(Photo by Gramercy)
50 Movies That Defined Comic-Con
Comic-Con International: San Diego is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and across those decades a number of films have launched at the convention to various states of acclaim. Reports indicate, for example, the 1976 panel introducing Star Wars to the masses was not the draw the first meeting of the Avengers would be almost 30 years later. But in the 21st Century, the annual geek-themed festival became a bellwether for at least two huge phenomena: the Twilight Saga and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And along the way, the underlying spirit of Comic-Con – the comics themselves – inspired a number of classic films. Also, at least a few films were shot during the four day event.
The list below represents some of the most significant films tied to Comic-Con’s 50 year legacy – from a time before Christopher Reeve convinced audiences that men could fly and people around the globe wondered where Batman got his wonderful toys to our current anticipation about Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some of these films went on to change the world, others became cult classics, and a few challenged the expectations of what a Comic-Con film could be.
But each is an indelible part of the Comic-Con consciousness, from memorable panels to the eventual expensive collectibles some of these films inspired decades later. And most of them influenced the cosplay you are bound to see at the Con. From documentaries to tentpole releases, these are the films of Comic-Con.
Adjusted Score: 105.532%
Critics Consensus: A legendarily expansive and ambitious start to the sci-fi saga, George Lucas opened our eyes to the possibilities of blockbuster filmmaking and things have never been the same.
Nineteen years after the formation of the Empire, Luke Skywalker is thrust into the struggle of the Rebel Alliance when... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.209%
Critics Consensus: Superman deftly blends humor and gravitas, taking advantage of the perfectly cast Christopher Reeve to craft a loving, nostalgic tribute to an American pop culture icon.
Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel in a big-budget epic with Oscar-winning effects. Marlon Brando, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 61.79%
Critics Consensus: It's sexist, juvenile, and dated, but Heavy Metal makes up for its flaws with eye-popping animation and a classic, smartly used soundtrack.
Based on the popular magazine of the same name, this animated cult film interweaves six visionary stories of science fiction... [More]
Adjusted Score: 66.79%
Critics Consensus: Though Conan may take itself too seriously for some, this adventure film about a former slave seeking vengeance is full of quotable Schwarzenegger lines and gritty action.
John Milius's jingoistic direction and pulpy screenplay fit perfectly into this film version of the Robert E. Howard fantasy story... [More]
Adjusted Score: 76.972%
Critics Consensus: An eerie, haunting spectacle, Batman succeeds as dark entertainment, even if Jack Nicholson's Joker too often overshadows the title character.
Jack Nicholson is the Joker, who emerged from a horrible accident as a maniacal criminal. Michael Keaton is the Caped... [More]
Adjusted Score: 43.347%
Critics Consensus: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is exactly as advertised: one-liners, brawls, and general silliness. Good for the young at heart, irritating for everyone else.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie is the live-action, feature film adaptation of the cult comic book and the popular... [More]
Adjusted Score: 69.514%
Critics Consensus: An action-packed, if anachronistic, look back at pulp matinee serials, The Rocketeer may ring hollow with viewers expecting more than simple fun and gee-whiz special effects.
After getting his start as a visual effects artist on the original Star Wars trilogy, Spielberg protege Joe Johnston found... [More]
Adjusted Score: 51.416%
Critics Consensus: Generations stands as a mediocre changing of the guard for crews of the Enterprise, with a dull plot that sometimes seems like an expanded episode of the television series.
Kirk meets Picard and then meets his Maker in this installment of the Star Trek saga that features the casts... [More]
Adjusted Score: 58.454%
Critics Consensus: Mallrats colorfully expands the View Askewniverse, even if its snootchie has lost a few of the bootchies boasted by its beloved predecessor.
Kevin Smith's follow-up to his unexpected hit Clerks details the pointless story of T.S. (Jeremy London) and Brodie (Jason Lee),... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.178%
Critics Consensus: Faithful to the comics and filled with action, X-Men brings a crowded slate of classic Marvel characters to the screen with a talented ensemble cast and surprisingly sharp narrative focus.
One of the most popular superhero teams in comic book history finally comes to the screen in this big-budget adaptation... [More]
Adjusted Score: 76.178%
Critics Consensus: With a weaker ending, Unbreakable is not as a good as The Sixth Sense. However, it is a quietly suspenseful film that intrigues and engages, taking the audience through unpredictable twists and turns along the way.
Unbreakable is a riveting story shared by two men. David Dunn, a man from a blue-collar neighborhood in Philadelphia emerges... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.932%
Critics Consensus: Full of eye-popping special effects, and featuring a pitch-perfect cast, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring brings J.R.R. Tolkien's classic to vivid life.
Assisted by a Fellowship of heroes, Frodo Baggins plunges into a perilous trek to take the mystical One Ring to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 15.401%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Take a look behind the hype to find out the true meaning of fandom as legions of Star Wars devotees... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.148%
Critics Consensus: Not only does Spider-Man provide a good dose of web-swinging fun, it also has a heart, thanks to the combined charms of director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire.
