The Ten Best Comic-Book Adaptations

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The Independent Culture

1 BATMAN Tim Burton, 1989

This film made people aware of the darker side of the super hero story, that its responsibilities would not be without mental apparitions. And, of course, visually it was mind-boggling.

2 SUPERMAN Richard Donner, 1978

Christopher Reeve's performance was so natural. You never questioned that he was such a good guy, when he actually had the power to rule the planet if he'd wanted to.

3 DARKMAN Sam Raimi, 1990

Not based on a comic strip, but very much in the tradition. Liam Neeson is Darkman, who has been disfigured and seeks revenge on those who harmed him. It has a heightened reality feel that's the nearest approximation to reading a comic book.

4 AMERICAN SPLENDOR Shari Springer Berman, 2003

I loved Paul Giamatti's subtle performance; and the way they incorporated the comic book panel in the film and played with dialogue balloons.

5 CHANDU THE MAGICIAN William Cameron Menzies / Marcel Varnel, 1932

A crazy film, one of the original comic book strips. Stan Lee always credited Chandu as giving him the initial idea for the character of Doctor Strange. It's got all the great pulp stuff and is done with great elan.

6 PALOOKA Benjamin Stoloff, 1934

This was a comic strip about a boxer from the Twenties and Thirties. It's got great dialogue, gangsters, nightclubs and it's set in this murky, New Yorky sort of place. A really fun movie.

7-8 X-MEN 1 & 2 Bryan Singer, 2000, 2003

They read like two chapters of the same piece. The comic has this atmosphere of grandeur and imminent tragedy and a focus on the calamitous relationships between the good and evil mutants and the humans that persecute them. Singer gets all of that.

9-10 SPIDER-MAN 1 & 2 Sam Raimi, 2002, 2004

Raimi really understands Spiderman. Peter Parker has this fundamental sense of decency. He's so far from perfect and yet he has so much power, he has this inexhaustible desire to keep trying and do the best he can.

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