5 Best Non-Superhero Comic Book Movies
Comic book movies have been all the rage, with the bulk of them being superhero movies. Superhero movies have been around for a long, long time. However, the recent boom came after the success of X-Men in early 2000, then again with the hysteria surrounding the The Dark Knight trilogy. Now, we have giant superhero universes that span across multiple movies and franchises.
What people don’t realize is that comic book movies aren’t always superhero movies. There are plenty of comic book adaptations that don’t involve caped heroes and millionaire vigilantes. Two movies releasing this weekend (R.I.P.D. and Red 2) are based on comic books. 2 Guns, which releases August 2nd, is just another example.
I also thought the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con was a fun tie-in for this week.
Today, I’ve collected 5 of the best comic book adaptations that don’t feature a superhero (or vigilante if you are strict about your definition of a “superhero”). This rules out the aforementioned X-Men and Batman movies, as well as other favorites like Iron Man and Kick-Ass.
Seeming pretty similar to R.I.P.D. based on the first trailer, I thought Men in Black was a pretty obvious choice for this list. After morphing into a franchise, the movies lost a little of the luster, but there is no denying how fun the original M.I.B. movie was. The first movie was based on Lowell Cunningham’s The Men in Black which was first released by Aircel Comics in 1990. Through buyouts, it eventually landed in Marvel’s hands. Obviously, the movie franchise, which took a step in the right direction in last year’s Men in Black 3, became more popular, but they have the comic book to thank for the idea. They came up with both the concept and the characters Jay and Kay.
Edgar Wright’s (Shaun of the Dead) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a rare example of a film that actually looks like a comic book. Based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series, the action comedy uses a lot of the same colors and effects that make comic books so artistic. I’ve met plenty of people that didn’t like the movie, but I’ve met just as many that absolutely loved it. In this case, it’s a rare instance where I have read the source material and I enjoyed both equally. Wright does a phenomenal job adapting it to the big screen, too.
I’ll be completely honest, A History of Violence was the biggest surprise when it came to researching this topic. David Cronenberg’s (Cosmopolis) 2005 crime thriller starring Viggo Mortensen (The Lord of the Rings) is actually based on Paradox Press/Vertigo/DC’s graphic novel of the same name by John Wagner. From what I understand, the plot of the two stories are quite different, but it is the themes that truly matter. The film is good because of how it deals with violence, instead of just casting it off like so many crime thrillers tend to do.
I mentioned that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was a rare movie that felt like a comic book. However, the next closest, in my opinion, would be Zack Snyder’s (Man of Steel) adaptation of 300. Frank Miller is known for his works in the Daredevil and Batman franchises (among others), but developed the 300 graphic novel with Lynn Varley for Dark Horse Comics in 1998. It has hints of historical nonfiction but is more “inspired by” than “based on.” It’s probably true the film is more of action porn for a certain male demographic (which I definitely belonged to at the time of its release in 2006), but I still get wildly excited when it comes on TV. Snyder and company utilize great visuals and a graphic novel-like style to create an exhilarating movie that is comparable to Miller’s comic.
Another Batman alum, in Alan Moore, had to top my list. Moore helped create V for Vendetta (released by Vertigo from 1982-1989), which later became a feature film adaptation. James McTeigue (The Raven) was responsible for the dystopian movie in 2005 (or 2006 in the U.K.). There is a little controversy over the adaptation because it takes a bigger stance on American government than the intended British government. However, I think the cultural and political impact behind both the comics and movie transcend this controversy because the story explores some powerful stuff, including surveillance, propaganda, corporate and political corruption, and much more. For ignorant people that claim comic books are juvenile, hand them a copy of V For Vendetta.
As for honorable mentions, a popular choice would be the Blade movies. Also, both Dredd and Wanted were serious contenders on my list.
Any that I missed? Chime in below!
Follow me on Twitter @jmacle