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Comic Book Movies That Took Themselves Way Too Seriously

Updated March 17, 2020 1.5k votes 253 voters 42.4k views20 items

List RulesVote up the comic book movies that forget to be fun

Put on your leather jacket and check out these comic book movies that took themselves way too seriously. Comic book movies are a big deal. We’re lucky enough to live in a time when all of our favorite characters have a pretty good chance to jump from the page to the big screen. This is mostly thanks to films like X-Men and Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. But where those films succeeded, they also created a precedent for every comic book movie that followed. Suddenly, every comic book movie was dark and serious. We’ve put together a list of some of the worst offenders of this cliché.

Most of the modern movies that are based on graphic novels have a few things in common. They all have about ten extra gunfights in them and they’re all tinted blue. Now we don’t know why that is, but we guess somewhere along the way “blue tint” became a visual representation of everything that is serious. So cover your smartphone or computer with a blue filter and proceed to read this collection of comic book adaptations that are too serious for their own good.

Vote up the comic book movies that you wish had been more fun and less crushingly serious. If you think we missed the point of these gritty comic book adaptations, let us know with your votes.
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  • 300
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY

    300 is the movie that launched a thousand terrible Halloween costumes. It also introduced director Zack Snyder to the idea of throwing everything against a green screen and seeing what sticks. The film is a pretty faithful adaptation of Frank Miller's story of the build up to the Battle of Thermopylae which is about as exciting as it sounds. If you're a fan of swords, swords, and your frat, you probably love this movie. But from beginning to end, 300 takes itself far too seriously, even while its heroes strutt around in leather diapers.

    In an era where there are already enough jingoistic pieces of pop culture, 300 gave testosterone-fueled berserkers a new movie to watch on repeat before starting fights.
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  • X-Men
    Video: YouTube

    Yes, the first X-Men arguably began this golden age of comic book adaptations. But the movie takes itself way too seriously. Not only does the film open in a concentration camp (wasn't the Holocaust fun, kids?) but it also saps any fun that existed in the comics by sticking our somber heroes in black leather jumpsuits. We get it, this ain't your mama's X-Men

    In a comic book universe that's pretty silly, the first X-Men film set a standard that too many subsequent superhero movies have imitated. And even though the series nose-dived a few years later with a mishmash of kitchen sink storylines that killed just about every character (X-Men: The Last Stand), the franchise has rebooted itself into a series that, while still taking itself very seriously, also knows how to have fun
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  • Fantastic Four
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

    Why does 20th Century Fox keep trying to force Fantastic Four down the throats of audiences? The newest adaptation of the '60s sci-fi super group may be the most grim superhero movie yet. The film deals with government funding, the militarization of scientific endeavors, and notorious secret "black sites"  - unacknowledged government locations where people can be held indefinitely against their will. You know, everything you want from a comic book movie. 

    Maybe this is Fox's way of trying to match DC's gritty film output, or maybe they just weren't in touch with the source material. Whatever the reason, the most recent Fantastic Four is the apex of unnecessarily dark films.  
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  • Man of Steel
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY

    If there's a character that never needs a gritty reboot, it's Superman. Man of Steel suffers from not only from being a completely joyless and bleak film, but Superman often comes off as less than heroic when he allows his father to die in a tornado, wonders aloud whether he should save humanity, and snaps the bad guy's neck. It's not just the motivations of the characters in Man of Steel that are dark. The actual film itself is so dark that it can be hard to watch. 

    Giving the film a more desaturated look to make it stand out from its more comic booky cohorts may have made sense as an idea, but it made viewing the final product a bit of a slog. 
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