Comic Book Films
Last Updated June 16, 2013
Heretical Jargon’s Top 10 Comic Book Films
The Movie: Robert Rodriguez (plus friends Quentin Tarantino and Miller) direct Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke and loads more in a urban nightmare-noir.
The Comic-Book Movie: Innovative use of CGI turns the cinema screen into a moving recreation of Miller’s original panels that blurred the line between genres. It’s so faithful, Miller even directed parts of it.
Just like with The Spirit, Sin City brings Film Noir into the comic book world. And Frank Miller, being an excellent film director and the writer of Sin City, decides it would make for a great piece of cinema.
Sin City was a stepping stone for comic book movies as it was the first one from the comic book genre to apply the actual comic book storyline onto the big screen. Thus followed a barrage of animated and live action comic book films that took advantage of the literary talents that exist within the genre. When a story is already written well, why try to find someone else to write it better?
Sin City was also one of the few films of the day that gave even more legitimacy to the comic book genre. People enjoyed the film! But more importantly, Sin City showed non comic book readers how adult and mature comic book literature can be, as well as showing a vast amount of artistry and creativity. All that remains now are the rumors of a Sin City sequel. Will it happen? Hopefully.
The Movie: Zack Snyder puts an unstarry cast (Billy Crudup, Jackie Earle Haley) through its paces.
The Comic-Book Movie: Talents as diverse as Terry Gilliam and Paul Greengrass said it couldn’t be adapted successfully. So Snyder went back to the source and aped it frame-by-frame.
Just like with Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and many other novel inspired films, Watchmen was met with tons of criticism prior to its release date. Excitement filled the air, but fans, as always, were worried the film could not meet the standard of quality within the graphic novel.
But with how successful the other films based on Alan Moore’s work were, (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell, and V for Vendetta) DC felt the best thing they could do was make Moore’s greatest literary achievement a cinematic reality.
The film, of course, did not meet the standard of quality in the graphic novel, but that in and of itself doesn’t make the Watchmen movie a failure. Director Zack Snyder went above and beyond to make certain Watchmen was the best movie it could be, making sure every scene and every line matched up with the graphic novel. Now obviously many things had to be left out, which caused a change in the story’s ending, but each character was treated with respect, and the story itself stayed true to the original meaning left in the comic book.
the film making techniques used within Watchmen were extraordinary, paying close attention to camera angles and cinematography and utilizing the advance CGI technology available today. While it may fall short as an adaptation, in and of itself, Watchmen is a joy to watch.
The Movie: Marvel raises the bar for creative hiring by putting Ang Lee in charge of Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Nick Nolte and some odd-looking dogs.
The Comic-Book Movie: Lee’s art-house approach baffled many, but it’s a sincere attempt to treat the material with depth, and the innovative editing at least ensures it looks like a comic book.
Ang Lee puts so much heart and soul into every film he makes. With “Hulk,” Lee decided to begin slowly and hold off with the superhero side of Bruce Banner’s “Hyde” State and build up his character struggles with himself. This allowed for a much better story telling to sling shot into more Hulk films. But, sadly, with bad reviews also comes Marvel Studio’s reevaluation of the franchise.
I’m very much someone who enjoys films which take a little risk, and Hulk does that to an extreme; Combined with a story border-lined on confusing, new and interesting filming techniques, and slow-moving dialogbased scenes, Hulk does take certain risks in the film making techniques and not being well received because of that.
However, I found the film to be quite entertaining, using expert film making techniques that most other films could model themselves after.
7. The Dark Knight Rises
The Comic Book: Bane is a bulky super villain who means to not only break Batman’s body, but his spirit as well. The famous back breaking scene lives on in infamy and has made a mark in Batman’s history.
The Movie: Nolan pulls bits and pieces from the comic book story-arc, Nightfall, where Batman faces off with his strongest enemy, Bane. Trying to continue Ra’s Al Ghul’s noble work, Bane attacks the city of Gotham pummeling it to the ground – literally! Batman must rise from his self appointed exile and become the man Gotham truly needs him to be.
The Comic-Book Movie: it’s been over 73 years since Bob Kane’s creation of the Batman, and in that time, the caped crusader has been the butt of much negativity; violence, vigilantism, negative viewpoints on homosexuality, and so on and so forth. Fredric Wertham led a movement that tried to minimize the exposure children had to comics in general, with the Bat and bird taking the center stage as examples. Batman endured however and became one of the most recognizable icons in American history, and possibly the world.
