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10 Nerd-Approved Comic Book Movie Adaptations

Comic book geeks are the toughest audience to please. Sure, they’ll flock to any superhero movie (often in costume) but changing one detail of the beloved source material can result in kryptonite. Beware! Still, a select few comic book flicks qualify as nearly 100% nerd-approved. Take a look below to find out which made the cut.

1. The Avengers - 97% Nerd-Approved
With Marvel’s mega-blockbuster, writer-director Joss Whedon tapped into every superhero fan’s inner 10-year-old. For those whose inner child is perpetually clutching an action figure wherever they go, a Hulk who didn’t look like Shrek only sweetened the deal.  

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier - 99.98% Nerd-Approved

A near perfect adaptation of Ed Brubaker/Steve Epting’s “Winter Soldier” comics storyline, this movie is so chock full of Marvel-ous Easter eggs – references to Doctor Strange and Crossbones among others — that it isn’t just the latest comic book movie. It may also be the best.

3. The Crow - 93% Nerd-Approved
Director Alex Proyas’s screenwriters were so faithful to James O’Barr’s original tale that they even lifted dialogue directly from the comics’ pages. That up-and-coming actor Brandon Lee literally died on set makes this stylish mini-masterpiece all the more tragic.

4. The Dark Knight - 96% Nerd-Approved

Everyone loves the first of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight. But geeks really love it because the late Heath Ledger finally gave us a terrifying Joker who didn’t dance around to Prince songs. (Sorry, Jack Nicholson but your campy Joker isn’t nerd-approved.)

5. Ghost World - 91% Nerd-Approved
Ghost World is that rare comics adaptation that makes big changes without losing fan approval. Hey, who doesn’t want more Steve Buscemi? Also the pic gets serious cred for enlisting Daniel Clowes, the Eightball comic book founder, to co-write the Oscar-nominated screenplay.

6. Iron Man - 93% Nerd-Approved
The hoi polloi went gaga over Robert Downey, Jr. Nerds wept tears of joy when Samuel L. Jackson showed up as Nick Fury after the credits , in part because the casting was a nod The Ultimates comic which first depicted the S.H.I.E.L.D leader as a Samuel L. Jackson lookalike. Genius!

7. Sin City - 89% Nerd-Approved
Director Robert Rodriguez didn’t just adapt Frank Miller’s acclaimed crime comic: He enlisted the artist as a co-writer/co-director. Given that Sin City recreates the comic book series panel-by-panel on the big screen, what more could a Frank Miller super-fan ask for?

8. Spider-Man 2 - 93% Nerd-Approved
Of all of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man flicks, number 2 is the one Spidey fans love most. (The less said about S-M3’s dancing Peter Parker the better.) Drawing on a daring storyline in which Parker ditches his Spidey costume, Raimi pleased insiders and surprised the less nerdily informed.

9. Superman - 88% Nerd–Approved [View Schedule on SundanceTV]
By treating its four-color inspiration with proper respect, Richard Donner’s 1978 classic set the template for contemporary comic book movies. This Superman fights for truth, justice, and the American way with a certain self-awareness. (Remember the foiled phone-booth costume-change scene?) Despite numerous attempts, no other Superman pic has done it so well.

10. X2: X-Men United - 90% Nerd-Approved

By upping the drama and the mind-blowing F/X. director Bryan Singer’s second outing with Marvel’s merry mutants left fans breathless. It also revealed Wolverine’s origin in a more loyal way than X-Men Origins: Wolverine. (Don’t get a nerd started on what that movie did to Deadpool.)

Now tune in to THE WRITERS’ ROOM for a celebration of small screen adaptations: “The Walking Dead, Smallville & other comics” on Fri., Apr. 25 at 9PM/8c.