Thought I'd type up a little list of what my top 10 favorite comic book films are for fun. Every 2 months their seems to be a new Marvel or DC film coming out that will stir up buzz and hype. Many ones I find that aren't made directly under the Marvel Studios brand tend to come out rather poor or just average, so I don't tend to revisit them. Their has also been a trend of very bad DC movies that have come out one after the next this year, but seem to make enough money to allow more like them to get made.
10.) V For Vendetta
Taking the number 10 spot on this list is the unforgettable dark horse that is V for Vendetta. A movie that was neither Marvel nor DC, that upon release wasn't a hit and had only a minimal response to the general public. But the film quickly became one of a cult classic, with the insanely talented Hugo Weaving bringing life to an eccentric anarchist freedom fighter. One thing I find great respect and admiration for is how he never betrayed the character and revealed his face to the camera. A common burden for masked hero films is that they will spend very little time with their precious face actually covered in front of the cameras. Also, the iconic mask he wore became the symbol for the Anonymous group. I place this at number 10 because I find myself not very enthusiastic to go back and re-watch it all that often. If I catch it on tv then its a definite watch.
9.) Sin City
One of the most unconventional comic book movies ever made. Each frame of the film perfectly captures the original artwork and design of the comic book, done in a atmospheric black and white noir with clever uses of the visual medium that come to life like a painting. Everyone in the movie looked amazing and I found myself hooked on each of their seedy stories. Another film I don't tend to watch all that often but still highly respect and would recommend to any fan of crime stories or comics in general.
Blade II is a little movie directed by the now famous Guillermo Del Toro adding a new spin to the age old vampires. While I was never a fan of vampires in the Blade universe being made up mostly of druggies and ravers with a bloodlust, this new film brought back the inhuman Nosferatu style monstrosity I loved. That both vampires and humans are under attack by a new race of creatures hunting them made for an engaging story. It also showed that not all the vampires were evil, but simply had to adapt to a different lifestyle which I would have liked to have seen explored in the sequel. It didn't. I also note that a lot of the ideas in this film seemed to be later reused in The Strain tv series. Good action, hasn't aged much. Always worth a watch.
While I am not a fan of Zack Snyder's work on the DC Cinematic Universe, I have nothing but praise for his work on the film 300 which revolutionized how fantasy and history films were made. Many did not know this was a comic book adaptation upon its release, thus gaining controversy for being very, very, historically inaccurate. But then again, most sword and sandal films I take with a grain of salt when any truth to the myths are acted out. I really loved how amazingly ripped and toned each character looked, like every single one was a living breathing drawing. The CGI really worked in this films favor by painting the setting as well, a painting! Lots of sepia tones with cartoonish blood splatters across the screen really did give it a striking flavor. I know later history movies and tv shows like Spartacus copied this look which I admit, does look awesome in whatever its used for. Fun brainless film.
One of the most criminally underrated comic book movie ever made. Dredd does what the 90's Judge Dredd movie failed to do. Make it actually about Judge Dredd, not the actor playing him. Their is no shameful helmet removal, no comic relief or jokes, or your usual recycled hollywood plots. Karl Urban nailed the character of Dredd perfectly, encapsulating a gritty authoritarian, yet almost cowboy style super cop. Set in a dystopian future where crime is everywhere, our main hero is a man of few words but immense character. He doesn't need to show his eyes to express what's going on inside his head. You know by his tone, and body language very easily, and that is something I like. He is a tough, but fair cop who will do his best to save those who cant defend themselves, but show no mercy to killers or law breakers. This film flopped at the box office, despite having positive word of mouth and quickly becoming a huge cult classic. Many fans want a sequel, but unless the stars align just right it seems unlikely. Solid action flick that casuals can enjoy. Just try not to think about the Stallone version.
5.) Batman Mask of the Phantasm
A lot of my favorites on this list tend to be with cult classic films, this is another. Batman the Animated Series is DC's magnum opus when it comes to their animation studios, and making a movie was one of the best ideas they ever had. Sadly, they seemed to not want to market the film all that well, and it was only released in a few theaters briefly during its run. I caught this on home video as a kid, never even knowing about it beforehand. I was awestruck on how epic a story that the animated series could bring. It was masterfully written that brought some true chills down my spine. The moments when Bruce is pleading to his parents grave, the ghostly Phantasm itself, and the introduction of the Joker onscreen were some of the best Batman moments that not even any of the live action films can beat. Mark Hammil and Kevin Conroy supply some of the best voice work in their careers, and really made this special. I wish it could be released of Blu Ray one day with loads of extras.
4.)The Dark Knight
For many, the greatest Batman movie ever made. For others, the greatest crime movie ever made. It certainly stands up there and deserves all the praise it gets. Nolan pushed Batman into the modern world of gleaming skyscrapers and military weaponry. Many of the past Batman movies embraced a level of camp and fantasy, often embellishing greatly in what Batman could create and the kind of setting Gotham was. Ranging from a gothic cathedral to a neon pink and green city filled with strange marble statues and floating bridges. Very strange.
