My Top Seven Superhero Movies of All Time

Given that a whole host of new superhero movies are both cropping up as well as being released in the near future I wanted to take some time to reflect back on the memorable movies that we’ve seen containing superheroes.

It feels as if the superhero movie is so common these days (which it is) but it really wasn’t until the 90s that we saw repeats, sequels, and some kind of comic/hero movie crop up at least once a year.

I know I may get reamed for my picks here but these are my favorite seven superhero movies of all time….

7. Spider Man

You have to admit that everyone (including me) was truly surprised at how good Toby McGuire was in this movie.  Personally I’m not a big fan of Kirsten Dunst but other than her this movie kicked ass.  Great action.  Awesome acting by Franco and Defoe.   And let’s not forget the action and uses of new technology.   Plus you can’t go too wrong with Sam Raimi.

6. Iron Man

I gotta say that in the theater this was one of my favorite movies that I saw in the theater that year.  I was so psyched that Jon Favreau directed it as well.  You kind of knew there’d be humor and Robert Downey Jr. was the perfect cast for this role.   I have to say I absolutely hated the sequel but the first one will always be one of my favorite superhero movies.

5.  X Men

I’m pretty sure I saw this movie at least 20 times while on Spring Break in college.   Every single time it was on in our cabin (I was on a cruise) we would just leave it on.  Plus I happen to love Bryan Singer so you knew going in this movie would rock.   The follow up movies were OK but none compare to the original.

4.   Superman II

Following up Richard Donner’s original was a very tough task but what I loved about the sequel is not only the obvious Zod and his crew, but that this movie kept up with the great humor of the first.   You gotta remember how funny the first one was.   Anyway, I loved the plot, and I felt this one had a better ending too.   I mean can’t Superman just revolve the Earth whenever he wants if he doesn’t get his way?  Seemed a little dumb if you ask me.

3.  Batman

Who would have thought that Tim Burton would be the catalyst to start up the superhero movie train that we have rolling now?  Think about it.  The 70s saw Superman but nothing much after that.  It was the Batman series that jump started all the comics to being turned into movies.  Plus Jack Nicholson and Kim Basinger?  Awesome.   Michael Keaton wasn’t too bad either.

2.  Superman (The Original)

I was debating putting this movie at number 1 simply because of its history.  However, I just couldn’t stand the ending.   Reversing the Earth?  Eh.  Not a fan of that.  Plus his enemy was a pair of missiles?  Just didn’t make it for me.  However, Richard Donner directed and Christopher Reeves being the perfect Superman made this movie a classic and deserves a high ranking.

1.  The Dark Knight

To be perfectly honest I don’t think there’s a superhero movie out there that even holds a candle to this film.   It’s not only a great action movie, it’s a great movie movie.   There’s Ledger’s performance which was flat out scary good.   Bale held his own and Nolan directing along with an eerie score puts this film above the rest.   The only mistakes here are Maggie Gyllenhaal and Bale’s really stupid low voice.  Other than that this movie was perfect.

Honorable Mention: Blade, Robocop, Batman Begins, Hellboy, Unbreakable

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  1. I gotta say that Batman Begins is a much better movie then Dark Knight IMO. Why?

    It actually has great pacing. Contrary to the Dark Knight in which every minute something is happening and Joker has ability of deportation and mind reading, Batman took time and let us enjoy in scenery, characters and drama among other things.

    Also while The Dark Knight was more like CSI:Gotham, Batman Begins was more like real mystery/thriller. And it also had nice twists.

    Regarding villains – Ra’s al Ghul was believable, more human villain, and the Scarecrow bits were amazing, along to comic nods like Victor Zsasz and Falcone. While i like Joker as much as next guy, i though that Heath Ledger was nothing special – he did a good job, but nothing we haven’t seen before. Eckhart did much better job then him, but it’s shame that he didn’t have much more to do. And yeah, Scarecrow is wasted.

