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Ten Best Comicbook Movies

Updated on September 26, 2014
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Better Directors have completely changed comic book movies forever. It used to be superhero movies were family oriented action movies, but not anymore, now most comicbook movies have a dark element. They are often violent and the "hero" usually is a conflicted soul, that like us mere mortals, has both good and bad traits.

Huge advances in computer generated imagery ("CGI") film-making techniques have created huge effects and the seemingly impossible superhero abilities have become believable. As a result, comic book movies are often some of the most successful films at the box office. In fact 5 of the top 20 films of all time are superhero films including The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 1 & 2 and a couple of the Transformer films.

Some of the hottest Directors' in Hollywood are taking on these films to try to transform them into darker, avant-garde films. Christopher Nolan transformed the Batman series into the dark, brooding films; Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Jon Favreau took on the Iron Man franchise and Sam Raimi directed the three Spider-Man movies.

Marvel was originally an independent production house negotiating distribution agreements with different studios for each franchise. However, in 2009, Disney wisely purchased Marvel Entertainment to insure that they would distribute all of these highly successful comic book movies in the future.

All rights reserved. Copyright 2012 Rankography

10. Iron Man 2 (2010)

Favreau Offers up a Strong Sequel in Iron Man 2

In Iron Man 2, six months have passed since the end of the first film and Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr) has gone public that he is Iron Man. However, he has learned that the Palladium in the arc reactor powering his heart is actually slowly poisoning him. He has tried to substitute other elements but has been unsuccessful. Thinking that he is near death, he appoints his long time secretary, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), as CEO of Stark Industries.

Meanwhile, Stark's long-time nemesis Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) has broken Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) out of prison to help him to develop iron suits like those produced by Stark Industries. Vanko is a disgraced and bitter scientist, who is also the son of Anton Vanko, who was originally a collaborator with Tony's father. The two make a formidable enemy force looking to silence Stark forever.

While not quiite as good as the original, this sequel comes close because of some great additions to the cast including Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johanssen and Don Cheadle. Iron Man 2 was nominated for an Academy Award in Visual Effects.

If you enjoyed Iron Man 2... - You might also like Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes

Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law and Rachel McAdams team up in this Guy Ritchie directed unique version of Sherlock Holmes. Ritchie has combined Holmes crime solving abilities with martial arts to create a mystery thriller that will leave you wanting more.

 

9. V for Vendetta (2005)

En Epic Graphic Novel Film of Revolution Against Fascism

V for Vendetta has become a bit of an Anarchist's Handbook in its rebellious and violent messages, but it is much more than a simple revolutionary action film it is more of a philosophical tome about oppression and the stifling of free thought. As a result of that deeper message, the unique mask worn by V has become a symbol of rebellion for groups like, Anonymous, the hacker group that fights for freedom of information and speech on the internet.

V for Vendetta is set in an unspecified future London in which the UK is ruled by a fascist state that seeks to control its people and their thoughts and has committed some level of genocide to eliminate non-conforming people. V (Hugo Weaving) is an unknown revolutionary that is trying to educate the masses to the wrongs of their fascist oppressors through acts of violence against the government. Meanwhile, Evey (Natalie Portman) is a citizen whose parents were killed by the oppressive government because they opposed their methods. She has largely lived within the new structure but through a chance meeting with V, decides to take up the cause.

Through their developing friendship, we learn that V has lost a lot at the hands of this government and his fight is also a fight of vengeance. The film ends in a climactic scene that I cannot reveal without spoiling the film, but one you will most definitely want to see.

V for Vendetta is probably one of the more complex comic book movies and V's philosophical oratories are oft quoted by comic book fans. Weaving's performance as V is both dark and enlightening. He convincingly portrays a tortured soul who has left reality in a quest to change the world. Portman's role in this comic book film is much less taxing than some of her other roles, but she provides a good performance as Evey, the ward to V's teachings.

While this comic book film was not nominated for any Academy Awards, it was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Writing.

