Some nine years after its predecessor broke ground for a comic book movie, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For returns to tell tantalizing tales intended for grown-ups. With Marvel and DC firmly committed to blockbuster movie adaptations aimed at younger audiences, that leaves the field wide open for more adventurous, daring filmmakers to push the limits on what is expected from a comic book movie.
Will adults respond to the new jazzy offering from directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez? We'll all find out when it hits theaters on Friday, August 22. For now, let's take a look back at other movies designed to entice mature audiences.
Sin City (2005)
With its utterly unique look and strict focus on the criminal side of life, the movie blazed a new trail for comic book adaptations.
As a follow-up to his remake of Dawn of the Dead, Zack Snyder faithfully adapted Frank Miller's graphic novel for the big screen, resulting in an incredibly bloody and violent blockbuster that proved to be immensely popular worldwide.
Zack Snyder next took on the challenge of adapting the highly influential and incredibly dark 1980s comic book series Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Where others had failed in their efforts, Snyder succeeded, producing a grandiose movie filled with disturbing violence, adult themes and full-frontal nudity. (Warning: clip is NSFW.)
V for Vendetta (2006)
Before Zack Snyder tackled Alan Moore, the Wachowskis wrote the screenplay for a version of Moore's dystopian graphic novel. Directed by James McTeigue, the movie stars Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving in an often violent thriller.
This brash, violent action movie was the first adaptation of Mark Millar's comic book work, following an ordinary office worker who discovers his long-lost father actually had special abilities as an assassin.
Brilliantly adapted by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, the Mark Millar-penned tale revolves around a nonsuperpowered high school hero and a well-trained, pint-sized girl who eventually becomes his partner. (Warning: clip is NSFW.)
American Splendor (2003)
And now for something completely different. Paul Giamatti stars as file clerk turned comic book artist Harvey Pekar, who lives in Cleveland and documents his life through his art. Pekar turns the ordinary into something special, and so does this movie.
Blade II (2002)
With Guillermo del Toro in the director's chair, the sequel was an improvement on the original, highlighting even more intense action sequences with greater variety in their conception and execution.
Director Peter Hyams made superb use of Jean-Claude Van Damme in this sleek adaptation, setting things up with an R-rated romantic scene featuring Mia Sara and then delivering a ton of sharply turned action scenes and a nasty villain in Ron Silver.
Let's put aside Spike Lee's 2013 remake starring Josh Brolin, which appears to have been fatally wounded by the producers' desire to see a much shorter version in theaters than Lee originally intended, and instead go back to Park Chan-wook's first edition, which remains as steely eyed and rigorously disturbing as ever. (Warning: clip is NSFW.)
Punisher: War Zone (2008)
The third screen version of the comic book about a righteous New York City policeman turned vigilante came closer to realizing a dead-serious nihilistic vision of urban violence than the previous versions, with Ray Stevenson very convincing in the title role.
The first adaptation of the comic book series in 1995 played fast and loose with the characters. Pete Travis' version takes its inspiration more seriously, resulting in a lean action ride and a vision of the future that is not pleasant to contemplate.
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