Tag Archives: Marvel Comics

Top 5 Rogues Galleries in Comics – #2

Coming in 2nd in the villain-collection countdown is my favorite superhero, Spider-Man. His cast of bad guys is most definitely one of the best, and is surely one of the most colorful. His villains tend to not be massive level threats, but rather smaller-scale ones that often focus their evil deeds directly at Spider-Man himself. Also one distinction Spidey has over other heroes is that it could be argued that he has two nemeses.

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Spider-Man

 

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The most vicious, personal, and psychologically damaging among his rogues gallery is the Green Goblin. Norman Osborn was the first villain to learn Spider-Man’s secret identity, and has continually used that knowledge to torture Peter Parker ever since. Brilliant both in science and tactics, and given enhanced strength and durability (but driven insane) by an experiment gone wrong, the Green Goblin attacks Spider-Man and his family on all fronts, and is responsible for arguably the defining moment of Spidey’s life: the death of his first love, Gwen Stacy.

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Almost on par with the Green Goblin is Dr. Octopus. He has been Spider-Man’s most consistent enemy having made his first appearance in just the third issue of Spider-Man’s solo comic, and has been wreaking havok on him continually since. Equipped with mechanical arms that he can control telepathically, Otto Octavius is almost singularly obsessed with killing Spider-Man, even once saving him from another villain that was about to kill him, just so he could kill Spidey himself. The history between Doc Ock and Spidey became even more entwined when their consciousnesses were swapped and Ock was dying. Inside Peter’s body he swore to be an even better Spider-Man, but ultimately failed as he didn’t hesitate to kill criminals instead of bringing them to justice.

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As part of his obsession with defeating Spider-Man once and for all, Dr. Octopus formed the Sinister Six, a super group of some of the Wall-Crawler’s greatest foes. Though the line-up has changed throughout its history, the team usually consists of: Electro (ability to shoot and control lightning), Mysterio (expert illusionist and effects specialist), Sandman (body composed of shape-shifting sand), Vulture (brilliant criminal with a bodysuit equipped with wings), Kraven (the world’s greatest hunter who sees Spider-Man as the “ultimate prey”), and lead by Doc Ock. Spider-Man typically requires help from other heroes to defeat the Sinister Six.

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After Spidey manages to remove the Symbiote that had become his black costume, the Symbiote falls onto Eddie Brock, a humiliated reporter that Spider-Man had proved a fraud. Their combined hatred for Spider-Man and Brock’s cancer-ridden body producing extra adrenaline (which the Symbiote feeds on) come together to form a new and totally vicious entity known as Venom. With full knowledge of literally everything about Peter Parker, the ability to block Spidey’s Spider Sense, and a twisted sense of morality, Venom immediately becomes a major threat to everyone in Spider-Man’s life.

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When the offspring of the Symbiote is left in Eddie Brock’s prison cell after his escape, it bonds with his cellmate, the psychopathic serial killer Cletus Kasady. Fueled by hatred for its “parent” and Kasady’s psychosis, Carnage is born. Breaking free and going on brutal killing spree, it took a truce between Spider-Man and Venom to defeat him. Even after his initial defeat, Carnage has continued to be a sadistic thorn in the side of the Web-Slinger.

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When biologist Curt Connors experiments on himself with reptile DNA in an attempt to regenerate the right arm he lost in the military, he is instead transformed into the mindless reptilian monster simply known as The Lizard. He eventually changes back, but will occasionally revert back to his monstrous form without warning. His story is one of the more interesting of Spider-Man villains, as Spidey is stuck trying to stop The Lizard’s deadly rampages but also trying to do so in a way that doesn’t permanently harm Connors.

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Biochemist Michael Morbius attempted to cure himself of a rare blood disease by experimenting on vampire bats, he inadvertently gave himself a form of “psuedo-vampirism” where he must subsist on human blood in order to survive and gains superhuman strength, reflexes, durability, and the ability to fly. His appearence also changes to resemble that of a bat, becoming known as Morbius the Living Vampire. His need to feed has set him at odds with Spider-Man on multiple occasions.

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While J. Jonah Jameson may not be the type of character you think of when you’re discussing a hero’s rogues gallery, but he has been every bit as big of a thorn in Spider-Man’s side as anyone else. Being Peter Parker’s boss at the Daily Bugle means that Peter has to listen to Jameson’s constant hate-filled defaming of Spider-Man on a daily basis. Jameson hasn’t settled to just attempt to destroy Spider-Man’s reputation through the media, but has also been behind several supervillains’ attempts at killing Spidey, including being responsible for the creation of major Spider-Man villain, The Scorpion.

