The Top 10 R-Rated Comic Book Movies of All Time

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In honour of the Red-Band Deadpool trailer debut, I decided to take a look back at my favorite restricted films based on comic books.

#10. Wanted

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The first movie on this list from comic book icon Mark Millar is probably the film adaptation that takes the most liberties in straying from its source material. Usually this would piss me off and although a straight adaptation probably would have been more intriguing, this flick still packs one helluva punch. Featuring a badass soundtrack and brilliant headline performance from James Mcavoy, Wanted is a violent and action packed thrill-ride that delivers every time I revisit it.


#9. Road To Perdition

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This is the only film on the list that “nobody really knew was based on a comic book, but actually was sorta deal”. Sure there’s work like A History of Violence which was also based on a comic nobody read, but I don’t like to factor those in as much because these days – everything starts out in comic form. Road to Perdition is so brilliant and so moving however, that I couldn’t ignore it. Tom Hanks’ performance as a mob hitman on the run with his young son after he’s betrayed by his criminal family, is in my opinion one of the top three roles of his long and storied career (the other two being Forrest Gump & Saving Private Ryan). As an added bonus: look out for a crazy Daniel Craig supporting performance.


#8. Sin City

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When Robert Rodriguez adapted Frank Miller’s criminal noir comic series to the big screen, he literally adapted it panel for panel. Opting to use black and white with splashes of color amidst a flurry of green screens, this movie is probably the most faithful page to screen work in the history of comics. Sin City is a visual spectacle with a star studded cast that re-invigorated the R-Rated comic book adaptation movement in the early 2000’s.


#7. 300

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The most testosterone fuelled movie in maybe the history of film – 300 – stands as one of director Zack Snyder’s finest efforts and with the help of Gerard Butler’s leading performance the movie will probably stand the test of time. The second of Frank Miller’s adaptations to hit this list, 300 is not only visually gorgeous but it’s a moving work of art in spite of its own man bro fist-bumping content. When we cut to close-ups of Butler’s face during the climactic moments and he realizes that he’ll never see his wife or child again, he doesn’t have to say a word for us to know what he’s feeling. There’s a lot going on in 300 that you probably missed while heads were flying off bodies in slo-mo.


#6. The Crow

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Brandon Lee’s last ever performance was a doozy. He actually died during the making of the film due to a prop gun not being so prop-py after all. Lee was fatally injured during the course of the film but thankfully managed to complete most of it before tragedy struck. Can you imagine if an A-List star died during the filming of an action film today? They’d probably shut that movie down immediately and never release it. Not the case with The Crow – it came out and it was legendary. Featuring a wonderful and heavy as hell soundtrack this was one of the earliest comic book adaptations of our time and it’s still one of the best.


#5. Kingsman: The Secret Service

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Director Matthew Vaughn officially became one of my favorite filmmakers with the release of yet another effort featuring his partner in crime – comic book writer Mark Millar. After the pair had worked together on Kick-Ass, they conjured up this brilliant and gritty spin on the world of James Bond-esque spy tales. From beginning to end the movie is a flawless and fun joyride that manages to pay homage to classic spy thrillers while elevating the action and themes to a level beyond everything that came before it. The church sequence will likely go down as the greatest action scene of 2015 and maybe one of the best ever filmed – as in the history of cinema. It’s as impressive as it is violent and let me tell you – it’s most certainly violent…


#4. Watchmen

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Another Zack Snyder effort: Watchmen never got the love it truly deserves. The one takeaway that people will remember the most here is that it features one of the best cinematic openings of our time: the history of the costumed hero set to the tune of Bob Dylan’s ‘Times are a Changin’. It’s hard to say if this was better than Snyder’s usage of Johnny Cash in the opening of his Dawn of The Dead remake or not, but it’s damn impressive nonetheless. Jackie Earle Haley’s portrayal of the psychotic Rorshach is one of the best comic to film roles ever and although the movie is a little long and a tad convoluted – I still love the hell out of it. Great soundtrack, shockingly violent – Watchmen is a faithful adaptation of Alan Moore’s greatest work and one of the very best comic book movies of our generation.


#3. Kick-Ass

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Mark Millar for the hat trick? It doesn’t hurt to mention that his comic scripts are simultaneously being adapted to film before they even hit the printers, but thankfully the end results are always satisfying. Director Matthew Vaughn’s use of music in his films is the best since Quentin Tarantino and Kick-Ass is probably the crowning achievement of his work so far when it comes to the soundtrack propelling scenes. The Nicolas Cage sequence where he shouts out commands to Hit-Girl is the best work of the actor’s career and one that showed the fans that we can get as comic booky as we want in our movies and still extract a heavy and emotional response from movie-goers.


#2. Heavy Metal

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The R-Rated and animated classic based on the creepy comic magazine which delivered to many geeky kids their first encounter with boobs and gore may not hold up as well as it used to, but it’s still one of the most important works in the history of comics to cinema. The film is an anthology of short sci-fi and horror stories that features an 80’s metal soundtrack of epic proportions, animated breasts and coke snorting aliens voiced by John Candy. Heavy Metal is bizarre and captivating: a timestamp of the nerdy rocker kids in the 1980’s which still deserves a second animated adaptation from today’s directors willing to test the waters and prove all the skeptics wrong. Do it already people.


#1. Blade

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I saw this in theaters with my dad, who was always awesome and happy to take me to restricted movies. I think I was 13 when Blade hit cinemas in 1998 and to this day, Wesley Snipes may still be the one actor who was destined to play a comic book character – this character. The only other person that has that same kind of destiny would be Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Blade is the film that kick started the current era of R-Rated comic book film adaptations and in my opinion — it’s still the best. Snipes is the perfect action hero: slick, badass and able to draw the audience into every word he says because he doesn’t have to say much in order to get his point across. The bloodbath rave sequence is one of the coolest movie openings and I still have hopes that Snipes will return as Blade under a new Marvel Studios deal. I don’t care if he’s older now – nobody else will ever be as cool as he was in that role. Nobody.

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