    Longevity – while Batman Begins had amazing timing, last 40 minutes of Dark Knight were not necessary, not to mention ridiculous and silly too. Also the ending was anticlimactic. Just remember ending from BB and compere it to TDK – you know it’s true.

  2. Unbreakable was better then Spiderman 1 in my opinion. You didn’t really know you were watching a superhero movie at first. Plus, Sam Jackson’s Mr. Glass may be one of the top 5 villians, if only because he’s actually vulnerable and more human than most.

  3. I’d say you chose the wrong movie from the X-men and Spider-man franchises. Plus, I still think Iron Man has a reputation it doesn’t quite deserve.

    I gotta go with a top ten, and I have to say that the ranking on these might change slightly every week or so.

    10. Thor
    9. Hulk
    8. X2
    7. Hellboy
    6. Batman Begins
    5. Unbreakable
    4. Spider-man 2
    3. Superman Returns
    2. The Dark Knight
    1. The Incredibles

  4. Spider-man films are all cheesy. IMO 3 is no better (or wrose0 than 1 and 2. But, you listed part 1 instead of 2 (like everyone else), so I’ll give you that. Iron Man is great, but out of all the comic book movies that came out that year, Hulk was my favorite, followed by Punisher War Zone (I love bad/good movies and honestly can’t remember the last time I had that much fun at the movie theater). The first X-men was ok, but I swear, the wooden acting (and painful dialogue/one liners) can be hard to swallow at times ::cough Halle Berry cough:: I felt the humor in Superman 2 wasn’t as good as it was in part 1. Too slapstick/cheesy. There is a good film in there somewhere with the help of some parts of the Richard Donner Cut. The first Batman film will always be my favorite, but it’s not nearly as dark as I remember it as a kid. The original Superman will always be agreed among the general consensus to be the standard for all comic book movies (the reason I never liked Spidey 2 was because it felt like a complete rip-off of Superman 2 beat for beat) . Yes comic nerds agree that Dark Knight is the best, but I have a feeling time will tell on which of these 2 really is the best. Me personally, I felt DK was too long and I didn’t like how the joker always had a back-up plan for everything. In the context of a comic book movie this works fine if the tone is set like one. However, Nolan and co. as well as the fans all take this film as a serious motion picture, so the plot twists don’t work. As for my top list?

    10. Guyver 2: Dark Hero.
    9. The Crow
    8. Punisher War Zone
    7. Superman
    6. Watchmen
    5. Sin City
    4. Batman
    3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    2. The Incredible Hulk
    1. Superman 2 (hybrid version of both cuts)

  5. In no set order:

    Just a classic revamp of the hero that mixed Tim Burton’s talent with the dark character. A lot of good imagery and character for its time. (Aside: The best thing to come from this, imo, was the inspired art deco style cartoon show. Each episode had good character development and an intriguing story, although each writer seemed to take liberties with Bruce’s character.)

    Hellboy II
    Just a marvel of good storytelling and imagery. While goofy at times, I did enjoy it a bit more than the first.

    Zack Snyder has potential much in the way that Michael Bay does, both of their visuals and effects are stupendous and the best in the business (though I wish Bay would get barred from using shaky cam), but they just can’t tell a decent story. With such a good source material, it was hard for Snyder to do wrong, and I think the movie really matched the source very well. Hell, the intro montage alone is probably the best intro to any movie I’ve seen.

    The Dark Knight
    Can’t say what hasn’t been said before, but this is going to be a classic to rival Burton’s 1990 film.

    Batman Begins
    A good revamp from Chris Nolan, I’m glad this delved more into Bruce’s character, much in the way that the Dark Knight delved into Batman’s, as they are often two very separate entities.

    X-Men 2
    This was the best of the X-Men series (although I did like Origins: Wolverine, don’t hit me please). The liberties they took with Mastermind and Stryker really created an intriguing plot that forced the awkward alliance with Magneto.

