I really like to tackle similar ideas from slightly different angles.
You see, we here Ghosts of the Stratosphere have done our Top Ten Non-Comics Flicks of the 2010’s (and here are Andy’s list, Chad’s list, and our guest-star Johnny Ganache’s). And we as a group have done our list of the best Non-MCU Comic Book Movies of all-time on an episode of the podcast.
What happens when you look at those two topics and kind of do a fusion dance?
We get today’s topic: The Best Comic Book Movies of the 2010’s!
(Except we ARE including the MCU this time. So it’s not a perfect Fusion Dance. My finger was off a smidge, perhaps)
The reason I insisted our previous Top Ten of the 2010’s be separated from comics cinema was two-fold:
First, we are already a comic book podcast, and I want our website to be a bit more open-ended and accessible to folks who are here for more than funnybooks.
And the second reason–the reason that will offend others, perhaps–is that if I left that list open to comic flicks, they would have DOMINATED it.
The 2010’s were a perfect storm of GREAT comic book movies and relatively average everything else movies. There was stuff I liked, obviously, or I wouldn’t have made my own aforementioned list, but there was little that really got my blood pumping. Not in the same way the best comic movies of the decade did, anyway. Inside Out was on my list! It was adorable and charming. But I’d rather watch a solid 70% of the MCU over it any day of the week.
Also, I really need to clarify something before we get to the list: I LOVE DC COMICS. I really, really do. I think Post-Crisis DC is the best era for any company anywhere, and if an evil genie came to me right now and forced me to give up either Marvel comics or DC comics forever, I’d choose Marvel and be fine with that. (Except for losing Jubilee).
I love DC!
As far as comics go.
Okay, keep that in mind as we get into today’s list!
#10. Thor: Ragnarok
From the ashes of two very “meh” Thor flicks, Taika Waititi came and blessed us with the rip-roaringly fun Thor: Ragnarok.
Of all the MCU movies to this point, I have rewatched Ragnarok the most (aside from Endgame). And that’s because Ragnarok is so damn infectiously joyful that whenever I want to pop something in that I know will make me smile and deliver great action, I queue up Hot Fuzz.
I mean, that’s a better overall movie. But if I ALSO want comic characters, then it’s all Ragnarok!
Waititi took a struggling franchise that was meandering along and gave it purpose. These characters don’t have to be dire; they can be fun while still facing grave circumstances. It’s all great choices here. I really need to see Jojo Rabbit.
Look, it’s The Movie DC Did Right!
That’s not fair. Wonder Woman was fine, but ultimately forgettable. And Aquaman was basically an attempt at Thor Ragnarok with a much less competent cast and crew.
Shazam was the shot in the arm DC needed. It was the movie where they not only cast aside the depression and darkness of the early DCEU but also found a charismatic leading man who could handle humor and action. Zachary Levi IS Shazam; no person alive could have brought the wonder to the role that he did. Whatever weaknesses the story had, he and Jack Dylan Grazer (as Freddie) lifted everything up to their level. If this is what we can expect from DC going forward, sign me up.
#8. Avengers: Infinity War
Is this low? This could be low. But it’s more of a testament to what’s ahead of it than Infinity War itself.
Infinity War was the culmination of about twenty movies that came before it, the throwing together of ALL the action figures. And while it always had some level of possibility for implosion, it managed to keep everything coherent and let everyone shine. It also gave us one of the most magnificent villains in any comic movie in Thanos. The Mad Titan’s machinations were flawed and evil, but his reasoning seemed fair. He had a traumatic backstory that shaped his view of the universe, and he truly and wholly thought he was the hero eternity needed.
The different set pieces all worked and the occasional weird groupings of heroes had wonderful chemistry. This matched every best-case scenario.
#7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
I am sure eyebrows are raised, but hear me out.
When I saw GotG2 in theaters, but feelings were flat. It seemed like a rehashing of the first Guardians, just hitting all the same notes.
But then I saw it again with my cousin before it left theaters. Then again on download. And again just because. And you know what? I really love this movie! Every time I saw it, it just resonated more and more.
There is so much heart to this story. Gamora and Nebula find their way to each other. Peter Quill meets his absent father… only to find out he killed Peter’s mother. Yondu sacrifices himself in a scene that gutted me. I missed the feelings the first go ’round because I was lost in “Wait, did Drax get DUMBER?” pondering. But GotG2 doesn’t just look to cash in on its predecessor; it makes its own mark. I’d recommend watching it again if you weren’t initially a fan. It worked for me!
Freakin’ hell was Dafne Keen amazing as Laura. Child actors are so hit-or-miss, but Miss Keen walked right onto a set with Hugh Jackmman and Patrick Stewart and proceeded to hold her own in every regard. Magnificent chops from her.
Speaking of her and “chops”, the first time you see her in action? Simply one of the finest action scenes of the decade. She is a dynamo there.
