Movie adaptations of comic book movies have been dominating the box office for the better part of two decades. There are hundreds of movies in the genre. So, I thought I’d take a stab at ranking them. I took into consideration fan reviews, critic reviews, awards and milestones, profitability, and my own personal opinion. So with that said, here’s the first part of my list of the top 50 comic book movies of all time.
50. Kick-Ass (2010)
At its core, Kick-Ass is a loving satire of both comic books and comic book movies. A highly controversial movie based on it’s portrayal of children using extreme violence and profanity. This is a film that is either loved or hated, with very few people falling in between.
49. Hellboy (2004)
It hurts a bit to put this so low, as it’s one of my personal favorites. Hellboy received a fair amount of critical praise, often due to Ron Perlman’s performance and Guillermo del Toro’s fantastic directing and use of effects, but only achieved a cult following among viewers, and was ultimately unprofitable.
48. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
While not as good as its predecessor, Age of Ultron is a solid sequel. There was some conflict between director Joss Whedon and the studio, which led to a more muddled story, but the plot is solid and the cast is fantastic.
47. Blade (1998)
Even the critics that didn’t like Blade will admit that it has great visuals and action scenes. Wesley Snipes was a fantastic casting decision, and has become so connected to the role that he’s still in consideration for reprising it after 20 years. This is far from the best Marvel movie, but it’s one of the most important as it was the first Marvel property that was profitable, which opened the door for the X-Men and Spider-Man movies.
46. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)
Based on The Secret Service comics (by the same writers who wrote the Kick-Ass series), Kingsman is a loving spoof of the James Bond-style spy genre. It’s over-the-top violence is juxtaposed by the emphasis on manners and grooming, which somehow works really well on the screen. Colin Firth is especially fun to watch.
45. Spider-Man (2002)
Awards: Oscar nominated for Best Sound and Best Visual Effects
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was the summer blockbuster that arguably ushered in the current era of comic book movie dominance. It was the first movie to ever make $100,000,000 in a single weekend, and for years also held records for 2nd, and 3rd weekend ticket sales. The movie has a good plot and cast, with J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson still being one of the most inspired casting choices of all time. Almost 20 years have passed since its release, and it still holds up as a really fun movie.
44. Batman: Year One (2011)
Batman: Year One is an excellent example of how good DC animated movies are. This retelling of Batman’s origin is a pretty faithful adaptation of the Frank Miller comic of the same name, but what really sets it apart is the larger focus on Jim Gordon and how involved he was in Batman’s first year. The movie’s a little short, but the voice work is solid, and the animation is great.
43. Captain Marvel (2019)
Captain Marvel is a fun throwback to the 90s, and a great introduction to the character. It also has the distinction of being the highest grossing female-led comic book movie of all time. I could easily see Captain Marvel moving up these rankings later on, but for now, the movie is just too new to rank much higher.
42. V for Vendetta (2006)
Another one of my personal favorite comic book movies that I wish I could put higher on this list. There are significant differences between the source comic and the film, enough so that the writer of the graphic novel removed his name from the film credits and has completely disavowed the movie. On its own, however, the movie is stylish and violent, with some poignant messages that have aged well.
41. Ghost World (2001)
Awards: Oscar nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay
This is not the typical comic book movie. Ghost World has no super heroes or dystopian setting. It’s just the story of a couple of young women trying to transition from childhood to adulthood without really knowing how. The film is incredibly well made, with multiple award nominations and wins. Though this film was a huge critical success, it was never in wide release.