Comic Book films have become some of the most influential films in recent years, straying away from being action or adventure movies and taking on a genre of its own. While the roots of these movies came from the success of classics like Superman The Movie (1978) and Batman (1989), it wasn’t until the 2000’s that comic book films really saw a resurgence with live-action Marvel adaptations. However, it was in the late 2000’s when comic book films really found their stride and became a massive part of pop culture. These are the comic book films that have come out between 2000 and 2020, we will be looking at the best film from each year based on comic books or graphic novels.
Also Read: Top 10 Comic Book Films of 2020
Honorable Mention: Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
After the success of Blade in 1998, Marvel saw a potential in adapting more of their properties which led to the release of X-Men. Following two mutant leaders fight for the equality of their groups, one believing in equality while the other set on human extinction. Turning many actors in house hold names such as Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen and Halley Berry.
2001: Ghost World
Honorable Mention: From Hell
As mentioned earlier, comic book films just barley started resurging again in the early 2000’s. Meaning, there were not any notable or major comic book films released in 2001. However, there was this overlooked film based on the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes released in 1997. Following the lives of two recently graduated young women. Earning an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Honorable Mention: Blade II
After seeing major comic book characters like Batman and Superman take their place on the big screen, it was shocking we had not been given a large theatrical release of the Web Swinging Wall Crawler. With Sam Raimi’s adaption, we were not disappointed. Accurately bringing Spider-Man to life and setting the standard for future Spider-Man films, considering we got quite a few.
2003: X2: X-Men United
Honorable Mention: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
If fans didn’t enjoy the original X-Men film, this is the one that would establish the mutant group into popularity with this worthy sequel. Introducing more mutants to the roster including Pyro, Lady Deathstrike and Nightcrawler made for a incredibly entertaining ride. Along with a compelling story that saw two enemies have to work together for the greater good of their people.
2004: Spider-Man 2
Honorable Mention: The Incredibles
Marvel strikes again with another worthy follow up to their first film. For its time Spider-Man 2 became one of the greatest comic book films of all time. Exploring the internal struggle of Peter Parker as he decides to take on the responsibilities that come with his great power, mixed in with a compelling villain from Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus and you really have something special with Sam Raimi’s worthy sequel.
2005: Batman Begins
Honorable Mention: V for Vendetta
After the failure of Batman & Robin, fans were anxious for another Batman film that would satisfy our Bat-Itch. Luckily, Warner Brothers and DC Comics handed the directors seat to Christopher Nolan who brought on Christian Bale to play his Bruce Wayne and gave us a film that would kick off one of the most iconic trilogies in film.
Honorable Mention: Superman Returns
The film that kicked off Zack Snyder’s directorial career. Based on the graphic novel adaptation by Frank Miller, this violent and gore-filled film is also one of the most stylized and entertaining comic book films. Starring Gerard Butler in the role as King Leonidas, the film also offers a unique style of filmmaking that would try to be replicated in future movies but never successfully created the way it was in this movie.
2007: Spider-Man 3
Honorable Mention: TMNT
While not the great comic book film, it still lives up to be better than everything else that came out the same year. While everything negative you could possible say about this movie, has been said. There are a lot of great pieces of the movie that at least made the film enjoyable. The introduction of Sandman and his relation to Peter, comes as a highlight of a film that we wish it would have solely focused on.
2008: The Dark Knight
Honorable Mention: Iron Man
After a year of mediocre superhero films, we were finally given the pinnacle in comic book movies. Many aspects of this movie are to be noted for what made this the masterpiece it is. Including the cinematography, story, protagonist dilemma and of course… Heath Ledgers Joker. Probably considered the greatest super-villain performance ever given, it is something that will never be replicated.
Honorable Mention: X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Just coming off the success of 300, Snyder once again delivers with this mesmerizing adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel. While not fully following the source material from the comic, it is still accurate to it in many ways. Casting this film perfectly with actors and actresses to accurately portray this dark ensemble of heroes, while also crafting a story that would fit a much more realistic setting.
