The superhero genre is red hot at the moment. AVENGERS: ENDGAME is dangerously close to dethroning James Cameron’s AVATAR as the highest-grossing movie of all time. The X-Men are back in theatres with the series-concluding DARK PHOENIX. And Spider-Man is preparing for an overseas adventure with July’s release of SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME.
But comic book movies have been around for decades, entertaining masses and expanding the genre via installments from Marvel, DC and beyond. Making a list of the best chapters in the genre is difficult, because it seems like superhero movies are improving with each passing year. However, if we were to build a list of the 10 best comic book movies released to date, here’s where we would begin:
10. Iron Man
The MCU started here, with Robert Downey Jr. being perfectly cast as self-centered genius Tony Stark. Director Jon Favreau established a blueprint for Marvel origin stories on screen, and the post-credits sequence of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) approaching Stark about “the Avengers Initiative” proved to be a total game changer in terms of the size and scope of superhero stories that could be told on screen.
9. Wonder Woman
Arguably the strongest of the modern DC comic adaptations, WONDER WOMAN benefitted from the spot-on casting of Gal Gadot in the lead and the teaming of her talents with filmmaker Patty Jenkins. The duo brought Wonder Woman’s home world of Themyscira to life and injected the DC hero into the bleak battlefields of World War I, where she put the genre on her shoulders and truly shined.
8. Black Panther
How do we know the “Marvel Studios formula” works so well? Because they are able to expand their storytelling to untested corners of the universe with heroes like Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange and Black Panther, and audiences follow in droves. Wakanda proved to be a fascinating world to explore, and Ryan Coogler brought the right mix of attitude, confidence, sleek exploration and visual innovation to make sure BLACK PANTHER appealed to all audiences. Few MCU movies are cooler than this.
7. Superman II
Christopher Reeve is our best Superman. And while Richard Donner’s origin story, SUPERMAN, is an admirable introduction, we slightly prefer the more action-packed SUPERMAN II, where the Man of Steel was really able to take his powers out for a spin. Terence Stamp was a memorable Zod, the sequel hopped around the globe, and the conclusion in Supe’s icy Fortress of Solitude remains extremely clever to this day.
6. Avengers: Infinity War
The first half of what is now known as “the Infinity Saga,” which pit the existing heroes in the Marvel Universe against Thanos (Josh Brolin), one of the best on-screen villains ever created. The action is epic, with huge battles in New York, Wakanda and on the planet of Titan. And it happens to be the only movie in the MCU where the villain wins — a first for the comic book genre.
We will continue our countdown of the 10 best comic book movies of all time with numbers five through one. For now, what movies do you think we missed? What would be your six through 10?