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Top 5 Rogues Galleries in Comics – #3

Following The Avengers at # 5 and The Flash at #4, coming in third in our countdown is Marvel’s merry band of mutants, the X-Men. There probably isn’t a more diverse group of villains that those of the X-Men. They have enemies ranging from those capable of destroying entire solar systems to super-powered assassins. This is a rather lengthy list, so I’ll try to be brief with all of them.

The X-Men

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Obviously first and foremost among X-Men baddies is the Master of Magnetism, Magneto. Rarely does a villain and hero represent such diametrically opposing ideas as the X-Men and Magneto. For most of his time in comics Magneto has sought to subjugate mankind under mutant rule, while the X-Men fight to be accepted by and live in peace with humans. He even formed his own group of mutants to fight for his cause called the Brotherhood of Mutants. While he is the oldest and most persistent villain to Professor X’s team of mutants, he has on multiple occasions been a part of, and even lead, the X-Men.

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Much like Magneto, Mystique has been a major antagonist to the X-Men both as an individual and as the sometimes-leader of the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood’s roster has always been in a constant state of flux, the most prominent members include Toad, Mastermind, The Blob, Pyro, Avalanche, Destiny, Sabretooth, Sauron, and even briefly Magneto’s twin children Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch before they reformed and began fighting for good instead of evil.

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Jealous of of his step-brother, Charles Xavier, and what he perceived as preferential treatment from their father, Juggernaut hated Professor X long before he found the Gem of Cyttorak that granted him superhuman strength, near invincibility, and unstoppable momentum while in motion. His only real weakness is to psychic attacks, so he (like Magneto) wears a helmet that keeps telepathic mutants from being able to attack him psionically.

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Created by Dr. Bolliver Trask as a means to exterminate the mutant population, Sentinels have long been a major threat to not only the X-Men but all mutants. Their level of threat was never more on display than in the “Days of Future Past” story arc, where it is revealed that in the future, after a US Senator is murdered by a mutant (Mystique), the Sentinels wipe out the vast majority of mutants and other super-powered beings, and the few that are left are rounded up into internment camps. In a desperation move, the future Kitty Pryde is sent back to the present to stop the assassination from taking place.

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Bent on creating an army of mutants to fight for him in what he believes to be an inevitable war between humans and mutants, Apocalypse is one of the most dangerous baddies the X-Men face. To create this army, he pits mutants against one another in battles to the death, many times against their will. Those that survive he brainwashes, enhances their abilities, and often mutilates their bodies into better weapons. There is no better example of than when Apocalypse captured Angel, turned his skin a pale blue, ripped his wings off, and replaced them with metallic ones with razor sharp feathers that could be thrown at an enemy. Born in ancient Egypt, Apocalypse is believed to be the very first mutant.

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Obsessed with DNA and creating the perfect mutant, Mr. Sinister is one of the stranger big bads of the X-Men. While he is a brilliant physicist and biologist, Sinister is also a serious threat in battle as well. He is essentially immortal and has the ability to control his body down to the molecular level, he can change the consistency, density, strength, and appearance of any part of body, making him virtually indestructible. The one thing that has shown to consistently hurt him are the optic blasts of Cyclops, leading him to focus his obsession for perfection on Scott Summers, his wife Jean Grey, and the future version of their child, Nathan Summers, better known as Cable.

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When Jean Grey became bound with the entity of pure psionic power known as the Phoenix Force, her already considerable telepathic/telekinetic abilities were enhanced to virtually limitless levels. The Phoenix Force lay dormant inside Jean until muniplulation from Mastermind and a telepathic battle with the then-evil Emma Frost of the Hellfire Club brought it to the surface, becoming the Dark Phoenix. After nearly killing them and draining a sun to rejuvenate itself (killing all life in the solar system surrounding it), the Dark Phoenix was immediately recognized as one of the most dangerous beings in the universe. There are very few beings in comics that can match the Phoenix Force in terms of sheer power. It can destroy all creation in all dimensions of existence if it so chose. This has put it at odds with the X-Men and other peoples throughout the galaxy. The difference is, the X-Men are concerned with not only stopping the Phoenix but also saving their friend in the process.

 

Top 5 Rogues Galleries in Comics – #5

Due to there being a 3-way tie for 5th place in the poll, it took awhile to actually decide a top 5. But we finally have it sorted out. So without further ado, let’s get started on the countdown of the greatest collection of villains, as voted on by you.

