The Top 10 Superhero Movies of All Time

Photo Credit:

Three of the most anticipated superhero flicks of all time came around this summer. But did they manage to best some of the already great movies based on these modern myths? Find out below as we list the ten best superhero movies of all time. And take a look at a second take by special guest writer James West below!



Photo Credit: Superman (1978)-

The special effects are cheesy and it hasn’t quite aged as well as many would have hoped, but there is definitely something to be said for the first foray into superheroism on the big screen. Christopher Reeve is a great Superman and Clark Kent. The film is an epic, chronicling the origins of Kal-El from the very beginning to dawning the cape and saving the world. The big screen’s first superhero certainly is one of their best.



Photo Credit: Watchmen (2009)-

Many called it unfilmable, but this epic adaptation of Alan Moore’s beloved graphic novel has so many moments of perfection that the notable flaws (that sex scene…) can be mostly forgiven. Dr. Manhattan’s origin transcending space and time is perhaps the best superhero origin crafted on film. Zach Snyder captured the spirit of the novel wonderfully and even added a few things to make the satire fit the film medium a bit more (such as Ozymandias’ suit having nipples). Plus the ending is better than the book.



Photo Credit: Iron Man (2008)-

Just as origin stories all began to feel the same, this little number came along to shake up the superhero genre. Tony Stark’s origins are updated to fit our world, having him captured by terrorists in Afghanistan rather than the Vietcong. Robert Downey Jr. brought such charisma to this superhero and made him one of the best ever captured on screen. This film also started the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one of the most daring and unique ways of bringing stories together on screen ever.



Photo Credit: X-men: First Class (2011)-

Last summer’s best superhero movie felt like a classic James Bond movie with mutants. With a plot surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis, Charles Xavier rounded up a group of young mutants to take on Sebastian Shaw and his Hellfire Club. It is an exciting edition of the X-men franchise bettered by its use of real history with the history of the comics. The supposedly very ambitious sequel on the way has potential to be way farther up on this list.



Photo Credit: X2: X-men United (2003)-

The first truly fantastic superhero sequel is actually one that people will hopefully look back on more fondly now that The Avengers has come out. The two are actually very similar in that they are not afraid to be comic booky, and completely successful in telling a compelling story featuring a team of superheroes. X2 contains everything you could want from an X-men movie. Magneto playing both sides. Jean Grey showing the first signs of the Phoenix. Lots and lots of Wolverine rage. Too bad many of this films loose ends were ended horribly in X-men: The Last Stand.


Photo Credit: The Avengers (2012)-

The Marvel Cinematic Universe finally came together this summer in a superhero team up for the ages. Featuring many of the funniest and coolest moments in any superhero movie, The Avengers is one of the most fun movies ever made. This film should be celebrated for so many reasons. Mark Ruffalo delivered the first great on screen Hulk. Loki showed a heavy improvement as a villain since last summer’s Thor. That final battle in New York is just one of the best action scenes ever filmed. Bring on the sequel.


Photo Credit: Batman Begins (2005)-

After Joel Schumacher drove the original Batman series into the ground, Warner Bros. regrouped and waited for the perfect director to come around with the perfect script. So, eight years after Batman & Robin, we got this, the best examination of a superhero and why he does what he does to that point. Christian Bale helped make Batman the most interesting on screen superhero ever in what would be the first in a trilogy of films chronicling the entire career of the caped crusader.



Photo Credit: Spider-man 2 (2004)-

What if a superhero didn’t want to be a superhero anymore? What makes them put on the costume every day? These are questions that Sam Raimi’s second Spidey flick examine. This beautiful film shows the darker side of the powers that Peter Parker possesses. The consequences of his double life begin to make his personal world crumble, all the while Doc Ock is present to make things worse. Alfred Molina creates one of the most compelling supervillains on screen ever. This is the definitive take on the wall crawler.



Photo Credit: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)-

They did it. A superhero finally got over what made him put the costume on and moved on. This triumphant conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Bat-trilogy is simply stunning. The director finishes what he started in Batman Begins with the perfect ending to the series. Featuring several great villains, particularly Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, Batman has to reach limits he never thought he could. It is the most emotional superhero movie ever and only beaten by one.



