Here we go then, the cream of the crop, the top of the pops, the ball of the ball, the one to rule them all. ….I’ll stop. You’re not here from me blethering, you want to see which films made the top 10 right? well it’s my pleasure to show you.
10. Captain America: Civil War-2016
Where to start with this one? Marvel just threw everything at it and it paid off in a big way with rave reviews from critics and fans alike. Based on the 2005 comic by Scotland’s Mark Millar where a super hero battle ends with overwhelming collateral damage and friendly fire. This leads to public outcry and the government proposes a bill in which any active heroes would have to sign and be overseen by the UN. This splits The Avengers and others into two camps, one led by Captain America who opposes the bill and the other led by Iron Man who feels there is a responsibility to be held accountable for their actions. There’s so much to like about this movie directed by the Russo brothers and it feels like Marvel can do little wrong in terms of movies these days. The introduction of Black Panther making his live action debut was excellent and the new Spider-Man played by Tom Holland gets his first airing here in spectacular (pun intended) fashion. It’s funny, it’s action packed and has some of the best wire stunts I’ve ever seen in Hollywood movies, it equals some of the old Hong Kong flicks I grew up watching. It’s a Captain America movie in name but let’s be honest….it’s pretty much an Avengers movie really.
9. Road To Perdition-2002
Probably the most beautifully shot movie on the list and a perfect way for legendary cinematographer Conrad L Hall to bow out but sadly he didn’t live to see his work receive the Academy Award in 2003. I think even the most contrary of hipsters would have to concede that Tom Hanks is ridiculously likeable and relatable in everything he’s in and it’s no different here despite the grim nature of the film. Set during the Great Depression of the 1930s it focuses on Hanks as a mob enforcer and his relationship with his son who witnesses the violent underworld that his father is involved in. They are forced to flee and set a plan for revenge after the rest of their family is slain. It’s essentially a western retelling of the Japanese story Lone Wolf And Cub and is essentially just a great depression era gangster movie.
8 (tied). Blade-1998
I remember me and my friends (shout out to Rick and Chris) rented this when it first came out and absolutely loved it. The opening scene in the nightclub may be one of the best openings in any comic book movie. One of those rare and random moments in time where Marvel plucked a mildly popular character and threw it onto the big screen out of nowhere and gave it an 18 rating. Blood, guts and Wesley Snipes throwing shapes all over the joint made this cult classic a thoroughly enjoyable watch. I think it’s time for a reboot….although I can’t think of anyone else who could play Blade as well as Snipes to be fair, he made the character his own. Bonus point for the awesome soundtrack.
8 (tied). Blade 2-2002
Confession time…..I’ve seen this poster for years and only just noticed the face in the cloud when I was putting it into this article…..I am not a bright man. Anyway I don’t like putting so many ties in the list but hey ho it is what it is what it is what it is. While the first movie felt like a more sinister horror flick, the sequel is more universal monsters and balls out action. Guilermo Del Toro directed which makes it automatically awesome (I’m a huge fan) and his monster creations are things of horrific, gothic beauty. For those who love him from The Walking Dead, Norman Reedus is in this and for those of you who liked……Bros, Luke Goss is the villain. Surprise of the century is that Goss is actually brilliant in the role and went on to play tough guy characters in several other movies after this. Nothing compared to Blade 2 though.
7. A History Of Violence:2005
Adapted from the amazing graphic novel from adopted Scotsman and Judge Dredd creator John Wagner, this brutal and shocking movie shows that you never completely know someone no matter how close to you they are. Directed by the legendary David Cronenberg more often associated with the body horror genre, here he looks at what happens when a small town family’s life is flipped on it’s head. Subtle at times, incredibly violent at others, Cronenberg creates tension like only a master director can as he can make the mundane seem like the most tense thing imaginable.
6. (tied). X-Men: Days Of Future Past-2014
Bryan Singer’s return to the franchise after X2 was much hyped due to it being based on a classic X-Men story written by legendary X-Scribe Chris Claremont. As with anything based on a classic some people wouldn’t accept a single change to the story which is just ridiculous and childish. If everything stays exactly the same then what’s the point in watching it? Anyway, the elements of time travel allow for some fun and interesting moments with Wolverine sent back to the 70s to stop an assassination that leads to a horrendous future for mutants. As with all time travel stories it gets a little messy at times but the overall action and occasional emotional moments can be breathtaking at times.
6. (tied). X2-2003
Remember when I said Blade had one of the best openings in comic book history? This one just might have it beat with Alan Cumming’s (Scotland represent….I’m not stopping that I’m sorry) Nightcrawler teleporting and bouncing around The Whitehouse kicking the crap out of all the guards. Bryan Singer’s look at discrimination and allegories of the civil rights movement and non acceptance of gays is a powerful one that hits out at societies’ failure to accept those who are different. For some time this was the standard bearer for what a comic book movie could be and as well as some stunning set pieces it packs a commentary laced punch that many other in the genre avoid.
5 (Tied). Hellboy-2004
Ahh Guilermo Del Toro strikes again and his visual style and flare clicks perfectly with Mike Mignola’s brilliant comic about demons and monsters. Speaking of perfect fits, Ron Pearlman with his unique look and frame was almost born to play Hellboy and he sines in the part. It’s great to see that he’s embraced the role wholly as he often campaigns for sequels and promotes the character whenever he can. The character himself is a tragic one, a demon from hell brought to earth as a baby through a portal created by occult obsessed Nazis. He’s taken in by a kind professor and raised to fight for good. He lives underground with a group of other worldly creatures known as the Bureau Of Paranormal Research And Defense who help fight off other monsters without the knowledge of the public. Hellboy files his horns down as he just wants to fit in as much as possible and that creates a lot of empathy and pathos. His relationship with Selma Blair’s Liz Sherman is beautiful and emotional. Just a great fantasy creature feature and Del Toro nailed the tone perfecly.
