Whether it’s group presentations, sporting events, or stopping the forces of evil from completing their plans of destruction, history dictates that team work does indeed make the dream work. There’s really nothing that can’t be solved by folks putting their heads together and forming a cohesive unit to sort stuff out. This is just the sort of revelation Peter Quill discovered, which led to forming one of the many beloved comic book movie teams that have blessed our screens over the years, the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Now there isn’t a cinema-going Terran who isn’t reaching critical levels of excitement to be reunited with Star-Lord and his crew of crooked do-gooders as they return in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 this month. But where does this band of interplanetary outlaws stand among the various teams and alliances that have transferred from comic book to box office glory? More to the point, where does your favorite sit? Comic book movie teams, assemble! Here are the 15 Best Comic Book Movie Teams, Ranked.
15. Team X – X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2005)
One group that are always going to get picked last are the monumentally missed opportunity black-ops team conjured up in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Team X. Aiming to be an enhanced covert crew consisting of some legendary characters including Wolverine, Sabretooth, and Wade Wilson (aka Deadpool), Origins was a failed mutant Dirty Dozen film.
Rather than perform as a cohesive unit, these guys take on objectives separately and barely feel like except a CGI showreel. Whilst fans may have ranted for years about the potential of a good film simply in the opening credits of Origins, but there’d also have been a great one in this team turning on Stryker and going after him together for a chance of freedom – if they actually got along. Instead, we got Wolverine having a boxing match with The Blob and the Merc with a Mouth performing as a human propellor with swords before having his mouth stitched shut.
The silver lining of course, is that this was our first glimpse at Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool. Sure, we’d have to wait 7 years before we saw him again, but at least something came out of this collective group of failures.
14. Task Force X – Suicide Squad (2016)
From Team X, to Task Force X, Suicide Squad might not have been the best start, but that’s not to say this team of villainous low-lifes and nut jobs don’t have what it takes to get themselves a franchise. Though this tale of bad guys gone good (kinda) suffered from the damage control following Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there were still a few key players who managed to keep the team in the game.
Excluding Jared Leto’s presence as the Clown Prince of Crime (he wasn’t a member, anyway), the real MVPs of this slightly rickety ensemble piece are, without question, Will Smith and Margot Robbie, as Deadshot and Harley Quinn. For the former, he may have been an unexpected choice and delivered a take on the character many weren’t prepared for, but it’s the best we’ve seen Smith in years. As for Robbie, she was the trick card that got a firm thumbs up from fans as the highlight of an otherwise messy film. It’s absolutely no surprise that these two are both getting solo spin-off gigs.+
As for the Skwad themselves, a script is currently being penned to bring the remaining members back together, with Mel Gibson in talks to direct. We can only hope that they spend the time to come back with something stronger than last year’s installment.
13. Mystery Men – Mystery Men (1999)
In a world where heroes like Captain Amazing (sponsored by Pepsi) face villains like Casanova Frankenstein, sometimes there isn’t a B-team to hold the line Sometimes it takes a Z-list bunch of heroes to defend what’s right, even if their only form of defense is a shovel or a bowling ball with their father’s head encased in it. These are the unique traits of 1999’s Mystery Men, which boasts an eclectic cast comprising of Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, and Greg Kinnear.
Based on the Dark Horse comic series of the same name, the film sees overlooked heroes Mr. Furious, The Shovel, and the fork-wielding Sphinx try to use their rather useless abilities to save the city when real hero, Captain Amazing, goes missing. Whilst you can’t knock them for their determination, they and their eventual allies, including The Bowler and Invisible Boy (who can only disappear when nobody’s looking), bring the occasional laugh. It’s just not enough to warrant them a higher spot on the list. It’s a shame really; the world could always use more heroes – even ones that dress in “the manner of a male prostitute.”
12. The League – The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is both a world-building dream and a property rights nabbing-nightmare that saw a band of literary characters including Dr. Jekyll and 20,000 Leagues’ Captain Nemo join forces to thwart an enemy causing trouble in Victorian England. The film was a box-office failure that led to not only Sir Sean Connery’s retirement from acting, but also Blade director, Stephen Norrington calling for a cut on his directing career. It’s a drastic step to take but after the major flop and missed chance they had, it’s understandable to see why.
This bunch of half-written warriors are extraordinarily ropey from the off and not a patch on Alan Moore’s original re-interpretation of them. Dr. Jekyll’s monstrous alter-ego, Mr. Hyde, isn’t a calculating behemoth with murderous tendencies, but an inflatable brute resembling a human bouncy castle. Characters like Dracula’s Mina Harker are also thrown to the wayside, regardless of her importance in the source material that had her actually end up leading the team alongside Quartermain (a woman in charge? Preposterous!).
11. The Fantastic Four – Fantastic Four (2005)
Say what you like about the others adaptations of Marvel’s first family, but Tim Story’s take on The Fantastic Four is the closest thing we’ve ever got to a fantastic adaptation. Okay, so their origin story might be riddled with montages, and there’s no avoiding the fact that The Thing looks like a burnt gingerbread man, but some of the casting choices are right on the money.