After incorporating elements of comic book style and design into many of his films, director Sam Raimi helms this straight-ahead,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 33.088%
Critics Consensus: This Machine has all the razzle-dazzles of modern special effects, but the movie takes a turn for the worst when it switches from a story about lost love to a confusing action-thriller.
The classic science fiction novel by H.G. Wells becomes this big-budget adventure directed by the author's great-grandson Simon Wells. Guy... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86.691%
Critics Consensus: With wit, humor and Guillermo del Toro's fantastic visuals, the entertaining Hellboy transcends the derivative nature of the genre.
Mike Mignola's acclaimed comic book series about a creature from Hades who joins the battle against evil arrives on the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 6.593%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Mark Hamill directs and stars in the straight-to-video mockumentary Comic Book: The Movie, largely filmed on-location at the 2002 Comic-Con... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85.693%
Critics Consensus: Visually groundbreaking and terrifically violent, Sin City brings the dark world of Frank Miller's graphic novel to vivid life.
The Eisner Award-winning comic series Sin City comes to life in this live-action feature adaptation from director Robert Rodriguez and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 68.991%
Critics Consensus: A simple-minded but visually exciting experience, full of blood, violence, and ready-made movie quotes.
Sin City author Frank Miller's sweeping take on the historic Battle of Thermopylae comes to the screen courtesy of Dawn... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104.859%
Critics Consensus: Powered by Robert Downey Jr.'s vibrant charm, Iron Man turbo-charges the superhero genre with a deft intelligence and infectious sense of fun.
Billionaire industrialist and genius inventor Tony Stark is kidnapped and forced to build a devastating weapon. Instead, using his intelligence... [More]
Adjusted Score: 32.676%
Critics Consensus: Punisher: War Zone recalls the excessively violent, dialogue-challenged actioners of the 1980s, and coincidentally feels two decades out of date.
Marvel Comics' vigilante character The Punisher gets another big-screen outing in this third film incarnation of the character, this time... [More]
Adjusted Score: 57.394%
Critics Consensus: Having lost much of its bite transitioning to the big screen, Twilight will please its devoted fans, but do little for the uninitiated.
When Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) reluctantly moved to the perpetually overcast town of Forks, WA, and set out to carve... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107.452%
Critics Consensus: Dark, complex, and unforgettable, The Dark Knight succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling crime saga.
Christopher Nolan steps back into the director's chair for this sequel to Batman Begins, which finds the titular superhero coming... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.708%
Critics Consensus: It might be more impressive on a technical level than as a piece of storytelling, but Avatar reaffirms James Cameron's singular gift for imaginative, absorbing filmmaking.
"Avatar" is the story of an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic... [More]
Adjusted Score: 75.413%
Critics Consensus: Gritty and visually striking, Watchmen is a faithful adaptation of Alan Moore's graphic novel, but its complex narrative structure may make it difficult for it to appeal to viewers not already familiar with the source material.
300's Zack Snyder brings Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' critically acclaimed comic book Watchmen to the big screen, courtesy of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 35.421%
Critics Consensus: The Twilight Saga's second installment may satisfy hardcore fans of the series, but outsiders are likely to be turned off by its slow pace, relentlessly downcast tone, and excessive length.
The supernatural tale of star-crossed lovers continues as the Cullen family flees Forks in order to protect Bella (Kristen Stewart),... [More]
Adjusted Score: 78.258%
Critics Consensus: It may not be the killer thrill ride you'd expect from an action movie with a cast of this caliber, but Red still thoroughly outshines most of its big-budget counterparts with its wit and style.
Frank, Joe, Marvin and Victoria used to be the CIA's top agents, but the secrets they know just made them... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84.089%
Critics Consensus: Not for the faint of heart, Kick-Ass takes the comic adaptation genre to new levels of visual style, bloody violence, and gleeful profanity.
Adapted from Mark Millar's hyper-violent comic book of the same name, director Matthew Vaughn's (Layer Cake) vigilante superhero film tells... [More]
Adjusted Score: 58.398%
Critics Consensus: Tron Legacy boasts dazzling visuals, but its human characters and story get lost amidst its state-of-the-art production design.
The Master Control Program is booted back up in this revamped Tron continuation that sees the return of original star... [More]
Adjusted Score: 69.467%
Critics Consensus: Angelina Jolie gives it her all in the title role, and her seasoned performance is almost enough to save Salt from its predictable and ludicrous plot.
As a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt (Jolie) swore an oath to duty, honor and country. Her loyalty will be tested... [More]
Adjusted Score: 17.868%
Critics Consensus: A middling sci-fi entry, Skyline offers proof that solid special effects alone cannot overcome a flat storyline filled with uninspired dialogue.
