The truth is, comic books were written to be made into movies. You’ve got all that action and explosions, larger than life characters with boobs larger than your head and spandex outfits that stylists merely dream of! Oh, and some really cool stories too. In recent years, we’ve been inundated with comic book adaptations, because directors must see them as some magical pre-made storyboards of awesome. Some of these adaptations have been… well, goddamn awful, but there have been some wonderful little nuggets of gold inside that steaming crap pile that is the comic book movie genre. So sit back, relax and enjoy TBO’s definitive list of comic book adaptations that didn’t suck balls.
‘But Ripper’, I hear you cry. ‘X-Men was a farce!’ Well, ladies and gentlemen, I believe you’re referring to the third in the trilogy where Jean Grey went annoyingly evil, Wolverine turned into a love sick puppy and Rogue whined more than usual. This movie is definitely not that movie. In this one Rogue’s still whiny and is the whole driving purpose behind the movie, but the purpose of this story is the battle between Xavier, who believes humans and mutants can live in peace, and Magneto, who is preparing for all out war against the humans, and that’s what the X-Men trilogy is all about. The X-Men featured in this movie are all the classics, and there are some spectacular mutant powers to feast your eyes on. Don’t neglect this film based on the atrocious ‘X-3 – The Last Stand’, but owe it to yourself to check out the first of what was to be a fairly promising trilogy.
9) V For Vendetta
V For Vendetta is one of Alan Moore’s most well known comics, telling the dark tale of a dystopian society in which their only hope for the future is a man in a Guy Fawkes mask. No, seriously. V does some pretty incredible things, but that’s not why this movie is excellent. This is one of the best precautionary tales in a long time, and the tale of V’s struggle to survive and become the anarchic revolutionary that he becomes is heartbreaking. This is not one of your all out action movies, but something to think about. Admittedly, it does not contain some of the more hard hitting parts of the comic, and the context has been completely changed to fit our modern political climate. This is a shame, but the ending scene is so inspiring that this doesn’t seem to matter as much. Also, Stephen Fry is in it.
8) Sin City
Sin City was just made to be adapted into a movie. The graphic novel series was done in a film noir style, which transferred spectacularly onto the big screen. It focuses on three stories from the graphic novel – one about prostitutes, one about a paedophile serial killer and one about vengeance. Nice. According to Robert Rodriguez, the movie is a translation, not an adaptation, which is a very accurate thing to say, considering a lot of direction was done by the comic’s creator, Frank Miller. This film has it all – sex, violence and creepy yellow guys.
7) From Hell
Another Alan Moore adaptation, From Hell is the tale of Jack The Ripper and one man’s quest to find him. It’s quite different from the graphic novel – in the graphic novel, we know instantly who Jack is and Abberline isn’t quite the gorgeous young opium addict detective we come to see on screen. However, this doesn’t stop it from being an awesome film. Blood, guts and Johnny Depp is all you need for two hours of mystery and an incredibly scary Ian Holm. Even scarier than when Gandalf took the ring off him.
6) The Crow
Is it just me or are great comic book movies set in cities ruled by scum? The Crow is a shining example of this. Whilst it’s notorious for being the death of Brandon Lee, it deserves to be seen as a great film in its own right, showing us that love can conquer all. And eventually destroy every bastard that raped and killed it. Brandon Lee is the charismatic and immortal Eric Draven, who inflicts horrible bloody vengeance on the gangsters that killed his fiancée – and looks fantastic whilst doing it. If you want blood, sexy goths and incest (watch it and you’ll see what I mean), this movie is for you. Not to mention, it has the best soundtrack for a film ever.
Ah, 300. Homoerotic or not, this film is manly. Much like his approach with Watchmen, Zack Snyder intended to make a film as close to the graphic novel as possible (although I’ve not read it yet, I’ve heard it is so) and does so wonderfully with the visual feast that is 300. No matter how much you want to deny it, you know you love seeing extremely buff men in tiny red shorts deliver some pain upon Persian troops. 300 is such an epic story, based on the battle of Thermopylae, which is potentially the most amazing feat in history. And you can see it all with shirtless Gerard Butler!
You knew it was coming! Watchmen, the latest release from director Zack Snyder, is the adaptation of Alan Moore’s award winning graphic novel. I know, another Alan Moore film, but if there is only one movie you see this year, make sure it’s this one. Sure, it’s almost three hours long, but it is a faithful representation of the legendary comic, with some of the best fight scenes I’ve ever witnessed. There are scenes that you can pick straight out of the comic book, which is impossible to say about most comic book movies. The casting is perfect, particularly Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s portrayal of the Comedian, and I can guarantee that anyone who walks into a screening of Watchmen will fall in love with Rorschach. Absolutely fantastic.
Hellboy is one of the greatest comic book characters of all time. He’s loud, he’s brash, he likes cats and uses big guns. And he’s a demon from another plane. And is best friends with an amphibian. And is in love with a pyrokinetic. Basically, everything you could ever dream of happens in Hellboy. The movie is based on the Seeds Of Destruction arc, the first Hellboy story. Essentially, Hellboy has to save the world from destruction by Nazis who either retained eternal youth, were resummoned from the void or kept alive by clockwork. Yeah, weird. However, highly enjoyable. It’s a fun film, and is in keeping with the larger than life theme that comic book movies sometimes miss.
2) The Dark Knight
This one was also pretty obvious. The Dark Knight is the most successful comic book movie ever made, and why? Well, Heath Ledger unfortunately passed away before it was released, but not because of that. It was because he was so incredible as the Joker. That was pushing the boundaries of the villain to the limit. The Joker has always been the most interesting and unpredictable of the Batman villains, and it was fantastic to see him brought to life in a manner deserving of his legacy (sorry, Jack Nicholson!). Plus, Christian Bale was in it. And he is the goddamned Batman. This film was perfect for so many reasons – the special effects, the score, the true comic book feeling.
1) Iron Man
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Iron Man fan, having it virtually indoctrinated into me by my Iron Man obsessed boyfriend. Tony Stark is an asshole, pure and simple. But he’s an asshole that wants to save the world! It might be terrorists and not communists in the movie, but still, Iron Man is there to protect the American public and dammit, he’ll do it in gold and red, firing repulsor blasts as he goes. But I have respect for Iron Man because he is so flawed. The movie doesn’t deal with Tony Stark’s eventual alcoholism, but it has a much more human quality than any of the other films on this list. You feel so much for Stark when he’s captured in the Middle East, when he’s betrayed, when he’s on the verge of death. There is no other comic book character that is as intriguing and intelligent as Tony Stark, but this film would not have been anything without Robert Downey Jr, who I maintain is the only person who could have played Iron Man. He perfectly portrays Stark’s charisma, charm and assholishness whilst showing us his vulnerable side as well. If you’ve never seen any of the films on this list, watch this one, because I guarantee, you’ll be in for a ride.