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Kevin Harkins’ Top Ten Comic Book Movies

Written by Kevin Harkins

I should start this list by saying this is the list I’ve been looking forward to the most. I’m a huge movie buff, I often tell people movies are what I love most in this world after my family and friends and I am known as the movie guy in my group of friends and if anyone ever has a question about a film I’m usually the person they ask. So being the avid movie nerd I am making a list of my top ten favourite comic book films has been a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy it. I will say that as a rule I limited myself to one film from each franchise so I could create a more varied list. I should also note that my top four on this list would also be among my top ten favorite films of all time so these are movies I include among my favourite movies ever not just comic book based ones.

10. Frank Miller’s Sin City

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You often hear about movies being comic books come to life, but in this case it is literally true. Using the graphic novels as storyboards directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller bring Miller’s acclaimed series to life creating one of the most faithful adaptations of all time. When the movie first came out in 2005 it was revolutionary and the look of the film is breathtaking and unlike anything that had been seen at the time.

The visuals are the star of this film but there are also some great performances on display with the MVP being Mickey Rourke who gives one of the best performances of his career as Marv. A visual marvel and a modern noir classic Sin City is my favourite Rodriguez film and a perfect way to start this list.

9. Kick-Ass

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If your someone who like me loves black comedy and superheroes then this movie is for you. This adaptation of the Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. miniseries is hilarious, has some great action scenes, and a wonderful satire of superheroes, having fun at the genre but doing it from a place of love. Director Matthew Vaughn also does something that is almost impossible to do which is make a movie that is better than the source material. 

I love the original comic book series but I think the changes made by Vaughn and his co-writer Jane Goldman improve on the material by adding some needed emotional moments and likeability to some of the characters. Nicolas Cage gives one of the best performances of his career and Aaron Taylor-Johnson is the perfect Dave Lizewski. Of course the breakout star of the movie is Chloe Grace Moretz who was born to play Hit-Girl and steals the show being hilarious and the most bad-ass character in the film.

8. X-Men: Days of Future Past

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I wrote a list ranking the X-Men films which you can read here. I put this film at number one on that list and just to reinstate what I wrote in the other article this is an amazing film and the best film in its franchise. The time travel device is a fun way to get the original trilogy and First Class casts together in a movie. James McAvoy gives a fantastic performance as a broken and selfish Professor X and Hugh Jackman continues to kill it as Wolverine. 

For me though what pushes this one up above the other films in its series is how many great scenes and moments in this one film. Quicksilver’s big scene is the best action scene in the series and there are many great emotional moments among the character with my favourites being Magneto confronting Xavier about abandoning the mutants in the plane and the two Xaviers being able to meet and have a conversation. Amazing action, beautiful character moments, and fan service combine to make this a standout film.

7. Captain America: Civil War

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Some may bristle at the fact I am including a movie that came out earlier this year but when the film is this good I have to include it. Using just the basic idea of the original miniseries to create a groundwork to what will be one of the MCU’s greatest achievements Civil War is able to both be fan pleasing while also dealing with serious ideas such as collateral damage and responsibility and not fearing to emotionally damage and cause tremendous rifts between our characters. The big airport fight between the two sides of Avengers is one of the best action scenes ever in a comic book film if just for how many amazing and crowd pleasing moments it has. A big part of what makes that work though is how much time we have spent with these characters and seen their relationships grow and deepen in the past.

As thrilling as it is to see Captain America and Iron Man fighting each other it can be like watching really good friends fight and while you might agree with one over the other you still care about both of them. The movie also introduces a new Spider-Man who is spectacular and is arguably the best version of the character yet. For being able to balance so many characters and create an emotionally damaging ending while still being entertaining and fun Captain America: Civil War is on the MCU’s biggest wins.

6. Iron Man

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The one that started it all. Back in 2008 a lot of people doubted if this film would even be that good or a success. Thankfully with the strong direction of Jon Favreau and a career making performance by Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man was a tremendous success and led to the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Favreau creates a realistic tone that combines fun with more dark and serious moments, such as Tony’s capture and the wiping out of a village that Iron Man stops, that will become a blueprint for the future Marvel Studios’ films and also crafts a pitch perfect origin of what is now a international icon of superheroes. 

