Marvel and DC may have a rivalry in the comic book world, but when it comes to superhero movies, there’s no denying that both studios have had a hand in making some of the greatest films of all time. Both studios have built off of the achievements of the other to build the cinematic universes that we know and love today. However, Marvel and DC are not the only superhero movie producers out there. The superhero genre is typically used to convey larger-than-life hopeful stories that go beyond any comic book brand. This post of top 10 superhero movies lists the greatest superhero movies of all time whether they came from Marvel, DC, or another filmmaker.
This film may not have the most in-depth of stories but the legacy and scope of the superhero movie keeps Superman: The Movie ranked as one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. Superman: The Movie is about an alien orphan who is sent from his dying planet to Earth, where he grows up to become his adoptive home’s first and greatest superhero. Richard Donner’s film single-handedly created the superhero movie phenomenon and it established many qualities that we love about the genre.
Just like Superman: The Movie jump started the superhero genre, Iron Man was the film that jump started the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jon Favreau directed the film that introduced us to the now-iconic performance of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. Iron man is about billionaire engineer Tony Stark as he creates a unique weaponized suit of armor to fight evil after being held captive in an Afghan cave. Iron Man became an instant classic and it’s easy to see why.
This film is not your typical Marvel or DC superhero movie but its unique take on vigilantism is the reason V For Vendetta makes it on our list. V For Vendetta is about a shadowy freedom fighter, known only by the alias of “V”, who plots to overthrow the tyrannical government – with the help of a young woman in a future British dystopian society. V For Vendetta tells a moving story that in many layers resonates with our own society.
Spider-Man 2 is highly regarded by many fans as one of the best Spider-Man movies ever made. Sam Raimi created a film that perfectly captures the double life of Spider-Man while having engaging and impressive action scenes. Spider-Man 2 is about Peter Parker who is beset with troubles in his failing personal life as he battles a brilliant scientist named Doctor Otto Octavius. The greatest strength of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films is that the story of Peter Parker is just as, if not more, interesting than Spider-Man’s life.
It’s no secret that the X-Men franchise has had a rocky journey when it comes to quality. There have been as many as 12 movies that center around the X-Men and X-Men: First Class stands out as a balanced origin story of the team we all know and love. X-Men: First Class takes place in the 1960s where superpowered humans Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr work together to find others like them, but Erik’s vengeful pursuit of an ambitious mutant who ruined his life causes a schism to divide them. The film introduces us to Magneto, Professor X, and Mystique while still having enough time to spend with an amazing supporting cast.
Before No Way Home and Multiverse of Madness, there was Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. Spider-Verse is one of the best Spider-Man stories ever put to screen and it’s also one of the most fun superhero movies in recent memory. The film is about Teen Miles Morales who becomes the Spider-Man of his universe and must join with five spider-powered individuals from other dimensions to stop a threat to all realities. Spider-Verse has a lot of creativity and an ingenious script that is a refreshing addition to the superhero genre.
There can’t be a top 10 superhero movies list without mentioning the arguably most original superhero movie made yet. Directed by Brad Bird, The Incredibles is an original story with an imaginative world and characters that are instantly memorable. The Pixar animation is about married superheroes Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl who are forced to assume mundane lives as Bob and Helen Parr after all super-powered activities have been banned by the government. The beautiful animation and rich characters make The Incredibles a must-watch for all superhero fans.
Although the Marvel Cinematic Universe began years before The Winter Soldier was published, it was only when brothers Joe and Anthony Russo came on board as directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier that the Marvel Cinematic Universe became more mature. The film took audiences by surprise because of its focus on the grounded and gritty secret agent side of the Marvel Universe. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is about Steve Rogers as he struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and teams up with a fellow Avenger and S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Black Widow, to battle a new threat from history: an assassin known as the Winter Soldier.
Anthony and Joe Russo took up the mantle of directing the Avengers movies just in time for the two-part conclusion to phase 3 of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. The two movies had an insane amount of anticipation and the stakes of the film felt tremendous for fans who have waited 10 years to see the first arc of the Marvel Universe come to a close. Avengers; Infinity War and Endgame is about The Avengers and their allies who are forced to sacrifice everything in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe. The two movies are unmatched in terms of scope and many people consider them to be the best superhero movies of all time.
There are many films that viewers will argue for being the greatest superhero movies of all time but The Dark Knight is the one that always gets near the top of the list. Many comic book movies make great superhero movies but The Dark Knight transcends the superhero genre and becomes a gritty crime drama. The battle between Batman and Joker isn’t portrayed like it is in the comic books, but instead as a clash between a domestic terrorist and a vigilante not limited by the law. The Dark Knight follows Batman who must accept one of the greatest psychological and physical tests of his ability to fight injustice when the menace known as the Joker wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham.
With Marvel Studios losing many of their original Avengers and DC being sparse with their top-tier characters, it seems like the superhero movie genre might be waning. However, there are plenty of other superhero stories that have yet to be adapted to the big screen along with original stories that have yet to be written. There are also plenty of independent superhero films being made that show there is still life in the genre. The constant movies and TV shows may grow tiresome for some but superhero stories are here to stay for the foreseeable future.
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