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 411mania » Movies » Columns

411 Movies Top 5 8.01.14: Top 5 Wanted Comic Book Movies
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 08.01.2014

Welcome to Week 437 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: Most Wanted Comic Book Movies - Comic-Con took place this past weekend and comic book movie news and rumors ran rampant. Here, just name the Top 5 most wanted comic book movies you want to see. These can be superhero or non-superhero comic movies and they can be reboots of past movie franchises that have died as well.


Bryan Kristopowitz

Honorable Mentions: Xero, Criminal Macabre (do it as a series of TV movies), Primortals

5. Just a Pilgrim

This is the post-apocalyptic western created by Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra back in the early 2000's. It was about a mysterious gunslinger/religious fanatic named Pilgrim who helps a bunch of people look for water (something happened to the sun, which then caused the Earth's oceans to dry up, which then caused governments and nations to collapse, etc.). Weird beard psycho pirates are after the survivors. Pilgrim fights the pirates and keeps the survivors safe. Just a Pilgrim would make for a great smallish tent pole type movie, although I doubt the studio would allow Pilgrim to reveal himself to be a former cannibal. The story's religious overtones would also likely cause a studio executive to go "wait a second!" Regardless of the direction, either full on nasty and gory and sick or just grungy and slick (Pilgrim would have to be a former farmer turned psycho or something. No cannibalism), Just a Pilgrim would make for a pretty damn cool movie.

4. Jack Cross

Jack Cross only lasted four issues but it definitely made a kick ass impression (I think it sort of became a miniseries after the fact, as there were supposed to be more stories after the first four issues but DC Comics cancelled the book or creator Warren Ellis decided he didn't want to do it anymore. I don't know). The title character, Jack Cross, is a left wing anti-war activist by day and a psychopathic anti-terrorism freelance government agent by night. Cross, when pressed into service, would do anything to get a confession or, really, get the bad guy, and I mean anything (if you refuse to talk you're going to start losing limbs). The eventual movie would be chock full of bloody violence, nudity, and profanity although, I guess, a PG-13 version of this character could be created. The book also had a wonderfully dark sense of humor about it, which would help bring some levity to the nasty goings on. Jack Cross probably wouldn't be a mega hit or anything, but I think it could make just enough money to warrant a sequel and a new ongoing comic series. I know I would go and see the movie if and when it came out.

3. Savage Dragon

I'm shocked that, after twenty plus years, the only adaptation of creator Erik Larson's weird as hell, green skinned, fin headed ass kicker has been a cartoon series that aired on the USA network in the mid-1990's. Where the heck is Savage Dragon: The Movie? It just doesn't make any sense. It could be done as a live action deal with an actor in a suit (think Ron Perlman in the Hellboy movies) or as a live action/CGI cross (the Dragon could easily be rendered as a motion capture character). And while it would have to retain its sly sense of humor, any Savage Dragon movie would no doubt be generally warm and kind of friendly, even if the makers decided to be as a gory as the actual comic. The book has a sense of fun that few modern comics have (or even bother trying to create). If Spawn can get made as a movie, Savage Dragon deserves the same.

2. Mickey Spillane's Mike Danger

The premise of Mike Danger is probably a little lame now, considering Futurama and Idiocracy have the same essential set up: a guy gets cryogenically frozen, then wakes up in the future where absolutely everything has changed and he has to figure out how to adapt to those changes ("fish out of water" and all that). In the case of Danger 1950's private eye Mike Danger, while tracking down Nazis or something, ends up trapped inside a freezer (next to a frozen Hitler, as I recall it), and he gets thawed out one hundred years in the future (I think it would have to be changed to like two or three hundred years later). Danger doesn't adapt all that well to the future, but then that was the fun of the book and it would no doubt lead to plenty of funny "fish out of water" set pieces. The villain, for obvious reasons, wouldn't be a returned Hitler, but I bet the movie makers could create some kind of frozen Nazi psycho for Danger to fight. Again, the premise has been done multiple times now but I think Mike Danger would work. Man, I really miss Tekno Comix

1. Punisher: War Zone 2

To me, Punisher: War Zone is not only one of the greatest comic book movies of all time, it's also one of the greatest plain old movies of all time. Why shouldn't something as freaking awesome as War Zone, with Ray Stevenson's now brilliant performance as Frank Castle/The Punisher, not have a sequel? Who the heck cares if it bombed at the box office? Bring on Barracuda, the psycho mercenary that just refuses to die! Or bring on the black ops mercenary team that is paid to kill Castle because he's interfering too much with the mob's business! Just get Stevenson back into the armor so he can shoot, kick, blow up, and just generally destroy bad guys everywhere. And I think it would be worth seeing original director Lexi Alexander top her War Zone opening set piece.

