Well, last time I did this was fun! At least partially hellish, because it made me watch AVP 2, but mostly fun. YOU CAN READ PART ONE RIGHT HERE BY CLICKING. So here we are continuing with my look at every comic book movie ever. Last time, we covered everything from 2 Guns to AVP: Requiem and only had one superhero movie, surprisingly enough. This time it's about half and half. So let's get started!
SPOILER ALERT FOR ALL OF THESE.
1. All-Star Superman
All-Star Superman is the first movie on our list to come from the DC Animated Original Movie initiative, which produced some really good (if pretty short) DC animated movies. It's also our first Superman appearance! So that's cool! After foiling one of Luthor's plots, Superman realizes that his body has been overloaded with solar energy and he is dying. So, the film follows what he does with his last months alive.
He tells Lois his secret, he helps Kandor, he has what was supposed to be his final conversation with Lex Luthor. It's a fantastic movie. In almost every respect. The script is a wonderful adaptation written expertly by master scribe Dwayne McDuffie and the actors are all giving fantastic performances. The only downside is that the animation budget was clearly not as high as it needed to be. It looks fine, but if this was given more money to play with, or if it had been the script to the live action movie, this would easily be the greatest Superman movie of all time.
How Does It Compare To The Comic: look, All-Star Superman is the best Superman comic in the history of the character, so this isn't as good. But that doesn't mean it's not great, because it is. It just doesn't live up to the immaculate comic it's based on. But even with its reduced budget and lacking comparability, it still clocks in at the incredibly respectable and recommendable"¦
…4 out of 5
2. Amazing Spider-Man, The
I"¦ this is bad.
I don't remember this being bad. I remember liking it fine enough at the time but now"¦ it's really bad, you guys. REALLY bad.
Spider-Man's motivating tragedy is bent and twisted into a movie where he spends most of the runtime as an angsty a**hole, the villain is badly designed and written even worse, it's full of abandoned plot threads and a shockingly bad music selection. Yeah, the score is awful and overbearing and the soundtrack picks are just misplaced. Some of the action functions well, but other than that, it's a trainwreck. The Peter's spy parents plot might be mostly saved for the sequel but it’s a pointless albatross chained to this movie's neck as well. Fantastic Stan Lee cameo, though, that's a plus.
How Does It Compare To The Comics: this Spider-Man is suuuuuch a tool. He's whiney and angsty and just outright rude to everyone in the first act of the film. Andrew Garfield is doing his best, but the script he's given is horrendous. Barely recognizable as a Spider-Man movie. Although it has a few sprinkled good moments, it's overall low low quality, especially when compared to the much better Spider-Man films released before and after it (*cough cough* Homecoming *cough cough*) it rates at a"¦
…1 ½ out of 5 stars.
3. Amazing Spider-Man 2, The
Some of this movie is better than the first, but most of it is worse. The score is better in every scene except for the truly idiotic dubstep stuff, and Peter and Gwen's relationship is good for the first two acts. But everything else is much much worse. Electro is boring and has no real connection to Spider-Man, Dane DeHaan is playing it way too silly for this self-serious script, and his Goblin costume and persona makes him the worst villain across all six Spider-Man films.
Seriously, the last half hour of this movie is a middle finger to the audience that pokes at your eyes, hoping to gouge them out. Gwen's death comes out of nowhere, isn't built up whatsoever, and feels like the film is punishing you for even attempting to care about its characters. Also, there is three movies' worth of plot here, none of it good. You don't care about Electro, or about Peter's spy dad, or Harry, or Rhino, or any of the pointless garbage they hurl at the screen, hoping it sticks.
How Does It Compare To The Comics: this s**t-heap is an insult to "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" a horrendous adaptation and an even worse movie. Being worse than its godawful predecessor locks it in at a totally deserved"¦
…1 out of 5 stars.
4. American Splendor
American Splendor is really good. And not just by the low standards for the movies we've talked about so far, this one is legitimately good.
