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The 411 Movies Top 5 05.03.12: Week 372 - Top 5 Marvel Comics Movies
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 05.03.2013

Welcome to Week 372 of the Movie Zone Top 5. My name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.

The 411mania writers were given the following instructions: Iron Man 3 comes out this week. Let's look at movies based on Marvel Comics characters. This includes them all, whether Marvel movies made them or not. What are your Top 5 movies based on Marvel comics characters? (only theatrical movies, no animated DVD releases please)


Bryan Kristopowitz

Honorable Mentions: Blade (1998), Iron Man (2008), Captain America (1990), X2: X-Men United (2003), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Men in Black 3 (2012)

5. The Punisher (1989)

The lack of a white skull on the Punisher's chest is a bit of a letdown, but this Dolph Lundgren led flick was the best Punisher movie up until 2008. In fact, up until Ray Stevenson kicked major ass in Punisher: War Zone and became Frank Castle, Lundgren was the vigilante dressed all in black, killing bad guys because they needed to be punished. Directed by Mark Goldblatt, The Punisher is a non-stop, badass action movie that features all kinds of great stunts, two great villains (Gianni Franco, as played by Jeroen Krabbe, and Lady Tanaka, as played by Kim Miyori), and some fine low budget atmosphere (the score still gets the blood pumping).

It's too bad that the movie essentially tanked and the studio that made it went out of business. I know I would have loved to see several Lundgren leed Punisher adventures. There are always more bad guys to kill (as Lundgren's Castle tells his old cop partner Jake Berkowitz, as played by Louis Gossett, Jr., what he's doing is a "work in progress"). Still amazing.


4. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Sam Raimi's sequel to his wildly successful Spider-Man is a non-stop action fest featuring Tobey Maguire as the web slinger taking on the deranged scientist Doc Ock, brilliantly played by Alfred Molina. The special effects are insanely cool, the battles between Spider-Man and Doc Ock are about as good as you're likely to see in any superhero movie, and the relationship between Spidey and his love Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) advances from the first one. I'm still in awe of the train scene. Easily the best of the three Spider-Man movies Raimi made. It's too bad that he isn't involved in the franchise anymore. The Amazing Spider-Man reboot was pretty good, but it was nowhere near as good as the first two Raimi Spider-Man movies.


3. Blade II (2002)

Director Guillermo del Toro took what Stephen Norrington did in the first Blade movie and amped up the horror and nastiness to make the Blade sequel a true horror movie. Blade, once again expertly played by Wesley Snipes, teams up with a group of vampire soldiers to take on the Reapers, super vampires that feed on vampires. Nomak, the lead Reaper played by Luke Goss, is disgusting looking, as he should be, and his Reaper brethren are terrifying (it's the mouth). del Toro also fills the movie with plenty of great action stuff, including a great final fight between Blade and Nomak. Hopefully, if and when we ever get another Blade movie, it tries to copy this movie instead of Blade: Trinity, which is still just awful.


2. The Avengers (2012)

The ultimate team-up movie, featuring characters from different movies joining forces to battle one grand enemy, The Avengers could have failed spectacularly if it didn't have a director like Joss Whedon at the helm. Of course, the people who did the movies leading up to The Avengers deserve serious credit as they helped set the stage to make the team-up movie a reality. I mean, if Jon Favreau's Iron Man failed, would The Avengers have happened? Would Marvel have been able to convince anyone, from Paramount to Disney, to go ahead and make a movie that had never been tried before? Doubtful. The Avengers is going to have a long shelf life. Will the eventual sequel be able to match the first flick in terms of scope and quality? It all depends on what comes before it, right? There are several individual sequels yet to be seen. Iron Man 3 looks like it will start things off right.


1. Punisher: War Zone (2008)

Punisher: War Zone is one of the greatest comic book movies ever made, one of the greatest B-movies ever made, and is the only movie so far to get the Punisher "right." Lundgren's movie comes close, whereas Thomas Jane's 2004 remake tries very hard but ultimately fails. Ray Stevenson is Frank Castle, is the Punisher. You know it the first time you see him in that mob dining room, standing on the table, ready to strike. And when the Punisher strikes, holy hooey it's nasty. He takes no prisoners, shows no mercy towards his enemy, and gets the job done without much fuss. That's what the Punisher is ultimately all about. Stevenson also gets to emote a bit, like when he goes to meet the widow of the undercover cop he accidentally killed, when he interacts with the little girl in the subway, and when he sits in church and explains why he does what he does ("Someone has to punish the corrupt."). I wish the movie made more money when it came out in theatres back in 2008. It was a great movie going experience. And we could be up to Punisher: War Zone 3 by now. That would rock.

Michael Weyer

5. Captain America: The First Avenger

I remember back in 2011, longtime "Cap" comic writers Mark Waid and Ed Brubaker were running down the casting of Chris Evans, saying it was impossible the man could be a believable Cap. They ended up eating crow as Evans nailed the character better than anyone could expect. The opening scenes are great as Evans (aided by some nice CGI) is totally believable as the 98-pound weakling Steve Rogers so when he's turned into the super-soldier, you care about him and root for his actions. Joe Johnston gives the whole thing a 1940's vibe from Cap's goofy work for war bonds to becoming a real soldier. Plus, Hugo Weaving steals the show, going over the top perfectly as the Red Skull while Hayley Atwell is nice as love interest Peggy Carter. Not just a key step toward The Avengers but a great story on its own as seeing Cap letting that famous shield fly was something comic fans had been dying for year and it was better than we hoped, giving the Star-Spangled Avenger his due just when the country needed him most.

