- December 28, 2021
Top Ten Comic Book Movies of 2021!
The year is ending, and no more comic book films are coming out. Last year, I only managed to review the top ten comic books, but this year, I want to do more. I want to get the top ten comic book series I read, comic tv shows, and comic book movies. Here’s hoping I get to them all before the videos and posts become irrelevant!
Despite being in a pandemic, I think we were fed pretty well with comic book movies. Between four MCU films, a couple of DCEU movies, and many animated films, I had one almost every month.
Animated movies are movies, so the DC animated lineup is 100% welcome on my list. Several of them rank pretty high. The movies also could have launched on a streaming service, they did not have to be in theaters. The only prerequisite is that they have to be comic book adaptions that I have seen. That’s literally it.
Here’s my number 10!
#10. The Suicide Squad
This is what the original film should have been. A ragtag team of villains who go into a low-stakes mission with funny jokes and awesome action. It didn’t need to be anything else, but James Gunn brought that much and more by turning up the raunchy humor and over-the-top violence to a ten.
The action scenes have that cool factor that makes them incredibly entertaining even though most of them are little more than shootouts. I’ll never forget seeing Bloodshot’s bullet shatter Peacemaker’s, nor will I forget how King Shark literally ripped a guy in half.
What makes this film special and distinctly a film about the Suicide Squad is that characters die, and they die permanently. There’s an excellent mix of surprise, shock, and sadness when characters die. No two deaths hit the same, and that separates it from nearly every other comic book movie.
But to be honest, while the deaths add something special, they don’t make the movie. Don’t expect there to be any real lesson or for this movie to stick with you after it’s over. That’s fine, it’s a funny action movie, and that’s all. That lack of anything else though is why it’s so low on my list.
I’m sorry, this movie is not as bad as people say. In fact, it’s not bad at all. I would not have adapted this critically-acclaimed comic this way, but it works for me more often than not. This adaptation cherry-picked some of the best moments and character beats across not only the original Injustice comic series, but also its sequel series, and some of the game.
Unlike most comic book films to come out this year, the arguments each character represents had me standing up, constantly pausing, frustrated as I argue for and against them. This film has nuance the game’s story didn’t, but not as much as the comic. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it drew out emotion from me in a way most films wish they could.
It strikes enough emotional points with me that I was still thinking about the film long after the credits rolled. There were also several action scenes that had me screaming, and a couple of easter eggs fans of the game can’t not love. Not to mention the voice acting was top-notch here, and some creative decisions, in my opinion, improved some aspects of the game and comic that I didn’t like, mostly around Wonder Woman.
The animation could be more than a little shotty in several instances, but more often than not, I was thoroughly engrossed with this film. It’s not one of the best DC animated films ever, but I enjoyed it a lot more than people told me I would.
#8. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
As the first origin story of Phase Four, I had mixed expectations. This was a character I never cared about in the comics, and origin movies tended to be the weakest of the MCU on average in my opinion. Despite that, I found myself thoroughly enjoying one of the most likable protagonists in the MCU.
Despite a crazy backstory, Shang-Chi, or Shaun as he is also called, is funny, endearing, and likable. A story about how he finds himself set to absolutely awesome martial arts setpieces makes for one of the best origin stories in the MCU and any superhero.
Not to mention that this film gives Shang-Chi some of the most interesting and funny supporting characters to boot. Between his sister and his best friend, I want to keep going back into his part of the MCU.
What did drag down this movie is its second half. This film was Marvel’s love letter to Chinese cinema, but where the first half was an ode to martial arts movies, the second half was an ode to fantasy movies. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if they were two separate films, but it causes the tone of the first half and back half to really clash.
Not just in terms of story, but in the visual style in a way that took me out of it. I do love the final fight between father and son, and whatever that terrifying Cthulu monster was, but I felt myself struggling to pay attention for too much of the second half to put this film in the top half of my list.
#7. Black Widow
Yeah, this movie should have come out after Civil War and before Infinity War, when it took place. That did immediately suck a lot of the stakes out of it for the title character, I’m not gonna lie, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying it.
Black Widow is my favorite Avengers, and she’s deserved her own film for a while. This film finally took a deep dive into how messed up the Black Widow program is. Honestly, the opening twenty minutes of this film is darker than anything else in the MCU outside of What If…? I mean unless they make the Netflix shows canon again. But right now, Black Widow is one of the darker films.
And it suits the characters. This more serious tone leads to some of the most visceral actions scenes, a set-piece ripped right from the comic, and a twisted climax befitting the Black Widow.
I don’t think all of the humor in this film lands, particularly when they don’t include Yelena, whose hilarious. But that’s okay because I’m going to rewatch this film again and again for finally giving Natasha Romanoff the spotlight, some of her best action scenes, and an emotional story that hit me in the feels more than any of the other films I’ve listed before it.
I love this film, and while I don’t think it’s the best, it’s easily one of my favorite MCU films.
#6. Venom: Let There Be Carnage
I’m either gonna get booed or praised, but I’ve gotta be honest, I loved the first Venom and I love this one even more. I could watch Eddie and Venom fight like an odd couple all day and not get bored. It’s hilarious, and not always intentionally so, but that’s okay.
More than any other film I’ve listed so far, I had fun watching this movie. This movie made me happy.
Eddie and Venom seemed so human in such a garbage way, that I couldn’t help but fall in love with everything they did. Does the plot make sense? No. Is the acting particularly good? Not really. Did the acting, the action, and set-pieces thoroughly entertain me? You bet.
I was never bored during this film, which is something the films I’ve ranked lower cannot say. While I would have liked a more destructive and violent Carnage, he and Woody Harrelson were electric on-screen, bringing the set-pieces I wanted.
