The Greatest Ever

The Greatest Ever

A look at some of the greatest filmmakers in comic book movie history

Follow Eric:
By Eric Reid - 7/2/2012
Since The Avengers debuted almost two months ago Marvelites and fans have blazed the message that this film is the greatest comic book movie of all time across the internet. To comic book movie aficionados and those who have followed the genre such a declaration is blasphemous and so risible that it is a wonder how anyone could say it with a straight face because the movies does not offer us the best story in the genre or characters that closely represent those found in the comics. For example in the movie Tony Stark is not the same alcoholic in the comics that the U.S government has to subpoena to obtain records of him drinking as Iron Man, Thor has sworn to protect the Earth despite the fact that he spent less time on the planet than a new teenage student driver on the road, the lone fugitive Bruce Banner who is so scarred by his transformations into the Hulk that he desperately takes large samples of his blood in search for a cure is gone. So looking upon story and character portrayal let's take examine some of the greatest filmmakers and movies in the history of the comic book genre.

Richard Donner Superman 1&2: The long passage of time has not diminished the greatness of Donner's work on the Superman franchise but has instead shown the just how truly timeless his Superman adaptions are. His cinematic portrayal of the journey that the last son of Krypton takes to become the Earth's greatest hero remains one of the best stories in the genre in fact it has forever altered the backstory of the character both on screen and in the comics. Donner's depiction of Superman is so great that it has become the standard by which other depictions of the character are judged and has become synonymous in the minds of fans to the comic book character. Understand reader Richard Donner took an unknown actor in Christopher Reeves and help transform into the definitive Man of Steel. The excellence displayed in his work on Superman may never be equaled even by a filmmaker of Zack Snyder's caliber.

Tim Burton Batman& Batman Returns: From movies like Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas to Dark Shadows and the upcoming Frankenweenie Tim Burton is Hollywood's undisputed master of dark and strange figures. While his Batman films stories are simple and cannot be compared to other CBM's plots his understanding of the character and his risky artistic vision is legendary. Burton's Batman is the best adaption of the character Bob Kane created and Bill Finger penned also he returned the Joker back to the clownish psychotic serial killer that his creator's envisioned. Michael Keaton's intimidating hardedge, theatrical Batman is a close representation of the characters golden age depiction in fact his Bruce Wayne is the perfect embodiment of Bill Finger's original vision of the character. His Gotham is a visually stunning master piece of pure artistic talent and imagination it brings to life the city in a way that would make legendary Batman artists such as Neal Adams and Jerry Robinson proud.

Christopher Nolan The Dark Knight Trilogy: For all of the criticism of Nolan's work on Batman he is unquestionably the greatest visionary the genre has produced in the almost 35 years since Richard Donner's Superman. He took the campy crime fighting caped crusader and transformed him into a haunted, broken and emotional scarred man as well as turned the well-known story of Batman into an action crime thriller. Batman's most highly regarded graphic novels Batman: Year One, The Long Halloween, The Killing Joke, and Knightfall he would loosely adapt and amalgamate their storylines into a complex engaging story that could allow the audience to journey into soul and psyche of the character. Gotham's dark knight as written by Frank Miller and Jeph Loeb form the basis and inspiration for Nolan's Batman but he would take their work on the character a step further by making him more human and realistic. It was the story that he co-wrote and adapted that allowed Heath Ledger to give the most inspired performance in a comic book movie. Ardent detractors of Nolan have criticized the academy award The Dark Knight received but even they must acknowledge that it is the first and only golden globe, academy award win in acting a film based on a superhero has ever received. When history closes on Christopher Nolan's Batman series it will be looked back on as one of the best works ever adapted from a graphic novel.

Sam Raimi's Spider-man Trilogy: Forty years after Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created the web slinging wall crawler he would swing into theaters thrilling audiences the world over and making history his franchise first three films would gross $2.49 billion at the global box office. Raimi's Spiderman films are colorful, campy, light and visually bold their success paved the way for future comic book adaptions that would delve deep into the origins of their characters. Despite the romantic melodrama at the heart of his films the story of Peter Parker is fairly rich and encapsulates timeless themes of self-sacrifice and responsibility. His adaption of Peter Parker is centered on the adage "with great power comes great responsibility" and as the story progresses audiences experience the great sacrifices Peter makes to be Spiderman and the toll it takes on his personal life. He would take Stan Lee's original design for that character which is an ordinary guy gets bit by a radioactive spider and build upon that vision by imbuing the character with common relatable experiences. For example similar to the comics Peter is the geek who gets the beautiful girl but loses her because of his Spiderman alter ego but Raimi would accentuate Parker's tardiness, forgetfulness and charm to make him relatable.

Bryan Singer X-Men & X 2: Singer's adaptions of the über popular X Men was among the first comic book movies to utilize over the top CGI heavy action sequences also it became a catalyst for big budget superhero adaptions that would explore adult themes. The plots of the films are simple, strangely fascinating but at times incoherent like X-Men United storyline because the screen writers and director pulled most of the plot from the comics without any regard for the difference between graphic novels and cinema. The problem of the films reliance on the comics is what makes them great since the X-Men has abundance of resonate characters. Wolverine's experience is similar to that of many mutants who have been used as lab rats for human experimentation. Bobby Drake was disowned by his parents for being a mutant and similar to the students at Xavier's school for the gifted he has no one to turn to for help. His movies are great also for their portrayal of women which is the by far the best in the genre. There is no equal to the characterization of Storm and Jean they are intelligent, strong, compassionate women who are as capable in many cases more than their male counterparts and invaluable characters that helps drive the plot of the film.

