Top 10 Best Comic Book Movies


Honorable Mention: Thor – The “Thor” movies are widely considered to be the weakest link in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s not to say that the franchise is bad by any stretch of the imagination. They just aren’t quite at the same level as the MCU’s stronger entrants. The first “Thor” film came very close to cracking the top 10 due to the amazing performance Tom Hiddleston turned in as Loki. His turn as the god of mischief ranks at or near the top of the list of greatest villains in the genre, if not modern movies all together. Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, and Stellan Skarsgård all turned in solid performances. The set pieces in Asgard and Jotunheim were breathtaking. But overall, the movie was just not that memorable outside of Hiddleston’s iconic performance.

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10. X2: X-Men United – This movie at the time was the absolute standard bearer for the genre. The plot was solid. The acting was solid. And the overall movie was pretty high quality. The Nightcrawler assassination scene at the beginning is still one of the most visually amazing scenes in a comic book movie. And the “school vs army” scene was pretty amazing in its own right. And this was the “X-Men” movie that really established Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine as a total bad ass. Much like the rest of the X-Men trilogy, this movie suffered from poor casting decisions and weak dialogue. But, it still holds up as being one of the better comic book movies of all time.

Image Credit: imdb.com

9. Blade – “Blade” is often overlooked in its importance in the modern comic book movie industry. The genre was essentially dead when the Daywalker caught Hollywood by surprise. Wesley Snipes still ranks as one of the best casting decisions in the genre. The action scenes were elaborate and intricate. The supporting cast was phenomenal. And the plot was extremely memorable. Kris Kristofferson absolutely stole the show as Whistler. The overall visuals and themes from the movie were extremely faithful to the source material. It honored the comic book and still managed to stand on its own. It was an extremely intelligent idea to make a film about a lesser known hero. We would not have some of the great modern movies without Blade.

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8. Hellboy – This movie proved that a complete unknown character could carry a comic book movie to commercial success. Ron Pearlman absolutely killed it as the titular character. He brought a calm sarcasm to Hellboy that really spoke to the source material. Doug Jones, Selma Blair, and John Hurt were particularly strong in their supporting roles. The story was well crafted and the characters were all given a decent amount of development. The villains were fairly unmemorable and the visual effects seem dated. But overall, “Hellboy” really opened the door for more obscure characters to take center stage, and it really brought some much needed attention to the smaller comic book companies.

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7. Batman Begins – As I’ve stated in the past, I’m not a fan of the Nolan trilogy as a whole. The exception is “Batman Begins”. It was faithful to the source material while still deviating enough to stand on its own merits. The movie had a level of stylization that paid homage to the Tim Burton films that preceded it without feeling like a copy. Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy turned in strong performances as Ra’s al Ghul and Scarecrow respectively. Christian Bale was able to effectively portray Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Batman and the struggle between the dual sides of his personality that followed. He was also able to do this without the awful Batman rasp that he used in the two sequels. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman were stellar in their supporting performances. This was also the only film in the Nolan trilogy that felt like a Batman movie. Christopher Nolan’s disdain for the source material really showed in “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”

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6. Spiderman 2 – Sam Raimi proved that comic book movies are always better when they are made by fans of the source material. His reverence for Spiderman continually showed in his trilogy, particularly the first two entrants. The first “Spiderman” movie struggled to find its identity in a genre that was still developing. But Raimi really found his stride in his follow-up effort. Despite all of the shortcomings in the trilogy, “Spiderman 2” stands up as one of the great films in the genre. The movie finds its strength with its villain. Just like the source material, comic book movies are always going to be made better with a memorable villain. Alfred Molina played Otto Octavius with a tragic sense of humanity that really added depth to Doc Ock. His story was the real shining star of the film. The action scenes were well choreographed and fairly memorable overall. The Spidey vs Doctor Octopus fight on the train still stands up as one of the better fight scenes in the genre.

