Though I know what my number 1 and 2 choices are, I've never actually ranked them all like this, it'll be fun. Instead of everybody just making their top 25 lists and having post after post 60 lines long, how about you just critique mine? Tell me what I missed or what's way too low.
Now I'm listing 'Superhero Movies adapted from comic books', not 'Comic Book Movies'. No Sin City, no 300, no History of Violence. Let's get to it!
Superhero Movies I HAVE NOT seen: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Punisher: War Zone, Superman III, Superman IV, Green Hornet, or Super.
1. The Dark Knight
- It kind of runs on and on toward the end. Right around the time the Joker gets arrested and he sends Batman and the police on the wild goose chase to save Dent, it felt like the movie should have been wrapping up. Then the next 20-30 minutes with all the hospital stuff felt like a tacked on 'Part 2'. Then all the stuff with Dent going crazy and Joker blowing up ferries, it was another 'Part 3' moment. You know how you have that inner clock that tells you when a movie should be just about over, whether it's dependent on actual time or the events happening in the movie? Mine went off a few times prematurely in this one. But all in all, this is the best one I've seen. Very rewatchable, everyone was great including Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhardt. It's that rare movie where however you're feeling, whatever the occasion, you can just pop it in and have a good time.
- It was everything I'd hoped it would be. It's why they make comic book movies -- years from now I think we will look back and say this movie did so much for the genre it's impossible to overstate. I don't have too many nitpicky things, other than the second half being a lot better than the first half. But I'm not a film expert, so I don't have any answers for this. I liked everything in the first half and can't imagine cutting something, so it is what it is: The Second Greatest CBM ever made.
3. Spider-Man 2
- If you figure out the chronology of these movies, you'll realize that for about 4 years this one was my top choice. I dig it. I really do. There seems to be a major theme in CBM sequels: Bad Guy from movie 1 teams up with Good Guys to fight a new threat (Fantastic Four 2, X-Men 2, Blade 2, very briefly in Superman II, and SPOILER: Thor 2 teaser trailer reveals that it is the case in their movie too with Loki). I'm happy Spider-Man 2 didn't go this route. I'd have to think about it, as Hulk punching the Leviathan and Thor rezzing & subsequently taking out the Destroyer are up there, but I still feel Spider-Man slowing down the train is my favorite individual scene from a Comicbook Movie.
- You may not entirely agree with my top three, but they seem to be popular choices. Here's where the real opinions start. I'm genuinely surprised there are people who didn't like this movie. I understand people who just don't like Natalie Portman, or who were turned off by the fact that he spends half the movie in GAP jeans, but it was so good. I think it was the score. The score to this movie is up there for me with the Superman one. Go youtube it, it brings you right back to Asgard so well. Now I have a friend who is a massive Superman fan, and as I was watching this movie, I kept thinking, "This is the Superman movie he's been waiting for!" Whether it was Thor taking out the Jotuns or him flying through Asgard on his way to finally confront Loki, it just oozed with grandeur. They pulled off Asgard extremely well in what might have been one of the most difficult comic book movies ever. Before this was made, a lot of people had no idea how this could be pulled off. Thor? The old english-speaking god from another dimension? Good Luck. Well, they didn't need it.
5. Batman Begins
- Awesome movie. Though I have it below Thor as an overall movie, it's the best take on an origin story. Just nailed it. I don't like origin stories where they have a quick flashback and then jump right into the character. I love when they really sink their teeth into it. I felt that they hadn't stopped telling his origin until right up to the point he confronted Ra's Al Gul at the end. At that moment he changed from Bruce attempting to become Batman into just 'Batman.' Spider-man did it much earlier with the thief-murderer scene and Hulk's first hour or so really had nothing to do with Banner's origin into the Hulk. This really got in-depth with it.
