The 90s comic book movies are full of nostalgia. Today’s comic book films are expected to have a more sophisticated understanding of the characters and stories they translate, but the films of the 1990s have an appealing style and feel that is impossible to replicate. The so-called practical effects of the pre-digital era are not always better, but they are different.
Perhaps more importantly, comic books and superheroes had not yet been fully embraced by the mainstream. The movies felt like they had to work harder to convince you to be excited.
For your enlightenment, I’ve made a top 10 ranking of all the films based on comic books released in the 1990s. This will also include some animated movies. Of course, I’ve made this list according to my personal preferences.
10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret of the Ooze
I’ll start this list with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because I do like the 90s adaptation. When I was little, I was a fan, though. Unfortunately, the Michael Bay movies really disappoint me.
The comedic aspect in this movie is what really works for me. Even now, it still entertains me! In this film, the Turtles find out where the Ooze comes from. It’s the drug that created them. But Shredder also finds out and uses it to make himself more powerful. And so the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles must once again show who is stronger. Cowabunga!
9. Batman Forever
There were multiple Batman films in the 90s, and this one still made it on the list. Batman faces two new enemies this time around. Two-Face and The Riddler work together to stop our Hero. Meanwhile, Dr. Chase Meridan falls in love with Wayne/Batman.
I wasn’t sure if this was going to make it in my top 10. However, the Batman fan inside of me prefers it over Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II.
8. Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero
And right after Batman Forever, there will be another Batman movie. This time, though, it’s an animated movie. Still, this one has a little more than the live-action and I think it’s a better movie. On the other hand, it is less memorable since it is not live-action.
Batman has to stop Mr. Freeze, who wants to save his wife by sacrificing someone else. He’s still one of the most interesting villains that encountered a real tragedy in his life.
7. The Crow
Brandon Lee’s last film was a dark masterpiece where it ended tragically for the actor. I watched this movie last year for the first time, and I had to give it to them. I was amazed by the cinematography and darkness of the film.
Every other Crow film that came after this one got more and more disappointing. None of them seem to understand why this one stands out. On top of that, it’s rated R, so you know it’s pretty violent. Moreover, there were a lot of incredible action scenes too.
The best action movie on this 90’s comic book film list is, without a doubt, “Blade.” This when we’re talking about bad-ass fight scenes. On top of that, he was played by Wesley Snipes and is one of the most underappreciated comic book films.
On top of that, Wesley Snipes was an expert in Martial Arts, so he was the perfect choice for the role.
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Believe it or not, but the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is high on my list. Four mutant turtles have learned the Eastern arts from a rat who has mastered Ninja techniques. They live in the sewers of the city. They are fighting a wave of crime in the city, which the organization Foot is behind.
We get some great characters like April and Casey Jones. The film feels quite lighthearted but also knows how not to make the movie too ridiculous. In addition, the design of the turtles is fantastic. Even the second film wasn’t as good when it comes to the creation of the turtles.
4. Batman Returns
I’m actually surprised myself that this film is not in my top three. However, as much as I love this film, there are three other ones I prefer. I’m a fan of Tim Burton, and his style gave the Batman films an interesting look on Gotham and its villains.
His enemy this time is Oswald Cobblepot (DeVito). He was so hideously ugly at birth that he was thrown into the water in a basket by his parents. He grew up among the penguins in the sewers. Typical Tim Burton to let someone grow up like that. Together with a corrupt businessman, they concoct a plan to take over the city and accuse Batman (Keaton) of murder. In addition to these two bad guys, Batman also has to contend with the sexy Catwoman.
Cobblepot’s design was so disgusting that I actually have a hard time watching him. However, that doesn’t take away how DeVito nailed the character in the 90s.
3. Men in Black
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this film as a kid. Agents Kay and Jay are members of a top-secret organization created to monitor aliens on Earth. When an alien terrorist threatens to destroy some solar systems, they must spring into action.
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones’s dynamic is fantastic, while they’re both the opposite of each other. I loved so many aspects of this film: the humor, action, and all the weird aliens. On top of that, Will Smith is hilarious and makes the film, so fun to watch.
2. The Mask
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but The Mask took the number two spot. Now, this film doesn’t have the best story, but let’s be honest. It’s Jim Carrey as the Mask, and that’s enough argument for me. An actor who I absolutely love, and his portrayal is just spot on. I don’t even know if we would ever have someone who will be able to play this role as well as him.
Jimm Carrey plays Stanley Ipkiss, a bank teller who is continuously humiliated during confrontations and doesn’t dare stand up for himself. After one of the worst days of his life, he finds a mask. When he puts on the Mask, his inner self emerges; a cartoonish, romantic, and wild man.
The Mask is so re-watchable, and every time it makes me feel good.
1. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
When I made this list, I had no doubts about my number one. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm maybe be animated, but it’s heavily underrated. Every true Batman fan should have seen this film as it’s one of the best portrayals of the character. I don’t know any movie that came to represent the character as he truly is.
I don’t believe kids would fully understand Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. It’s too complex for them, and there are many psychological layers about how this Hero thinks and feels. There is so much depth to him, and that is what makes this film a masterpiece. It’s the only Batman film that makes him so human, and that for an animated movie. Even the score is one of the best movie scores I’ve ever heard.