Love them or hate them, comic book films have become a powerhouse in the film industry. From the MCU to Fox Marvel to the DCEU, superheroes have become cool and their movies are bringing in the audiences.
Sure, they may just be a cash-machine, but you still get some gems that come through every now and then, films that are just really good movies when it comes down to it.
But which ones are the best? Well, read our list here and find out!
The Dark Knight
Table of Contents
We had to start out the list with what most people would view as the best comic book film ever. Christopher Nolan’s second foray into the world of Batman elevated the genre by making it something completely different. This is not a CGI-fest with the normal story arc; this is a crime thriller with morally-gray characters that just so happens to be about one of the most iconic superheroes ever. Plus, when you have a performance like Heath Ledger’s turn as The Joker, you are going to have an incredible film. Which is exactly what this one is. It is so much more than a comic book film.
It isn’t a coincidence that another film about Gotham City also elevated the genre to new heights, as this world is full of incredible potential and deep storylines. No one thought they would want a movie about Joker’s origins as his mystery was part of his allure, but director, Todd Phillips, and Joaquin Phoenix gave us one of the best movies of last year. Taking the character and adapting into a more grounded tale of mental illness and our society’s refusal to accept responsibility for the monsters we create, not to mention an absolute phenomenal job by Phoenix, and you get this. It isn’t easy to watch and it isn’t meant to be. It makes you think, forces you to look in the mirror, and challenges you to be better.
But not all comic films have to be bleak to be great, as is the case with Spider-Man 2. The second entry in the Sam Raimi trilogy is just about the perfect Spider-Man movie. It takes everything you love about Peter Parker and his altar ego, and nails it. Sure, it has some cheesy part, but that really is part of its charm. Beyond that, you have a great villain in Doctor Octopus and some (still) stellar action set-pieces that excite like none other. It came out in 2004 but it still holds up.
Avengers: Infinity War
The Russo Brothers has already established themselves as being able to craft some great superhero flicks with their previous work in the MCU, but this third Avengers film showed us just how high their ceiling was. The first part of a two-part arc set up the end of the Infinity Saga, something that had built up for a decade before. What really makes this movie stand out is how much dread you feel when watching it. Through the massive action and comedic moments, you just feel like there’s no hope and the battle is a losing one. Plus, the end of the film – while somewhat lessened by the knowledge of the next movie coming out in a year – was bleak and sad, something the MCU hadn’t done before. It perfectly set up the stakes for the finale in…
12 years and 22 movies later, Endgame closed out an unprecedented achievement in film. We don’t know what kind of black magic the Russo Brothers used to so adeptly balance multiple storylines and character arcs, and nearly deliver on every front, but they did it. The entire last hour is something many of us will never forget and when those portals open up, well, there aren’t really words to describe it. It was a perfect end to an era, and showed that even though they may not be “deep” films, the MCU still had characters that we cared for.
What was once considered to be an unfilmable graphic novel became one of our personal favorite comic films. Yes, we know many of you hardcore fans of the novel felt the movie had no heart, but we disagree. In fact, in some ways, we think the film took the material from the graphic novel and elevated it. Zack Snyder brought his classic visual-style and some truly excellent performances, and this epic film is a joy to watch. Plus, it has one of the best soundtracks for a superhero film.
Look, the story structure of this film is the same as most other films in the MCU, but there is something we want to talk about as to why we view this movie as one of the best. Black Panther not only is a fun and enjoyable superhero film, but it tackles some important themes, especially with today’s lens we are looking through. The villain of Killmonger, played expertly by Michael B. Jordan, is filled with rage for the treatment of his ancestors, for the oppression of African-Americans in this country for centuries. Director Ryan Coogler is able to take the source material and make it relevant, sending a meaningful message about the flaws of our world. It is a celebration of African culture and Black culture, giving representation to a demographic so often ignored. The last line of Killmonger is one that has stuck with us for years: “Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from the ships, because they knew death was better than bondage.”
A poignant, important message that we all need to think about.
While Christopher Nolan’s trilogy is the best Batman ever put to film, Tim Burton showed the world that comics could be a great source of fun in movie. In classic Burton style, this film leans more into the campiness of the comics, combining visually abstract locations and a performance by Jack Nicholson that you can tell he had a blast doing. It may not be the best Batman, but it started everything and is still an absolute blast to watch.
No one knew what was going to happen after this movie came out. Nobody could have expected that this one film would start something that changed the film industry and lasted for a decade. Everything we love about the MCU and all the movies in it that we adore, we owe a thanks to Iron Man. Jon Favreau brought to life a hero who wasn’t necessarily the most popular, and cast an actor who most people thought had ended his career long ago. Yet, Iron Man proved to be a fantastic movie and it brought life back to Robert Downey Jr.’s career. They truly captured lightning in a bottle and even as the cast of heroes in the MCU grew and grew, Tony Stark remained the backbone of it all, and that is all because of this 2008 blockbuster.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
BOOM. Get at us.
Yeah, we think Batman v. Superman is one of the best superhero films of all-time. Zack Snyder brought a bleak and dreary tone to the world of comics and set up a fascinating world that is afraid of Superman’s arrival. It felt real, and we love the complex web that Lex Luthor has strung as he manipulates both heroes to face each other. It’s a film that actually attempted to bring something new to these characters and we love it for that. Plus, the introduction of Wonder Woman is excellent, as is the final fight with Doomsday. You may hate it and you may hate us for putting it on this list, but we love it and we don’t care. This is a great comic book film.
What are some of your favorite comic book films? Did they make our list? Let us know in the comments and please be kind about it!
For all your movie rankings and more, be sure to check back in here with GeekHash.