What Are The Most Acclaimed Comic Book Films?

Sony Pictures

Updated with Full Results Current As Of September 18th 2022.

Comic book fans have always argued about which film adaptation of their favourite property is the best. You can argue box-office until the cows come home, the fact of the matter is box-office has never been an accurate judge of quality.

In fact, what the general public has embraced hasn’t always been what the critics have embraced, and vice versa, yet certain titles are also held up high or shat upon by all. So to add fuel to the fiery debate, I set out to tabulate some scores and see if I could find some kind of reasonably argued consensus.

To do that I combined three scores for each film using three major sites – the wide-sweeping critical countings of Rotten Tomatoes, the more selective critical assessments of Metacritic, and the open to the public IMDb user ratings.

Does it prove anything? Not really, but it has resulted in a healthy list of the best films of the comic book-to-film genre. The results contain some major surprises, I know if I were doing my own list I would make some big adjustments.

One condition was decided from the get go – RT’s T-Meter score is ignored in favour of each film’s ‘Average Rating’ by critics out of 10. Without a mixed option, the T-meter score is generally unreliable as very mixed reviews are often classified as positive – leading to many widely liked but rarely acclaimed films scoring ridiculously high. The site’s average rating score from critics, however, has proven far more stable and consistent over time and is employed instead.

A film like “Watchmen” had a 6.2/10 RT average rating score, a 56/100 Metacritic score, and a 7.7/10 IMDb user rating. The result was worked out like so: (6.2 x 10) + 56 + (7.7 x 10) = 195 / 3 = 65.00. This meant its final score was 65.00 out of 100.

Over 200 films have been included in the study, and quite a few were knocked off from the list (“When the Wind Blows,” “Sheena,” “Modesty Blaise,” “Brenda Starr,” the “Lone Wolf and Cub” films, two versions of “Prince Valiant”, several “Asterix” films, “Lucky Luke”, “Tintin and the Blue Oranges”) because they didn’t have enough reviews on either RT or MC to qualify.

After much demand for it, some were included (eg. “Conan the Barbarian,” “The Green Hornet,” “The Shadow”) that began life as books or radio serials but actually found success later in the comic form. Here are the results for the those that did make it:

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