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The Top Movies Based On Non Super Hero Comic Books.

Updated on May 9, 2013

An amazing source of film ideas.

Many of the top summer blockbusters of recent years have been based on super hero comic book characters, the Amazing Spider-man, the Avengers, the Dark Knight and many more have been major studio hits and done astounding box office, but what are the top movies based on comic books that are not super hero books? Many people who are not into comic books or graphic novels do not realize how many films they watch are based on stories first featured by Marvel, DC, Image etc? Lets take a look at some of the most successful movies that first started out on the printed page.


RED was a perhaps surprising recent hit, RED standing for Retired ,Extremely Dangerous, was originally a limited series comic book published by the DC imprint Homage. A fun action thriller starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren and the brilliant John Malkovich, RED was such a success that a sequel RED 2 is due for release in 2013.

30 Days Of Night

First printed by IDW Comics as a miniseries written by Steve Niles this movie was released in 2007 and starred Josh Harnett and Melissa George. The story tells of an Alaskan town which each year is beset by a 30 day period when the town is plunged into a polar night, in this particular year the town is attacked by a group of vampires who have sabotaged the towns power and transport, leaving those left in the town with no means of escape. The film received mixed reviews on release but in my opinion the more i have watched the film the more i like it, each to his own i suppose.

The Crow

First appearing in Caliber Comics Presents from 1989, the Crow was a successful comic book written by James O'Barr. The film version of the Crow was released in 1994 and starred Brandon Lee the son of the late great martial arts superstar Bruce Lee. In the comic book ,rock musician Eric Draven becomes the Crow after he and his girlfriend are murdered on a highway one night after their vehicle has broken down. Eric returns from the dead with supernatural powers and a supernatural Crow spiritual guide to enable him to seek revenge on the wrong doers. Sadly Brandon Lee was accidentally shot during the filming of the Crow in a tragic accident where a dummy cartridge improperly prepared had become lodged in a gun barrel and acted like a real live round, Brandon Lee lost his life at the tragically young age of 28. With his mothers permission the producers decided to finish filming on the Crow and several films and television series have followed based on the character.

A History Of Violence

A History Of Violence was originally released in 1997 in a graphic novel format written by John Wagner with artwork by Vince Locke and published by Paradox Press ( later by Vertigo ) an imprint of DC. The film adaptation of the graphic novel came out in 2007 and starred Viggo Mortensen as the owner of a diner who is thrust into the spotlight after he shoots two robbers who threaten to kill in his restaurant. The film achieved critical acclaim and was nominated for the 2005 Palm d'Or.

Viggo Mortensen as diner owner Tom Stall.
Viggo Mortensen as diner owner Tom Stall.

Kick Ass

Okay i will admit this is sort of a superhero movie but the main protagonist doesn't have any super powers. Originally published by Marvel imprint Icon, Kick Ass was written by Mark Millar and illustrated by John Romita Jnr, the story tells of everyday teenager Dave Lizewski and his ambition to become a real life superhero, his actions are seen over the internet and inspire others. Lizewski befriends vigilante Big Daddy and his deadly pre teen daughter Hit Girl but falls foul of gangster boss John Genovese. The film adaptation of Kick Ass was released in 2010 and featured a screenplay written by Jane Goldman, the film was pretty successful and made a star of young actress Chloe Moretz who played the extremely violent Hit Girl. Kick Ass 2 is planned for release on August 2013.

Sin City

Set in fictional Basin City, Frank Millers Sin City first appears in Dark Horse Presents Fifth Anniversary Special in April 1991, the story continued in Dark Horse Presents 51 - 62. A dark neo-noir the story was ripe for interpretation into film and a brilliant adaptation was made in 2005 directed by Robert Rodriguez. The film is split into three stories based primarily on books one, three and four and starred a superb ensemble cast including Bruce Willis , Elijah Wood and Mickey Rourke as Marv. The film was a major critical success and Sin City 2 A Dame To Kill For is due for release in 2013.

Jessica Alba as seen in Sin City.
Jessica Alba as seen in Sin City.


With a top notch cast including Morgan Freeman, James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie, Wanted was a big budget movie that received decent reviews. Once again written by Mark Millar ( Kick Ass ) the film was only loosely based on the Top Cow limited series. The movie features James McAvoy as a frustrated office worker who discovers he is the son of a super assassin who worked for a secret guild, the Fraternity. With some great special effects Wanted is an enjoyable thriller with a great twist at the end.

