With Avengers: Infinity War having crossed the $2 billion mark, people are as overzealous as ever about the film. Ever since I saw the film I have had to deal with people arguing that it is the greatest comic book film ever made. I’m not going to go into the numerous and unsightly flaws of Infinity War. Obviously no one wants to hears that. Instead, I thought I would come up with a list of the Top 5 comic book adaptations ever made so you can compare Infinity War to good movies. Without further ado, here are, in no particular order, the five greatest comic book movies of all time.
The Addams Family
Not many people would consider this a comic book adaptation, but the fact remains the The Addams Family had its beginning in a comic strip. Anyone that doesn’t fall head over heels for Raúl Juliá as the incomparable Gomez Addams must have a heart made of stone. The Mamushka Dance scene alone would make this movie worth it. At a time when movies were beginning to shift from the one-liner jokes that made Caddyshack and Airplane! such classic hits to a form that relied more heavily on plot to deliver humor, Barry Sonnefeld managed to find a a great balance between the two. It should be mentioned that Sonnefeld then went on to work on the Men in Black trilogy. While it did not receive the critical acclaim it deserved, The Addams Family has held up to the test of time and aged like a fine wine. If you haven’t seen this gem, check it out. (There is also a decent sequel worth watching, too.)
A History of Violence
Yet again, we have another adaptation of comic books that many would not think of as a comic book movie. A History of Violence is a fascinating examination of human emotion. With a narrative that allows the viewer to come to unique conclusions with each viewing, this is a film that begs for multiple viewings. Each character is beautifully portrayed and the subtle nuances of their performances leads you to forget that these are actors on a screen and truly believe that you are immersed in a real world where a small town family is visited upon by the ghosts of their past.
At some point I had to include a Chris Evans film. He has been in so many comic book films, fifteen and still counting, that he was bound to end up on the list. Samuel Jackson has only been in twelve, by comparison. Despite having a difficult time coming to theaters thanks to Harvey Weinstein wanting to butcher the theatrical release cut, Snowpiercer eventually did make it to a small release of theaters in America. I was lucky enough to be at one of those showings. I can’t help but wonder how successful the film would have been had Weinstein not tried to change things with his weaselly little hands. (You know, that was a bit harsh and I feel I have to apologize. Weasels are fine creatures and to associate them, even tangentially, to Harvey Weinstein is a disservice to them. I hope my weasel brothers and sisters can find it in their hearts to forgive me and know that I in no way feel they are equivalent of Weinstein.) Snowpiercer is an action movie in the same vein as Mad Max: Fury Road. The thrilling action sequences rarely take a break, and when they do, the film uses that time wisely and build the world around them. If I were ranking these, I would say Snowpiercer would be toward the top if not the first entry. No comic book film aficionado can call their viewing experience complete without first witnessing this film.
American Splendor could easily be described as a comic book movie for people that don’t like comic books, or a comic book movie for those that don’t like movies, or even a comic book movie for those that don’t like anything. The film revolves around the life of Harvey Pekar, who creates the comic American Splendor. The entirety of the film is biographical in nature, but since the comic source material is very auto-biographical in nature as well, this counts as a comic book movie. The life Pekar lives, his pursuit of his dreams, and his interactions with those around him make the film compelling. Harvey Pekar himself is a curmudgeon for curmudgeon. Yet, like most tales of curmudgeons, his story takes to a happy, if not jaded, place. Plus it gets point for introducing me to the World Champ, Judah Friedlander.
Most of the big adaptations of the more mainstream comics like Batman, Superman, and The Avengers are okay. They are not really memorable, though. They may be fun. They make a shit-ton of cash. But a century from now they will be nothing but a distant memory. Because they are easily replaceable. Introduce a new franchise onto the scene and it will get just as much hype. But Logan is different. This film puts all other big production comic book movies to shame. James Mangold tells a gripping tale of a man trying find his place in a world he no longer recognizes. Having grown up as a child with the X-Men comics and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, I was torn to shreds at the finale. This being Hugh Jackman’s last performance as Wolverine, Logan did what no other comic book film had done to date. It took a mainstream popular franchise and cemented it as a genre that can be just as effective at being artistic as any other genre.