Ever since Superman: The Movie comic book movies have become a staple in Hollywood. DC’s Superman and Batman ruled the 70s, 80s, and 90s, with Marvel (let’s ignore their efforts before Blade) beginning to launch their cinematic brand in the late 90s, early 2000s leading with Blade, Bryan Singer’s X-Men, and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies. The mid-2000s until now has been completely dominated by comic book movie franchises. Yes people, it is not a fad, comic book films are here to stay. We are living in a golden age of comic book related media. Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is the highest grossing film franchise of all time, spewing out hit after hit after hit of their comic book characters. Meanwhile, DC’s “Extended Universe” has generated billions despite earning negative reviews early in its tenure. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy also changed the game and brought Batman back from obscurity after Batman & Robin almost killed the genre back in 1997. There have also been films with characters from smaller prints that have been able to make an impact as well.
Here are some honorable mentions that were very good and could’ve easily made this list: Scott Pilgrim vs The World, A History of Violence, Captain: America: The First Avenger, Thor, The Crow, Batman Returns, Road To Perdition and Sin City. These films added to the genre and helped to make it the respected genre it is today.
So here it is… So Far. These are the top 25 superhero/comic book films of all time. All are based on superheroes, vigilantes, and graphic novels. With this list I have decided to combine on an entry by entry basis: influence in its genre, cultural influence, impact, performances, critical praise, and to a lesser extent box office, and even music.
25. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
Not only does Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles deserve to be on the list, it is still the best live action Ninja Turtles movie ever made. This 1980s phenomenon was at one point the biggest independent film of all time. Why it got the reviews it did (it has a rotten rating of 40 percent on rottentomatoes.com) dumbfounds this inner TMNT fanatic. You know how the story goes. But for those that don’t: four teenage mutant turtles emerge from to fight a mysterious group of ninjas called the Foot Clan led by the Shredder in New York City.
TMNT started off as a comic book that was published by Mirage Studios. TMNT arrived in theaters in 1990 and opened as the highest grossing weekend for an independent movie ever. Jim Henson’s puppet shop made the turtles and their sensei/mentor Splinter come to life. April O’Neil (Judith Hoag) and Casey Jones (Elias Koteas) were also solid comrades to the tandem. The movie was actually very gritty, yet maintained the likability and chemistry of the turtles that was known from the TV show. One of the more underrated aspects of this movie is that The Shredder (James Saito) was actually pretty damn intimidating.
24. Watchmen (2009)
Everyone’s “favorite” director these days (we shall not say his name) had the task of adapting one of the most important graphic novels of all time, and believe it or not, I think he did a solid job. The original Alan Moore limited series came out in 1986 and turned the comic world upside down with its emphasis on the lives of a group of superheroes and vigilantes in an alternate 1985. The narratives and character development led to immense critical acclaim. The graphic novel was the only comic book related platform to be placed on Time’s 100 best books of the 20th century list. Watchmen was released in 2009 to polarizing reviews and short legs at the box office despite a solid opening.
Anyone that’s read the graphic novel knows that Watchmen would be particularly difficult to adapt to the screen. Though difficult, Z*** Snyder was able to deliver the complex novel to the screen with his polarizing visual-comic book action style. However, those that didn’t read the novel probably had no idea what the hell was going on, and were probably freaked out when they saw Dr. Manhattan’s BC (blue ****) in every scene.
23. Superman II (1980)
Superman II is the sequel to 1978’s Superman: The Movie. The movie had the insurmountable task of adding another chapter to a very well received movie. Christopher Reeve’s second outing as “The Man of Steel” was a memorable one. This time Superman takes on the three Kryptonian criminals that were banished to the phantom zone in the first movie. The leader, General Zod (Terrence Stamp), is the main villain along with returning Lex Luthor (reprised by Gene Hackman). We see Clark Kent and Lois’ (Margot Kidder) relationship take a step into the next level. Superman removes his powers and Clark gets a dose of what it’s like to be a human being. The effects for the time were great, and the movie offered some nice action sequences between Supes, Ursa (Sarah Douglas), Non (Jack O’Halloran) and Zod. Who could forget the classic quote, “Kneel before Zod.”?
