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Top 10 Superhero Movie Storylines The Comics Did Better

VO: Derek Allen WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
Written by Michael Wynands Superhero movies have been adapting iconic storylines from comic books for decades, but not all the movies do it right! WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Superhero Movie Storylines that Were Better than the Comics. But what will take the top spot on our list? Will it be Daredevil, X-Men: The Last Stand, or The Dark Knight Returns? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: Have an idea for our next video? Submit to our suggest page here: https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/

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How do these cinematic adaptations measure up to the source material? Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 Superhero Movie Storylines that Were Better in the Comics.

For this list, we’ll be looking at popular or iconic comic book arcs and crossover events that have been adapted to the big screen but which failed to live up to their source material. To be clear, many of the films we’ll be discussing today are solid, if not fantastic comic book movies. What we’re interested in, however, is how they compared to the comics that inspired them.

#10: “Age of Ultron” (2013)
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015)

“Age of Ultron” was an adaptation in name only, but making any connection to the 2013 story by Brian Michael Bendis, in which we’re introduced to an alternate future earth where Ultron has decimated humankind, is sure to draw comparisons from fans, and, well, here we are! While the comic storyline proved to be divisive amongst critics and readers, there was no denying its epic scale. So when the sequel to Joss Whedon’s Avengers was announced with the subtitle “Age of Ultron”, fans were understandably thrilled. While they both have their flaws, rather than a sprawling tale of conquest and genocide spread across the multiverse, this big-screen version opted to tell its own story, which left us wanting more.

#9: “The Fall of the Mutants” (1988)
“X-Men: Apocalypse” (2016)

Like Ultron, this villain is one of the biggest threats in the Marvel universe, and unfortunately, his big screen debut felt similarly beneath him. Again, like Ultron, Apocalypse has an alternate timeline to his name, the “Age of Apocalypse”. Thankfully, Fox never claimed to be adapting this iconic storyline. The 2016 film most closely resembles “The Fall of the Mutants” crossover from 1988 - the X-Factor story specifically, which involves the villain’s Four Horsemen. The film succeeded on some fronts, but given that it had to introduce the complex titular character, alongside many other new faces, the movie never hit its stride or properly translated the might, power, and gravitas of Apocalypse to the big screen.

#8: “Alien Costume Saga” (1984-85)
“Spider-Man 3” (2007)

Sam Raimi kept his campy, Evil Dead inclinations in check for the first two Spider-Man films. Unfortunately, in the third, he seemingly took all that pent-up B-movie fun and doused Toby Maguire's Spider-Man in it. While the symbiote turns Parker and Spidey into an emotionally volatile and dark hero in the comics, in Spider-Man 3, it makes him a cringy, dancing wannabe ladies man and general jerk. Even worse, however, is when the scorned Symbiote bonds with Eddie Brock. In the comics, this made for a thrilling conflict, and Venom grew to become a fan favorite villain-cum-antihero. In the film, he’s one villain too many, and the less said about Topher Grace as Brock, the better.

#7: “Wolverine” (1982)
“The Wolverine” (2013)

After the painful “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, James Mangold’s “The Wolverine” was undeniably a breath of fresh air for the character and his fans alike, but it wasn’t without its faults, and unfortunately, it couldn’t hold a candle to its source material. Wolverine’s first solo limited series, released in 1982, is widely considered to be among the greatest in the character’s publishing history. In the story by Chris Claremont, which features stunning art by Frank Miller, Logan goes toe-to-toe with the powerful crime boss, Lord Shingen, while simultaneously falling in love with the villain’s daughter. It was a moving tale of love, loss, and redemption. The movie borrowed heavily from the storyline, but in the third act dropped all nuance and opted to fixate on a bastardized version of the Silver Samurai.

#6: “Batman: Knightfall” (1993-94)
“The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)
Christopher Nolan took many liberties with the source material, but when you look at the grounded, gritty Batman trilogy he delivered, they seem justified. His realistic take on Bane worked surprisingly well, but pulling a switcheroo and sidelining him as a glorified henchman, thus triggering flashbacks to “Batman & Robin”... was one of the few major mistakes. Sure, Talia brought the trilogy full circle, but at the expense of this film. Had Bane remained front and center, Nolan wouldn’t be on this list, but given that twist, we’re still waiting to see the iconic Knightfall storyline done justice on the big screen with a film that recognizes that Bane is far more than just another villain’s muscle.

#5: “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” (1973)
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2014)

Second only to the loss of Uncle Ben, the tragic death of Gwen Stacy at the hands of Green Goblin is one of the most formative experiences in Peter Parker’s career as Spider-Man. It shocked readers and it rocked our hero to his core. Remember, this was before the age of comic book deaths as a sales tactic. To be fair, the actual moment of Gwen’s death in Marc Webb’s film is moving. Unfortunately, it just didn’t have the context or quality film to back it up. This film introduces Electro and the Green Goblin, rushing both Harry’s intro and his transformation. It’s just too much… way too fast, speeding through every stage of this emotional story.

#4: “Watchmen” (1986-87)
“Watchmen” (2009)

Alan Moore’s landmark graphic novel, Watchmen, is widely considered to be one of the greatest comic book stories ever written. A dark reflection on the concept of heroes, it’s been the subject of much analysis and critical study. Until Zack Snyder stepped up to the plate, it was long considered an unfilmable story. Why? Because it was specifically made to fit its medium - a near flawless balance of still images, written dialogue and narration. For some, Snyder succeeded in delivering the best possible adaptation; for others, it failed because that’s all any attempted adaption could do. Regardless of your thoughts on the adaptation, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’d argue that the film is an improvement on the source material.

#3: “Last Hand” (1982)
“Daredevil” (2003)

Most of the comic book adaptations got here by deviating from the source material. Daredevil, starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, is unique in that it’s arguably one of the more direct comic book adaptations ever made. Unfortunately, it aimed to adapt elements of one of the greatest Daredevil runs of all-time, and tried to do it before filmmakers really figured out how to make great comic book movies. It checks many of the boxes from Frank Miller’s celebrated run as it can squeeze into its runtime, but… without any of the substance. The story of Daredevil and Elektra was captivating on the page, but painfully 2-dimensional onscreen.

#2: “The Dark Knight Returns” (1986) & “The Death of Superman” (1992-93)
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016)

Turns out, taking two classic stories and smashing them together does not make for a very good adaptation. When Superman died in 1992, he was an icon of truth, justice, and the American way. So when he gave his life defending the planet in an epic and satisfying battle with Doomsday, people were affected by his death the world over. The problem with Batman v Superman, apart from a poorly CGI’d Doomsday and shoehorning that battle into a story that was also adapting the iconic battle between Batman and Superman at the end of Frank Miller’s classic “The Dark Knight Returns,” is that the DCEU failed to make us care about this Superman before killing him off.

#1: “The Dark Phoenix Saga” (1980)
“X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006)

This highly influential X-Men story was so poorly adapted to the big screen that Fox is already revisiting it. The third installment in the original X-Men trilogy, and sadly, a disappointing end to a chapter that had really delivered up to that point, “The Last Stand” tried to do far too much. The Dark Phoenix Saga explores the influence of the powerful extraplanetary “Phoenix Force” over Jean Grey. It’s an important chapter in the X-Men lore, but one that’s tough to fit into a single film. So the fact that the filmmaker opted to make it just one of the various plotlines naturally made for a seriously disappointing adaptation. Here’s hoping that they get it right the second time around.

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