Comic Book Movies: Which Had Cultural Impact?

Joseph Gioeli Joseph Gioeli
Expert Contributor
July 20th, 2017

ComiConverse Expert Contributor focusing on film and television.

“What is the best comic book film ever?”; an extremely broad question that usually brings in multiple varying opinions. ComiConverse contributor Joseph Gioeli looks beyond the actual movies to determine which comic book films have been the most important to the culture of comic books and comic book films.

Comic Book Movies: Which Had Cultural Impact?

For decades, comic book films have been fighting for popular recognition. Films like Superman (1978) and Batman (1989) have become some of the most revered comic book adaptation films of their times, but they failed to truly dig their feet in and begin something much larger; with each of their sagas generally decreasing in quality as they went on and ending in disastrous form.

In May of 2008, Iron Man was released and did what the aforementioned films could not; it created  the most successful cinematic universe to date. This universe is nearly a decade old, will have a total of 17 films released within it by the end of this year, and has introduced well over 20 main comic book characters.


Comic book films

Credit: Marvel Studios

This universe also included one of the most groundbreaking comic book films. In 2012, The Avengers was released and completely blew the doors off the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This film featured heroes such as Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and The Incredible Hulk fighting against Thor’s brother Loki and his massive army of Chitauri warriors with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D and their director Nicky Fury – all in one film.

comic book films

Credit: Marvel Studios

This film set the stage for the Avengers sequels, Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and Avengers: Infinity War, split into two-parts, as well as Captain America: Civil War (2016), and inspired DC to begin pursuing its own extended universe, the result of which is the upcoming Justice League (2017) film. None of these films would be possible without the impact The Avengers made on the film world.

In terms of milestones, the most recent is Wonder Woman (2017). This is the first major comic book film with a female lead, and a female director. Many believed that without a superb supporting cast, this film would not be able to hold up to other comic book films. Contrary to that belief, not only did Wonder Woman hold its own in terms of critical acclaim, they also did so at the box office.

comic book films

Credit: DC Entertainment

Wonder Woman has become one of the most critically acclaimed comic book films and is by far the highest rated film in the DC Extended Universe, earning a Rotten Tomatoes score of 92% and an IMDb ranking of 8.1/10; scores that were unheard of in the DCEU.

Gal Gadot’s epic portrayal of Diana Prince in her first solo film has also reeled in roughly $570 Million worldwide at the time of writing.

To many loyal DC fans, myself included, Wonder Woman seems to be the savior of the DCEU. All we can do now is hope that Justice League continues on this critical upward trend.

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I often get asked what my favorite comic book film of all time is, and I usually respond with The Dark Knight (2008); although my reasoning is a bit different from the norm.

Many people loved/love the second installment in Christopher Nolan's trilogy because of Heath Ledger’s unbelievable portrayal of arguably the most infamous comic book villain of all time, The Joker. While this is a valid point, I rank this as my top film because of what it has done for the entire comic book film world.

comic book films

Credit: Warner Bros.

In 2008, the Academy Awards had five spots for Best Picture Nominees; to the surprise of few and dismay of many, The Dark Knight (a comic book movie), missed the cut. In 2009, the number of Best Picture Nominees was extended from five films to a possible ten films, primarily because of The Dark Knight's snub the year before. Also, even though The Dark Knight missed out on Best Picture, Heath Ledger did win Best Supporting Actor for his outstanding portrayal of The Joker; a first for any comic book film.

The Dark Knight put modern-day comic book adaptation films on the map. It also inspired many people that did not like comics, to start looking to comic book films for quality characters and storylines.

Do you agree? Is there a film that you believe had a bigger impact on the comic book culture?

Let us know in the comments below!

Joseph Gioeli is an Expert ComiConverse Contributor. Follow him on Twitter: @joegioeli

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