what is the best comic book movie ever?

comic book movies

So Iron Man 3 had a killer opening weekend in North America — second biggest ever, after last year’s Avengers — after a killer opening in the U.K. last week (where it came even closer to matching The Avengers). If IM3 isn’t the best comic book movie ever, it sure comes damn close for me.

What about you?

What is the best comic book movie ever?

Pick more than one if you must!

(If you have a suggestion for a Question, feel free to email me.)

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Adam Stevenson
Mon, May 06, 2013 4:37pm

American Splendor – I love the way it plays with the different ways he is represented and it made me laugh.

Eric M.
Eric M.
reply to  Adam Stevenson
Mon, May 06, 2013 7:49pm

Completely in agreement. I’m from Cleveland and that movie gets every detail 100% right. I had the pleasure of meeting Harvey Pekar at a book signing about 6 months before he passed away and it was one of the great moments of my life. He bemoaned the state of modern comic book industry (particularly independents), discussed his love of jazz and his disdain for superhero comics (or as he put it, “one guy in tights beating up another guy in tights”). He was a true original and the film adaptation is a great representation of his work.

Adam Stevenson
reply to  Eric M.
Mon, May 06, 2013 8:16pm

I enjoy a comic book film, especially when there is good room to look at who would indulge in the whole super-hero thing; but it has nothing to do about my life.

Mate Sršen
Mon, May 06, 2013 5:32pm

Haven’t seen IM3 yet, so for me personally it’s either Dark Knight (as the best movie that is an adaptation of a comic book), or Spider-man 2 (as a movie that best embodies the essence of ‘comic book’).

Jim Mann
Jim Mann
Mon, May 06, 2013 6:11pm

Probably Spider-Man 2, though Superman, X-Men 2, Iron Man, and The Avengers are all in the running. (To me, The Dark Knight is a good but overblown and overrated film.)

Jim Mann
Jim Mann
reply to  Jim Mann
Tue, May 07, 2013 2:25pm

I forgot one: The Incredibles is also near the top of the list.

Patrick
Patrick
Mon, May 06, 2013 6:25pm

Superman: The Movie–the alpha and omega of comic book movies. There’s a magic to this film that has never been replicated, even by the people who made the Chris Reeve-Supes movie sequels.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  Patrick
Mon, May 06, 2013 8:42pm

I agree. I’m not really sure why; I love a ton of other comic book movies (specifically, superhero movies), many of which surpass this film in certain ways: they’re better edited, have more sophisticated effects, have more intricate or logical or “mature” plots, have equally superb acting, have more flawed and more relatable characters, have deeper philosophical explorations or more biting social commentary, and so on. But everything in Superman: The Movie just works for me. It’s on the plane of myth. It’s a perfect storybook adventure (despite Supes insisting to Lois that he isn’t like Peter Pan flying with children). I watch it and I’m a kid again. That’s not Chris Reeve hanging from wires on the screen. That’s a man from the stars, soaring above the earth and smiling right at me as the credits roll. That’s Superman.

A lot of really good close seconds, though, including many mentioned here. I’m hopeful that Man of Steel will join their ranks. Nothing will diminish Reeve’s Superman or Donner’s take on the story, but I always welcome new interpretations.

Patrick
Patrick
reply to  Bluejay
Mon, May 06, 2013 9:41pm

Well said.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Patrick
Mon, May 06, 2013 9:50pm

I agree here as well, with both you and Bluejay. Superman: the Movie works in a way and on a level that makes every other Superman movie feel unnecessary. (Which explains why, on some level, I constantly find myself dreading every rumor of an upcoming Superman property, despite my adoration of the character.)

Superman II suffers mightily from the fact that the Salkinds are crazy people. But it’s still enjoyable overall, due to a couple of extremely well staged sequences (the Eiffel Tower scene and the fight over Metropolis), some very authentic performances from Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder, and an absolutely iconic performance from Terrance Stamp.

ETA: I am looking looking forward to Man of Steel. It seems like David Goyer is trying to do something with the story and the character, I think the leads are exceptionally well cast, and I’m hoping that Zach Snyder’s visual sense will be well worth seeing. But I still don’t think the film is necessary.

Matt Clayton
Mon, May 06, 2013 9:07pm

No love for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, MAJ?

