After my Mac was attacked by an evil organization to keep the list from completing, we are back with the beginning of the Top 10 as we cover #10 to #6! If you want to play catchup or need a refresher on the previous entries of the list, you can click on the links below:
Without any further delay, #10-#6 as voted on by us here at Monsters of Geek. Enjoy!
— Aaron Collier/EIC
#10) X-Men: First Class (2011)
X-Men First Class is a great comic book movie. We are introduced to some great X-Men and we get multiple origin stories into one movie and it is very well done.
The one origin story I think that they could focus and start an Origin line of films is Magneto’s. They did a great job at capturing the pain that he went though that helps us see what turns him in to one of the greatest villains of all-time.
We also see the start of Professor X’s love of mutants. We find a young Xavier helping a young Raven as she breaks into his family’s kitchen. We see there relationship evolve into what pushes her to Magneto.
My favorite scene is when they walk into the bar and try to recruit Wolverine. He promptly says to screw off. I think this is an ode to say that we don’t need Wolverine in every movie to make it an X-Men movie.
First Class is a great addition to The X-Men film universe. It has lead to a very good sequel and ultimately the Age of Apocalypse (my favorite story line)!! So let’s keep up making great X-Men movies so I can see Apocalypse on the sliver screen for longer than an end credit. — Joe Collier
#9) Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Let’s face it: Spider-Man 2 completely changed how the world, critics and fans alike, approached comic book movies.
Even though the comic book movie genre has evolved in significant ways over the past eleven years, Spider-Man 2 represents the transition when comic-based movies, no, superhero movies in general transformed from glorified toy commercials into an actual, legitimate genre that performed well both critically and financially. Although it’s a little hard to go back and watch Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy because of a number of reasons—including how much of a trainwreck that the third film was—I think that Spider-Man 2 still succeeds as a great movie because of the way that it focuses on telling its own story.
After seeing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 last year and leaving totally disappointed, I began to realize that TASM2’s major fault was how unfocused it was, as the entire film felt like it was trying too hard to set up future installments. Spider-Man 2, on the other hand, spent most of its runtime stretching its legs, really pushing its own narrative as far as it could. Although I love the idea of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe that spans multiple franchises with the goal of telling one large story, I think that some of their recent films have suffered from this same lack of focus and character/story development because they’re so focused on prepping the next major film or franchise. I totally understand the appeal for die-hard fans, but it just leaves someone like me feeling a little alienated. That said, I think that you can have the best of both worlds, and some recent films definitely represent a step in the right direction.
Even if you can’t force yourself to sit through Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker again, take some time to revisit some of S2’s scenes that embody what I think the movie does best: it has fun. The “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” scene is a classic that really paints Peter Parker as a likeable character, Bruce Campbell’s cameo is totally on point, and who can forget J. K. Simmons’s fantastic portrayal of J. Jonah Jameson? Don’t even get me started on how James Franco’s Harry Osborn completely blows away Dane DeHaan’s. Spider-Man 2 is a film that manages to be serious and heartfelt without taking itself too seriously and that’s precisely what I love about it. When I made my list, Spider-Man 2 was my #2 pick and my personal #1—a film that’s coincidentally the only other film in our Top 10 that’s older than S2—shares many of the same qualities that I love about Spider-Man 2. In my opinion, both of these films are much more than great comic book movies—they’re great movies period. — Colin Skeen
#8) Iron Man (2008)
I want you all to let the next statement sink in for a moment: Without Iron Man, there is no Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film laid the foundation for several of the top movies on our list and was the jumping off point for the MCU. If Iron Man had been another Daredevil (2003), there would likely be no Avengers and Hollywood would continue telling non-connected superhero stories. Instead, Marvel has made a fortune creating a universe that is growing every year with more and more intersting characters to populate it.
