With the summer movie season at an end, we look back on a huge year for comic-book movies. The films ran the gamut from good (Captain America, X-Men: First Class) to downright terrible (Green Lantern). Not only was it the summer of super heroes, it’s also the birthday of Batman’s Michael Keaton. So to celebrate, let’s take a look at the greatest films based on comic books.
20. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
While the first Hellboy left much to be desired, Guillermo del Tor’s follow up brought the great creature design that made Pan’s Labyrinth so great and interesting character dynamics that made the second better than the original in every possibly way.
19. Ghost World
Terry Zwigoff’s adaptation of Daniel Clowes graphic novel focuses on Enid and Rebecca, played by Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson, respectively, as they navigate post-high school existence in suburbia. When Enid meets Seymour, portrayed by a great Steve Buscemi, she finds a kindred soul in a town she feels out of place in.
18. Captain America
In what is quite possibly Marvel’s best film since Iron Man, Captain America took the idea of a superhero and made it a period piece by having Cap fight Nazis in this origin story that sets the stage for the upcoming Avengers movie.
17. Superman: The Movie
Superman: The Movie is an important pinnacle in that it set the bar for superhero movies that wasn’t passed for years. Christopher Reeve’s portrayal as the title character is still the most infamous character to put on the red and blue and even though the original may seem hokey and over the top at times, it’s still the outline that most great comic book films work from.
16. Sin City
Sin City has style in droves, thanks in no small part to co-director and comic-book writer Frank Miller working with Robert Rodriguez. The two create a three-story arch that culminates in a dark noir world where the line between good and bad is thin and always interesting.
Tim Burton’s creepy style worked well for the Batman franchise. His dark sense of humor improved with Jack Nicholson’s take on The Joker, while Michael Keaton’s Batman was believable and the quite possibly the best, even with the Nolan films.
This moving French black-and-white animated docudrama tells the story of the young Marji, as she grows up and figures out herself during the 1970s Iranian Revolution and deals with her Iranian heritage during the revolution. Persepolis is a witty as it is poignant and touching.
13. Road to Perdition
In this underrated take on the mobster family dynamic, Sam Mendes does what he does best by focusing on the family and the relationships within when a son accidentally sees the darkness inside of his mobster father. Tom Hanks and Jude Law are great in their rare dark performances, but Paul Newman is exceptional in his final film role.
12. Iron Man
Director Jon Favreau and actor Robert Downey Jr. created the ultimate cool super hero. Downey’s natural swagger and overall awesomeness made Iron Man soar above and beyond other super heroes and actually gave us an origin story that didn’t sag and held our interest throughout.
11. Batman Begins
While Burton may have taken the steps towards a dark Batman film, Christopher Nolan perfected. By bringing Batman into the real world and making a creative origin story that explains what no other form had even attempted, Nolan went from indie film director to Hollywood powerhouse.