The Best & Worst Comic-Book Movies Of All Time

The plethora of superheroes gracing the big screen can be overwhelming. Batman's fighting Superman, Captain America's fighting Iron Man — and who the hell is this Deadpool guy? However ubiquitous these movies are, comic books have been the source material for some great films. From Richard Donner's classic Superman films to the Joss Whedon's quippy Avengers, we love a hero story done well.
But comic-book movies are not faultless. The genre has given short shrift to women, and when things get bad, they can get really bad. (We're lookin' at you, Fantastic Four.) In this slideshow, we take you through the best and the worst of the genre, which we define as movies adapted from comic books or graphic novels with stories that hinge upon a classic hero vs. villain conceit. This means terrific films like Ghost World are left off our roundup. (Don't worry, we'll think of another list to honor that one.)
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Without further ado, cue up the John Williams, and click through.
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The Best...

Atomic Blonde (2017)

Move over, James Bond. Charlize Theron's Lorraine Broughton navigates a divided Soviet-era Berlin with more grit and suaveness than the iconic cinematic spy.

Atomic Blonde is based off a book called The Coldest City by Antony Johnston.
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The Best...

Blade II (2002)
Half vampire and half man, Blade is fighting to save humanity in this second installment in the Blade trilogy. When a powerful vamp tries to genocide the human race, Blade must team up with a team of elite vampires. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Blade II is a superhero movie with horror elements.
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The Best...

Deadpool (2016)
No matter how Deadpool had actually turned out, it probably would've earned a spot on this list. We're suckers for any superheroes cool enough to bump Salt-N-Pepa and DMX. Soundtrack aside, Deadpool has its cinematic merits: The titular anti-hero is sly and crass with charming results.
4 of 24
The Best...

Sin City (2005)
This graphic novel adaptation is also a great example of the dark and twisty neo-noir aesthetic. The 2014 sequel wasn't as good as the original, where an ensemble cast navigates a seedy underworld of crime, greed, and desire.
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6 of 24
The Best...

Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010)
Remember Michael Cera? Remember his skinny, cardigan-wearing charm? The actor held his own in this adaptation of another graphic novel about a bass guitarist battling his new girlfriend's superhero exes. This vibrant teen tale also features other future stars: Chris Evans, Brie Larson, and Anna Kendrick.
7 of 24
The Best...

Superman (1978)
If for some reason you've only seen Zack Snyder's dreadful recent takes on the Man of Steel, get your hands on Richard Donner's 1978 classic immediately. Christopher Reeve is the personification of men- in-tights done right, and he gives Clark Kent just the right amount of dorky sweetness. This is the film that basically defined the modern superhero movie.
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The Best...

Batman Returns (1992)
Tim Burton brought an auteur's touch to the sequel to his own Batman. Unmistakably Burton-esque in moodiness and wit, Batman Returns gives Michael Keaton's Bruce Wayne and Dark Knight a formidable foe in the skintight-black-latex clad Michelle Pfeiffer, still the best damn Catwoman since Eartha Kitt.
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The Best...

Men in Black (1997)
Men in Black is a hilarious buddy comedy, an ode to the eternal weirdness of New York City, and a great alien movie. It's ingeniously creative. If you haven't seen it in a while, re-watch it now. You won't regret it.
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The Best...

X-Men (2000)
Two of the modern era's greatest thespians, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, battle it out as Professor X and Magneto in the first installment of what became the colossally successful X-Men franchise. Looking back, it's hard to believe that Hugh Jackman was a virtual unknown when he first donned Wolverine's claws.
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The Best...

Spider-Man (2002)
Spider-Man keeps getting rebooted, but it's hard to beat Sam Raimi's ebullient 2002 blockbuster starring Tobey Maguire as the web-slinger. It showed audiences that superheroes could be relatable — Peter Parker is nothing if not a conflicted teenager at heart. It also gave us that kiss.
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The Best...

Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Raimi followed up Spider-Man with an outstanding sequel. Alfred Molina's Doc Ock is a villain with pathos. Raimi managed to up the stakes of the first Spider-Man while still maintaining its heart.
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The Best...