How the hell is anyone going to be able to top that? I want to see someone try.

Terry Lewis

5. Another Thomas Jane Punisher

Despite it's massive faults, I'm still a big fan of Thomas Jane as everyone's favourite Marvel criminal killing vigilante, Frank Castle, in 2004's The Punisher. He managed to play up the broken man aspects of Frank superbly after setting out to kill John Travolta for wiping out his entire family - wife, kids, mom, dad, great uncle Billy - whilst at the same time nailing the gruff, straight man Frank is whilst living in a world of colourful characters. The sequel took ages to get off the ground and Jane quit. Whilst Ray Stevenson was an adequate replacement for Punisher: War Zone, he wasn't Jane. Jane would return to the character in a short but I feel there would be alot of interest to see him come back for a Frank big screen outing. With superhero films being more popular than ever, why not have a sideways look at the more stupider aspects at comic books with a Frank Castle led attack on rubbish supervillains? Set it in New York and have Frank taking on jobber villains like the Grizzly, hired by the Mob to protect their interests from the hero community. What's odd is that Marvel don't have any stokes in the fire to do with Frank whatsoever, despite him being far more recognisable previously than characters getting movies like Ant-Man. Make it happen Marvel!

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4. Y: The Last Man

Brian K. Vaughan's sterling masterclass of a post-apocalypse where all the male species of humans and animals have died off except for one man and his pet monkey is iconic in terms of comic book storytelling and themology. It's what cemented him as one of the best writers today and led to him getting gigs on Lost & Under The Dome. His opus, Y: The Last Man, remains un-adapted for the big or small screens yet the storytelling potential is rifle here of the timeless attraction of a road movie/show exploring how this now female-dominated world deals with various aspects of life. There was talk awhile ago with Shia LeBouf playing Yorick, our titular last man, from a David S. Goyer script but thankfully the rights revert back to Vaughan and series artist Pia Guerra soon so hopefully there will be interest from someone new keen to make an impression on this amazing post-apocalypse series. It would be nice to see a female led cast on TV or film in something like this for once, to break up the tedium of male orientated superheroes or comic related characters.

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3. Grant Morrison's Batman Death & Return

Grant Morrison is a comic book writer and a very good one at that. His Batman run which dealt with the breaking of Bruce Wayne mentally in preparation of everything he stands for being destroyed by the Black Glove organisation, before the supposed death by Darkseid before returning as every Batman through time (Pirate Batman, Caveman Batman etc.) whilst a plot is uncovered that Bruce is a walking time bomb who can destroy all of time and space.

Now imagine all that as the next three Batman movies.

Be pretty something huh? Sure it's pretty damn out there as far as comics go but we would see Batman out of his usual comfort zone on the big screen, becoming a legacy character. Could be an opportunity to show Bats dealing with a crisis outside of his beloved Gotham. Split it over three movies and we could have a LOTR-esque trilogy on our hands.

2. Another RDJ Iron Man

I've not kept private my feelings towards the last Iron Man movie with Robert Downey Jr. From a film which promised so much and failed to deliver massively with a lack of focus, it needs rectifying. Sure we can have Tony in Avengers but they still never really dealt with Stark's alcoholism. Heck, he's a billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, technology god - give him a gang of villains/hackers who want to corrupt him and drag him through the mud. RDJ's warmed to the idea of doing another singular movie and I'm not burnt enough to say no, so come on Marvel. Make it happen!