The film is mostly a biopic about underground comix writer Harvey Pekar, following his career from its inception through to what was at that time the present day. The reason it counts for this list is that Pekar's comics were mostly autobiographical as well, making this half biopic and half straight adaptation of his own autobiographical work. And if that's not confusing enough, the real Harvey Pekar shows up and narrates. The film has fun blending real people and actors, along with animation, reminding you every single second of its own artificiality. As well, the performances are killer. Paul Giamatti gives my favorite performance of his in this, making Pekar into a real character whose struggle you can feel. Also totally underrated is Judah Friedlander, who really plays against type here and should have been given more credit for it than he was.
How Does It Compare To The Comics: it's just as introspective but way more meta. I have not read "Our Cancer Year" but I honestly think the movie as a whole is a little better than most of American Splendor, the comic.
…4 out of 5 stars.
The MCU movie that everyone talks s**t about is, it turns out, really wonderful.
Ant-Man is a playful, fun time that I'd call the most underrated MCU film, or maybe second most next to Doctor Strange. The light heist movie atmosphere adds a lot as well but the real reason this movie works is in the casting. Paul Rudd is an inspired choice, one of the most charismatic actors working today and Evangeline Lily is charming and badass in her own right. It's just a shame we had to wait until the sequel to get her in costume. Michael Douglass's Hank Pym adds a lot of intelligence and wit to a character who has been misused a lot in the comics. Also, Luis is the character find of the year. Michael PeÃ±a is so much fun and steals so many scenes. The visual effects are solid and the way the movie conceives of using size changing powers really does add a lot to the MCU.
How Does It Compare To The Comics?: it's a shifted version, but it pays solid homage to Scott Lang and the Ant-Man universe. A lot changes but the core stays the same. It's a much smaller movie, but that little package packs a lot of punch, a fun and charming"¦
…4 out of 5 Stars.
6. Ant-Man and The Wasp
Hey folks, it's a new one! New-ish, anyways. In this sequel, Scott Lang is under house arrest following his actions in Captain America: Civil War with Hank and Hope on the outs with the U.S. Government. But when it seems that Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp, might be savable from the Quantum Realm, they have to come together to save her. And to battle the mysterious Ghost stalking them.
I think this one is probably a hair less good than the original but it's still an incredibly fun time with some showstopper action scenes. Ghost is phenomenal, visually. Like, One of the better looking MCU villains for sure. Also, all the supporting characters have reasonable and satisfying motives and are a little more grey than you'd expect, morally. It's also incredibly funny and really charming, like the first. Paul Rudd is a treasure and Evangeline Lily plays off him expertly. Plus she totally owns as The Wasp.
How Does It Compare To The Comics: About on par with the better Ant-Man stories, and a solid innovation on the characters it's adapting. As an almost infinitely comparable sequel, this one clocks in at a perfectly sensical"¦
…4 out of 5 stars.
7. Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again
This one is weeeeeiiiiiird. I honestly don't really know what to make of it. And in a post "Riverdale" world, I can't decide if it's less weird or twice as weird.
The film follows up with the classic Archie Comics cast of characters all in their mid-30s. It's high school reunion time and Archie Andrews, now a high powered lawyer with a fiancÃ©, is coming back to Riverdale. Once there, he meets up with the old gang and they all get up to some wacky hijinx. There are parts of this that are actually pretty good, shockingly enough. I was expecting a weird too-adult version of the Archie characters. And honestly, it would have been better if that's what it was. The weird indie movie versions of the Archie cast are actually pretty interesting. Especially Jughead as a wormy adult therapist and single father. Reggie as a slimy used car salesman type businessman is also fun as hell. The problems are when it veers back into silly comic book antics. Especially in the ending where Archie gives up having any sort of outside life to just wallow in high school nostalgia. It's super depressing but doesn't seem to think it's a downer ending. Move on, folks.
How Does It Compare To The Comics?: It occasionally strikes at the heart of the characters but the closer it gets to the comics, the worse it gets. But it still surpassed my expectations with a"¦
…2 ½ out of 5 stars.