Honorable mention: Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk is grossly underappreciated, horrible overshadow by other Marvel franchises like Iron Man, Thor and it will never receive the respect that it justly deserves. The film is rightly criticized for its underdeveloped plot but for comic book fans there are only a few actors who have provided a more faithful and inspired performance of a comic book character than Edward Norton. His Bruce Banner is Stan Lee's original design for the character come to life which is a mild mannered scientist that is tragically transformed into a hulking monster and then becomes obsessed with finding a cure but Norton adds a level of urgency and intensity to that role. As Banner he is constantly looking over his shoulder because he has been on the run from the U.S army for five years and his transformations into the Hulk has driven him into self-imposed exile.
DISCLAIMER: This article was submitted by a volunteer contributor who has agreed to our code of conduct. is protected from liability under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and "safe harbor" provisions. CBM will disable users who knowingly commit plagiarism, piracy, trademark or copyright infringement. Please contact us for expeditious removal of copyrighted/trademarked content. You may also learn more about our copyright and trademark policies HERE.
golden123 - 7/2/2012, 6:05 PM
This isn't supposed to be a review. Is it? I don't entirely understand what this editorial is trying to accomplish. What is there to offer with this article?
GreenHalJordan - 7/2/2012, 6:25 PM
I completely agree with the directors, although i think Louis deserved a cemented spot because he did change the game for Hulk movies (COMPLE U-turn from Ang Lee's hulk.)
BIGBMH - 7/2/2012, 6:53 PM

That's for giving credit to Letterier and Incredible Hulk.
Hawkeye5790 - 7/2/2012, 6:59 PM
To begin, i am not a marvelite jusst a fan of comics and movies based on them. At the end of The ncredible Hulk it shows banner is trying to control the hulk. Also, to me, it seemed like Thor wasnt saving earth for the heck of it. It seemed like Thor was trying to stop Loki, due to them being brothers. That being said I like your list, these direcors have surely revolutionized the geonre.
antonio - 7/2/2012, 8:38 PM
While I definitely agree with this list, where is Jon Favreau? Iron Man, along with The Dark Knight, reshaped the comic book movie genre.
Tainted87 - 7/2/2012, 11:50 PM
Eh, to each their own. Some of these directors may have been pioneers to the Comic Book movie, but their works were not THE GREATEST EVER.

For instance, if Donner's two Superman movies were pretty much recreated today (as in, the cast, dialogue, plot, setting, etc... all the same, just with modern special effects), they would tank. We have a love for these movies because they are classics; they are the start of a new era, and we grant them a good deal of leniency, but as films, they aren't anything to rave about. I'm not just talking about Superman throwing a cellophane S at Non, or the Kryptonians whipping up telekinesis all of a sudden.... but the concepts, continuity, hammy dialogue, and over-all stupid characters.

Lex's dream is to build a city on the west coast? Superman reverses the Earth's orbit and somehow sets time back by doing so? A nuclear bomb detonating in space manages to break Zod, Ursa, and Non out of the Phantom Zone? Superman kisses Lois and gives her amnesia? How did Superman and Lois get out of the arctic without flight or transportation?

I consider Spider-man, Batman Begins, Iron Man, and the Avengers to be the most groundbreaking films in the CBM genre, because they not only took the characters seriously, but were the models for other CBMs.
GOTG - 7/3/2012, 12:09 AM
uum wheres joss whedon, cant believe you left him out but put in the hack that is Christopher Nolan
Jock2012 - 7/3/2012, 1:53 AM
Blade! They got the first blade film spot on and it fully opened the door for more CBM's, what people need to start doing is looking outside of marvel and Dc, Look at vertigo who have had many comics adapted including: hellblazer, a history of violence, v for vendetta and stardust. These are all still comic book movies the don't have to be about capes and cowls, they just have to appreciate the source material, Both the hellboy movies for example may not of been commercially successful but for fans of hellboy the where good interpretations of the source material.

Thankyou sorry for long post
Tainted87 - 7/3/2012, 11:35 AM
For the record, Batman Returns was the first movie I ever saw in a theater, and Batman (89) was the first CBM I'd ever seen. It'll always have a place for me.

But Bruce has gravity boots at night, keeps bats in cages in his cave, has Vicki Vale screaming and fainting over a bunch of dead flowers, and Michael Keaton with the "COME ON!" craziness in Vale's apartment. I loved it, but it's only half a step up from the tongue-in-cheek humor.

Taking the character, his obsessions, his fantastic tools, and the city/world s/he lives in seriously is not what Burton did, and you can see all of the potential for a serious film being pushed out the window by Christopher Walken in Batman Returns.
Noctis198 - 7/4/2012, 1:51 AM
Joss Whedon and Jon Favreau no where on the list?
AmazingFantasy - 7/5/2012, 5:32 AM
Nice list bro, needs more Whedon.
AgentSmith - 7/5/2012, 7:08 AM
Hmmm... So, after reading this editorial, this feels more like a popularity contest then an actual list of greats. Although Richard Donner should be in here and Christopher Nolan can also be in the top of the list, where are the likes of Alex Proyas for The Crow, Guillermo del Toro for Hellboy, or James McTeigue for V for Vendetta. Let's not forget Zach Snyder for Watchmen AND 300! And to NOT mention Joss Whedon for The Avengers - the SOLE reason WB has to put a Justice League movie together, that will set the standard for some time. Just my opinion - but I think its a good one.
GOTG - 7/5/2012, 3:59 PM
^it is and i agree with everything you said

Please log in to post comments.

Don't have an account?
Please Register.