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Best Superhero Movies

With the recent overwhelming success of “The Dark Knight”, I thought it would be a good time for me to list my top 10 superhero comic book movies. I’m differentiating those from “comic book movies” so that I don’t have to consider movies like like “Road to Perdition”, “Men in Black”, or “A History of Violence.”

10. Daredevil. This film is usually relegated to people’s “Worst Of” lists, but I contend that as a superhero movie goes, it’s almost excellent. It’s very true to the comics, and while the storyline is pretty basic, it has good action, some nice comedy, and Jennifer Garner. Although I will say that Jennifer Garner can’t save anything. Take Elektra for example.

9. Hulk (2003). Except for the last five minutes, when it turned into a jumbled mess, this is an amazing film. Ang Lee takes a basic premise and makes it into a rich, textured psychological story, and if he hadn’t dropped the ball at the end, this would be much higher on the list. I enjoyed the recent Hulk movie with Ed Norton – it was enjoyable and a good popcorn flick, but I also forgot it as soon as I walked out of the theater.

8. Hellboy. Ron Perlman kicks all types of ass in the titular role, and his relationship with Selma Blair’s character is funny and sad at the same time. Hellboy has some great humor and good action, although the CGI is a bit cheesy at times. It’s still a movie that I’ll watch anytime it’s on, and it’s significantly better than the presumptuous and overrated sequel.

7. Spider-Man 2. Peter Parker inadvertently reveals his identity to Mary Jane, and they don’t come up with some stupid amnesia to reverse it. Alfred Molina plays a very sympathetic villain, and Bruce Campbell steals the show as an overbearing usher. If only the other two Spider-Man movies could have been as good as this one! The first one was a good start, but the third one dropped the ball rather miserably.

6. X2. With the introduction of Nightcrawler and Colossus, and the unleashing of Wolverine’s temper to the greatest effect you could see in a PG-13 film, this is another example of the second movie in a series building considerably on the first, and then failing when it comes to the third film. The sneak preview I saw of the new Wolverine movie, however, looks pretty exciting.

5. Blade. A solid vampire movie with good action, good music, and a decent story. I’ve seen it a dozen times, and it always entertains. I did not like the sequel, which was directed by Guillermo del Toro, although I did enjoy the third Blade film, mainly because Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds injected some needed humor and youth into the concept.

4. Batman Begins. Took the nipple-suited stupidity that Joel Schumacher engineered and replaced it with a Batman who is grounded in the real world. Rescued a franchise that had been destroyed by an idiot, and did so powerfully. Gave an origin without dwelling on it, and wrote a solid story as a foundation for any of the more fantastical elements. I used to think that Tim Burton’s Batman was a good Batman movie until this one came along.

3. Iron Man. I can’t imagine who could have pulled this off as well as Robert Downey, Jr. The tension between his Tony Stark and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts was palpable and made me actually like Gwyneth in a movie. The action was sufficiently dark while sprinkling enough humor to make for an even, fun cinematic experience.

2. The Dark Knight. I’ve seen it twice already and plan on seeing it a third time on IMAX. A simply amazing movie – Heath Ledger’s Joker was wonderful, and I loved watching Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent rise and fall. It was more than a superhero movie – it was a crime noir film, and the grittiness and tension and thematic elements resonated with such a large audience as a result. I absolutely love this movie.

1. Superman. I absolutely love this movie more. I can overlook the strange fact that Clark Kent disappears into the Fortress until he’s an adult and appears in a suit that was magically created. I can ignore the concept that spinning the Earth backwards makes you reverse time. The reason I can bypass these small problems is because the rest of the movie is pitch perfect. Christopher Reeve was born to play that character. When Superman finds Lois Lane dead, the raw emotion from the look on his face and his scream has more pathos than any character in the rest of these movies combined.

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52 Replies to “Best Superhero Movies”

  1. Maria

    Switch Spiderman 2 and Batman Begins, then switch The Dark Knight @ Superman and I’m right there with you. No better make that Iron Man and Superman after you switch The Dark Knight and Superman.

    And replace Hulk with The Incredible Hulk. And take Daredevil OFF.

    Ok so I’m not right there with you, but good list nonetheless.

  2. little_lj

    Fabulous stuff..