2010: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Honorable Mention: Iron Man 2
A step in a different direction when it came to comic book films, came this adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel. Casting Michael Cera in the title role, stylizing the film with bright colors and over the top action scenes that made this one of the most unique and underappreciated comic book films. However, has received a cult following in recent years.
2011: X-Men: First Class
Honorable Mention: Captain America: The First Avenger
After the success of X2: X-Men United, we were given a few lackluster follow ups with X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. So when this film was announced, we weren’t sure how we felt about the franchise was going to progress. Fortunately we were not disappointed and the X-Men franchise was revitalized with this entertaining follow up that breathed new life into Xavier’s mutants.
2012: The Avengers
Honorable Mention: The Dark Knight Rises
Coming out during a year with so many other large scale comic book movies, this is definetly the one that managed to blow everyone away. Ever since it was teased in 2008’s Iron Man, we have been anticipating the assembly of Marvel’s Avengers. It was this film where we finally got to see Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye come together for the first time and defeat Loki with his alien army.
2013: Man of Steel
Honorable Mention: Iron Man 3
Just as Marvel released The Avengers, DC was scrambling to do the same with their characters. It kicked off with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, providing a much more realistic and grounded version of the iconic superhero. With stunning visuals and a worthy follow up performance by Henry Cavill as Superman, we were given an excellent kick off to the DC Extended Universe.
2014: Guardians of the Galaxy
Honorable Mention: X-Men: Days of Future Past
Just when we thought Marvel couldn’t produce anything else that could surprise us, Kevin Feige decides to take us on a wild space adventure with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Introducing us to Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon and Groot as a group with nothing to lose, coming together to successfully retrieve one of the infinity stones.
2015: Kingsmen: The Secret Service
Honorable Mention: Avengers: Age of Ultron
Stepping away from Marvel and DC, this movies comes from the comics created by Mark Miller and Dave Gibbons, which was published by Icon Comics. Following the character Eggsy as he is welcomed into a secret British organization, tasked with eliminating a global threat. Directed with fast-paced action sequences, by Matthew Vaughn (Director of X-Men: First Class) with an all-star cast which includes Taron Edgeton, Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson.
Honorable Mention: Captain America: Civil War
A movie that has been requested by fans for years, was finally given a worthy cinematic treatment. During a competitive year for comic book films, Deadpool managed to come out on top with its clever humor, stylized action, heartfelt story and amazing performance by Ryan Reynolds as the Merc with the Mouth. Deadpool managed to convince movie studios that R-Rated comic book movies can be worth the investment.
Honorable Mention: Thor: Ragnarok
After the success of Deadpool, the market for more R-Rated comic book movies was open. Which lead to the best installment in 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise with Logan. Jumping into the future with a withered down Wolverine and Professor Xavier, Hugh Jackman delivers his final performance as the Berserker with so much heart and emotion. Setting the standard for whoever becomes the next Wolverine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
2018: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Honorable Mention: Avengers: Infinity War
The most skeptical film of the year, ended up becoming the most entertaining and praiseworthy. Taking home the Academy Award for Best Animated Film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse changed the way we view theatrical comic book films. With a compelling story that gets you invested in its characters, while also exploring the lore of Spider-Man. Treating the film as a colorful celebration of the Wall Crawler.
2019: Avengers: Endgame
Honorable Mention: Joker
When we thought they couldn’t top The Avengers. Marvel Studios brings together eleven years of world building, leading up to this epic conclusion to the Infinity Saga. As every aspect of the MCU comes together in a final stand against Thanos and his army. A film that will make you sob, not from its emotional ending. But from the sheer happiness and satisfaction of witnessing such an accomplishment in film.
2020: Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Honorable Mention: Justice League Dark: Apokolips War
One of toughest years for the film industry, just before the pandemic we were able to see this exciting DC film. Following the events of 2016’s Suicide Squad. Harley Quinn splits with the Joker and sets out to make a name for herself. Introducing characters such as Black Mask, Black Canary and Huntress to the DC Extended Universe. Birds of Prey was a fun ride, for a not so fun year.