4. Blade

Blade is interesting in that the movie version is far superior to the comic book one. Before he was a joke, Wesley Snipes had a pretty good star career and used it well for this role of a half-vampire hunting other vampires. Witness the opening scene of Blade showing up at a "blood club," the vampires present terrified at his mere name and then he slices and shoots them all into dust. He's cool as hell, bad-ass to the extreme with Stephen Dorff matching him as the suave vampire Deacon Frost, a punk who wants to stop dealing with humanity and treat them as the food they are. With a wild direction and cool soundtrack, it was the first truly good Marvel film and a reminder how you don't always need an A-list character to make a top movie.

3. Iron Man

Tony Stark is a jerk. Yes, he tries to do the right thing a lot but he's still a cocky and arrogant genius who knows he's the smartest guy in the room, shows it off all the time and revels in his wealth and bedding random women. The casting of Robert Downey Jr. in the lead is sheer genius, his Stark brilliant and when he's taken down by being injured, you feel for his struggle to survive and later make something of himself. It's wonderful seeing him inventing his armor and liking it ("Oh yeah. I can fly.") and redeeming his past ways balanced by Gwenyth Paltrow's wonderfuly sparkplug Pepper Potts. Plus, of course, the final scene shows how this was merely the start of something bigger for Marvel movies and thus this film was not only a hit but a sign of a true changing point for comic book films in general.

2. X2: X-Men United

The first X-Men film was good but this ranks as one of the best sequels ever. From the thrilling opening of Nightcrawler attacking the White House, you know you're in for a great ride as Bryan Singer enhances the elements and gives us what we wanted. Hugh Jackman coems to his own as Wolverine, going into full beserker rage against soldiers and Brian Cox is a great for as the fanatical Stryker. Plus, the idea of teaming the X-Men with arch-foe Magneto (Ian McKellan making you sympathize and even root for the man) pays off wonderfully. Truly one of the best comic films ever and a reminder why Marvel's mutants retain such popularity after all this time.

1. The Avengers

What else could it be? Anyone who says "It would have worked no matter who made it" is full of crap. There's a hundred ways this could have gone wrong from camping it up to focusing on one character over the others, too much or not enough action and more. But Joss Whedon found the perfect balance to it, mixing all the various Marvel elements into one beautiful package. From the sharp dialouge to how the actors bounced off each other with amazing chemistry to the slam-bam fight scenes, Whedon brought it all to life better than anyone expected. Sure, we got the big stuff (Thor vs Hulk, Cap and Iron Man clashing) but he made you care about every character in turn and brought it all together into the best comic book film ever which entertains no matter how many times you watch it.

Shawn S. Lealos

5. Blade II

The first Blade movie was pretty good and was proof that Marvel Comics characters could make for good movies before X-Men and Spider-Man blew the doors down. However, nothing in that first movie prepared audiences for the brilliance that came when Guillermo Del Toro entered the franchise. Del Toro took the character and - without the burden of an origin story - let him run. The Bloodpack was brilliantly realized, and as always, Ron Perlman was fantastic. The new breed of vampires was inspired and Luke Goss was fantastic as Nomak. This movie was just fun from start to finish and remains the highlight of the Blade franchise.

4. Iron Man

Iron Man is a film that is many things. It is a war movie that presents a look at the Middle East that would be ignored by audiences in any other movie. It is a superhero origin story that gets it right for the first time since Spider Man. It is an overlong drama that could have used a tighter hand in the editing room, trimming some excess fat out of an otherwise solid story of a man finding himself. Yeah, Batman Begins was a great origin story, but Iron Man matches is and - while the final fight is kind of generic - getting there is the fun and Iron Man gets it right.

3. Spider-Man 2

I absolutely loved The Amazing Spider-Man, the recent rebooting of the Spider-Man franchise. However, I can't deny how great Sam Raimi's second Spider-Man movie was. I'm an old-school Raimi fan from the Evil Dead days and I feel that, with the first movie under his belt, he could just cut loose with this film. The entire hospital scene with Doc Ock was straight out of an Evil Dead movie and was proof that this movie, above the other two, was all about Raimi's mindset. The bad guy was the best of the trilogy, the action was top notch everything just clicked perfectly. As much as I love the new direction of the Spider-Man franchise, I loved this movie most.

2. X2: X-Men United

The first X-Men movie was good, but this second effort by Bryan Singer just seemed to be the better story, and at the time, was the best comic book adaptation out there. While the first movie was more of an origin story for the joining of Wolverine and Rogue to the team, this one just let them go out and fight Magneto and the evil William Stryker. The opening with Nightcrawler bamfing into the White House and wrecking havoc was an awesome start, and it never let up. The fact that Jean Grey sacrificed herself set up the Dark Phoenix Saga, which was all kinds of awesome until they made the next movie and ruined everything. However, as a standalone film, X2 remains one of the best in the genre.

1. The Avengers

If my inner 12-year old comic book fan told you what he wanted to see in a comic book adaptation, what you would get is The Avengers. Yes, Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy transcended comic book movies, but The Avengers is everything a comic book movie should strive to be. Joss Whedon, the king of the geeks, knows what fans want and he gave it to them. The action, the dramatic moments, the comedy, the geek-out moments and the characterization is all there. This is not a cinematic masterpiece, but might be the greatest comic book movie ever made.


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