There is a common movie term called 'Chekov's Gun' when something that is hinted at early on in a movie comes into play later. Perfect example: Tony Stark's Mk 2 isn't capable of overcoming the icing effect caused by high altitudes, and it's revealed later that he's used this knowledge to trick Obidiah Stane. Chekov's Gun. This movie has more verbal Chekov's Guns, called Ironic Echoes, than pretty much every movie coming out that year combined. Let's list them:
1. Mr. Earle fires Fox, "Didn't you get the memo?" At the end Fox takes his job and repeats it to him.
2. Homeless man encounters Bruce, "Nice Coat." Batman years later see the homeless man and repeats it.
3. Father asks Bruce, "Why do we fall?" Alfred later asks him the same thing when his house is blown up.
4. Best one is when Rachel tells Bruce, "It's not who we are on the inside, but what we do that defines us." Bruce then uses that as a double entendre to reveal later that he is Batman.
5. While fighting on the ice, Ducard tells Bruice to mind his surroundings. Batman later repeats it back to him right before he dies.
6. Ducard says to Bruce while in the league of shadows, "You cannot lead these men unless you are prepared to do what is necessary." Shortly after, Bruce decides to burn the place down, and when Ducard asks, "What are you doing?!" "What is necessary."
7. When Bruce drops out of college, he asks Alfred, "You still haven't given up on me?" He repeats it much later when his house burns down.
8. Mr. Earle tells Bruce he sold Wayne Enterprises, "through various charitable foundations, and trusts, and so forth. Look, it's all a bit technical, but the important thing is that our company's future is secure." Bruce repeats this to Earle at the end when he explains how he bought out the company.
9. "Don't be afraid, Bruce." First said by Thomas Wayne when he's shot, then at the end by Ducard on the train.
- So great. Michael Keaton in this movie is still my favorite iteration of Batman. His Bruce was much more neurotic than Bale's, I dug it. Close call between this and Begins.
7. Captain America: The First Avenger
- Doesn't have that quintessential hero vs. villain feel, Cap didn't have much of an emotional investment in the Red Skull, he just wanted to win the war. But otherwise a well done adaptation. The 'little Steve' CGI is so unbelievably good that if you didn't know who Chris Evans was, you may think it's actually him. Then when you get to the vita-ray chamber scene it would be mind blowing.
8. Iron Man
- Surprised in the opposite manner of Thor when I started hearing buzz about it. Went to it in the theatre, thought it was good, but then just kept hearing people say how it blew them away. Most people put it in their top 3. Now obviously, I had to enjoy it a great deal to make it even this high. But top-top-top tier? Not feeling it. Still very good, don't get me wrong.
9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Funny story, I actually saw this the other day. Now I haven't seen this movie in about 15 years, but oddly enough it's up in its fullest on Youtube. I realize I'm currently ranking this above an all-time cinematic gem, but I enjoyed it MORE now then I did way back when. I was smiling throughout the whole thing. It's nothing short of solid gold.
- And this one ails from the opposite problem of the Avengers: the first half was AMAZING, the second half was just blah. From the henchman antics of attempting to redirect missiles to the whole 'Superman drowning in a swimming pool and then turns back time' stuff, it fell flat. If the second half was as good as the first half, this would be number 1 on my list. I've heard the time travel stuff wasn't supposed to be in this movie, but it was.
- I don't care that Reeves is a wooden actor. He's very entertaining. I liked this movie very much. Great pacing, really good atmosphere... dark, yet energetic. Rachel Weisz sounds like she has emphysema, but it works. Shia Lebeouf and Gavin Rosdale were both very good.
12. Blade 2
- This one nobody ever talks about. The story was very simple, but it was extremely entertaining. Guillermo Del Toro: job well done. I found Nomak very compelling as a villain/anit-hero, and the super Vampire squad that teamed up with Blade was really fun. From the sewer scene where they're being ambushed to the part where Nomak attacks the Vampire stronghold, not one moment of boredom. Maybe the most start-to-finish-entertainment on this whole list.
- So well done. Nothing else to say. From start to finish it was funny, awesome, dramatic, and fully entertaining.
14. Batman Returns
- It was difficult to pick the right spot on this list for this one. How much of it is just Batman 1 carryover feelings? I saw it on TV again recently, and it was a little campier than I remember. I liked the Penguin much less this time around, but Catwoman and Max Shreck were even better than I recall. It's up and down at times, but it has some seriously awesome scenes.
