With comic book movies seemingly everywhere now, and the hype surrounding them getting bigger with each movie, the current wave of superhero movies shows no sign of slowing down yet.
With that in mind, I am today sharing with you my top ten comic book movies of all time. I’m pretty pleased with the list, I feel it’s diverse, and is, hopefully, a little different from what you would normally expect. As a bit of fun, I’ve opened up the list to a vote which means you good people can vote on your favourite movie from the list. The poll will close in a week, and if I have time I will do a small post sharing the results with you all.
Let me know what you think of my picks in the comments section below.
Directed by Steve Barron, the 1990 Turtles movie is a fondly remembered piece of my childhood, and having had the chance to see it again recently I can tell you that it still stands up under scrutiny. The original Turtles movie is darker than you may remember, and has some gloriously crafted fight scenes to its name, as well as some excellent casting, with the actors really getting into their roles and enjoying themselves. While elements of the film may feel dated now, in particular the early 90’s polite rap music, the film balances a gritty & grimy edge, while also remembering that it’s a comic book movie and that it’s ok to have fun with these type of movies.
While I admit the film is not as good as the comic book that spawned it, it is still a powerful adaptation that focuses on the characters behind the masks, and one that attempts to deconstruct the superhero as an icon and an ideal. While the film is occasionally faulted by director Zack Snyder’s slow motion fight scenes and a somewhat awkward placing of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, it still remains a versatile picture that balances story and action well. However, Watchmen may not be to everyone’s taste, those expecting an action blockbuster may be underwhelmed, and those who expect everything from the comic book to be included may be disappointed. If though, you have an open mind, and are perhaps willing to watch the film more than once, you may benefit from one of the better comic book stories out there.
Director Guillermo Del Toro’s follow-up to his own 2004 effort, Hellboy, is better than its predecessor in every way. More action, a better story and a much better bad guy combine to give us a truly wonderful movie that showcases a director on top form. Helped out by a cast of eccentric characters, Ron Perlman’s Hellboy is a truly memorable hero, who despite all his inadequacies & tough exterior is really a gentle soul. Here’s hoping a third movie finally gets made.
Many people cite X-Men & the first Spider-Man movie for kick starting the current wave of comic book related movies, but for me, it all started in 1998 with the Stephen Norrington directed Blade. Wesley Snipes stars as the day-walker, Blade, half vampire & half human, Blade possesses all of a vampires strengths and none of their weaknesses apart from, of course, their need to survive by drinking blood. Blade has all the ingredients of a great film, an honourable hero, a devious villain, a kick ass soundtrack and some fantastic fight scenes. Plus there’s a cameo from The Shield’s very own Lemmy at the start of the movie. It’s just a shame that the third film was so bad that it killed the franchise off altogether.
The original Spider-Man movie was a great movie, but Spider-Man 2 improved on it in every way. Director Sam Raimi brings a sense of warmth to the characters which allows the audience to grow fond of them, and despite some chemistry flaws between the three main leads at times, there is a real sense of them being friends despite all their tribulations throughout the series. Raimi also has a great knack for directing comic book action, it’s over the top for sure, but has a sense of tension that can sometimes be found lacking in big budget movies like this. The fight on top of a moving train between Doctor Octopus & Spider-Man is still spectacular. Alongside Spider-Man/Peter Parker, the rest of the cast is each allowed their moment, and J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson continually threatens to steal the show as Peter’s boss at the Daily Bugle, tossing out insults and put downs like they are going out of fashion it’s a shame he doesn’t get more screen time. What’s also a shame is that Raimi never got the chance to redeem himself after the poorly received Spider-Man 3 left cinemas, with Sony instead choosing to make a reboot with a cheaper cast & director in place, only 10 years after Raimi’s original had hit our screens.
Dredd was a minor hit in 2012. The movie has a strong 7/10 rating on the IMDb and 78% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the only problem was that no one went to see it. Whether that was due to poor marketing, a weak release date or just a general lack of interest I am unsure, but the fact remains that Dredd is one of the best comic book related movies of the last decade. A simple plot is kept together by some tight action scenes and brilliant casting. Karl Urban is superb as Judge Dredd and he is helped by strong female performances from Olivia Thirlby as Judge Anderson and Lena Headey as big bad Ma-Ma. The level of violence in the film is not for those possessing a weak stomach either, and the overall gritty vibe results in a much darker comic book movie than we are used to these days.
Iron Man 3 is he newest film on the list, having only been released last year, even I am surprised it managed to make the final cut. With its mix of high energy action, well-timed comedy, a strong central performance from Robert Downey Jr. and an excellent twist halfway through the movie, Iron Man 3 is one of the best movies Marvel has made to date. Seen as something of a gamble beforehand, Marvel brought onboard director Shane Black, who had only one other directing gig to his name, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but the gamble paid off. Black brought a spy/thriller vibe to proceedings, even saying beforehand that the film would have a Tom Clancy thriller feel to it. It’s a shame then that outside of the next two Avengers movies, that this could be the last we see of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, and a shame that Shane Black might not get the chance to have another crack at directing him in a Marvel movie.
36 years after its original release, the magic of the first Superman movie still resonates. Despite it’s very dated effects, the heart and soul of the movie is still intact and harks back to simpler time when films weren’t so interconnected that you had to watch five films and a TV show just to understand what was going on. Directed by Richard Donner and led by the wonderful Christopher Reeve as Superman, coupled with a rousing score by John Williams and a superb supporting cast including Marlon Brando & Margot Kidder, Superman: The Movie maintains a classic vibe that mixes storytelling and action superbly. Something the later films in the series seem to forget how to do.
A modern masterpiece, The Dark Knight changed the way audiences and studios see comic book movies. Gone are the days of Ghost Rider & Fantastic Four, things are different now and Christopher Nolan, much like the Batman of his movies, changed things. Nolan had a clear vision for his movies, he set Batman apart from the other DC heroes and crafted three movies that will no doubt stand the test of time. People are generally split on which of the three films they prefer, for me though, it has to be The Dark Knight. Upping the ante from the first film considerably and improving on its predecessor in every way, The Dark Knight shows just how good comic book movies can be. The film has a great cast but the show is completely stolen by Heath Ledgers Joker with a performance for the ages. Ledger pulled out all the stops for this movie, engrossing himself in the role and finally making the kind of performance he had been threatening for years. Regardless of his untimely passing, his Oscar was fully deserved and the Academy should be applauded for acknowledging that.
I don’t see many movies more than once at the cinema, but Avengers: Assemble I saw three times at the cinema, yes I am that sad. So, any movie I go to pay and see three times must be good, right? Well, Avengers: Assemble isn’t good, it’s fantastic, and quite rightly sits atop of this list. Director Joss Whedon knew exactly what he wanted to do with this movie and even with a fairly basic plot to hand, it’s his knowledge and love for the characters that brings the film together. Balancing out the likes of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man & The Incredible Hulk, as well supporting cast members such as Nick Fury, Loki, Hawkeye & The Black Widow was never going to be easy, but somehow Whedon manages this task and gives everyone enough screen time to make their roles memorable. Avengers: Assemble is kind of the anti Dark Knight movie, it’s bright & colourful, it’s genuinely funny and most of all it’s loads of fun. Its influence is also clear for all to see, with DC moving ahead with their plans for a Justice League movie, and even films like Kick-Ass 2 featuring a team of superheroes uniting to take down a threat they can’t handle individually, Avengers: Assemble is the Godfather of comic book movies and will likely be many people’s favourite superhero movie for a long time, at least until its sequel comes out that is.