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.

Iron Man Starter Stories

Iron Man doesn’t get the due that other Marvel characters receive. Heck, he’s the character who kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Show some respect, people. He’s also had a checkered past when it comes to the quality of his storytelling.

Some Iron Man moments are some of the best in the business. Others leave readers shaking their heads. It’s a rollercoaster of a ride for Iron Man readers, but fortunately, your uncle Geekly’s here to point you in the right direction of some of the better Iron Man titles that serve as great jumping off places for new Iron Man readers.


Tales of Suspense #39 “Iron Man’s Origin” (written by Stan Lee/art by Steve Ditko; 1963)

What better place to start than with Iron Man’s origin? What new readers may be surprised when they first read this story is the reflective nature toward communism that it takes—in 1963. We’re in the height of the Cold War. This is a story originally based in Vietnam that was published a year before the Vietnam War started in earnest.

It’s no wonder the Iron Man film obliquely addressed the War on Terror. Iron Man has a history of taking on current events and international conflict. You could spend thousands of dollars to get your hands on an original comic, but Uncle Geekly suggests that you pick up the anthology Essential Iron Man.


Iron Man: Extremis (written by Warren Ellis/art by Adi Granov; 2005-2006)

We’re going to jump several decades to this essential Iron Man story. Extremis updates Iron Man’s origin—something that’ll look familiar if you’ve seen the first Iron Man movie—and serves as the primary source material for Iron Man 3.

This story handles Aldrich Killian (the main antagonist in Iron Man 3) a lot differently than the movie, but the key story elements are present. It also updated Tony’s suit and his relationship with it that one can see in later Marvel Universe movies. Extremis is one of the best Iron Man stories and well worth the read.


Demon in a Bottle (written by David Michelinie and Bob Layton/art by John Romita Jr., Bob Layton, and Carmine Infantino; 1979)

Sorry, but we’re going back in time with this one. “Demon in a Bottle” introduces Tony Stark/Iron Man’s struggles with alcoholism. This addiction remains one of Tony’s defining characteristics.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe glossed over Tony’s alcoholism (there was a moment in Iron Man 2 where he got drunk at a party while wearing his armor), but any collection of Iron Man stories must include “Demon in a Bottle.”

Whether he struggles with his addiction or comforts someone else with an addiction, Tony Stark gained some needed personality and depth with this story, and this story happened almost by accident.


The Enemy Within (written by John Byrne/art by John Romita Jr.; 1990)

Tony’s alcoholism continues to gnaw at him. When he’s pushed over the edge with AIM, the Serpent Squad, and Diablo while fighting a corporate takeover by Obadiah Stane (main villain of the first Iron Man movie), he turns to the bottle and after several drinks, it’s obvious that Tony is in no shape to fight.

James Rhodes fills in for Tony for the first time in this story and this leads to his transformation as War Machine. Fans of War Machine will love this story. Others will find “The Enemy Within” as a fantastic character study for Tony.


Armor Wars (written by David Michelinie and Bob Layton/art by Mark D. Bright and Barry Windsor-Smith; 1987-1988)

Armor Wars has more action than most of the other titles on this list so far. It also features some of Iron Man’s greatest foes like Titanium Man and Crimson Dynamo. Tony travels to his Vault as he battles the government and infiltrates SHIELD.

But this story is more than just action. It shows how Tony can be careless, aggressive, and out of control with his armor. It’s a story about relationship—specifically ones Tony destroys—as well as who he beats up, and it’s well worth the read.


Civil War (written by Mark Millar/art by Steve McNiven; 2006-2007)

This one is by no means a great Iron Man story (I have plenty of issues with it), but it’s a massive tale for the greater Marvel Universe and Tony is in the middle of it.

Like the movie Captain America: Civil War, Tony fights for power registration in his attempt to make the world safer for civilians—or normies. Oddly enough, the movie does a somewhat better job of making the story a little more even keel, but the comic book Civil War is biased in Cap’s favor and that mostly comes from the fact that Tony would never want power registration.

Still, there was a movie that uses Civil War as its source material and this event is one of Marvel’s largest. Just make sure to read the stories centered on Iron Man.


