Essential comics to upcoming comic book movies

Your definitive reading list for all the hottest strip-to-screen films

Have you ever watched a film and wanted to seek out the book the movie was based on? With comic books it’s a little trickier, because they often have a decades-long history.

It can be hard to know where to start when you’re looking for comic books to read up on to ready yourself for their filmic adaptations. But fret not - with this list, you'll be more than prepped for the deluge of comic book movies coming to cinemas.

 

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

The Thor: Ragnarok movie draws inspirations from a number of different comic book story arcs. Here are some of the best ones you should check out:

  • Walter Simonson’s Thor: Ragnarok and Roll sets the definitive, as well as most epic, Ragnarok story arc that the film takes inspiration from.

  • Planet Hulk depicts Hulk’s life off-earth on an alien planet and his journey to becoming a galactic gladiator.

  • The ongoing Mighty Thor series, like the movie, offers a fantastic mix of the normality of our modern world and the psychedelic, technicolour wonders of the weirder corners of the Marvel universe. While Jane Foster assumes the mantle of Thor, she evokes a similar blustery bravado that Chris Hemsworth embodies in the films. Plus, it shows the original Thor wielding his axe Jarnbjorn that you also see in Thor: Ragnarok.

Justice League (2017)

This year’s Justice League will see DC Comics assemble its very own superhero squad on the big screen. This version adapts from Justice League: Origin - the New 52 run of the comics - that sees Cyborg integrated as a core member of the team.

Director Zack Snyder has also said that the film’s larger scope and sci-fi elements will draw heavy inspiration from legendary comic book writer, artist and editor Jack Kirby - particularly New Gods, which explores the superpowered race that villains Steppenwolf and Darkseid belong to.

Black Panther (2018)

Come early next year, we’ll get to dive deeper into the character of Black Panther and the nation of Wakanda that we got a glimpse of in Captain America: Civil War.

Black Panther’s definitive and longest-running solo title to date ran with writer Christopher Priest at the helm. This series also offers plenty of Martin Freeman’s Everett Ross, Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger, and Andy Serkis’ Ulysses Klaw, all whom are key players in the Black Panther movie.

New Mutants (2018)

The X-Men cinematic universe looks to extend its reach with another spin-off, this time focusing on the New Mutants, a team of lesser-known teen mutants. They include characters like werewolf mutant Wolfsbane (played by Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams), and sister to Colossus and teleporting sorcerer Magik (played by Anya Taylor-Joy, star of The Witch and Split).

Along with plans to make this a full-fledged teen horror film, sources close to the production have indicated that the film will be adapting The Demon Bear Saga - which sees the New Mutants fighting one of their classic foes, the eponymous Demon Bear.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Avengers: Infinity War is shaping up to be the biggest comic book movie yet. We don’t know a whole lot about the story, but given that it features the Infinity Gauntlet, and is said to revolve around Thanos, you’ll want to check out these stories:

  • Infinity Gauntlet sees the Avengers and more up against Thanos as he has become the most powerful being in the universe after donning the Infinity Gauntlet.

  • The Thanos Quest takes place before Infinity Gauntlet and follows Thanos as he gathers the Infinity Gems.

  • Infinity sees Thanos return as we learn more about Thanos and his henchmen who will feature in Avengers: Infinity War.

Deadpool 2 (2018)

One of Deadpool 2’s new additions comes in the form of Cable, the no-nonsense macho man to Deadpool’s energetic goofball in their buddy-cop dynamic. In that regard, you’ll want to check out Cable/Deadpool: If Looks Could Kill, which explores how the two play off each other and sees them participating in black ops missions where they shoot their way to success.

Aquaman (2018)

Just like how the Justice League movie looks to be based on the New 52 series, likely so will Aquaman. The New 52 run of Aquaman - Aquaman: The Trench - gives us a more modern, badass Aquaman, and is written by Geoff Johns who also happens to be the co-runner of the DC Extended Universe, and co-chairman of DC Films.

Captain Marvel (2019)

It’s taken too long, but 2019 will see Marvel’s first superhero movie led by a female in the form of Captain Marvel aka Carol Danvers.

Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight is a good starting point as it chronicles Danvers first taking up the Captain Marvel mantle and revisits a lot of her background.

Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster, More is also a good jumping-on point that follows Danvers in her more current adventures. Star of the film Brie Larson has even shown herself reading this as prep for the movie!

Shazam! (2019)

Shazam is, essentially, “magic Superman” - having been around for almost as long and sharing similar powers.

Director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation) has said that he’s reading up on the bulk of the character’s history to inform his take on the character for the film, most notably Geoff Johns’ Shazam!: From the Pages of Justice League from the New 52, and The Power of Shazam! By Jerry Ordway.

Untitled Avengers film (2019)

Originally announced as Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2, plans have since changed the title of the movie and its nature as a two-parter to its predecessor.

Kevin Feige, president of production for Marvel Studios, has said that the new title of the film is being withheld as that would lead to story spoilers. However, word on the street is that the film will be drawing inspiration from Secret Wars.

Cyborg (2020)

The young technopath from the Justice League is slated to star in his very own movie in 2020.

Cyborg: Unplugged marked the titular superhero’s first-ever solo ongoing comic book series, and it provides an in-depth exploration of the character and what makes him tick.

In addition, Cyborg: The Imitation Of Life is Cyborg’s latest solo comic book series and introduces some major additions to the lore of the character that could have an impact on his big-screen debut.

Green Lantern Corps (2020)

Sure, we’ve had a Green Lantern movie before, but this film will see Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart teaming up in a buddy-cop-style movie. If you want to brush up your knowledge on DC’s intergalactic police force, you can check out these comics:

  • Green Lantern #87 features the introduction of Stewart and pits him at odds with Jordan, demonstrating just how different the two Green Lanterns are.

  • Green Lantern Corps: Fearsome has the duo of Stewart and Guy Gardner leading corps as the series follows the Green Lantern Corps’s adventures through space.

  • Green Lanterns: Rage Planet is the beginning of the latest Green Lanterns series. While it stars new Green Lanterns Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz instead of Jordan and Stewart, you still get plenty of the buddy-cop dynamic.

Flashpoint (2020)

In a shocking turn of events, it was revealed that the solo Flash movie will be titled Flashpoint, likely drawing inspiration from the comic book series of the same name where the timeline is altered, resulting in major repercussions for the DC universe.

Batgirl (TBA)

A standalone Batgirl movie, helmed by Joss Whedon (who directed the first two Avengers movies), is also in the works. While not much about it is known yet, rumours are that the movie will be drawing inspiration from Detective Comics #359 (the debut of Batgirl) and Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection (the New 52 runs of Batgirl).