Top 10 Comic Book Based Movies of All Time

I’m not your typical movie watcher. I pride myself on the ability to look at the commercials and previews of movies and judge whether or not they will be worth watching. Most of the time my answer is the same – “that’s going to be terrible”. Admittedly my picks are perfect, but the odds are with me considering the plethora of terrible movies being released on a regular basis.

I had the misfortune to watch one of those terrible movies on Saturday. It was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The movie was sitting on our DVR for the past year or so and I finally worked up the motivation to give it a shot. It was one of those movies that I knew would be bad, but I like comics and it’s free so I figured I would give it a shot. I wish I hadn’t. What a frustrating movie. The thing that frustrated me most of all was the gratuitous use of other Marvel Universe characters who had no need to be in the movie. Gambit, Cyclops, Professor X, Emma Frost all made cameos for no good reason. Worse than that, they completely bastardized Deadpool, one of the more interesting characters in the setting, destroying much of his future big screen credibility with movie executives.

After getting stuck watching this steaming pile of film droppings I started thinking about films that did it right. Over the last few years we’re had more movies than ever based on comic books that exceeded our wildest expectations. I decided to put together my completely non-comprehensive list of the best 10 movies based on a comic book. Enjoy.10. Superman (1978) – Christopher Reeve’s original Superman movie established a new reality that movies based on comic books did not have to be cheesy or to stink. With the right story and the right special effects Superman paved the way. Great acting by Reeve, Hackman and Ned Beatty set this movie apart. One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is found here, “You’ve got me, who’s got you?”

9. The Mask (1994) – Not your traditional superhero hero. This comedy shows Jim Carrey at his best. I remember it being laugh out loud funny and much preferable to the less sophisticated humor of the Ace Ventura movies in the same era. Oddly enough, the thing that stands out to me is Cameron Diaz. This was the first movie I remember seeing her in and she was stunningly beautiful. It’s funny how she got less attractive as she lost more and more weight.

8. X-Men (2000) – In my opinion the best X-Men movie to date was the original hit from Y2K that put Hugh Jackman on the map (hard to believe it’s been 13 years isn’t it?). The movie was well constructed and faithful to the source material. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as Xavier and Magneto was inspired casting. To be fair, X-Men first class may be just as good or better, but I have such a bias against rebooted movie franchises that it won’t be making an appearance on this list.

7. Spiderman (2002) – While X-Men did a great job establishing the fact that superhero teams can successfully translate to movies it was Spiderman that reminded us exactly how great a good superhero movie can be. I remember walking out of the theater and saying that this was the best superhero movie that was ever made at the time. The fact that it’s #7 on this list is a testament to how much better the genre has gotten.

6. Batman Begins – (2005) Remember what I said earlier? I hate reboots. I hate hate hate them. I think it’s lazy filmmaking, particularly when it comes soon after a previous attempts. With that said…this movie is awesome. We all know that the Batman movie franchise became laughably bad. The original 1989 Batman was a solid endeavor, but it also represented the peak of the franchise. By the time it got to armored nipples and X-games heroics we had already stopped watching. Batman Begins brought us back to basics and introduced us to a level of storytelling that sets the standard for movies moving forward.

5. Men in Black (1997) – This is another comedy that people don’t think of as a comic book movie since it isn’t superhero focused. I didn’t know anything about the comic franchise myself. What I do know is that this movie was laugh out loud funny. It was one of many hits that Will Smith used to cement his status as a Hollywood leading man. The sequels were terrible, but that doesn’t take anything away from the strength of the first offering.

4. Spiderman 2 (2004) – Storytelling and special effects are a baseline necessity for a good superhero movie. The thing that sets the great ones apart from the good ones is the villains. At the time Alfred Molina’s Dr. Octopus was the most compelling villain I had ever seen in a superhero movie. I had always thought of Dr. Octopus as a lame nemesis for a character as powerful as Spiderman. This movie changed that. In particular the operating room scene where Octavius is unconscious and the arms take on a life of their own and slaughter the staff was one of the most menacingly dramatic scenes I can think of.

3. The Avengers (2012) – I loved the Avengers. I loved it. It’s hard to say exactly what I loved about it. It had a solid story, good humor and great action. I think part of it may be just the sheer fact that they pulled it off after planning for it for so many years. I think maybe it is the fact that I’m not a summer blockbuster guy. I spend as much time picking a movie apart as watching it. But this movie pushed past that, suspended my disbelief and allowed me to just watch and enjoy it as the quality action movie that it was.

2. Iron Man (2008) – This was the movie that knocked the Spider Man franchise off its throne in my book. This movie marks the start of Marvel having a hand in its own story and you could tell. Iron Man has never been a favorite character of mine. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I had an active dislike for him. The stories were always brooding and the bad guys was always just cheap knock-offs of Iron-Man himself. This movie moved past that and showed us an Iron Man that we could all love. Robert Downey Jr. did a fantastic job in this picture.

1. The Dark Knight (2008) – 2008 was a good year for movies based on comic books. The Dark Knight is the Gone With the Wind of superhero movies. Long, sprawling and epic, this movie is dark and dramatic. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker was unbelievably powerful. He took a character that only makes sense in the world of comics and translated him into a believable villain. When I think about the best movie villains of all time the list has exactly two names, Darth Vader and the Joker.

Honorable Mention – There were some other good movies that didn’t make the list. The original 1989 Batman and Superman 2 are the best of the old classics. The Crow was a fabulous dark anti-hero. The Incredible Hulk in 2009 was much better than any of its predecessors. I enjoyed Thor and its unashamed dedication to the fantastical setting of Asgard. And the movie that probably came closest to making the list was Ben Affleck’s Daredevil. I know it wasn’t a popular movie, but for some reason I just thought it was great, awesome soundtrack too.

I need to be fair to some movies that I haven’t seen. Obviously there are many that fit this description, but only a few that I think may have been solid. The list includes 30 Days of Night, 300, The Dark Knight Rises, Blade, The Rocketeer and V for Vendetta.

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Posted on February 4, 2013, in Fun Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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