Most Underrated Comic Book Movies
As I’m sure anyone who has ventured past a cinema lately knows, movies based on comics are big money right now. Just this past summer we’ve seen; Captain America, Spiderman, and the X-Men make return trips to the big screen with the Guardians of the Galaxy making their cinematic debut this past week. But with so many comic book films coming out some are sure to pass under the radar undetected. If you want to look for some super hero entertainment outside the usual film favorites, try checking out some of these underrated comic book movies.
Daredevil: Director’s Cut: This film is cited as the main reason many people are cautious in accepting Ben Affleck as the latest Dark Knight. But the version you saw in theaters was not the Man Without Fear you were supposed to see, in fact if you happen to discover the original director’s cut of the picture you will find that it is a completely different and far superior film. Adding much more intrigue and heart to Affleck’s portrayal of Daredevil and imbuing the film with a depth that the theatrical cut was lacking. But it’s not all sunshine and happiness as this cut of Daredevil, also shows the audience the Frank Miller-esque darkness and edginess the flick was supposed to have in the first place. Plus more of the late Michael Clarke Duncan’s incredible performance as the Kingpin is always a good thing.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm: The Caped Crusader is easily one of the most popular characters in fiction no matter what medium he is in, yet his animated cinematic debut was a box office dud when it premiered. Based on the acclaimed animated series, Mask of the Phantasm gave us a fresh and unique look at Batman’s origin portraying Bruce Wayne as a more reluctant hero than we’ve seen before. The film follows Batman as he is framed by a new villain who has mysterious ties to the Dark Knight’s past, and while dealing with this, his billionaire playboy alter ego has to deal with the return of an important figure from his past. All the while, the Joker lurks in the background with a plan of his own. The voice cast in this film is top notch, as Batman regulars, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill give their all, and are supported by the likes of Stacey Keach, Abe Vigoda, and Dana Delaney. Sadly in the era of the Burton and Schumacher blockbusters, a movie showcasing a more vulnerable and human Batman, did not catch cinema audiences in the way it should have, but luckily the film has gained a following upon home video release.
The Phantom: Lee Falk’s legendary pulp hero, hit the big screens in the 1990’s with derision from the critics. But the film is nothing short of a fun filled, swashbuckling romp which hearkens back to a classic era of dashing charming heroes and diabolical villains. The purple clad jungle hero is portrayed with great charm and charisma by Billy Zane, who effortlessly endears himself to the audience as he faces down an entertaining Treat Williams who devours every scene he can get in. With a supporting cast which features fan favorites like; Patrick McGoohan, Kristy Swanson, James Remar, and Catherine Zeta Jones; this movie deserves a second chance from those who refuse to give it one.
The Crow: A film that is one of the best examples of a cult classic, this dark and dreary love story will always be remembered for the tragic accident which led to the loss of Brandon Lee. Adapted from James O’Barr’s graphic novel the film follows Eric Draven, as he is brought back from the dead by the crow who took his soul to the afterlife. Imbued with supernatural powers and aided by his friend, Detective Albrecht played by the always enjoyable Ernie Hudson; Draven seeks to take his revenge on those who took his life. A dark and violent film, that embraces the bleak color palette of the source material, the Crow is a surprisingly hopeful film which at its heart is nothing short of a love story.
The Watchmen: Adapting what is arguably the greatest comic book of all time has been called impossible, and while not perfect Zack Snyder’s picture definitely deserves an A for effort. With an incredible ensemble cast, the Watchmen oozes of Snyder’s love for the project. Any fan worth their weight in comics, by now knows the plot and are sure to appreciate the effort taken to remain true to the source material.
Batman (1966): Anything where Adam West puts on the legendary cape and cowl is resented by many fans for ruining the reputation of comics for mainstream audiences. But the 1966 cinematic outing of the Caped Crusader held back nothing; sharks, submarines, marching bands, people turning into sand, and Batman’s greatest foes all joining together! Presented in with the bright garish colors of the best 1960’s pop art, this satire of Batman is a non stop riot. Much like the James Bond movies of the same era, Batman, takes grim and gritty source material and adds a extra helping of flair and camp for the audience of the time.
The Rocketeer: Much like The Phantom, this was a period piece super hero film from the 1990’s which earned the ire of critics and fans upon it’s debut. Brilliantly set in the Golden Age of Hollywood, a young pilot stumbles upon a jetpack and draws the attention of a Nazi spy ring with connections in high places. The old school pulp influence makes for an enjoyable film, including a brilliant climax in a zeppelin, mirroring the best of old school comic adventures.
Road to Perdition: No capes, no tights, this hard boiled and gritty adaptation of the comic from Max Allan Collins, is not fun super hero fare like most comic adaptations, it is a story about bad men and their crimes catching up to them. Giving audiences a rare look at notorious nice guy Tom Hanks, as a ruthless anti-hero. In an attempt to protect his son from the mob he once trusted, Hanks has to contend with; a pre-Bond Daniel Craig, Jude Law as a demented hitman, and screen legend Paul Newman in an incredible performance. One of those rare films where everything falls into place perfectly, this crime epic should earn a spot as one of the greatest gangster films of all time.