Comicon’s 5 Best Comic Book Films Of 2022
by Erik Amaya
As an adjunct to our Best of the Year Awards, Comicon would like to also recognize the best in films based on comic books in the past year. Of course, fewer than ten were released in 2022, but putting them into a top 5 order of relative quality reveals how much potential still exists in the genre while also highlighting some of its unfortunate pitfalls. And with studios ever hungry to convert comics into films, they’d do well to pay attention what these five films did and how they fared at the box office and in public opinion.
The following are Comicon’s 5 Best Comic Book Films of 2022.
5. DC League of Super-Pets, directed by Jared Stern, written by Stern and John Whittington; starring the voices of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Diego Luna, and Keanu Reeves, released by Warner Bros. Pictures
Beyond the more obvious humor — see any urination joke or pop culture reference — Super-Pets is surprisingly charming. More directly aimed at a younger audience, it boasts some top notch animation and some really good vocal performances. Johnson’s Krypto plays well into the actor’s strengths. He also creates an interesting tension with Hart’s Ace, a ne’er-do-well who only occasionally mimics the parody darkness of Reeves’s Batman. But beyond them are scene-stealers like McKinnon and Bayer, who make the villainous Lulu and insecure PB, respectively, the most fun characters in the film. Being more of a children’s flick, the themes are a little more obvious and easy, but are nevertheless warm like a winter blanket. And really, shouldn’t superheroes be warm and obvious sometimes?
4. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, directed by Sam Raimi, screenplay by Michael Waldron; starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Elizabeth Olsen, and Xotchil Gomez, released by Walt Disney Studios
While we first called the film “messy” upon release, Mutliverse of Madness holds up fairly well under a second viewing. Sure, it still doesn’t earn Wanda’s (Olsen) heel turn and the Book of Ashanti‘s flimsiness as a MacGuffin only makes it clearer that Strange (Cumberbatch) should’ve been seeking The Darkhold all along, but the bonding between Strange and America Chavez (Gomez) proves stronger and the Multiversal madness is quite enjoyable … even if Wanda handles Professor X (Patrick Stewart) a little too easily.
3. Werewolf By Night, directed by Michael Giacchino, teleplay by Heather Quinn and Peter Cameron; starring Gael García Bernal, Laura Donnelly, and Harriet Sansom Harris, released by Walt Disney Studios
Okay, it might be cheating to put a hour-long Disney+ special on the film list, but Werewolf by Night more closely resembles a film than it does a Marvel TV show on the Disney streaming platform. For one, it has a highly filmic sensibility thanks to its loving recreation of both 1940s Universal horror movies and more fly-by-night horror flicks of subsequent decades. For another, Bernal is a legit movie star; his talents not only scream out of the werewolf makeup, but necessitate that the production actually make him up as a werewolf. It would be far less effective had his werewolf form been a CGI cartoon. But beyond those things, Werewolf by Night effectively establishes its characters and sets its mood far better than several feature films not on this list (coughMorbiuscough), easily earning the mid spot on the year’s rankings.
2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, directed by Ryan Coogler, screenplay by Coogler & Joe Robert Cole, story by Coogler; starring Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, and Tenoch Huerta, released by Walt Disney Studios
As we said in our review of the film in November, the sense of loss and grief in Wakanda Forever is palpable. The loss of the series original star, Chadwick Boseman, is an unavoidable truth and the film handles the absence of his character, King T’Challa, in a truly admirable way. But what really makes it one of the best comic book films of the year is the performances. Had Bassett emerged as the new Black Panther, we would’ve welcomed it. She commands so much attention and power while playing Queen Regent Ramonda that, honestly, we’d happily welcome her as a top-line superhero star. But Wright, Gurira, and Huerta also bring a lot to their roles. Sure, Wright might be the shakiest of the ensemble, but considering the circumstances, the uncertain parts of her performance still serve the story in an admirable way. And, finally, as we said in a November, Wakanda Forever is about something even as it expands the Marvel world. Not all of the superhero films these year can safely claim that.
1. The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves, written by Reeves & Peter Craig; starring Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano and John Turturro, released by Warner Bros. Pictures
As we said back in the March, The Batman is a solid film and, sometimes, that’s enough. Resetting the clock, again, Reeves’s take on Batman leans heavily into the Dark Knight Detective with an added dose of self-doubt as the character enters “Year Two.” The style ends up reminiscent of 1970s crime thrillers as the mob still holds sway in Gotham and the only thing resembling a costumed crazy is Dano’s more Zodiac-like approach to the Riddler. Both more paired down and more stylized than the two most recent Batman film cycles, it also feature a Batman who actually feels a part of his surroundings. And yes, it may not be the best Batman movie ever made, but its solidness makes it special.