We begin our journey with Marvel’s primary supergroup:

The Avengers

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Earth’s Mightiest Heroes don’t have quite as lenghty a list of major adversaries as some of the other protagonists in the poll, but the level of a threat that their villains typically pose is quite high. Which makes sense considering that the whole point of The Avengers is to deal with threats that no hero could handle individually.

 

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Atop their list would be Ultron, an android bent on the annhilation of the human race. Created by Hank Pym, and given his brain patterns, Ultron is as brilliant as he is powerful. Equipped with an army of drones that all share a hive mind, a myriad of laser weapons, the ability to control and/or transfer his memory and personality into other mechanical devices remotely, and an exoskeleton made of the virtually indestructible metal adamantium, it’s not difficult to see why he has remained such a constant thorn in the side of The Avengers.

 

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Not far behind Ultron on the list of Avengers baddies would be the maniacal Kang the Conqueror. Using time-traveling technology from the 30th Century, Kang (who is a decendant of Mr. Fantastic, with connections to Dr. Doom as well) travels from one time period to the next attempting to establish himself as ruler. Even though he possesses no actual superpowers, his genius-level intellect, his knowledge and skills in physics and engineering, and armor and technology from far more scientifically advanced times, Kang has been a major villain for several of Marvel’s heroes, but most notably The Avengers.

 

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Essentially the antithesis of The Avengers would be the Masters of Evil, a team of major, and sometimes not so major, villains banded together to destroy their heroic counterpart. While the team has gone through several incarnations, it is usually lead by prominent Captain America big bad Baron Zemo. The first villains to really bring the fight to The Avengers instead of the other way around, they have attacked The Avengers Mansion on several occassions.

 

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It would be very easy to dismiss The Taskmaster as a major player, but that would be a mistake. While he has no superpowers outside of “photographic reflexes”, the ability to absorb, recall, and replicate knowledge and information instantaneously. This allows him to mimic and predict the movements and tendencies of any hero he sees. His in-depth observation of The Avengers has allowed him to replicate the hand-to-hand combat skills and athleticism of Black Panther, Daredevil, Iron Fist, and Captain America, as well as Cap’s abilities with his shield, the marksmanship of Hawkeye and Black Widow, and the swordsmanship of the Black Knight. It may not seem like much, but he has proven time and time again to be a threat worthy of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

 

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While he is most notably a villain of Thor, Loki has been a significant adversary of The Avengers as well. In fact he inadvertantly lead to the creation of the team. He had used The Hulk as a puppet to try to get revenge on Thor. Eventually his deceit is discovered and Rick Jones, Hulk’s sometimes sidekick, reaches out to Iron Man, Ant-Man, and The Wasp to assist them in defeating Loki. From that moment on, he has remained a fly in the ointment of The Avengers.

 

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Arguably the greatest single threat to the Marvel Universe was Thanos when he wielded the Infinity Gauntlet. Granted virtual omnipotence from the Gauntlet, heroes (and even a few villains) from across the galaxy joined forces lead by The Avengers in an attempt to stop Thanos from destroying all life in the universe. Even after his defeat in the Infinity War, The Avengers have continued to battle The Mad Titan over his obsession with death.

Werewolves and Vampires and Zombies. Oh My!

It’s October. Which means one of my favorite holidays is right around the corner, Halloween. I love Halloween. The costumes, the candy, and a little good old fashioned scariness all come together to make for a great season (because seriously it’s more than just one day). With spookiness and supernatural roots being part of the core of the season, what better time to highlight some of the greater supernatural characters in comics. I tried to steer clear of characters that dealt specifically with magic (John Constantine, Dr. Strange, Zatanna, etc.) and those who are the product of science experiments gone wrong (Swamp Thing, Morbius the Living Vampire), and instead focused on those that have more true supernatural origins and abilities. Let’s take a look at some of the characters that go bump in the night.

 

Spawn (Image)

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Arguably the most popular character on the list, especially at his peak. When Al Simmons dies and is sent to Hell for his sins, he was granted powers from Malebolgia (essentially Satan) with the intent on him becoming his greatest weapon against Heaven. Simmons rebels against Malebolgia and becomes a very violent anti-hero instead.

 

Blade (Marvel)

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Marvel’s half-human/half-vampire. After his pregnant mother was bitten by a vampire, he was gifted with the strength, speed, and stamina of a vampire (but also the hunger for human blood), without the weaknesses against daylight, garlic, and holy water. Blade decides to use his abilities to rid the world of vampires.

