Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Sci-Fi Fanatic BIG 25 Comic Book Films (Featuring Capes, Tights, Masks And Mutations)

So many comic book-based films today, so little time. It's a whole lot easier generating a Top 50 list than it was when Wizard compiled its own Top 50 Comic Book Movies in 2003. 2011 felt very much like the summer of the superhero. This is the follow-up to that aforementioned list. This is the official Sci-Fi Fanatic BIG 25 Comic Book Films (Featuring Capes, Tights, Masks And Mutations). The list would also be more aptly titled BIG 25 Superhero Films.

So, up, up and away. It's a bird. It's a plane. It's The Sci-Fi Fanatic BIG 25 Comic Book Films (Featuring Capes, Tights, Masks And Mutations).

25. Swamp Thing [1982].

24. Daredevil [2003].

23. Conan The Destroyer [1984].

22. Superman Returns [2006].

21. The Incredible Hulk [2008].

20. Blade [1998].

19. Hellboy [2004].

18. Conan The Barbarian [1982].

17. Hellboy II: The Golden Army [2008].

16. The Rocketeer [1991].

15. X-Men Origins: Wolverine [2009].

14. X-Men [2000].

13. X2: X-Men United [2003].

12. Watchmen [2009].

11. Darkman [1990]

10. The Punisher [2004].

9. Blade II [2002].

8. Spider-Man 2 [2004].

7. Superman II [1980].

6. Superman [1978].

5. The Incredible Hulk [1977].

4. Spider-Man [2002].

3. Captain America: The First Avenger [2011].

2. The Dark Knight [2008].

1. Batman Begins [2005].

Films I considered, but intentionally left off the list because they just weren't good enough include: the silly Howard The Duck [1986], the bloated mis-cast Green Lantern [2011], the gratuitously violent nonsense of Punisher: War Zone [2008], the Brett Ratner-directed X-Men: The Last Stand [2006], Spawn [1997], Spider-Man 3 [2007], Hulk [2003], Superman III [1983], Superman IV: The Quest For Peace [1987], Supergirl [1984], Iron Man [2008], Iron Man 2 [2010], Fantastic Four [2005], Fantastic Four 2: Rise Of The Silver Surfer [2007], Blade: Trinity [2004], Ghost Rider [2007], Elektra [2005], Dick Tracy [1990], The Return Of The Swamp Thing [1989], Jonah Hex [2010] and all of the pre-Christopher Nolan Batman films. Sorry Tim Burton fans and yes I thought the Iron Man films were overrated.

The only films I could not move either way on because I haven't seen them are the new Conan The Barbarian [2011], Thor [2011], The Punisher [1989], and X-Men: First Class [2011] though I suspect only the latter would make my list.

I'm not entirely convinced The Amazing Spider-Man [2012] would make my list or The Avengers [2012] despite Joss Wheedon's involvement, but Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises [2012] will be there.

So there it is! The BIG 25 Comic Book Films (Featuring Capes, Tights, Masks and Mutations). Where do you stand? I will now use my mutant power of teleportation a la Nightcrawler and leave now. BAMF!


Malte said...

Good list. I agree the Iron Man films didn't deserve all the praise they got, but surely Iron Man is better than Conan the Destroyer? Heck, even Red Sonja is better than Conan the Destroyer.

John Kenneth Muir said...


A great list! Nice to see some love for The Rocketeer, Blade II and Darkman.

I also like your high placement of Batman Begins. I had thought I was the only person in the world who preferred that 2005 film to The Dark Knight!

My only huge, super-dramatic change: I'd put Superman (1978) in the absolute top slot, switching it with Dark Knight. I still believe a man can fly, and that the Donner film is the greatest superhero film ever made. :)

But, you know, regardless of 100% agreement, I love these lists, they always raise great discussions!


SFF said...

Ha. You had me laughing historian. Well, small confession it has been awhile since seeing the conns but I remember enjoying both especially the first. I don't remember red Sonja well but thanks 4 mentioning that one. And swamp thing is kind of faint in my mind as well but I'm a sucker 4 Adrienne barbeau. Iron man had good parts and I'm being harder on them than I should. But they were so universally loved and wernnt nearly as strong as the Nolan films. That and I'm not a huge Downey fan so that's a bit of a bias there. Cheers 4 writing.

