When people gather – on the internet or in other, physical venues – for any sort of pop culture ruminations, it won’t take very much time at all for the conversation to be steered in the direction of superheroes. Like them or not (and most people seem to like them), established superheroes and their corresponding cinematic iterations are the current dominating force in both movies and popular culture in general. Look online, and you’ll see hundreds of lists and thousands of board postings debating the best and worst comic book movies, what superheroes are the best, which comic books are the worst.
But those discussions, however thoughtful or even offensive, frequently fail to acknowledge something important about comic books: they’re not just for superheroes. Comics books belong to a large and varied medium, and while it seems like most comics are indeed devoted to children’s genre stories, there are smaller, more adult, far more interesting stories being drawn all the time. Indeed, just this last year, we saw a pair of excellent feature films – We Are the Best! and Snowpiercer – that were based on comic books, but haven’t been included in most discussions of comic book movies because, well, they are not about superheroes.
Let us strip the tights from comics, and see what sort of films the medium has provided for us outside of the superhero world. Here are the 12 best comic book movies without superheroes.