World’s Most Wanted (written by Matt Fraction/art by Salvador Larroca; 2009)

I couldn’t end this list with Civil War, so I added one extra story. World’s Most Wanted picks up the pieces of the events after Civil War—sort of.

It was a tall order to return Iron Man to his former glory after he betrayed his friends, but Fraction was up to the task and softly reboots the character. Norman Osborne has taken over HAMMER (which movie fans will remember as a huge player in Iron Man 2), and Osborne wants Tony’s knowledge of the superhero community. Tony erases his memories, so he can’t betray his friends.

This returns Tony to person we know even if he had to lobotomize himself to do it.

That’s my list for beginning Iron Man readers. I’m sure there are some omissions. You can let me know what you’d pick by message raven or just leave a comment.

My Favorite Storytelling Element: Iron Man “Demon in a Bottle”

I’m not sure if I can say it any better than several other critics “’Demon in a Bottle’ is THE quintessential Iron Man story.”

Tony Stark/Iron Man’s alcoholism is one of his key characteristics, and “Demon in a Bottle” introduces this. Does “Demon in a Bottle” do as well of a job tackling this issue as other, more modern stories (in comics and other media)? Not necessarily. It’s a 1979 comic book story arc after all. Does writer David Michelinie speed through what occurs during recovery? Yes. It’s almost comical. But he does an excellent job with loss and the struggles Tony deals with, and it’s easy to see why “Demon in a Bottle” remains one of the best Iron Man stories.

Prior to “Demon in a Bottle” Iron Man was a relatively flat character. Many of the stories weren’t engaging. I like how the “Demon in a Bottle” begins as usual Iron Man fare at the beginning of the arc. The storyline ran from The Invincible Iron Man #120-128 (March-November 1979), but it wasn’t until issue 124 or so that alcohol really came into play.


It’s odd watching modern critics address this story. They’ll say things like they wished Iron Man started with Tony’s alcoholism sooner and expand on it. Do I wish, in hind-sight, that “Demon in a Bottle” did more to address alcoholism or do so sooner in the arc? Yes. A serious subject like alcoholism deserves as much space as needed.

Other storylines in the 1970s dedicated plenty of issues to drugs. Roy Harper (the original Speedy) was revealed to be a heroin addict in Green Lantern vol. 2 #85 (1971), and Spider-Man fought drugs that same year (The Amazing Spider-Man #96-98), but those two storylines showed third-person accounts of addiction. Speedy wasn’t the main character in Green Lantern. Spidey fought crime, but drugs were kept at arms’ length, in third-person. Tony is Iron Man. “Demon in a Bottle” is a first-person account of how someone slowly descends—but perhaps not slow enough of a descent—into alcoholism.

Furthermore, Spider-Man and Green Lantern knew they were making a statement with their stories. “Demon in a Bottle” came out of nowhere. The issue of alcoholism grew organically, and that tends to be the insidious thing about addiction.

The first several issues Tony started drinking occasionally. As events unfolded—I won’t spoil much here, but many people would consider what happens in the early going of this story side battles and tragedies—he drank a little more each day until his addiction consumed him.

Comic book characters change a lot through the years and decades, but one thing has remained the same for Tony Stark/Iron Man since 1979. He battles with alcoholism. For a story that had little to no intention of making a statement, “Demon in a Bottle” makes a huge one. For a character who was just another guy in a flying suit, he gains one of his most defining characteristics.


Tony’s alcoholism has been revisited in later Iron Man storylines. He may offer advice to someone else suffering with addiction or he may hit the bottle again. Alcoholism is one of the things that makes Tony Stark relatable, human.

You can even see the impact “Demon in a Bottle” had in the film Iron Man 2. Tony gets drunk during a party in his armor and mayhem ensues. Director Jon Favreau may not have wanted to delve too deeply into Tony’s addiction—Disney/Marvel wanted to keep things light—but he wanted to homage to the most important Iron Man story.

I’m not sure what else there is to say. Perhaps one of you is more eloquent than me or has more insight into this groundbreaking comic book story. If you do, please share in the comments.