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The 11 Best Comic Book Movies You Can Stream Right Now, From ‘Batman’ to ‘Doctor Strange’

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The 11 Best Comic Book Movies You Can Stream Right Now, From ‘Batman’ to ‘Doctor Strange’

With Thor: Ragnarok hitting theaters in just a few short hours and Justice League arriving in a couple weeks, this month is a good one for comic book movies. And, really, with Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, and Spider-Man: Homecomingholding three of the top four spots in the 2017 box office, it’s been a pretty good year for comics-based films at the multiplex. But what about folks who want to watch their favorite caped crusaders from the comfort of their couch? Well, right now is a pretty good time for them, too. And, if they’re willing to dig, there are even a few great non-superhero comic book movies on streaming services as well. (See: Ghost World.) From Batman to Doctor Strange, here are 11 of the best comic book movies you’ll currently find streaming on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.

Ghost World (2001)

Before she was an Avenger, Scarlett Johansson played second fiddle to Thora Birch in Ghost World, Terry Zwigoff’s offbeat movie about two social outcasts who, upon graduating from high school, began making plans to rent an apartment together. But as the summer unfolds, the longtime best friends find their lives heading in two different directions as Rebecca (Johansson) leans more into the mainstream after getting a job at a coffee shop and Enid (Birch) befriends a lonely restaurant manager (Steve Buscemi) who she initially tried to prank by responding to his lonely hearts ad. Birch and Johansson’s practiced deadpan plays in stark contrast to Buscemi’s self-deprecating-but-still-hopeful take on the world, but together they tell a masterful story about alienation and self-loathing that is as painfully funny as it is heartbreaking.

Where to stream it:Amazon

The Dark Knight (2008)

With all due respect to Christian Bale—who looks great in a Batsuit, but sounds oddly like one of Austin Powers’ enemies as he growls his way around Gotham City—the success of Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the Batman franchise has always seemed to rest with its villains. Nowhere is this point more clearly made than in The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger, who died six months before the film’s release, posthumously won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as The Joker—and deservedly so, his performance is mesmerizing. And while Ledger plays his role with a perfect mix of insanity, intensity, and dark humor, his performance is perfectly balanced with the kind of gorgeous action scenes that have kept Nolan’s Batman movies at the top of everyone’s list.

Where to stream it:Amazon

Watchmen (2009)

Though it was largely panned when it was released in theaters, the negative campaign against the big-screen version of Watchmen began months before it was screened due to outcry from fans of the Alan Moore comic book series on which it is based. Moore, who is also the creative brains behind V for Vendetta and From Hell, has long made it known that his goal in creating groundbreaking works like Watchmen—which used a nine-panel grid layout and a nonlinear narrative that skipped through space and time to tell its story—was to depict the power of the comic book medium. Though director Zack Snyder remained faithful in his adaptation of Moore’s complex work, newcomers to the story ended up slightly confused, and many hardcore fans chose to ignore it altogether. But opinions on the film, which is smartly written, well acted, and impressively directed, have thankfully softened over time, with many moviegoers giving it a second chance, and discovering a whip-smart, visually stunning entry into the comic book genre.

Where to stream it:Amazon

Doctor Strange (2016)

If there is such a thing as “prestige comic book movies,” Doctor Strange would be at the top of the list—not only for an amazing cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role plus Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, and Michael Stuhlbarg, but also because it manages to fit perfectly within the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet float somewhere just outside of it simultaneously. Dr. Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) is an impeccable-but-cocky neurosurgeon who has never met a medical challenge he doesn’t think he can conquer. But when a car accident leaves him with permanent damage to his hand that will make it impossible for him to operate, he goes searching for an experimental procedure to help regain control over his livelihood. Wanting to run before he can crawl, Dr. Strange teaches himself how to bend time and opens a Pandora’s Box of problems for his superhero cohorts, and his flesh-and-blood friends, leaving him to use his newfound powers to manipulate time to save the world (at least until the sequel arrives).