15. X-Men: First Class
- This is the only X-Men movie you'll be seeing on this list, for two reasons. One, there are now enough good CBM's out to bump the others off the list, and Two... above all other superheroes, I'm an X-Men super fan. So I'm perfectly okay with you thinking my criticism of these movies is unwarranted. Man, I still remember how deflated I felt when I left the theatre back in 2000 at the end of X-Men 1. My last thought before I went to sleep was, "Well, at least I got to see a live action version of the X-Men. I'm happy they tried instead of never doing it." But in all seriousness, how could anyone think that that would have been a better idea than ACTUALLY making a decent X-Men movie? Throughout the entire trilogy, Cyclops, far and away the most important X-Man, had zero backstory. Zero plot. His only inclusion was to be a thorn in Wolverine's side. Sabretooth was just a guy in bad makeup. Magneto was 90, and Jean Grey was like 10 years older than Scott. Did that bother anyone else? He was dating someone old enough to be his friggin' mother! What the heck?! Usually, I say I don't mind changes as long as they improve the quality of the movie. I don't mind that Wolverin is 6'4 or that Mystique's mutant power is that she has no nipples so she can walk around nude. However, I did not think any of the other changes made it better than if they just stuck to the source material. And X-2... even more so than Iron Man... even more so than Incredible Hulk... I have NO idea why people think so highly of this movie. The Nightcrawler scene to open was awesome. Various scenes throughout were awesome. But as a whole, it was just more 'blah.' I actually liked X3 about as much as the other two. Everyone has that one movie or franchise they're overly picky about, and this series is mine. It would have been okay if it wasn't called X-Men, because it hardly had anything to do with the X-Men.
Now, First Class. This movie was good enough that I'm able to put my grudges aside and enjoy it. Havok is my alltime favorite hero (Angel is my avatar for MAA reasons...), and I'm even able to overlook the pink hula hoop thing because it was a solid movie. Great job on the Magneto/Xavier dichotomy.
16. Iron Man 2
- I really liked Mickey Rourke as Vanko. He had a quality about him that was genuinely sinister. They way you could just tell that he didn't give one lick about Justin Hammer, and it was all about his revenge. I wish he'd have been in it much more. The thing I always here is that the fight scene at the end should have been longer. I was fine with it. But what I feel is the downfall of this movie is the drama. In every great superhero movie, the main protagonist is in a perilous situation. Vanko's attack on the fair wasn't really perilous to Tony, he just decided to intervene. The peril was supposed to be his palladium poisoning. But other than tripping out of his classic car and Rhody having to help him to his desk, there was never any real danger to it. The whole movie you were just waiting for Tony to 'win', because nothing was really holding him back. That lack of drama really dulls the movie.
- Just a great, out of nowhere movie. Back when CBM's had zero expectations, this one delivered. Deacon Frost was a great character, Whistler was a great character, and Wesley Snipes had a 'Bad Man' take on Blade. Dark, gritty movie like Constantine. Just good cinema.
18. The Dark Knight Rises
- And here it is. The big twist to my list. I'll start by saying though I am a massive, massive Marvel fan, I am in no way a DC/Nolan basher. TDK is number 1 on my list. BB is top 5. Superman, Batman, I love good movies. Now how do I explain what I didn't like about this as simply as possible? Hmm... it felt like a great director fixing a bad script. He couldn't fix it all the way, but he made it watchable. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of every movie above this one and many below it. Being 16 doesn't mean it's anything bad. It's still above a 7.0 in my opinion on IMDB's rating scale. But let's go through a few things: I don't like the term 'plot hole.' Nearly everyone uses it incorrectly. A plot hole is when the movie in no way should be able to continue on because something completely out of nowhere occurred. Usually the things people are calling plot holes in this movie are simply assumed or implied concepts. Like when Bruce sneaks back into Gotham. He's Batman, that's what he does. It's not a plot hole. They've spent two movies building up that he's this stealthy ninja, and then when he does stealthy ninja stuff you're upset?
