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Top 10 Comic Book Movies + BONUS!

By Rachelle  /  17 Aug 2020 (Monday)


Comic book films of the past have had quite a rollercoaster of reactions from critics and fans alike. And ever since the wild success of 2008’s Iron Man, we’ve seen a higher surge of them in the market than ever before. That doesn’t mean that all adaptations hit the mark with fans and moviegoers (we’re looking at you Fantastic Four (2014).) and we all know how hard it is to please comic book fans.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) pretty much dominates this genre and most moviegoers who hear/see the phrase "comic book movies" will immediately think of Marvel or DC but be rest assured there will be no inequality tolerated here. In this listicle, you will see comic book movies you're familiar with as well as movies you probably didn't know were adaptations in the first place.

To be eligible for this list, each entry needs to be either based on, adapted from or inspired by a comic book or graphic novel. Should the reader have any discord, please take it up with us in the comment section below.

 

#10 Ghost World (based on the graphic novel of the same name by Daniel Clowes)

Ghost World is probably the most 'real world' out of all the comic book movies we have on this list. It even has a pre-Black Widow Scarlett Johansson!

The 2001 black comedy film is directed by Terry Zwigoff and stars Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, and Steve Buscemi. It is based on the 1993-1997 comic book of the same name by Daniel Clowes who also co-wrote the screenplay with Zwigoff. Ghost World focuses on the lives of Enid (Birch) and Rebecca (Johansson), two teenage outsiders in an unnamed American city. They face a rift in their relationship as Enid takes interest in an older man named Seymour (Buscemi), and becomes determined to help his romantic life.

You can watch the full movie on YouTube here.


 

#9 Joker (inspired by The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Martin Scorcese's films Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy)

There have been countless superhero origin stories but rarely a super villain origin story so its only fitting that one of the greatest villains of all-time gets his own movie and that movie makes our list.

 Marketed as a psychological thriller rather than a film of the ‘superhero’ genre, Joker follows Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian whose descent into insanity and nihilism inspires a violent counter-cultural revolution against the wealthy in a decaying Gotham City.

Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of the titular character earned him an Oscar. Need we say more?

Joker is available for rent and purhcase on AppleTV.

 

#8 Kingsman: The Secret Service (based on the Kingsman comic book by Mark Millar)


Kingsman: The Secret Service follows the recruitment and training of Gary "Eggsy" Unwin (Taron Egerton), into a secret spy organisation. Eggsy joins a mission to tackle a global threat from Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a wealthy megalomaniac wanting to deal with climate change in a both brutal and comedic fashion.

If it was never referred to as a comic book movie, most people would’ve just mistaken Kingsman: The Secret Service for a really good spy movie with James Bond vibes.

Director Matthew Vaughn successfully adapted Mark Millar and Dave Gibbon’s work into a fresh take of what a classy spy action movie with a touch of tasteful comedy can be. The chemistry between the leads Colin Firth and then-newcomer Taron Egerton paired with stylised action sequences sealed the deal for the film to be positively received by critics and fans alike.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is currently available on Netflix.

 

 

#7 Spider-Man 2 (inspired by The Amazing Spider-Man #3 (July 1963) which featured the debut of Doc Ock, the 1966 story arc If This Be My Destiny...!, and the 1967 story arc Spider-Man No More!)


Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man paved the way for superhero films to bank-breaking blockbusters before Iron Man swooped in and stole credit for it. 

Set two years after the events of the first film, Spider-Man 2 finds Peter Parker struggling to manage both his personal life and his duties as Spider-Man, which affects his civilian life dramatically. Meanwhile, Dr. Otto Octavius becomes a diabolical villain after a failed experiment kills his wife and leaves him neurologically fused to mechanical tentacles. Spider-Man must stop him from successfully recreating the dangerous experiment, while dealing with a subconscious desire to stop being Spider-Man that is stripping him of his powers.

It’s unusual for a sequel to come out more victorious than its predecessor but that’s what happened with Raimi’s second instalment of his Spider-Man trilogy. This film also gave us one of the better Spider-Man Marvel villains to have ever graced the silver screen - Alfred Molina's Doc Ock!

Spider-Man 2 is currently available on Netflix along with Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 3 (2007). You’re all set for a Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy marathon!
 
 

#6 Snowpiercer (based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette)


Snowpiercer is a 2013 science fiction action film based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette. The film was directed by Bong Joon-ho who also co-wrote the screenplay with Kelly Masterson. The film marks Bong's English-language debut, with almost 85% of the film's dialogue is in English.

The film takes place aboard the Snowpiercer train as it travels a globe-spanning track, carrying the last remnants of humanity after a failed attempt at climate engineering to stop global warming has created a new Snowball Earth. It stars an ensemble cast consisting of Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Go Ah-sung, John Hurt, and Ed Harris.

Snowpiercer is currently unavailable on any streaming platforms but there is a TV series of the same name available for your binging pleasure on Netflix.