If you liked V for Vendetta... - You might also like Sin City

Sin City
Sin City

This dark Robert Rodriguez film is based on the Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name. The film stars Clive Owen, Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke.

 

8. Kickass (2010)

A Very Different Superhero Action Thriller

This is one of the most original comic book movies you will see. Before seeing Kickass, I was not sure what to expect. I knew the general premise of non-superhero kids that dress-up and get involved in stopping crimes. But this action thriller is much more than that. What really makes the film is the relationship and contributions from Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz).

While they are not actual superheros, they are the closest you can come without having special powers. Their relationship as father, daughter and mentor and assassin is both intriguing and humorous. There is a tongue in cheek element poking fun at survivalists, but at the same time it is a true action film with real heroes taking down bad guys.

Hit Girl, in particular, is a heroe that we can get behind for the sequel which has been announced but not yet scheduled. This is definitely a comic book film that you will want to see both for its excellent action sequences and its unique storyline.

If you liked Kickass... - You might also like Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim turns the concept of comic book movies on its ear in this tongue in cheek action thriller. It uses very unique video game concepts throughout the film and is absolutely chockful of hilarious one liners.

 

7. X-Men (2000)

The Highest Grossing Comic Book Series Starts Here

Before X-Men, Hugh Jackman was an unknown TV actor. Of course, now we all know Jackman as a top notch male lead with big box office pull. That is the power of the X-Men series, and in particular the Wolverine (Jackman) character. While the first two X Men films were successful, the series has gained cult status in the DVD market. And the series' success has grown with each subsequent film. The first X Men film did about $150 million at the box office while the last two movies have grossed over $350 million.

If you have been cast away on a desert island and don't know what the X-Men series is about, I will give you a quick synopsis. In an unknown future period, humans live alongside a mutants who have developed random superpowers that make them both powerful and dangerous. Humans and mutants are deeply suspicious of each other. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) has created a private compound and school where mutants can train and develop their skills for good. However, Magneto (Ian McKellen) split of from Xavier many years previous and has developed a dark plot to use his mutant band's powers to crush the humans because he does not feel they will ever truly accept mutants as citizens.

X-Men is a high action superhero film based on the Marvel Comics created by Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. While the movie was not nominated for any Academy Awards, X Men was nominated for 10 Saturn Awards (Sci Fi awards) and won 5 including Best Sci Fi Film, Best Director (Bryan Singer) and Best Actor (Jackman).

6. X2 X-Men United (2003)

The X-Men Saga Continues in an Excellent Sequel

X2 is one of those rare sequels that is as good or better than the original. Many X fans cite this comic book movie of all time. All of the key X-Men team return to reprise their role including rivals Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Mystique (Rebecca Romjin).

In X2, humans have grown more distrustful of mutants and everyone is concerned about Professor Charles Xavier's (Patrick Stewart) special school for Mutants. The government fears that they are training for a more sinister mission. The sentiment throughout the Country allows government scientist William Striker (Brian Cox) to convince top government officials to approve his plan to attack the Professor's school.

We later learn that Striker had a much more sinister motivation in attacking the school. The Storm (Halle Berry) and the Mutants are forced to flee and regroup with Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to fight Striker and his forces.

5. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

A Darker Spider-Man Creates a Better Movie

It is rare for a sequel to be widely accepted as superior to the original, but that is definitely the case with Spider-Man 2. While Spider-Man was a good superhero film and a box office success, the sequel had a better script and introduced a more interesting dark side to the Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) character.

In Spider-Man 2, it has been two years since Parker started fighting crime as Spidey. He is growing tired of the public's ambivalence and he is hounded by a The Daily Bugle which is trying to implicate Spider-Man as a criminal rather than a crime fighter. Parker decides to step away and retire from crime fighting. But a new evil villain, Dr. Ock (Alfred Molina), starts terrorizing the city and pulls Spider-Man out of retirement.

