5 Best Movies Based on Marvel Comics

At this point, audience goodwill is so strong towards films based on Marvel Comics characters -- especially those within the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- that it may be difficult for younger moviegoer to recall a time before Marvel heroes were routinely conquering the box office. However, before the release of Blade and X-Men in 1998 and 2000, respectively, the only live-action films starring Marvel characters had been cheaply produced cash-ins (oh, and Howard the Duck). The past two decades have seen the quality in Marvel films rise dramatically, but here are five of the best. For the record, we're limiting this list to one film per character/team.

X2: X-Men United (2003)

Alan Cumming in X2: X-Men United Alan Cumming in X2: X-Men United

Bryan Singer may have set the tone for many superhero films to follow with his 2000 X-Men, but this sequel expanded the world much further, adding in visually dynamic characters like Alan Cumming's Nightcrawler and complicating the relationship between the mutant team and Magneto (Ian McKellen). Brian Cox also joins the cast as William Stryker, a military scientist with ties to both Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Sure, some characters -- most notably Cyclops (James Marsden) and Rogue (Anna Paquin) -- get sidelined in favor of their colleagues, but the action sequences here and the film's deft handling of the allegorical implications of being a mutant are just handled so perfectly. Subsequent films like X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past are arguably also in contention for the title of best entry in the franchise, but for our money, X2 is still a exhilarating high point that hasn't quite been surpassed just yet.