The cover of Wanted #1
The cover of Wanted #1

V For Vendetta

V for Vendetta originally appeared in black and white form in British comic anthology Warrior between 1982 - 1985 before being printed collected as a graphic novel. Set in a future dystopian Great Britain the story revolves around masked revolutionary " V " who is intent on bringing down a totalitarian government. Without the backing of writer Alan Moore, the film adaptation of the book was released in 2005 starring Hugo Weaving as V. The Guy Fawkes mask worn by V in the book and the film has become an iconic emblem to both Libertarians, Anarchists and freedom fighters worldwide.

Film poster for V for Vendetta.
Film poster for V for Vendetta.

Tales From The Crypt

Along with its fellow EC titles Haunt of Fear and Vault of Horror, Tales From The Crypt is probably the most renowned horror comic title of all time. In 1972 British film production company Amicus released Tales From The Crypt the movie. The movie featured four anthology stories however only two were actually based on stories from the Tales From The Crypt comic book. The film stars such British movie stalwarts as Ralph Richardson, Joan Collins and horror master Peter Cushing.

Men In Black

A very successful movie franchise has been made, roughly based on the comic books of the same name. The comic book The Men In Black was initially produced and printed by Aircel comics who were later bought by Malibu comics who themselves were then acquired by Marvel in 1994. The films are quite different in tone to the comic books, in the comics the Men In Black investigate all sorts of paranormal activity including Demons and Werewolves unlike the films where the MIBs remit is extraterrestrial activity only. The comic books are written in a more serious tone than the movies which concentrate on pathos and humor, for example using memory erasure on witnesses rather than killing them.

Men In Black the comic.
Men In Black the comic.


Film adaptation of Frank Millers comic book tale based on the events at the battle of Thermopylae. Published in 1998 as a five issue Eisner Award winning mini series, 300 is written as account of the events leading up to and including the battle seen through the eyes of the Spartan leader and king Leonidas. The film has been a major box office success grossing over $450 and has also developed a cult following.

Gerard Butler as King Leonidas in 300.
Gerard Butler as King Leonidas in 300.


Other notable movies based on non superhero comic books or graphic novels inclued.

  1. The Mask
  2. Weird Science
  3. Constantine
  4. From Hell
  5. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  6. Alien v Predator.
  7. Cowboys and Aliens
  8. Road to Perdition.
  9. Timecop
  10. When the wind blows.

Tom Hanks pictured on the poster for Road To Perdition which was based on a graphic novel of the same name.
Tom Hanks pictured on the poster for Road To Perdition which was based on a graphic novel of the same name.


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    • nuffsaidstan profile image

      nuffsaidstan 5 years ago

      Same here mate, i am a big fan of both Alan Moore and Frank Miller.

    • Geekdom profile image

      Geekdom 5 years ago

      Great list of movies. V for Vendetta and 300 are probably my two favorites from this list. I have not seen the Crow in a long time. I will have to remember to put that in my Netflix Queue this Halloween.

    • nuffsaidstan profile image

      nuffsaidstan 5 years ago

      Hi Angie, thanks for the comments, if you liked Kick Ass have a look at "Super" sort of the same concept as Kick Ass but not based on a comic book.

    • Angie Martin profile image

      Angie Martin 5 years ago from Frazier Park, California

      Great Hub! I had no idea that RED was a comic book before it was a movie! It was a fantastic movie, and now I'll have to track down the comic to check it out. I think out of your list, (besides The Crow, of course) 30 Days of Night was my favorite movie from a comic. I was surprised by the mixed reviews. It was such a gritty movie and I loved the way it was filmed - like it was the comic coming to life onscreen. The vampires were so different than anything we had seen before. They definitely didn't sparkle like the new-age vampires!

      The Crow obviously is always fantastic to watch again and again. Brandon Lee was so fresh and exciting to watch as Eric Draven. In fact, I was just having a conversation a couple days ago about Brandon Lee and Heath Ledger. It is strangely coincidental how both of them died in relation to a comic book movie, and how for both of them it was the role that would have defined the rest of their careers. I would have liked to see what both of them would have done as follow ups to such fantastic performances.

      Kick-Ass was wildly funny and feel-good all at the same time. It reminded me of what it was like to watch a really good superhero (or non-superhero) movie. The movie made it feel as if it was possible for anyone to become a superhero.