At this point Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark that I don’t know where actor ends and character begins. Luckily Favreau stuck to his guns all those years ago and we got one of the perfect character performances of the past ten years and Downey Jr’s instinct that Tony would still be kind of a jerk, even after his change of heart has given us a flawed but beloved character.

5. Guardians of the Galaxy

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The one that was supposed to fail. Up to its release a lot of analysts thought this movie would be Marvel Studios’ first bomb in part because who would want to see a movie with a talking tree and racoon as two main characters.  But thanks to James Gunn‘s direction and the unique tone he brought to the film, Guardians became one of Marvel’s biggest hits. 

The story of a team of misfits coming together to save the galaxy resonated with film goers and a lot has to do with just how fun the movie is. The humour, action, and clever use of classic pop and rock songs is a winning combination. There is also the amazing cast of characters from the lovable Rocket and Groot, to Chris Pratt’s star making turn as Star-Lord and the revelation of Dave Bautista as Drax that have now become part of our mainstream culture. A true home run in every sense of the word, myself and many others can not wait for Vol. 2.

4. Spider-Man 2

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The best Spider-Man movie, this is the one that feels like it nails the character the most. From the first scene we are introduced to a Peter Parker who just can not find a way to balance all the aspects of his life. From being Spider-Man to work to school to personal his entire life is a mess. Of course any Spider-Man fan will tell you this is when he shines the most. The film does a great job of taking the responsibility theme and expand on it and what would that really mean for someone like Peter as he tries to do the right thing but struggles with whether or not he can have the things he wants in life. 

Alfred Molina also gives a fantastic performance as Doc Ock and creates one of the best super villains in a movie. The train sequence is also the best action scene in the Spider-Man franchise and one of the best action sequences in any film. Not only does it showcase a wonderful battle between hero and villain but is able to showcase how selfless Peter is and how the city truly sees him.

3. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

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Director Edgar Wright does a masterful job of taking Bryan Lee O’Malley‘s series of graphic novels and turning them into a movie that is visual stunning and unlike anything ever made while also being hilarious, heartfelt, and boasting incredible fight scenes. Wright has always been a visual genius but he takes it to another level with this movie with effects and transitions that make this feels like a comic book and video game mashed together and brought to vivid life. The ensemble cast is perfect and the film does a masterful job of jamming six graphic novels of story into a less than two-hour movie that still makes sense and does not feel overstuffed. There is nothing like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and there probably never will be again.

2. Avengers Assemble

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When Marvel Studios first announced their plans for a cinematic universe some wondered how would it work. The answer was it would work phenomenally. With Joss Whedon at the helm, he is able to mix the different heroes together into an ensemble film that is thrilling, humorous, and Marvel’s finest achievement. The chemistry between the cast is some of the best in any movie and watching these comic icons interact in screen for the first time is half of the fun. There is also the final battle in New York which is what I think the best final action scene in any Marvel movie. Every couple of minutes there is a moment that makes you think “this is the coolest thing I have ever seen.”. 

While there have been great MCU movies since this one, none of them has captured the lightning in a bottle that was this film. The first of its kind, Avengers Assemble is a resounding slam dunk and for me continues to be the gold standard for Marvel films.

1. The Dark Knight

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I should start this by saying The Dark Knight is not just my favorite comic book movie, it is my favourite movie of all time. I love this movie so much and have re-watched it many times. The way Christopher Nolan takes these iconic heroes and villains who have been around for decades and create a modern metaphor about terrorism and vigilantism is fascinating and shows the works of a director at the top of his game. The film also finally gives us the definite Two-Face story and makes up for how the character was portrayed in Batman Forever.

Of course the best part of the film is Heath Ledger’s mind-blowing take on the Joker. Taking the most iconic comic book villain of all time Ledger was able to find something new and different to do with the character while staying true to the spirit of the Clown Prince of Crime. He rightfully deserved his Oscar win for this role and it is still one of the most iconic performances in movie history. The pinnacle of the comic book movie genre, The Dark Knight showed what a comic book movie could be and stands tall among its brethren as a masterpiece in every sense of the world.

So what do you think of my list?  Do you agree or do you think there are other movies that deserve to be on this list? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Kevin Harkins

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