    V for Vendetta
    While vastly different from the source material, this was still an emotional and riveting tale. In many ways, I enjoyed the movie a lot more than the graphic novel (again, don’t hit me).

    Iron Man
    Again, can’t say what hasn’t been said before. It’s still a bit cheesy but also holds its very gritty action scenes with dignity.

  6. *Shameless Plug*
    My co-hosts and I had a similar debate on the most recent episode of my podcast “Across the Nerdaverse.” We had a Nerdfight over what is the best comic book based movie. Our debate came down to “Superman: The Movie”, “The Dark Knight” and my choice “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.” Check out episode 36 for this debate as well as our “Thor” review.
    (*Shameless Plug Over* Thanks Paul.)

  7. First off I don’t think Tim Burton’s Batman holds up at all. Nolan’s Batman films blow Burton’s out of the water.

    Honorable Mentions:
    Blade, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (At least until I get to rewatch it), Incredible Hulk,

    I gotta go top 11 (why because I like to go one step beyond):

    11. Daredevil (Director’s Cut): While the theatrical cut is awful, there’s a place in my heart for the director’s cut, which is still flawed but a lot of fun.

    10. Iron Man 2: I know a lot of people didn’t like this movie and felt that it was suffering from Spidey 3 or X-3 syndrome, but I really enjoyed it and I thought the elements came together quite well on a second viewing. They all follow the main theme of the Stark legacy and in that viewpoint, I thought it was a fun movie.

    9. Watchmen – Zack Snyder does the impossible, well not really, it’s a very stylish film and it captures the book very closely, but lets be honest, Snyder doesn’t really adapt the book more than putting the book on screen. It’s a great book, but it needed more of the adaptive creativity (like we saw in the opening credits) than what it got.

    8. Hellboy 2 – It’s really hard for me to choose one over the other, I really like the first Hellboy a lot more because it’s less fantasy, but it falls apart in the third act, the second one is a lot more fantasy but as an entire picture it works better.

    7. Superman – Get one thing straight, I hate Superman, i think he’s boring as a character, but I recognize how historically important he is in terms of superheroes. Nonetheless, this is as good a movie as you’re gonna get out of Superman (outside of the abysmal ending), the origin story is near perfection, the main plot while kind of hokey and dated, works great, and Christopher Reeve is Superman and he is Clark Kent playing both so well that you would believe people are fooled by the deception. Great movie, but because of my disdain for the character it can’t get higher than this.

    6. Batman Begins – I love Batman as a character, and Nolan creates a fantastic movie, but it’s not without its problems, the action scenes have the horrible quick cutting, shaky cam, and it is a bit slow and methodical in terms of pacing, and it never keeps up the quality as the movie goes on, the first 40 minutes are fantastic, but as it moves along it dips a bit in the middle.

    5. Thor – Really a spectacular blend of fantasy and realism, the Asgardian royal family plot is delivered with such pop, that it really makes the film. The stuff on earth is a bit weaker but solid.

    4. Iron Man – Downey Jr. was perfect as Tony Stark, the action scenes leave us wanting more but the story is solid and the origin is a fantastic adaptation.

    3. Spider-man 2 – While Spider-man one was a tale of two short movies, the origin and the goblin story, Spider-man 2 is an superhero epic, with amazing fight sequences (who can forget the train fight, possibly the best superhero fight ever), fantastic identity issues, and a great love story. The obvious best in the franchise.

    2. X-men 2: X-men United – I love the X-men, I grew up on the 90’s animated series, and this is the best film out of that franchise (yes, I like Wolverine and I even like X-3 for what they are, do I wish Bryan Singer could’ve have finished his vision of the trilogy, sure but it didn’t happen, so we have to live with it). X-2 mixes all the stories together quite well, every hero (and villain) gets their chance to shine, and while Wolverine takes the bulk of the movie, it’s forgiveable because the story is so well done. Love this movie.

