Long gone are the days of watching Adam West call for Bat Shark Repellant from his perch on a rope ladder, as he dangles above a bunch of rubber sharks. Today’s comic book movies have gotten a whole lot bloodier, grittier, and nihilistic. Here’s a list of the top 5 grittiest comic book adaptations.
#5 – Sin City The full-scale noir in this movie is enough to put Sin City on this list – it looks like a German Expressionist film had a baby with A Scanner Darkly. Besides the black-and-white silent film feel, the pops of red and yellow that appear throughout stay completely true to the graphic novel’s original design. And if you like super messed up movies, this one has it all – murder, torture, decapitation, rape, dismemberment… It’s also pretty impossible to forget that scene where Marv slices Kevin into pieces and feeds him to his pet wolf. That’s actually a pretty badass way to die, if you think about it. Like, if you’re a stalker serial killer.
#4 – Watchmen The only thing missing from the graphic novel was hearing the sound of the Comedian being thrown around his apartment with Nat King Cole playing in the background. The punches and slices in the very first scene are enough to make your mom say, “This is a terrible movie” and walk out of your living room, but it only gets darker from there. And dongy-er!
From watching Rorschach discover the bones of a kidnapped little girl being chewed on by Grice’s dogs, to the Comedian murdering his pregnant side chick in Vietnam, Watchmen is satisfyingly dark, and true to the graphic novel. Minus the lack of nuclear space squids.
#3 – Kick-Ass Kick-Ass was one of those movies for me where I didn’t read the comic before I saw the movie, and was super surprised by how violent it was. I remember watching the trailer in college thinking, “Oh cool, that looks like a funny superhero movie!” but it definitely wasn’t just funny. While the jokes hit hard in some places, so did Hit-Girl’s butterfly knife. Watching Big Daddy get burned alive wasn’t my first indication that this movie wasn’t a comedy, but I think the entire theatre was cry-screaming when he was giving his daughter death-bed instructions on how to kill all the bad guys.
Kick-Ass has no illusions about vigilantism, it’s grueling and suicidal work. As much as we all secretly want to dawn a mask and take on the mob, Kick-Ass shows us that that would definitely get us killed immediately. That is unless we have plot armor, because hey, this is still suppose to be wish fulfillment right?
#2 – The Dark Knight A fun fact is that I asked one of my friends if she wanted to come see The Dark Knight with me back in 2008, and she actually thought it was going to be a period piece. Nope! The Dark Knight basically set the bar for any and all future Batman / Joker adaptations.
Heath Ledger’s Joker was so depraved and psychopathic that the entire film’s soundtrack was based around the crescendo of his ever-increasing reign of terror on Gotham. Hans Zimmer actually used razor blades to play string instruments in order to create that tortured, twisted hum which plays whenever the Joker is in action. Besides all the brutal fight scenes, the darkest part about this movie was really just the Joker’s apathy towards normalcy, and his embrace of the chaotic.
#1 – Jessica Jones
True to the comics, Jessica Jones throws a client through the glass window on her office door in the very first scene, and it doesn’t stop there. This series features fun and exciting violence themes like murder! Torture! Rape! Suicide!
Jessica’s adoptive mother makes Kris Jenner look like a sweet baby angel and David Tenant’s hypnotic and twisted Kilgrave is exactly the kind of creep you’d get if you gave Reddit’s the Red Pill superpowers. Ewww.