Despite the director drama (Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut is available now), Superman II initially set the standard for a comic book movie sequel, and in a year that featured The Empire Strikes Back, sequels in general.
22. Doctor Strange (2016)
The sorcerer comes to the big screen and leaves everyone spellbound. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), famous neurosurgeon, loses the use of his most important asset, his hands, following an almost fatal car accident. He meets a man named Jonathan Pangborn, a man who was mysteriously able to walk again. This leads Strange to Kamar-Taj, where he meets Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and is introduced into not only another world, but another plane of existence entirely by The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Strange gets taught sorcery by the two. He eventually gets put on a collision course with Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), who views the Ancient One as a hypocrite of her ways. Kaecilius and his crew summon Dormammu, which leads to an off the cuff, out the box climax between the two.
The movie weaves between realities and brings forth some incredible Inception-esque effects and some pretty hilarious moments to counteract the universal slash magical stakes of the plot. Doctor Strange once again adds another dimension to the genre and works well as a standalone MCU entry, despite its whitewashing controversy.
21. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The Dark Knight Rises is the conclusion to arguably the best comic book movie trilogy of all time; but it’s not without its controversy. Set 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight, Rises takes notes from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and features Batman coming out of retirement, facing Bane (Tom Hardy) and Selina Kyle aka Catwoman (Anne Hathaway).
Christopher Nolan was known for taking liberties, but still keeping the essence of what made Batman, Batman. There were non-Batman character motivations that pissed off fans (i.e.: Batman giving up because of the loss of Rachel Dawes, a non-canon character in Nolan’s films). There were also plot holes, including, how Batman survived the end of the movie, and how Bruce Wayne managed to pull off his comeback after being on the other side of the world without any resources, and perhaps one of the worst on screen deaths in movie-making history. That said, “Rises”, ties the “The Dark Knight Trilogy” together, painting Batman as the incorruptible symbol that Bruce wanted Batman to become on the plane ride back home in the first movie and ending the epic trilogy on an inspiring note.
20. Kick-Ass (2010)
Fun, violent, bad ass, and Nicolas Cage actually owns. It tells the story of Dave Lizewksi (Aaron Johnson) as he attempts to become a superhero. He eventually meets another hero, a Batman-esque hero named Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) who trained his daughter Mindy to become a little badass named Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz). Together they set their sights on crime boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) and eventually his son Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), aka Red Mist.
Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass, which was based off a graphic novel series of the same name, showed the versatility of the genre and showed a unique modern take of the “tired” story of an average joe trying to become a hero; its R-rating helped as well. I like to describe Kick-Ass as “Superbad meets the Comic Book Genre.” This made for one of the most entertaining movies of the 2010s. The most memorable part of the movie wasn’t the title character, it was Hit-Girl and Nicolas Cage who put together damn good performances. Hit-Girl’s antics, gruesome action scenes, and emotional connection with her father, elevated the film to “more than just an action comedy” status.
19. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Guillermo del Toro takes Hellboy to another level. Hellboy: The Golden Army gets love on this list because it’s a sequel that in many ways improved upon an already damn good predecessor. The sequel is highlighted by del Toro’s direction, effects, and sets. It doesn’t use over-glorified CGI and instead used practical effects for its characters. The movie opens with a young Hellboy being told a bedtime story by his (adoptive) father, Trevor Bruttenholm (John Hurt). It was about an ancient war between man and magical creatures. King Balor (Roy Dotrice) gets an indestructible force built called “The Golden Army.” Balor’s son, Prince Nuada Silverlance (Luke Goss) encouraged the building of the army, which goes on to kill multiple humans.
Balor much to the chagrin of Nuada, forms a truce with humans where Man keeps cities and Magical creatures keep the forests. Nuada goes in hiding until the time where he basically declares war on humanity; enter Hellboy and his team made up of his love Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) and friend Abe Sapien (Doug Jones). This leads to some awe-inspiring effects, action sequences and some subtle commentary on how we treat the nature around us.