    And on the subject of Dark Knight… Please do, yes you SIMPLY MUST see it in IMAX. You will not be in the slightest bit disappointed. You will forget your very self.. it is literally breathtaking.

    One of the best movies I have seen in a long long time.

  3. Mocha

    As the mom of 2 boys I first have to admit to seeing every single one of these movies. Except Dark Knight. Because they couldn’t wait for me and now I’m sort of protesting it so I don’t give them any more money to discuss all the records they’re breaking.

    With that said, I was surprised as myself for liking Hellboy as much as I did. I didn’t want to like it, but Perlman’s humor added such a touching quality to it. And he liked CATS. Which I hate, but HE liked them and that was pretty cool.

    Stop saying nice things about Dark Knight. It’ll force me to go and I’ll have to be all pissed at you and break up with you and I just don’t feel like doing that right now.

  4. Jay

    I need to go back and watch Batman Begins again to make sure, but I was thinking that it was still a bit better than TDK. But I really loved TDK.

    I haven’t seen all the movies on that list though. Superman was really great. Good call on that one.

  5. B.E. Earl

    I’d leave Daredevil and Hulk off the list, but that’s just nit-picking.

    My real problem is Superman. I’m not a fan, never have been. It’s a problem with the character itself, which I’ve explained before. The movie did a great job with what it had, but I just can’t bring myself to love it.

    I kinda liked the Punisher film that came out a few years ago. The Garth Ennis storyline (uncredited) was a good one, but they came up a bit short. I’d replace Daredevil with this one.

    Would you consider The Crow to be a superhero? Maybe. If so, then I would have it in my top 10. Replacing Hulk.

    And just because I know I’m going to absolutely love it, I’ll put Watchmen up on the list in Superman’s spot. Cheating? Maybe, but why not?

    Fun list.

  6. Winter

    I agree with the comment about Flash Gordon. Also a plus with that one was the music (Queen) and Timothy Dalton in tights. YUM. I didn’t care for Hulk and Daredevil was a little torturous even though I really do kinda like Ben Affleck. I know, I know. Shoot me now for that.

  7. TSM

    Superman tops my list as well.

    And, most surprising, Daredevil is one of my favorite movies! I was never a comic fan (had I not been so busy doing drugs and having sex I would maybe have had time to read them), but I think as a movie it was fantastic. That and the X Men movies. Spiderman was great, but the third one lost me. I suppose had I been a fan of the comics I would have enjoyed watching what they do with the stories I was so familiar with.

    Iron Man was fantastic. Far better, IMO, than Dark Knight, which I think I was too hyped up to really enjoy. I expected more, based on the reviews. It was good, but not orgasmic.

    Then again, not EVERYTHING has to include an orgasm, TSM.

  8. Grant

    I’ve already seen TDK on IMAX, and the additional five hours of Japanese lesbian porn make the extra few bucks totally worthwhile. I agree with your assessment of this year’s Hulk, but I hated the 2003 version. I thought the whole thing was substandard except the acting, and that was in the service of poor writing and directing so it didn’t matter. I liked Daredevil more than most, but I think it would have been better served with a little less wire action – he seemed to be made of helium instead of meat. Otherwise, I’ll agree with your top four if you slide Superman into 4th and move the others up. I loved Superman, but the associated nostalgia isn’t quite enough to outdo the quality and weight of the latest offerings.

  9. Karl

    Yeah, I’d top the list with Superman, too. But Daredevil and the Hulk? Ugh, no way, no how. I’d slip the original Batman in there. And Batman Returns. Oh, and The Crow. And maybe Darkman.

  10. penny

    Good list! Daredevil, Batman Begins, and Hulk wouldn’t be on my list. Michael Keaton is my favorite Batman. Hellboy would be higher on my list – I watch it all the freakin’ time. Superman would be high on my list, not #1, but close. I haven’t seen The Dark Knight or Iron Man because my summer movie was X-Files.

  11. manager mom

    Haven’t seen Superman yet…this weekend when we have Mother-in-law provided babysitting.

    But what about the Matrix? That kind of counts as a superhero, doesn’t it? Not directly from a comic book but I read somewhere that the Wachowskis drew a comic book as the story board for the movie before they filmed it.