 

The Spectre (DC)

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Chosen as the Spirit of Vengeance after his brutal death during a robbery, Jim Corrigan is one of the more powerful beings in all of DC Comics. He is for all intents and purposes omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent with the ability to change reality. One of the few characters uneffected by DC’s multiple continuity resets, retaining knowledge of all of the realities that existed before.

 

Werewolf By Night (Marvel)

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As the name would suggest, Jack Russell, due to a family curse, transforms into a mindless werewolf during a full moon. However, he can also voluntarily transform outside of the full moon, and during these times he retains his human intellect. Much like Blade, Werewolf By Night uses his abilities to defend mankind by fighting against the forces of darkness.

 

Solomon Grundy (DC)

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DC Comic’s resident zombie. When Cyrus Gold was murdered in a swamp, he was reborn as a monstrous, almost mindless undead creature. Taking on the name Solomon Grundy after the nursery rhyme, he returns to the life of crime he had lived before his death. Mostly an enemy to the Green Lantern, he has also been a major villain in the Batman comics as well.

 

Ghost Rider (Marvel)

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Stunt-rider Johnny Blaze is fused with the demon Zarathos after a deal with hell dimension ruler Mephisto goes wrong. Blaze transforms into a skeleton wreathed in flame when in the presence of evil. Cursed to punish the wicked, he is one of the more violent and merciless anti-heroes Marvel Comics has to offer.

 

Deadman (DC)

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When trapeze artist Boston Brand is murdered during a performance, his spirit is imparted the ability to possess the body of any sentient being by the Hindu god Rama Kushna in order to seek justice. After doing so, he continues on as a force for good among the dark. When in ghost form he is able to become invisible, intangible, and can fly.

 

Moon Knight (Marvel)

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After being betrayed and left for dead in the Egyptian desert by his parter, mercenary Marc Spector is given the chance to survive from the Egyptian god Knoshu by becoming his avatar on Earth. He takes the opportunity, avenges his attempted murder, and begins fighting crime as the vigilante Moon Knight. With his sanity connected inseparably to the moon and its phases, the fuller the moon, the more violent and erratic he becomes.

 

 

Top 10 Favorite Heroines

So often in comics, woman are relegated to supporting roles. Whether they are the love interest of the male hero, the damsel in distress, a plucky sidekick or subordinante team member, or, worst of all, simply a plot device that is used as a way of motivating a hero’s vengeance against his enemy, known colloquially as “the woman in the refrigerator.” There are, however, many strong, well-written, and straight up badass females out there in comics. These ladies all have several things in common. They are independent, compelling, and all have a healthy dose of sex appeal. While they may seem like a misogynistic thing to say, for all of these characters, they own their sexuality, using it to futher empower them, rather than jsut be eye candy. I feel like I’m doing a disservice by only listing the top 10. But for the sake of time and not wanting to risk reader burn out with another multi-part countdown, 10 is what I’m doing. Here we go.

10. Voodoo (Wildstorm)

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9. Zatanna (DC)

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8. Elektra (Marvel)

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7. Emma Frost (Marvel)

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6. Captain Marvel (Marvel)

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5. Wonder Woman (DC)

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4. Michonne (Image)

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3. Psylocke (Marvel)

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2. Harley Quinn (DC)

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1. Catwoman (DC)

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Quick Shots from Comic-Con – Part 1

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Comic-Con International took place in San Diego over the weekend. The annual geek convergence is always a hotbed of trailer debuts, logo/information reveals, and cast panels. Marvel gave us a new, much longer trailer for Doctor Strange, showed off the logos for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Black Panther, and dropped a bombshell in the casting of titular Captain Marvel. DC debuted a full-length trailer for Wonder Woman and dropped a sizzle reel for the upcoming Justice League. And just as importantly, first trailer for Season 7 of The Walking Dead debuted as well. With so much to cover, I’m just going to hit the highlights and give my condensed opinion on each.

 

The Walking Dead trailer 

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We’re only 3 months away from finally finding out who lost their life at the hands of new big bad Negan. The trailer is brilliantly constructed with the first half running down the potential victims and giving us a very brief history of each characters, and the second half showing us the few characters that didn’t find themselves at Negan’s mercy and giving us some huge reveals: The Kingdom, Ezekiel, and Shiva! Forget Negan; King Ezekiel’s pet tiger is going to be in the show this season! Just kidding (mostly), because I can’t wait to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan tear it up this season.