18. X-Men: First Class (2011)
Matthew Vaughn strikes again with X-Men: First Class. There were many questions and maybe even a “why bother” tone associated with this movie when it came out. It was released after 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand and 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the latter being one of the worst comic book movies ever made. Expectations weren’t exactly the highest. Well, the X-Men franchise went back in time for the on screen version of the first team and it got a much needed youthful joint in the process. First Class was spearheaded by the stellar performances of James McAvoy as a young Professor Charles Xavier and especially Michael Fassbender and his version of a young Magneto. Fassbender’s Magneto is one of the best on screen performances for a comic book character ever. The movie also handles the upbringing of Mystique, who is played by Jennifer Lawrence. It was also fresh to see new characters such as Kevin Bacon‘s Sebastian Shaw as well. The heart and soul of the movie was the growth of the bond between Professor X and Magneto; the result is a great prequel that proved the X-Men series had a lot more to offer.
17. Spider-Man (2002)
In 2001 we saw the teaser trailer for Spider-Man. It ended with Spider-Man leaving his mark between the Twin Towers in New York City. Then the tragedy of 9/11 took place, forcing theaters to take away the trailer. By the time Spider-Man was released on May 3rd 2002, the anticipation was at an all-time high; big enough to completely obliterate opening weekend records that were thought to be unheard of at the time. The big budget debut of the web-crawler dominated like no other before it.
We know the story; Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) gets bitten by a radioactive spider and gets enhanced abilities. Sam Raimi decided to take liberties and make Spider-Man’s web shooting ability organic, therefore getting rid of Spidey’s trusty webshooters, a huge staple in the comics. He also omitted Peter’s first true love Gwen Stacy, going with the more casual well known Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst). Fortunately having a great cast and being a good movie helped Spider-Man become one of the best and most meaningful comic book movies of all time.
16. V For Vendetta (2006)
V For Vendetta came out at a time when the world needed it. It questioned government, cited government corruption, and provided a unique twist on what a hero could look like. V For Vendetta was directed by the Wachowski Brothers and was an adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel of the same name. V is given life by Hugo Weaving and his pupil Evey is played by an inspired Natalie Portman. Weaving’s portrayal of V is one of the most underrated performances of the genre. You could not see any of his facial expressions and could only hear the emotions of his voice due to him wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. Guy Fawkes and the 5th of November is key to the entire plot of the film. V’s monologue to Evey is delivered in brilliant, entertaining fashion. The film made statements such as “People shouldn’t be afraid of governments. Governments should be afraid of the people.” Anyone that has read the graphic novel can tell that this was about as solid of an adaptation as one could get. It’s a movie within the genre that pushes politics that resound loud and clearly in present day.
15. X-Men (2000)
With Blade representing Marvel in 1998 with a modest hit. The stage was set for one of the most important comic book films ever; Bryan Singer’s X-Men. The fact that the mutants weren’t going to have their popular costumes from the comics and with the X-Men coming off the heels of the iconic 90s cartoon, dorks worldwide were invested in their big screen debut. Patrick Stewart was born to play Professor X. Ian McKellen played an older, thinner (Magneto was known to be muscular throughout all of his media version) Magneto. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) didn’t have his mask and he wasn’t short. Rogue (Anna Paquin) wasn’t a muscular woman that could fly… With all of these home-runs and question marks, it all worked. Storm (Halle Berry), Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden) rounded out the rest of the X-Men. Mystique (Rebecca Romijn), Toad (Ray Park), and Sabertooth (Tyler Mane) joined Magneto as the brotherhood of mutants. X-Men’s gritty tone and subtle commentary on social issues involving mutants within the film brought a much welcomed dimension to the genre. Its success set the tone for the genre’s dominance.
14. Blade (1998)
Blade? #14? Yes. As you saw in the first sentence of the previous entry, Blade played an underrated and intricate part to the ascent of the Comic Book Movie genre. It was the first modestly-budgeted comic book related film released after Batman and Robin. Blade wasn’t even that known as a marvel character, but the movie was an R-rated take on the “Daywalker.” Blade, played by Wesley Snipes, has the most bossome character introduction in comic book movie history; we’re talking a club full of vampires, that amazing “Confusion” techno remix, and raining blood. The reviews for Blade weren’t the greatest, but it became a hit film due to solid word of mouth.
