So, comic book movies are all the rage, these days. Now that Marvel’s far overtaken the competition and the Batman film franchise is not the only dog in the fight, it’s a good time to look over what comic book movies the Raven and I think are our favourites.
Like our ratings for movies, these lists are subjective and probably shouldn’t be taken as a list of the top 10 comic book movies of all time, although we certainly think they are.
How it works
We’ll be using a system I’ve used previously in other lists. We pick our personal top 10 movies, and we rank them into two groups. One of these groups will be for the Top 5. The other will be for the movies that fall into the spots left for 6-10.
The movies in each group are unranked. All other movies named outside of these brackets will be honourable mentions.
Another rule we’re observing (albeit a slight bit loosely) is that we’ll try to pick only one movie per franchise. The final rule is this: all the movies on this list will be live action.
This might be the first list we’ll be doing, but it certainly isn’t the only one. You’ll notice over the course of this list that your two new favourite reviewers are very different. However, we get along quite well, so don’t fear for this crow’s life.
So, we’ve flipped our coin. The Raven called heads. It was heads. So, I’ll let her take it away. To read my top 10 first, click here.
The Raven’s Top 10 Comic Book Movies
We find ourselves caught in the onslaught of supermovies, a wondrous time in cinema during which Hollywood has fallen madly in love with comic books, graphic novels and the written word. Thanks to this love affair, we get to be voyeurs to some of the best marriages between VFX and fictional characters ever seen on celluloid – ranging from animorphs to mutants to superheroes. But this isn’t a new crush; we’ve always been drawn to book to movie adaptations; the first Batman came out in 1966 – and stories like Casper, The Addams Family and The Mask all originated from comics. But it is only now that CGI can truly do justice to meticulously written and illustrated stories. In turn, visual effects has enhanced movie making, visual realism and the business and economics of filmmaking forever.
X-Men: First Class 
If I had to sum up one comic book movie as the benchmark for all others, it would be X-Men: First Class. What comes together with an almost perfect cast, shows us an intimate side to our favourite stars in an action packed movie that you can re-watch over and over again. We get to see Professor X, Magneto and Mystique show off their powers at an all time high, with intriguing power play and politics involved within the group.
Iconic one liners, amazing graphic tones and solid storytelling – these are the 3 foundations of the hundred amazing things in this film. Let’s not forget how amazing this was when it first came out, and its epic use of green screen. We also saw the birth of some our top actors and actresses in this film, (including the likes of Gerard Butler and Lena Headey). The tone and gritiness of the movie spoke to audiences worldwide. The soundtrack is heavy and haunting – supporting the graphics fluently.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World 
When you go to watch a movie – you want to forget about your normal life. It’s a legal, healthy form of escapism – and there is nothing more fun than disappearing into the world of Scott Pilgrim. An array of relatable characters lead us through a funny, animated, angsty teen world of Scott and his many loves – as we rock out with animated graphics overlaying shots, battling out his love interest’s ex boyfriends and eventually forming a badass garageband. Michael Cera nails his performance and it’s overall just great fun fun fun.
Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice 
No other movie had as much pressure as BvS, which definitely did lack in telling a story with utmost clarity and purpose. However, it set the stage aptly for a host of new movies and that’s what it was always meant to be. The dawn, of the justice league – an intro movie, so to speak. The tryst between our two biggies became the marketing tool and the whole thing crunches to a halt. But for a second, if you just watch the Extended cut with all the little bits missing – the movie comes alive in a different fashion altogether – and I really loved the way they brought in Wonder Woman. Ben Affleck is a gifted Batman and I personally enjoyed his role as a slightly more dark, mature Bruce Wayne.
Constantine is one of the few films that translated a darkness that encompassed the underworld to us so well in a time when VFX was in its infancy. We got incredible performances from the case. Turns out that being the guardian between heaven and hell is tougher than we thought, and the movie is full of amazing negative portrayals, that stand in Constantine’s path in an eery, spiritual otherwordly realm.
The Avengers 
This movie is special because it was the first time we made a good ensemble superhero film! It showed exactly how directors need to balance screen time and personal details about different characters, while maintaining an emotional connection. The tone of the movie was dry and funny, with solid action scenes right through. I love the chemistry and rapport between the actors. This is a dependable, awesome go-to movie if you’re introducing someone to the world of comic book films.
Iron Man 2 
In perhaps one of the best castings ever, we see Robert Downey Jr. return as the sardonic, sexy Iron Man – rich and arrogant, but witty and wily. This sequel lives up to its predecessor, and surpasses it ever so slightly for me personally, thanks to the kinship between Iron Man and James Rhodes (Don Cheadle). I love the grungy OST and humour that only Jon Favreau can put into a movie, and think this is a perfect popcorn flick.
Ant Man 
If you’re wondering how this movie got in this list, that makes 2 of us. I was literally dragged to watch this movie – and what I thought was going to be a campy, degenerate bore was actually a really funny, tripped out superhero film – from a totally new perspective. Paul Rudd was a perfect fit for the role, and carried the tone of the film throughout, blended into some of the coolest VFX shots I’ve seen. I was highly entertained.
