(Editor's note: This article was written on September 3, 2013, before Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy were released. Both of them would now appear on the list. Stay tuned for an updated VIDEO version of the list coming soon!)
Let’s be honest, historically, comic book movies haven’t been very good. It’s hard to translate decades of source material into something that does the character justice while also telling a new story that people unfamiliar with the canon can still enjoy. Superman 4, Batman and Robin, Ghost Rider, Catwoman, Green Lantern, yeah…they all suck. Some of them suck in good ways (Superman 4), but in most cases, they just flat out blow. Luckily, post 2000, we’ve been getting loads of comic book movies that are not only good adaptations, but they’re also good films in general.
I figured my first non music related post should be about something that I love dearly. So, that’s the idea behind this list. This is not the 5 BEST comic book movies. Instead, it’s simply my favorites. I know that in particular, one of my picks will definitely be criticized. That’s cool. To each his own. In fact, I’d be interested to hear what your favorite comic book movies are. Leave it down in the comments.
5. Iron Man (2008)
This is the one that started it all. This is the one that kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe and turned comic book movies into something other than summertime popcorn flicks. I’ll be honest, I was never a big fan of Iron Man in the comics. I knew about him from his team-ups with Spider-Man, but as a solo character, he never really did anything for me. That’s the main reason that I was hesitant to even see this one. Boy am I glad I took the chance. I think this one contains the best adaptation to a character’s origin story. It’s close to the comic version while still updating it for a modern audience. Director Jon Favreau absolutely nailed it.
I also can’t say enough about Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man. His arrogance and conceit is what truly carries this movie (and it’s sequels). Yes, we get the big flashy action scenes (and they’re done well), but it’s Downey’s portrayal that really makes you care about the character. He can be an asshole, but he’s an asshole that you wish you could be. The final showdown with Iron Monger was ridiculously fun. There’s just something about watching two Iron Men bashing the hell out each other.
The post credits scene is obviously the one that meant the most in terms of setting up Marvel’s movie universe. Just seeing Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) confronting Tony about the Avengers Initiative was enough to send all fanboys into fits of giddyness. I know it had that effect on me, which is weird considering I never cared about the Avengers in the comics!
4. X2: X-Men United (2003)
Without a doubt, the greatest of the X films. While the original was a good introduction to the characters and the universe, X2 just blew it away. For the most part, the casting in the X films is what sets it apart from others. They did an amazing job on all of the main characters. Professor X, Magneto, Nightcrawler, Mystique and especially Wolverine were spot on. Hugh Jackman’s version of Wolverine was so great that he’s been in all 7 X movies in one capacity or another. He has become the defacto face of the franchise simply because he’s both a fan favorite and done so well. The opening of this one, with Nightcrawler zipping around the White House kicking ass was enough to ensure a spot on my list.
This one definitely took some liberties with the source material, but generally I’m OK with that. In comics, there are always multiple universes and continuities. If you go in expecting a direct translation, you’re going to be disappointed. I personally think that the first and second X-men flicks are really good. After that, the quality falls off dramatically. While I enjoy the further sequels, they never come back to top this Bryan Singer directed one. Here’s to hoping that the upcoming Days of Future Past movie will take the crown of best X-movie!
3. Batman (1989)
This is the one that I’m sure is gonna cause some debate. Why is this one included and none of the Christopher Nolan films? While I really did enjoy the Nolan Dark Knight trilogy, I just prefer my Batman a little lighter. I also prefer my Batman to not sound like he’s gargling razor blades when he talks. Michael Keaton does a fantastic job as Batman, but I think he does an even better job as Bruce Wayne. Tim Burton’s set design is dark and twisted, but the movie has a sense of humor and heart to it that I think is lacking in the Nolan flicks. It feels more like a comic book adaptation should. Jack Nicholson’s Joker is truly a clown prince. He’s completely nuts while at the same time, completely funny.
This is the one entry on the list that probably made it higher simply due to nostalgia alone. When I was a kid, I was totally in love with this one. I collected almost everything Batman I could. The trading cards, the toys, but oddly enough, not the comics! I was even a proud owner (and still am) of the Prince soundtrack. While it’s totally dated now, I still dig some of those songs.
For the record, I also love, love, love the campy 1960’s version of Batman.
2. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Oh Spider-man. Oh how I love you. Spider-man was always my favorite superhero. Here was a guy like me. He had money problems. He had girl problems. He was a loser and an outcast. He was a book worm. He just happened to get bitten by a radioactive spider and given super human powers. And yes, I have read EVERY issue of Spider-man’s many comic series. While the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man was an amazing (see what I did there) introduction to the web slinger, it was this sequel that just nailed it home. The main villain Dr. Otto Octavius, (aka Doc Ock) looks exactly like he should. The tentacles are perfect. While I didn’t necessarily like that they made him a sympathetic villain, it works within the confines of this story, so I can give it a pass. Especially after the EPIC fights on the side of the building and on the train. While Spider-man is zipping around the city, you feel like you’re along for the ride. This movie just gets it right.
Another reason why I adore this movie is simply because it’s a Sam Raimi joint! Raimi is responsible for my all time favorite film trilogy, Evil Dead. The fact that he managed to work Bruce Campbell into all 3 of his Spider-man films instantly gives them bonus points.
I know a lot of people have issues with Toby Mcguire or the changes made to the story in relation to the comics. Once again, see what I wrote above for X2. As long as the feeling is there, I can handle liberties being taken to the story. For the most part, Raimi’s version of Spider-man feels like a Spidey flick should, and that’s good enough for me.
1. The Avengers (2012)
I bet you didn’t see that coming did you? What can I say about the Avengers? This IS a comic book come to life. It’s the culmination of Marvel studio’s Phase 1. Marvel really impressed me here with their planning. They managed to make a super hero team up movie work. What’s so great is that because each of the main members had their own solo films first, we didn’t have to worry about them setting it up in this one. It just jumps right into the action and we already knew what was going on. I thought each of the heroes had enough screen time to make them all feel like a part of the team. It wasn’t the Iron Man and Friends movie that I was expecting. They managed to take a bunch of characters that I didn’t care for in the comics and actually make me like ‘em. That’s a feat in and of itself.
While each of the heroes played their parts to perfection, I felt like the Hulk was the highlight. It was great to finally see him be the brutish force of destruction that he’s supposed to be. I also loved the characterization of Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki was also a great villain. It was nice to have him be there since he was also the main villain in the very first Avengers comic. Joss Whedon is now a God among comic nerds. It’s a relief that he’ll be back to helm the sequel.
Once again, there’s a lot of debate on the main villain for the sequel. We were all lead to believe that it would be the mad titan Thanos because of the mid credits scene in the Avengers. Now, we’re told it’s going to be the deadly robot Ultron. The uproar has come about because it seems that Ultron’s creator Hank Pym will not be a part of the robot’s origin. While it does seem a little weird that Pym isn’t included considering they’ll be releasing an Ant-Man (Pym’s super hero alter-ego) movie shortly after the Avengers 2, I like the idea of Tony Stark’s artificial intelligence J.A.R.V.I.S. going rogue and creating Ultron. While we’re not sure if that’s how it’s all going to go down, it sure seems that way. Personally, I can’t wait for more of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 2.
Honorable Mentions go to: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Dark Knight, Thor, Superman (1978)
So there you go, there’s my first non music related article. I told you that I was a nerd at heart! What do you think of my picks? Agree with them? Disagree with them? What are your picks for most kick ass super hero movie? Leave your thoughts down in the comments and let me know.