So, this list has been in production for quite some time. This super-powered Top 10 has required the collaboration of both me and Bill in order to do it justice (league? No, no justice league... They’re not even close). It took a great deal of time to weigh up each film’s value to the genre, the general opinion of the viewer, it’s critical acclaim and most importantly, our opinion.
As we all know, superhero films have taken the world by storm. Currently one of the most popular and highest grossing film sub-genres, it has earnt its place within cinema and as a movement in its own right. The ‘nerdy’ factor is at an all-time high and a great deal of that publicity is thanks to the rise of superheroes.
But enough about the ins and outs. We’re here to rank the 10 best films starring a mind-blowing super entity – capable of raising entire cities, saving entire galaxies, creating new elements, or simply swearing profusely and talking to the audience. Here are the Top 10 superhero films of all time.
10. Superman: The Movie (1978)
It could be argued that Superman started it all. The alien turned honorary human with the powers of a God has been a fixture in comic books and pop culture since just before WWII. The premise of a man that could fly was a popularised notion in 1978. It would have been hard to find anyone who didn’t know the Kryptonian superstar.
The world was still on a Star Wars high and Clark Kent was a welcome addition to a world that had just had its science fiction lid blown clean off. With the statuesque and lesser-known Christopher Reeves as the muscled-alien in spandex, the film became a hit. With light comedy and Gene Hackman and Marlon Brando on the cast list, it has everything from stars to humour. As a beacon of superheroes in film, it more than deserved to go on the list.
9. Deadpool (2016)
Oh, Deadpool. I’ve got a lot of love for this film. If the superhero genre was ever becoming a bit stale then Deadpool showed the world that you could turn it on its head, inject an abundance of expletives and gore whilst still producing a quality film. I’m not sure quality is the correct word but it’ll do...
Defying all stereotypes for a superhero film, Deadpool breaks the mould and enjoys doing so. Breaking the 4th wall? Check. Acts of heroism over personal gain? If it suits. Taking the moral high road with nothing but respect and compassion? Not likely. Deadpool is a film that mixes charm with brutality, style with smut, and everyone loves it for those reasons. It has a simple but effective story but has allowed Ryan Reynolds to popularise the messed-up, psychotic raisin-head.
X-Men 2 was the peak of the X-Men franchise (Not including standalone origin stories). First Class was okay and Days of Future Past was better but it only went downhill from X2. Other than the original X-Men back in 2000, the rest are all worth forgetting about. Let’s be honest with ourselves here.
When Hugh Jackman was a wee sprog and Nightcrawler was actually included, (he’s one of the coolest characters in the franchise) the first sequel improved greatly on the basis laid down by its predecessor. Combined with Spiderman, this X-Men franchise birthed the modern superhero movie myriad. This sequel is one of few that offer a complete package of solid acting, action and story better than the original.
7. Guardians of The Galaxy (2014)
This is the one. The bomb. You can stop reading after this entry (please don’t. Please continue). GotG did a very similar thing to Deadpool – it changed the face of the superhero. Essentially outlaws turned heroes, this zany five-some of intergalactic humour and action exploded all over the cinematic canvas. James Gunn created a new face for super-heroism.
It takes a special something to bring A RElatively unknown entity into a well-established universe, and then on to record smashing fame whilst reframing the superhero perspective at the same time. Chris Pratt is superb, as is his supporting cast. Humour ensues, action is aplenty and the sequel is almost as good. I’ll admit that I was among the majority in not knowing about this gang until the films. I’m forever grateful to Gunn and Kevin Feige for bringing these chaps into my life.
If you read my Spidey article the other week then you’ll know that the original Spiderman trilogy can be credited with a lot of the success of the modern superhero era. Together with X-Men it re-imagined superheroes and with the advances in film technology, it took them to a level they had not been shown to us before.
