The Best Comic Book Movies of All Time

Spider-Man 2

Devindra Hardawar: Spider-Man 2

Marvel gets a lot of credit for rejuvenating the comic book film and deservedly so. But the MCU wouldn’t be possible without Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films and Bryan Singer’s first two X-Men movies. They were both refreshing, well-acted antidotes to the increasingly campy comic book films of the ’90s. And yes, they both stumbled a bit in their third entries.

With Spider-Man 2, Sam Raimi basically made his ideal superhero film. It’s rooted in character – the entire movie is about Peter Parker struggling to balance his crime-fighting persona with his personal life, and the villain, Otto Octavius, is both a noble mentor and a tragic genius. But it’s also a genuinely thrilling action movie, with impressive and meaningful set-pieces. The scene where New Yorkers rise up to save Spider-Man and carry him, Christ-like, into a subway car remains one of my favorite cinematic moments. Spider-Man 2 isn’t just a great sequel: it’s a textbook example of how to make a solid comic book film.

X2

Angie Han: X2

Look, I make no claims about X2 being the best superhero movie to ever exist. It’s been a while since I’ve watched the whole from thing start to finish, but I’ve seen enough of it to know it’s starting to show its age. The super-serious tone feels heavier than it used to and the metaphors are more obvious and awkward. Still, this one will always be a sentimental favorite for me.

As I’ve mentioned before on /Film, X2 was my gateway into the world of geeky fandom. I was utterly taken with this universe: the distinctive characters, the wild possibilities of their powers, the kinetic action scenes we got when they clashed. That opener with Nightcrawler remains a classic. I walked out eager to find out where this story would go next, and while the franchise has never quite reached the heights of X2 (don’t @ me, First Class fans), I will forever treasure those moments when all I could imagine were the possibilities.

Scott Pilgrim Book Differences

Ethan Anderton: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Edgar Wright‘s stylish adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley graphic novel series only raked in just over $47 million at the box office, which wasn’t even enough to earn back the $60 million budget Universal Pictures spent on the film, not to mention all the marketing costs. But don’t let the fact that an audience didn’t find this movie while it was in theaters deceive you. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is one of the best comic book movies every made (and my personal favorite) because of how it meshes a completely unbelievable video game inspired world with the realistic struggles of dating.

Even though on the surface the story of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World feels high concept, having the title character fight all seven of his new romantic interest’s evil ex-lovers is actually a grounded conceit that we’ve all dealt with at one time. When you start dating someone new, you’re accepting everything that comes with them, including the baggage of all their exes. In the case of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, director Edgar Wright visualizes that in a spectacular way, emulating not only comic books but also arcade games, right down to their visuals and soundtracks, to give romantic tropes a refreshing and wholly entertaining new angle.

Despite the outlandish nature of the film as a piece of visual media, most earnest romantic comedies don’t dig as deeply and profoundly as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Whether it’s Scott earning the power of love and self-respect, or the visualization of a break-up where the whole world seems to go black around you, this movie tackles the ups and downs of relationships and all the baggage that comes with them. For more insight into Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, check out our own David Chen’s video essay on the film right here.

It should be noted that I had an extremely hard time picking between this and Guardians of the Galaxy, but Scott Pilgrim vs. the World just speaks a little more to me personally. Sorry, James Gunn. I still love you and that movie.

Guardians of the Galaxy

What Is Your Favorite Comic Book Movie?

What do you think of our picks? What is your favorite comic book movie? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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