Your Top Three: The Best Comic Book Movies

Your Top Three: The Best Comic Book Movies

Jul 19, 2013

Your Top Three is a new series here at where we choose a topic and you give us your top three picks.

Let's celebrate our favorite comic book movies. Because not only is Comic-Con going on right now but two new theatrical releases opening today are based on comics: Red 2 and R.I.P.D. (which happens to be helmed by the director of the first Red). And hey, next week sees the release of The Wolverine. And the week after brings the graphic novel adaptation 2 Guns and The Smurfs 2, which yes has origins in a comic before anything else. These days, it's really hard to go seven days without the release of a movie sourced from comic books or graphic novels. They're everywhere.

And as the latest crop reminds us, most of them are bad. Which is why it's important to keep highlighting how good they can be with recognition of the best there are. Considering comic book movies can be complicated, of course. There are those based off longrunning comic series and featuring original stories not directly lifted off any existing storylines, and there are occasional films that do adapt specific issues or arcs (The Wolverine is actually closer to this idea than most of its brethren, though next year's X-Men: Days of Future Past does it even more so). There are also movies based on one-shot graphic novels, which tend to be pretty faithful. 

The distinction between superhero and non-superhero for fans is clear in some of the responses we've received to this poll. Instead of adhering to an all-encompassing qualification, readers have separated their picks in order to allow more. That's really fine by me, as it's even more acknowledgment of how many great comic book movies there are. 

What makes a great comic book movie/adaptation is pretty subjective. Personally, I'm not into stuff that's so faithful it feels redundant, like Sin City. But I don't like anything too distanced from being recognizable as what it's based on, a la The Punisher, Catwoman and Constantine. In both cases, for different reasons, my response is, "why bother?"

Before getting started, let's take note of some of the many comic book movies we forget are comic book movies: Barbarella, A History of Violence, The Road to Perdition, From Hell, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, Men in Black, Oldboy, Creepshow, Cowboys & Aliens, Timecop, Bulletproof Monk, Ghost WorldHoward the Duck, Akira and a whole lot of other manga-based anime features. 


Here are my top 3 comic book movies of all time:

1. American Splendor - Playful with its mix of animation lifted from the pages and a lot of panel frames and comic sans text, Shari Spring Berman and Robert Pulcini's adaptation of Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner's indie series might seem too self-aware were it not for the fact that American Splendor and Our Cancer Year are autobiographical works. And anyway it was quite clever at the time with what it did both for the comic book movie genre and the biopic genre. 

2. Persepolis - Another based on an autobiographical work, this adapation of Marjane Satrapi's personal history of growing up during the Iranian Revolution (by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud) is a lot less serious that it sounds. And it's animated, which would normally make it seem too easy a translation to the screen, yet it's really not as faithful to the original drawings as you'd think. 

3. Superman: The Movie - Still the archetype for the past 35 years worth of superhero comic book movies, it's also still the best. Is it perfect? Certainly not, and actually I think much of its faults are quite fitting to the source medium. The magic of seeing Superman fly, the gawky romance, the bits of slapstick and goofiness, the ridiculous plot, it's all what I want from this kind of movie, and Richard Donner's take on the Man of Steel delivers more consistently than anything made since in that regard.


Your Picks (the top of which is The Avengers -- followed by four-way tie of The Road to Perdition, A History of Violence, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Spider-Man 2):















oin in the next discussion:



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