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Best and worst comic book movies

Metacritic recently published its lists of the best and the worst comic book movies. Check out the lists and then tell us your picks for that film genre.

It's a good time to be a comics fan: Free Comic Book Day is tomorrow, and Iron Man 2 opens next Friday, May 7 in the United States (the film reportedly opened at number one is six overseas markets).

I was thinking of our Geekend comics fans when I read Metacritic's list of the best and the worst comic book movies. Since it's been almost three years since we covered this in Geekend (though Jay Garmon's post was based on ratings from Rotten Tomatoes), I thought it would be fun a topic to revisit.

The movies in the following best and worst lists include graphic novels and manga but not comic strips (blogger Nick Hyman says they will cover those films in a separate feature) in Metacritic's database, as well as a few older titles that aren't on Metacritic.

Best comic book movies

1. American Splendor

2. Persepolis

3. Ghost World

4. Superman: The Movie

5. Spider-Man 2

6. The Dark Knight

7. A History of Violence

8. Iron Man

9. Akira

10. The Crow

Worst comic book movies

1. Virus

2. Son of the Mask

3. Catwoman

4. Batman & Robin

5. Whiteout

6. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

7. Howard the Duck

8. Alien vs. Predator/Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem

9. The Spirit

10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

Chime in the discussion with your thoughts about the lists, and please post your picks for the best and the worst comic book film.

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About

Mary Weilage is a Senior Editor for CBS Interactive. She has worked for TechRepublic since 1999.

106 comments
justinaqua
justinaqua

hulk was deffidently around iron man 2 as far as good. not even close to worst movie ever.

jfuller05
jfuller05

I am. I know I may not like it as much as I like the comic books, but that's just the way it goes with comic book movies. There's always a risk.

Ken Dally
Ken Dally

Just saying, as we currently have one of those extremely rare occasions where we get it a full week before the US.

jcommunications
jcommunications

...would definitely be on my best list, along with Sin City and 300. Also, I think Spawn and Daredevil got judged way too harshly; they weren't great but they were definitley not bad adaptaions either. The biggest dissapointment in comic movies for me was definitley Judge Dredd. Great comic and I felt the perfect actor for the part cast in the lead, but the movie just came out crap.

Amathar
Amathar

Akira, that movie blew my socks off way back when. Tragic to see how little it made in the US. I suspect things would be different now though. Ugh, The Crow. The first 2/3 are fantastic, the rest is off-the-shelf hollywood crap. It diluted the emotion of Eric's tale and destroyed the mystery behind his return for vengeance. Mind you, the use of the Cure's "Burn" is amongst the best use of pop music in film. IMHO, obviously. I think the second of Tim Burton's Batman films deserves a spot on the best list, mainly for the interaction between Batman and Catwoman. Their depiction as very broken people is fantastic. Ghost Rider belongs on the worst list.

TheChas
TheChas

Hands Down, the WORST comic book movie was "Howard The Duck"! Unless you never read the comic and did not see this farce of a comic book adaptation, you have no basis of reference for just how BAD a comic book movie can be. The director and script changed everything about Howard that could be changed and then some. Find one of the comics, then see the movie and tell me there could be any worse of a movie from a comic book. Others that rank on my list of bad comic book movies: The second Punisher (with John Travolta). The first direct to video version was much truer to the character. Bakaroo Bonsai The 60's Batman movie Comic book movies that I enjoyed: Ghost Rider Iron Man Chas

Popotimus
Popotimus

Where's Daredevil in the Worst list? It was way worse than "The Spirit", or the "AvP" movies. There are to many terrible comic book movies to pick just one. Terrible is terrible, and there are a lot of them. As for my favorite, I like "Batman Begins". "The Dark Knight" is a very close second. I love those movies. Although, I have to agree that "American Splendor" was great.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