 

#5 Logan (inspired by Old Man Logan by Mark Mila and Steve McNiven)


Based in an alternate bleak future, Logan follows an aged Wolverine and an extremely ill Charles Xavier who defend a young mutant named Laura from the villainous Reavers led by Donald Pierce and Zander Rice.

Before there was Joker, there was Logan. We’ve seen Hugh Jackman play the iconic X-Men character, Wolverine, 8 times (9 if you count his cameo in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) but we’ve never seen his as raw and gritty as he was portrayed in Logan.

The film marked Jackman’s supposed last featured outing as the clawed superhero and it may just be the perfect bow out film because of how director James Mangold committed to delivering Mark Millar’s vision of Old Man Logan. After nearly 2 decades of portraying the character, it is only deserving that Jackman got to retire his character the way comic book fans know and love.

Logan is currently available for rent and purchase on AppleTV.

 

#4 Captain America: The Winter Soldier (inspired by the Winter Soldier story arc in comic books written by Ed Brubaker)


Captain America joins forces with Black Widow and Falcon to uncover a conspiracy within the spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. while facing a mysterious assassin known as the Winter Soldier.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo were mostly known to direct for television before Marvel hired them to helm Captain America’s sophomore film. The outcome of their success was the studio bringing them back to helm 3 more major films in the MCU (Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame) so trust our taste when we picked this film to represent the MCU on our list.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is currently available for rent and purchase on AppleTV.

 

#3 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse (based on the Spider-Verse storyline published by Marvel Comics)


Set in a shared multiverse called the "Spider-Verse," the story follows Miles Morales as he becomes the new Spider-Man and joins other Spider-People from various dimensions to save New York City from Kingpin.

You might disregard Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse right off the bat just for simply being an animated film but it’s the only one on this list and its more than deserving of its spot not only because it exceeded the expectations of many but it also crossed boundaries in the animation industry with its uniquely bold and innovative style. 

The film’s greatness was further solidified with an Academy Award for Best Animated Film, a first for Sony Pictures Animation which also marked the first time since 2012 that the big prize did not go to a Disney film.

Current live-action Spider-Man (played by Tom Holland) is great and all but with the introduction of Miles Morales and the concept of multiverses, Spider-verse achieved what most superhero films couldn’t/didn’t and as a result, opened more doors to further possibilities.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse is available on Netflix.

 

#2 The Dark Knight (inspired by The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb)


Bruce Wayne / Batman (Christian Bale), Police Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) form an alliance to dismantle organized crime in Gotham City, but are menaced by an anarchistic mastermind known as the Joker (Heath Ledger), who seeks to undermine Batman's influence and turn the city to chaos.

The Dark Knight is the third sequel that has appeared on the list, debunking our previous claim that most sequels rarely tend to fare better than its predecessors. Perhaps in the case of superhero films, these sequels are an example of growth in both the character as well as storytelling.

Following up from the successful return of Batman to the silver screen with Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan delivered a sequel with more finesse and layers, making it rise above the genre that its not only just a great comic book film, but a great film altogether. 

One of the biggest factors this film was picked to represent Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy on our list is the late great Heath Ledger’s immaculate portrayal of Gotham villain the Joker. Not only was his performance one of the best portrayals of the comic book character in film but he’s also arguably one of the best villains in film history. 

The Dark Knight is available for rent and purchase on AppleTV.

 

#1 Scott Pilgrim vs the World (Based on Scott Pilgrim, a six-part series of graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley)


Scott Pilgrim, a slacker musician must win a competition to get a record deal, and battle the seven evil exes of his newest girlfriend Ramona Flowers, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

Never has a comic book film so accurately adapted its source material the way Scott Pilgrim vs The World did. Director Edgar Wright managed to stay true to Bryan Lee O’Malley’s original comics while also giving it his own take and style. Everything about this film from the cast to the soundtrack to its great balance of action and comedy makes it an all-rounder and our top pick for this list!

Watch Scott Pilgrim vs The World on Netflix now.

 

Honourable Mention: Watchmen (based on the maxiseries of the same name by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons)


The 1986 DC Comics' limited comic book series Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons is one of the most celebrated graphic novels of all-time. Attempting a source material this immaculate would be a terribly hard feat but that's exactly what Zack Snyder set out to do years before he was more neck deep with directing films for the DC Extended Universe (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League).

Watchmen is not a perfect film. But considering Snyder and his team successfully getting away with compressing hundreds of pages of source material into a near 3-hour long film, it deserves this honourable mention. There are things that didn't work but then there are also many that did. One notable plus point to come out of this big mass of gritty action is the perfect casting of Jackie Earle Haley as Walter Kovacs/Rorschach. There are plenty of greatly casted roles in this genre but none has come as near perfect as this. 

Watchmen is available for rent and purchase on AppleTV.
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