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It has been quite a year for comic book movies, though I guess that could be said for any of the last few years. Fans don't seem to be sick of them yet, and after Avengers: Endgame, people are curious about what's next. But for all the buzz films like Avengers and Shazam generate, I feel like it's worth reminding everyone, comic book movies aren't all Marvel and DC. They didn't start in 2008 with Iron Man, and they're more than Christopher Reeve and Michael Keaton.

The fourth Men in Black film dropped last week, and it's probably worth mentioning for those that don't know, this is a comic book movie. It's not as well-known as X-Men, but the Men in Black comics started their run in 1990. We've had three movies with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, and now we're getting a spinoff with Thor and the Valkyrie -- I mean Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson.

Men in Black I and III were good movies, but II was pretty rough. Will the spinoff be any good? I think it's up in the air. The previews look funny, and Hemsworth and Thompson do have great on-screen chemistry as we witnessed in Thor: Ragnarok, so I guess we'll see.

Marvel Studios has become the standard for comic book movies, and rightfully so. The company has worked hard across more than a decade to build an entire universe. I love its movies. But it's easy to forget that there are other comic book companies with great properties that aren't Marvel and DC. I'm talking about publishers like Vertigo (which yes, I know is an imprint of DC), Dark Horse, Dynamite and more. And we've gotten some fantastic movies from properties owned by these companies.

I'm a sucker for paranormal stories. Big shocker that my favorite television series is Supernatural. And in comics, Hellblazer is one of my all-time favorite series. I also adore Keanu Reeves (except for when he's in Replicas). So put all that together, and you get the 2005 film Constantine, which adapts a popular story from the comics where occult detective John Constantine tricks the Devil into curing his lung cancer. It's a great flick.

I know Matt Ryan is Constantine now, and he's great, don't get me wrong. He looks more like the comic book character, and the NBC series that was canceled way too soon was a great adaptation. But Keanu introduced me to the character first, so I'm more partial to his portrayal (minus Shia LaBeouf).

The Greek war (a subject Americans will never get enough of) film 300 was another great graphic novel adapted into a fantastic movie. It was legendary upon its release inspiring men to kick each other across the country while yelling "This is Sparta!" And? It doesn't belong to Marvel or DC.

Perhaps one of the most famous non-Marvel or DC comic book movie adaptations is the masterpiece known as Sin City. What a technical and stylized masterpiece, featuring multiple stories and bringing the star power of people like Bruce Willis and Elijah Wood. The movie being in black and white with the exception of a few splashes of color here and there is so vivid. One of the best examples of adapting story straight from the page of a comic shows why Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino deserve credit for making one of the greatest comic book movies of all time.

And we had great comic book movies back in the '90s as well. Who can forget The Crow, an iconic and tragic film starring Brandon Lee? The story, the effects, the atmosphere, they all come together to tell an incredible, if somewhat angsty, tale of revenge. Combine this with the fact Brandon Lee tragically died during the filming of this movie, and the crew rallied together to finish production, and you've got a unique story, lightning in a bottle. And three godforsaken sequels can't diminish that.

The 1990s also gave us The Mask, easily Jim Carey's greatest movie. It's cartoony, it's funny, it's zany, the movie simply cannot be improved or redone. Carey's pretty much the living embodiment of a cartoon, and when he's not spewing anti-vaccination garbage, he's making me laugh on screen in movies like this. The special effects for the time were astounding, and the blend of animated sequences and live-action scenes still blows my mind to this day.

The films I've written about above are just top favorites of mine. It's by no means an exhaustive list of great comic book/graphic novel movie adaptations that aren't Marvel or DC. If I had all the space in this newspaper I could go on and on about Kingsmen, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Heavy Metal, Judge Dredd, Kick-Ass, Red Sonja, RED, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and so much more.

While I'm looking forward to Spiderman: Far From Home and Joker later this year, I also can't forget all these great non-Marvel/DC comic book movies that helped blaze the trail before them. Did I fail to list your favorite non-Marvel/DC comic book movie? Shoot me an email at clanning@arkansasonline.com and let me know.

The first issue of The Men in Black comic was published in 1990, seven years before Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones took on their respective roles as agents K and J.

MovieStyle on 06/21/2019

Print Headline: Comics on film: It ain't all Avengers and Batman

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