The film’s villain is Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff), a charismatic vampire who ascends quickly up the ranks and has his sights on awakening the Blood God, La Magra. Blade is joined by his equally badass mentor and partner Whistler (Kris Kristofferson). The two take care of a doctor named Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright) who is bitten by Frost’s right hand man, Quinn (Donal Logue). Blade contains many cool moments, including a pre-matrix version of bullet time in a scene between Frost and Blade.
13. X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014)
X-Men: Days of Future Past marked the directorial return of Bryan Singer and attempted to continue the momentum fuelled by X-Men First Class and The Wolverine. Fortunately, “Days of Future Past” delivered. The plot of the movie was obviously influenced from the classic comic of the same name. Boiled down, mutants are on the verge of extinction due to the rise of Sentinels and Wolverine is sent back in time by Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) (instead of Kitty Pryde in the original story) to prevent it from happening; this has Wolverine interacting with younger versions of Charles Xavier, Beast, Magneto, and Mystique, thus making the movie a sequel for X-Men: First Class and X-Men: The Last Stand. Singer reminds everyone why his X-Men movies were well received, brilliantly executing the dynamic of bridging the old with the new. It also doesn’t hurt that Days of Future Past put closure to the original cast of the X-Men series and essentially came across as a giant apology for previous failures in the series; easily making for the top 3 best endings in any comic book movie.
12. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Captain America: Civil War was one of the more anticipated Marvel movies due to the classic story arc featuring a divide and subsequent clash between everyone’s favorite heroes. The Russo Brothers didn’t disappoint.
After an accidental tragedy in Lagos where The Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) deflects an explosion detonated by Crossbones (Frank Grillo) in an attempt to kill Captain America (Chris Evans); a building is destroyed and many humanitarian workers from Wakanda are killed. Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) delivers the message that the United Nations is preparing to pass, the Sokovia Accords, which essentially keeps the Avengers in check and gets rid of their “free will.” This causes a split between the Avengers, notably Iron Man and Captain America. Bucky aka, The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) gets in the mix and we all know what happens there.
The addition of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), and a great hero battle, make this an absolute win for the genre, even if the villain (David Brühl’s Helmut Zemo) is a little lackluster. “Civil War” unloads all emotions for those invested in the MCU, especially with the epic confrontation between Iron Man, Captain America, and The Winter Solider.
11. Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy is essentially the Star Wars of the MCU. The movie brought forth obscure characters and showed that Marvel didn’t care about how famous their characters were to a mainstream audience; they trusted that making a good movie is all they needed, and that’s exactly what they did. The result is perhaps the most fun and entertaining comic book movie ever made; not to mention it has one of the best soundtracks for a comic book film as well. The Guardians of the Galaxy is a group of misfits led by Starlord (Chris Pratt). Zoe Saldana plays Gamora, an alien orphan trained by Thanos. Former WWE star Dave Bautista plays Drax the Destroyer, with Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel voicing Rocket and Groot respectively.
Guardians of the Galaxy plays a huge part in the infinity wars, which is what the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building towards. Guardians features Thanos, who’s the main villain waiting to be unleashed on the universe. The beautiful aspect about Guardians is that while it’s a part of the MCU, it can easily hold its own as a standalone movie.
10. Deadpool (2016)
This movie was awesome. First off, here are the obstacles his movie had to overcome: it had to overcome one of the worst comic book movies of all time butchering the character, the budget was pretty low, emphasizing the studio’s hesitation towards filming, and it had to fight even getting made. Not only was it made, it was a landmark film for the genre. Ryan Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, a mercenary who gets into a relationship with an escort named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). He comes down with cancer and gets convinced to try out an operation that would eradicate his illness. He emerges from an oxygen chamber disfigured but with immense healing powers, and well, a rather crazy personality.
Fox studio’s marketing team realized Deadpool is a hilarious character and launched one of the most impressive marketing campaigns the industry has ever seen. This resulted in massive box office success, destroying the notion that comic book movies could be held back by R-ratings. It was a very entertaining movie that used the character’s attributes of breaking the fourth wall and it was a new take on the genre with a dose of heart in its own unique way.