The number one pick in Fantastic Four is without a doubt Chris Evans as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch. Making his first step into the comic book world (and his first of three entries on this list), he brings comedy and charm to a film that is struggling to gather either. Add to that the fairly enjoyable rapport he builds with Michael Chiklis as The Thing (not an easy task with a body suit that exudes 25% emotion) and there’s some levity to be had.
What brings the team down is the stale love triangle between Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), and the massively wasted Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon). That being said, there’s at least a flicker of chemistry between the titular team and it was enough to come back for seconds in Rise of the Silver Surfer, even it did fail under the weight of its own giant space cloud. Admit it, as far as Fantastic Four iterations go, this is the best of a fairly bad bunch.
10. The Turtles – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014, 2016)
On television, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have dominated children’s Saturday morning viewing slots in various forms going on 30 years now, but their big screen versions have gone up and down to the sewers on more than one occasion. From dancing along to Vanilla Ice to drooling over Megan Fox, they’ve still yet to capture just the right tone of the comic book series they originated from.
Rather than the vengeful drain dwellers who train in the way of the ninja, these guys are a product-placing, pizza-munching bunch of losers who crack jokes that’ll date terribly in a years time. The brotherly bond that comes with the group still sticks, which is great, but could Raphael and Leonardo go for one world-saving mission in movie without falling out? Is that really too much to ask? Maybe so, as the identity of the turtles has become so lost in the family friendly tone it’s so popular for, seeing a bunch of bloodthirsty mutant ninjas stalk the dark streets of New York City is something we’ll have to say ‘sayonara’ to. We’ll keep our katanas crossed.
9. The Bloodpack – Blade II (2002)
Another villainous team that you can’t help but enjoy the company of, The Bloodpack from Blade II are a terrifyingly cool squad conjured up by David S. Goyer and brought to life by Guillermo Del Toro.
Mixing things up a bit in the second chapter of the Blade franchise, this team was brought together with the sole objective of tracking and exterminating the Daywalker who has been the scourge of the vampiric underworld. Consisting of Ron Perlman, Donnie Yen and Fast and Furious’ Matt Schulze, these guys deserve to have a film all on their own without Blade keeping tabs on them. Only problem is that they don’t last long enough in this film to even have it suggested.
As cool as these various sword-wielding, hammer-swinging, gun-toting hard-cases are, their bark is worse than their bite when they come face to face with the new breed of vampire. In what plays out like an Aliens attack in a night club, only a handful of the Bloodpack manage to escape with their lives, whilst the others end up being the next meal on the menu.
8. The Losers – The Losers (2005)
Throw a stone at someone in 2010’s The Losers and chances are you’re going to hit a cast member who is already, or is soon to be, part of comic book movie glory. Led by the man who would be Negan (and Thomas Wayne, and a Comedian), Jeffrey Dean Morgan takes point as part of an A-Team-esque band of soldiers that are betrayed and left for dead, only to go on a mission of vengeance against the mastermind behind it all.
The Losers ticked the necessary boxes for a generic payback film boasting the talent of Marvel favorites Chris Evans, Idris Elba, and Zoe Saldana, who all worked well together. The Losers work together as the sort of gang you’d like to hang out with when your brain isn’t necessary for two hours of what even Quentin Tarantino called “dumb fun.” You can hardly argue with that now, can you?
7. The B.P.R.D. – Hellboy, Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2004, 2008)
Some things are just meant to be together. Beyonce and Jay Z, peanut butter and jelly, Guillermo Del Toro and Hellboy. The latter union was and still is the best bit of work from the master of fearful fantasy worlds since Pan’s Labyrinth, and the greatest horror to come from it is knowing we’ll never get a threequel, or see the B.P.R.D. ever again.
It may have Red’s name on the box, but the most compelling element (as is with a few others on this list) is the relationship between the teammates, and the family that forms from it. The classic struggle of protecting the people who would otherwise fear hi isn’t just carried by Ron Perlman’s rouge rogue, but his new flame Liz (Selma Blair) and aquatic ally Abe Sapien.
There’s great banter between the key three in the first film which blooms into a deeper bond by the second movie, after the loss of their father and mentor, Professor Broom (the late and great John Hurt). It’s what kept fans coming back for more in Hellboy 2: The Golden Army and keeps us braving the fires of development hell to see if there’s even a chance of a long-awaited final chapter.
6. X-Men – X-Men (2000)
There can’t be a list of ranked superhero teams without including the team that set the trend. Giving birth to a franchise that has powered on for 17 years and is responsible for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, X-Men may never had a solid roster in the numerous iterations that they’ve churned out, but the first chapter and its team members still set a standard that everyone else on this list would follow. Without the X-Men, the summer blockbusters of the last two decades would’ve looked very different.
