Welcome back to our look at every single comic book movie ever in alphabetical order. If you want to find the previous installments, you can do so via the LINKS HERE. But today we’re here to finish off the A’s and have a little Avengers-a-thon. Because this is how we roll, here. There will be a few Avengers movies we don’t cover yet, like Next Avengers or the Ultimate Avengers films but first we are tackling this set of films. Some varied material here though. We have a slate of superhero fare including Marvel and DC characters and even one that’s neither. We also have dramas, a thriller, and two comedies. And the dates range from 1950 to 2019. Let’s go and kick this off with a… well, not really a bang, per se.
10. Atom Man vs. Superman
Film serials are a lot. If you’ve never watched one (and odds are good you haven’t) they tend to be between 3 and 4 hours, sometimes longer. Last time I reviewed a serial, I watched it all in one long go but this time I decided to divide it up into one or two chapters a day. And it helped! This is actually the second Superman serial and is one of the last film serials ever. It stars Kirk Alyn as Superman and Noel Niel as Lois Lane with Lyle Talbot debuting as the first ever onscreen Lex Luthor. And the cast is phenomenal. Alyn is a great Superman and a totally charming Clark Kent and Niel knows exactly how to play Lois as a firebrand. The real star for me though is Talbot, who might be my favorite Lex Luthor ever on film. He absolutely kills it. Mostly. You see, Luthor is the villain, but he occasionally pretends to be an anonymous supervillain called Atom Man. He does this by wearing a bedazzled jug on his head. That part sucks. Also, this thing is waaaaaayyyyyyy too long. The beginning and end are fantastic but a lot of the middle is just repetitive and boring.
How Does It Compare To The Comic?: pretty well! A lot of it feels just like Superman comics of the era. It’s cheesy and occasionally horrifying (Superman getting shocked on the power lines is… haunting?) but it’s really fun and cool to see. Just for the sparking effects they use towards the end, jeez. But that pushes it up to a solid…
…3 out of 5 stars.
9. Atomic Blonde
I did not know this was a comic book movie. But when I was compiling this list, I found this one! Neat, huh? As for the actual movie… it’s okay? The fight scenes are incredibly well choreographed and the soundtrack kicks pretty hard. Theron and McAvoy are both having a lot of fun. McAvoy though is the only one who is fun to watch. His British spy Percival is charming and intense, while Lorraine is just cold and dead behind the eyes. It makes sense for the character but it also makes her a pretty uninteresting protagonist. Where the film really suffers is in the plot department. It is a mess. A sprawling unfocused mess with one of the worst, least sensical twists I’ve ever seen. The movie overplays its hand and piles up on the twists in the last fifteen minutes. It starts off fun and charming but it very rapidly degrades.
How Does It Compare To The Comic?: well, I’ve never read The Coldest City, the graphic novel this film is based on, but from my research it looks like the source material was way less action heavy and more about the spy game. And also that the comic was less twist-heavy. But because of that unfocused-ness and the disinterest that infects much of the film, I gotta give it a…
…2 out of 5 stars.
8. The Avengers
Guys this might be the greatest comic book movie of all time, or at least one of them. What is there even to say? This movie should absolutely not work in any way whatsoever but it comes together so beautifully and just owns so hard. It’s a big fireworks show full of incredible character moments. And there’s so much to it that you get something new with every viewing. Like, did you know that every single Avenger gets there own one-on-one with Loki. Some are full fights, others are just quick moments. Hell, Black Widow’s is entirely dialogue. But they all get one. It’s an instantly iconic piece of cinema that revolutionized how blockbusters are made. It is a perfect film.
How Does It Compare To The Comics?: it’s actually very different. Like, this is a version of these characters and plot that could only exist in the MCU. But it’s fun and full of banter and character interaction and that’s what makes the Avengers so great. This film earns this project’s very first ever…
5 out of 5 stars.
7. Avengers: Age of Ultron
We’re all wrong sometimes. I remember railing against this movie after it came out. And why wouldn’t I? It was a disappointment. The villain was bad. Some of the characters were poorly written. But… people change. Today I watched this movie again for the first time since seeing it in theaters. And, uh, I kinda really liked it? I know. I’m surprised too. Now I’m not saying none of past-me’s opinions were valid. Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Thor and Quicksilver are all pretty underdeveloped. Ultron is, with the exception of his first scene, pretty non-threatening and his visual design is silly. But Iron Man and Captain America are both still great. Hawkeye is the best he has ever been in this film. I got choked up at his speech to the Scarlet Witch. The party scene is very fun and Ultron’s appearance in it is bone chilling. It’s deeply perfect and he is very frightening. Also, the characters pay off each other in such fun and dynamic ways and that’s really why I watch an Avengers movie. To just see all these characters I love hang out and talk to each other and save the world.
How Does It Compare To The Comics?: tonally and structurally, this feels a lot more like a standard Avengers comic story than the first. Now, that’s not to say it’s better because it very much is not but it has the rhythm of an old fashioned superhero comic beating beneath its surface. And, in a move that would shock and horrify my younger self, I gotta give it a…
4 out of 5 stars.
6. Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher
Lol, bet you all forgot this existed, right? I sure did. For those who don’t know, it is a Marvel film made in Japan and then dubbed into English. The premise is that SHIELD and the Punisher are both going after the same guy and Black Widow and the grim skull-clad murderer team up to find out who’s responsible. The problem with this film is that is both a mess and tremendously boring. The first two acts are slow and drawn out and act three is a total clusterscrew that tosses in everything all at once. Also, this film gives us something I refuse to accept: sexy Egghead. I did not want sexy Egghead. No one wanted sexy Egghead. Everyone in this is phoning in their performances so hard, I swear I heard them all hang up as the credits rolled.
