Feature: 10 Film Adaptations of Comics

After film adaptations of games, the next cross over is obviously film adaptations of comics & graphic novels. Considering we have been and still are going through the biggest boom of comics to films, it made sense. So let’s take a look at films made from comics.

From Hell

10. From Hell

From Hell (2001) is loosely based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. Starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham in a story which investigates the murders by Jack The Ripper.


9. Thor / Hellboy / Batman

We have a tie for 9th place; Thor (2011) based on the Marvel comic created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Larry Lieber. Thor starred Chris Hemsworth as our main man along with Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston. It was well received, and we are expecting the sequel to be released later this year, titled Thor: The Dark World.

Our next tie for 9th is Hellboy which is based on the Dark Horse comics by Mike Mignola. Hellboy has two films in it’s franchise so far, both of which starring Ron Perlman as Hellboy. The first film released in 2004, and the second titled Hellboy II: The Golden Army released four years later in 2008. It is rumoured there is a third installment on the cards with Guillermo del Torro returning as director.

batman forever

Our final tie for 9th place is based on the DC Comics created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Batman has had a massive seven films. Starting with two directed by Tim Burton; Batman (1989) starred Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as The Joker. The franchise started at a high. The second was Batman Returns (1992) with Keaton returning as Batman, this time starring along side Danny DeVito as Penguin.

The following two Batman films are ones we’d rather forget, directed by Joel Schumacher. Batman Forever (1995) starred Val Kilmer as Batman, Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Dent, Jim Carrey as Riddler and Chris O’Donnell as Robin. The second of the two titled Batman & Robin (1997) continued to star Chris O’Donnell as Robin but this time his caped crusader was George Clooney. Mr Freeze portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, and Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. This was the least liked film of the entire Batman franchise.

Dark knight

Christopher Nolan took on the latest trilogy of Batman films which are the most popular of the franchise. With a staple cast of Christian Bale as Batman, starring along side Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, and Gary Oldman. Batman Begins (2005) also starred Katie Holmes as Bruce Wayne’s love interest Rachel, and Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow. The Dark Knight (2005) continues with our staple actors and also includes Heath Ledger as The Joker, Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent and Katie Holmes was replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal. On average The Dark Knight is the most well received of the entire Batman franchise. The final of the three films titled The Dark Knight Rises (2012) also starred Tom Hardy as Bane, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Blake.


8. Spider-Man

Spider-Man is based on the Marvel comics series by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko which has four films under his belt so far. The original trilogy directed by Sam Raimi and starring the staple cast of Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man, Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane and James Franco as Harry Osborn. Spider-Man (2002) saw William Dafoe as Spidey’s rival. Spider-Man 2 (2004) had Alfred Moline and Spider-Man 3 (2007) had Thomas Haden Church and Toper Grace.

The recent reboot of the franchise titled The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) starred Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man and Emma Stone as Gwen. In this feature Rhys Ifans was our villain, The Lizard. The sequel which will also be directed by the conveniently named Marc Webb will be hitting screens next year also starring Jamie Foxx and Paul Giamatti.


7. X-Men

X-Men currently has five films with another two (technically) on the way. Based on the Marvel comics; X-Men (2000), X2 (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and X-Men: First Class (2011) starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, James Marsden, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn and Shawn Ashmore. First Class saw a change in line up introducing James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult. A lot of name dropping there.

ghost world

6. Ghost World / Iron Man / Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

We also have a tie for 6th place; Ghost World (2001) stands alone and is based on the comic of the same name by Daniel Clowes. Starring Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson along side Steve Buscemi. With many hidden links and references, it makes for an interesting watch.

Our next tie for 6th comes in the form of Iron Man, another Marvel creation of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber and Don Heck has two films in the franchise; Iron Man (2008) and Iron Man 2 (2010) with a third exploding onto our screens this summer. Starring Robert Downey Jr. as the lovable Tony Stark and Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts.

And the final comic to film franchise tied for 6th place is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2009), which is based on the comic created by Brian Lee O’Malley. The film was directed as Edgar Wright and starred Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Scott’s love interest Ramona Flowers. Scott Pilgrim also stars the lovable Anna Kendrick as Scott’s sister, Stacey. Not to mention Kieran Culkin as Scott’s gay flat mate, Wallace.


5. Watchmen

Watchmen (2009) is a stand alone film based on the DC Comics graphic novel by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins. The Watchmen graphic novels ran for just over a year in 1986. The film seemed to have pleased a lot of its fans.