Iron Man, the movie that started it all, was fun, action-packed, and struck the perfect-balance between fantasy and reality. The movie tells the story of Tony Stark, a billionaire governemnt weapons contractor who gets abducted by an extremist organization in Afghanistan. Held against his will and forced to build the extermists weapons, he instead decides to build a giant metal suit to attempt an escape. The experience gives him a new appreciation for his life and sets the stage for him to become a superhero
This movie set a bar that all other MCU movies have attempted to emulate with varying results. It has more than its share of comedic moments, but switches gears effectively to put our hero in real danger.
How was it able to strike such a perfect balance? Robert Downey Jr. deserves all the credit. Every other actor in the movie is replaceable, but I can’t imagine anyone else playing Iron Man however. Unlike Superman or Batman, Downey makes Tony Stark a satirical, witty, entitled, and, ultimately, flawed, hero that you can’t help but root for. The character’s transition from playboy to playboy-that’s-also-a-superhero is the highlight of the movie.
I can’t praise Iron Man enough. There are too many great moments to point out in this small article. Instead I’ll close with this question: can any movie on this list claim to have a better closing line? “The truth is…I am Iron Man.” And superhero movies have never been the same. — Daniel Robinson
#7) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
Punk rock is two minutes of energy filled unapologetic music that is played fast and hard. It incites crowds to form a circle and proceed to run over their fellow brethren in a revolutionary haze of adrenaline. And even with all the perceived harshness of the genre and it’s fanbase, if you are in the circle pit you are among family that will pick you up just as fast as they knocked you down. It’s fast, it can hurt, and it ultimately carries a message in all the chaos.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a punk rock album put on the big screen. It’s fast, bombastic, and aggressive, but at it’s heart it’s about growing up and It just so happens to use video games, punk music, and geek culture as a backdrop to tell it’s story.
The story revolves around an early 20-something named, you guessed it, Scott Pilgrim. He plays in a band named Sex Bob-Omb, dates a high schooler named Knives Chau, and is an all-star slacker. He doesn’t have a job, nor does he desires one, and instead of trying to make something of himself he chooses to live with his gay best friend and roommate Wallace Wells in a one mattress apartment (And, yes, you correctly read that last part. Keep going). He is a lovable loser that has lost all motivation to better his place in the world.
Then comes the mysterious, blue haired Ramona Flowers. But not in reality. At least not yet. Scott sees her in a dream and then encounters her in real life at a party he is attending. He awkwardly tries to talk to her as he tells her the origins of how Pac-Man got his name. Unimpressed, Romana moves on while Scott basically stalks her at the party until she ends up leaving, sending Scott on his journey towards adulthood and maturity in his attempts to win Ramona’s heart.
Did I mention the journey involving The League of Evil Exes? You know, Ramana’s mostly super powered death row of ex-boyfriends that Scott finds out he has to defeat in order to be Romana’s one and only? Wait. I didn’t mention them? Neither did Ramona.
This is where Scott Pilgrim becomes a full fledged barrage of raging missiles that keep raining down geeky goodness at a speed that would make Barry Allen jealous.
Scott’s battles with Ramona’s League of Evil Exes is triggered when FIGHT appears on the screen and power bars appear above Scott and his adversary. That’s right. Just like in Street Fighter, Fatal Fury, and any other classic arcade-era fighters. Each fight is a frenzied over-the-top spectacle with comic book sound effects, flying fists, and kung-fu kicks. Scott’s battles range from straight up fist fights to a one-on-one bass guitar battle. You even get a great battle of the bands fight between Sex Bob-Omb and the Katayanagi Twins that quickly became one of my favorite scenes I’ve seen in a movie in quite sometime. After each fight Scott wins, the ex he defeats turns to coins which he collects. He also levels up his stats like an RPG with signs of maturity like selfishness, love, and accountability. With each battle, Scott gets closer and closer to capturing Ramona’s heart.