Spiderman 2 had it all: romance, action, character progression and above all – a decent villain: Doc Ock was superb. The entire film was as tightly wound as it was tightly constructed. As previously mentioned, it is never easy to best an original with a sequel but it would seem this list has identified four of these rare beauties (it would seem superhero films have cracked the code) and Spiderman 2 has more than earned its place among them.
5. Ironman (2008)
This was one MCU’s defining moments. Ironman had arrived with Robert Downey Jnr leading the way. Now, these films were no longer new, it was time to up their game. The first installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, back in 2008 was received with critical acclaim.
Jon Favreau took the source material and had the daunting task of kicking off Phase 1 of the MCU (of which we’re now in Phase 3). Whilst adhering to Stan Lee’s character origins, Favreau has done a great job of showing us the man inside the suit – the man that created the suit, even – on screen. It also has Jeff Bridges in it, what’s not to like?
4. Logan (2017)
I was very apprehensive about this chapter in Wolverine’s cinematic career. He’s old and defeated and it just didn’t appeal to me. I like to think of Wolverine single-handedly stopping a train or making mincemeat of at least 8,000 goons in a single fight with a cigar in his mouth and a lot of angry shouting. Much to my surprise, this was better.
As far as I can tell, he’s about 197 years old so I guess I can’t be too judgmental on his grim and downtrodden outlook on life. The humility in this film hits you in spades. With the moral ambiguity that comes with Wolverine, each decision is clearly a struggle for him. He re-aligns his moral compass multiple times in this film and Jackman makes it terrifyingly beautiful to watch.
The Avengers was revolutionary - at least, I think it was. It was the first film fusion in the MCU, including all the characters that had been presented to us in stand-alone films through the previous 6 years. It was unprecedented and was set to become one of the highest-grossing films of all time.
It really was a milestone. It’s hard to believe it was 5 years ago when it released. This was the first reward, almost, for adoring fans. Those of us that have followed every film and picked up on every Easter-egg were rewarded with an enormous comic book-esque explosion of action. Against vast amounts of criticism, after Spiderman 3’s fiasco of adding too many characters to a film, they proved that it can be done and be done well.
I honestly cannot contain my excitement to see this merge with the GotG in Infinity War. I’m like a little, bearded girl at Disneyland... I appreciate that’s a strange image...
The ninth MCU film to grace our screens is also the highest Marvel addition in the list. The film is a powerhouse of film-making – bringing us action, character progression, aspects of political thriller and the superhero grandiose that Marvel are oh so good at.
The defining characteristic of the film is its structure. The cohesion of each and every scene forms a united whole that seems to be free of anything immaterial or insignificant. For me and Bill, the film displays a piece of craftsmanship – refined over the many years of film-making prior to this. Joe and Anthony Russo’s ‘Cap’ well and truly earnt his colours and his position as leader of the Avengers in this film.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
If you thought anything else was going to be in the number one spot then, I’m sorry but, you’re just plain wrong. This is how you make a superhero film. The shining light at the top for all future films of the same genre to aspire to. Christopher Nolan is very much known for making damn good films – one of which came out very recently.
There isn’t much I want to say about this film. If you haven’t seen it then you’re genuinely missing out on some of the best dark performances to date. Yes, you guessed it, I’m specifically referring to the late Heath Ledger and his interpretation of The Joker. It’s utterly sublime. Perfect? Who knows. Christian Bale does well not to pale in comparison too. With such a powerhouse performance from Ledger, Bale manages to hold onto the ‘bull-horns’ of the film and it’s that collision of sheer talent that makes for one hell of a film. It isn’t just one of the best superhero films of all time gut, genuinely, one of the best films of all time.
Wonder Woman (2017)
The Incredibles (2004)
All three nearly made the list, for different reasons. Maybe one day they shall make it onto another list or article of some description and we can discuss them further.
If you agree, disagree or generally have any strong feelings towards anything about this list then feel free to let us know on Twitter @MugwumpBlog.