Comic book movies have come a long way in the past two decades. From the campy, poorly-received outings of ‘The Crow’ and ‘Steel’ in the 90s to the billion-dollar A-list spectacles we see today, they’ve come to an immeasurable distance. And there’s no sign of slowing down; with so much source material and so many studios getting into the game, it seems like we won’t be running out of comic book movies anytime soon. Perhaps you love them all so much that you’re sick of them? That must be why you’re here instead of watching some new MCU installment right now. If so, you’re not alone – lots of people are starting to feel that way about every new comic book movie they see coming our way. But if you want to branch out beyond Marvel (and DC) and explore other avenues, here are some great non-superhero comic book movies that are worth your time.
First up is the movie that started it all – Blade. The film was a huge hit at the box office and with critics as well, and it kickstarted the modern era of comic book movies. Blade is about a human-vampire hybrid named Blade who hunts and kills vampires. Blade is notorious for its great fight sequences, its amazing soundtrack, and an awesome performance by the lead actor Wesley Snipes. This film still holds up to date and is what most people point to when they say that comic book movies can be taken seriously.
Spawn is based on a comic series that ran from the ‘90s to the early aughts, and it has a very devoted fanbase. While the movie may not have achieved the same level of success as some of the other films on this list, it was technically impressive with its special effects. With Michael Jai Whitaker in the lead role, the 1997 film is a dark, gritty adventure about a murdered super-spy who gets sent to Hell. He makes a deal to become the manifestation of a demon’s soul in exchange for being allowed to return to Earth, and that leads to some pretty crazy adventures. The film has its fair share of flaws, but it also has great action sequences and a unique story that’s worth a watch if you’re looking for something a bit different. If you enjoyed the film, you can also check out the comics for more of the same.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
This is one of the oddest films that’s based on a comic series, but it’s a blast. Loosely based on the graphic novel series of the same name, the film stars Michael Cera and features a remarkable soundtrack. People either love this film or they hate it, and it remains a cult classic. If you love quirky comedies and don’t mind the absurd, then this is the film for you. The story revolves around a young man who falls in love with an Asian-American girl and must defeat her seven ex-boyfriends in combat to win her affections. If you loved this movie, you can check out the comic series for more of the same.
The Shadow is a classic character who has starred in radio shows, TV shows, and comic books for decades. While the character has been played by multiple actors over the years, the film adaptation stars Alec Baldwin as the titular character. The film may not have been a critical darling, but it was a commercial success, grossing over $54 million against a budget of just $33 million. The film is set in 1930s New York City. It follows a wealthy young man named Lamont Cranston who discovers that he has psychic powers. He uses his new powers to fight crime as The Shadow, while also falling in love with a reporter named Margo Lane. If you’re a fan of the Shadow comic books, then this film is worth checking out.
The Rocketeer is set in an alternate version of 1940s Los Angeles, where a mechanic discovers a rocket pack that was designed by Howard Hughes. The character of the Rocketeer first appeared in a comic series in the early ‘90s, but this film adaptation has withstood the test of time. If you love seeing a love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood, then this is the film for you. It’s a fun adventure film that features great performances from the cast and some excellent visuals. This film is a classic in every sense of the word, and it’s worth checking out if you love films that are set in Hollywood’s heyday.
If you love comic books and graphic novels, then this is the film for you. Based on the graphic novel series of the same name, this film adaptation is often considered to be one of the best comic book films of all time. The film is set in an alternate universe where the threat of nuclear war is a normal part of everyday life. The story follows some vigilantes who were active during the Cold War. These vigilantes were given government clearance to go after Soviet agents, but they used their powers to fight crime on the side as well. If you’re a fan of the graphic novel, then this film is worth checking out.
If you’re sick of Marvel movies, don’t worry – there are plenty of excellent non-superhero comic book movies out there. From dark and gritty films like The Shadow and Watchmen to campy and fun films like The Rocketeer and Scott Pilgrim, there’s something for every fan. All you have to do is look beyond the world of superheroes to find them. And if you’re a Marvel fan, there’s no need to worry. There are plenty of great Marvel films out there like the Blade trilogy. If anything, there are too many great Marvel films coming out to catch them all in one go.