Seeing Batman not only in a modern realistic setting was not only a breath of fresh air, but only helped enhance the very nature of his character. Heath Ledger's Joker was nothing short of amazing. I feel that had he not died his performance would have been critiqued far more for straying from the source material, but in doing so he created something new never seen before. His Joker oozed with malevolence, and insanity. From the first moment you saw him you knew this was no Jack Nicholsen. His character who at first glance seems little more than a deranged hobo clown brings the city of Gotham to its knees in one fell swoop. Outsmarting the Batman, needing not to trade fisticuffs to beat him, or to leave any lasting damage to make his mark known to the people and what he wants. I would have picked as my favorite Batman film, if not for its faults. Christian Bale's Batman really starts to lose momentum when he starts talking. It's extremely distracting, and becomes laughable. He sounds like he is trying to come off intimidating more than be intimidating. The fight choreography is rather choppy and blurry which only gets worse in The Dark Knight Rises. Much of the time the camera is too close to the action, and you can see Bale struggling to move in his suit when fighting multiple enemies. One thing I am glad that Batman vs Superman improved heavily upon.
A very close tie to The Dark Knight, but I find I still enjoy this film more. Batman's origin was never truly explored in the previous films, and his journey in becoming the Bat made it feel like we were getting a new Batman never seen before. We were taken for the first time outside of Gotham as Bruce traveled the world on a spiritual quest. Seeing him join the League of Shadows and be trained as a deadly ninja made what he could do as Batman all the more believable. Batman's use of stealth, fear tactics, and art of confusion drove home why he has been around for all these years and remained a respected icon. Ras Al Ghul and Scarecrow were two very interesting villains to choose from, who had not been done before. Instead of being camp and goofy, they were played straight and almost macabre. Batman being forced to fight his former master, and the army of ninjas was something I will never tire of seeing. This is the kind of stuff I like to see Batman deal with. The Joker and the others will always have their place in providing interesting stories, but I like seeing stories where he must deal with threats far beyond that of crime bosses.
The atmosphere of the movie fit well with how the comics were, showing Batman dealing with the scummy undercurrent of Gotham City, where he fits right at home among the rain, and dark alleys. Perfection.
2.) Hellboy II: The Golden Army
This might be an odd pick for my number 2. Hellboy II: The Golden Army I found was one of the most fun movies I've ever watched, and the most unique. Red is far more laid back and funny in this one than the first movie, providing some hilarious scenes of him getting drunk and picking a fight with a ghost. Hellboy is such a likeable character who is the kind of person you'd love to sit down and have a beer with and shoot the shit. He is more relatable than most super heroes, who is just an average guy trying to have a normal life, but is surrounded by a life of weirdness. He doesn't get angry, he doesn't mope. He's far past that. He's accepted who he is. He shaves his horns as a courtesy to others to look less threatening, but won't apologize for what he is. I like that in a hero. The elves in this movie, along with the vast array of creatures that Del Toro brought were such a treat to watch. It makes me wish this guy would make a remake of Labyrinth, or some kind of sequel. Fun movie, wish it had a third movie. Ron Perlman is the man.
This might be going for the obvious pick on my number 1 here, but I found no other film quite worthy as this one. It was a crowning moment for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as films in general as nothing quite so ambitious and big had ever been done before and payed off so well in spades. So well in fact that it sent ripples across Hollywood with every studio scrambling to grab whatever IP franchise they owned and try to market it as an Avengers franchise as well. The DC Cinematic Universe was born from the Avengers success, and while they try to reach for its fame and influence, I doubt they or any other comic book film will be quite as groundbreaking as this one was.
Four movies building to this, each of them doing new things not done before in a time when comic book films were dying out, and seemed to be on their last legs as a viable market. Along the way we got to know who each of these characters were, what their powers and weaknesses were, and grow to like them. Each team member was given their own film to introduce audiences to them, with Iron Man being the charismatic, yet sarcastic team leader. Seeing everyone meet for the first time was such a joy to watch. Seeing the great battle of New York, with a destruction scale I don't think had been done in any previous comic book movie beforehand, and the money shot team up with them all in one frame fighting as one was such an amazing moment to see. It makes me feel like a giddy little kid every time I see it.
Loki was a smart choice as a villain to use, who was allowed to expand on his character from Thor 1 that the audience fell in love for and remains the most beloved Marvel villain. And just when it seemed everything was said and done, we see a glimpse of a character never thought possible to ever come to the big screen. A character that is one of the most powerful and feared beings in the Marvel Comic. Thanos. Fucking Thanos. Not some guy in purple makeup cosplaying as him, -the- actual Thanos.
While it is my favorite comic book movie, I will admit that it does have its faults. Some of the CGI is beginning to age badly as time goes on, the way its shot looks almost like a tv show in some parts, and Captain America's suit looks like garbage. The costume he had in the first movie was amazing, only for him to jump into a rubber halloween costume in this one. I'm glad he had his mask off for most of it.