Comic books have now become a huge part of the film industry, sometimes with excellent results, other times less so. There’s no denying though that comics have been the basis for a lot of good films, without needing to call them “a comic book movie”. Once a marginalized area in film, movies based on comic books have hit the big time and gone mainstream (In case you had been living under a rock and hadn’t noticed…) – sometimes in places (as this list shows) that you wouldn’t expect or know.
Whether or not you are a fan of the current trend, it’s worth noting that there is a good reason comic books are getting turned into movies with such regularity; as Sin City proved, the comic can act literally as the script and the storyboard all in one. Although Sin City was an extreme example, involving a panel-by-panel shot-by-shot translation of the source material, it shows just how closely comic books (or graphic novels if you prefer) can be linked.
A few controversial omissions on the list? Check. A couple of movies you might not expect to see here? Check. 10 solid films that are all worth a watch? Check.
So what are you waiting for? Dive in – and feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments section below!
Blue Is The Warmest Colour
Honestly, I didn’t rate this Cannes winning two and a half hour lesbian love epic as highly as many did, however it is a prime example (and one of many) of why the dismissal of comic book movies as just being about superheroes needs to be dropped. Most people weren’t even aware that Blue is The Warmest Colour was based on a graphic novel of the same name by french writer Julie Maroh.
Whilst there were some issues with the film, arguably the main one being that the sex scenes were unnecessarily explicit and were a male director’s fantasy of two women having sex, there was enough substance to this tale of a relationship blossoming from a chance encounter and then slowly going through various trials to make it a worthwhile watch. Often mesmerizing, the film was notable for two powerful performances by lead actresses.
Iron Man 3
In Tony Starks’ first outing as Iron Man proper, he did what every hero should do: went out to defend some innocent refugees who were being slaughtered. It was this small detail that made the Iron Man movie special for yours truly. Playboy Billionaire arms manufacturer Tony Stark, (brilliantly realised by Robert Downey Jr), goes from self-centered egotist to heroic self-centered egotist in a fun and credible display. With a creepy supporting role by Jeff Bridges as the best friend/father-figure who is secretly your worst enemy and Gwyneth Paltrow playing Pepper Potts, Tony’s long suffering personal assistant turning girlfriend, Iron Man was a lot of fun and marked an early highlight in Marvel’s first wave.
In Iron Man 3 (we’ll skip over Iron Man 2), Shane Black reinvigorated the armour-plated avenger with a smart take on Tony Stark post Marvel’s Avengers Assemble who, suffering from PTSD and down to a bare minimum of tech, was forced to take on a foe in the guise of the terrorist The Mandarin, who was not all he seemed to be (A hilarious turn by Ben Kingsley which also risked the wrath of the comic book fans for its fast and loose playing with the comic book mythology). Although Marvel’s Avenger’s Assemble is the 3rd highest grossing movie ever, Iron Man 3 had more depth to it than Joss Whedon’s (still quite brilliant) team outing – it was also (by a long shot) mytop Blockbuster of 2013
Trivia: Director Jon Favreau puts in an appearance as Happy Hogan, one of Tony Stark’s personal assistants in the first movie.
Dave is the Editor of TLFR and a freelance writer. As well as a guest on BBC radio and regular appearances on the television show Reel Review, he has written for The Guardian, We Got This Covered, the International Political Forum and more.