The Best Comic Book Movies
by Travis Gruber
Comic book movies, as I'm sure everyone is aware, fucking rule. Unfortunately they are not a certainty and what I mean by that is; while most comic book movies fucking rule there are some that, even though they have the full force of the mighty hype machine behind them – they still suck balls – Jennifer Garner go ahead and raise your hand and prepare to reap the whirlwind. They are, however, an extremely popular commodity in this day and age. You can count that every summer, as the blockbusters start pawing at your cash, there will be a super hero movie in the mix.
I’m not very quiet about movies that I hate but one thing I’ve noticed is that I have not dedicated nearly enough time to movies that reach down your pants, grab you by your nuts – or baby factory, choose whichever option applies to you – and takes you down hard. Well we’re going to do just that today. I have assembled the definitive list of the best comic book movies ever made. If it’s not on this list then it is safe to assume that A.) The movie is a giant bucket of crap and B.) if you find yourself saying, “Dude, he didn’t include movie x he must not have seen it. I’ll explain to him how great it really is,” then you’re an idiot.
Batman (1991): Arguably the first successful comic book film of the current generation. Tim Burton’s take on Batman was stark, gritty, dirty and downright perfect. That is until Joel Schumacher came along and made a Broadway musical out of the rest of the franchise. Batman is supposed to be about ass-kicking not about nipples on the bat-suit and gratuitous shots of the bat-crotch you fucking ass-clown.
Batman Begins: RETRIBUTION MOTHERFUCKER!! At first Batman starts off as a whiney bitch-kid who can’t even take a fall. Then his parents get shot to swiss cheese and Batman’s all, “Fuck this, I’m gonna go be a ninja.” And that’s exactly what he does. Did you know Batman was a ninja? I always had my suspicions. Then Batman comes back to Gotham to exact his dick swinging revenge and in the process lets the inmates at Arkham Asylum loose which provides for glorious, non-Schumacher directed, sequels.
The Blade Series: This series was over the top with all of its comic book elements which is exactly why they ruled so much. Here’s a quick synopsis of all three.
The Spiderman Trilogy: This one sits very close to my heart because the tale of Spiderman is one that every geek plays in their head from the time they realize that the word potential might also be closely tied in with the phrase “getting pussy.” The Spiderman movies followed the comic pretty well so far. Peter Parker is funyun eating geek who gets picked on. Then he gets bit by a spider, gets super powers, a chisled geek-bod and proceeds to be the one handing out the ass-whoopin’s instead of bending over and taking it. This transition from dork to hero has been something I’ve thought about since I was six years old. As such I’ve let every spider I’ve ever seen take a little nibble. So far no super powers but I have had severe allergies, bloating, swelling, a mild battle with Gangrene that was solved by penicillin and I’m missing the very end of my pinky toe. I personally wish that they had introduced venom earlier in the series because then we would have a chance to see Carnage. And Carnage, in case you’re curious, doesn’t fuck around.
The X-Men: In my opinion this set of movies is the Grand Daddy of ‘em all but it’s also one of those that gets the hairy eyeball more than others. With the ever revolving cast of characters and story lines this one is hard to even compare to the comic because there is no way they could fit that much information into two hours of film, but comic book assholes still bitch about it. You’ll see ‘em in a blockbuster mumbling shit like, “But Wolverine didn’t meet Rogue like that,” or “Lady Deathstrike was actually Uriko, Logan’s wife from japan…that shit she did in the movie was bogus.” Of course at this time you’re allowed to smash them in the face with a copy of anything handy. I like the fact that these movies did seek to incorporate as many of the main characters as possible and Brian Singer’ direction is what truly propelled these beyond the scope of being just comic book movies.
Punisher: Quite possibly the original vigilante; Frank Castle, much like Bruce Wayne, watches his family get filled full of hot machine-gun lead and instead of taking his ball and going home he decides that he should dish out full metal jacket mayhem. Relying on his CIA and SpecOps training The Punisher hands out tickets to the ass-kicking show and when people arrive he makes them line up, single file, and the knocks the shit out of them one by one. Once he’s worked his way through all of the throw away rent-a-thugs he dances a Saturday Night Fever Disco of pain all over John Travolta’s stupid face.
Hellboy: Guillermo Del Toro, whose work brought a lot of the comic book aesthetics to the Blade series, breathed life into a very overlooked, in mainstream comic society, character: Hellboy. Del Toro worked closely with artist and writer, Mike Mignola, to ensure that his style was portrayed (including his amazing use of harsh shadows and negative space) on the big screen. Hellboy owns because of it’s attention to detail in its simplicity. Go ahead and re-read that sentence because it will confuse a few of you. But basically it boils down to this: Hellboy is a big red demon from hell who fights demons along side his fishman friend and a chick who can control fire. All sorts of references to the occult and crazy nazi douchebags are in this film but in the end Hellboy kicks ass with the aid of his enormous gun The Samaritan and happiness prevails. Though the crazy bad guy with the gas mask and bladed weapons kicked super ass too.
