So often, especially recently, comic book movies have become dour and self-serious affairs. While superhero stories that are more grim than humorous are certainly not unusual in comics, there's a pervasive feeling that to be taken seriously, comic book movies must therefore be serious. It's an understandable point of view, but the truth is that these stories come from comic books after all, so there's nothing wrong with letting them actually be funny. James Gunn's The Suicide Squad looks to be hilarious, but it's far from the only funny superhero movie out there.
In truth, most superhero movies do have some humor in them, so they're rarely entirely straight. But there have been some absolutely great superhero movies that are actually incredibly funny, with humor being important to the story they are telling. They do this while still also being just as exciting and full of impressive action as any other superhero movie. Here are six of the best examples of truly funny comic book movies.
What is there to even say about the Deadpool movies? They're hilarious. That's sort of the whole point. Deadpool is the guy who knows he's in a comic book and he has a lot of fun with that in the pages of the book. The same is true on the big screen. It's still sort of amazing that considering how close we came to not getting these movies at all, we somehow got two, and they keep promising us more.
We're putting Deadpool 2 on the list here rather than the first one because, well, it's just bigger in every conceivable way than the first movie, and that includes the laughs. What other movie would even try to put together its own superhero team, promote the hell out of them before the film's release and then just kill them all for the gag?
Shazam is one of the truly classic superhero characters who goes back to 1940. He's right there with Superman in the early days of superhero comics. But the core conceit of the character, that the incredible hero was actually a small boy with magic powers who transformed into the adult hero, was always going to be the sort of idea that would require extra suspension of disbelief. This was all the more true considering the movie character was supposed to exist in the same DC universe as Henry Cavill's Superman and Ben Affleck's Batman. And somehow... it all works.
Zachary Levi is quite possibly the perfect actor to play a kid who gets to become a superhero; the joy and the fun is palpable. When it's time for Shazam! to get serious, it can. But in the end, the main character, even when he's a man, is still a kid, and that's an inherently funny premise that the movie embraces rather than runs away from.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Before James Gunn was given control of The Suicide Squad, he scored directorial duties over another group of comic book misfits: Marvels' Guardians of the Galaxy. The characters were far from the most popular in the Marvel Comics realm, even among regular readers at the time, which made their inclusion in the MCU slightly odd to begin with. But then, it turned out "slightly odd" was sort of the point.
From the moment the title came on the screen and we saw Chris Pratt's Star-Lord singing along and dancing to a 1970s pop soundtrack, we knew we were in for something different, and something quite a bit funnier than the rest of the MCU. The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie came out just a few months after Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so the tonal shift could give you whiplash. Still, it all felt right, and the fact that a sequel would come and a third movie is on the way shows how well it all works.
Most superhero stories are about people who either choose to become heroes or who find themselves struck by fate and forced into the gig. Ant-Man gave us a story about a guy who was sort of bullied into the job and really wasn't sure if that was something he wanted to do. As such, Ant-Man is very much a comedy of errors, as Scott Lang has to learn how to use his suit and his powers, learn how to fight and learn how to do basically everything, except how to break into places. He's already pretty good at that.
Much like Shazam!, there's something inherent in the Ant-Man premise, i.e. following a guy who can shrink, that can look a little silly when compared to the big hitters of the MCU. Rather than try to push hard against that, Ant-Man just lets itself be fun and funny. From that point, Ant-Man lets his actions speak for him, showing that he can stand alongside the rest of the Avengers.
The LEGO Batman Movie
While the movies on this list so far are certainly really funny, they are also still superhero movies first and comedies second. That may not be considered the case with The LEGO Batman Movie. Yes, its main character is Batman. Yes, he fights super villains and has all the other elements of a traditional Batman movie, but the whole is being told with LEGO, and that's hard to overlook.
The LEGO Batman Movie has a lot of fun at the expense of the "grim dark" superhero genre, which Batman has always been part of, but that's key in what makes the whole thing so funny. The jokes come basically nonstop in this movie, so if one of them doesn't land, there's no need to worry because another will be along in a second. But it all still has batman fighting The Joker, which is what all comic book movie fans came to see.
Teen Titans Go! to the Movies
While Deadpool 2 might find much of its comedy in breaking the fourth wall, Teen Titans Go! to the Movies kicks down the fourth wall, stomps on it for a minute and then lights it on fire. It's a superhero movie about superhero movies, and also about the business of superhero movies. Oh, and it's a heroic superhero movie. While not nearly as many people actually saw this one as they did most of the others on this list, that's probably something that should be remedied. It's full of incredible superheroes and great jokes, and it's probably the only time Nicolas Cage will actually get to play Superman.
A serious tone can add weight and gravity to a movie and that can be a benefit for many superhero movies. However, there's nothing wrong with having a laugh, and being funny doesn't mean that your action can't be exciting or your plot can't have end of the world-level stakes. With several serious looking superhero movies on the way, like Black Widow, there's a place for something like The Suicide Squad, which will hopefully make us laugh as loud as it makes us cheer.