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5. The Avengers – The sheer scope of this movie makes up for a lot of its shortcomings. The plot of the movie mirrored the actual movie itself. Taking several vastly different movies with different personalities and combining them all into one coherent film was a daunting task. Joss Whedon handled it masterfully. But there were times when he put his personal stamp on the movie and it just didn’t work. Joss is amazing at creating witty banter and humor to break monotony and tension. But there wasn’t really much time for monotony in The Avengers. It seemed at times like the banter was shoehorned in and it broke up the flow of the movie. And it seemed at times like it was the RDJ show, and everyone else was only along for the ride. Overall, the acting was superb and the movie was full of “Holy Shit” moments. The final battle was well choreographed, but it felt muddled and rushed at times. But overall, it was a heck of movie, and it was truly groundbreaking. It’s safe to say that The Avengers changed the way that movies will be made for a very long time.

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4. Guardians of the Galaxy – This movie was another genre groundbreaker. It showed that an offbeat property that wasn’t even overly popular among fanboys could be successful. The casting was brilliant, from top to bottom. There was not a weak point in the cast. Chris Pratt had an absolutely star making performance as Peter Quill. The supporting cast was great enough that it wouldn’t be fair to single out any of them above the others. But Pratt blew it out of the water. His turn as Star Lord ranks right up there with Robert Downy Jr’s Tony Stark and Christopher Reeves’s Clark Kent. Like many comic book films, the villain was somewhat weak. Lee Pace did a great job portraying Ronan The Accuser, but there just didn’t seem like there was a lot for him to do. But the plot, the visuals, and the soundtrack of the movie combined to create a unique cinematic experience. This movie was so much better than it had any right to be. And if it wasn’t for the phenomenal quality of my top 3, this movie would be number 1 by a mile.

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3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Another movie that was a different kind of comic book movie. It really captured the essence of Captain America. He’s a man who is from a different world who struggles to do the right thing in a time dominated by shades of gray. Again, the supporting cast was amazing. Robert Redford, Sam Jackson, Sebastian Stan, and Anthony Mackie all excelled in their roles. This movie really illustrated the drastic social changes that occurred in the second half of the 20th century. The shift was gradual to the world as a whole, but it was night and day different to Steve Rogers. The fight sequences are unparalleled in their technical excellence. You would be hard pressed to find any movie, regardless of genre, that had as much care poured into its fights. And the story was deep, thoughtful, but still unabashedly fun.

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2. Ironman – Calling this movie awesome would be a gross undersell. Robert Downy Jr turned in a performance that ranks up there with some of the most iconic character portrayals of all time. He is right up there with Sean Connery’s James Bond, Harrison Ford’s Han Solo, and Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones. He played the character with all of the bravado, arrogance, and cynicism that were needed to be a great Tony Stark. But he also portrayed enough humility and humanity to make the character heroic. Jeff Bridges played a memorable villain. In fact, other than Loki, Obadiah Stane was probably the top bad guy in a Marvel film. The plot was formulaic, but extremely effective and memorable. Even if this movie didn’t give way to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, it would still be the second best comic book movie of all time.

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1. Superman (1978) – I must preface by saying that I hate the character. Superman is one of the most bland comic book characters of all time. But that being said, he is THE icon of the genre. And Richard Donner was able to craft a film that still stands up as being the standard bearer for the genre. Every element of this movie worked. It is not just a great comic book movie, but an all time great movie in general. Christopher Reeves brought a presence to the character that made him believable as The Man Of Steel. He was larger than life as Superman, but bumbling and human as Clark Kent. Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor was calculated, charismatic, and utterly detestable. The subtlety he brought to the character is unparalleled. And if it wasn’t for Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, he would stand alone at the top of the mountain as the greatest villain in the genre. The plot was strong enough that it still holds up nearly a half century later. The effects were groundbreaking at the time, and still hold up in a Star Wars kind of way. This movie was and is iconic. And it may never be topped in the genre.

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Thanks for playing along…

 

– Ron George

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