Well this was one of the harder lists I’ve had to come up with. It wasn’t as simple as putting The Dark Knight as number one and calling it a day. I had to ask myself what comic book movies really stuck with me. Sure The Dark Knight is on my list but it was actually beaten out by some contenders.
This list represents some diverse sources and after really nutting out my ten I’m happy with what I’ve got. As always these are my personal favourites so don’t go crying that I’ve missed something. That fact is I’ve tried to do this list at least three times since I’ve started this blog and I’ve always had troubled. So I’m proud to finally get this bastard out there. Hope you enjoy.
10: Constantine (2005)
This comes in at number ten as this is very much a personal favourite, yet not something I can call an awesome example of comic book movies. Yes there are serious flaws, and John Constantine is not a full representation of the comic character. Yet I can’t help but enjoy this film as Keanu Reeves does a surprising job as John. To me there have always been two sides to John, the smartass and the tragic figure. The script ditches the smartass, but hits the tragic figure aspect right on the damn head, and Keanu manages to sell me on the character. Add to this an interesting take on hell and an awesome turn by Peter Stormare as the Devil, and you have a movie that rises above what could have been a horrid movie going experience.
09: Watchmen (2009)
Watchmen is a brilliant piece of workmanship, that shows Zack Snyder is very capable of both cherishing the source material but changing things that wouldn’t work with today’s audiences. Most of his work is based off other people’s works, and with Watchmen he hit such a high note I’m not sure if he can ever reach those heights again. Watchmen is a super hero movie, but also a character study, as well as a dark mirror of our world. Dense as all hell, visually stunning, it’s only real problem is the acting, but then Jackie Earle Haley’s turn as Rorschach makes us forget about some of the other actors. His performance is mesmerizing, and truly is the pillar that the movie is built around. It took along time for this movie to be made, the baton passed through many directors hands, but in the end the project was just waiting for Snyder.
08: The Crow (1994)
This movie has a legacy that often overshadows the movie itself. Brandon Lee was killed during filming of this movie thanks to a freak accident; as such many people remember this more than the movie itself. Alex Proyas gives us a movie that is rough around the edges, and hampered due to the tragedy, yet at the heart of this movie there is such raw emotion that the audience can’t help but be swept away. Love, revenge, hope, sadness and despair. Pure human emotions fuel this movie, and the quieter moments can sometimes be more fascinating than the action scenes. Brandon Lee has fun with his role, and brings forth a talent that seemed untapped in his previous movies. Michael Wincott is also a force to be reckoned with as Top Dollar the main villain. Wincott is every bit a force of destruction and chaos, as Brandon Lee is a force of love and revenge. Visceral as well as poetic, I do recommend people watch this movie if they haven’t seen it yet.
07: Mystery Men (1999)
A damn funny take on the super hero movie that also has a big heart beating away. It’s an underdog story like no other, and houses some great acting thanks to its line up. Geoffrey Rush, Greg Kinnear, William H Macy, Hank Azaria, Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo and Eddie Izzard to name a few. I will admit this movie was the beginning of my man crush on Geoffrey Rush, his turn as the villain Casanova Frankenstein is such a delicious performance. What is particularly great about this movie is that everyone of the main hero’s as a character arc, some may be smaller than others, but at least they get some time to shine. Just typing about this movie is making me want to watch it.
06: A History of Violence (2005)
Cronenberg makes a movie that looks at violence as a virus. I can’t say too much about this movie, as I don’t want to spoil it for people who haven’t watched it. But the general idea is a violent event happens to a man in a small town, this then starts to not only affect those around him, but brings unwanted attention. Viggo Mortensen as Tom Stall shows that he is one of the best actors out there at the moment, and isn’t going to be typecast thanks to a certain massive movie trilogy. This is a comic book movie that really does prove that not everything is about spandex, and some deep material can be mined from comics.
05: American Splendor (2003)
Harvey Pecker is a man that made a comic called American Splendor that was based off his real life, and often highlighted the things that perplexed him. The movie blurs the line between reality and fiction. It has Paul Giamatti playing the main role, but also has Harvey Pecker in interview mode as he explains some of his life events. Truly capturing the spirit of the comic, the actors are all great with Giamatti really excelling. This movie can be touching, frustrating, funny and is unique just like the subject matter.
04: The Dark Knight (2008)
Okay we knew that this was going to be on the list somewhere. A crime story that has superhero’s and villains as the main characters, it’s a somewhat realistic take on the comic book world. Nolan has really managed to create a Batman world that has engrossed many people the world over, and even those who shy away from the superhero movies have delved into Nolan’s work and found something they have enjoyed. Heath Ledger’s turn as the Joker is also fantastic and it’s a shame this was his swan song, as he gave a performance that just makes you want to more of. Every Joker has positive moments, but with Ledger we definitely got the agent of chaos that the Joker is in the best Batman stories. I can’t wait to see what Nolan brings to the next movie.
03: Oldboy (2003)
Oldboy blew me away. Dae-Su Oh is released after 15 years of imprisonment, what begins as a revenge story, morphs into a search for the reason behind his imprisonment. Demented, dark, it ooze’s style and made me a permanent fan of Min-sik Choi who played the main character. Based off manga I think that this is one of the more accessible Korean movies for audiences. Sure the subject matter is pretty dark but it’s not as confusing as some of the foreign movies out there. It has a relentless dark tone and I can only recommend this movie over and over again.
02: Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010)
Sin City, 300, these movies were very close visually to the source material, but in my mind Scott Pilgrim is the movie that best represents the closest connection of film to comics. Edgar Wright creates such an interesting world where people explode into coins, and super fighting powers are the norm. The fact is through out the entire movie I never questioned the reality of the world, I just believed in it and went along with the fun ride. Michael Cera cops a lot of flak with his one note acting range, and I think there is a valid argument with the different portrayal of Scott that he gives, but he’s still good in this movie and I think he deserves more acknowledgement of this fact. However everyone’s thunder is stolen by Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells. Everything he does is hilarious and really hopes this Culkin gets more work on the silver screen.
01: Road to Perdition (2002)
A gangster movie, that is also about the relationships between fathers and sons. It’s a comic book adaptation directed by Sam Mendes of American Beauty fame, and he brings that same great directorial eye to this movie. There is a certain beauty to this film, even at its most disturbing. However the visuals aren’t everything, as the acting is fantastic. Tom Hanks seems to dig into new ground as the hit man Michael Sullivan, I haven’t seen him act such a dark character but not only does he succeed, he exceeds expectations, and truly creates a believable father son bond with Tyler Hoechlin. We also have a strong cast with Paul Newman, Daniel Craig, Stanley Tucci and Jude Law. People need to watch this movie as it’s a tad underrated, and deserves more attention being shone on it.