But what I did have a problem with was the pacing/scene order. It was really, really up and down. And the bomb timer, that was ridiculous. 5 minutes left, the movie goes on for 10 minutes then there's 2 minutes left? And then Batman flies the bomb 6 miles outside of city limits within 2 minutes? (300 MPH in a pseudo-helicopter if he started at maximum speed, which he started at a complete stop) And then Bane says "If anyone enters or leaves the city, I blow the bomb." Batman enters the city, and Bane doesn't care. "The triggerman is an ordinary citizen, like all of you." Talia later admits she may be a citizen, but she is anything but ordinary. If Bane is just pulling stuff out of his butt, why even say those things at all? Batman is a cripple for 8 years, puts on a leg brace that lets him kick through walls and suddenly he's a world class gymnast again? Yeah... no. Great Direction, poor script.
- Nice little non-'Big Two' movie. Original, and Ron Perlman is perfect in the role.
- Very much liked this adaptation. I believe it is the most true to the comic movie of any of these. Probably Avengers second. But the reason it's this low: like nails on a chalkboard watching it 3 or 4 times in succession. Some truly great movies have zero rewatchability. This is one of them.
***My personal cut-off from 'Highly Recommended' to 'Still Pretty Good'***
21. Amazing Spider-Man
- You'll notice it's higher than Spider-Man. I like them both, but this one is a little more Spider-Man, and a little less Peter Parker. It was refreshing in that sense. Plus, even though they didn't pull it off as well as Dr. Octopus, it was nice for them to go out on a limb for the villain. Fully CGI characters aren't sought after, they could have easily done something like Chameleon or Kingpin. Kudos on the Lizard, I dug it. If you didn't, I can understand why.
- This and the next one are very close, but this edges out. I didn't have the same problem with it everyone else did. Yeah the father storyline wasn't the best, but it was a good movie. Gamma poodles, Absorbing Man vs. Hulk at the end were low points, but I really liked when the army captured Bruce and he and Betty went back to his old home. And then when he escaped. The whole part where he's just hanging out in the mountains, trying to get away, it was good stuff. And a thumbs up for chewing off the warhead on a missile and spitting it back at the helicopter.
23. Incredible Hulk
- I didn't think Norton was a perfect Banner, I thought he was just okay. He brought way too much physicality to the role. Banner is the scrawniest Marvel character out there, he's not a Parkour expert. Ruffalo may have been bigger than Norton, but he played the weakling aspect much better. Don't get me wrong, I really liked the first 3/4 of this movie. The university battle was great. But right around the time Sterns revealed he replicated the blood sample to the end, it just went downhill. I realize I'm discussing Comic Book Movies on a Comic Book video game site, but there's nothing more off-putting then watching two CGI characters punch each other over and over. You think that's exactly what you want to see until you actually see it. The stuff on the street is okay, especially with the police car, that was cool. But the rooftop stuff is just unwatchable. Maybe it was because the CGI was a little too catoony compared to Avengers or Iron Man, I don't know. Really, really killed the movie for me.
- I can't explain it. Maybe it was the stupid robot suit Green Goblin was wearing, or maybe Peter was just way too whiny in this movie. I LOVED the second one, but simply liked this one. From Amazing Spider-Man to here, they're all about the same.
25. Hellboy 2
- Don't have a lot to say about this, just wasn't as good as the first. A lot of the stuff I said about TIH applies here too. The robot army was cool, but they were just fighting CGI creatures endlessly. It does get old. I really enjoyed Luke Gross as his second GDT villain on this list. He's so good at it. The german phantom guy was okay, but the movie was simply good. Not great, not very good, but good.
And for bonus coverage, Worst: Catwoman. For all the lists that have Ghost Rider or Wolverine: X-men Origins in this spot, I think you need to go back and watch Catwoman again. It looked like a TV movie. At least the aforementioned movies attempted to be cinematic, this one just said, "I am garbage, therefore, visually, I will look like garbage." On a side note, I was lukewarm to Batman and Robin. It's the worst Batman movie, of course, but it was entertaining. Remove Alicia Silverstone, and I might even say I'd watch it again over Batman Forever. I totally understand if you were looking for a Burton-style movie you'd be aghast, but I wasn't. It was almost like watching a goofball skit, like improv.