I do love Spider-Man 2, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and Marvel’s The Avengers. I also have a soft spot for Tim Burton’s Batman for nostalgia purposes.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Matt Clayton
Mon, May 06, 2013 9:36pm

YMMV, but I’m not so sure Mask of the Phantasm has aged particularly well. B:tAS holds up better, largely because the episodes are short.

Patrick
Patrick
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Mon, May 06, 2013 9:50pm

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was the only good theatrical Batman movie of the 1990s. (It sadly only had a limited theatrical run).

OTOH, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Batman and Robin were all putrid, intelligence insulting, mall products designed to sell tie-in merchandise.

Also, I think MotP may have had just a smidge of influence on Batman Begins in terms of telling Batman’s origins on screen which none of the other Burton/Schumacher films ever truly delved into.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Patrick
Mon, May 06, 2013 10:27pm

I’m not saying Mask of the Phantasm was bad. I’m saying it hasn’t aged well.

Batman Returns did have an excellent score. And it had Michelle Pfeiffer, who’s Catwoman is far more believable than Anne Hathaway’s.

Patrick
Patrick
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Mon, May 06, 2013 11:21pm

*More* believable? Her character fell to her death off a high rise only to be resurrected by cats licking her. Later she electrocutes herself, and then at the end of the movie appears unharmed. Putting aside that, Pfieffer vamps it so severely, that Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt would have told her to turn it down a few notches.

If you mean she’s closer to the comic book version, okay. But, more believable a character? C’mon.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Patrick
Mon, May 06, 2013 11:54pm

I know, right? Think about that for a second.

Anyway, there’s a difference between a realistic character/performance and a realistic plot. (And are we gonna call the plot to TDKR “realistic”?) Pfeiffer’s Selena Kyle has always come across to me as an authentic character, one who actually makes decisions about her actions (when she’s not being railroaded by the awful script that seemed to think the Penguin’s story was the one we should care about). The movie tells her story, in no small part because Pfeiffer makes it tell her story. Hathaway spends TDKR just sort of there, doing what the script tells her to do. Consider: you clearly recall just how hard Pfeiffer vamps it up. In 20 years, what do you think you’ll remember about Hathaway’s performance. Hell, what do you remember about it now?

Patrick
Patrick
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, May 07, 2013 12:19am

I thought Hathaway did a fine job all things considered. Her scenes with Bale had some spark. And her overall badass-itude livened that deeply flawed movie.

I remember the part where she’s roughs up that guy she was working for:

Hagen: “You dumb bitch!”

Selina: “Nobody accused me of being dumb.”

Or my personal favorite is where she’s Wayne’s maid and is all nervous and standoffish until Wayne catches her in a lie and then her true affect comes to the surface. That’s excellent acting on Hathaway’s part.

Pfieffer’s Catwoman was an emotionally unhinged dominatrix. Hathaway’s Catwoman was a femme fatale par excellence. I prefer the latter’s subtle slinkiness with a touch of conscience.

Paul Wartenberg
reply to  Patrick
Tue, May 07, 2013 12:29am

her character arc – coping with rampant sexism – was and is an unsettling indictment of our society. That she had to respond by dressing up in a handmade leather bondage outfit that kept getting more damaged the more she fought was an apt symbol IMHO.

Paul Wartenberg
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, May 07, 2013 12:27am

Batman Returns when it was on Catwoman was great. On the Penguin… what fnking drugs was Tim on?

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Paul Wartenberg
Tue, May 07, 2013 2:15am

You speak truth.

Matt Clayton
reply to  Patrick
Wed, May 08, 2013 6:00pm

(It sadly only had a limited theatrical run).

Um, MOTP had a 1,500+ theater release when it came out Christmas Day 1993. The reason it failed is because WB hardly marketed it and essentially dumped it.

Paul Wartenberg
reply to  Matt Clayton
Tue, May 07, 2013 12:26am

Mystery of Batwoman was slightly better than Phantasm. There are other DCAU movies that were way better. Under the Hood in particular.

