The Greatest Comic Movies Ever...or at the least, 10 we really, really, really love.
10. 300 (2007)
Critics were divided by this visually striking, ultra-bloody tale of the Battle of Thermopylae, directed by Zack Snyder, who'd also fashioned a great re-working of "Dawn of the Dead." No one, though, would argue its merits as a comic book come to life in colorful, vivid, hyper-realistic glory. Snyder doesn't so much translate Frank Miller's graphic novel as transpose it onto the big screen in capital letters. Whether you loved it or hated it, you probably had never seen anything quite like it.
9. The Crow (1994)
Before The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, there was this supremely dark interpretation of a man, brutally killed by amoral thugs, who comes back from the dead to avenge his and his fiancee's murders. A rock musician in his previous life, Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) now assumes the identity of The Crow, and proceeds to wreak havoc on the evil denizens of a gothed out, nightmarish Detroit. Besides director Alex Proyas' bleak, gritty and altogether-cool vision of this dark city, The Crow boasts a vital and ultimately tragic lead turn from Lee, who was accidentally killed on the set near the end of shooting. His poignant and powerful performance lives on, and--much like his father Bruce's last role in Enter the Dragon--is one of the best action hero portryals in cinema history.
8. Superman II (1981)
"Kneel before Zod." So says the lead villain, one of three memorable baddies, in Superman II, which finds Christopher Reeve's Superman up against Lex Luthor and a trio of supervillains from his home planet. Basically, Superman II offers more great action, a darker set of bad guys, and a genuine crisis for our hero - become a mortal, or get back to saving the world from these tyrants in strange clothing. It's a more dramatic version of Superman, and as with The Empire Strikes Back, is a worthy, near-equal complement to the first film.
7. Batman (1989)
After Christopher Nolan's reboot of Batman, a lot of people have sort of forgotten the great kickstart Tim Burton gave to the series nearly 20 years ago. If not for his (and even Joel Schumacher's) contributions, there would be no series to reboot. Plus, this is a fine, fine comic book movie. Who knew Mr. Mom would make such a great Batman? Add in a memorable Jack Nicholson as sort of the Grand Cuignol version of the Joker, a great, quirky score from Danny Elfman, and some fantastic production design, and you have the perfect Batman movie to move us a step away from the silly '60s TV show.
6. Sin City (2005)
Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino and Frank Miller. It would have been a massive disappointment if it hadn't worked. Thankfully, this multi-layered film noir, mixing all sorts of sultry characters and hard-boiled gents, delivers the good. Our favorite character is Mickey Rourke's bruiser Marv, who'll stop at nothing to find out who framed him for the murder of a beautiful blonde. His rampage through the city is a violent and fascinating spectacle to behold.
5. Spider-Man (2002)
Lots of Spidey fans point to Spider-Man 2 as its pinnacle, but I'm a fan of this sometimes uneven, but highly entertaining and watchable first effort from director Sam Raimi. What's great to see is that Raimi and his cast perfectly nailed the concept of Spider-Man. Peter Parker is a normal, everyday, shy and awkward teenager, who happens to become a superhero, and is forced to deal with what comes next. The ways he begins to accept his powers and his responsibilities, and his chemistry with Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane Watson, are great fun to watch. Kudos, too, to Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin, and James Franco, here still playing Parker's protective pal.
4. X-Men (2000)
Bryan Singer relaunched the comic book movie genre in general with this supreme adaptation, which combined an expertly told narrative with A-list effects and actors. This is straight-ahead action crafted with skill and concern for the comic book fans, and the uninitiated, too.
3. Iron Man (2008)
It was the number one movie of the summer in 2008, and for good reason. Jon Favreau, like Batman Begins' Christopher Nolan, has respect for both the legacy of the comic book, and the smarts of his audience. Character and story development do matter, and make the actual moments of action count. While the finale of Iron Man is its weakest link, it takes nothing away from the rest of its success. Beyond Favreau's fast-paced, sleek direction, this California cruiser maintains its altitutde on the high-flying performance of Robert Downey Jr., who gives Iron Man a sense of mischief and humanity.
2. Nolan's Batman Trilogy (2005, 2008, 2012)
Christopher Nolan tells the Batman story as if it's not just a comic book story, but something grounded in reality, and inhabited by characters who deserve being developed. We, the audience, are thankful for a filmmaker with vision who actually wants to give us smart popcorn entertainment. Christian Bale is fantastic as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Heath Ledger was absolutely unforgettable as The Joker, and the rest of the team is perfect on down the line, from the tech credits to the high-powered cast, including Michael Caine as the definitive Alfred, Gary Oldman as a recognizably human and decent Lt. Gordon, and Morgan Freeman lending charm and gravitas as mentor Lucius Fox.
1. Superman (1978)
The best comic book movie of all time set the standard in every way. Perfect casting for Superman? Check. Great story? Check. Awesome villain? Ditto. Strong direction, wonderful secondary cast, respect for its source material and, most importantly, a connection to its audience? Affirmative on all counts. Superman is not just the greatest comic book movie, it's one of the great movies period. The tag line says everything. "You will believe a man can fly." We did...Finally, we cap off with 10 comic book movies that aren't exactly super...
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