Much like the Western in the 1940s and 1950s, the “comic book movie” as a genre has absolutely exploded over the last two decades. What once felt like an impenetrable oddity has now become one of the most assured commercial successes, as major studios have pushed to churn out as many comic book movie adaptations as possible with no end in sight.
But of course the “comic book movie” isn’t necessarily a genre. A History of Violence and Guardians of the Galaxy are both “comic book movies” but could not be more different in tone, execution, and theme. As studios have flocked to pick up as many comic book properties as possible, the most talented filmmakers have used this as an opportunity to tell unique, disparate stories within the “comic book” umbrella. Logan and Spider-Man: Homecoming and Wonder Woman are all doing very different things, and we the audience are all the better for it.
So with comic book and superhero movies showing no sign of slowing down, Collider’s Haleigh Foutch and Adam Chitwood felt it prudent to take this opportunity to look back and try to single out the “best” comic book movie of each year since the trend exploded. While many point to 2000’s X-Men as a turning point (and it was), that discounts the impact of 1998’s Blade, which similarly took a more grounded, adult approach to the material.
And that’s where we begin our story. Below, we look back and choose the best comic book movie of every year since 1998, when Blade was released. As with all lists of this nature, this one is subjective – there will undoubtedly be disagreement. But this piece is meant to provoke discussion and reflection more than stand as a be-all, end-all authority. So let’s try and keep that in mind.
For an even more comprehensive look at comic book movies, check out our ranking of every superhero movie of the 2010s.