Ever since Richard Donner directed Superman in 1978, Superhero movies have always been big. While Marvel didn’t really hit it big until the late 90’s with Bryan Singer’s X-Men, DC was there with the Supes and Batman movies. Now, more than thirty years after Donner’s Superman there are tons of superhero movies. But what are the ten best? Here we go…
Richard Donner’s 1979 version of Superman remains the de-facto standard to which all Superhero movies must live up to. It made great effort to honor the character and its origin, while crafting a movie larger than the simple comic origins of what has become such an iconic character. This is the best Superhero movie ever made, and while many have come close to matching it, none has topped it…yet.
The Dark Knight (2008)
This was a tough one to choose from; especially considering Donner’s original Superman is the movie just about every director who makes a comic book movie references as to what they aspire towards. But 2008’s The Dark Knight (the sequel to 2005’s Batman Begins) doesn’t quite make the top spot due to Ledger’s take on the Joker. Sure he won an Oscar for it, but it’s not nearly the best Joker ever (Mark Hamill’s take still has that honor) and Nicholson’s was much closer to the actual character.
The real Joker isn’t an angry, angst-ridden, killer. He kills people for fun, because he thinks it’s art, and he really enjoys what he does. When Nicholson’s Joker kills Grissom in Burton’s Batman; he doesn’t just shoot him. He shoots him, starts laughing and dancing, and then shoots him some more. Ledger was way off the character in his take.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man is credited for making superhero movies make it big, but the sequel is the best of the trilogy. The “Go get them, Tiger” at the end is just perfect.
The Incredibles (2004)
The best Fantastic Four movie ever made. ‘Nuff said.
The original X-Men was a pretty good superhero movie that paved the way for Spider-Man, the new Batmans, and the current crop of Marvel movies. But the sequel improved on it in every way by bringing in cool characters like Nightcrawler and setting up the Phoenix Saga movie we always wanted to see, but never got.
Perhaps the best Shyamalan movie too, Unbreakable is a fantastic superhero film dripping with comic goodness. It’s too bad we may never see a sequel to it, as it’d be great to see a couple more movies with Dunn vs. Mr. Glass.
Batman Begins (2005)
Nolan’s first Batman may not have the wide appeal as its sequel, but it’s a solid film version of Batman that combines elements of Frank Miller’s Year One and various other stories to give us the origin of Batman along with a few villains that you would never expect to see used in a Batman movie. It’s also a little shorter than The Dark Knight and feels like it has a bit more focus.
Iron Man (2008)
The first Marvel Studios production and their first entry into the “Marvel Cinematic Universe”, Iron Man had absolutely perfect casting with Robert Downey Jr. as Stark and put forth a great adaptation of the source comic. It’s also just a fun and funny movie, which is why it did really well in the summer of 2008 even in light of The Dark Knight.
Batman Returns (1991)
Burton’s second Batman is the best of the bunch in the series that ran from 1989-1997. More a Tim Burton movie than a Batman movie, the story may be a bit light, but the chemistry between Batman/Bruce Wayne and Catwoman/Selina Kyle really makes up for it. And who else on this planet could’ve played The Penguin besides Danny DeVito?
Daredevil: Director’s Cut
What’s this doing here? “Daredevil sucked!”, you say? Wrong. Mark Steven Johnson’s R-rated director’s cut of Daredevil is excellent, and aside from the lack of Stick, a great Daredevil movie. The extended, and more bloody/violent, cut includes an entire subplot (about 45 minutes worth!) where you get to see more of the blind lawyer at work and it feels a lot more like the actual Daredevil comic books.