Comic-book adaptation stock has been on the rise in the film industry for the last five years. Many studios have tried their hand at cashing-in on the phenomenon, but through it all Disney has had it best, re-capturing the mythology of the Marvel universe.
With 3 films currently in production (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Ant-Man,” “The Fantastic Four”) and 9 films announced, we won’t be short of Marvel adaptations any time soon, and we’ll try and keep this list updated. But for now, including past and future Marvel films, here is our top list.
Last Updated: 08/11/14
“Now this is what a superhero movie should be,” Roger Ebert (starting his 4/4 star review of “Spider-Man 2”). “Spider-Man 2” has the highest score of any other Marvel film on Metacritic with an 83, a score some Oscar-worthy films would dream of receiving.
“Spider-Man 2” excels in its direction from Sam Raimi, along with its story. It successfully touches on the weight of responsibility that Peter Parker must face, along with the well-meaning Doctor Octavius who is corrupted by his own invention. It’s rare that any action film has a villain as conflicted as Doc Ock, but even through all the internal drama we still have some great action scenes, including they very memorable train sequence.
“Iron Man” may have single-handedly brought upon the slew of comic-book adaptations we see today. The American Film Institute selected it as one of the best films of 2008, and Empire selected it as one of the 500 greatest movies of all time.
Without “Iron Man” we wouldn’t have the surge of popularity over superhero films that we have today. Robert Downey Jr. deserves his accolades for making the character of Tony Stark jump right out of the comic books. A character that could’ve easily been taken as cocky or despicable put through a rough situation and ultimate prevailing.
Earning an astounding 92% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, “that film with the talking racoon” suddenly showed up on everyone’s radar. Just a few years ago, no studio would come close to financing an adaptation with so many unfamiliar characters and strange premise. But James Gunn nails the attitude and pacing of “Guardians of the Galaxy” by finding a strong balance of comedy and drama while the film never takes itself too seriously.
Toddy McCarthy of The Hollywood Reported said the film “takes the bold step of reducing CGI spectacle to a relative minimum in favor or reviving the pleasures of hard-driving old-school action, surprising character development and intriguing suspense.” A strong step forward for the Marvel franchise as the characters become more empathetic and the scope becomes more narrow.
Earning a strong 92% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, “The Avengers” could’ve easily become a self-indulgent mess. But under the keen direction of Joss Whedon, and a script that plays to the strengths of each character, “The Avengers” is highly regarded as “the best.” Not many comic-book fans could’ve dreamed of a better film for these character to unite in.
“X-Men Days of Future Past” is the third film, just released in 2014, to make our list. Bringing the original cast together with the “X-Men: First Class” could’ve become convoluted, but under the direction of Bryan Singer, the film navigates through its quick-pacing to create a story satisfying for fans.
It was a breath of fresh, retro, air to jump back in time in the Marvel Universe. The first Captain America film of the re-booted Marvel universe was a strong success combining nostalgic action-adventure techniques from great classics like “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Many regarded it as solid, summer-blockbuster fun.
Bryan Singer created a very strong follow-up to the original “X-Men” with “X2.” It was given a “certified fresh” seal from Rotten Tomatoes with an 87% overall approval rating. The script brought out the best in the ensemble along with a much stronger, more ambitious scope in story.
Earning an 89% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Sam Raimi introduced the masses to the “superhero” genre with his big-budgeted adaptation of “Spider-Man.” The film navigates through the personal problems of Peter Parker, not entirely to the success of “Spider-Man 2,” but successful enough to make him an empathetic character, especially during the death of his uncle. Overall, the film is light-hearted, and packed with very well directed action sequences.
Hot off his direction of the critically successful film “Kick-Ass,” Matthew Vaughn brings a lot of energy into his incredibly talented ensemble. Not to mention one of the most stylish superhero films to date. Justin Chang of Variety said the film “feels swift, sleek and remarkably coherent.” “X-Men: First Class” may have saved the mutant-franchise from extinction.
11. The Amazing Spider-Man
13. The Incredible Hulk
14. Blade II
15. The Wolverine
16. Iron Man 3
17. X-Men: The Last Stand
19. Iron Man 2
20. Hulk Vs.
And here are the Top 10 Worst just for fun:
1. Howard the Duck
2. Punisher: War Zone
3. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
5. Captain America (1990)
6. Ghost Rider
7. The Punisher
8. Blade: Trinity
9. X-Men Origins: Wolverine