Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Top 10 Comic Book Movies

Similar to my other lists, I decided to list franchises instead of individual movies, and my choices are based solely on my opinion. Because some picks have already been used in other lists, like Conan the Barbarian, I have elected not to repeat and left them off.

10. 30 Days of Night - Based on a three-issue series by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, the vampires in this film are how they're supposed to be: vile, cruel, and bloodthirsty, not to mention smarter than their prey. I would go as far as to say this is the best vampire movie to date, starting with the premise: vampires land in northern Alaska to feed at their leisure, because the sun won't rise for a month. What really drew me into this movie was Ben Foster as a dog-killing stranger, prepping the town for destruction in a nice build-up. As soon as he delivered the lines, "Check on Gus. Board the windows. Try to hide. They're coming," I was glued to my seat.

9. Hellboy - Ron Perlman. I don't know if I really have to say more than that, as he never disappoints in any of his roles. These films have a nice blend of make-up, puppetry, and CGI that Guillermo del Torro would later incorporate into Pan's Labryinth, which won him Oscars. There's an element of high fantasy in Hellboy, something that is unique to the franchise, and in part, seeing a big, red superhero fills me with hope that one day the rarer, offbeat heroes like The Maxx or Pitt could reach the big screen--it might just depend on the success of Guardians of the Galaxy. If people line up for a movie involving Rocket Raccoon they might be open to the more exotic and weird.

8. Sin City - Set in Basin City, this black and white noir is nothing short of a comic book classic. There's nothing else I can really compare it too, bringing Frank Miller's work to life in astounding ways. Sometimes, just sometimes, the dialogue is delivered a bit hokey, but there are so many memorable lines, great performances and unique imagery that the awkward moments can be shrugged off. Mickey Rourke as Marv is outstanding, steals the entire movie. Now and again, I'll watch just his story and shut off the movie. Then I remember Clive Owen as Dwight saying, "I'm Shellie's new boyfriend, and I'm out of my mind," and I finish it later.

7. Unbreakable - While not based off a comic book I have included this M. Night Shyamalan film because it is centered around a superhero and encompasses all the major themes of a comic book, specifically the symbiotic relationship between good and evil. I don't believe Unbreakable was a blockbuster or even that loved by a great many people, but I found its realism and rich characters, along with the framing and colors (blue and purple), entertaining and something I've watched over and over. Samuel L. Jackson, portraying Mr. Glass, is one of the most complex characters I have ever seen in this genre.

6. Blade - Despite how much I dislike the third installment, this was a successful franchise before comic book movies were hip and popular; I saw the original in the theater on my eighteenth birthday, and the rest of the night my friends and I repeated, "There's always some motherfucker trying to iceskate uphill," yet Guillermo del Torro really did wonders with the sequel. The back and forth between Wesley Snipes (Blade) and Ron Perlman (Reinhardt) was fantastic, as two enemies worked together to bring down a common threat--I think the dynamic between heroes and villains was better here than X-Men 2.

5. Spider-Man - When Sam Raimi put a song and dance number into the third Spider-Man I thought the franchise was doomed, but Amazing saved it, even if half of New York City knows Peter Parker's identity and they made him more of a skater than a nerdy photographer. I don't recall Parker having the agility or balance to skateboard prior to being bitten in the comics...If not for those setbacks, as well as the butchery of Venom (Don't you think Thomas Haden Church's Sandman was a compelling villain and enough to carry the entire film?), I would have put this franchise higher; the first two installments paved the way for Marvel Comics on the big screen.

4. Iron Man - At this point, I can't imagine anyone else but Robert Downey Jr. playing Tony Stark, and I have as much fun watching him out of his suit as I do when he's flying around blowing things up as Iron Man. While I liked the original slightly more than the sequel, I could watch either movie at any given time and not be bored, and I'm not even a fan of Iron Man when it comes to the comics or video games. My only complaint, which the third installment might resolve, is that the action sequences are too short, and the stories tend to be thin; Downey carries the films on his shoulders--without him, the franchise would have failed.