Nolan’s third film not only ends his Batman trilogy, but also brings a sense of closure to the Batman legacy that’s lasted for almost 75 years. Within the pantheon of superheroes, Batman has almost always reigned supreme, and now we, as fans, are given the opportunity to see Batman in his finest hour, embracing that cultural symbol he has become within our society.
The Comic Book: Stan Lee takes a stance against racism the best way he knows how…with mutant superheroes! It took the world by storm and still remains to be one of the most popular superhero teams in history.
The Movie: Picking and choosing which original X-Men were worthy enough to be in the first X-film, Bryan Singer delivers one of the most unexpectedly well made superhero films that catapulted the superhero franchise into high gear!
The Comic-Book Movie: The movie that started it all! While there had been tons of comic book films prior to this one, X-Men was the film that jump started the comic book film frenzy. Released when I was still in high school, X-Men has had five films made, and numerous animated features, making it the most powerful film franchise within the comic book film genre, and one of the best film franchises in cinematic history, getting beat only by Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings.
X-Men wasn’t made to simply show off “mutant powers,” but rather was made to give a new sense of humanity in these classic characters. Prior to this film, no one outside of comics really knew who the X-Men were, and Bryan Singer sought to change that, giving each character depth and development that was sorely lacking within the public eye.
So, if you were wondering if comics could ever be taken seriously…Just watch X-Men and your question will be answered.
5. Road To Perdition
The Comic Book: Based on classic manga Lone Wolf And Cub, but transposed to Prohibition-era gangsterism, this was a landmark in the graphic novel’s rise to critical respect. Road to Perdition presents a father who desperately tries to protect his son from fellow gangsters and attempts at guarding him from the evils he willingly surrounded himself with.
The Movie: Sam Mendes’ follow-up to American Beauty, with Tom Hanks and Paul Newman headlining a going-places cast that includes Daniel Craig and Jude Law.
The Comic-Book Movie: A proper prestige pic and Oscar winner, which showed that comic-book movies needn’t be all about capes, super powers, and damsels in distress. This is in no way a “feel good” movie and will leave you thinking about it’s cultural implications and how personal choices can and will affect those you love.
This film is one that should go down in history as proof that comic books have transcended into a literary culture that is on par with fictional novels as a legitimate form of literature – it’s overall a work of genius!
The Movie: Marjane Satrapi’s animated adaptation of her own graphic novel, co-directed with Vincent Paronnaud.
The Comic-Book Movie: Inevitably, a close fit, and a film whose critical acclaim has helped to draw attention to the artistic power of drawings.
There aren’t too many comic book films out there that aren’t based on superheroes right? Mostly because in this day and age, people have forgotten to sit back and enjoy good writing and become much more enthralled with explosions, CGI effects, and sex in film. (Thank you James Cameron for ruining movies and people’s perception of what a GOOD movie is.) Persepolis takes us on a journey of growing up as a young girl in Iran and how that impacted her perception on life.
Marjane Satrapi writes about her own life after the Islamic revolution. The title itself represents the ancient capital of the Persian empire which brings tremendous implications to the story and how it applies to the world of today.
Both the film and graphic novel were drawn in black and white, but the film takes liberties and presents many scenes in color as well. The film also mimics the visual and written humor within the GN and is available in both French and English.
3. The Dark Knight
The Comic Book: The rise and fall of Harvey Dent is based on the 1996 series The Long Halloween, bolted to a depiction of the Joker based on the character’s first appearances in the 1940s.
The Movie: Christopher Nolan’s epic is the ultimate superhero movie, the first to break £1 billion dollars worldwide and the first to win an Oscar for a performance, thanks to the late Heath Ledger’s memorably mad turn as The Joker.
The Comic-Book Movie: The title is the giveaway. With Batman never mentioned, this is a mature crime thriller in which the Joker’s anarchy is instrumental in destroying a great man. In other words, as deep and profound as the best comic books.
The Dark Knight, second highest “opening weekend” grossing film ever, second only to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I was blown away by how amazing this film was. The characters, story, effects, acting, music, etc, it was all perfectly executed. I left the theater with this thought in my head…”This is the best representation of what the Batman comics are truly like.”