 

Doctor Strange trailer

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Finally opening the doors to the supernatural corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this movie looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. Benedict Cumberbatch is genius casting and I can’t wait to see his take on Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme. We also finally got a good look at the films villain (potentially villains, but I won’t spoil that for those not familiar with the comics). Boy does the trailer get trippy. Like Inception on acid.

 

Daredevil Season 3 announcement

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I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Daredevil had officially been renewed for its third season. I had assumed that with the upcoming Defenders cross-over on horizon that the Man Without Fear’s solo series would be put on hold temporarily. I’m very glad to see that that isn’t the case. The greatest superhero television show ever produced will be gracing us with a new installment soon.

 

Wonder Woman trailer

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As big of dumpster fire as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was, this movie looks incredible. For many, Wonder Woman was one of the few bright spots in BvS, and it appears that that bright spot is ready to shine on her own. Being set in World War II, this movie appears to be in a lot of ways what I had hoped the Captain America: The First Avenger would have been: a gritty, realistic war movie with a superhero dropped in the middle of it. My only real issue is the continued overly-dark cinematography that is apparently going to be the signature of the DCEU. Aside from Batman and some of their imprints, I’ve never seen DC as a particularly dark comic brand. So why are the movies so dark?

The 25 Greatest Comic Book Movies (Revised) – Part 5

This is it. The top 5 greatest comic book movies of all-time. The final installment is pretty much unchanged from the last time, with only one new addition, and all the rest remaining in the same slots as before. With each having two films in the Top 5, we can definitively say that The Dark Knight and Captain America series are the best comic-based franchises Hollywood has produced.

5. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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The lastest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While not a direct adaptation of the story arc from the comics, the film hits a few of the high points, but takes the story in a completely different direction in others. A compelling story, fantastic acting (especially from Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther), one of the most complex villains in the MCU so far, great direction, and amazing fight coreography make this a truly incredible film. Getting to see Spider-Man come home to the MCU was another highlight.

 

4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a game-changer for comic movies, and the greatest solo film in the MCU. Far more a smart, political thriller than an overly action-heavy popcorn flick, this movie covers some major topical issues that we’re facing in a modern, technology-driven world. Aside from showcasing how intelligent a comic-based movie can be, the film also rocked the Marvel Cinematic Universe to its core with the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D., the outing of HYDRA, and the faked death of Nick Fury. The fight coreography is the best ever in a comic movie, and in the conversation of best in cinema, period.

 

3. Batman Begins (2005)

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The first chapter in Christopher Nolan’s reality-grounded Dark Knight Trilogy. Finally a Batman story that showed the audience how a billionaire orphan became the world’s greatest detective and guardian of Gotham City. A great script and Nolan’s brillaint direction are paired with spot-on casting across the board, with Christian Bale (Batman), Gary Oldman (Jim Gordon), and Liam Neeson (Ra’s al Ghul) giving particularly great performances. Cillian Murphy also delivers a wonderfully creepy portrayal as the Scarecrow. This is easily the greatest origin story in comic book movie history.

 

2. The Avengers (2012)

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The culmination of the first phase of the most ambitious project in cinema history, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’d seen two movie franchises mash up (Freddy vs. Jason, Alien vs. Predator) to varying degrees of success, but to combine four individual franchises in one monster team-up was ground-breaking. Intricately weaving them into one universe seemed a near impossible task, but Marvel Studios and Joss Whedon did so marvelously (pun intended). Getting to see alpha personalities of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, and Nick Fury all thrown together was truly a sight to behold. Whedon also hammered out a great story that brought them all together in an organic, unforced manor (unlike a certain DC team-up movie).

 

1. The Dark Knight (2008)

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Easily the greatest comic book movie ever made. In terms of pure storytelling, The Dark Knight is unmatched. Powerful and epic in scope, yet minute in subject. The diametrically opposing ideas of order vs. chaos have never been so beautifully displayed. Bale and Oldman again, give strong performances, but they along with everyone else that has ever been in a comic movie, are completely overshadowed by the masterful work of Heath Ledger as The Joker. Ledger brings a real-world darkness and insanity to a role that is so often portrayed as silly and/or over-the-top, earing him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the lone major acting award win for a comic book movie role.

 

I’m looking forward to revisiting this list again next year. Can movies like Suicide Squad or Dr. Strange claw their way onto the list? We’ll find out.