Sunday, July 8, 2018

It seems as though there is a comic book movie hitting theaters every month. Some are fun to watch, some are truly masterpieces and others are horrendous affairs that make critics and fanboys alike groan from either their silliness, their inability to pay respect to the source material or both. Certainly, Marvel movies seem to saturate the market the most. How many years have they been building up to May 2012's Avengers movie through post-credit extra scenes? Seems like forever.
I'm a huge Marvel fan, but even I will concede that several of the DC-sourced Batman films have far exceeded most of what has come out under my favorite brand. But some of the Marvel stuff has been quite enjoyable.
Here are my top 10 favorite movies based on comic books published by Marvel:

10. Thor

Though I was never really much of a Thor comics fan, the fantasy setting and the overall mythical approach taken for this film were refreshing after having seen Marvel try so hard to make its characters fit into 'real world' settings in previous films. Chris Hemsworth is perfect for this part and quite likable as an action star. Plus, bonus points for Natalie Portman.

9. Captain America

The beginning of this movie is one of the more humorous, interesting comic book-based intros to a film. All of the characters, though never developed much, were likable and good fits for their parts. Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci and Hugo Weaving lend credibility and flair that's been missing in some Marvel films. There were too many explosion scenes and not enough fight scenes, but the action sequences that did feature Cap in combat were some of the most fun to watch I've ever seen.

8. X-Men

There was nothing more exciting than seeing my favorite superheroes in action on the big screen for the first time. Though, as a longtime fan, I wasn't happy with the deviations from the source material, I still feel as though the writers developed a believable enough Marvel universe for this film franchise to take place within. The heavy focus on Rogue was kind of a letdown, but this is a strong film throughout that does enough to pay fan service while bringing in elements for general audiences as well.

7. Blade II

While the first Blade movie was cheesy and the third one kind of jumped the shark, Blade II was a sweet spot for the vampire-hunting film genre. Excellent action sequences and a pre-tax-evasion Wesley Snipes with a 'tude made for a good combination for excitement.

6. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

This movie gets a lot of crap. And I'll be the first to admit that Marvel relies on Wolverine way too much to sell its various rags. But there's no denying that very few people actually dislike Wolverine as a character. He's the perfect superhero — more vulnerable than a boring invincible character like Superman, but able to recover quickly from most wounds and equipped with superhuman strength and senses. James Howlett/Logan/Wolverine is the ultimate man of mystery, so an origin story is instantly fun to watch. Several cameos from other heroes and epic action sequences make this a prequel that gets a worse rap than it really is.

5. X2

Take everything good about the first X-Men movie and double it. An instant recipe for success. While the first X-Men film had to spend a lot of time with introductions and character development, X2 was able to jump right back into the story and introduce more fun in the X universe.

4. Men in Black

Few films have the standing in pop culture that Men in Black has. It has action, two great stars, an insane amount of humor and an approach that, while ultimately rooted in science fiction, is consumable by viewers of all ages and interests.

3. Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. is basically the real-life Tony Stark, minus some brain cells. But he's close enough to do one heck of a job playing a part that got quite a bit of attention in the first Iron Man film (where actual scenes as Iron Man weren't super prevalent). The origin story, modern setting with futuristic sci-fi inventions and decent on-screen chemistry among the actors jived to make a better film than I ever expected from this one.

2. The Punisher

Perhaps it's my military background, but The Punisher really resonated with me as he was portrayed in this movie. (I'm talking about the Thomas Jane version, in case anyone is wondering... there have been a few films with this title.) I thought the characters Frank Castle meets when living in his ratty apartment were fun, and the villains and storyline in this movie were deep and interesting. John Travolta makes one heck of a bad guy. If you missed this one, definitely give it a chance.

1. Kick-Ass

Who hasn't dreamed of actually becoming a vigilante crimefighter? Here's the story of a kid who actually does it. While some scenes later in this film are very sensationalized, the fact that the main character gets beat down a bit (because he is, afterall, just a teenager) adds a level of realism that gets you thinking. Overall, this is the ultimate underdog story that still sprinkles in plenty of action and humor with the storytelling. Probably best if you don't let the kiddies watch Kick-Ass, but for adults — it's a good time.

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