Alrighty, this is my first article on Moviepilot so let's hope I don't mess it up. This is a purely opinion-based article, and so I completely expect to be disagreed with. Here, I am listing the films that, in my eyes, are the ten best comic book movies. There are many movies that could qualify, and the films can be from Marvel, DC, Fox, or any other production company that made a comic book film at some point.
DISCLAIMER: I made this list before I got a chance to see Deadpool, otherwise it would probably be here.
Let's get started.
Man of Steel
Captain America: The First Avenger
And the list begins with...
10. X2: X-Men United
This is the film that introduced me to the X-Men franchise, and therefore it had to find its way onto this list. Over the course of this film, Hugh jackman cemented himself as the definitive Wolverine for an entire generation of moviegoers, and Sir Ian McKellen got to flex his anti-hero chops as this film's Magneto. Other highlights included the introduction of Alan Cumming's Nightcrawler and an expanded role for Shawn Ashmore's Iceman. The only true negative with this movie is the dated VFX, but at the time of it's release, the effects work was groundbreaking.
9. Green Lantern
This is easily going to be my most controversial choice, and I'm probably going to catch some flak for this one. I admit, the movie was flawed, but aren't they all? Green Lantern is my favorite comic book character, and when I saw this movie at a young age, I was just glad that my favorite hero was represented. There are definitely some serious faults with this movie, such as the overwhelming use of CGI and the lack of originality with the story. However, Ryan Reynolds delivered a convincing, if understated, performance, and Mark Strong's Sinestro was the highlight of the movie.
8. Batman Begins
This was another great movie that came from the highly profitable partnership between WB and DC. This is a strong opening to what would eventually be one of the best franchises in comic book movie history, the Dark Knight Trilogy. With superb direction from Christopher Nolan and winning performances from Christian Bale and Liam Neeson, this movie redefined the concept of "origin story". The negatives, like several films on this list, include semi-dated VFX, as well as the fact that Batman basically kills Ra's al Ghul in the film's climax, a very un-Batman action. All in all, however, this is without a doubt one of the best origin stories put to film, and a great movie in general.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy
I know that many of you will be a bit shocked that I placed this movie so low on my list, but I have my reasons. Now, don't get me wrong, I believe this to be a very fun, entertaining movie. Chris Pratt's performance as Star-Lord is one of the most likeable heroic performances in superhero media, on par with Robert Downey, Jr.'s Iron Man and Grant Gustin's Flash. Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel and Dave Bautista also give fantastic performances as the rest of the titular team. However, the film had its downsides. For one, Lee Pace's Ronan was an underdeveloped villain, and some of the scenes involving Thanos and The Collector seemed like blatant Infinity War set-up. Regardless of these missteps, this is one of the most genuinely entertaining films that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has produced.
6. Avengers: Age of Ultron
This was almost the most hyped movie of 2015, and that may have been part of this movie's downfall. Everyone anticipated a life-changing cinematic experience, and the movie did not deliver. However, what the movie did deliver was an exciting, action-packed, and above all FUN movie experience. James Spader's Ultron was a formidable, albeit hilarious, villain, and Joss Whedon's one-liner filled script gave countless opportunities to witness the chemistry that had formed among the cast. Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye got an increased role, and emerged as the film's highlight. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, and Paul Bettany gave fantastic performances as the team's newcomers. Therefore, while not perfect, this was in fact a great movie.
5. X-Men: Days of Future Past
This is, in the eyes of many, the crown jewel of the X-Men franchise. It featured the return of Bryan Singer as director, as well as the original cast returning for one last stand (pun very much intended). It removed the "black sheep" (X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine) from the series' canon, and brought the original cast together with their younger incarnations for the most high-stakes X-Men film yet. Evan Peters' Quicksilver was an absolute highlight, as well as the parallel performances by Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy as the older and younger incarnations of Professor X. Without a doubt, this film truly showed what the X-Men franchise was capable of, and raised plenty of excitement for the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse.
This is probably the second-most controversial of my decisions, behind Green Lantern. Many would probably not put this movie as high on the list as I have. However, I believe that this movie breathed a breath of fresh air into the MCU after the somewhat overcrowded Age of Ultron. Ant-Man is a fun, somewhat low-key origin story that features minimal world-building and a likeable ensemble cast. While this may sound like a formulaic design, what truly saves the movie is the action. It finds ways to turn even the most mundane of locations into a death trap (i.e. Thomas the Tank Engine set). Therefore, Ant-Man can be seen as one of the most original, formulaic movies ever made.
3. The Avengers
This movie was every Marvel fan's dream. That is not an understatement. Bringing together heroes the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye was what every fan had been waiting for since Nick Fury's reference to a "bigger universe" in the post-credits scene of Iron Man. With a phenomenal performance by Tom Hiddleston, turning Loki into a threta that would require six heroes to defeat, the pieces had all been set in motion for Joss Whedon to take the reigns and deliver the most mind-blowing 2 hours and 22 minutes of entertainment comic book media had ever known. This was the first inter-franchise crossover of this scale to ever be made, and it will never be supplanted as the beginning of a new age of comic book media.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This movie was an ideal example of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, often thought of as "too jokey" or "pandering to the kids' audience", showing that it was capable of creating a film that, while still lots of fun, had real stakes and real conflict. It was ideal for this kind of movie to be a Captain America movie, as his power set already dictates that the action will feel more "real" than an Iron Man or a Thor. The introduction of Anthony Mackie's Falcon was a highlight, as well as Scarlett Johansson's always-great performance as Black Widow. The true MVPs of the film were likely Chris Evans' performance as Cap, as per usual, and Sebastian Stan's quietly unnerving role as the Winter Soldier. Stan has minimal lines in the film, but he conveys emotion well enough to not need lines to play the critical role. All in all, this is believably the best film to date in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
1. The Dark Knight
Was there ever any doubt that this would be the top of the list? This is easily the best installment of Nolan's phenomenal Dark Knight trilogy, and belongs in its rightful place on top of the comic book movie world. They say a story is only as good as its villains, and this movie is a defining example of that. Heath Ledger (R.I.P.) gave an incredible performance as the iconic villain the Joker, and Aaron Eckhart performed admirably as the tragic villain Two-Face. Christian Bale turned in another great performance as the titular Dark Knight, and Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman performed well as the hero's most trusted allies; Alfred Pennyworth, Commissioner Jim Gordon, and Lucius Fox. However, it will always be Ledger's unforgettable performance that is this movie's defining feature, and that is what cements it at the top of this list.
Thank you so much for reading, and let me know in the comments if you have any thoughts, suggestions, or...um... comments.