It almost feels like blasphemy to put the OG team so far down the list, but it can’t be denied that some key members didn’t get the treatment they deserved. As was the rule for the first three films, anyone who wasn’t a claw-wielding Canadian got sidelined, which stung comic fans. The likes of Cyclops (James Marsden) and Storm (Halle Berry)were never as fleshed out as they should’ve been — a huge shame considering their prominence in not just the X-Men, but the Marvel universe as a whole.
5. The 300 Spartans – 300 (2007)
Swords, sandals, and a bucket full of baby oil are sometimes all that’s needed for a team to save the day, even if they don’t live to see the end of it. Such is the case for slo-mo sword swinging warriors, the brave 300, who stand their ground against the invading Persian army and give them a beatdown of epic proportions.
Though the names of the various fallen warriors might escape memory, King Leonidas is one that obviously sticks out after hearing him shout for 90 minutes as the angriest Scottish Greek in history. Holding the line along with 299 other Spartans, their defense against the enemy is the very definition of teamwork. There’s no debate, no tension amongst the ranks – just one objective to keep the Persians at bay and ensure Sparta’s freedom.
4. Big Hero 6 – Big Hero 6 (2014)
One of the newest and youngest teams on the list, the Big Hero 6 were friends before they joined forces, unlike many squads on this list. Bonded together by Hiro’s brother Tamada, his passing only strengthens their relationship, making their transition from average to super friends a smooth one.
Admittedly, they’re a far cry from the comics team they’re actually based on, but what gets translated here is just as successful. Going against the grain of the typical team-up model, Hiro and the other heroes not only have four “brains of the operation”, each specializing in various sciences that bring something special to the fold. Tony Stark would be impressed. Also, as is required of every Marvel group of late, they also have their own bit of extra overly large muscle in the form of Baymax.
A little calmer than the Hulk, and smarter than Groot, the highly advanced marshmallow is just as memorable. His sacrifice near the end of their first adventure is enough to bring the tears. We can expect to see Big Hero 6 again soon in their own animated show which will follow on directly from the film, but hopes are that we see them back on the big screen at least somewhere down the line.
3. X-Men – X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Call it cheating if you want, but considering the various timelines, reboots, and retcons that have riddled the X-Men franchise, it’s understandable for two versions of the group to make the cut. Now whilst there’s no question that the 2000 roster planted the flag for comic book movies, the opening for Days of Future Past showed us a group that have been in the wars for years and how wonderfully they work together because of it.
The Sentinel attacks are easily one of the franchise’s greatest moments, as every team member fights to the death (twice) against the unstoppable killing machines – not just independently but as the team we always knew they could be. Seeing Colossus being thrown through one of Blink’s portals, or Kitty phasing Bishop to safety is comic book movie heaven.
Okay, so it might highlight the same issue that the team has always had of underusing favourite characters, but every one of them is used to wonderfully dizzying effect in Bryan Singer’s return to the franchise. We can only hope that they return to this level when they take on the other revered story-arc – The Dark Phoenix Saga – in 2018.
2. The Avengers – The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War (2012, 2015, 2016)
Bringing together a Super Soldier, an unstoppable rage monster, some assassins, and a billionaire genius with enough ego to fill a Helicarrier in The Avengers saved the world from an invading alien army, but after that things seemed to only get worse.
As great as a concept as Captain America being in the same corner as Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk is, they probably stand toe-to-toe as often as they do side by side. With clashing characters, perspectives, and battle plans since day one, every other problem that’s come the Avengers’ way has spawned from their own actions.
Ultron was created from a fearful Stark who thought that the team weren’t enough to protect the planet and put it in danger because of it. After that little scuffle in Sokovia, they were then ordered to answer for their actions causing a divide that had been waiting to tear the team apart since Stark first met Steve.
With that said, with all their individual and collective flaws, when they’re all working from the same page, the bad guys never stand a chance. They’re still one of the toughest comic book teams ever to grace the big screen, and seeing them in that super heroic shot as they defend New York has yet to be topped. We can only hope to see them top it when they head into the Infinity War.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy – Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Something good, something bad? A little bit of both? That’s the perfect combination that makes up the Guardians of the Galaxy. From the get-go, it’s apparent that there’s really nothing special about any of these losers. They’ve all been dealt a poor hand by the galactic powers that be and have nothing to show for it, and that’s precisely one of the reasons these interplanetary zeroes are better than Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
All emerging from their own personal black holes, Quill, Drax, Gamora, Rocket, and Groot find solace in one another and in turn bring something that makes them so likeable, so relatable, and all the more heroic. With the Avengers, it comes down to a matter of duty, as the majority of Cap, Stark and co. do what needs to be done because no one else can; the Guardians do it because no one else thinks they will.
Starting off on a course that begins as a muddled mission of vengeance and greed, it soon becomes one of redemption as these five individuals prove that their path isn’t written in the stars and everyone has a chance to change them. In a competing world of superhuman alliances, it’s a space pirate stuck in the 80s, three aliens, and a racoon that are the best of the bunch. Now, who’s ready for Vol. 2?
What’s your favorite on-screen comic book team? Where do you think Justice League will fall on this list when it’s out in November? Sound off in the comments!
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