The 25 Greatest Comic Book Movie Roles Ever (Videos)
Who from the cast of “Captain America: Civil War” enters the pantheon of comic book movie greats?
Jeremy Fuster | July 2, 2016 @ 11:39 AM
Last Updated: July 2, 2016 @ 1:21 PM
25.) Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan, "Watchmen"
Some feel Zach Snyder's only truly superpowered hero should have had a booming voice, but Crudup's diminished delivery shows how the character's humanity has faded as his powers increasingly distance him from everyone around him.
24.) Mickey Rourke as Marv, "Sin City"
Marv doesn't start fights, but he'll finish them. Rourke brought a brutal intensity to Frank Miller's violent protagonist while also revealing the softer side that rarely gets a chance to come out in the brutal world Marv lives in.
23.) Ron Perlman as Hellboy
Perlman's cigar-chomping swagger made Hellboy one of the most unique protagonists in comic book history. Having a top-notch makeup and costume team didn't hurt, either.
22.) Dave Bautista as Drax, "Guardians of the Galaxy"
All of the Guardians were a joy to watch -- Chris Pratt almost made this list -- but Dave Bautista was the most unexpected. The former wrestler turned Drax into a character who was both a hilarious meathead and a lost soul in need of healing.
21.) Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, "Batman Begins"
Christopher Nolan's Gotham City was the most realistic take on Batman's hometown ever, thanks in large part to its most famous cop. Oldman portrayed Gordon as an honest lawman trying his hardest to deal with a city out of control and the most unexpected ally he could have ever encountered.
20.) Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, "Deadpool"
Reynolds' breakthrough performance earlier this year gets credit not just for what appears in the movie, but for Reynolds' advance work in acquainting audiences with the character through viral videos. Thanks to his flawless dark comedy, everyone had already bought in to "Deadpool" by the time it came out.
19.) Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent, "The Dark Knight"
When he becomes Two-Face, Eckhart never turns the district attorney into a deranged villain like the Joker. His Dent starts as a man who truly envisions a better world, making it all the more tragic when he succumbs to the Joker's horribly twisted view of it.
18.) Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World"
He's not a superhero, but Scott Pilgrim is possibly the most accurate satire of the millennial generation committed to film. Cera projects the social awkwardness and immaturity of the character, transforming into a responsible and self-aware man by the film's climax.
17.) Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, "Watchmen"
Zach Snyder may have been a bit too obsessed with Rorschach's violent tendencies, but Haley's growls and snarls were a perfect match for the uncompromising antihero.
16.) Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl, "Kick-Ass"
She's foul-mouthed. She's violent. She's 12 years old. Moretz's Hit-Girl was quite possibly the most polarizing piece of child acting in modern cinema, and helped establish Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman as populist provocateur filmmakers.
15.) Bradley Cooper as Rocket, "Guardians of the Galaxy"
Cooper successfully dared audiences to take one of the silliest characters in the Marvel canon seriously. Rocket spent his whole life being reviled as a freak show, and by the time he meets the Guardians, he's begun to internalize it.
14.) Scarlet Johannson as Black Widow, "Captain America: Civil War"
Everyone in "Civil War" knows what side they're going to take ... except Natasha. ScarJo does a great job showing how conflicted Black Widow is being stuck in the middle of a volatile face-off between two of her closest friends.
13.) Tom Hiddleston as Loki, "Thor"
For all its critical acclaim, Marvel Studios isn't known for making memorable villains. Loki is the exception. Desperate to prove himself worthy of being Odin's son at any cost, Loki is a more engaging character than his heroic brother.
12.) Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, "The Dark Knight Rises"
In Nolan's trilogy, Batman has spent so much time trying to give Gotham hope that he hasn't left any for himself. Alfred does everything he can to save Bruce from the destructive road he's taking and to show him that he doesn't have to give his life to the cowl and cape.
11.) Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, "X-Men"
No matter how good or bad the "X-Men" movies are, Wolverine always remains a blast to watch. The role's also great for Hugh Jackman fans, as it remains far removed from anything else he's done.
10.) Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, "Captain America: The First Avenger"
This was the moment Marvel proved it could turn anything into gold. Evans made a WWII-era hero relevant to a modern worldwide audience. Through him, Cap is a blend of Batman's sense of duty and Superman's ideals.
9.) Patrick Stewart as Professor X, "X-Men"
Gentle, heady and compassionate, Stewart's Charles Xavier is a perfect foil for Ian McKellen's Magneto. He is both a leader and a teacher, and X-Men comic book writers have since modeled the character after Stewart's example.
8.) J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, "Spiderman"
There's never been a funnier character in a comic book movie. Triple-J is a nightmare boss and a tightwad husband on a caffeine buzz, and Simmons brings the jokes at a rapid-fire pace.
7.) Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, "Batman Returns"
Anne Hathaway was good in "The Dark Knight Rises," but Pfeiffer's shift from the mousy Selina Kyle to the dangerous Catwoman is extremely unnerving.
6.) Ian McKellen as Magneto, "X-Men"
Like Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian's classically-trained style brings weight to whatever role he inhabits. So it is with Magneto, a character that in this actor's hands feels dangerously smart and a worthy opponent for Xavier to engage in a battle of wits.
5.) Jack Nicholson as the Joker, "Batman"
His performance might come across as corny in 2016, but make no mistake: In 1989, Nicholson was the definitive Joker, blending perfectly with Tim Burton's gritty yet darkly whimsical version of Gotham City.
4.) Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, "Captain America: Civil War"
RDJ and Tony Stark have come a long way in the last eight years, and the latest Marvel movie proves it. The Iron Man in this film is cautious, emotionally scarred, and futilely trying to keep everything from falling apart. And that's before he discovers a horrifying truth about his past in the climax.
3.) Christopher Reeve as Superman, "Superman: The Movie"
Nearly 40 years later, Reeve remains the definitive Superman, the model on which future portrayals of the character have been based. His calm confidence and gentle use of his strength helped establish the Man of Steel as a being of unlimited power who does everything he can to not use it.
2.) Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spiderman, "Spiderman 2"
Maybe one day Tom Holland will become the quintessential Spiderman, but Maguire's performance as a conflicted Parker showed how human superheroes could be. The Spiderman sequel set a narrative model that Marvel movies are still using to great success 12 years later.
1.) Heath Ledger as the Joker, "The Dark Knight"
There are few villains in all of cinema, not just comic book movies, as chilling as Ledger's Joker. His performance shows just how nihilistic and destructive the character can be while remaining uncomfortably casual about it. Real-world despots and terrorists notwithstanding, this is what pure evil looks like.