You probably either love or hate comic book hero-based film releases. This will largely depend on whether or not you’re a comic book geek – or whether you like them in an ironic kind of way. The fact is that the best comic book movies appeal to a dual audience – whilst the worst appeal solely to The Simpson’s “Comic Book guy” types of people.

The comic book hero-based films that really don’t cut the mustard are those that don’t seem to realise the possibilities of a little irony and, instead, seem to miss the trick of appealing to audiences at different levels simultaneously – whether you’re eight or 28 in other words.

So let’s take a quick look at some of the best comic book films that do seem to get this balance right.

The-Dark-Knight-RisesFirst up, the 2008 Batman movie, The Dark Knight – which sees a Gotham City without rules really does hit the spot. Here, we see the Joker made up in war paint and generally spreading superb anarchy.

He continually outwits Batman to the extent that our super-hero must opt to take a fall. This is a great movie in which the late Heath Ledger plays the Joker peerlessly, and he’s very well supported by Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Aaron Eckhart.

The Dark Knight just beats Sam Raimi’s 2004 movie Spider-Man 2 which sees our webmaster super-hero in his established role as New York’s public defender. Nevertheless, Peter Parker’s real personal is a lot duller. Poor old Peter is struggling to make ends meet and to keep up his grades up.

What makes this movie so enthralling is the trade-off between the super-hero and the mundane – and makes it ironic fun. This particularly strikes a chord with students with big dreams for the future trying to drum up sufficient cash for some bread and jam from the supermarket; we geddit!

In third place, we have the movie that set the standard for super-hero films in the shape of Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman – The Movie.

The then unknown Christopher Reeve really was Superman as well as Clark Kent off course, for anyone old enough to remember seeing it first time around. If this has passed you by for any reason, be sure to rent or borrow it – it really does stand the test of time both for the story and the ironic twists that really make it great. Meanwhile, Gene Hackman’s depiction of the villainous Lex Luthor brought a whole new level of fun to the comic book her movie’s all-round baddie.

Let’s hope that the latest offering in the Superman saga, Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder, lives up to its predecessors. This version depicts Superman’s origin story in a prequel kind of way. Aficionados can’t wait – but will they be proved to be cool guys or “Comic Book guys”?