9. Superman: The Movie (1978)
The one that started it all. The mere fact that this movie basically started the genre firmly places it in the top 10. Many will argue that it should be higher based on the criteria on this list, but the genre has become so varied and has such a plethora of good movies that we’re splitting hairs at this point, be happy it’s in the top 10 and shut up. Superman: The Movie tells the origin story of the Man of Steel and is straight up magical. It has one of the best movie themes in cinematic history, let alone its genre. Christopher Reeve became an icon thanks to this role.
The talented cast set the benchmark that these movies are to be reckoned with. Umm, Marlon Brando? Gene Hackman? Margot Kidder? Richard Donner delivered a bossome movie that does justice to what Superman was during its era. I don’t even need to explain the plot of the movie because it’s Superman; everyone knows the story. Christopher Reeve is STILL widely regarded, without competition to be the GOAT. This movie was so good that filmmakers, critics, and fans today often discuss how Superman should fit in today’s world on film.
8. Batman Begins (2005)
Three Words; Reboot. Done. Right. A tragedy in the genre happened in 1997. Batman and Robin was released. It flopped (for Batman standards) got awful reviews, almost killed comic book movies forever, and sidelined Batman movies for 8 years. It turns out that it was a blessing in disguise, because “Batsy” got the reboot treatment with Batman Begins. Christopher Nolan, who was red hot off of Memento and Insomnia, took over the director’s chair, and fanboy favorite Christian Bale was cast as Bruce Wayne. Begins had the arduous task of gaining back audiences that were scorned by previous Batman films. Well, it delivered in spades.
Batman Begins told the story of how Bruce Wayne trained to become Batman and featured new villains that hadn’t been seen on the big screen; notably Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and Ra’s Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe, but if you saw the movie you know what’s up with this…). Nolan’s “realistic” tone gave the story a sense that Batman could exist in a “real world” while still containing many elements of its comic fuelled history. Batman Begins ignited a reboot craze and became the source for inspiration for other directors.
7. X2: X-Men United (2003)
X2: X-Men United brings back the X-Men from the first movie and introduces new mutants into the fray, including the popular Nightcrawler (Alan Cummings), who was involved in perhaps the movie’s most memorable scene, where a brainwashed Nightcrawler Bamf is in the white house, takes out a bunch of secret service officers and attempts to assassinate the POTUS. The film’s villain is William Stryker (Brian Cox), a man hellbent on eliminating mutants. X2 is in this spot because it improves upon X-Men in every aspect, provides great action, and handles its ensemble cast graciously (although, I will always say Cyclops got shafted in Singer’s original X-Men films). It continues and builds upon the underlying civil rights and political themes that the X-Men are known for. The result is it’s not only the best X-Men film of the Singer movies, but one of the better sequels ever made in and out of its genre.
The film is loaded with other memorable sequences including: the fight at the mansion where Wolverine goes berserker mode, Colossus (Daniel Cudmore) taking form, along with Magneto’s escape from the plastic prison and the Boston scenes.
6. Batman (1989)
Keaton? Nicholson? That Batmobile? Danny Elfman’s score? Prince?! A Batman that wasn’t the campy Batman from the 60s? Blockbuster history was made in 1989, aka Bat-Mania. It could be said that Tim Burton’s Batman is the archetype for the modern day blockbuster. When it came out it was a flat out phenomenon and it shattered the opening weekend record; it was also a good movie. Michael Keaton’s casting initially generated 1980s fanboy outrage, forcing WB to release the film’s trailer earlier than expected. Fans’ worries were shut down with glimpses of Burton’s gothic, gloomy 1940s-yet-modern vision of Gotham City, Keaton’s imposing Batman, and Jack Nicholson’s iconic Joker. The movie delivered, gaining good word of mouth, reviews, and putting its stamp on not only the genre, but how movies were marketed from then on. Batman and The Joker from this film are remembered as some of the best on screen heroes ever. Batman’s first major big screen debut still rings today; Keaton’s portrayal is still viewed by many to be the best Batman ever put to screen and Jack Nicholson’s Joker continues to be remembered as one of the best villains ever in any genre.