I’m not saying it’s a better written, directed, or acted movie than anything ranked below it, but it’s far more entertaining, and doesn’t that make it better?
#5. Justice Society: World War II
Oh my god, I love the art style of this new animated universe. Everything and everyone looks sleek, they move fluidly, and it’s not afraid to get wacky. This tale about such an underappreciated DC property did what all of the best DC animated features do. It captured the heart and core of DC’s characters with depth, accuracy, and love.
You don’t need the first two things to make a good DC movie, but they always stand out when they come along. This is a film that makes the most out of every minute, expertly juggling several characters with its lean runtime. I would have liked for a couple of characters to get more time, mainly Jay Garrick, but when I finished the movie, he was the only one I felt didn’t get anything to do. That’s rare for a team film.
It balanced a story with stakes and surprises, while also working in inventive action that mixed the team’s abilities expertly. My only real criticism stands with its plot and its villain.
Because it focused on the characters and action so much, there wasn’t a villain until the last third of the film. It wasn’t because they were building it up, it just seemed random, like most of the plot. That’s not altogether bad, but it made it feel a bit incoherent, especially when compared to the films higher on this list. This film did nearly everything else really well, but so do the other movies I’ve rated above it.
#4. Spider-Man: No Way Home
Because this film is far more recent than the other films on this list, I’m giving a heavy spoiler warning.
This is just straight-up the best live-action Spider-Man movie, capturing what’s special about the character. It’s easy to look at the large crossovers between all the villains, Doctor Strange, Daredevil, and yes, all the Spider-Mans, and think this is a cash grab.
It’s not. There’s love and warmth that nearly brought tears to my eyes. This film doesn’t reference the past just for jokes, not that there aren’t a lot of those, but references the past to work through the heartbreak and trauma that surrounds being Spider-Man.
Sure, the action is great and the jokes really land, but more than anything, this film captures its main character, and lets the actors flex their acting chops in ways few MCU films have.
Most importantly, this film sets Peter Parker in a status quo that brings him closer to comic-book Peter more than even Andrew Garfield’s films. And it’s not artificial in any way, it does so as a consequence of the events of the film. This film is not friendly, it hits hard, and there’s a bittersweetness to everything that happens in the second act. It’s enough to be in the running for the best MCU film, and one of the best superhero films of all time.
#3. Zack Snyder’s Justice League
Easily the best film in the DCEU, this film hits on all cylinders, making up for the travesty that was Whedon’s Justice League. This film has jaw-dropping cinematography, amazing action scenes with spectacular CGI animation, time spent developing its characters, and a story that hits.
Is it overly long with several scenes that could have been shorter or cut altogether? Absolutely, but it would still be one of the longest movies ever made so I’m not gonna nitpick about that.
Seriously though, this was Zack Snyder’s love letter to DC and his fans. It felt like an event to have the Justice League get together, and with the time he took to tell his story, the team actually had the chance to not only feel cohesive but like a team.
And oh my god, were the action set-pieces not only gorgeous, but they also matched well with the story. The best set-pieces do more than entertain with how flashy they are, they correlate with the character’s journey. Whether it was Cyborg against the mother box, or Flash running through the Speed Force, the action and the visuals were more than just set dressing.
This is one of the best live-action superhero films of all time, and honestly, maybe my favorite among superhero team-ups. I can’t get over how amazing it was not only for this film to exist but to be as good as it is.
#2. Batman: The Long Halloween
Just so everyone knows, while yes, this story was split into two parts, I’m just including them as one, since together they’re still shorter than several films on this list. And together, they tell a story that works on so many levels.
I’m not a huge fan of the original comic, but there are elements I loved that this film illustrated better than the comic. Being a film early in Batman’s career, we got to see Gotham transition from a city ruled by career criminals, to one run by the freaks. Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and Harvey Dent may have driven organized crime nearly to extinction, but something worse and far less merciful came to take their place.
Meld that with the fall of Gotham’s greatest hero, Harvey Dent, and a year-long murder mystery, and you’ve encapsulated me as a Batman fan. This is the story that inspired live-action films and video games alike for a reason. It’s a gut-wrenching story that could only be about Batman and his city.
It also helps that it has some of the best voice-acting from a supporting cast in any DC animated film to date. Josh Duhamel as Harvey Dent, in particular, might just be one of my favorite villain performances since Mark Hamill’s Joker.
This film captures so much of what makes Batman, Gotham, and the stories about them so special.
#1. Batman: Soul of the Dragon
This film has a style, heart, and spirit that no other superhero film, live-action, or animated has ever matched. I don’t think I’ve seen a film that’s captured martial arts action as well as this one since the time of Bruce Lee. Not even Shang-Chi.
Based on the martial arts and blaxploitation films of the 70s, it removes a lot of what those films did wrong to pull out what they did right. This film had a kung-fu aesthetic that brings energy into every scene, a visual style that makes everything pop, and an energy that makes even the most cliche of villains and dialogue feel fun and exciting.
This was an excellently crafted film. Clearly, a passion project where the film’s creators got to explore their love for 70s action films with Batman and lesser-known comic characters.
Oh yeah, this was also barely a Batman film.
What it did show of him, was fun, leaning into both the more hooky and funny aspects of the character while keeping him serious and recognizable. But truly, he’s here to bring people in and make new fans for underrated and lovable characters like Bronze Tiger, Richard Dragon, and Lady Shiva. It’s so cool to see DC use Batman to lift up new characters, and that’s what this film will do.
Honestly, the worst thing about this film is that I want more of it. I can’t think of anything that I would have changed. This, for me, truly is the best comic book film of the year.
What comic book movies have you seen? What’s
What’s your favorite comic movies of the year?
Let me know in the comments below lookout for videos on our other top tens on the Youtube channel!