The 20 Greatest Superhero Movies of All-Time

Superhero movies are a glimpse into the comic strip the way that it is seen by a director and their writers, and not always the literal representation that fans might want. However, they are almost always a step forward in the sage of the heroes and villains being depicted, meaning that their transition from being two dimensional to three dimensional representations are a giant leap for the genre. While it’s not a new development, it is one that has undergone a great deal of change throughout the decades. The greatest superhero movies are those that get remembered the most, as they generally have the most gripping stories and, in some cases, the best actors for the roles.

Here are our picks for the 20 greatest superhero movies of all-time – *We’d put Wonder Woman on here but it’s still too new

Unbreakable (2000)

Night Shymalan is well known for his unique plot twists and harrowing, intricate tales of terror and suspense, but this time he opted for a darker version of the hero movie than most people are used to. The hero in this film, played by Bruce Willis, is a man at odds with his family and himself, but despite all this he does his very best to get by. His character as the hero is largely uncertain throughout much of the movie, but there is little doubt about the villain as he slowly but surely makes himself known near the end. Sometimes the greatest hero is the one that has to be reminded that he is in fact a hero.

Spiderman (2002)

The early 2000s offered a surge of heroic movies that were an absolute thrill to moviegoers and comic fans across the globe. Spiderman was just one of many films that would eventually gain attention worldwide and spark a movement that saw the return of the superhero movie, bringing a more humanistic lean to the character and granting the ol’ webslinger an even bigger profile among the public. Despite the slightly less than stellar appearance of Spiderman’s longtime nemesis, the Green Goblin, the overall feeling was more than present as the two went at one another as they have for so many years.

Watchmen (2009)

This was definitely not like a great deal of other superhero movies, and it showed. Watchmen took off in several different directions at once it seemed, following each hero in a way that almost made it seem disjointed, until at last it was made clear near the end. Each hero within the film was far more raw, unfettered, and more likely to do serious damage to the enemy than many other superheroes, meaning that bones would be broken, limbs would be severed, and heads would get kicked in like wet cardboard. In other words, this film was not for the average kid that likes to collect comic books.

X-Men (2000)

For many fans of the famed mutants this was a dream come true. Not only were they finally on the big screen, but they were being given a complete overhaul that saw new stars rising to the challenge of each role. While there are arguments that the film kind of took a different direction with the X-Men, namely changing their founding members and their overall origin story, there was enough kept intact to keep most people happy, which was likely why it became such a popular franchise.

The Crow (1994)

Underrated would probably be the best word to use with this cult classic. Many people that grew up during the 1990s can likely remember this final performance of Brandon Lee, but few of them can probably remember, or would want to remember, that it spawned a rather horrible sequel and even a TV series. The core movie was the absolute best of the entire franchise hands down, and showed fans and casual viewers alike a story unlike many others.

Batman (1989)

Whether you watched for Michael Keaton or for Jack Nicholson, you likely got a good show from both. Whether he was playing the aloof but very intelligent Bruce Wayne or Batman, Keaton was undoubtedly the right man for the job. As for the Joker, Batman’s longtime nemesis, only one other person has ever managed to come up to the same level, if not beyond, as the legendary Jack Nicholson.

Superman (1978)

Superman is one of the many heroes that has been done and redone over the years, receiving a new look and new story lines to keep him interesting to the public. However, many would argue that Christopher Reeves is and will always be the most iconic Superman to date, no matter that later versions have been far bulkier and well-suited to the task. Sometimes there’s just no getting around a classic.

Iron Man (2008)

With all the superhero movies coming out during this time one would have thought that an Iron Man movie would have come out sooner. Be that as it may his was the first to kick start the legendary Avengers franchise, as Robert Downey Jr. simply took over the role and became the idealized version of Tony Stark and the man behind the armor. His attitude, his mannerisms, and the sheer genius he brings to the role have made Iron Man a continually evolving staple among superhero movies.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Some might not realize it, but the earliest concepts of Guardians of the Galaxy was a great deal different than is seen now. Yondu was once one of the founding members, as was Starfox, and the current members were nowhere to be found as of yet. In this version however there are characters that people know and care about, which makes it a popular and more up to date group than the one conceived of in the 1990s. The update was undoubtedly a good idea, as it’s managed to capture the attention of people worldwide.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

All good things must come to an end, and in Civil War the destruction left in the wake of the Avengers as they do their job finally comes back to haunt them. The team is divided when it comes time to pay for their sins, meaning a registration act that will put the entire team under surveillance and the jurisdiction of the United States government. Needless to say this doesn’t sit well with many of the team, and creates a schism that is only deepened as Iron Man and Captain America draw their own proverbial lines in the sand.

