Top 10 R-rated Comic Book Movies

 With Deadpool bringing the R-Rated comic book movie back into vogue (come on Remender/Opena inspired Uncanny X-Force next!), it's the perfect time to decide the best of the best. What movies inspired by comic books or graphic novels made the best use of their cusses, hot nudes, and 17+ adventure?

Without further ado, the best R-Rated Comic Book Movies of all time.

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Super the movie
IFC Films

 James Gunn has received a lot of deserved adulation for directing Guardians of the Galaxy, but it's his 2010 turn as a bewilderingly Gene Simmons-inspired Devil that forever cemented a place in my heart.

Well, that and the blood-soaked, maniacal Super, which features Rainn Wilson as a down-on-his-luck middle-aged man turning to a life of fighting crime after receiving divine encouragement.

Sure, Super, is one of many creative takes on superheroes "in the real world" (looking at you Kick-Ass), and sure, Super is not actually based on a comic book of any kind.

That said, it's still the best R Rated Comic Book Movie of all time. Nothing else is quite so weird in all sorts of glorious ways, with Ellen Page nailing her performance as Days of Future Past Kitty Pryde after too many trips between realities.

If you disagree, I just have one thing to say: Shut up, Crime!

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Ghost World

Ghost World the Movie
Granada Film

While it quite clearly falls outside the typical understanding of "comic book movie," Ghost World is in fact based on the excellent Daniel Clowe's Graphic Novel.

It's certainly one of the most critically acclaimed movies on the list, and really raises the question why more graphic novels that fall outside the conventional superhero fare aren't turned into Oscar contenders? 

Ghost World also makes for a stunningly weird bit of fan-fiction, if you try to map a path from young Scarlett Johansson's path form Ghost World to Black Widow (#shareduniverse).

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Deadpool in his first movie
Fox Movies

 It's no secret that Deadpool's winning the hearts and minds of millions, even as we speak. While this might be the most dangerous development in our world since the development of mushrooms on pizza (what is even the point?), it's also no surprise to fans of the Merc with the Mouth. Deadpool's great.

Fortunately, his first movie is too, with all the snappy one-liners, deep red action, and tiny growing hands you'd expect from a Deadpool movie. I thought the film lingered a bit too much inside the standard superhero origin template to be truly perfect, and actually anticipate a Deadpool 2 (with Cable!) could be even better. Nonetheless, Deadpool is one of the best R Rated Comic Book Movies right out of the gate.

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Judge Dredd
DNA Films

 This film's only 3 years old, and yet somehow it's already one of the most wildly underrated and forgotten on the list of R rated comic book movies.

One thing I look for in any comic book movie is how much it makes you want to go and read more comics for that character/universe. Dredd excels at this, throwing you knee deep in a Judge murder mystery/drug bust, but never pausing to over explain origins or system structure. There's just guns, investigations, and judgment time.

This also passes the “feels like a Robocop style 80’s action sci-fi” test in the best possible way.

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American Splendor

American Splendor
HBO Films

 A good example of a movie nobody would label a traditional "comic book movie," aside from the fact that it's totally about Harvey Pekar's autobiographical comics.

If you're in the Best R Rated comic book movies conversation for sex, drugs, and rock & roll, know that American Splendor is a much quieter, thoughtful affair (with jazz!). It's an intensely smart interpretation of one of comics' finest independent creators, and highly recommended for a quiet Sunday afternoon.

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Sin City

Frank Miller's Sin City

 It's not my favorite Frank Miller comic by any means (take a bow Dark Knight Returns / his run on Daredevil), but Miller's visual interpretation of Sin City hits all the right buttons.

Miller's solo work translates beautifully to the big screen, with enormous, kinetic, sopping-wounds flying around the page. Whereas 300, another Miller production, is all about director Zack Snyder's glimmering action sets, Sin City is hauntingly weird, with a charming monster to root for. I still can't look at Elijah Wood the same way, and this after years of enjoying Lord of the Rings and Wilfred!

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V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta the Movie
Warner Bros. Pictures

 I'm just going to come out and ruin all of my credibility: I liked V for Vendetta the movie more than the comic.

*ducks, shimmys, dodges way back to microphone*

Ok, ok, obviously an Alan Moore and David Lloyd production is a great comic, with some fantastically inventive panel layouts (I'm looking at you piano sheet music), but I got the story from the movie first!

Now I'm not going to sit here and recommend you watch the movie instead of the comic (I'm not a TOTAL barbarian), but if that's your method of consumption, Hugo Weaving's turn as V is an inspiring, exciting tale of anarchy in the face of crude totalitarianism. 

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Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Fox Film

Without a doubt, the best film adaptation of a Mark Millar comic, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a perfect in-flight getaway movie. Sprinkle in a dash of Wanted, a heaping of Morning Glories, and a neatly arranged side of Unbreakable Samuel L. Jackson, and you've got the makings of a simple yet enjoyable action movie. 

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watchmen the movie
Warner Bros. Pictures

For all of the controversy and backlash against the very idea of a Watchmen film (from none other than creator Alan Moore himself), the end product is a faithful (almost too much so) and attractive rendition of the story.

Don't get me wrong, Watchmen, which I consider the finest comic book story of all time, is a wayyyyyyy better graphic novel than movie. Here's the thing, though: This movie inspired readers to pick up a copy of the graphic novel and experience for the first time. For that alone, it's one of the best R rated comic book movies out there.

Also, don’t tell anyone… but I kind of prefer the movie ending to the graphic novel.


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blade the movie
New Line Cinema

Sure, the Blade Trilogy has its flaws, but hell if it doesn't unofficially mark the beginning of the comic book movie era.

Wesley Snipes' first turn as the Daywalker knew its lane (Vampire-hunting) and stuck to it with vigor. There may be better Vampire movies, but there just aren't many better Vampire blood raves, and that counts for something. 

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Honorable Mention: Man-Thing (2005)

Whatever knows fear, burns at the Man-Thing's touch
Sci-Fi Pictures

There comes a moment in every Marvel Comics fan's life when they realize 1) There was a Man-Thing movie 2) What in the actual living heck?

Listen, this is NOT an appropriate inclusion on any best-of list, no matter the category, but I consider it my duty as a creature who knows fear to mention it’s out there. Here’s a fan-made trailer that is actually the best introduction and stopping point for this movie. 


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Honorable Mention #2: Wanted

Wanted the Movie
Universal Studios

 I'm not even that into Wanted, but it's worth acknowledging as great for the simple fact that it utilizes almost NONE of Mark Millar and J.G. Jones' atrocious comic book.

It's a much better movie than comic book, and for that deserves some attention. Plus there are some stand-out performances from Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, and James McAvoy.