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There are tons of comic book characters and graphic novel stories coming to the big screen in recent years. As this summer block-buster season gets into full swing, movie-goers will be bombarded with super heroes and super villains. Some films will not live up to the hype.
The summer will also be the perfect time to look back at some of the comic book/graphic novel films that time has forgotten. Some of these films live on through sequels. Some have only been seen in crowds that follow independent films. However, these films listed do have a following somewhere. Here are ten comic book films that deserve a second look:
10. Red Sonja directed by Richard Fleischer
Many people don’t know that the film is based on the Marvel comic of the same name. Red Sonja was created by Roy Thomas. She first appeared in Marvel's Conan the Barbarian series (#23) in 1973. This Red Sonja was based on Red Sonya of Rogatino, a character created by Robert. E. Howard. I like this film because it is so bad. It has good action but some of the worst acting and writing. This is a classic sword and sorcery tale that has a ton of adventure, grandiose sets and decent effects for its day.
9. Hellboy directed by Guillermo del Toro
This film is an underrated film. I like it because it is essentially a monster movie based on Mike Mignola’s comics for Dark Horse. Hell Boy is a demon from hell that is immersed in the human world. He fights monsters and falls for a goth girl. I like this film because of its dark tone and unusual hero. Hell boy is not attractive and he is an outcast but he tries to do what is right.
8. Spawn directed by Mark A.Z. Dippé
Spawn is a character created by Todd McFarlane that has made a mark on the comic book movie genre. In fact, it is one of the forefathers of the genre. I like this film because it is about a character that is ugly and has a rough life. His powers are a curse and a gift. He gets sent to hell and comes back to earth only to lose everything. His wife has gone off with his best friend. He lost his good looks and his livelihood. Now he is a homeless person looking for revenge. The film shows his battle for greater purpose beyond seeking vengeance.
7. Constantine directed by Francis Lawrence
This film is based on the Hellblazer comics published by the DC Comics imprint, Vertigo. The thing is that John Constantine in the film does not look or act like the title character from the comics. However, the story is about the same. People who like Supernatural will love this movie. Visually, it is dark and moody and beautiful all at the same time. Constantine hunts demons. He has to work with Gabriel and Satan in order to prevent the end of the world. FYI, no one is good in this film.
6. The Mask directed by Chuck Russell
The Mask is a character based on the Dark Horse comics of the same name. I like this film for three reasons. One, Jim Carrey is hilarious as the Mask. Two, the film features music from Royal Crown Revue. If you like jamming big band soundtracks; you will like this film. Three, the Mask is a cartoon character that is in a live action film. There are tons of anvils and giant mallets to go around.
5. Men in Black directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Men in Black is based on the comics by Lowell Cunningham. I like the film because it incorporates comedy and sci-fi well. Will Smith is Agent J. He learns about a world of hidden alien species that have either been exiled or immigrated to Earth. He reacts like any other person would. He has to fight bad guys and learn to cope with this. Tommy Lee Jones is brilliant in the film as mentor figure. If you like aliens and comedy, re-watch this film.
4. Blade 2 directed by Guillermo del Toro
Blade is a Marvel Comics character that was published in 70’s. This is the best vampire movie in recent years. I am glad that this film exists because sadly, this is one of the only comic book movies featuring an African American man as the lead. I like this film because it puts Blade in an awkward place. He has to team up with the vampires he has been trying to kill in order to take down a new apex predator. The fight scenes are awesome as well.
3. Watchmen directed by Zack Snyder
This movie is so underrated. It is based on the graphic novel of the same name created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I like this film because it brings up deep philosophical issues and explores the super hero mythos. The story is very simple: A super hero is murdered and every other hero is concerned for their lives. As the story wraps up, the twists are what make the film so good. It is one of the most beautiful super-hero films I have ever seen. It might be a bad idea to read the graphic novel before seeing the film. The movie is not the same.
2. Persepolis directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi
This a coming-of-age story of an outspoken young Iranian girl that begins during the Islamic Revolution. This film is literary and takes comic book films to a new level. Marjane Satrapi wrote the graphic novels the film is based on and was involved in every facet. This is a fantastic film and it has garnered dozens of awards. I like this film because of the young girl and her spunky persona. Viewers will literally see her grow up and move across Europe and mix into European cultures while trying to keep her original Iranian culture. It’s also animated.
1. Ghost World directed by Terry Zwigoff
Daniel Clowes wrote the film and the comics/graphic novels the film was based on. I like this movie because it is about loneliness and companionship in a harsh world. The characters are off-beat 18 year-olds that hate pop culture. Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson play high school friends who want to skip college and move in together. When Birch’s character, Enid, meets Steve Buscemi’s character, she decides to give up on the plan and give up on growing up and gaining responsibility. As the film goes on, the two girls began to drift apart. It is sad to see but it is reality. This film is also an award winner.
Most of the films on this list were popular at one time or another. However, others did not get the attention they deserved.