of genetic engineering)
The Hellstrom Chronicle (OK, this is cheating a little; I'd actually use the book that Frank Herbert wrote, Hellstrom's Hive, which treats the movie as if it were the product of one of the characters in the book. Among the creepiest villains ever)
The Howling (werewolf packs)
Humanoids from the Deep (fishmen make good villains)
The Hunger (immortal blood drinkers)
Inception (dream bandits with technological access to the deepest secrets in a mind)
Insidious (astral journeying as a superpower and source of Doctor Strange-like stories, plus dangerous astral entities; it's approximately a reimagining of Poltergeist, so I could include that too)
Labyrinth (a strange creature tries to give a girl what she thinks she wants)
The Last Dragon (martial arts mayhem and mysticism in the inner city)
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (superspies!)
Pan's Labyrinth (a different take on faery creatures)
Repo Man (punks and collections agents chase down a very special car, but what's in the trunk is the thing that matters)
The Secret of Roan Inish (a family with a special relationship to seals)
Simon, King of the Witches (magic!)
Time Bandits (a group of little people who are running through the cracks in creation to ransack the universe of its treasures)
In addition, I'd probably include the Indiana Jones movies as deep background, just so I could include that wonderful warehouse.
What these give me: superscience, aliens, superspies, super martial arts, an afterlife conception, werewolves, spirit mediums, genetically engineered supermen, a society of humans who aspire to be insects, fishmen, vampires, dream machines, astral travel, faeries, UFO/time machines, selkies, magic, cracks in the universe, and Indiana Jones's legacy. That's a good start, I think.
What movies or TV shows would you include?