    1. Dark Knight – Predictable, sure…but nothing really comes close. Heath Ledger as Joker is amazing, better action sequences than the first, including an amazing center piece with the chase in the middle of the movie, fantastic story, great themes, the cast does great work, and everything comes together fantastically.

  8. GREAT list. I would’ve slid Unbreakable in there though, and very highly too – Unbreakable wrestles with TDK as my favourite superhero movie of all time.

    Although I suppose it would stick out a bit seeing as it wasn’t an existing franchise.

    The original Tim Burton Batmans don’t get enough love. Which Superman II are you going for, original or Donner Cut?

  9. Why the “stupid low voice” rant on the Dark Knight? I always thought that was one of the best inventions of the Bale-era Batman. Think about it:

    – There are a lot of people that know how Bruce Wayne looks and talks
    – Some of those people interact closely with the Batman be they criminals or friends

    If Batman has the exact same voice and speech manners as Bruce Wayne (on top of the fact that they have the same face, and his lower face is still visible under the mask) the logical conclusion would be that Bruce Wayne = Batman.

    Him using a very rough, lower, voice in the Batman persona means that people can’t identify him by hearing his voice and thinking “Oh he sounds EXACTLY like that Bruce Wayne guy I saw on TV today, what a coincidence!”

  10. I like Spiderman 1&2, but I hate Tobey Mcguire. He is a craptacular actor. He is completely unbelievable as Spiderman. Peter Parker he can get away with (if Parker was a woman). I wish they cast someone different, then the movie would have been even more spectacular. Also, I don’t like Kirsten Dunst. She’s not attractive and I also don’t like her acting. Now I’m angry

  11. @Aether McLoud: While all of that is true, it still doesn’t mean the voice in TDK was any good. It’s not only a choice between full on Bruce Wayne and ridiculous raspy, occasionally difficult to understand grunt.

    Keaton managed to find a voice that was different from his Bruce Wayne character, and dark and intimidating, but didn’t sound like a 12-year-old playing Batman.

  12. Would the Dark Knight have been as well reviewed had Ledger not died? Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty good, but seriously, the best?

  13. Like Aether McLoud said above, I don’t understand the “low voiced” Batman dislike. It’s supposed to be realistic. How is talking in your normal voice to people who can recognize you, being a celebrity and all, realistic? Maggie Gyllenhaal was pretty good as Rachel… or perhaps that’s just me comparing her to Katie Holmes. Actually, even in spite of Holmes, Batman Begins was just plain awesome. Digression aside, TDK is the best superhero movie of all time and it’s not that close.

    X-Men 2 was better than the original and I did love the original. Needs a place in every top 10 superhero list. Spiderman 2 may have been better than the original too although I personally liked the first better.

    If V for Vendetta counts as a superhero movie then it deserves to be on most lists as well. Great film and source material.

    I think I just saw someone put Punisher: War Zone on one of their lists. Excuse me while I gouge my eyes out.

  14. i think The Dark Knight is an overhyped and convoluted, its core story is decent enough but there is too much going on; it’s too busy with superlatives and exposition. i’m not a fan.

    does Robocop count as a superhero? if so, Robocop is an awesome superhero movie.

    and Casshern. anyone who liked superheros, robots and good movies should check out Casshern

  15. @Dzuksi

    I agree BB had better timing. I would attribute that to the somewhat randomness and unpredictability of Joker’s antics. I also agree that Aaron Eckhart did a fine job and I wished he couldn’ve done more, but that scene of him flipping the coin at the end was very satisfying for me. Eckhart really did a good job of portraying a man who’s lost everything and is losing his mind. With the strings in the background playing low notes to illustrate his descent into madness, I cannot get tired of watching that scene. Surprisingly, that’s my favorite track in the soundtrack, in a soundtrack filled with action tracks. But I differ in your opinion of Heath Ledger’s performance.