John... Thanks. I can't argue with you on your love for superman. It definitely captures the feel of an era when heroes didn't need to be ironic or filled with angst and behaving badly so I get exactly what you mean. It's a wonderful film and easily made my top 10. I have no problem moving many of those films around.

Batman begins is such a great film. In fact I could do batman begins and superman in the top two.

I believe in heroes like superman and that may explain why I had such affection for the throwback style of captain America. In fact that's it. Cap had a very I believe I can fly spirit thanks 2 Joe Johnston. Superman and cap are easy to love.

Best 2 u guys

Robot Guy said...

Personally, the Iron Man films would be on the list somewhere, probably around the middle. Both the Hellboy films would be MUCH higher - somewhere near the top. They just keep getting better every time I watch them. Conan the Destroyer, Wolverine, and Superman Returns probably wouldn't be on the list at all; there's some others I doubt would make it, but that I haven't seen and won't pre-judge.

Also, I too agree with your ranking of Batman Begins over the Dark Night. In fact the former would be near the top of the list for me, and the latter would be near the bottom. It did have some fantastic acting and FX, but its plot holes were simply too big to allow me to suspend disbelief, and its action scenes were muddily shot and edited and were just plain annoying. And it was just too long; by the end of the movie I was reading emails on my phone. Honestly didn't see what the fuss was all about. The first one was brilliant, however.

SFF said...

Great comment Robot Guy! Fair enough.

I know what you mean about the Hellboy films. They really are something special made all the more magical by the combination of Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman. I pray they do that third film. I'll be there for it.

In fact, you'll notice I have three GFuillermo films on my list. The man is clearly a craftsman and with all of the make-up and prosthetic work he understands what makes a film beautiful. Can you imaginne Hellboy as a CGI creature a la The Hulk. No! I wouldn't want it. I much prefer a big actor with the proper camera work and post production work. It could be done for the Hulk too, but so far CGI is the rule of the day.

Finally, I do know exactly what you mean about The Dark Knight. I think I am forgiving of its flaws, but it definitely lacks the focus of that first Nolan film. I forgive it its length and lapses for the parts are great.

I think it's fair to say Iron Man should be on the list. I think I was being stubborn with that one. I suppose it proves the point that people who make these lists do indeed bring their own personal biases or agendas to the discussion.

I really loved the race car sequence and the final War Machine sequence in Iron Man 2, but was relatively bored by the rest of it. To borrow your phrase, I couldn't uynderstand the "fuss" with that one. Thanks for stopping.sff

Unknown said...

I love BATMAN BEGINS but my admiration for it diminished a bit when it was pointed out how closely its story, visuals, etc. mirrored that of THE SHADOW:


Pretty spooky, eh?

DARKMAN gets my vote. Still one of the best comic book adaptations not based on an actual comic book. In fact, I think that Raimi employs more comic book-like visuals and camera moves than his SPIDER-MAN films.

Too bad you don't dig IRON MAN as I thought that was a pretty good film if only for Robert Downey Jr.'s adlibbing, Jeff Bridges as the baddie and Gwyneth Paltrow was pretty damn adorable. Oh yeah, and the visuals were pretty cool.

I certainly wouldn't rank CONAN THE DESTROYER or SWAMP THING anywhere on that list. ST is campy fun I suppose but not that memorable Ms. Barbeau excepted. I would rank DICK TRACY rather highly. In some respects it is kinda underrated and the more times I watch it the more I appreciate it. Certainly for its visuals alone the film is pretty incredible.

le0pard13 said...

They have X-Men Origins: Wolverine at #15?!? They cannot be serious! [like my John McEnroe impression?] The second installments for some noted trilogies certainly dominate the 'best of' in this genre: SUPERMAN II, X-MEN United, BLADE II, THE DARK KNIGHT, SPIDER MAN II.

I'm with a famous historian with regard to 'CONAN THE DESTROYER' (and yes, RED SONIA is better than that thing). I'll join our good friend JKM in his top placement of 1978's SUPERMAN (Richard Donner's film trail blazed it all with that classic) -- even though we part company on THE DARK KNIGHT ;-).

I need to check out again THE SHADOW and BATMAN BEGINS after J.D.'s revelation now! Count me as another who adores Raimi's DARKMAN, too.

Fun discussion SFF and friend. Thanks.

p.s., is it just me hating Google/Blogger's new word verification? I know they're trying to cut down on the spam, but I think they'll be forcing readers to comment less because of it's so difficult to determine the characters on the screen. Just a thought.

SFF said...

