It used to be that when you were a comics fan, you were setting yourself up for disappointment in the movie theater. When I was growing up, comic book-based movies were really bad. But the past decade finally reversed that trend with the MCU and other great films. Here are ALL the comics/superhero movies I could think of, in order of greatness.
Here are some recent movies that were various degrees of great.
Could it be? Good Batman movies?
Robert Downey Jr. made this movie amazing. Everyone else was good, too. A near-perfect translation of a character from a book to the screen.
I don't know why the two Jessica Alba movies get a lot of flack. At least now we've seen that it could be worse. Sure, some parts were cheesy, but Chris Evans was dead-on as Johnny in these, and the Silver Surfer was incredible.
Great noir movie based on Frank Miller's comics and directed by Miller, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.
Another great Alan Moore story ...
Natalie Portman runs around a futurefied totalitarian Britain with a scary mask guy.
What's another groovy comic movie?
I'm a huge fan of the Flash, so I'm excited for those rare moments when superspeed is shown on film or tv. Here's a short list. Some of these are the "freeze time" effect, which is one aspect of superspeed.
Recently, someone on Quora asked, "Why aren't more superhero movies better?" Here's my response:
This question contains an unsubstantiated assumption. Yes, some superhero movies are bad, but there are bad movies in every genre. Why are so many sci-fi movies bad? Why are so many romantic comedies bad? Why are so many action movies bad?
Why pick on superhero movies? I feel strongly that superhero movies aren't measurably worse than other genres ... although I don't have the numbers to back up this assumption any more than you do. (It would be great to get those numbers!) One thing that I think few would argue with, though, is that superhero films gotten much better in the last decade.
Looking past your assumption, there are two other aspects of the question I'd like to examine. One is, why were superhero movies disproportionately bad before, and what changed? And the other is, regardless of what proportion of superhero movies are bad, some certainly are ... so how can they be improved?
These two questions have the same answer. I think the differences between good and bad superhero movies are:
1. realistic special effects
2. quality acting and scripts and other high production values,
3. and above all, staying true to the characters.
1. Realistic effects are particularly important in this genre because it is so spectacle-heavy. Many old films look laughable now because of their poor effects, and the most outlandish scenes from comic books were worked around or excluded because they were simply impossible. Nowadays, superhero films generally have huge budgets and the effects are univerally amazing. However, we all know examples of bad movies that had great effects. So this is the least important of these three factors.
2. Quality is self-evidentally what separates the good from the bad in any film genre (or artistic endeavor of any kind), but I want to call it out here for a reason. I think one reason comic book films were worse in the past was because they were looked down on as for kids, and so did not have enough legitimacy to attract great talent or serious themes. This has changed.
3. Staying true to the original characters is the secret to a great superhero film, though. Marvel has created film characters that seem like perfectly realized versions of their comic characters. Despite years of reading Iron Man comics, for example, when I think of him now, Robert Downey Jr. immediately comes to mind. He is more Tony Stark than Tony Stark is. But no one thinks of Henry Cavill first when they think of Superman, despite his suitable appearance and adequate acting, because Man of Steel didn't stay true to Superman's character at all.
Each significant superhero who has stood the test of time has a key theme woven into their character. Spider-Man has themes of responsibility and "everyman" themes. The Hulk is id vs. superego, our warring personalities. The Flash represents science and optimistic progress. The Fantastic Four is about family, the X-Men is about school themes, and also deals with prejudice. A key theme of Superman is that he has what we all want - great power - but ironically wants what we all have - a normal human life. By excluding the Clark Kent disguise, Man of Steel ignored this key theme, to its detriment. On the other hand, the recent Captain America 2 movie dealt with themes that Captain America has always tackled - the role of government, liberty vs security, and the appropriate role of patriotism.
Just like in any movie, resonant themes and great characters will continue to be what separate the good superhero movies from the bad.
Check this out on iFanboy.com: The all-time comic book movie box office ranking list.
There's an increasing number of great shows on tv featuring comic characters nowadays as well.