As 2019 draws to a close and we begin to make lists of all our favorite movies from the past ten years, one thing becomes incredibly obvious: It has been a massive decade for comic book adaptations. When 2010 dawned Marvel Studios had only released 2 movies and the production of an Avengers team up still seemed iffy, and Warner Brothers was preparing to conclude the acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy with no clear idea of where to go next. The success of superheroes on the big screen was far from assured. 10 years later and there’s no genre more popular across the globe.
Our own success and growth at ComicBook.Com across that same frame of time mirrors the explosion of comic book properties in cinemas. So in recognition of a very busy decade filled with excellent adaptations, we brought our staff together to assemble a definitive list of the 15 best comic book movies between 2010 and 2019. A total of 35 staff members participated, first nominating their favorite movies from the past 10 years, then ranking the 15 most-recognized films in order to assemble and rank this list.
So enjoy this assemblage of comic book excellence in movies and be sure to let us know what your favorite comic book movies from the past 10 years were in the comments.
Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams
Box Office: $657.8 million
Big Hero 6 proved that superheroes were popular in their own right, even without an easily recognized alter-ego on the poster. It pulled a little known Marvel property and reimagined it in a way that has continued to capture the hearts of audiences of all ages. Baymax and his found family have become an enduring part of modern superhero iconography, and may still see a sequel in the next decade.
Directed by Patty Jenkins
Box Office: $821.8 million
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of Wonder Woman to modern superhero films. Not only did it resurrect the credibility of DC heroes on the big screen after several critical flops, but it proved once and for all that women belong at the helm of superhero movies, both in front of and behind the cameras. Gal Gadot’s performance and Patty Jenkins’ direction made this a surefire success and reoriented Warner Brothers away from developing a shared universe and towards the production of individual movies.
Directed by Bong Joon-ho
Box Office: $86.8 million
Many moviegoers might have missed that Snowpiercer, a political commentary on class and environmentalism, was originally a French comic created by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette. It received widespread critical acclaim and showed Chris Evans’ range as an actor. It also brought director Bong Joon-ho to the attention of American audiences, paving the way for future successes, including 2019’s much-lauded Parasite.
Directed by Joe Johnston
Box Office: $370.6 million
A couple years before Snowpiercer, Chris Evans appeared in his second superhero role and became the endearing heart of the Marvel universe. This debut of the American icon set the stage for the first Avengers movie, and extended the timeline and scope of Marvel Studios’ story in a big way. Even after almost 10 years, The First Avenger remains one of Marvel’s best outings to date.
Directed by Tim Miller
Box Office: $782.6 million
Deadpool exploded the idea of what superhero movies could be, earning an R-rating and going on to massive success at the box office and with critics anyway. This debut showed that superhero movies were much more flexible than the standard good vs. evil with minimal curse words adventures audiences were used to, and that adults were just as interested in watching superhero movies as children. The subsequent development and success of more mature superhero films, humorous or otherwise, owe a lot to the release of Deadpool.
Directed by Edgar Wright
Box Office: $47.7 million
Scott Pilgrim has one of the lowest box office takes on this entire list, but the adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic about entering adulthood has found a second life beyond movie theaters. While it didn’t attract large audiences initially, it was a critical darling shoring up Edgar Wright’s reputation as a visionary director. In the decade since its release, the movie has garnered a dedicated cult following with revivals and streaming services.
Directed by Pete Travis
Box Office: $41.5 million
Dredd developed a similar cult following, with multiple efforts made by fans of the original film to have a sequel made (with no luck). The adaptation of 2000 A.D.’s most iconic character delivered a thrilling action film that has often been compared to The Raid: Redemption, and cast Karl Urban in the titular, helmeted role, played with an unchanging grimace. While fans may not see a sequel, they at least have a near-perfect improvement upon the original Dredd adaptation from the 1995 version featuring Sylvester Stallone.
Directed by Ryan Coogler
Box Office: $1.347 billion
Very few Marvel Studios films could be considered flops, but none of their movies featuring solo superheroes have succeeded in the same epic fashion as Black Panther. In addition to breaking the $1 billion threshold at the box office, it also went on to garner an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. Director Ryan Coogler and the talented cast and crew of Black Panther showed that Marvel Studios was capable of making movies with more merit than popcorn entertainment and have set expectations very high for the studios’ next phase.
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Box Office: $2.798 billion
Avengers: Endgame just barely managed to steal Avatar’s place as the highest grossing film of all time when it was released and re-released this year (not adjusting for inflation, of course). Endgame served as the culmination of more than 10 years of Marvel superhero movies, providing conclusions for characters like Iron Man and Captain America, while presenting a bright future for fresher faces like Captain Marvel and Black Panther. It’s scope and scale both across theaters and in production make it one of the most notable feats in movies this decade.
Directed by Joss Whedon
Box Office: $1.519 billion
It now seems like the success of Marvel Studios was inevitable (like Thanos), but that wasn’t obvious until The Avengers hit big screens. This is the movie that proved a shared universe could work on film, bringing together characters from 4 distinct franchises and delivering 2012’s biggest box office haul, even topping The Dark Knight Rises. Reflecting on the past decade, it feels like The Avengers was just the beginning of the modern era of superhero movies.
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Box Office: $714.4 million
Captain America: The Winter Soldier introduced audiences to the directors who would eventually steer Avengers: Endgame and began to play with the genre conventions of Marvel Studios’ movies. This installment remains a superhero film, but one that played with elements of spy thrillers and delivered some of the best action from any Marvel Studios’ movie so far. It’s a highlight for both the Captain America and Marvel Studios franchises.
Directed by James Gunn
Box Office: $772.8 million
With a third installment now in production and the characters’ prominent inclusion in Avengers: Endgame, it’s easy to forget what a longshot the original Guardians of the Galaxy seemed like in 2014. It was a movie composed of characters almost no one had heard of before, with a story and tone unlike any superhero movie to date. The subsequent success of Guardians was a joy, because of the lack of expectations and the many new ways in which the movie proved to be a crowd pleaser, one that continues giving with each subsequent viewing.
Directed by James Mangold
Box Office: $619 million
Logan provided one of the very few definitive conclusions found in superhero franchises, and delivered it with both style and poignancy. It provided audiences a chance to say goodbye to the X-Men franchise that launched almost 20 years earlier in 2000, and Hugh Jackman in the role of Wolverine. Taking cues from both Westerns and post-apocalyptic genre movies, it created a movie that rose above its many genre influences and delivered a powerful statement on maintaining hope during terrible times.
Directed by Taika Waititi
Box Office: $854 million
Thor: Ragnarok has vied with Black Panther for the role of crown jewel of Marvel Studios’ sprawling franchise. It’s one of the most visually distinctive superhero movies ever made, delivering Jack Kirby-infused aesthetics, raucous humor, and a daunting scale for its action and chaos. Filled with inimitable performances and unforgettable moments, Ragnarok is a truly unique statement on superhero movies combining one of Marvel’s oldest characters with one of Hollywood’s best, modern directors.
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman
Box Office: $375.5 million
Only one movie could have possibly topped this list, and it had to be Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. When this animated adaptation featuring the debut of Miles Morales on the big screen was released last year, it instantly captured the hearts of superhero fans and critics alike with a story that gets to the heart of why Spider-Man and superheroes have been culturally dominant across the past decade. It’s a generational tale that is accessible to both old comic book stalwarts and a new generation just discovering Spidey for the very first time, one that tells them they each have a heroic role to play in the world. Beautifully animated, wonderfully conceived, and told from the heart, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is undoubtedly the best superhero and comic book adaptation of the decade.