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Top 10 Comic Book Movies - Page 2

Iron Man
#5.
Iron Man

The verdict is still out about what Marvel Studios has accomplished with The Avengers, but when its ambitious plan was kicked off with Iron Man, moviegoers were put on notice: Marvel was about to attempt something truly unprecedented. Iron Man wasn't obscure the same way The Crow or Tank Girl were, but it also wasn't as iconic as Batman or Superman. For this reason, Iron Man was already a gamble, a big-budget adaptation that didn't have a guaranteed fanbase and rested largely on the performance of an aging, quirky Robert Downey, Jr. Needless to say, Iron Man succeeded in every way possible, and even on its own, it stands as an amazing comic book film that manages to be relevant, slyly poignant, and a whole lot of fun. The only people who didn't seem surprised by this were the masterminds at Marvel, whose confidence only made fans more excited for what would come next.


Spider-Man
#4.
Spider-Man

If there's a big budget adaptation that feels more like a comic book than Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, I haven't seen it. The movie doesn't just adapt the story or tone of the comics, but it actually adapts the sensation of reading a comic unlike any other movie on this list. The music, the editing, the effects, and the acting all coalesce on the screen like frames of a Spider-Man serial, and its thematic focus on Peter Parker's coming of age speaks to the adolescent part of many fans' psyches that made them love comic books in the first place. It's not a perfect movie--the Power Ranger look of the Green Goblin alone keeps it from being in the top three--but it does something special that deserves recognition and is certain to be missing from the upcoming franchise reboot.


X2
#3.
X2

Bryan Singer is one of the greatest directors alive today, and when he moved from doing dark, artsy masterpieces like The Usual Suspects and Apt Pupil to doing The X-Men, a lot of film critics were worried. The X-Men is an important evolution in comic book movies, because it is the first film to succeed in bringing multiple beloved superheroes and supervillains to the screen at once. With well-respected Shakespearean acting talent like Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, along with the heavyweight talent behind the camera, the movie demands to be taken seriously and, in many ways, it proves that it should be. As a story, The X-Men is a timeless Rorschach test, with multiple interpretations out there that are all valid and important. As entertainment, it is full of thrills, action, and adventure. While The X-Men paved the way, its sequel X2 is unquestionably a better movie, which is why it makes this list.


Superman II
#2.
Superman II

Superman II is an almost perfect superhero movie. It has everything you could want: a moral and awesome hero, iconic villains, a quest for humanity, a big love story, epic battles, a good twist, high stakes, and a clever narrative that never falls victim to pretentiousness or ludicrousness. Indeed, combined with the original Superman, this film is the standard by which all other comic book movies are judged. It is a template that has become an indelible part of our collective unconscious, and I don't believe anybody can ever do Superman better. If it weren't for Superman and Superman II, we probably wouldn't have as many comic book movies today.


The Dark Knight
#1.
The Dark Knight

I'm sure some of you are rolling your eyes seeing The Dark Knight at the number one spot, but I don't care. As I predicted, the immense popularity of the film has caused something of a snobbish backlash among fans, but just because it is predictable to call The Dark Knight the greatest comic book movie ever made doesn't make it any less true. I never thought a comic book movie could be as relevant, as important, or as well-made as Christopher Nolan's film, and I never thought anybody could make a better Joker than Jack Nicholson. This movie taps into current events and asks all sorts of uncomfortable questions, but it does it through giant action set-pieces, larger-than-life characters, amazing cinematography, and a respect for the source material that is unmatched. If it weren't based on a comic book, I have no doubt that The Dark Knight would have won Academy Awards. Still, it has set a new standard, dethroning Superman as the superhero template, and it is a direct rebuttal to anyone who argues that comic books can't be taken seriously. When the aging elitists who currently run the Oscars are finally replaced by a new generation of film critics, I have no doubt movies like The Dark Knight will get the critical respect they deserve.


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-e. magill 5/1/2012










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