8. Archies in: Jugman, The
Holy Christ this was just boring. And it wasn't even the first time I'd seen it.
Before I got hired here, I ran a review blog in my free time where I looked at the kids movies of the 2000s and this was one I looked at. And it's a weird artifact of that. It reuses the cast and designs from the DIC animated series Archie's Weird Mysteries, which I have some nostalgia for thanks to my brother's love of it. But it isn't officially connected. In the film, Archie and friends encounter a frozen caveman who looks a lot like Jughead. He gets unfrozen and wacky hijinx ensue. And it's incredibly boring. It really does feel like someone took an episode of a cartoon and stretched it out to feature length without adding anything to the plot. The characters are interchangeable, the world feels confusing and the film stretches on and on and on.
How Does It Compare to The Comics?: I mean, it's less interesting. It washes out all the characters. And the Archie cast aren't really built for big stories. They're wacky comic book characters who are built to motivate jokes. Nothin' more. And trying to make it into something bigger without deepening them lands it at"¦
…1 out of 5 Stars.
9. Art School Confidential
The most frustrating thing a movie can be for me is so close to being great but just falling short of that. And this is an example of that. It's a good movie that sidles up to greatness but can't quite make it. Art School Confidential is the story of Jerome Platz, an art student who wants to be great abut it broken completely by the horrible environment of arts educations. Also there's a murderer in the city strangling people. It all ties together, trust me.
And now it's time to reveal a little bit about myself for context. My formal education is in film (television to be specific) so I am deeply familiar with the art school archetypes in this movie. And when it's on, it is on fire. Some of the satire is biting and vicious, especially when it comes to the pretentiousness and self absorption of art students and their teachers. Jerome's film student roommate was a personal favorite character, as I know probably a hundred people like him. Some of the satire is misaimed (Nick Swardson's gay stereotype is the biggest example of a poorly aged joke) but at its highs it's pretty darn funny. Adam Scott's one scene cameo is definitely the high point and is worth trying to find on youtube if you can. I just wish the strangler/cop subplot was a bit more developed.
How Does it Compare to the Comic?: Well, the comic is a grand total of four pages so"¦ Here's the thing: I don't really like Daniel Clowes. From what I've read, which is pretty much just this and Ghost World, his stuff just isn't for me. And the original four page story isn't a narrative as much as a screed against art school. And it's more angry than funny. This is a huge improvement, even if it only lands at a"¦
…3 out of 5 stars.
10. Astro Boy (2009)
Well this was a disappointment.
I decided recently to augment the rules I use for what qualifies for this list. The new system is essentially that I will include all adaptations of English language comics and all English language adaptations of foreign comics. So get pumped, all you Valerian fans! 2009's Astro Boy is an adaptation of the Manga that started it all, Osamu Tezuka's seminal work Mighty Atom:, adapted into America as Astro Boy. The series is about a robot boy, built in the image of his inventor's deceased son to fight for justice and robotkind. And this movie commits to that premise. Even going along with the onscreen child death which I was pretty surprised by. The cast is the real draw, with Nicolas Cage, Bill Nighy, Nathan Lane, Kristin Bell, and a weird array of other greats all popping up. Freddie Highmore stars, although he sounds just a tad too old for the part. It's a silly children's movie that does have a few good jokes but is otherwise unmemorable.
How Does it Compare to the Comic?: well, I've never actually read any Mighty Atom, but I have read all of Urasawa's Pluto, which is one of the greatest comics works of the 21st century. It's flawless and perfect and this movie is nowhere near close to being a fraction as good. Pluto is a grim and gritty remake of Astro Boy done as a murder mystery about what it truly means to be human, this movie has a machine gun butt.
…2 out of 5 stars.
And that's where we'll call it this time. As always, you can find my ranked list of how these movies compare to each other HERE ON LETTERBOXD. Current Best Comic Book Movie Ever: American Splendor. Current Worst Comic Book Movie Ever: AVP Requiem. Next time, we're going to cover some Avengers movies, and finally finish out the A's.