Both Kirsten Dunst and James Franco to round out a very good cast. This comic book film was nominated for 3 Academy Awards and won 1 for Best Visual Effect.

4. Watchmen (2009)

One of the Best Graphic Novels Comes to the Big Screen

Many graphic novel aficionados will tell you that Watchmen is the best comic book series of all time. So the film came with huge expectations among the Comicon set. However, while it was a valiant effort by Zach Snyder I really did not enjoy this film as much as other comic book movies. It is such a complex philosophical plot that it was just too much to try to relay in a 2.5 hour movie. What's more Zach was trying to create a dark, gritty world, however, he fell far short of Christopher Nolan's Gotham City. I don't doubt that Watchmen is a great graphic novel, it just did not translate well to celluloid.

The film is set in an alternate 1985 in which superheros exist and have been enlisted by the government to help protect citizens since the 1960s. However, citizens have become tired of there superhero benefactors and many are calling for the program to be shut down. Sound familiar, yes Disney stole much of this storyline to create The Incredibles. Ultimately, an epic superhero battle ensues between the Ozymandias (Matthew Good) faction and the Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) faction. That is a very simplistic way of describing an incredibly complex plot line with nuance at every level.

If you enjoy the simple beauty of an Iron Man or Spiderman, then this film is going to be far out of your comfort zone. However, if you are perfectly happy watching a movie 3-4 times to understand the nuance, then you might enjoy the challenge of Watchmen. it is not for everyone, but those that like it are fanatical.

If you liked Watchmen... - You might also like Hellboy

Sucker Punch
Sucker Punch

Another film directed by Zack Snyder, Sucker Punch defies genre classification. It is a very different film with elements of a comic book movies, comedies and a thriller.

 

3. Batman Begins

A Dark Beginning Befitting of The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan directed this outstanding iteration of the Batman comic book saga and created a much darker take on the caped crusader. To weave this tale, Nolan started at the beginning and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) witnessing the murder of his father and mother at hands of a local thug. We then flash forward to Wayne as a young adult and learn that his parent's murderer is slated to be paroled from prison for becoming a prison informant.

Bale has his sights on revenge but that revenge is stolen from him by another. As a result, he goes underground to travel the world and 'find himself'. It is during these travels that Wayne has learned to fight and gets acquainted with the dark arts in a 'special monastery' in the Asian mountains. Nolan has created a dark and twisted backstory worth of the legend of the Dark Knight. Beyond the back story, the film also includes an excellent crime story back in Gotham involving Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy)

The cast in this comic book thriller is outstanding including Liam Neeson as the mysterious Henri Ducard, who plucks Wayne from an Asian jail and leads him to the monastery; Michael Caine as Alfred, Wayne's long-time benefactor; Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, the scientist who develops Wayne's special Batman toys and Gary Oldman as Jim Gordan, a police Sergeant in Gotham City.

Batman Begins was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

If you enjoyed Batman Begins... - You might also like The Crow

The Crow (Miramax/Dimension Collector's Series)
The Crow (Miramax/Dimension Collector's Series)

One of the great revenge films is based on a graphic novel and starred Brandon Lee in his last film before the freak accident that killed him.

 

2. Iron Man (2008)

A Suit of Iron Turns Tony Stark into a Superhero

Marvel has definitely figured out the formula for getting the most of its stable of superheros and Iron Man was a perfect example. First they went to a up and coming Director with good vision in Jon Favreau. Then they got a top star who is also an excellent actor in Robert Downey, Jr. Throw in a great script and a cast of very good character actors like Terrance Howard, Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow and Shazam!

Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr) is a billionaire industrialist who runs his family's company, Stark Industries, a high tech weapons supplier. Stark also happens to be one of the engineering geniuses behind his company's success. While on a weapons demonstration trip in Afghanistan, Stark is captured by terrorists and taking shrapnel in his chest. The terrorists demand he make them a special weapon in exchange for his life. While he is being nursed back to health and supposedly building the requested weapon, Stark actually builds an arc reactor from the terrorists Stark Industries weapons cache. The arc reactor is able to run his ailing heart damaged by the shrapnel and also operates an iron suit he creates to break him and a collaborator out of captivity.