The casting of the film was spot on. Michael Cera portrays Scott Pilgrim’s awkward geekiness perfectly, and I can’t imagine anyone playing the mature and world tested Ramona than Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The quality supporting cast is what really makes this movie feel like the world of Scott Pilgrim with some excellent performances. Allison Pill’s portrayal of drummer Kim Pine is spot-on and Mark Webber’s performance as frantic hipster and lead singer/guitarist Stephen Stills is true to his printed counter part. Ellen Wong plays an excellent Knives Chau and the great Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells is nothing short of fantastic (“FIGHT, PILGRIM!”).
You also get some key performances from some familiar faces portraying Ramona’s ex-boyfriends. Chris Evans plays pro-skater turned Hollywood action star Lucas Lee, Brandon Routh portrays evil vegan and Clash at Demonhead bass guitarist (10 points to who can guess the reference) Todd Ingram, and Jason Schwartzman gives you the evilest of all the ex-boyfriends in record executive Gideon Graves. Throw in some “before they are stars” performances with Anna Kendrick playing Scott’s sister, Stacy, and Aubrey Plaza as Stephen Still’s somewhat psychotic and foul-mouthed ex-girlfriend, Julie. The assembly of established and lesser known talent is the backbone of the film. Each performance pulled the drawn characters of Brian Lee O’Malley’s wonderful series straight to the big screen.
Even thought the movie isn’t a perfect adaptation (they leave some of Scott’s backstory out and takes some liberty on when certain fights take place in the story), it is very close. And, like I mentioned above, they nail the characters which is the most important part of Scott Pilgrim vs. World. But at it’s core, Scott Pilgrim is a story of finding a reason to grow up, leaving the past behind, and healing from past scars. It’s about finding that one person that you want to be a better version of yourself for. It’s a story of love, forgiveness, and trust and how those three things can lead to a new start. It just uses a punk rock state of mind, frantic fight scenes, geek references aplenty, and a slacker hero that levels up RPG style to help get to the moral of the story.
It’s that combination of flash and substance that put Scott Pilgrim vs. The World in my personal Top 5 and at #7 on our list.
— Aaron Collier
#6) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
In 2014, Marvel Studios went all out with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It is a thrill ride from beginning to end, with some of the best action sequences in any of the Marvel movies. Removed were the over the top CG effects, and it was replaced with a more realistic style that Jason Borne would be proud of. Not only is the action great, but the story is a political thriller that dives deep into the heart of Washington, and makes the Watergate cover up look like the pork rind election bribing that took place in Appalachia, VA. In other words small potatoes.
Chris Evans reprises his role as Captain America, and picks up two years after the destruction of New York in The Avengers. Tagging along with Cap is the Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johannson), and Sam Wilson, the Falcon (Anthony Mackie). Nick Fury has been attacked, and Cap does not know who to trust anymore. He battles through government personnel, a new government team of soldiers, the renewed HYDRA, and the Winter Soldier. This story is based on the Winter Soldier story arc written by Ed Brubaker, and lives up to its comic counterpart.
One of the best things about the movie is the toned down special effects. There are an abundance of special effects, but most of the action takes place as hand-to-hand combat. The opening fight between Cap and Georges Batroc, portrayed by former UFC star Georges St-Pierre, really kicks things into high gear. My favorite action scene in the whole move has to be Cap taking on the S.T.R.I.K.E. team in the elevator. Nothing like stacking the odds and having Cap come out on top.
Chris Evans does an awesome job as Captain America, but I think that the two new additions to the cast bring something extra to the table. Those two additions are Anthony Mackie/Sam Wilson and Sebastian Stan/Winter Soldier. There are endless possibilities with these two. Sam Wilson really pops off the screen and has a huge personality, he could star in his own movie. It will be interesting to see who they choose to carry the shield after the last Avengers movie.
Overall, this was the best movie of 2014 to me and the second best comic movie. Marvel had done nothing like this in the past. They went out and made a Captain America movie that resembles the comics, and gave the fans what they wanted. — Jarred Collins