Logan (2017)

Any and all Wolverine fans were looking forward to this movie a long, long time ago, when X-Men first debuted in the theater. Hugh Jackman has brought a new level to the character that is hard to argue with and a nature to the classic hero that fans absolutely love. Though it’s kind of obvious that he outshines his fellow X-Men, there is a definite reason, and one that some naysayers think makes Logan less of a well-developed character. In truth, he’s probably the most well-liked and well-rounded character in the entire franchise.

The Incredibles (2004)

Some might claim this is kind of a cartoon version ripoff of the Fantastic Four in some ways, but in truth it is a film that is all on its own a classic and a family favorite. With the prevalence of superheroes and their continual need to protect the common folk, there is bound to be a bit of controversy that will come as a result of their actions. When the superheroes are forced to go into witness protection however it becomes more of an issue than if they’d been allowed to live out in the open.

Deadpool (2016)

It’s hard to know where to start with this one, but the general consensus is usually that the film is funny, dangerous, funny, crude, and of course, absolutely hilarious. Deadpool is the kind of individual that doesn’t call himself a hero, but still does heroic things so long as he’s getting paid or because he’s looking out for the interests of someone he actually cares about. In any case, calling him a hero is like calling a dog a cat, or something like that. Wade would no doubt appreciate such a random and pointless analogy.

Ant Man (2015)

Fans got to see the old and new Ant Man in Hank Pym and Scott Lang, meaning that the transition went a bit smoother than one might have thought possible on the big screen. Paul Rudd isn’t always thought of in terms as being an action hero, but as Ant Man he did a great job by adding a bit of hilarity to an otherwise serious and even difficult role. Seriously, think about the fact that the guy has to work with a legion of ants and then think about how difficult it might be to keep a straight face.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

The first installment of Captain America was groundbreaking in that fans got to see a much cooler version of the star-spangled hero and his humble beginnings. In this second movie however Cap has to go against more than just a super soldier that can catch and use his own shield against him, he also has to go against the people that should by all rights be his allies. When the betrayal is discovered however it’s time for America’s number one super soldier to put the boots to the people responsible.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

A lot of people were thinking that the X-Men franchise had just about run its course, especially considering the continuity issues with characters, timelines, and origin stories already becoming a murky, uncertain mess. But this film actually brought certain points back into focus and through an even bigger, time-traveling mess, brought fans back from the brink of not caring to actually giving a hoot about a film that carried more implications than many thought would be possible.

Hellboy (2004)

He is unique no matter how many magical creatures exist in the comics. Hellboy has been around a while and despite what critics might think he’s a rather popular character that can hold a movie down on his own charm and dubious wit without much help. While his costars were a little weak in their parts, Perlman delivered every time on each line, proving that he’s able to hold down the role of the big red ape without much effort and a great deal of hilarity.

Batman Begins (2005)

From Keaton to Kilmer to Clooney, the list of Batman stand-ins only got cornier and even worse after the initial film was released. Of all of them Keaton was the only one that got it right, but eventually Bale finally found his way around the role. He showcased the Batman as a vigilante first and foremost, but one that was determined to do the right thing despite his awkward methods. Facing Ras Al Ghoul in this first film might have been a stretch for his first outing as a superhero, but it would eventually lead into a trilogy that once again catapulted Batman into the public eye and continued popularity that would skyrocket the franchise.

The Avengers (2012)

Once Iron Man came out the ball was rolling and most people had to be able to guess that The Avengers would be coming out soon. While the founding members were obviously not the same, we were missing Ant Man and Wasp after all, and Hawkeye and Black Widow didn’t come in until later, the current team was obviously up to the task of taking on their first notable enemy, Thor’s half-brother Loki. While Loki’s connection to the villainous Thanos was kept under wraps until the end credits, it begs the question as to how well Loki really knew the mad titan and what he wanted.

The Dark Knight (2008)

Many would agree that this is the best film in the most recent trilogy, and they could be right. Despite his dark demeanor as Batman and his playboy attitude as Bruce Wayne, Christian Bale obviously got outmatched by the depiction of the Joker by the late, great Heath Ledger. So convincing was Ledger as the famed clown prince that many people on set thought he was out of his mind half of the time. While Ledger unfortunately did not get to see the effect of his magically maniacal performance, he is without a doubt what made this film what it was, and why it will be remembered as one of the absolute best.

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