If you thought that comic book movies were crowded with Hollywood releases to such an extent that every month seems to bring along another film or tv series, then you’d be right, and to be honest, the shine is beginning to dull when it comes to the success these are bringing to the Marvel and DC studios.
Believe it or not, there was a time before comic book adaptations were the regular part of the movie blockbuster genre, and it’s widely accepted that the casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man was the catalyst to the massive success that has since followed.
This led to a myriad of successful movies, be they other Marvel creations such as the Spider-Man series, with Tobey Maguire and Tom Holland’s iterations in the role being more financially successful than when Andrew Garfield played the lead role, to Christopher Nolan’s epic take on the Batman franchise.
Marvel has traditionally been a more successful branch of the medium than DC, with Zach Snyder’s attempts to improve the standing of the Superman brand being negatively affected by the CGI overkill that at times just looked like a computer game superimposed over stock footage of a relevant cityscape that was about to be destroyed.
The Batman series will get a new reboot this year with Robert Pattinson now in the titular role, but fortunately, comic book adaptations are not solely the preserve of these two comic book behemoths, and great adaptations of graphic novels have come from other sources.
Here is a closer look at five great comic book adaptations that were not part of either the Marvel or DC Universes.
This blood and gore fest was a huge success and is the creation of the mind of Frank Miller with the film adaptation being directed by Zack Synder, who, of course, helmed a number of comic book movies, including Man of Steel and the Justice League.
300, starring Gerard Butler and Lena Headley, grossed an impressive $456 million off the back of a budget of around $60 million and was considered groundbreaking at the time for the way it used superimposition camera technique that made everything feel almost like a living and breathing comic book, not unlike work on Sin City (another Frank Miller creation, that didn’t make our list).
This refreshing comic book adventure, which introduced us to Aaron Taylor-Johnson (who would later appear in the MCU (Marvel Comic Universe) as Pietro Maximoff, was a very meta attempt at covering tried and tested material.
Built to appeal to a more youthful market, Kick-Ass had a more measured approach to destruction and violence that is commonly associated with previous comic book adaptations. It proved a massive success, spawning a sequel that also did fairly well in the box office.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
It’s fair to say that any movie that boasts Tom Cruise as a lead is likely to succeed, but when it comes to Edge of Tomorrow, an adaptation of the Japanese graphic novel All You Need is Kill, he also appeased the critics.
This clever thriller, directed by Doug Liman, sees Major William Cage (Cruise) relive the same day on repeat as he seeks to find the weaknesses of a marauding alien army that is ravaging the planet and, in doing so, partners up with Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), who is the driving force of the many set-piece action scenes.
As far as comic book adaptations go, this was one that impressed many, including those who rate the original source material very highly indeed. Talk of a sequel has been ongoing for years now, but it may be a distinct possibility in the future. More details about this movie here.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
This is the rare comic book adaptation example of a film that isn’t based in some sci-fi universe and is a very dry and witty comedy that has had a loyal and fanatical fan base ever since its release back in 2010.
On its release, it failed to really fly but has since achieved cult status and helped to boost the worldwide reputation of English director Edgar Wright.
Interestingly enough, the movie includes a certain Chris Evans, Captain America no less, in a hugely entertaining role, and Captain Marvel herself, Brie Larson.
V for Vendetta (2005)
Though the original comic book is based on a DC comic series, it was a limited release and therefore still creeps onto our list, partly because it’s very different from other comic book adaptations and is a personal favorite (see IMDB).
The Wachowskis created the screenplay for the movie, not long after they gave the world the Matrix movies, and the overall ambiance is very dystopian and full of political intrigue and, of course, ultra-violence.
Natalie Portman plates the lead, Evey Hammond, who helps V, played by Hugo Weaving (of the Matrix and Lord of the Rings franchises), to battle a corrupt government and uncover their wrongdoings.
Like Scott Pilgrim, the film didn’t prove a massive success in box office numbers but retained a big fanbase. A TV series that follows the story is also said to be in production.
Last Updated: February 14, 2022