4. 300

300 (2006) is based on a comic by Frank Miller and starred Gerard Butler as its lead role. Being the hot topic of conversation around its release, we are finally being given sequel scheduled for later this year. However, Zack Snyder won’t be returning as director for the sequel titled 300: Rise of an Empire.


3. Kick-Ass

Based on the comic book by Mark Millar and John S. Romita Jr. Kick-Ass starred Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Kick-Ass, Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl, and Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy. Kick-Ass burst onto our screens and left a bazooka sized hole when it left. The much anticipated Kick-Ass sequel is being released this summer and also stars Jim Carrey and Donald Faison.


2. Sin City

Sin City (2005) is based on another of Frank Miller’s creations, and stars a huge line up. Including Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood, and Josh Hartnett just to name a few. After a long wait, we are expecting a sequel later this year, titled Sin City: A Dame to Kill For which will include Joseph Gordon-Levitt (to continue the name dropping).


1. The Avengers

The Avengers (2012) is based on the Marvel comic created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in 1963. This blockbuster starred another huge line up including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner and Tom Hiddleston – without forgetting Samuel L. Jackson. The Avengers is currently number 3 in the highest grossing film ever, so it’s no wonder there’s a sequel already in the works expected in 2015.

Franchises that didn’t make the cut include: Captain America, Superman, Daredevil, Elektra, The Hulk, Catwoman, The Crow, Green Lantern, Judge Dredd, Fantastic Four, Jonah Hex, The Punisher… There are so many.

It’s safe to say that film adaptations of comics are generally better than the adaptations of games. (Try and forget Ben Affleck as Daredevil from your memory.) It’s fairly evident that Stan Lee owns a large portion of this chart.

Check out our article about film adaptations of games by clicking here.

Chart is made based on the average scores on each franchise provided by user ratings on IMDb. Franchises with multiple films have had the mean calculated across the all the user scores. Correct at time of publishing.

Zara enjoys random chit-chat, so why not have a natter with her on Twitter? You know you want to.

Author: Zara Waqar

Associate Editor (Films) and veteran of PopBucket, gamer girl and resident film guru. She loves anything zombie and laughs roughly 80% of the time.

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  • dt

    Spider-man? And no V for Vendetta? Are you serious?

    • BlackTar

      seriously agree with you

  • BlackTar

    Spiderman movies sucked. To put them on the list ahead of batman is sad and no v for vendetta but from hell is not very cool.

    I see you love Marvel comics ,ore then DC comics. Its cool you should note that up top

    • Hey BlackTar,
      Thanks for the feedback. V for Vendetta was definitely a good one, it was a tough call – when looking into the franchises there were SO many to look at.
      If i hadn’t of gone via IMDb user scores and averaged them all out across the franchise – Batman would of been ahead of Spider-Man. No doubt!
      Thanks for having a read though! I hope to see you back here to pick at my next article! :)

  • RabbitFly

    Just a heads up Mark Millar wrote Kick-Ass but it was Frank Miller that wrote both 300 and Sin City.

    Personally I would put The Dark Knight at number 1, but if we have to do the whole franchise then maybe not. However I think that The Avengers was pretty average and I cringe a bit inside when you include Thor with Hellboy and Batman.

    I would have liked to see more alternative adaptions on a list like this too though. Like someone already mentioned V for Vendetta is great and personally I thought “The Loosers” was an almost perfect comic to movie adaption although the movie kinda tanked at the box office.

    • Hey RabbitFly!
      Thanks for the heads up on that – obviously I was focusing too hard! I’ve corrected that mistake. :)
      If it was based on individual films, I would definitely of put TDK nearer the number 1 slot.
      Maybe I’ll do a separate list of alternative adaptations! :)
      The Losers, I remember seeing it at the cinema and thinking “Yeah, this is pretty good!” – I bought it on blu-ray when it came out and when i watched it again it didn’t hold its awesomeness from the first time! I may have to go back to it at some point and give it another stab.

  • NachoKingP

    Agree that Spider-Man was ranked too high, and V should have been included. Also, you really should have someone proofread the names you wrote, there were many, many misspellings of names, and some other ones. Just have someone (knowledgeable of the material) look it over before posting, sometimes a second set of eyes catches easy mistakes.

    • Hey NachoKingP,
      Thanks for taking the time to have a read. If i hadn’t taken user scores from IMDb and averaged out the franchises as a whole – Spider-Man wouldn’t of been 8th!
      Also forgive the sloppiness, I’ve gone back in and adjusted the errors :)

  • Sin City, 300, Watchmen, Kick Ass and maybe Batman, the rest should be punishable by death to include in any list with the word top.

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