Richie Rich 
This follows a debonaire child billionaire, in his search for friends and normalcy, following the supposed demise of his parents. Richie Rich is a movie quite like no other, allowing the inner megalomaniacal kid in all of us to live out grandiose moments; such as catapulting oneself safely across a field, driving buggies with your mates, and even having a personal 24/7 burger joint in your own house. But beyond all the big fun, Macaulay Culkin nails the character in what I think is his best role ever. This humorous, light hearted film sticks with you, especially if you grew up in the 90s.
Kingsman: The Secret Service 
Whenever I’m down and just want to feel good, give me some dry, sarcastic Colin Firth blended into a spy action flick – and I’ll be just fine. Kingsman is a non stop onslaught of choppy, fun action bits with lots of knives, guns and martial arts to keep you hooked. Its posh setting, fun soundtrack and ingenuity add a layer of whim to the cinematic experience, which makes it stand out in your memory even years later. Dapper and thrilling, the ludicrous British agents from a posh secret service definitely deliver a knockout of a film.
The Crow’s Top 10 Comic Book Movies
So, here’s the thing. Like I’ve said before, I have a special relationship with comic books. When it comes to finding the “best” movies based on comic books, while there are many to choose from, I find it difficult to come up with enough movies worthy of a top 10 finish. However, I’ve put my back into it, and here are the results:
Based on the manga of the same name, and the subject of an upcoming post here on The Corvid Review (which this list has skipped ahead of), Oldboy is certainly a movie worthy of a top 5 finish. Gritty, unforgiving, and secretive, the movie holds high regard when one considers Asian cinema – or cinema in general. While there are (as there always will be) certain striking differences between the manga and the movie, the movie’s all the better for it.
The Crow 
The Crow is a movie that I have no bias towards cough. Visually stunning and almost reverent in its attitude to the medium it comes from, this cult hit has long been the secret progenitor for darker comic book movies. We can only count ourselves lucky that The Crow was not shelved following the untimely death of its star, Brandon Lee.
Side note: Oh how wrong things have gone, Mr Proyas.
The Dark Knight 
The big daddy of all the names on this list by far – a movie that calms my mother when she’s panicked, and the movie which nearly cured cancer after its initial release. I consider it – even in this unranked top 5 – to be the best of the lot. Yes, its few flaws are somewhat glaring if one really has to pick it apart, but it more than makes up for it with every other aspect. The movie toes a fine line between comic book movies and crime dramas, and toes it spectacularly.
The Avengers/Avengers Assemble 
I found it initially difficult to choose my one Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, and even more so to shuffle it into the top 5. But now that it’s here, I don’t believe I have to explain why. It’s the only movie to successfully tie up so many independent superheroes into a whole. This is Whedon in decline, and he still manages to make the project lift off. This was the moment the world knew that the MCU was here to stay.
V for Vendetta 
I wouldn’t have listed this so high up because of how the movie completely changes elements of the original story (a fact which the legendary Alan Moore himself is more than a bit annoyed by), but it is still a fine movie with some incredible moments. Even transformed into a vehicle for current day ideas, it packs enough of a punch to launch countless present-day memes across the internet (however cringey most may be), and have its elements used as symbols of defiance against newer issues, ensuring its longevity.
20th Century Boys 
I know, I know. This is a weird one. It’s not one that most people might be familiar with, I think. An adaptation of Naoki Urasawa’s manga of the same name (also, the only manga I’ve read to any decent extent), the film isn’t top-of-the-crop. However, what I admire about this movie is that it’s a perfect example of how to adapt work across the two mediums of manga and live action film. The sequels, I haven’t had the chance to watch, but I fear that there simply might be too much to cover.
Guardians of the Galaxy 
There’s only one reason why this movie makes the list. It’s the one big, dumb, balls-to-the-wall superhero movie that cuts the mustard, in my opinion. All the others take themselves a little too seriously without accepting the utter ludicrousness of the situations they find unfolding within their runtimes. Guardians is quite aware of what it is, and rolls with it. The icing on the cake is: the humour in this is perfectly on-point.
Spiderman 2 
It’s hard not to mention Spiderman 2 when talking about the best superhero movies of all time, but I almost didn’t. Until I just did. Personally, it didn’t really work all that much for me, but it’s undeniable that in retrospect, it’s aged well, and touches upon some very valid aspects of what a superhero’s life must be like if they’re not stinking rich, or protected from on-high. Like Guardians, this movie carries with it a sense of awareness of what it is, and that’s always a good thing.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec 
Where the hell do I even begin with this one? I watched this completely unaware of what it was, and I must admit: I enjoyed almost every minute of it. Silly as all heck, charming in its insistence that what is happening on screen is to be taken as blasé – no matter what some of the characters might think, and almost perfectly executed, this adaptation of Jacques Tardi’s work is a name I couldn’t leave out.
X-Men: Days of Future Past 
I had a hard time choosing between X-Men, X-Men: First Class, and this movie. While all three were strong candidates, I’ve gone with Days of Future Past simply because of how it bridges the gap between the two generations of mutants and breathes new life into the franchise.
If not for X-Men: Apocalypse showing distinct signs of franchise fatigue, I’d have been far more hopeful about where the series could go.