Jilted at the Oscars for not receiving a nomination for best picture, The Dark Knight truly did inspire something within Batman fans and non Batman fans. Their was a new level of respect for the character, giving Nolan full license to do whatever the Hell he wanted to with the third and final film in his Batman trilogy.
Arguably being one of the most intelligently made comic book films ever, The Dark Knight has also been suspected of being one of best action films to date. It combined thrilling dialog, compelling angst, and amazing suspense that would make Indiana Jones wonder if HIS movies went far enough. The only negative thing I would say about the Dark Knight was the sound editing; it was very hard to hear the dialog, but MORE than easy to hear to explosive action.
without a doubt the Dark Knight instilled in us an undeniable fact…Batman is one of the greatest superheroes…if not the greatest superhero…of all time. He’s even been thought to have the skills to beat Chuck Norris in a fight! Now that’s saying something!
2. Man of Steel
The Comic Book: Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s 1930′s original, the blueprint for all superheroes since. Kal-El is sent to Earth moments before Krypton explodes. Now as Clark Kent AND Superman, he fights for truth, justice, and the American way.
The Movie: Zack Snyder takes the iconic superhero for a spin for a new generation of movie watchers, creating a visually striking film with more depth than Richard Donner ever infused into his Super-films.
The Comic-Book Movie: Under the guidance of Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder breaths new life into Superman’s legacy – implementing a darker and more realistic origin story for Earth-raised alien from Krypton. Man of Steel is an exceptionally ambitious retelling of Superman’s beginnings, combining both substance and visuals into into one complete package of super-goodness. For this reviewer, Man of Steel is the answer to the regime of super-films that’s paraded around an assumed idea – that Superman could only bear bright colors and maintain the corny persona that was instilled by the Richard Donner days of Superman. I love the old films, as well as Superman Returns, but Man of Steel was a neccesary reboot to a franchise that’s never served the image of Superman properly.
Gorgeous spectacles, Kryptonian architecture, CGI mastery, it’s all wonderful to look at. And despite a few glitches in dialog, the story presents a slightly different take on the Man of Steel, the way he interacts with the citizens of Metropolis, and what actually weakens him. Snyder delivers a great film that combines visuals and storytelling into one complete package.
Ever since X-Men changed how Superhero movies were made, I’ve been hoping for a GOOD Superman movie. One that gave Superman a more respectable image amongst comic fans and non-comic fans everywhere. 75 years ago Siegel and Shuster created a hero that made us believe a man could fly, soaring to heights that the two creators could only dream of. Superman has evolved into something spectacular, and I’ve been along for the ride ever since I began reading comics in 1992. Am I a bit biased in proclaiming Man of Steel to be the best Superhero movie thus far? Certainly. But without a doubt this film has given Superman a better image to the Superman mythos. And I for one will be anxiously awaiting Snyder’s return as director for the next Superman adventure.
The Movie: The Wachowski brothers’ first project after The Matrixfranchise, although it’s James McTeigue calling action on Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman.
The Comic-Book Movie: Moore famously denounced this – and indeed every – version of his work, unhappy that V was a Bush-era freedom fighter rather than the original anarchist. But compared to most adaptations of Moore, it works fine as a stylised, pop-political actioner.
Yes, my top choice for best comic book movie, V for Vendetta. The graphic novel is amazing and I knew even before the film came out that I was going to fall in love with the movie right away. However, I still had reservations that the film wasn’t going to be near as good as the graphic novel. I was pleasantly surprised however that some scenes in the film were actually BETTER than they were in the graphic novel.
But what I enjoyed the most is how well-defined the characters were. Alan Moore is known for his love of the weak damsel in distress, which comes off in the character of Evey. The film, however, presents a new interpretation of Evey, making her out to be a much more confident and strong-willed character. Even the story’s main character, V, was so much more poetic and politically driven than in the comics. but that could have been due to Hugo Weaving’s extraordinary acting abilities.
The changes made in the movie felt very smooth and effortless, as if Alan Moore could have written it himself. Likewise, the adaptation was flawless in how well it stayed true to the original intention of the author while JamesMcTeigue added his own unique touch to the overall feeling of the movie.
V for Vendetta is not as well-known as Batman obviously, and they both rank up their as being equally as good. However, V for Vendetta calls out to my love for good literature and poetic prose. V is the embodiment of poetry and the classic storybook swashbuckler, something I tend to lean towards the dark and sinister. So, if you haven’t seen V for Vendetta…you’re missing out.