The Best Comic Book Movies Of All Time
Comic book films are big business right now. Hardly a month goes by without some spandex-clad superhuman flying across our screens, dealing out vigilante justice with a smile and a quip. For all their silliness, comic books lend themselves extremely well to the film format. Here are the best examples of the genre, movies that take the graphic novel adaptation from twee children’s entertainment to pure, audience-thrilling, thought-provoking cinema.
5 Sin City
This ultra-stylized film noir follows several intertwining stories in a corrupt, crime-ridden fictional city. Hookers, psychos, hitmen and cops all find themselves wrapped in the city’s tendrils. Fueled by mountains of cigarettes and oceans of booze, they bribe, betray and love each other. Backs are stabbed, clothes are shed, clues are found and morals are learned. It’s refreshing to find a moving so shamelessly fun.
Sin City is refreshing in that it has no pretensions. Slam back a shot, light a smoke, and watch the bullets fly.
Christopher Reeve brings Superman to the screen with an under appreciated performance, playing the dichotomy between nebbish Clark Kent and godlike superhuman to fantastic effect. The legendary Marlon Brando brings his talents to bear as Kent’s doomed father Jor-El, but Gene Hackman’s scheming performance as Lex Luthor steals every scene he’s in. Released at the dawn of the blockbuster era of Hollywood film, Superman offers all of the optimism, heroism and drama befitting its source material.
3 Marvel’s The Avengers
Eschewing tragedy and bidding realism a fond farewell, Avengers is content to put the gigantic personae of its costumed leads onscreen in grandiose fashion and let them duke it out. Writer-director Joss Whedon’s renowned wit is on full display for every minute of the film’s run time. Characters crackle off the screen with memorable lines, trading barbs and laser blasts with such enthusiasm that even the most jaded of moviegoers will find themselves enthralled.
Post-Dark Knight comic book movies keep their noses pressed to the dirt. Avengers wants only to soar.
The story follows a deadbeat businessman named Oh Dae-su who finds himself trapped in a hotel room by a mysterious tormenter. For the next fifteen years he struggles to stay sane, training his body and planning his vengeance. He is released with no explanation, and thus begins his weird, tragic odyssey to discover who abducted him and why.
The story evokes Oedipus with a John Woo flavor. While the fight scenes are spectacular (with one single-shot hallway brawl deserving serious consideration for best action scene of all time) the film does not revel in its violence. Oh Dae-su’s journey is a doomed one, and the film explores his descent with somber elegance and dry humor. For fans of comic book films and world cinema alike, Oldboy is required viewing.
1 The Dark Knight
Simultaneously extravagant crime fiction and commentary on the War on Terror, The Dark Knight manages to both entertain and challenge. Heath Ledger’s iconic turn as the Joker has entered pop culture as one of film’s greatest villains, made all the more significant by his untimely death and groundbreaking posthumous Oscar win.
We find ourselves following a flawed Batman confronted with impossible conundrums, compromising every ideal he ever believed in yet coming out victorious. Somehow, the film elevates its subject matter to something political, philosophical, and real. There will never be another movie like The Dark Knight. It isn’t just a great Batman movie. It’s a great movie, period.
So there you have it. The top five comic book films in all their glory. And the next time someone scoffs at you for eagerly reserving midnight tickets to the next big superhero showcase, just remember, great cinema can come from anywhere.
Are there any other comic book movies you think should be on this list? What is your favourite comic book movie? Let us know in the comments section below. Also, check out this great list of the best superhero movies, which is another one of our writer’s takes on a similar theme.