The winner for the best comic book movie is…

Personally, I do not read comic books, and if I do, I make rare exceptions to my rule.  Let’s see which movie adaptations I’ve seen so far:

  • X-Men
  • X2: X-Men United
  • X-Men: The Last Stand
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • Spider-Man
  • Spider-Man 2
  • Spider-Man 3
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008 version)
  • Iron Man
  • Iron Man 2
  • Batman Begins
  • The Dark Knight
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  • Ghost Rider
  • Fantastic Four
  • Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Let’s start with the worst first.

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

Poster for the 2003 film "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"

Terrible, terrible movie, even for one based on a comic book series.  Excuse me, a modern comic book series.  Honestly, the story was the worst way to squash a crew of unrelated literary characters (most with bad reputations) into a hero squad.  How does Alan Quatermain fit into a gang that includes a vampire, an invisible man, and the infamous Dr. Jekyll?  Sean Connery was excellent, as always, but the rest of the cast earn two thumbs down.

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THE INCREDIBLE HULK

A poster for the 2008 film "The Incredible Hulk"

 I honestly like Edward Norton as an actor.  He can convey the sensitivity and vulnerability of a character while also displaying both the light and dark side of the character’s mentality. However, the whole Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde re-creation in the Hulk doesn’t work for me as a superhero, especially a “power” that is aroused by one unstable emotion: anger.  Liv Tyler as the Hulk’s love interest didn’t work either, and the story looked like a run-and-chase getaway that ultimately was boring for a superhero movie.  There was no climax, no purpose in the plot.  Again, Edward Norton is great in this film, but that’s about all that’s great about the movie.

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FANTASTIC FOUR
 
The Fantastic Four from both the 2005 and 2007 movies

Hmmm…the two Fantastic Four movies.  What can I say?  Johnny’s and Susan’s powers are incredible superpowers I would like for myself.  However well the story was graphed, the whole idea that a cosmic storm provided the protagonists and antagonists with powers is a little off, and all the characters are a little too good-looking to be credible.  And then the Silver Surfer in the sequel…his character is more than a little weird.  Still, if you want a fun comic book movie that has more humor than seriousness, see these two.  I wasn’t impressed by them, but I will remember them.

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SPIDER-MAN

A poster from the recent Spider-Man movies
Tobey Maguire makes a good Spider-Man.  And Kristen Dunst makes a good Mary Jane.  In fact, everyone in the three Spider-Man movies are well cast.  However, the first Spider-Man movie was the best, “Spider-Man 2” was good, and “Spider-Man 3” was horrible.  The special effects are amazing, and Tobey himself is endearing when his unpopular, geeky character gets the rare chance to transform into a superhero that wins the girl and defeats the bad guy…but then makes an enemy of his best friend by defeating the bad guy and winning the girl.  Yeah, you better watch the first two to make the most of the series…the third film is best left alone, because it basically sucks as far as the storyline is concerned.
 
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IRON MAN
 
A poster for "Iron Man"

A uniquely powered battery to keep the heart beating, a scientific genius, and the personal charm of Robert Downey Jr.—that’s Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man.  I was interested in how Stark made himself a superhero with his wits and his billions instead of acquiring powers like other comic book heroes.  His Iron Man suit is indestructible and made out of pure scientific ingenuity…the Iron Man movies are not boring, for sure.  Gwyneth Paltrow puts in a spunky performance as Stark’s organized assistant Pepper Potts, who always knows how to contradict her boss’s banter and witty retorts.  Visually eye-glueing, these two movies have their cast and their special effects to recommend them. 

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GHOST RIDER
 
A poster for “Ghost Rider”
Nicolas Cage plays a motorcyclist who must ride as the Devil’s Ghost Rider, a bounty hunter of evil souls that belong in hell, since he sold his soul in a bargain to save someone he loved.  This superhero could be one of the coolest yet, and his motorcycle transformation…very classy.  Nicolas Cage lends his personal charm to the role, and Peter Fonda gets to star as the Devil himself.  This movie leans toward the supernatural more than a superhero theme, but I still like it.  Especially the line, “LET’S RIDE!”  When thinking about superhero movies, I’d give this one 4 out of 5 stars, even with Eva Mendes playing a not so amazing love interest for the hero.  But altogether, the “Ghost Rider” has one hell of a job.
 
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BATMAN
 
Finally, they found the right actor to play Batman
 
The plot of “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” is more than intriguing.  This is a series of superhero movies that tackle government corruption and crime within government institutions like police departments and the Attorney General’s office.  Not to mention a city Mafia.  The elegant (and appropriately cast) Christian Bale plays a billionaire who is obsessed with vengeance against his parents’ murderer, and them decides to put his money to better use by becoming a “knight” of the people, a “policeman” unfettered by law and drawn only by the cause of justice.  The themes in both Batman movies are more perturbing than those in other superhero stories, and like Tony Stark in “Iron Man,” Batman replies not on superpowers per se but his own physical and mental strength…and his wealth.  I found more to contemplate on here, including the parallelisms between reality and the city of Gotham.
 
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X-MEN 
 

A poster for "X-Men"

I’d sound like a dork if I said that all 4 of the X-Men films so far are cool, awesome, and so AWESOME!  Well, they just are.  It’s not just that Hugh Jackman plays Wolverine, who has the most unique superpowers I’ve ever seen, or that Halle Berry plays Storm, a girl with the power to control the weather.  It’s the concept of X-Men.  The notion of evolution is taken into serious consideration here.  If humans did evolve from some life-form, perhaps it is possible for us to evolve to the next level of strength, whatever that could be.  Therefore, “mutant” powers.  And what mutant powers they are in “X-Men!” To go through walls, read minds and master telepathy…very sleek of the comic book creators to invent all these characters with background stories that incite curiosity from a viewer who can’t take her eyes off the mutants’ control of extraordinary abilities they’re born with.  And that scene in “X-Men,” when Wolverine sacrifices his life for Rogue…very touching.  Obviously, the first two X-Men movies were pretty good, but I was a little disappointed with “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”  I thought the stories in these two were a little too…exaggerational and extreme with the sexual content and violence.  However, all 4 films are solid as far as their content is concerned.  And the cast…you couldn’t find a better one for the X-Men. 

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So, which of these is the best comic book movie ever?  No idea.  😀  Sorry, but it’s hard to choose between Ghost Rider and Batman Begins.  Or the 4 X-Men movies.  If you counted only realism without any “magic,” the Batman movies would win top prize, but if you were considering science and realism together, X-Men would win.  It all depends, in the end, on personal taste.  And actually, this extensive movie review has done just that…my tastes have been divulged when it comes to comic book movies.  Now, that new Thor movie sounds interesting…  😉 

Natalie Gorna

The Commentary Box - Let's have it.

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