10 Best Comic Book Movies To Stream On HBO Max – Screen Rant

HBO Max is the streaming home for DC Comics content, and these are some of the best superhero movies to watch on the platform.
With the likes of Black Adam and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever out in theaters, it shows the comic book/superhero genre is continually proving its staying power in theaters, but HBO Max is one of the best platforms to stream many of these movies. And as Disney+ does for Marvel, HBO Max is the streaming home for all things DC.
They certainly don't have the sheer volume of content that Marvel Studios has consistently pumped out, but there are certainly some worthwhile entries in the DC catalog. From genre classics like Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve's Supermanto recent hits like Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson's The Batman, there's a solid range of what fans can expect from comic book movies on HBO Max.
The Tim Burton movies from the late '80s and early '90s are admirable shouts and wonderfully eccentric in their own right, but the movies that followed the director's departure left the Batman IP — theatrically — in dire straits. Enter Christopher Nolan, and out came the grounded, gritty live-action reinvention the Caped Crusader desperately needed.
Batman Begins paid homage to comic book classics, using the likes of Year One to capture the spirit of what makes this character so compelling. With Christian Bale's iconic take on the leading man and clever interpretations of supervillains Ra's al Ghul and Scarecrow, Batman Begins is a tasteful balance of dark and serious with the comic book genre's inherent sense of the fantastical.
Superman is the member of the Trinity that's arguably had the most undeservedly tumultuous treatment in live-action, despite the Man of Tomorrow essentially being the face of the "superhero." Perhaps the long-awaited return and second chance for Henry Cavill will trigger the Kryptonian's theatrical renaissance, but in the meantime, many fans of the hero still fondly look back on director Richard Donner and actor Christopher Reeve's time with him in Superman.
Though it's an undoubtedly older movie, Reeve's sheer charisma, John Williams' iconic score, and the soulful story combine for a loving adaptation of what makes the hero such a shining humanitarian inspiration in the comics.
Often hailed as one of the greatest superhero moves in general, Nolan's sophomore effort with The Dark Knight was a cinematic force to be reckoned with for the genre. On top of Heath Ledger's once-in-a-generation performance as the Clown Prince of Crime himself, the movie drew upon classic comics like The Killing Joke and The Long Halloween to create an equally exciting superhero movie and engrossing crime drama akin to Michael Mann's Heat.
Bale and Ledger's characters had a dynamic dripping with tension, and Aaron Eckhart's rendition of Two-Face brilliantly added extra elements of sincere tragedy and stakes.
Of the hallowed "DC Trinity," Wonder Woman was the superhero most overdue for a significant live-action adaptation. Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot delivered just that with the 2017 movie of the same name, proving to be an admirable job of doing Wonder Woman's source material justice.
Wonder Woman takes a period-piece spin on the superhero genre in telling a retroactive origin story for the Amazonian, cleverly showing Diana Prince's initial ties to the world of humans. The typical CGI-ridden final fight was a bit underwhelming, but the World War I backdrop was a fitting setting for this tale, with the action set pieces, heartfelt story, and the dynamic between Gadot's hero and Chris Pine's Steve Trevor being notable highlights.
Met with the astronomical and impossibly high standards set by its widely acclaimed predecessor, The Dark Knight Rises managed to release to round out a satisfying close to Nolan and Bale's time with the superhero.
It's akin to the Return of the Jedi of The Dark Knight Trilogy, as it doesn't quite live up to what came before, but it is a good finish and well-earned victory lap for Bruce Wayne's three-film character arc. Also borrowing from some of the best Batman comic book arcs like Knightfall, No Man's Land, and The Dark Knight Returns, Rises is a fitting send-off for the hero while challenging him with Tom Hardy's imposing take on Bane.
At the time, Richard Donner's sudden firing from Superman II was a major controversy among fans, but that same audience was — at the very least — treated with his full cut of the movie on home release. The theatrical version still garnered a positive reception, but the fan reception was mediocre.
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut is an impressive rendition that's also a radically different version than the theatrical version, restoring a significant amount of cut scenes and even Marlon Brando's character. It was affectionately received, with critics citing its renewed tonal balance as a faithful successor to Donner's original movie and an iteration that pays reverence to Superman as a character.
The live-action side of the Batman franchise similarly struggled after Nolan's trilogy settled, with the early goings of the DCEU having reverberating effects on the character's status in the interconnected timeline to this day. However, even with the high standard of Nolan's movies, Matt Reeves successfully rebooted the World's Greatest Detective with Robert Pattinson in The Batman.
That's, in part, by finally honing in on the aforementioned detective element that even Begins, Knight, and Rises neglected, with a chilling Zodiac-inspired twist on the Riddler with Paul Dano and broodingly reclusive one with its hero. The Batman is teeming with a gothic crime-noir style that simultaneously feels reminiscent of the source material and something new, alongside arguably the best-looking Gotham City since Burton's movies.
Like with The Dark Knight Trilogy, following up on Heath Ledger's incarnation of the Joker was always going to be a tall order. But DC Films made the bold move of making a solo movie out of one of Batman's most iconic supervillains with Joker. The idea of giving the Clown Prince of Crime a "definitive" origin is controversial as is, but Todd Phillips' Taxi Driver-influenced take with the great Joaquin Phoenix under the makeup proved a winning combination.
Part of its critiques are admittedly due to leaning too hard on Martin Scorcese's classic to the point of being a crutch, but Joker — helped by Phoenix's winning portrayal — accomplished the feel of being an alternate-universe "DC Black Label" live-action movie.
Following the widely panned 2016 movie, Guardians of the Galaxy director and current DC Studios co-president James Gunn was brought over to reinvent this team of villains/antiheroes in The Suicide Squad. This movie serves as an indirect sequel to its predecessor and overall succeeds in reversing Suicide Squad's overall brand of tacky edginess.
Gunn is clearly at his best when playing in a sandbox of unlikely misfits, with the unique cast bursting with a colorful, raunchy personality. Some audiences' mileage may vary with Gunn's dirty humor, but it's overall genuine with characters that have equally sincere motives and backstories.
Another director's cut, Zack Snyder's Justice League was also a major restoration and change from what the original theatrical release ended up being. Movies like Batman v Superman and Man of Steel were heavily criticized for their overwhelming grimdark tone, but this director's cut was a much more welcome tonal balance.
Its cast is instilled with a refreshing dose of hopeful optimism — namely Batman — and propped up with a more rewarding team-up story. Its runtime and plot pacing can feel unwieldy and self-indulgent at times, but it's a cohesive crossover event and respectable live-action Justice League movie that's certainly a step up from Joss Whedon's messy theatrical attempt.
NEXT: 10 Best Superhero Shows To Stream On HBO Max
Guillermo Kurten is a journalism graduate from the University of Houston. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, he now resides in Houston. He is a fan of pretty much anything involving nerd culture. Video games, comics, movies, TV, anime, manga, you name it. He also has experience writing about soccer, specifically, the German team Bayern Munich.


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