Superhero movies are all the rage. Some are good. Some are bad. But which ones are the best?
Every superhero cinematic creation adds to the overall canvas of sci fi entertainment. What makes one film better than another?
It’s not always the superhero with the greatest powers that makes for the most entertaining subject on film. How did they get their powers? What do they stand for? Who are their enemies? All these story factors contribute to how entertaining the film ends up being. And, of course you can’t forget about the importance of casting.
For your convenience and consideration, we offer the Official Top Ten List of the Greatest Superhero Movies of All Time.
10) The Incredibles (2004)
Superheroes got their start as drawn characters in comic books. With modern technology the door is open to all sorts of animated films. One such animated movie, The Incredibles, surpasses many fantastic live-action superhero films.
Although targeted to resonate with children, The Incredibles equally captures the imagination of teens and adults.
In the story, Superheroes have gone into hiding. Mr. Incredible and his Wife Elastigirl are trying their best to pass as normal civilians. Along for the ride are their three children, each of whom also has specialized superpowers.
When the opportunity arises to jump back into action to save the world one more time, The Incredibles take the plunge.
It’s a great script by Brad Bird, who also directs.
9) Spider-Man (2002)
There have been many incarnations of Spider-Man. Marvel is currently on its second reboot of the character.
While Tom Holland makes a fantastic Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Avengers: Infinity War, it is Toby Maguire and Kristen Dunst who first brought the Spider-Man legend to screen.
The film shows the origins of the character and how he comes to believe in the mantra “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.”
Plus, this Spider-Man movie features one of the greatest cameos of all time in Macho Man Randy Savage playing Bonesaw McGraw.
8) Wonder Woman (2017)
DC Comics has had a rough go of trying to create entertaining films to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Man of Steel, a reboot of Superman, was boring. Batman vs. Superman is probably the worst superhero movie ever made.
However, DC struck cinematic gold with Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot in the Amazon princess role.
The film provides the story of how Wonder Woman got her powers and why she left her home on the mystical island of Themyscira in an attempt to stop World War I.
Most of the action is flashback, but there is some carryover into the modern world. It was named one of the Top 10 movies of the year by the American Film Institute. As of August 2021, Rotten Tomatoes has listed Wonder Woman as Number 8 on its list of “Best Superhero Movies of All Time.”
7) The Toxic Avenger (1984)
Lloyd Kaufman, the mastermind behind low budget shlock film production company Troma Entertainment, managed to step out of the dark recesses of the film universe reserved for B-movies.
The Toxic Avenger was well received in theaters and spawned multiple sequels and even a Off Broadway musical.
Described as a “superhero comedy splatter film.” The dialog is campy, the special effects are cheesy, the makeup is hilarious, and the many many displays of violence are comical.
Even today, The Toxic Avenger stands out as a fantastic outside the norm superhero film.
6) Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
In the last two decades, Marvel has worked its way into being the premier source of superhero films. They’ve released single-focus films like Iron Man and Captain America, but the films really started to swell in popularity when multiple heroes were featured.
Infinity War is the 19th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is very dark by Avenger’s standards, and that is part of what makes it so good. I have the utmost respect for screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely for fitting all the characters into one film with a high profile villain (Thanos).
I think what I liked most about the film is that it isn’t a happy-go-lucky, the good guys always win formula piece. Without revealing any spoilers, the ending totally throws the Marvel universe into chaos, setting the stage for Avengers: Endgame.
5) Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Endgame is the 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is the finale to the Avengers storyline started with Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011.
As with Infinity War, great praise is due for screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. They gave the storyline a fitting and noble ending – with just enough loss to make the victory a bittersweet one.
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, Endgame earns its rank among the best as a direct result of the brilliance of the many films leading up to this one.
5) Superman (1978)
Superman is the standard by which all superheroes are judged. There have been multiple incarnations of the Superman character in both film and television.
The first instance of Superman on film came in the 1948 serial Superman and the 1950 serial Atom Man vs. Superman, starring Kirk Alyn. Then there was the famous black and white television series The Adventures of Superman featuring George Reeves as the man of steel.
There have been so many incarnations of Superman that you can somewhat define pivotal moments in life by which movie or television series portrayal they most identify with.
For me the Superman actor I put on the highest pedestal is Christopher Reeve who played Superman in the movies from 1978-1987. Interestingly, to achieve his Superman physique, Reeve was trained by British weightlifting champion David Prowse who would go on to bring the body of Darth Vader to the initial Star Wars Trilogy (although the character was voiced by James Earl Jones).
Reeve’s first appearance as the superhero was the simply titled Superman in 1978. I was just a kid and this tall, handsome, superhuman with a heart of gold and bulletproof skin I saw on screen amazed me. I had loved the George Reeves television show, but nothing had prepared me for the powerful ultimate good guy Reeve brought to the screen in the film from Richard Donner.
3) Batman (1989)
Tim Burton is responsible for the way modern superhero movies are made. With a dark and twisted vision, Burton brought a new kind of superhero to the screen with 1989’s Batman.
At the point this film was made, star Michael Keaton was known primarily for his comedic film work and standup comedy. Many people immediately thought the worst of the casting, but once the film was made and they saw Keaton’s masterful performance they were forced to eat their words.
You can’t get a villain much better than the Joker. While Cesar Romero originally brought the character to life in the 1960s Batman television show, and Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix both won Oscars playing the character in subsequent films, the legendary Jack Nicholson was Burton’s choice to play the Joker.
The dark story of Burton’s Batman features a script by Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren.
2) The Crow (1994)
The Crow is a cult favorite adaptation of a lesser known superhero – dark, mysterious, sacred, and raw. The picture became shrouded in mystery when star Brandon Lee was killed on the set during filming. Lee was the son of legendary martial arts movie star Bruce Lee, who also died in a mishap on a film sound stage. Although Brandon Lee had done some smaller roles in a few forgettable movies, The Crow was to be his breakthrough performance – and it was. He just didn’t get to see it happen.
After Lee was killed on set by a faulty prop gun, the film makers had to figure out how to tell a story with the footage they had on hand. So the film was re-scripted and re-cut. The result was a masterpiece. It spawned a slew of terrible to tolerable sequels (the least bad being The Crow: Wicked Prayer starring Edward Furlong, David Boreanaz, Dennis Hopper, and Danny Trejo released in 2005). But there is no taking away the brilliance of the original.
Brandon Lee did what defines a legend: he went out at the peak of his career, leaving us wanting more.
1) Logan (2017)
I collected comic books for most of my younger days. I inherited a collection from my uncle and then built it from there. Thanks to my uncle’s donation to my collection, I was exposed to a wide variety of comic books – not just the familiar ones that I already knew I liked. It was eye-opening. Many of my all time favorites came from sorting through the collection my uncle gifted me.
But between my uncle’s interests and my interests, I never really fell in love with Marvel’s X-Men in comic book format. A million years later when they announced that there would be an X-Men movie, I wasn’t all that interested. But I saw the movie and liked it – primarily because of the performance of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.
Logan is the Wolverine’s requiem. It brilliantly brings closure to the stories of both Logan and Professor Xavier. Closure is the key word to the film’s brilliance. The stories have become finite.
Sure, they will probably re-boot the X-Men and start the stories all over again. But, this movie – Logan – is the closure for this X-Men Universe.
It’s a dark story that shows Logan the character as severely flawed, but always ultimately sacrificing for others. The fine performances of Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart drive a well-scripted, well-directed, well-acted movie that I can easily say is my favorite superhero story of all time.