And thus begins the career or Iron Man. This film has excellent special effects and is a big, brash blockbuster. Downey is both humorous and charismatic in the Stark role. If you like fun action thrillers and can suspend reality for a couple of hours, you should definitely enjoy this comic book film.

Iron Man was nominated for 2 Academy Awards for Visual Effects and Sound Editing.

1. The Dark Knight (2008)

Probably the Best Superhero Movie of All Time

The Dark Knight is the second installment in Christopher Nolan's Batman series and is largely accepted as the best comic book movie of all time. Batman Begins was such an excellent film with a totally unique storyline that it was going to be very difficult for Nolan to top it with the sequel.

In order to set the sequel apart, Nolan started with a completely different take on The Joker character. He and Heath Ledger together created an amazing despicable character with multiple layers of depth. While he is absolutely heinous in his ambition and psychopathic personality, we also learn the depth of child abuse he suffered which left his face horribly disfigured. While we despise who he has become, we can empathize with how he became psychopathic. Heath Ledger delivered an Award Winning performance in this film and won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar posthumously (he overdosed shortly after filming was concluded)

All of the key cast returned from Batman Begins, including Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Aaron Eckhart. The cast is brilliant, the story and action are very entertaining and of course Christopher Nolan has recreated a dark and imposing Gotham City.

The Dark Knight was nominated for 8 Academy Awards and won 2 including Best Supporting Actor (Heath Ledger) and Best Sound Editing.

If you enjoyed The Dark Knight... - You should also like 300

300 (Single-Disc Widescreen Edition)
300 (Single-Disc Widescreen Edition)

This dark film is adapted from a graphic novel and is based on the story of the 300 Spartans immortalized in the 480 BC Battle of Thermopylae.

 

Your Turn to Vote for the Best Comic Book Movies

comicbook movie iron man
comicbook movie iron man

Which of these Comic Book Films is your favorite?

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What do you think of Comic Book Movies ? - Is this one of your favorite genres?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Gotta love those comic book movies. They are a lot of fun. Superb lens!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      This lens needs a blessing.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Nice lens, we will never be the same as we were before comic books.

    • cinefile profile image

      cinefile 5 years ago

      Great lens. I'm in the minority because I just find the Nolan Batman movies to be dull but Iron Man was incredible!

    • mojoCNYartist profile image

      Dan 5 years ago from CNY

      @PBJasen: I never read Kickass, but I thought it was a great non-superpowered film

    • PBJasen profile image

      PBJasen 5 years ago

      Great selection, but i will drop out "kick ass", don't really get it.

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Love the genre. Spiderman is my all time favourite comic book, but I have to admit the Dark Knight is the all time best comic book movie to date.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nice! I liked Batman and Spidey the best!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Christopher Nolan's Batman film are best.

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 5 years ago

      Wonderful selection. It has to be Batman for me - been a Batman fan since childhood - Kerpow!

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      Great choices! I enjoyed each and every one of these movies.

    • Tugee profile image

      Tugee 5 years ago

      V for Vendetta is one of the few times that I LOVE both the book AND the movie. Number one in my opinion.

    • Tonto Murray profile image

      Tonto Murray 5 years ago

      great lens. I voted for Batman Begins, but it was close with both Dark Knight and Kickass. I think KA was a very underrated film. Really enjoyed reading this.

    • Sabre1000 profile image

      Sabre1000 5 years ago

      No Superman love? Chris Reeve? You'll believe a man can fly?

      Tim Burton's Batman? Nicholson as the Joker? Keaton stunning everyone as Batman?

      Maybe I'm too old....LOL

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Very nice picks here! Great work! :) Blessed by a SquidAngel!