Top 10 Best Superhero Movies
In the 30’s the cinema was populated with escapist gangster movies. In the 40’s and 50’s it was the westerns. In the 80’s it was the big action blockbusters with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Every decade, one film genre become the dominant in theaters bringing in audiences in droves. Now that title belongs to the superhero movies.
The superhero genre is nothing new. Since the 40’s there have been Batman and Superman serials that played before the main feature starts. With the advancement of technology and CGI, however, superhero movies have only recently begun to fulfill the vision of the original comic books that they originated from. Now you can expect up to a dozen superhero movies a year.
With all the superhero movies that have been released and in honor of the soon to be released Suicide Squad, we have counted down our top 10 Superhero Movies.
If you disagree with this highly subjective list, please comment below.
10. The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The list starts off with a highly controversial pick that could automatically discredit the rest of the list for most people. However, since this is a highly subjective list, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has earned a spot on the top 10. Granted, the film has too many villains, plot lines that neither matter or are interesting and a premature set up for future sequels and franchises. But, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has one thing going for it that many recent superhero movies have been lacking. It is goofy fun. Andrew Garfield is charming presence as Peter Parker and Spider-Man and Electro is a silly over-the-top villain that feels so refreshing in a movie landscape of such seriousness. What, really got to me though, was how effective the ending was involving the death of a major character. The film just succumbs to the pressures of expectations.
9. The Crow: The Crow needs to be watched at a certain age in order for it to be fully effective. For many teens of angst and despair, Eric Kraven, a rocker resurrected by the spirit of a crow, is the hero they needed. Unfortunately, the film is overshadowed by the death of the star Brandon Lee due to an on set incident. But, the death is haunting with the themes of death and revenge and his charisma shows that we were seeing a star barely reaching his prime. With the visuals of a pre-Gods of Egypt Alex Proyas, The Crow is a memorably, dark, revenge fantasy for every angst-filled teen.
8. Kick-Ass: For a lot of superhero movies, violence carries no weight to it. It simply happens to faceless goons or to the superhero baddie with little to no discernable effect. Kick-Ass, on the other hand, lets its violence be over-the-top fun until it keeps going until it becomes nauseating. That and most of it is done by a pre-teen. Bones are cracked and blood (lots of blood) is spilt and that amount of violence really affects the audience. Not many movies can balance those two extremes. Plus, there is no denying the performance of Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy who is doing a baffling Adam West’s Batman impression.
7. Superman: The beauty of the original Richard Donner Superman is that it is at the heart of it a romance film. The central crux of the movie is a love triangle between Clark Kent, his alter ego Superman and Lois Lane. The most famous scene of the film is not an action moment but of Superman taking Lois Lane on a flight through New York City. Christopher Reeve is still the best Superman and his chemistry with Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane is what makes the film one of the best superhero movies. Plus, the film never takes itself too seriously and has fun with itself. Just look at Gene Hackman’s scenery chewing Lex Luthor. Superman is an homage to the old serials from the past while still being a modern pop masterpiece.
6. Spider-Man 2: The first film of a superhero franchise is always handicapped by having to be an origin story. They have to introduce to the audience who this hero is and how the hero came to being. With Spider-Man 2 Sam Raimi was released from those shacklers to do what he wants with one of Marvel’s most popular hero. The result it a movie that has both gravitas in its action and fun with the inherently silly nature of the Spider-Man. Tobey McGuire is the perfect Peter Parker, who tries so hard to be cool and collected but just comes off as a nerdy buffoon. That is what makes the character so relatable and when he becomes his alter ego, that all ceases. The mix of fun and weight is hard mix to get and it is something that has always lacked for other franchises such as X-Men. Spider-Man 2 was able to hit that balancing act flawlessly.
5. Batman Begins: People often forget how great the first Christopher Nolan Batman movie, Batman Begins, was. For the first time for many people, this was the World’s Greatest Detective fully realized. Batman has always been appealing because his story is one of Greek tragedy; someone who is haunted by his parent’s death so that he patrols the streets to make sure it does not happen to anyone else. Nolan knew that and exploited it fully. For many of these films with the “too many villains” problem, Nolan was able to answer those call by using all his villains as a tool to develop the character of Bruce Wayan and Batman. This may have started the trend of superhero films to go towards the gritty and self-serious but Batman Begins does it really well.
4. Captain America: Winter Soldier: I often complain that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has no auteurist vision. In that way these movies are a lot like a television series. The one big exception is Captain America: Winter Soldier, which ironically was directed by The Russo Brothers most known for their work on television on shows like Arrested Development and Community. They used their vast knowledge of filmic styling and placed Captain America into a 70’s political thriller filled with paranoia and espionage. They have Robert Redford, a familiar face in those films, to really drive home those connections. Winter Soldier climbs the steep mountain in turning the usually straight and narrow, and dare I say boring, Captain America into a hero to care about and be a badass.
3. The Incredibles: Colorful, funny and touching. That is the Pixar formula. Brad Bird used that formula and applied it to the superhero genre. About a family of superheroes when being a superhero was banned by the government (for tort trial reasons), The Incredibles is Brad Bird’s love letter to the genre as much as it is skewering it (remember no capes). Voiced impeccably by Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter as the heads of the family the movie is also an expression of parenthood and letting your children be themselves. That is the Pixar heart that made the movie studio so great proving that mainstream animated films are not only for children. Plus, the movie deals with superhero registration years before the Marvel’s Civil War comics.
2. Iron Man: Jon Favreu’s Iron Man, like a pilot for a television series, set the entire tone for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It set the visual styling, the humor and the non-descript villain problem for the rest of the series. All this on a gamble of a film starring someone that the studio had major reservations on. Back in the halcyon days of 2008, a hero like Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark was brand new. No supposed superhero was a snarky, wise cracking alcoholic who was could not hide the fact that he was an asshole no matter how hard he tries to hide it with heroism. Tony Stark is the hero that represented the time; a good hearted asshole. More importantly, Iron Man is quietly the most influential superhero movie of all time.
1. The Dark Knight: Was there any question what was going to be number one? Christopher Nolan’s the Dark Knight is the Citizen Kane of superhero movies. It has the tone of a noir in the likes of Heat and The Sweet Smell of Success. It has the epic scope of Lawrence of Arabia. And then it has a villain that stands all his own. Heath Ledger’s The Joker is one of cinema’s all-time great movie characters. The Joker is haunting and chilling yet, Nolan never forgets whose story it is. The Joker is once again a way to propel the psyche and test the limits of Bruce Wayan/Batman. And that restraint and knowledge of story structure makes The Dark Knight the superhero movie that all others have to strive to beat. The Dark Knight transcends genre to become purely a great film.