How Does It Compare To The Comics?: It’s weird seeing all the heroes be so cool around the Punisher, who is a mass murderer. Also Amadeus Cho is terrible in this and it makes me angry. No one is in character and no one is likable. And the comics aren’t this boring. A…
…1 out of five stars.
5. Avengers: Endgame
It’s been so long since I got to do one of these that a whole movie came out in the intervening time. A really good one. While Infinity War was a big showy action fest, Endgame is a much smarter, thinkier movie devoted to its characters and themes. It’s a film about failure, about processing failure, about dealing with tragedy. And it made me feel things I hadn’t in the entire preceding Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the culmination of the franchise so far, it says a touching goodbye to certain characters, leaves the door open for others to take center stage, and wrings everything it can out of every moment. It’s also a love letter to this universe, less to the comics. The MCU is its own thing at this point and you can barely even compare it to the comics anymore. But you shouldn’t. its okay to have two different things that each have their own strengths. Also this might be the best MCU movie, we will see how that holds up but gosh darn, it has a claim to it.
How Does It Compare To The Comics?: It doesn’t really, and that’s okay. Because for being its own beautiful thing, I have to give this one…
…5 out of 5 stars.
4. Avengers: Infinity War
I cannot believe Marvel pulled this movie off. It is downright impressive on the whole just as an achievement in filmmaking. Watching Marvel build to this was like watching someone make a house of cards in a wind tunnel. The resulting film is shockingly good and spans the entire franchise. Everyone gets a moment or too. Spider-Man, Drax, Doctor Strange, Captain America, it’s a cavalcade of goodness. And the villain is on point too. Thanos is a great bad guy with an excellent motion captured performance this is a fireworks display. It’s just showing off.
How Does It Compare To The Comic?: well so it’s not actually an adaptation of Infinity War, it’s an adaptation of Infinity Gauntlet. Except that’s also not true. Really, it’s a combination of the prelude to Infinity Gauntlet and the 2014 event just called Infinity. Like, the last scene of this movie is literally the first scene of Infinity Gauntlet. But yeah, this is a banger, even if it’s an unfocused one coming in at…
4 out of 5 stars.
3. Avenging Force: The Scarab
This seems like it would just be one of those knock off movies designed to steal purchases from big movies by having similar titles, like Almighty Thor or Atlantic Rim. And it totally is one of those. BUT there are a good amount of golden age superheroes whose rights weren’t snapped up by anyone and they fell into the public domain. And so, the filmmakers behind this thing decided to very loosely base it off of a few of them, qualifying it as a comic book movie, to my eternal dismay. This movie is terrible. The hero wears a stiff rubber bodysuit, the sidekicks are bland as paste, and the villain sets up shop in a mattress warehouse? Every actor is terrible but somehow all in different ways, making it all far more noticeable. The effects are bad, but that I don’t really mind all that much. It’s just also that the script is nonsense. A professor finds a powerful artifact turning him into The Scarab. By teaming up with fellow hero Black Terror, who is in this more of the Punisher with earrings. They fight the Sphinx and form Avenging Force, alongside a last second (almost literally) cameo from the golden age Daredevil.
How Does It Compare To The Comics?: I haven’t read any Scarab, but his origin is at least different from my research. Black Terror is 100% different. In the comics, he was a pharmacist. Here, he’s an annoying jackass. And Daredevil (unrelated to the Marvel Character) looks silly as hell. This thing is as unprofessional as it gets.
½ out of 5 stars.
2. Bad Kids Go To Hell
I can’t totally decide if I liked this or not. Bad Kids Go To Hell is a pretty standard thriller version of the Breakfast Club. A group of douchey rich kids at Crestview Academy are told to serve out detention in the Library, which is still under construction. They all get in a fight and then someone or something starts murdering them. It’s hinted at that it’s a spooky ghost, but we don’t really now until the end. It’s an ugly movie full of very bad acting and kind of idiotic mystery but it has a fast enough pace and an interesting enough premise to at least keep attention throughout. I can’t really recommend watching it yourself, but it’s on Amazon prime and you could do worse things with your time.
How Does It Compare To The Comics?: I have not read the original Bad Kids Go To Hell but in the research I was able to do, it seems the movie sticks pretty close to the comic. That is most likely because the movie and comic were co-written by the same two guys. However, the movie makes some needlessly complex changes and alters the twist ending of the comic somewhat. But again, it’s not really a good movie, sort of worth a…
2 out of 5 stars.
1. Bad Kids of Crestview Academy
This is impressively bland. If the first one was a hyper forgettable thriller, this one is a smear on a screen that leaves even less of an impression. It’s so sterile and facile that, although I watched it fairly recently, I’m struggling with myself to remember enough about it to say anything really. This one has Drake Bell in it, I remember that. He is… trying. He plays a hacker called the Naked Wizard. This is about the height of comedy that you’re going to get out of this film. It’s not the worst movie ever, it didn’t even make me angry in any way, it’s just so incompetent and boring that it’s hard to even discuss fairly.
How Does It Compare To The Comics?: Well, I wasn’t able to get my hands on a copy of Bad Kids Go 2 Hell, the poorly named sequel to the comic but from what I can find I’d imagine it’s accurate-ish. Has the same writer again. But since this was measurably worse than the original, it clocks in at a…
1 out of 5 stars.