This movie tops my list of all time flops, if only because it a). had tons of pre-release hype and b). really took a stinkin' dump on one of the most iconic comic figures. Item a) is understandable to an extent in the current era of hyperbole. It's just a shame that what could have really been a solid 1-2 punch for DC (Bats and Supes having solid franchises at the same time) was derailed, if not ruined. However, item b) is unforgivable. I didn't think anyone would top adding nipples and a credit card holder to Batman's suit, but Bryan Singer (who did well with the X-Men flicks...I still wonder if Stan Lee didn't plant him) pulled it off. Unless Supes is somehow managing to save the multi-verse by doing so, there is NO WAY HE LEAVES LOIS AFTER SEALING THE DEAL. N-O-N-E! The offspring having asthma to top it off??? Egads!! No, the acting wasn't that bad, the cinematography wasn't lacking and the special effects weren't distracting. But still, once you get past the character assassination that took place, it is hard to give the movie credit for anything else. DC, here is a free tip: stay off of Luthor for a while. The 5 previous films have let us know that he is really smart and wants to destroy Supes. We get it. How about introducing someone that could actually pose a threat, like Braniac (easy Supes villain to translate to film)?

dpresley_50201
dpresley_50201

Ever! Heath Ledger's performance as "The Joker" was Oscar worthy. Christian Bale seemed to feed off of Heath to turn in his best performance as "The Batman." Any list not rating this movie as the best ever comic book movie is not legitimate in my eyes. Ptui, I spit on this list!

AttackComputerWhiz
AttackComputerWhiz

Judge Dredd with Sly Stallone. It was time I will never get back and I miss it. Now I understand there is going to be ANOTHER attempt to remake it. I'm kind of wondering how the Jonah Hex movie will come out. I used to read that comic religiously and what I have seen so far makes me a little nervous.

rjohnson12
rjohnson12

Funny... I was JUST talking about the worst comic book movies this morning at breakfast. Ang Lee's "Hulk" (2003) tops the Worst list in my books. Something tells me it's never a good idea for a director of movies like 'Sense and Sensibility' and 'Brokeback Mountain' to be taking on comic book movies.

dukethepcdr
dukethepcdr

I think that Batman Begins was better than The Dark Knight. I loved the Scarecrow and watching Nolan's re-invention of Bat-man's origin was interesting. For that matter, I think that Tim Burton's movie Batman was even just a little bit better than Batman Begins and far better than The Dark Knight. Jack Nicholson's Joker was much better than Heath Ledgers. As much as I liked the Two-Face in The Dark Knight, I kind of like Tommy Lee Jones' Two-Face better too. It's too bad that Tommy's Two-Face was in such a terrible movie. If they had done a more gritty and realistic movie with just Bat-man and Two-face with Tommy it would have been totally awesome. We'd be calling that the best Bat-man movie instead of The Dark Knight I'm thinking. I also think that Spider-man 1 was superior to Spider-man 2 I liked both movies, but I didn't think that Spider-man 2 was better. American Splendor was totally stupid. I hadn't even heard of that comic until the movie came out. I read a couple of issues and wasn't impressed. I agree that all of the ones on the worst list deserve to be there. Though the TMNT movies belong in a special 'so bad they are good' category. How about the Hulk movies? In the span of just a few years, we had two very different takes on the origin of the Hulk. I liked the actors and drama of the first Hulk movie by Ang Lee but didn't like the way they did the special effects for the Hulk. On the other hand, the newer movie was terrible in almost every way except the special effects for the Hulk which were amazing. Paste the SFX from the newer movie into the older one, and you've got a better movie. Someone earlier mentioned The Punisher War Zone. I'd say that War Zone belongs on the worst list and the first and second Punisher movies belong on a 'middle of the road' list (not worst and not best). The one with Dolph Lungren was one of the really early comic book movies to be less cheesy and more gritty, though it has been nearly forgotten. Go rent it and see what I mean. The second one with Tomas Jane in it was pretty good too. Maybe not the best superhero movie ever, but still really good. Then there is The Shadow. Sure, he started out on radio, a lot of super heroes did. But there have been some Shadow comics and they are pretty good. The movie got a little weird towards the ending, but it was pretty good. Certainly the best movie you're likely to ever see a Baldwin Brother in. Finally, there is Dick Tracy. Now that was a cool movie! They really nailed that exaggerated film-noir, private eye, stylized 1940's look in that film. It looked like a comic book come to life. Another one worth at least a rental if not a permanent place in any moviephile's collection.