5 (Tied). Hellboy 2: The Golden Army-2008
Then for the sequel he upped the action and swapped the gothic aesthetics for a more fantasy orientated look and feel and fresh off the heels of directing Pan’s Labyrinth he clearly kept those creative juices flowing with incredible monster designs that look like they could have featured in Pan’s. After working with former Bros member Luke Goss in Blade 2 he brings him back to play the villain here and he’s great. The dynamic between the cast is great and as always Del Toro’s direction is sublime.
Best Bit-The Forest God
4. The Crow:1994
Alex Proyas is having a nightmare with his latest movie Gods Of Egypt, it’s getting slaughtered and I’ve not seen it so I can’t comment on that. What I can say is that his American debut, the adaptation of James O’ Barr’s seminal graphic novel is a work of gothic art. The film set is darkly beautiful, the casting is great with Brandon Lee as the titular protagonist and Michael Wincott as the heinous Top Dollar. I’ve always though Wincott was a terribly underrated actor, he plays the evil prick so well with that raspy voice. The movie will always be remembered for the tragic accident that saw Brandon Lee killed just as he was hitting hi potential and becoming a huge star and that adds to melancholy tone already set by the story. The screenplay was written by one of my favourite horror writers David J. Schow and John Shirley who really nailed the tone and found a nice mix of cool brooding shots of the hunky star for goth chicks (or anyone who likes hunks) to swoon over and genuinely touching moments of loss and acceptance. I think anyone who’s suffered a loss at the hands of evil can live vicariously through The Crow and that’s exactly why it was written. For more info on the origins of the story head over to my most emotional moments in comic list.
3. Spider-Man 2-2004
Going by online chat, Sam Raimi’s mostly great Spider-Man trilogy is seen as a relic that isn’t as cool as the newer stuff but you know what? I like that, it’s not trying to be hip or up to date. Raimi brought to life the Silver age of Spidey with warm colours and corny dialogue that evokes a 70s nostalgia and warmth that I’ve never seen in anything else in the genre. It’s a very deliberate choice from Raimi and even though not everything in the trilogy hits the mark, I’ll always be left with a cozy feeling of watching good guys fight bad guys with a romantic story to go with it. Even if the trilogy did end on a sour note with Spider-Man 3 being critically panned for too much crammed into it, emo Spidey, the Venom arc and more. Those points are fair but I really enjoyed the Sandman arc for what it’s worth. Anyway Spider-Man 2 nailed it with a sympathetic villain in Doc Oc and focused a lot of time on him to build up a proper story arc and build pathos. It shows how well things can be done when they keep it simple. I get the feeling studio interference had a lot to do with Raimi’s decision to leave the franchise but at least he left us with one of the greatest comic book movies of all time.
2. The Dark Knight-2008
Sandwiched between the excellent Batman Begins (seen earlier) and the abomination that is The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight felt almost perfect when it came out. From the Late Heath Ledger’s stunning performance of the deranged Joker, the beautiful cinematography to the darker than dark atmosphere that Batman movies had been crying out fo over the years. The Christian Bale Batman voice has become a punchline these days and has already aged quite poorly but really that’s about the only flaw the movie has. More time could have been spent with Two Face sure but seeing as it was only going to be a trilogy I’m just glad we got a good but short arc with him. The Joker playing cat and mouse with Batman and the police force as he burns money and randomly kills to show it’s all about chaos for him and there’s no motive. He just wants to cause as much chaos as possible without any other clear motive. Even the world’s greatest detective struggles with that one. A fantastic movie that deserved every plaudit it got.
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-1990
Yup……you better believe it. Bring forth your hatred, I will deflect it with my majestic nostalgia blade….or something. Look, when I started this list I had to work out what movies would make it onto the list and then had trouble putting them in order but I always knew this was going to be number one. I don’t think there’s a single film that makes me feel as warm and safe as this does. I remember when I first saw it as a 6/7 year old when my neighbour brought over a pirated vhs of it and a bunch of us gathered round in awe watching a grainy, rubbish copy and we were absolutely obsessed. As we grew older my brother and his friends grew out of their Turtles love but here I am…..in my 30s now and putting the first movie on the top of lists. I could dwell on how sad that should make me but let’s talk about all the reasons the movie is ace. The tone strikes the perfect balance between the dark and grim Mirage comics and the 1987 cartoon with goofy catchphrases but great fight scenes courtesy of Golden Harvest’s Hong Kong stuntmen. Jim Henson’s studio, mainly his son Brian took care of the awesome turtles and Splinter suits and in a pre-cgi era looking at how smooth it all is make sit all the more incredible. Elias Koteas’ version of Casey Jones plays the line between loveable and psychotic and Judith Hoag as April O’ Neill has great chemistry with him. The whole thing just clicks and always takes me back to a great time and for any Turtles fan it acts as a highlight in the franchise.
And that is that. The top comic book movies according to yours truly. Hope you enjoyed the list and as always if you have any suggestions hit me up @swing_kinker