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1. Marvel's 'Hench-men'

Okay work with me a little on this - this is something of a fanboy pipe dream from me after all. I don't feel there's enough of a spotlight the comedic side of comic book heroes and villains. Sure, we've had Deadpool appear albeit neutered in that terrible Wolverine Origins movie, yet I don't think he would work to his full extent within a two hour movie. There's plenty of small characters who could work together in an Avengers style setting though as there's no way you could pull them off against something as serious as Earth's Mightiest Heroes IMO. Imagine the wise crackin', Merc with a Mouth Deadpool saving Jonah Hill as Bob, Agent Of Hydra (the most incompetent Hydra agent ever, yet he is world class in running away) and treating him as his pet subject before Bob rebels on the battlefield. The same time, the revamped AIM led by Will Ferrell's MODOK (a mutated giant headed man who uses a hover chair to get around) are working on their own version of the Hulk to stop the rise of the superheroes, making the AIM Hulk, or Channing Tatum. AIM Hulk just wants a quiet life and doesn't want to fight really. AIM Hulk & Bob meet in the middle of a warehouse raid and hit it off and rebel against AIM & 'Pool. The two go on the run together with their previous charges out to get them. There's so much you can do with that. Throw in few comedy actors and we'd be well on the way since we see them getting physical and having some comeuppance. Who wouldn't like to see Hill get one in the jaw for example Like I said, just a pipedream but just shows potential of a different take of the Marvel Cinematic Universe if they put some thought into it.

Michael Weyer

5. Usagi Yojimbo

Stan Sakai's award-winning comic imagines a feudal Japan where animals act like people. But this is no kiddie series; Usagi is a ronin, a masterless samurai, wandering the land, getting into various adventures, quick with a sword but a good thinker too. A full scale animated film would be glorious, Usagi in adventures with friends like bounty hunter Gen and others, clashing with sinister lords and such. Sakai's works are fantastic, taking on the themes of Kurosawa and other Japanese icons, a story of action but the themes of honor and duty that pertain to the samurai life. Put them together in the right way and this can be a fantastic story worthy of a classic series that puts a good spin on several genres at once.

4. Starman

This is more a personal favorite but James Robinson's DC series is one of the single greatest comics ever created. The first arc alone is perfect for a movie: After retiring as the hero of Opal City, Ted Knight gives the mantle to son David. But when he's killed, Ted's other son, irreverent tattooed antiques dealer Jack, has to be Starman instead. Mixed with great writing and a cool hero who's less the classic hero mold but still one to cheer for, the series can be a great ride for so many. There's plenty of other fun to be had, especially the dark former villain the Shade and the relationship between Ted and Jack gets all the nuances of father-son problems right. It may need to cut down on most ties to DCU but the comic alone stands as a brilliant work that would be a great thing to adapt for a main character that doesn't wear spandex but still a great hero.

3. Black Panther

There's been talk of him for a while and hope Marvel is smart enough not to go for a "blacksploitation" route on this. This is a man who is ruler of a land with ultra-high tech security yet still seen as a bit backward. He is a man of honor, a king but also a true warrior, a brilliant thinker who can take down most anyone. T'Challa would be a great focus for a major movie, a great black hero but not an American one, yet audiences can relate to him as he struggles for his throne amid threats. Smart and political script can help elevate the king for a nice royal treatment on screen.

2. Aquaman

Aquaman is cool. I know, the "smart fan" mentality is that he's a joke, pushed in by the likes of Robot Chicken and Big Bang Theory and such. But read Peter David or Geoff Johns and you will see a character with loads of potential, more than most in the DCU. He's king of Atlantis but bound to the surface as well, the only real hero for three-quarters of the planet. His strength is enhanced by so long in the ocean's depths, he knows secrets of our world few can grasp and that "talks to fish" thing isn't so funny when he command packs of whales or sharks at an opponent. It's long past time he got the respect he deserves and a movie can do that, show a great underwater world with Aquaman defending it, throw in Black Manta (in his classic cool as hell costume) and mix in the mythology of Atlantis with the CGI of fleets of fish of various types and you have a movie that proves how cool this character can be and put the joke to rest at long last.

1. Wonder Woman

I know, they're building it up. They have her in the new Batman/Superman movie (and have to say, Gal Gadot looks damn good in the costume) and the Justice League movie. But come on, Rocket Raccoon is getting a movie before Wonder Woman? This is the most famous and groundbreaking super-heroine of all time. This is an icon to so many, the last part of the big three of DC and that we have not gotten a movie for her is absolutely criminal. I know some have trouble working her right but at least try. The mythology, the power, so much potential for this warrior of the gods clashing with the modern world and Gadot would be great handling it all. I get they say it's coming but can't be too soon as far too long have we been denied the comic book heroine on the big screen. If nothing else, at least hoping they cast Lynda Carter as Hippolyta, that'd be great.


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