    You say Heath’s Joker “was nothing special” and it’s “nothing we haven’t seen before”? There are so many versions of the Joker out there, tell me where else have you seen a Joker that flicks his tongue like a snake, hunches like a zombie, growls like a dog when he is angry, and tilts his head when he stares? The Joker that I’ve seen in comics/animation/video games is usually theatrical and flamboyant, something that Jack Nicholson and Mark Hamill did/do well. Jack Nicholson had fun with the role, and we had fun watching him, but no one was scared of him. Hamill’s Joker is probably the best representation of the character, but because of the nature of comics/animation/video games, Hamill’s Joker has the advantage to cover aspects of the character that aren’t necessarily realistic. Ledger’s Joker is confined to the Nolan universe and the portrayal had to be realistic, but draw elements from other Jokers. I think they succeeded in creating a memorable “CSI” version of the Joker that’ll last a long time.

    What Ledger brought to life onscreen was a genuinely creepy guy. There are so many versions of Joker out there, but I think Nolan/Ledger covered quite a bit; Joker the storyteller (wanna how I got these scars), Joker the master schemer/planner (the bank robbery, boats, breaking Harvey’s spirit), the Joker who can get into Batman’s head (the interrogation scene, which is something from the comics that I’ve always wanted to see on film), Joker the anarchist (burning money), Joker the terrorist (look at me, LOOK AT ME), Joker the flamboyant performer (purple wardrobe, the nurse outfit, let’s put a smile on that face), the insightful Joker (recognizing Batman’s connection to Rachel to plan Harvey’s madness, somewhat of a stretch but I’ll believe it), etc. Covering all those elements of a single character in one movie is not an easy thing to do. Saying that performance was “nothing special” undermines that difficult task.

    As testament to the Heath Ledger’s contribution to the Joker legacy, check out this video of this guy at a costume contest. Creepy!

  16. I agree with the people who believe that Batman Begins is the superior film to the Dark Knight and have said so ever since I saw them both.

    Both are great films in their own right, but Begins has a better sense of pace and style to it than DK.

    And I hate to say things about a man that is dead and may he rest in peace, but, Ledge will not forever define the role of The Joker.

    Any Bat-Fans out there who are serious about how they look at The Joker will agree that Jack did a better version of a character who is insane in a ‘funny’ way if you know what I mean.

    Ledger was too serious in his portrayal. The Joker has always been a Loki-type character in his evil all throughout his existence.

    This didn’t fit Nolan’s ‘darker’ way for pushing the characters so his zanier aspects of character were discarded to be replaced by what I would call calculated evil.

    The DK is still a great movie and I’m bashing no-one when I wrote the above but I do reckon Begins is the best Batman movie we have seen to date, and will probably see.

  17. certain people saying heaths joker wasnt that good also need to know that a lot of the things about his joker he made himself even when it comes down to those little stories about how he got the scars. he made those up himself

  18. The Dark Knight is mediocre. All the sheep love it, I guess, but I actually think for myself and just don’t see how an uninspired, boring mess of misaligned ideas cobbled together is so hallowed.
    Nolan hasn’t made a watchable movie, ever. Bale hasn’t made a watchable movie, ever.
    I’ll just wait til someone else takes over the Batman movies and hope for the best. I am also hoping that somehow, someway, George Miller will be given a green light to put his Justice League movie back together. That thing looked and sounded epic. Armie Hammer gave an interview a while back and his description of the preparation that Miller was putting him through made it clear that unlike most filmmakers helming superhero movies, Miller not only read the comics, he loved them and wanted to put them on the screen. Go watch The Road Warrior and you can see Miller’s genius oozing off the screen into your living room. Alas, it would be a wise move by the WB, therefore it won’t happen.
    I have very high hopes for Zach Snyder’s Superman flick, despite Nolan’s involvement. Superman Returns took me back to being 14 again and seeing the greatest icon of all on screen. It was the first intelligent take on a comic book in the movies and sadly there have only been a few since then.

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