3 Lists of 3 Faithful and Unfaithful Comic Book and Manga Movies

Cause it takes a strong man, baby, but I’m showing you the door. Cause I gotta have faith. I gotta have faith. Or do you?

Your uncle Geekly is back with more comic book movie magic and a three list of three. This week we’ll concentrate on comic book movies that are the most and least faithful adaptations to their source material and throw in a third, fun list for kicks.

Usually, a faithful adaptation is better than one that isn’t, but that’s not always the case. 2011’s Green Lantern made the short list for faithful adaptations, and it stunk. Regardless, the following lists will let you know which ones have geek cred, and which ones don’t.

Most Faithful Comic Book or Manga Movies (so far)


Iron Man (2008)

All the main points for Tony’s character are present in 2008’s Iron Man, except that he’s more of a social drinker than an alcoholic. That may be the one part that I’ve never liked about the movie version, but I get it. Marvel/Disney wants to make Iron Man more accessible for a greater audience. But alcoholism is a common problem and that’s one of the things that makes Tony accessible for people.

Oh well, like I said, the main character points are there: billionaire playboy, womanizer, purveyor of the best weapons, regrets the creation of such weapons, and needs a suit to stay alive. One must take the omission of alcoholism with stride. The cinematic Iron Man deals with his alcoholism as much as cinematic versions of Batman deal with the loss of his parents. It’s a peripheral thing.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Yes. This is the second Marvel movie in a row, but it’s a good one that’s very faithful to its source material. The only things the movie Winter Soldier changes are plot points that wouldn’t fit within the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Sharon Carter wasn’t introduced until this movie, so Black Widow is part of Cap’s team) and some of the more fantastic or mystical elements (sorry, no Cosmic Cube, this version is more grounded).

Again, the main points are there. Cap’s team investigate the mysterious Winter Soldier, who turns out to be Cap’s former sidekick Bucky. At the end, Bucky sneaks away to find himself. The few deviations make sense and don’t detract from the movie capturing the characters and the feel of the comics.


Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

Some source material was cut or condensed to fit a two-hour runtime, but Scott Pilgrim vs. The World captures the original story perfectly. Over-the-top video game battles? Check. A frenetic pace? Check. Extremely expressive characters? Have you seen Michael Cera’s face? He may have eyes as large as the title character in the manga. The supporting characters are equally over-the-top and animated—but in the best possible way.

Edgar Wright did a fantastic job translating the Canadian manga into a cult classic. Unfortunately, cult classic means that it didn’t do as well as it should have in theaters.

Least Faithful Comic Book or Manga Movies (so far)


Catwoman (2004)

Catwoman. Ugh, Catwoman! It’s so different from the source material that I wouldn’t be surprised if a film distributor other than Warner Brothers released this one. The anti-hero’s moniker and character appearance (sort of) are the only commonalities between the two entities.

Patience Philips is Catwoman’s real name instead of Selina Kyle. Patience drowns and comes back to life with the help of a magical cat instead of being a world-class cat burglar. There’s an Egyptian goddess Bastet angle that’s just awful. Who wrote this? How could the actors read the script and think this would be a good movie? Who allowed this to exist?


The Spirit (2008)

The Spirit comic may have had some issues with Ebony White (it’s a product of its age), but the story is a great blend of crime and humor with strong characterization. I like how Will Eisner portrayed The Spirit as an everyman. It made him relatable and accessible.

The movie strips the characters of their personality and clothes. Comic book fans have known for years that Frank Miller (the movie’s director) doesn’t have the most enlightened opinion of women, and it shows here. I would say that 2008’s The Spirit should only be aired on Skinamax, but soft-core porn has more story and does more with their characters. Also, The Spirit can heal like Wolverine, so that everyman quality is lost.


Death Note (2017)

Fans didn’t like the announcement that Netflix would release a live action Death Note and set it in the United States. While I agree that changing the setting and other cosmetic alterations damaged the movie, Death Note’s biggest sin is that the characters are dumb. It’s not that they’re dumb as in they make little sense or have limited characterization, which they do make little sense and have limited characterization, but the main characters have a collected IQ of 30. That’s not ideal for a series that’s main draw is that it plays out like a high-stakes Chess match.

Instead of schemes becoming more complex throughout the movie, they get dumb and dumber and dumberer and dumberest. This movie is so stupid that I’m making up words.

Awesome Animated Comic Book Movies


All-Star Superman (2011)

It helps when the source material is excellent, but 2011’s All-Star Superman is amazing. It captures the essence of the character in a way other Superman films haven’t been able to. It shows what Superman would do if he knew he didn’t have much time left on this planet. He continues to protect the Earth and his loved ones because that’s who he is. There’s even a great Lex Luthor character moment when he sees the world as Superman does, ever the optimist. All-Star Superman is a must watch.


Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

Batman: Under the Red Hood was released early in DC’s animated line, but it may be the best animated Batman film ever. Jensen Ackles (Supernatural) is Jason Todd and he may own the role for some time to come. Bruce Greenwood’s Dark Knight and John DiMaggio’s Joker are almost as good as Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, and that’s saying a lot.

