Comic book movies have been around for a long time, but they really began taking off with Bryan Singer’s X-Men and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Now, superhero movies are all the rage. Both Marvel and DC have laid out movie plans stretching all the way to 2020 and beyond. But before we hit light speed on comic-based movies, Violet and I decided to put together a Top 10 list of comic book movies. At the time of press, Avengers: Age of Ultron has not yet been released (in the United States, anyway), so this is more of a pre-Summer 2015 list, and these lists may soon change! Of course, movies are subjective, so this is by no means a objective list. But it is fun to try to rank movies, and see what other opinions come out of the woodwork!
Josh’s Top 10 Comic Book Movies:
Honorable Mention: One movie I want to mention before I get into the Top 10 proper, and that is Kingsman: The Secret Service. The Matthew Vaughn directed film is so much fun, and the action was so amazing that I almost want to put it in the list. I don’t feel it is quite fair to put it though, as I am not sure if it has the staying power as these others below do. I do feel it deserves some credit though, which is why I mentioned it before getting into the rest of the list.
10. Kick-Ass – Matthew Vaughn created a really special movie in Kick-Ass. This movie takes a much more realistic approach to being a “superhero.” Combined with the stylized approach that Matthew Vaughn takes with his movies, Kick-Ass is a must see movie. Following the trials and tribulations of Kick-Ass’s attempt to be a hero was done really well. Then combining the action scenes, especially those of Hit Girl and Big Daddy, there is no way to not have fun watching it.
9. Iron Man – The first big hit for Marvel, and for good reason. Robert Downey Jr. playing the playboy billionaire with a flying suit was just such a perfect casting call. RDJ combined with a great origin story for Iron Man made this film just a whole lot of fun. Who knew it would be Jon Favreau, director of Elf, who would start such an amazing movement for Marvel?
8. Batman Begins – Christopher Nolan’s introduction of Batman was dark and gritty, and a great step away from the terribleness of Batman films that proceeded it. This was a great prelude to set up The Dark Knight, and told Bruce Wayne’s story in such a fun, yet dark way. It was so good that many people were able to let Batman and Robin stay in the grave where it belongs.
7. Captain America: Winter Soldier – The first Captain America was pretty good, but I felt there was something missing. But Winter Soldier filled in those gaps nicely. This movie stands on its own footing, and doesn’t even feel like a comic book movie. If you take Steve Rogers out, and put any well trained CIA/FBI agent in here, this movie is still great. The action scenes in this movie are so visceral, that it looks like Cap’n and Winter Soldier are physically duking it out. This is by far the best standalone Avenger movie so far.
6. Spider-Man 2 – This was a great sequel to the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man. Doctor Octopus’s persona in this film was menacing, yet relatable. He was the bad guy, but a bad guy who got twisted into doing the wrong thing. Seeing Peter Parker continue his struggles with his dual life is done really well in this movie as well.
5. Spider-Man – Peter Parker is a great “everyman’s” hero. He isn’t rich, he is just trying to make it in the world like everyone else, and his struggles with balancing Peter Parker’s life with Spider-Man’s is really captured in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. A lot of people consider Spider-Man 2 the better of the two originals, but I am sucker for a well told origin story.
4. X-Men: Days of Future Past – I call this movie the problem solving movie. As a standalone film, Days of Future Past is an excellent movie. Bryan Singer has combined two of my favorite genres into one awesome thrill ride: time travel and comic books. if that were it, I would already be ecstatic, but this movie erased all inconsistencies and problems that previous X-Men movies had (I am looking at you X-3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine).
3. The Avengers – Despite the story being pretty flimsy in The Avengers, what Marvel and Joss Whedon were able to pull off is nothing short of a miracle. Prior to the announcement, who would believe that someone would be able to cram so many superheroes into one movie? This movie is a lot of fun, and seeing Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Captain America save the world feels like Christmas morning as a child.