J.D. and L13
Solid input- thank you both.

I'm getting killed for Conan The Destroyer over Iron Man or even Red Sonja. ha. I knew I was in for it.

I may have to force a rewatch on Conan very soon.

I will definitely check out that essay you linked J.D.. It sounds interesting. In fact, I've never seen The Shadow. That may be worth a look. How about The Phantom with Billy Zane.

J.D. - I thought your review of Darkman over at Radiator Heaven was terrific. It was one of the first posts I ever read when I first found your site. It's a great film. Oh, and although it's not based on a comic book, a comic book mini-series did come out after the film and I have those books. Raimi did a terrific job and it's one of the better comic book-styled films ever made. Neeson and McDormand were great too and so very sympathetic as love stories go.

It's hard to pinpoint the exact location of some of these films because some are equally terrific.

OK, maybe not Swamp Thing and Conan The Destroyer, but they are at the bottom of my list for a reason.

Again, L13, I agree, Superman is a real top classic and those Top 11 are pretty interchangeable for me.

I think Superman could eassily be listed higher. I love the traditional cinematic magic and vibe of Richard Donner's classic. It captures the spirit of goodness and the kind of super nobility you rarely see and I connect that with a childhood whereby I really had faith and confidence in good versus evil. Today, the two are often mixed up for a society that seems to confuse what is right and wrong.

I can't tell you how often I see people argue and make excuses for what is clearly wrong. Seeing people take responsibility is becoming a bit of a shell game.

It's like in Spider-Man, "with great power comes great responsibility." Well, that film, Super Man and Captain America all tap into that classic superhero role, one that I identified with for years and still believe in.

thanks guys.

PS. Yeah, I'm finding the double verification nannoying, but hopefully it won't turn people away. I know what you mean though.

Also, to all, apologies for any spelling errors in my responses. I type fast with little time to proofread the comments sometimes. Regards, sff

Unknown said...


Thanks for the kind words re: my DARKMAN post. It is one of my fave films and was a lot of fun to write. I'm so bummed that Universal continues to give it lackluster home video releases! I've heard of the comic book spinoffs but never read 'em. Have you see the other, substandard, films?

You and I certainly see eye to eye on the recent CAPTAIN AMERICA film. Man, what a solid, entertaining and engaging film that was! I got the Blu-Ray for Christmas and have watched it a few times. Joe Johnston certainly has a knack for bring retro super heroes to life. I picked up THE ROCKETEER on Blu recently and am looking forward to watching it.

le0pard13 said...

J.D.: I think you'll be happy with THE ROCKETEER on BD (even though it lacks extras). Showed it to my kids last month (their first time) and they LOVED it.

SFF said...

J.d. My pleasure. A great review for a film that is infinitely rewatchable. I have not seen the sequel films. I don't know if they are good or not. I'd love to look into it bit more.

L13 or j.d.... Have you seen the shadow or the phantom?

Thanks guys.

le0pard13 said...

SFF: yes, I've seen both. I have THE PHANTOM in BD and am waiting on Blu-ray for THE SHADOW. They're not perfect, but they a lot of fun.

Unknown said...

I would agree with the sentiments that THE SHADOW and THE PHANTOM are fun films but are very flawed. I like the mood and atmosphere of both but compared to THE ROCKETEER... well, there's just no comparison. I'd love to see another cinematic take on THE SHADOW and I know Sam Raimi has been trying to get a film version off the ground for years. I'd LOVE to see him apply the gonzo camerawork from DARKMAN to that film.

SFF said...

Cheers. Thank you both.

SFF said...

Small confession.

A recent viewing of Iron Man would justifiably land itself on my Top 25 easily knocking off one at the bottom.

For the record.

SFF said...

Additional confession...

The recent release of The Avengers has had my son watching Iron Man on TV as it appears to be in heavy rotation.

I've now seen it several times.

It's a quality superhero film.

I can only tell you two things. Iron Man 2 no doubt shaded my opinion. I saw it in the theatre and my son and I both agree the first film is far superior while the second is far too busy with only a selection of standout scenes.

Second, RObert Downey Jr. has always annoyed me as far back as Weird Science and I loved that film although possibly for Bill Paxton and the once hot Kelly.. whatever her name was. But yes, Downey annoyed, got hopped up on drugs and well, I just never cared for him.

He has indeed redeemed himself and is excpetional as Stark. I am here to confess I have gotten passed my bias there. Session over. : )