Photo Credit: The Dark Knight (2008)-

This sequel beats out the third film by just a hair. Why? You know why. Heath Ledger’s Joker is simply the best movie villain of all time. Perhaps the film’s greatest achievement is that it never lets this tour de force character overshadow Batman. The meat of the film is what attracts these two forces to each other and how their relationship will affect each other. Meanwhile we have Harvey Dent, who goes from one end of the spectrum to the other due to the chaos enveloping Gotham City. This meditation on what it means to be a hero is definitely the best superhero movie ever.




Photo Credit: TAKE by special guest writer James West.

Sometimes Matt’s taste can be a little flawed. Sure, we all love Chris Nolan but is it really the best that the genre has to offer? What about comic book movies that actually try to be comic book movies? My criteria for a superhero movie includes great casting, authenticity to the original material, goosebump inducing moments, and just being a great movie overall. So where does that put the comic book movies you saw above? Find out in my top 10! And don’t forget to tell us which list you like better in the comments or make your own top 10!


10. Spider-man (2002) and Spider-man 2 (2004)
I can’t choose between these two. Each one has to offer so much…the first, high flying fun and my favorite ending to any superhero movie ever, and the second, a stronger villain and a drama-laden plot that is characteristic of Spider-Man.

9. The Incredibles (2004)

Not Marvel or DC, but it is a super hero movie…and one of the best ones ever made, touching on themes of loss, getting old, the importance of family and good vs. evil in a way that’s entertaining for kids and adults.

8. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

Maybe its nostalgia, but this will always have a place in my heart. If the entire animated series could be counted as a movie, it would be #1 by a mile.

7. Iron Man (2008)

Though according to The Joker, Batman “changed things” that very summer, I would argue this is the most influential modern superhero movie. Spawning an unprecedented movie universe, as well as a fun tone sprinkled with gravity for dramatic effect, the formula for making a movie feel like a comic book was created.

6. Batman Begins (2005)

To date, this is the best live action portrayal of Batman himself. The Burton movies focus heavily on the villains, and the future Nolan movies are afflicted with the silly voice and “meh” costume. Here, Nolan balances perfectly the comic book sensibilities he would abandon in TDK with just how scary Batman should be. “SWEAR TO ME!”

5. X2: X-Men United (2003)

Aside from the battle in Manhattan at the end of Avengers, I would say the assault on the mansion is the best “buncha good guys vs. buncha bad guys” fight scene in superhero movies.  My only complaint is the lack of Cyclops. This could have been fixed in X3, but we all know how that went…

4. The Dark Knight (2008)

This low, you say? Yes. In fact, if not for its sequel, I would have put it lower. The movie is a bit overrated, I think, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t incredible.

3. Superman: The Movie (1978)

What’s important to note about this movie is that, because it was the one to set the precedent instead of following it, it doesn’t really feel like a superhero movie. It’s a sprawling 70’s epic in the same vein as The Godfather and Star Wars. Also, Christopher Reeve as Superman is the best superhero casting ever. Ever.

2. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Here, Nolan incorporated more comic book elements that made the movie more enjoyable for me. When it ended, I didn’t want to leave my seat. I just wanted to think about it. The entire trilogy is a huge analysis of justice, society and heroism. Oh, also, ROBIN OH MY GOD ROBIN MY FAVORITE ROBIN YES THANK YOU CHRISTOPHER NOLAN.

1. The Avengers (2012)

In talking with my Dad, I said “You know, I feel like Avengers is the comic book movie I’ve always been waiting for.” He replied, “James, it’s the movie I’ve been waiting for for 40 years”. With stellar performances from literally all of the characters, sharp dialogue and persistent character development and interaction, as well as a 45 minute fight scene, this movie does not stop. Though its merits as a well made film are surely to be debated (though not by many), it is the perfect comic book movie.


Do you agree with our picks? Any we left off that you would have on there? Who has the better list, Matt or James? Sound off below!




One Response to The Top 10 Superhero Movies of All Time

  1. layfeild says:

    Best superhero movies this is my opinion.
    10. Spiderman
    9. Incredibles
    8. X-men first class
    7. Avengers
    6. X-men united
    5. Batman Begins
    4. Spiderman 2
    3. Superman(1978)
    2. Dark knight
    1. Dark kight rises

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