2. Man of Steel – This is a highly polarizing film, and I am surprised how much it is. I understand some of the critiques–this is not a “traditional” Superman character–at least not yet. I was amazed at how well Zack Snyder was able to tell Clark Kent’s life story with simple flashbacks, rather than chronologically telling everything like we are used to. The fight scenes in the movie are great, and the only truly weak part I thought the movie had was a couple of attempts at humor that fell flat, and unfortunately, Lois Lane. But still, the moral issues Clark faces as he comes of age, and learns to deal with his abilities was enthralling for me.
1. The Dark Knight – So far, no other comic book related movie has come close to my number one comic book film of all time. The Dark Knight is in my top 5 movies of all time. The gritty tone of the film is mesmerizing. The story is great, with the exception of a couple tidbits, and Heath Ledger’s Joker is one of the best movie villains of all time. Christopher Nolan hit all the right buttons with this movie, and it is too bad that didn’t carry over to The Dark Knight Rises.
Violet’s Top 10 Comic Book Movies:
Honorable Mention: There are two other movies that I wanted to put on the list, but I kept off because I think it may have more been nostalgia that made me want to put them on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze and Batman (1989). Being a child of the 80s, I loved TMNT growing up. I think the second movie sticks as a favorite in my mind because of Tokka and Rahzar, and yes, because of Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap.” As for Batman, that movie was my first exposure to Batman, and we owned the movie, which I watched a lot when I was younger. For the longest time, I considered Michael Keaton to be my Batman. That is, until Christian Bale solidified that for me in The Dark Knight.
10. 300 – This was a visually groundbreaking, highly stylized film that was so much fun to watch and had an epic battle scene! I went in not knowing what to expect, but came out in awe.
9. Guardians of the Galaxy – This film took a virtually unknown comic book and made its characters into household names. It runs the gamut of emotional responses that it invokes, and appeals to movie watchers of all ages.
8. Kick-Ass – I actually had no interest in seeing this film, but wow, was I surprised at how good it was! It had just the right amount of humor versus action, and proved that anyone can be a superhero.
7. X-Men – This 2000 film is the one that revived the comic book movie genre. This was back when I didn’t know that this was even based on a comic book. I just knew that it had sci-fi elements, and I was really into sci-fi. Little did I know that this was only the beginning of an amazing franchise, and would be followed by many more comic book movies.
6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Although this film had a lot of great action, that wasn’t the only aspect to it. This movie was a little different than other comic book movies because it wasn’t afraid to cross over into the political spy/thriller genre, and make you think.
5. Iron Man – Hard to believe that it was just 7 short years ago that we were first introduced to Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark. At this point, I almost can’t remember a time before RDJ and Tony Stark were synonymous. RDJ is Tony Stark. This was also just the beginning of Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
4. Spider-Man – Although X-Men revived comic book movies, I feel like it was Spider-Man that really solidified the presence of comic book movies. Once this movie came out, it almost confirmed that comic book movies were here to stay. Spider-Man told a great origin story, and now everyone everywhere knows who Spider-Man is.
3. X-Men: Days of Future Past – I love X-Men. I love time travel. I love the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic subgenres. In short, this movie was a combination of everything that I love.
2. Avengers – After seeing all the standalone superhero movies, it was epic to see our favorite Marvel superheroes all come together for the first time, fighting side by side. And as an added bonus, Joss Whedon directed it, which made it that much more awesome! (I’m sure it goes without saying that I’m a huge Joss Whedon fan.)
1. The Dark Knight – I remember immediately after seeing this movie, I rated it a 9.5, only taking off the 0.5 because of the unnecessary deep gravelly voice Batman used. Heath Ledger was amazing as the Joker, and this is the film that made Christian Bale replace Michael Keaton as my Batman. Every time I go back and watch this movie, it still holds up to that initial rating I gave it.
So we want to hear what your favorite comic book movies are! I am certain that many people are going to think some of the movies on our list are just plain ludicrous, and I want to hear why! Let us know what your favorite comic book movies are below, or simply tell us why you don’t think some of the movies we listed belong on a Top 10 list. We really want to know what you think!