Hellboy (2004)
Of course monster fanboy and maestro of horror Guillermo del Toro was drawn to Hellboy. Del Toro's gloriously unfettered creativity is everywhere in this adaptation that stars Ron Perlman as the Hellboy, a hideous-looking crimson demon fighting for good.
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The Best...

Iron Man (2008)
By now we know what to expect from Marvel Studios, but think back to 2008, when Iron Man set the playful, self-aware tone of these films. Jon Favreau's tale of a snarky billionaire inventor turned hero started an empire and revitalized Robert Downey Jr.'s career.
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The Best...

The Dark Knight (2008)
The second installment of Christopher Nolan's brooding, anarchic Batman trilogy helped superhero movies reach a new level of prestige. When The Dark Knight failed to get a Best Picture Oscar nomination in 2009, outrage ensued. The following year, the Academy changed the number of films eligible for top honors. Christian Bale is excellent as the man in black, but no one can match the operatic villainy of Heath Ledger's Joker. Frighteningly unhinged, his Joker is one of the best villains of all time.
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The Best...

Thor (2011)

Thor could have just been a trip to Chris Hemsworth's gun show, and we probably would have been fine. However, director Kenneth Branagh brought his Shakespearean flare to the project, honing in on the Asgardian royal family's epic power struggle. And, as in the Bard's best work, the moments of comic relief are sublime.
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The Best...

The Avengers (2012)
Throwing all the major Marvel heroes into one movie could have resulted in an unwieldy mess. But with Joss Whedon in the writer-director chair and Tom Hiddleston stealing the show as Thor's sulky, vengeful brother Loki, The Avengers was a delight even for non-fanboys and -girls. Come for the banter, stay for the shawarma.
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The Best...

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
This one was a big question mark for Marvel. Could a lesser-known comic about a ragtag team of heroes find an audience? Turns out, yes, if you put Chris Pratt front and center, surround him with a sensitive tree named Groot and Zoe Saldana as a take-no-prisoners alien heroine, and let him bust several moves to classic rock tunes. Welcome, Chris Pratt, Movie Star.
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The Best...

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Bryan Singer combined two generations of X-Men in this film. Though the timeline is confusing and the cast is packed, it all works. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender's chemistry as Professor X and Magneto cannot be understated, and Evan Peters' Quicksilver makes your jaw drop in a single slo-mo scene.
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The Worst...

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Oof. This DC adaption was like one very long, very bad day. It’s all doom and gloom for Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill as Batman and Superman, and we’re all the worse for it. The bad reviews poured in, but the the Sad Ben Affleck meme might have made it all worth it.
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The Worst...

Batman & Robin (1997)
Joel Schumacher's second Batman film replaced Val Kilmer with George Clooney — in the infamous batsuit with nipples. It's hokey at best and thudding at worst (Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze), and overall, a must-avoid at all costs.
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The Worst...

Elektra (2005)
Poor Jennifer Garner became the poster girl for how few resources Hollywood is willing to put behind female-fronted comic-book movies. After her charming turn as the assassin Elektra in 2003's Daredevil, Garner was saddled with a DOA spin-off with a plodding, ponderous plot and all the subtlety of a bear tattoo coming to snarling life on a bad guy's chest. One of Marvel's first — and worst — misfires.
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The Worst...

Green Lantern (2011)

The goofy and garish Green Lantern seriously overdid it on the CGI. Even lead, Ryan Reynolds, thinks it's a laughing stock. In fact, he takes some time to mock the DC Comics dud in this year's meta, R-rated Deadpool — his more successful superhero property.

Despite Green Lantern not spawning any sequels, it did at least lead to a real life romance. Reynolds and his Carol Ferris, Blake Lively, married in 2012.
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The Worst...

Fantastic Four (2015)
Behold, the biggest bomb of 2015. The much-hyped reboot of a series that petered out less than a decade ago, Fantastic Four was slammed by critics and eked out a lamentable $56 million at the box office. The behind-the-scenes drama was far more interesting than the actual movie. And the wig Kate Mara was forced to wear is an offense in and of itself.
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