This film explores the complex relationship Batman has with killing and with the Robins who have joined him in his crusade. Yes. Under the Red Hood has the prerequisite action and crime fighting, but it’s a surprisingly deep movie.


Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

I could’ve gone with a lot of other DC animated films with this final move—DC Animated movies are far better than most Marvel ones, they’re the inverse of the live action films—but I had to go with one of the first Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. To me, Kevin Conroy is Batman. Mark Hamill has given one of the most memorable performances as The Joker. There’s a reason the pair have been playing these characters for over two decades.

The original characters in this film are well done too, and Batman: Mask of the Phantasm holds the distinction of being the first Batman: The Animated Series film. Any Batman newbie should watch at least the first season of Batman: The Animated Series, followed by Mask of the Phantasm.

I can only list 9 movies in this 3 lists of 3, so I’m sure some readers will differ in their opinions. Turn on the Geek Signal and I may come running if you leave within a fifty-mile radius or leave a comment.

Superman Starter Stories

Standard Issue Comic Book Geek Jim—that’s SICBG Jim to you—is back for another Starter Stories article. He rambled on about “truth, justice and the Geekly way,” and I told him he could commandeer the site if he didn’t preach Superman to me. Okay. Superman—the Standard Issue Comic Book Superhero—doesn’t get enough love. Shine on, you Crazy Kryptonian.

Superman is my favorite superhero. It’s hard to come up with a starters list for him, though, because so many of his best books are retellings of his origins, or Elseworlds stories that can’t be considered canon. With that in mind, here are the titles I recommend for approaching the character and better understanding where he is today.


Birthright (written by Mark Waid/art by Leinil Yu; 2003-2004)

 Superman: Birthright is a good place to start with Superman. It’s a reimagining of Superman’s origin that includes a lot of what’s part of canon today. Maybe most notably, the idea that the “S” on his chest isn’t an “S,” as “Man of Steel” famously told us. Birthright sets the stage for Krypton to be used as more than a passing point of interest in Superman books. Mark Waid is always a good bet.

Superman_What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way

What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way? (written by Joe Kelly/art by Doug Mahnke and Lee Bermejo; 2001)

I love this one because it wrestles directly with so much of what people say is wrong with Superman. It’s a defense of his optimism and an example of how his real powers aren’t in his strength, speed, or invulnerability, but in what he has the power to show humanity about itself. It’s not an attempt to retrofit the character to make him more interesting to modern audiences, but an exploration of what everyone seems to overlook about him now. Lee Bermejo is also one of my favorite creators, so that doesn’t hurt.

Superman_Kingdom Come

Kingdom Come (written by Mark Waid/art by Alex Ross; 1996)

This book builds on what I’ve said about our second entry. Kingdom Come contrasts Superman with a lot of the more edgy characters in recent comics and makes a case for why Superman is not only relevant, but necessary. Mark Waid does what he does, rendering a faithful depiction of the character, and Alex Ross offers some of the definitive Superman art in recent history.

Superman_Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow

Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? (written by Alan Moore/art by Curt Swan; 1986)

This book is meant to put a cap on the story of Superman. It’s told by Lois Lane ten years after the supposed death of the hero. It’s gloomy, especially by the standards of Superman comics, but there’s a bittersweet quality in seeing the character’s legacy laid out on the page.

The Death of Superman

The Death of Superman (written by various/ art by various; 1992-1993)

This arc was written and drawn by various creators, as it encapsulates a pretty long arc. I’ll be honest here and say it isn’t one of my favorite stories in Superman lore, but it’s on this list because it’s iconic, and it’s too important to comics history to leave off. This is the story of how Superman died defeating Doomsday. The image of Lois cradling Superman’s broken body, Jimmy Olsen in the background pleading for him to be okay is one of comics’ great panels. Of course, this was the moment that broke death in comics, as the resurrection of Superman set a trend and lowered the stakes moving forward.

All-Star Superman

All-Star Superman (written by Grant Morrison/art by Frank Quitely; 2005-2008)

This is my personal favorite. The story that gets to the heart of what makes Superman so special, that even in the face of his own mortality, he protects the people of Metropolis. He stops to comfort a troubled teen on the verge of suicide in another of recent comics’ great panels. Quitely’s art is serene, and Grant Morrison’s affection for the character comes through without making the story saccharine.

SICBG Jim has given your uncle Geekly the honor of writing a closing statement. I hope I can live up to the great example he set. Here it goes.

Superman’s portrayal in the DC Extended Universe—and I blame the writing and directing more than Henry Cavill—leaves a lot to be desired. The DCEU may be one of the largest targets Jim thought of when he said that creators “retrofit the character (Superman) to make him more interesting to modern audiences.”

The stories above, and especially All-Star Superman, do a great job of showing that the Man of Steel is more than a super-powered Batman in gunmetal blue tights. He represents hope, and the original comic book superhero is still one of the best. Do agree with SICBG Jim’s story selections? Let us know either way. I’ll just be in the corner doing my best Mister Mxyzptlk impersonation.