After a late night party, a group of friends is awakened in the dead of the night by an eerie... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.366%
Critics Consensus: Its script may not be as dazzling as its eye-popping visuals, but Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is fast, funny, and inventive.
Based on Bryan Lee O'Malley's Oni Press comic book of the same name, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World follows the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 52.175%
Critics Consensus: Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford are as dependably appealing as ever, but they're let down by director Jon Favreau's inability to smooth Cowboys & Aliens' jarring tonal shifts.
1875. New Mexico Territory. A stranger (Craig) with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 28.813%
Critics Consensus: It's technically impressive and loaded with eye-catching images, but without characters or a plot to support them, all of Sucker Punch's visual thrills are for naught.
"Sucker Punch" is an epic action fantasy that takes us into the vivid imagination of a young girl whose dream... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86.25%
Critics Consensus: A dazzling blockbuster that tempers its sweeping scope with wit, humor, and human drama, Thor is mighty Marvel entertainment.
The epic adventure Thor spans the Marvel Universe from present day Earth to the mystical realm of Asgard. At the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88.605%
Critics Consensus: With plenty of pulpy action, a pleasantly retro vibe, and a handful of fine performances, Captain America is solidly old-fashioned blockbuster entertainment.
Captain America: The First Avenger will focus on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans)... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85.92%
Critics Consensus: A well-chosen cast and sure-handed direction allow The Amazing Spider-Man to thrill, despite revisiting many of the same plot points from 2002's Spider-Man.
The Amazing Spider-Man is the story of Peter Parker (Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents... [More]
Adjusted Score: 56.176%
Critics Consensus: It's the most entertaining Twilight, but that's not enough to make Breaking Dawn Part 2 worth watching for filmgoers who don't already count themselves among the franchise converts.
The astonishing conclusion to the series, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2, illuminates the secrets and mysteries of this... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105.968%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a script that emphasizes its heroes' humanity and a wealth of superpowered set pieces, The Avengers lives up to its hype and raises the bar for Marvel at the movies.
Marvel Studios presents Marvel's The Avengers-the Super Hero team up of a lifetime, featuring iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83.348%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope--a film by Morgan Spurlock explores this amazing cultural phenomenon by following the lives of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89.25%
Critics Consensus: With just enough human drama to anchor the sweeping spectacle of giant monsters smashing everything in sight, Gareth Edwards' Godzilla satisfyingly restores the franchise's fire-breathing glory.
In Summer 2014, the world's most revered monster is reborn as Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures unleash the epic... [More]
Adjusted Score: 45.163%
Critics Consensus: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice smothers a potentially powerful story -- and some of America's most iconic superheroes -- in a grim whirlwind of effects-driven action.
Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) share the screen in this Warner Bros./DC Entertainment co-production penned by David S.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.685%
Critics Consensus: Fast, funny, and gleefully profane, the fourth-wall-busting Deadpool subverts superhero film formula with wildly entertaining -- and decidedly non-family-friendly -- results.
Based upon Marvel Comics' most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.975%
Critics Consensus: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's action-packed plot, dazzling visuals, and irreverent humor add up to a sequel that's almost as fun -- if not quite as thrillingly fresh -- as its predecessor.
Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel Studios' "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" continues the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 57.148%
Critics Consensus: Justice League leaps over a number of DC movies, but its single bound isn't enough to shed the murky aesthetic, thin characters, and chaotic action that continue to dog the franchise.
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 108.918%
Critics Consensus: Spider-Man: Homecoming does whatever a second reboot can, delivering a colorful, fun adventure that fits snugly in the sprawling MCU without getting bogged down in franchise-building.
A young Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who made his sensational debut in Captain America: Civil War, begins to navigate his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82.541%
Critics Consensus: Aquaman swims with its entertainingly ludicrous tide, offering up CGI superhero spectacle that delivers energetic action with an emphasis on good old-fashioned fun.
From Warner Bros. Pictures and director James Wan comes an action-packed adventure that spans the vast, visually breathtaking underwater world... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105.879%
Critics Consensus: Avengers: Infinity War ably juggles a dizzying array of MCU heroes in the fight against their gravest threat yet, and the result is a thrilling, emotionally resonant blockbuster that (mostly) realizes its gargantuan ambitions.
An unprecedented cinematic journey ten years in the making and spanning the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios' "Avengers: Infinity... [More]
Adjusted Score: 54.154%
Critics Consensus: Glass displays a few glimmers of M. Night Shyamalan at his twisty world-building best, but ultimately disappoints as the conclusion to the writer-director's long-gestating trilogy.
From Unbreakable, Bruce Willis returns as David Dunn as does Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price, known also by his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 108%
Critics Consensus: An effortlessly entertaining blend of humor and heart, Shazam! is a superhero movie that never forgets the genre's real power: joyous wish fulfillment.
We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy... [More]