3. V for Vendetta - Adapted from Alan Moore and David Lloyd's tale set in a dystopian future, where the United Kingdom is run by a dictator, Hugo Weaving's voice captivated me with every line; more than Lord of the Rings or The Matrix, this was the role where I became a fan of his work. The action, story, themes, and acting were all top-notch, very stylized, and I often wonder why a lot of my friends either have never seen this movie or didn't like it...some being Moore purists that didn't agree with the changes to theme. For me, it was reminiscent of 1984, a society where individuality has been suppressed and the people docile, a theme I've always been drawn to.

2. Batman - In 1997, when Joel Schumacher decided to put nipples on the batsuit, turned Bane and Mr. Freeze into morons, and shot chase scenes down building-tall, nude statues, I finally learned what bad movies were. Luckily, I still had Burton's films to watch; I never suspected anyone would outdo Jack Nicholson's Joker, but I was proven wrong. Nolan's Batman trilogy is at a level every comic book movie should aspire to, from theme to action to story. I had always hoped to see a proper Mr. Freeze (Patrick Stewart...cough), yet I understand Nolan didn't want to spend the rest of his life making Batman films. If not for Schumacher's debacles, Batman would be my number one. They're out there, nonetheless, a blemish on the franchise. Even strong whiskey and classic lines like, "Where does he get those wonderful toys?" can't make me forget them.

1. Avengers - As mentioned in my review of Avengers I have never had more fun viewing a movie in my entire life. Joss Whedon's dialogue, coupled with Downey Jr. as Tony Stark and Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner, were beyond anything I had hoped for. The action was stellar, the CGI beautiful, and the Hulk delivered memorable one-liners. While the plot wasn't a brain-buster I was too entertained to care, and I felt including classic attacks (Iron Man bouncing his photon beam off Captain America's shield) straight from the source material put this movie on the level with Nolan's Batman for different reasons. The added bonus was the set-up of Thanos, my favorite villain, for a future installment and probably a film that will be the closest we'll ever come to Infinity Gauntlet.

Honorable Mentions
Captain America, Thor, Superman, Watchmen, The Crow, 300, X-Men, Incredible Hulk, Wolverine, A History of Violence, Hellboy, Heavy Metal, Howard the Duck, Dredd, Men in Black, Weird Science, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (original)

Please, feel free to agree, disagree, or suggest a movie I might have overlooked.


  1. I watched Howard the Duck sometime in the last 6 months and I think I learned then that it was based on a comic but quickly forgot.
    As for Batman, I remember being so scared during the scene in first installment when Jack unwraps the bandages, picks up the mirror, and laughs that creepy laugh and then smashes the mirror on the cart as he became the Joker.
    Can't hate 300 for it's female porn attributes and I enjoy the style.
    I loved Sin City and have loved/hated the rumors/not rumors of their being a second. Just caught a few moments of it when it was just on last weekend and Rosario Dawson delivered a line so badly that your comment rang true. Also, Elijah Wood's character really creeps me out.
    I would add the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

  2. Oh, TMNT. Can't believe I forgot that staple of my childhood (I added it), and I still have a bookbag full of my TMNT action figures. There's supposed to be a remake on the way, but I've read they're going to be aliens instead of mutants...

    I think Sin City: A Dame to Kill For comes out this summer. Hopefully, it'll be as good as the first one, and I agree Elijah Wood's character was creepy.

    1. I should also add I debated putting either Watchmen or 300 as more than honorable mentions, but there's something about Zach Snyder's use of slow motion during action sequences that really bugs me.

  3. I typed out this whole thing on my phone and then had issues with the verification. So the gist was that I believe Michael Bay is very very very sadly supposed to direct TMNT and is who added the alien element. On a more positive note, I have vanilla ice's ninja rap, if you want it.
    I didn't hear good things about Watchmen, a lot of disappointment. Also, some had issues with a certain body part being made apparent for much of the film? As for slo-mo, I like it if it is done right, and not overused. I didn't feel 300 broke either of these guidelines or perhaps I was distracted.

    1. Dr Manhattan's junk does make an appearance, but he has on a speedo or something most of the movie. That I can say isn't Snyder's fault; neither were all the men in loin cloths during 300. He used frames and drawings from the comics for the movies that were identical to the source material.

      You might want to rewatch 300 though, because I believe if the slow-mo was taken out the movie would be half an hour shorter, at least. He even slow-mo'd the oracle scene with her writhing on a stone slab.