300: I saw this movie opening night at the Imax and left the theater with a fiery hard-on and an urge to don a helmet and loincloth and bang the mighty drums of war. While I was in line there were two lesbians making out which set the tone for the entire evening. If there was a plot to this movie I don't remember it because it was buried under wave after wave of foreigners getting the unholy fuck beat out of them. These 300 Spartan dudes go for a walk with the sole purpose of leaving as many bodies in their wake as possible. Sure there's a few slow points in this movie but they're necessary because you'll need a refractory period in between battle scenes - which is 97.6% of the entire film.p>
Sin City: This movie is, by far, the greatest Comic Book adaptation ever made. Robert Rodriguez made Frank Miller a co-director and they took the time to literally compare each panel of the comic book to its big screen counter part. The source material is amazing and beautiful in its simplicity at the same time being gritty and violent like an old time mob movie but when you bring that fucker to the cinemas it simply blows the fucking doors off. If someone you know hasn't seen Sin City and they're asking you why in the hell they should, aside from how truly amazing the film is you could tell them this joke:
You: Knock Knock
Them: Who's there?
You: Violence, criminals, violence, tits, drunks, violence, ass kicking, prostitutes, mutilation, violence and more tits. *When they start to repeat what you said - which is on par with the Knock Knock Joke Format - hand them a bottle of whiskey and put the movie on the TV and tape their eyes open in order to more properly let the AWESOME flood into their brain.
I speculate that Frank Miller is, quite possibly, not human but rather a god-like robot who feasts upon pure violence and bare tits. Speaking of bare tits; it is my personal hope that, in the Sin City sequels, Jessica Alba gives an eyeful of her magical tatas.
Next Week: The Bottom of the Barrel, The Worst of the Worst.
I loved the first Batman. Not so much the others. Though Batman Begins was good.
I'm rarely happy with movie adaptations of comic books. I think I just prefer the reading version.
I hear HBO is making a series out of my favorite comic, Preacher. I'm praying for a faithful adaptation, though I don't know how they can pull this off.
Posted by: michele | March 22, 2007 7:16 AM
If you really think the first "Batman" was great, you need to go watch it again. I bought the hype and thought the same thing back in 1989, but when the thing came on cable a little while back I realized the truth: it's a terrible movie. It's almost unwatchable today.
Posted by: Will Collier | March 22, 2007 7:39 AM
Superman 1 and 2? I mean, those were fantastic films.
I am with you Sin City, best adaptation I've ever seen.
On the "worst of" list, those Captain America made-for-TV movies from the late '70s/early '80s were almost as bad as the Captain America movie itself.
Posted by: Cullen | March 22, 2007 8:29 AM
they need to make a Dazzler movie
Christ...I have that issue
Posted by: turtle | March 22, 2007 9:15 AM
I liked Batman Begins. It was ok but I am too much of a Batman nerd to ever really enjoy those movies. They will never get Batman right as far as I'm concerned but I know it's just me.
I liked Blade 1 and 3. Not a big fan of Blade 2. That one was weak. Jessica Beil is awesome in Blade 3.
I thought they did a poor job with Punisher in both movies, but again, my comic geek-ess ruins this series for me as well.
Posted by: Ernie | March 22, 2007 9:31 AM
I just started reading Preacher. It is fucking awesome. And yes--HBO is looking at a series. It would be 66 episodes long--just like the books--and they are going to try to stay as faithful as possible. They already did the makeup for Arseface:
And here's the latest news:
Posted by: Uber | March 22, 2007 9:40 AM
Another comic book movie that was pretty good was From Hell.
Posted by: Cullen | March 22, 2007 11:43 AM
The first Crow movie was good. Though I never read the comic so I don't know if it was good compared to the comic or not.
Posted by: Ernie | March 22, 2007 2:35 PM
Agree across the board, and I've got to mention the short-lived Witchblade even if it was made for T.V..
Posted by: Timmer | March 22, 2007 10:02 PM
I'm happy you wrote this article. I just got picked on the other day by a friend about my "Comic Book Movie Collection". My collection of movies, both DVD and VHS, span 1 shelf that is 6 feet long and about 1/4 of the second shelf. I'm of the opinion that comic book movies are the best genre of movies because you get everything; humor, violence, love, rage, revenge, passion, peace, war, sex, and just EVERYTHING! I will choose a comic book movie or anything else if given the choice.
Posted by: jo (from Amie) | March 23, 2007 4:51 PM