15 Cartoon Comic Book Movies That Are Better Than Live-Action Superhero Movies
The start of the 21st century marked the Golden Age of comic book movies. Never before were geeks more spoiled with not just the quantity, but quality, of film adaptations. Even though there are a handful of awesome comic book movies that never made it to the big screen, plenty of others that successfully pulled off live-action movies, from Marvel to DC to indie comics. However, lost in the shuffle of all the live-action productions are animated comic book films.
While Marvel has put out some fine animated films of its own, the best DC Comics animated movies definitely have the edge in this category. The animated medium allows for a bit more freedom than cinema does, resulting in explosive action scenes and more faithful adaptations of the source materials. In fact, it could be argued that some cartoon superhero movies are better than any live-action ones that have hit the box office. Check out the list below for incredible animated films and vote up the cartoon movies that are superior to all live-action adaptations.
- 14,150 VOTESPhoto: Sony Pictures Releasing
It takes a lot to win the Best Animated Feature Academy Award when up against Disney and Pixar blockbusters, but that's just a testament to how great Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse truly is. As the third Spider-Man reboot since Tobey Maguire suited up in 2002, Spider-Verse capitalizes on audiences' affection towards and familiarity with the fundamental aspects of the wall crawler to create a kaleidoscopic mashup of Spider-People from all across the multiverse. Comic book fans finally get to see Miles Morales on the big screen after years of online lobbying, and even the most jaded comic book movie haters have to admit that the visual action puts Spider-Verse up among the best action movies of the decade.
- Actors: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry
- Released: 2018
- Directed by: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
- 21,444 VOTES
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is really more of a Flash movie than a Justice League movie, but it's no less awesome for it. The Flashpoint event in the comics helped reset DC continuity, and the film version also helped kick off a new animated continuity. Flashpoint Paradox does what very few superhero films have successfully done, by making time travel work as a concept. Flash’s time-meddling results in a wildly different and deliciously dark DC universe, where Thomas Wayne is Batman and Aquaman is at war with Wonder Woman. The world of Flashpoint is just plain cool, and there’s an excellent plot to boot.
- Actors: Nathan Fillion, Ron Perlman, Cary Elwes, Kevin McKidd, Michael B. Jordan
- Released: 2013
- Directed by: Jay Oliva
- 31,287 VOTESPhoto: Warner Bros.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of the first feature-length animated comic book films. It actually received a theatrical release in 1993. Heavily influenced by the successful Batman: The Animated Series, the movie lived up to the hype. It’s regarded as one of the best Batman stories out there, and certainly as one of the greatest mysteries that Bruce Wayne ever solved. The plot features roles for several of Batman’s greatest enemies, but it’s the reveal of the true identity of the titular Phantasm that makes it a memorable story.
- Actors: Kevin Conroy, Efrem Zimbalist, Bob Hastings, Mark Hamill, Dana Delany
- Released: 1993
- Directed by: Eric Radomski, Bruce Timm
- 41,512 VOTES
Batman: Under the Red Hood is an adaptation of an existing DC comic storyline, but it succeeded in bringing the story of the Red Hood to a larger audience. Both comic and film achieved the remarkable goal of bringing Jason Todd back to life. Todd, the much-maligned Robin who was once voted by fans to die, was depicted in such a way to make people actually care about him. The central mystery of Under the Red Hood is exciting enough, but it’s the hard-hitting action and drama after the reveal that really makes the plot strong. This is a much more personal Batman story than anything yet seen on the big screen.
- Actors: Neil Patrick Harris, Jensen Ackles, Kelly Hu, Jason Isaacs, Bruce Greenwood
- Released: 2010
- Directed by: Brandon Vietti
- 51,129 VOTES
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker takes place in the far-flung future of Gotham City, where Bruce Wayne has long since retired, replaced by young Terry McGinnis. McGinnis uses a tech-heavy Batsuit to become Batman Beyond. This feature film adventure is easily the highlight of the entire Batman Beyond concept, crafting a dark tale that examines the legacies of both the Batman and the Joker. Throw in an important role for Tim Drake, the most unheralded Robin, and you’ve got the makings of a futuristic classic.
- Actors: Will Friedle, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Melissa Joan Hart, Angie Harmon
- Released: 2000
- Directed by: Curt Geda
- 6961 VOTES
Justice League: Doom is a loose adaptation of the classic Tower of Babel storyline from the comics. In both stories, the Justice League find themselves facing a more formidable and organized set of antagonists than any that have appeared in the Marvel or DC cinematic universes. The villains have gained an advantage over the JLA by stealing a secret set of schematics from Batman, in which he dreamed up the perfect methods to defeat his teammates. It’s both the perfect example of why Batman is such a badass and why he’s not a great friend.
- Actors: Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, Susan Eisenberg, Nathan Fillion, Carl Lumbly
- Released: 2012
- Directed by: Lauren Montgomery