jfuller05
jfuller05

The Shadow (Alec Baldwin) The Phantom

Ordinary Joe
Ordinary Joe

Class production, driving soundtrack from Queen, eclectic cast ... "I love you, Flash, but we only have 14 hours to save the Earth!", "Not the bore worms" etc Should be on any 'best' list

jaymajor
jaymajor

That was pretty much spot-on!

rob123q
rob123q

Here are some of my worst: * Nick Fury:Agent of Shield - 1998-starring David Hasselhoff, need I say more! *Fantastic Four - Unreleased 1994 movie * Captain America- all TV movies - 1979 * The Punisher - 1989- * X-Men Origins: Wolverine - 2009-I was ok with this movie until they sewed Deadpools mouth shut?? * The Return of Swamp Thing - 1989 I am sure with the avalanche of new comic movies coming this list will grow.

daniel
daniel

Hands down the best were Batman Begins and The Dark Knight

KeeferZJR
KeeferZJR

What happened to Watchmen? All the buzz and hubbub about it and it doesn't even get a mention? I loved it personally. Even though it was a bit over the top. I thought it was great

jkaras
jkaras

Being a comic book collector I have collected many comic books, mainly Marvel, Image, and some DC. Some were made into movies most havent, and I am rather thankful. I would have to say Batman Returns or Ghost Rider and even Spawn( that one hurt really bad). They were horrible and on par with the later Batman and Robin. I would say that Daredevil was worse than Electra. At least Electra had decent effects so it wasnt too bad. I would lump the fantastic 4 movie in there but they too were just as campy as the comic book, but I would say they the casted them properly. I did like Superman returns though. It was refreashing to see Superman not being perfect with stalking Lois, lying, drinking, and experiencing human emotions. The movie failed in the plot. The guy who played him did great and looked the part as much as Christopher reeves did. I am hoping that Ironman 2 is decent. So far I saw a review and it wasnt that great, but I think that is to be expected when the first one exceeded expectations. I will still see it and have fun regardless. I am not feeling the Captain America being the Human Torch but who knows?

NexS
NexS

But I disagree with The Spirit's valuation. I thought it was good. It wasn't meant to be taken so seriously, and I enjoyed it.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

Sin City was good... Does no one remember Dick Tracy? Every visual effect -- props, sets, costumes, etc. were rendered in the 6 primary colors used in the original comic strip... Great casting: Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Madonna... The matted city scenes were cool, great classic cars, cool zoot suits, good story, etc. But very creative production design that made it a good watch.

jfuller05
jfuller05

Lay off of the Luthor villain! Superman has many other villains eligible for use in a movie, e.g. Doomsday, Lobo, Metallo, Braniac, Bizarro, Darkseid, etc. Plus, the other reasons you provided for not liking the movie are valid too. It was not a good movie.

kenjwsu
kenjwsu

I loved both movies and I agree that they were very well written and better in a lot of ways than most other comic book movies. The one gripe I have with it is that in Batman Begins he was just starting out as Batman, so Bale did alright at not having the hardened, keeping his secret as Batman, voice. There were plenty of fans who made that distinction. Then in Dark Knight he took it a little too far over the top and got bashed for it. I hope in the 3rd movie he will find a decent medium.

nclevenger
nclevenger

Come on, Deuce Bigalow mocking Sly "Mr I am the Law!" made that whole movie worth it.

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

My youngest son actually fell asleep during the movie at the theaters. I did like the Ed Norton version.

AttackComputerWhiz
AttackComputerWhiz

"Flash Gordon" was/is a daily comic strip and so would not be in the "comic book movie" category. That was a great movie, though. Lots of scenery chewing and Richard O'Brien in a cameo made it an instant camp classic!

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

Has David Hasselhoff ever made a movie with the exception of the spongebob Squarepants Movie that didn't go straight to video? The first Swamp Thing was a great movie.

kenjwsu
kenjwsu

Yeah, the Merc With a Mouth had no mouth. Why did the writer and the studio think that this was a good thing. God I can't wait for Ryan Reynolds and the others to give that character some justice in his own movie. I'm looking forward to seeing how well they pull off breaking the fourth wall in that movie.

jfuller05
jfuller05

That is hilarious. I didn't know about this movie. Was it a straight to video movie? It wasn't in theaters was it?

