Five Underappreciated Comic Book Style Movies

There was a weird period in the aughts where movie studios were becoming more and more open to adapting superhero and comic book movies, but weren’t quite committed just yet. Meanwhile they did release some movies that were comic book like in nature and concept, and while they kind of bombed critically and or financially, I enjoyed them quite a bit. A few of them were even ahead of their time in many respects. Here are five that I think are woefully under appreciated, and deserve more notice, even if they aren’t what I’d call flawless or masterpieces.

The One (2001)
Streaming on:
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video
With Marvel and DC popularizing the idea of multiverses and alternate universes, “The One” is one of the finer entries in the sub-genre. James Wong’s “The One” is a crime thriller and science fiction martial arts movie centered on Jet Li who plays Gabriel Yulaw. As Yulaw, he travels through alternate worlds to track down and kill his alternates, which grants him more power in exchange. With then newcomer Jason Statham as an agent tasked with tracking him down, “The One” culminates in to a pretty fun, over the top martial arts thriller, topped off by a pretty creative final scene.

Sky High (2005)
Streaming on:
Disney Plus, Apple TV
Satirizing the whole superhero trope before the superhero movie really took off, “Sky High” is a fun and exciting underdog tale packed with a marvelous cast including Bruce Campbell, Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston, Danielle Panabaker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and many more. “Sky High” is a great take on the ideas of conformity and the idea of being “special” in a world that demands a lot from its youth. There are some neat action scenes, some great meta-humor, and the special effects still hold up very well. Plus, Mary Elizabeth Winstead really stands out among a large cast of young performers.

Jumper (2008)
Streaming on: Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video
Not many critics enjoyed Doug Liman’s adaptation of “Jumper” but I had a good time with it in spite of its flaws. Hayden Christensen plays David, a breed of people endowed with the ability to teleport anywhere they want. Using the ability to improve his life, he’s hunted down by the mysterious Roland Cox, a man devoted to stopping “Jumpers.” Filled with some sleek action, interesting characters (including scene stealer Jamie Bell), and some great visuals, I really think “Jumper” deserved a lot more love than it originally did.

Push (2009)
Streaming on:
Max, Redbox, Apple TV
Before Chris Evans was Captain America, he starred in Paul McGuigan’s underrated sci-fi thriller “Push.” Evans played Nick Gant, a psychic among a sub-breed of other psychics who vows revenge on Division, a covert organization that engages in psychic warfare and experiments. Of course with a band of rogue psychics with their own powers, Nick teams up with a powerful clairvoyant played by Dakota Fanning in search of the key that could end the Division forever. “Push” is murky, but a lot of fun with some interesting concepts that are never fully fleshed out. There’s also the great cast of folks like Cliff Curtis, Djimon Hounsou, Camilla Belle, and the aforementioned Evans and Fanning.

I Am Number Four (2011)
Streaming on: Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu
Based on the book series, DJ Caruso’s “I Am Number Four” is a fun science fiction flick filled with potential for a franchise. Alex Pettyfer plays John, an alien posing as a human who is on the run with his caretaker Henri, as played by Timothy Olyphant. They’re running from merciless enemies intent on hunting them down, while also pursuing eight others young aliens, also incognito. As John seeks a normal life in a small town, the otherworldly forces come crashing down on his quiet life. “I Am Number Four” packs in a lot of mythology but it’s a lot of fun and features memorable turns from folks like Teresa Palmer and Dianna Agron. It’s too bad we never got a sequel.