It's no secret that this is the Golden Age of the comic book movie. Take one look at the Hollywood landscape and you'll notice that there are quite a few superhero adaptations coming through the pipeline, with several major studios looking to develop their own "shared universes" and constantly break the $1 billion plateau. The fear of overexposure always comes up, but based on the box office figures, that's not going to happen anytime soon. These films are here to stay for the long run.
Of course, the term "comic book movie" is a widespread one and doesn't always pertain to adventures about heroes in tights fighting villains. It's simply another art form that writers use to tell interesting stories, regardless of genre. Works in the realm of crime, fantasy, and drama have all been brought to life via panels, allowing filmmakers multiple ways to make their own version of a comic book movie.
Here is our list of the 10 Best Comic Book Movies of All Time
Superman: The Movie
Decades before Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. launched their own shared movie universes, director Richard Donner proved to the masses that superhero movies were a viable enterprise in Hollywood. Yes, adapting an icon like Superman ensured that the project was an easy sell, but that makes Superman nonetheless important to the industry. Its success showed that the characters had an appeal that went beyond the comic book reader and could be something that viewers of all ages could enjoy. After all, it's not every day you get to see a man fly.
Nowadays, Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man needs his movie reputation saved by the good folks at Marvel Studios, but in the 2000s, Peter Parker was at the top of the superhero movie totem pole. Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2 is still thought to be one of the best comic book adaptations, even more than a decade since its original release. Building upon the themes of the 2002 original, the director showcased why Spider-Man was a hero for the everyman, telling a narrative that featured Peter struggling to balance his crime fighting and personal responsibilities in ways that were humorous and heartfelt. Raimi also furthered character dynamics, making the relationships between Peter and his friends Harry Osborn and Mary Jane more interesting.
Director Zack Snyder has made a name for himself with his unique sense of flair and filmmaking techniques, and much of his reputation is owed to this film. Taking an old school Hollywood underdog story of facing adversity and overcoming tremendous odds, the movie was an astonishing technical achievement. Snyder wowed audiences with revolutionary modern technology, as the breathtaking action sequences redefined the concept. The new brand of slow motion camera moves that the director pioneered instantly became part of the zeitgeist, and many people tried to replicate the style but few (if any) could honestly accomplish it.
The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan's acclaimed crime drama didn't just have a tremendous impact on comic book movies, but the film industry as a whole. Changing the way blockbuster tentpoles are made, the director's practical and dark filmmaking techniques left waves in Hollywood that are still being felt to this day. Illustrating that it was possible to adapt superhero mythos in a manner that was serious and mature, Nolan impressed audiences and critics around the world with a complex tale of justice and heroism. The story he told mirrored real-world issues and problems to a chilling effect, injecting a Batman movie with palpable and relatable themes in a way that few similar titles have achieved.
It's hard to believe now, but there was a time when assembling Earth's Mightiest on-screen was considered overly ambitious. With their A-listers at other companies, Marvel Studios was forced to put together a roster of so-called "second rate" characters, but audiences did not seem to mind. Released to overwhelming positive reviews and shattering multiple box office records, The Avengers went on to become one of the most impactful projects in Hollywood history. Since Marvel showed it could be done, everybody is now in the business of putting together shared film universes, be they with other superheroes or even Universal monsters.
Those are our picks for the best comic book movies ever made. Which ones are your favorite? Are there any we missed?