RPip
RPip

Talk about camp, this one was classic! Who can forget "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!"

jfuller05
jfuller05

Scenes after the credits? Priceless. I've already seen news for the comic book movies of 2012. The third Batman sounds promising, as it's Nolan's last Bat-movie. :(

Tink!
Tink!

for my liking. I did like the Ed Norton one better out of the more recent releases.

CaveTalker
CaveTalker

The Hulk was/is the worst comic book movie; some of the ones on the list at least have some comedy involved. My 10 year old son also fell asleep watching this movie. I think it was possibly the worst animation for a comic book movie I have ever seen. Although I also liked the Ed Norton version.

dave
dave

King comics started publishing Flash comics I believe in 67' with Al Williamson doing some fantastic art. I guess that makes him sort of qualified.

GSG
GSG

Gerard Butler in a leather speedo. Whoa baby! (is it getting hot in here?)

rob123q
rob123q

let's just hope they stick to the comic version a little, Deadpools biggest attraction is his non-stop babbling. Leave it to Hollywood and a bunch of producers that never read the comic to screw it up!

rob123q
rob123q

This went straight to DVD. I caught it on one of the movie channels once and could not believe it. I just saw it in a Wal-Mart $5.00 bin also, a waste of $4.99.

kenjwsu
kenjwsu

Granted this movie was over-the-top campy, but thats what the TV Show was, and if you haven't forgotten.. before Frank Miller penned Dark Knight Returns, the comic book was campy as well. After Frank Miller, thats when Batman started becoming a truly serious and dark character.

jfuller05
jfuller05

I actually like the old Adam West Batman show and movie (I have the movie on DVD). :)

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

I was listening to a critical review of the Iron Man 2 movie this weekend. (Yeah, I know, who actually listens to critics?) And one of their objections was the scene at the end when Iron Man and War Machine team up to defeat Whiplash. Seems that for hero movies, ganging up on the bad guy is verboten when they're fairly evenly matched, but superior to the good guys. If that holds true for a duo; then it would hold equally true for an entire group. The only times a group would work would be against another group, against an overwhelmingly superior foe (like Galactus?), or when each member of the group is an incomplete part of the whole (similar to Doc Savage's "The Fabulous Five".)

roninido
roninido

Green Lantern is due next year with Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, Jonah Hex opens in June, Wonder Woman, Hawkman and the Flash are listed as being in development, and there's ALWAYS talk of a Justice League movie (latest word is that Christopher Nolan may or may be attached to the project.) It all comes down to whether or not the films will make money. The better they do, the more comic films we'll see.

jfuller05
jfuller05

would be my choice for the next DC hero movie. There would be a lot of good areas to explore with the movie. I would hope that Hal Jordan would be the Lantern character for the movie and that the Corps would be in the movie too. I like the Green Lantern Corps stories just as much as the regular earth Green Latern stories. I'm a fan of both comic lines too. Heroes for Hire! I have a few of those comics, the most recent ones. Remember? The team had Hulk, Cage, Black Knight, Fist, and Hercules.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

As a fan of both comic lines, it upsets me a little to see how inactive WB/DC has been in getting other franchises kick-started. The Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern...where art thou?? Once Bats is done, which franchise will carry the DC film flag? The graphic novel to film adaptations have been mostly good, at least, but at what point do they run out of worthwhile material that isn't from the core DC Universe? Marvel is already in initial planning on bringing a lot of lesser known characters to the big screen, such as Luke Cage (I'm hoping they actually do a Heroes for Hire film, and get Jet Li to play Iron Fist; Common or LL Cool J would be my picks for LC).

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

Malin Akerman in the yellow leather costume she wore in "The Watchmen." She is smoking!!!

kenjwsu
kenjwsu

Apparently from what I hear, the Writers are collaborating with Ryan Reynolds who absolutely loves the character and has been basically headlining it since they talked about giving him a movie. He was quoted as saying he wants to do it true to the comics, breaking the 4th wall, violent, everything. Also that it wouldn't suck as bad as Wolverine (then again.. from there it would be difficult to go anywhere but better.)

bmcombrw
bmcombrw

Those were serious comics. When the Comics Code came around, the darkness left but they were still not campy. The Batman comics that were campy actually became that way to follow on from the popularity of the TV show. Frank Miller merely brought the series back to its roots, and did it one better in terms of darkness.

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