The 20 Greatest Comic Book Movies of All Time, Ranked

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The summer movies are upon us, and we’re slated to get several comic book flicks between now and the end of the year. From Guardians of the Galaxy 2 to Wonder Woman, we’re excited for what’s coming to theaters—but how will they compare to the 20 best comic movies that we already love? 

20. Sin City (2005)

Comic fans all have a certain reverence for Frank Miller, so when we found out that Sin City was coming and would be filmed in a style that was a perfect match for Miller’s own graphic novels, we were understandably stoked. The movie, which genuinely feels like reading several comic story lines, was so true to the source material, it was impossible not to love this sprawling story and ensemble cast. Sin City holds up exceptionally well, though the sequel fell way below our high expectations.   

19. Dredd (2012)

After Stallone and, ugh, Rob Schneider totally fucked up Hollywood’s first attempt at Judge Dredd, we never thought he’d get another chance, but Karl Urban’s real-life love for the character turned Dredd into a passion project that somehow made it to the screen. Urban’s Dredd captures the dark grit that made us love Judge Dredd’s comics in the first place. Lena Headey’s badass lady villain here is very much the icing on the cake.   

18. Dick Tracy (1990)

Warren Beatty, Al Pacino and Madonna took the yellow-coated detective and his legion of colorful enemies to the screen. Highly stylized, surprisingly musical and fun to watch through and through, we were always disappointed that Beatty never donned Tracy’s trench again in a sequel. 

17. Scott Pilgrim VS The World (2010) 

The movie on this list that embraces its comic book origins most completely, Scott Pilgrim takes such an over-the-top approach toward its story, style and special effects, you can’t help but love it. The story of a man fighting for a woman’s love by literally fighting his way through her ex-boyfriends is fun, funny and one of the best comic book translations to the silver screen that we’ve seen.

16. Road To Perdition (2002)

We didn’t even know that this uncharacteristically dark Tom Hanks movie about a son and his gangster father was based on a comic book when we saw it in the theater. It didn’t matter, Road to Perdition was a great role for Hanks and was a thrilling, suspenseful road trip that was full of action and violence. It was a good look on Hanks, who we’d like to see more in movies like this.   

15. Hellboy (2004)

Ron Perlman’s big red demon-turned-good-guy exists in his own world—no bigger plan here—and that’s fine with us. Hellboy’s generic villains are more than made up for by our love for Hellboy himself.   

14. The Crow (1994)

The movie that killed Brandon Lee was a comic book movie long before comic book movies were the rage. The Crow’s action sequences were outstanding for the time, and the movie’s supernatural elements were a welcome change from the supercop action flicks that were ubiquitous in that era.

13. Deadpool (2016)

It’s not often you see an actor so perfectly suited for a role, but it really does feel like Ryan Reynolds was born to be Deadpool. A passion project that turned out to be a blockbuster, Deadpool is full of self-deprecation, dirty jokes and breaking the fourth wall. The “merc with a mouth” was a fan favorite in the comics and, now, he’s one in the movies too.   

12. Batman Begins (2005)

The first movie in Nolan’s Batman trilogy is often overshadowed by its sequel, but Nolan’s take on Bruce Wayne’s transition from disgruntled rich kid to Gotham City’s hero is mainstay of comic book lore and single-handedly set off a slew of origin stories coming out of Hollywood.   

11. Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange was a dark horse of the Marvel universe when we first heard he was getting a movie. A late edition to the MCU, we weren’t quite sure how he would fit in, and we were plenty skeptical if Benedict Cumberbatch could pull off Strange. All of those thoughts were put to rest as Strange proved to be a fantastic character who added an entirely new dimension (literally) to the ever-progressing Infinity Stone saga. We couldn’t be happier that the doctor got folded in.   

10. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

It’s a stretch to call Civil War a Captain America movie since it features a bigger cast of heroes than both of the two Avengers movies. That’s hardly a fault, though. Cap’s third outing is a pivotal piece of the overall Marvel plan and featured unprecedented moments like Spider-Man crossing into The Avengers’ world and a legitimately epic battle between Iron Man and Cap.

9. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

The X-Men are an essential group in the Marvel universe, having contributed more iconic characters to fans than any other collaborative. That being the case, they’ve also gotten more love on the silver screen than other groups. Of all X-centric movies, Days of Future Past is crafted with such master strokes that it actually brings together the parallel timelines via a time paradox. Unlike so many sci-fi flicks, the time paradox here actually helps flesh out the complex plot instead of complicating it to an incomprehensible level.   

8. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Like The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy kills it in terms of team dynamic. Pratt, Saldana, Cooper and Diesel have an oddball chemistry that works so thoroughly, it can make a raccoon and a tree endearing. Couple that with some mysterious origins, fantastic space adventures and a villain bent on destroying the universe, and there’s no question why Guardians makes it into the top 10.   

7. The Avengers (2012)

The first time the Marvel Comic Universe converged might also be the greatest. The Avengers was the payoff of several setup movies and, man, was the juice worth the squeeze on this one. Like having a curtain pulled back, The Avengers wasn’t just entertaining as hell, it was the reveal of a far bigger plan; one that we’re still seeing unfold today.   

6. Men in Black (1997)

It’s easy to forget that Men In Black was a comic before becoming a blockbuster movie franchise. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones encapsulate Agents J and K so thoroughly that we couldn’t imagine those characters existing until those two actors filled the roles. The end result is outrageous and funny and beloved, able to captivate us with its science fiction while earning a few belly laughs when it offers up cultural commentary about the planet we love so dearly.   

5. Logan (2017)

The final part of Wolverine’s solo plot is a dark and somber story that’s easily recognizable as a masterpiece, despite the fact that it made us feel absolutely shitty. Wolverine’s story arc is one of the most complete of any Marvel character in a movie, but it’s that same finality that’s captured in Logan that causes an internal turmoil in us most comic book movies aren’t capable of conjuring.   

4. Superman (1978)

Decades before Dawn of Justice, Christopher Reeve donned an S on his chest. Superman was a cinematic phenomenon and, like his own comic book, was a precursor to a cultural love of comics. Mind you, this movie was from 1978 so the special effects leave something to be desired in our modern era of CGI-everything, but Reeves perfectly embodied the Man of Steel, Marlon Brando delivers an iconic performance as his father, and Gene Hackman nails Lex Luthor in a way that Jesse Eisenberg could only dream of.   

3. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

After the gut punch of watching Uncle Ben die in the first Spidey movie, but before the gut punch of that awful, pathetic dance number in Spider-Man 3, was the utterly perfect Spider-Man 2. Alfred Molina’s Doc Oc was a formidable and visually stunning villain, Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker was at his most authentic, and Kirsten Dunst, well, we only sorta wanted to stop Spidey from saving her this time around.   

2. The Dark Knight (2008)

The middle movie of Nolan’s Batman trilogy is pure plot with none of the downsides of origin-story tropes or a pesky, happily-ever-after wrap up. Bale’s portrayal of an earnest Bruce Wayne looking to pass on his mantle coupled with Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as Joker and a terrific supporting cast firmly plant The Dark Knight as an outstanding film, not just a comic book movie.   

1. Iron Man (2008)

2008’s Iron Man reintroduced the world to Tony Stark, forever linked him with Robert Downey Jr., proved that Marvel’s comics could be successful as movies and served as ground zero for the entire Marvel Comic Universe that has grossed a kablillion dollars over the past decade. Few movies have shaped the course of cinema more than Iron Man, and that’s why it tops our list.