Other than that, Logan gives us a different take on the Wolverine and Professor Xavier characters, maturing everything up while also–and more importantly–deepening their characters. They aren’t “superheroes” any longer; they’re just old men of a bygone era trying to make their way. And Jackman and Stewart shine with the opportunity.
It’s so weird to remember this movie almost never got made.
If not for Ryan Reynolds leaking the test footage of the car fight scene, and his constant support and efforts to bully Fox into getting it done, this might never have happened. And we would be a poorer world for it.
Deadpool was brilliant. It was supremely funny and brutally action-packed. It was the peak of everything that character can and has been at his best. Reynolds embodied Wade Wilson even better than Levi did Shazam, and that’s no small feat!
There is no shortage of bits in this movie that merit full-on belly laughs. The “16 walls” joke. The playing of “X Gon’ Give It To You”. Deadpool’s reaction to Ajax escaping. And it goes on. Great stuff.
#4. Guardians of the Galaxy
I love that the MCU had no qualm whatsoever about taking THESE schmuck characters and putting them in a big budget film and basing a good chunk of their universe around them. And at a point when the MCU wasn’t even bulletproof yet! GotG was not that far removed from the Thor movies or Iron Man sequels that were met with mild critical acclaim, yet the company was still sure enough that it could make stars of these nobodies. The balls of the MCU!
And it worked! Pratt and Bautista and Saldana and Cooper and Dieself gave life to these C-grade characters in a way I don’t think anyone outside of the MCU thought they would.
#3. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
Here we start the Top 3, and I’ll be honest… the order from here on out shifts like the wind. On any given day, I might be so moved to swap them in any order. This could be #1 tomorrow, who knows. Suffice to say that these next three are all A++ cinema.
I loved Scott Pilgrim Vs The World when it came out. LOVED IT. It became the first movie I ever saw three times in theater, and twice was by myself because I wanted to see again even if no one else would go. Everything is so bombastic and bright and bodacious; it’s an assault on your senses in the very best way. The overexaggerated actions and movements add to the storytelling. The comedy is spot-on. The cast is tremendous, and features turns by Chris Evans, Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza, and Anna Kendrick as they were all on the rise to their modern stardom.
SPVtW just throws every insane idea it can at you and respects you enough to know you’ll keep up. It’s smart and witty and did I mention I love this movie?
#2. Avengers: Endgame
And here is the second, and only other, movie I have seen in theater three times! All three were in the span of its first four days.
Do I LIKE Avengers: Endgame as much as the other two movies in my top ten? Do I think it is as great in a cinematography kind of way? Probably not. But do I think it is a flawlessly perfect culmination of ten years of film-making? Yes. Do I think it was far better than I even HOPED the sequel to Infinity War could have been, at its best? YES.
Endgame is less of a movie than it is an EVENT. It proved not only that cinematic universes could work, but that they could stick the landing to 20+ films and a decade of build-up. It made me feel, “Wow, I will never see a movie of this magnitude again in my lifetime”. I’ve seen Endgame and I’ve seen the Seahawks win a Superbowl. I can die any day now and be fulfilled.
I was simply blown away by how much stuff they fit into Endgame and how many callbacks and references and closed loops there were. Perfection.
#1. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
I still can’t believe I didn’t want to see Spider-Verse.
I very begrudgingly went to the theaters to see this for our podcast, and my expectations were very low.
It took the movie less than 20 minutes to have me convinced of how wrong I was. I’m not sure any movie marries music and effects and [voice] acting and emotion and characters as well as Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. This movie almost should not have worked. I mean… Peni Parker is a nobody. Spider-Ham is a joke. Spider-Noir was a video game creation. Peter Parker was a tubby schlub in this iteration. How do you go in with all of these elements and create THIS MOVIE? I certainly couldn’t have done it. But the movie lives and dies with Miles, and his story is the retelling of Spider-Man we all needed and didn’t know we did.
NOW. Just give me a sequel with more Miguel O’Hara!
Like I said… I love DC Comics! I promise! But man, their recent movie history is saddening. At least they had Shazam! So that’s something.
But there you have it, my Top Ten Comic Book Related films of the decade. To be fair, the 2010’s were flush with great movies based on the comic book medium, even as comics themselves were going through some extreme ups-and-downs in terms of storytelling and quality. Your list could look entirely different from mine and still have ten stellar movies, so I likely won’t be begrudge you for disagreeing with me.
Unless you are one of those Zack Snyder truthers, then just keep that to yourself.
Just kidding; you do you, Snyder-Verse! His DCEU work is not my mustard, but if it makes you happy, that’s what counts. Don’t let some schmuck like me tell you what you are allowed to enjoy.
It’s weird because I love DC, as mentioned, and I liked Zack’s work on 300, Dawn of the Dead, and Watchmen. It’s just… two great flavors that I don’t think went well together, personally.
I think of it like this: I like Balsamic Vinaigrette and I like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. But when I put vinaigrette on my peanut butter cup, it tastes like Pa Kent telling Superman to let a bus full of kids drown. Weird!
But do give me your list to see how it compares. I’m always dying to see what others think about these things.
And until next time… take care!