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier the “MCU” goes into straight up conspiracy thriller territory, gets dark, and doesn’t look back with its twists and turns. We see Captain America continue to adapt to modern day life as he resides in Washington, D.C., working for S.H.I.E.L.D. He goes on a mission with Black Widow (Scarjo) only to notice that she has other intentions different to his own. When they return, all hell breaks lose as Nick Fury is attacked and eventually taken out by a mysterious assassin with a metal arm. That man is the Winter Soldier. Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) labels Captain America as a fugitive, he gets hunted, and Captain America and Black Widow have no choice but to go off the radar to figure everything out. Rodgers eventually finds out that the Winter Soldier is his best friend Bucky, which brilliantly ties the first two movies in the trilogy together. Captain America, his new friend Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), and Black Widow eventually get to the bottom of everything and the film unravels towards a great climax that changes the face of S.H.I.E.L.D.
4. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
2002’s Spider-Man took superhero/comicbook movies to new heights. Spider-Man 2 took it even higher two years later. Spider-Man 2 continued the story of Peter Parker as he transitioned to college and continued balancing life as Spider-Man and Peter Parker. Spider-Man 2 was once (and I’m sure there’s still pundits that feel it still is) considered GOAT and still stands the test of time with its sympathetic, transitioning hero and tragic 8-armed villain. The effects team won an Oscar, and the movie contained one of the better swerves in the genre’s history. Alfred Molina played a great villain in Doctor Octopus.
The sequel took cues from the single issue, “Spider-Man no more!” It managed to build on the theme that ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ that the previous film established. The movie’s biggest achievement perhaps was its ability to focus on Peter Parker’s daily struggles of being Spider-Man and then how he handles not being Spider-Man, only to of course, realize that he must be Spider-Man.
3. The Avengers (2012)
Does there really need to be any explanation as to why this movie is in the top 3? Let’s see, Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, The Hulk, and Thor on the screen together forming the iconic Avengers for the first time ever on screen? It’s hard to get more epic than that. The culmination of Marvel’s first phase delivered in spades, breaking almost every record in the book and launching the MCU into iconic status. This is when the “marvel formula” clicked in all facets. The character and team banter (Hulk and Thor, Captain America and Nick Fury, etc.) , the “magic” of seeing everyone from separate movies on screen together for the first time, there’s so many firsts that it’s hard to keep count. Even the main “villain” Loki, was entertaining and almost deliciously evil. That patented post-credit reveal? I mean come on. For millions, especially fans and critics, it was like everyone’s childhood coming to life before their very eyes. The Avengers proved that a big budget, big screen cinematic universe could not only work, but change the entire industry as a whole.
2. Iron Man (2008)
There was a time where Iron Man was considered to be a “B-Lister” on the Marvel roster. That all changed when Iron Man landed in theaters in 2008. First and foremost, Iron Man was the beginning of the now iconic and incredibly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. It didn’t hurt that it was a great introduction to the character and a great movie. The casting of Robert Downey Jr. (a recovered alcoholic btw) as Tony Stark was perhaps Marvel’s biggest home-run. Downey Jr.’s charisma as Tony Stark was infectious and literally carried the entire movie, making for one of the best performances in any comic book movie. In fact, Downey was so good, Downey Jr.’s Iron Man basically became the face of the MCU.
Iron Man took comic book movies to a new level when it introduced Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury and began to lay the groundwork for the entire MCU. Iron Man set the standard and, in many ways, remains the best Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
The Dark Knight not only set an incredibly high standard but lifted the genre to new heights previously unheard of. It was a great comic book movie and it was a great film that continues to be remembered almost a decade after its release. The Dark Knight works as a legit crime drama that questions and places commentary on “limits” and “ethics” on how far “good” people should go to battle extreme criminals, in this case, The Joker (who is referenced as a terrorist in the movie by one of his victims); effectively making The Dark Knight THE movie for the post 9/11 era of the 2000s. Not only was Heath Ledger’s Joker great (posthumously winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), he’s one of the best villains ever, period. He was so great that he overshadowed another amazing performance; Aaron Eckhart’s version of Harvey Dent/Two Face. Eckhart captured the hope, rise, and fall of Harvey Dent better than anyone could have imagined.
The Dark Knight became a phenomenon and its Oscar snubs for best director and best picture caused an uproar, essentially forcing the Oscars to increase the number of Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10.