Where to stream it:Netflix

Akira (1988)

For many American moviegoers, Katsuhiro Ôtomo’s Akira was their introduction into the world of anime—and what a wild initiation it was. Based on Ôtomo’s own manga series, the film starts with a nuclear explosion that sets off World War III, and then fast-forwards 30 years into the future. In 2019, Tokyo (now known as Neo-Tokyo) has become a crime-ridden dystopia where gang violence, organ harvesting, terrorism, and the abuse of military power are everyday occurrences. But when teenage pals Kaneda and Tetsuo happen upon a secret government project, they might just be the city’s best bet for a brighter future.

Where to stream it:Hulu

Batman (1989)

Though one could argue that Christopher Nolan’s trio of Dark Knight flicks are more compelling, Tim Burton’s signature creepy-but-kitschy Batman helped pave the way for many of the comic book films currently dominating cinemas. It also helped remind the world of Michael Keaton’s enviable range as an actor. (And perfectly set up his role in Birdman 25 years later.) Keaton plays billionaire bachelor Bruce Wayne, who spends his days wandering around his massive estate and his nights fighting Gotham’s most nefarious criminals, including The Joker (Jack Nicholson), using a range of high-tech gadgets and a pretty tight-fitting batsuit.

Where to stream it:Amazon, Hulu

V for Vendetta (2006)

James McTeigue did the Wachowkis, his longtime mentors plus the writers and producers on this project, proud when he managed to successfully translate Alan Moore’s moody style to the big screen with *V for Vendetta8. Hugo Weaving plays V, an anarchist in a Guy Fawkes mask who is attempting to overthrow England’s new fascist-like regime with the help of Evey (Natalie Portman), a young woman whose commitment to the cause eventually overpowers her personal feelings of right versus wrong. Though Moore and his fans aren’t often enthusiastic about adaptations of his work (see above), V for Vendetta struck a powerful enough chord with real-life freedom fighters that V’s mask has become an easily recognized symbol of protest.

Where to stream it:Netflix

Iron Man (2008)

Today, Iron Man is one of Marvel’s biggest assets. But back when his first standalone movie hit theaters, it was a bit of a scrappy endeavor. At the time, Robert Downey Jr. was still doing penance for his wilder days and his bankability was questionable. Director Jon Favreau thought Downey was a great fit for the role of Tony Stark—but he had to fight for it. Good thing he did. The actor brings just the right amount wisdom, baggage, swagger, and humor to Stark, who uses his tech know-how to engineer the ultimate superhero.

Where to stream it:Amazon, Hulu

Hellboy (2004)

Modern master of horror Guillermo del Toro used his talent for terror—and passion for Mike Mignola’s Hellboy character—to create a comic book movie that ably mixes horror, action, comedy, and the paranormal into one visually stunning feature. Originally summoned to Earth while still an infant demon by the Nazis during World War II, Hellboy (Ron Perlman) grows up to defend the world against just those kinds of dark forces. Perlman’s commitment to the role of the bright-red demon only adds to the feeling that everyone was having fun with this one.

Where to stream it:Netflix, Hulu

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Like Hellboy, the Captain America franchise’s tendency to politicize its entries is one of the things that helps it stand out from its fellow comic book adaptations. Its most recent installment sees Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) facing off over the role—if any—government should play in determining which causes superheroes should defend. The disagreement becomes so heated the rest of the Avengers feel forced to pick sides … and nothing good ever comes from dividing a team of people who kick ass for a living.

Where to stream it:Netflix

Deadpool (2016)

Deadpool spent more than a decade as a non-starter—Ryan Reynolds signed on to play the Merc with a Mouth in 2005—but once it got its green light it completely took off, making more than $780 million worldwide at the box office. A mix of pop culture savvy, ultra violence, and dark blue humor, Deadpool is an instant classic of the genre—even if it doesn’t look like any other comic adaptation that came before it. It also stays true to its roots, with Reynolds spending most of the movie seeking revenge on the doctor who turned him into Deadpool with an experimental cancer treatment that left him feeling no pain but looking not-so-hot.

Where to stream it:Amazon

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Author Jennifer M. Wood

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