Paul Wartenberg
Tue, May 07, 2013 12:25am

There’s a list.
Incredibles
Dark Knight
Avengers
Superman
Iron Man
Ghost World (it counts)
Spider-Man 1-2 (not 3)
Rocketeer
Captain America: First Avenger
Thor

RogerBW
RogerBW
Tue, May 07, 2013 10:38am

For me it’s a toss-up between the original Superman and the first Iron Man. Both of them managed to get away from generic superhero comic levels of power fantasy and managed to produce something like interesting characters.
(Didn’t know The Rocketeer was based on a comic. If you want a nomination for comic-based TV series, well, it’s got to be The Middleman…)

Captain_Swing666
Captain_Swing666
Tue, May 07, 2013 7:13pm

For US comics – Probably Avengers Assemble (aka The Avengers). Simply because it actually delivered what it promised. All too many Comic Book movies wimp out when it comes to the action – The Avengers didn’t.

For Japanese comics – Probably Ghost in the Shell (and it’s TV series spin off – which I actually prefer)

British comics – that’s tough (I haven’t seen Dredd yet) simply because we don’t have the pop culture clout to get films made – we do have some great characters though. But I do have a soft spot for “My Name is Modesty” which despite it’s low budget does quite a few things right by the character.

French comics – I love “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec”

the rook
the rook
Wed, May 08, 2013 1:01am

i would also suggest
“From Hell”
“Road to Perdition”
and
“Men in Black” (first and third movies)

and though this is for movies and not teevee series i would also draw attention to the single season of “The Middleman”.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  the rook
Wed, May 08, 2013 1:41am

The Middleman was sheer elegance in its simplicity.

I miss Dub-Dub.

Bluejay
Bluejay
Wed, May 08, 2013 1:38am

I’ve already cast my vote for Superman: The Movie, but I also want to put in a good word for Hellboy, which I think perfectly captures the tone and style of the Mike Mignola comics. And as Reeve did with Superman, Ron Perlman personifies Hellboy so completely — he looks and talks pretty much exactly as Mignola drew the character — that it’s near-impossible to imagine anyone else in the role.

Jim Mann
Jim Mann
Wed, May 08, 2013 1:39pm

Though they are TV series, not movies, I think the three major DC animated series — Batman, Superman, and Justice League — are worth adding to the mix. All were quite good, and belong on the list of best comic book adaptations.

innpchan
innpchan
Wed, May 08, 2013 3:10pm

Hellboy, with the first Iron Man a close second. If the big fight had ended at “How did you solve the icing problem?”, it would have won. You could just smell the suits screaming for another explosion.

Patrick McDonnell
Patrick McDonnell
Thu, May 09, 2013 6:06pm

Best? A History of Violence. Fave? Dark Knight.

Jay Pausner
reply to  Patrick McDonnell
Fri, May 10, 2013 4:24pm

I like this breakdown. They’d be my picks as well.

Patrick
Patrick
Thu, May 09, 2013 10:15pm

Unbreakable needs some love here. While not based on a comic book, it’s reverence for the medium is palpable. It’s a very original and clever story not to mention Shyamalan’s best film to date. (Sorry Sixth Sense)

“Go to where people are…”

Jeff Lockwood
Fri, May 10, 2013 1:34am

Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman continues to amaze me as a film that got the tone just right – a little funny, a little scary, a little absurd, and always visually compelling. Personally I’ll take Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson over Christian Bale and Heath Ledger any day. The Avengers would be a close second, pulling off the neat trick of fitting each of the superheroes neatly into the story and giving them some great interaction. My third pick would be X-Men: First Class. Undoubtedly the first time in history when the fifth film in a series (and the second origin story) has far and away bested its predecessors.

beccity98
beccity98
reply to  Jeff Lockwood
Fri, May 10, 2013 8:55am

It’s funny you say that, because I immediately though of this video. http://youtu.be/fKbAEmvZyKQ Apparently, Kevin Smith did not like this Batman.

I really have no opinion, because I don’t really read comics, though I’m familiar with a lot of the characters from their movies and tv series. I did dig a Watchman out of the trash at the beach, and I still have it (It wasn’t really *in* the trash, someone had placed it on top, and it sat there for quite a while before I went over and picked it up.

imran suhail
Sat, May 11, 2013 12:21am

The Avengers. Nuff said :P

Paul Jones
Paul Jones
Fri, Jul 26, 2013 3:01pm

Dredd…