Five Best Comic Book Movies of the Last 10 Years
This Friday might as well be declared National Geek Day, because on top of the fact that it’s May the 4th, AKA Star Wars Day, it’s also the day The Avengers hits theaters. That’s right—it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the Avengers will assemble, under the brilliant direction of Sir Joss Whedon (I know he hasn’t officially be knighted, but he’s geek royalty, so just go with it). Super hero legends Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the Hulk will finally share the screen together, along with Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury (who has appeared in almost every one of the aforementioned heroes’ movies), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and a handful of other Marvel characters. In honor of the release of what’s sure to be one of the most epic superhero movies in recent history, here’s our list of the five best comic book movies of the last ten years…
1. The Dark Knight (2008) – Christopher Nolan’s take on the Batman saga strayed away from the comic book camp of earlier adaptations and instead opted for a gritty, dark portrait of Gotham’s winged protector. The second installment in Nolan’s trilogy, The Dark Knight made all the superhero movies that came before it look like Gigli in comparison. It managed to be a social and political commentary while still working within the framework of a summer blockbuster. The film broke box office records, not to mention earning eight Oscar nominations, including a posthumous win for Best Supporting Actor for Heath Ledger. The Dark Knight earned acclaim from critics and audiences alike—a rare feat for a comic book movie. We’ll see how the third and final chapter of Nolan’s trilogy stacks up when The Dark Knight Rises comes out in July.
2. V for Vendetta (2005) – Based on Alan Moore’s graphic novel series from the 1980s, V for Vendetta depicted a dystopian future in which a masked vigilante known as “V” works to overthrow the fascist government. Like The Dark Knight, V for Vendetta has some heavy political themes, giving it more weight than your typical comic book movie. V for Vendetta is a frighteningly believable portrayal of a near-future in which curfews are enforced and books, music, and TV are censored. Between the dark, sweeping visuals and the great performances by Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving, V for Vendetta is a surprisingly stunning cinematic spectacle. (And I’m not just saying that because I love alliteration.)
3. Spider-Man (2002) – Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man reintroduced us to our favorite web-slinger, played with lovable dweebiness by Tobey Maguire. The special effects used to depict Spider-Man flying between buildings were pretty advanced for its time, and Raimi’s dark humor gave the film the edge it needed. When you’re making a film about a guy who wears a skin-tight red and blue suit, you have to have a sense of humor about it. Spider-Man has an outstanding cast, which is really just my way of saying that J.K. Simmons is in it. But Willem Dafoe, James Franco, and Tobey Maguire all give excellent performances as well. Plus, there are some hilarious cameos from Lucy Lawless, Bruce Campbell, and Spider-Man’s creator Stan Lee. All in all, Spider-Man was a fun, fresh take on the comic book hero, and it was among the first successful superhero franchises of the new era of comic book movies. The series was such a hit that it’s already being rebooted. The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield as the arachnid hero, hits theaters on July 3rd.
4. Iron Man (2008) – This has to be one of the most surprising comic book movie adaptations of all time. Not only did Iron Man relaunch Robert Downey Jr.’s career as a bankable star, it made a blockbuster movie franchise out of a comic book hero whom many people hadn’t even heard of. RDJ gave us a new kind of superhero, one who was less into the whole tortured-martyr thing and more into the cocky-and-irreverent-playboy thing. It’ll be interesting to see how well he plays with others as he teams up with his fellow Avengers in their first big-screen collaboration.
5. Sin City (2005) – Frank Miller co-director and co-produced Sin City with Robert Rodriguez, bringing his graphic novel to life with a stellar ensemble cast, including Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Clive Owen, Benicio Del Toro, and Mickey Rourke. The film’s unique use of color (it’s black and white, with the occasional splattering of color) gives it a gritty noir feel befitting to its setting. It follows multiple stories from Miller’s works, all of which involve the shady dealings and conflicts one would expect to find in “Sin City.” The epic scope of Sin City and its innovative visual effects are also evident in the film adaptation of Miller’s other well-known graphic novel, 300.
After Friday, we can revisit this list and see where The Avengers will rank among the past decade’s comic book movies. What do you think of our list? Do you completely disagree with our top 5? Were you hoping Ang Lee’s Hulk would make the list? Are you as crushed as I am that they replaced Edward Norton with Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers? Share your thoughts in the comments section, or tweet us @PopCultureNexus. Happy Top 5 Tuesday! And I’ll see you at the midnight premiere of The Avengers on Friday!