Most Underappreciated Movies Based on Comic Books

Cover art that says "Top 10 Underappreciated Comic Book movies"

Comic book adaptations have seen a solid run for the past decade with numerous large-budgeted, CGI filled, blockbuster movies. Here is a list of my personal Top 10 movies based on comics that didn't really get the appreciation they deserved.

10. Howard the Duck (1986) Rated PG

DVD jacket for the movie Howard the Duck

Starting the list out is a cult classic. Howard the Duck stars Lea Thompson and Tim Robbins. It was written by Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz and based on the original character created by Steve Gerber. Howard the Duck is about a sarcastic humanoid duck, voiced by Chip Zien, that is pulled from his home world to Earth and chaos ensues. Because why not? It's a fun campy movie that is sure to either get a groan or a laugh out of anyone.

Interested in reading some graphic novels? We have Howard the Duck in our collections.

9. Red Sonja (1985) Rated PG-13

DVD jacket for movie Red Sonja

The list would not be complete without this epic sword and sorcery film starring Brigitte Nielson as the titular character. Red Sonja was written by Clive Exton and George MacDonald Fraser and is based on the fierce warrior character of the same name created by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith. The story follows Sonya as she seeks vengeance for the murder of her family by the evil Queen Gedrun. The interactions between Brigitte Nielson's Red Sonja and Arnold Schwarzenegger's Lord Kalidor are some of the most interesting exchanges in the movie. A must watch for any who enjoy this genre of movie!

Interested in reading some graphic novels? We have Red Sonja in our collections.

8. Flash Gordon (1980) Rated PG

Jacket cover for DVD Flash Gordon

Another film considered a cult classic, Flash Gordon was written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. and Michael Allin and based on the character created by Alex Raymond. The Flash Gordon comic was created in 1934 to compete with Buck Rogers. Flash Gordon, played by Sam Jones, is just a regular quarterback (for the New York Jets!) until Ming the Merciless decides to destroy the planet. Then he and his friends must travel to planet Mongo to save the world. This film also stars Max von Sydow as Emperor Ming. Complete with a soundtrack by Queen, how can anyone doubt how this rose to cult level fame?! Between the music and the 80s era special effects, this is sure to entertain any crowd.

7. Birds of Prey & the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn (2020) Rated PG 13 

Jacket cover for DVD Birds of Prey

The newest film on this list is Birds of Prey, which was written by Christina Hodson and directed by Cathy Yan. This female led film is based on the character Harley Quinn, created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm and played by Margo Robbie. The story follows Harley Quinn as she joins forces with Black Canary, Huntress and Det. Renee Montoya to save Cassandra Cain from Gotham City crime lord Roman Sionis. Let's face it, this film is all about girl power and female bonding. It definitely did not get its due with the critics. This film can be a bit campy, but that's the whole charm of Harley Quinn as a character. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think you will too. Plus, ROLLER DERBY!

Interested in reading some graphic novels? We have Harley Quinn and Birds of Prey in our collections.

6. Xmen: Apocalypse (2016) Rated PG-13

Jacket for DVD Birds of Prey

I tried to stay away from big budget superhero films, but I had to include Xmen: Apocalypse for reasons I will get into later. This film was written by Simon Kinberg and Bryan Singer, who also directed, and is based on characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Man, could those two make characters?! In this installment of the X-men franchise, our favorite mutants have to work together to defeat Apocalypse and his Four Horsemen and stars an ensemble cast.  I included this because I had been waiting for the penultimate Jean Grey/Phoenix scene since the franchise began in 2000. The franchise has seen many changes over the years, but this film had one scene (if you've seen it, you know it -- but no spoilers) that finally had me weeping with joy. This film outshines the follow up - Dark Phoenix -- by leaps and bounds. 

Interested in reading some graphic novels? We have X-Men and Phoenix focused comics in our collections.

5. Ghost World (2001) Rated R 

Jacket cover for DVD Ghost World

Ghost World, written by Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes, is a dark comedy about 2 aimless friends. Enid and Rebecca face a complication in their relationship when Enid becomes interested in an older man after the two play a prank on him. The film stars Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, and Steve Buscemi. One of the things I love most about this movie is that it creates loveable, believable characters and meanders with them through their ups and downs, never losing its sense of humor. I appreciate that this film doesn't tie everything into a nice little bow, it doesn't necessarily give you that Hollywood happy ending. But it will leave you thinking long after the credits have rolled.

Interested in reading some graphic novels? We have Ghost World in our collection.

4. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010) Rated PG 

Jacket cover for DVD

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is about a novelist turned investiagtive journalist and her adventures set in Paris around 1912. This French film was written and directed by Luc Besson and based on the character created by Jacques Tardi.  I discovered this film while writing this post and I am thrilled to include it! Although it is in a foreign language, it is well worth the time to explore this fantastic film. I can't believe I had never heard of it before. It has something for everyone. You like Mummies? It has it. You like dinosaurs? it has it. You like jail breaks? Jail breaks aplenty! This film proved to be completely preposterous and far-fetched in the most whimsical and fantastical way.

Interested in reading some graphic novels? We have Adèle Blanc-Sec in our collection.

3. The Losers (2010) Rated PG-13 

DVD Jacket of the Losers

An elite black-ops team is betrayed and left for dead by their superiors when they refuse an order that would endanger civilians.  A mysterious woman enters the picture and galvanizes the team to seek revenge. The Losers is based on the comic books by Andy Diggle Jock and was written by Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt. Idris Elba, Zoe Saldana, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are among its star-studded castThis fast-paced, action packed film will leave you entertained. The humor was spot on and added a great twist to a standard action adventure movie. Each character has its own unique flair. While this film was dubbed "just another A-team" that couldn't be farther from the truth. Start it for the laughs, keep it going for the fun loving goofiness of it all.

Interested in reading some graphic novels? We have The Losers in our collection.

2. Mystery Men (1999) Rated PG-13 

Jacket cover for DVD Mystery men

Mystery men is about a group of inept amatuer superheroes that band together to stop an evil villain before he can warp reality with his newest weapon. It is written by Neil Cuthbert and Bob Burden, loosely based on Burden's Flaming Carrot Comics. Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, and Janeane Garofalo are among the numerous names attached to this film. There are only a few comedy's on this list and dare I say, this is the best. Although this film was a box office bomb, it is a truly entertaining flick. With superhero names like "The Bowler," "Spleen," and "Mr. Furious" how can you go wrong snagging this DVD for a weekend watch?

1. Tank Girl (1995) Rated R 

Jacket of DVD Tank Girl

Ranking top on this list is the cult favorite Tank Girl, written by Tedi Sarafian and based on the character of the same name created by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett. This post-apocalyptic movie follows a girl, her friends, and her tank across drought ravaged Australia in the year 2033 as they fight a major corporation for access to water. Tank Girl may just be Lori Petty's most iconic role. This also stars Naomi Watts as Jet Girl, Malcolm McDowell as the baddie, and  Ice-T as T-Saint, one of the genetically altered Kangaroo-Human hybrid supersoldiers known as Rippers. No, really. It is as awesome as it sounds and given current times, it sounds much more plausible than it did to me when I first watched it in 1995. 

Interested in reading some graphic novels? We have Tank Girl in our collection.

By RachelleM on August 29, 2020