  12. Finn

    Colin Farrell was the best part of Daredevil. I’m not familiar with the comic, but Ben seemed a little wooden to me. Of course I never would have watched it if Colin hadn’t been in it.

  13. Mindy

    Superman hands down is my #1. I like the first Batman from Tim Burton. All others not so much. I did like Fantastic Four which amazingly you didn’t have on your list. Did you not like it?

  14. Sybil Law

    Porn?! Oh hells yes. I will be there. Of course.
    And I need to see more movies before I comment on all your superhero opinions. But Superman and Spiderman 2 are both excellent! This comment is boring…
    I’ll jazz it up…

  15. Clown

    What I’ve learned from your list.

    No Catwoman & Steel = You’re racist
    No Catwoman, Supergirl, or Elektra = You’re gay
    No Captain America = You’re un-American
    Superman IV = You’re a communist

  16. NYCWD

    I’d replace Hulk (2003) with Hulk (2008), drop Superman from the list entirely, and insert Superman II as #5, dropping Blade down to #6, etc.

    Maybe its because I just saw it, but The Dark Knight, IMHO was just superb.

  17. Avitable

    Amanda, he is hot, isn’t he?

    Maria, you liked Spider-Man 2 better than Batman Begins?

    Hello, we agree on both fronts!

    Little LJ, I am excited to see it on the big screen like that.

    Mocha, don’t protest it. Go see it. It’s awesome!

    Thursday’s Child, I use big words and double entendres all the time, paracocksically.

    Jay, I think TDK was the better film. Batman Begins still had some cringe-worthy parts.

    BE Earl, Thomas Jane was a great Punisher, but they watered down Ennis’s story for no reason. If they had kept it in NY and stayed true to the character, it would have been outstanding. As it is, it’s still a movie that I’ll enjoy whenever it’s on. I love Superman, though, so he’s always at the top of my lists. Re: The Crow – I considered putting him on there, because that first film was excellent, but I decided to stick with actual “superheroes”. And Watchmen is going to fucking rock.

    Maman, he’s not a comic book superhero. He’s scifi.

    Winter, see above. Oh, and that’s way too old.

    TSM, I’m glad to see at least one person besides myself liked Daredevil.

    Grant, it’s not nostalgia that makes me like Superman – it’s that one scene where Lois dies.

    Karl, the original Batman really is campy now, and Batman Returns, while passable, is just too muddled. Darkman is notable only for having Liam Neeson in it, but it’s not a comic book character.

    Penny, you can only see one movie in the summer? Try Iron Man and The Dark Knight, too.

    Sarah, Ron Perlman just makes the character awesome. You should watch “The Last Supper” with him in it, and then see if you like Hellboy better.

    Howard, that is a great scene – the one in the rain was good, too.

    Manager Mom, you haven’t seen a movie that came out 25 years ago? The Matrix was not originally a comic book, and that was the criteria I was using.

    Cap, Batman’s just not as good over time.

    Libragirl, he was great in that role.

    Crystal, yes. It was presumptuous and overrated. It looked pretty, but the plot sucked.

    Robin, your movie watching skills are horrible.

    Britt, if you haven’t seen it in the last 25 years, you’re not going to ever watch it.

    Blondefabulous, I agree – it’s a great one, but not one based on a comic book.

    Finn, he was the best part, I agree.

    TMP, that’s in my top 10 worst list.

    Bossy, I think you need to read more comic books!

    Mindy, Fantastic Four was only redeemed by Chiklis’s Thing and Evans’s Torch. The rest of the film was a steaming pile.

    Sybil, way to jazz up your comment.

    Poppy, that’s most people’s personal preference.

    Chag, that’s a good movie, too. I wish they had been given more freedom to do what they wanted with it, though.

    Clown, what about Hellboy? I’m a Satanist?

    HG, go see TDK. It’s amazing.

    NYCWD, Superman II has so many problems, even with the awesome Zod. The amazing shrinkwrap “S”, the chamber that removes powers permanently but then gives them back to Superman, the amnesia-giving kiss – it’s all shit.

  18. Mik

    Have to agree with the list, although I’d put Dark Knight at position 1 as I prefer the dark gritty type super hero movies. I haven’t seen Iron Man yet though.

    Not much into Superman for the same reason I didn’t like Captain Scarlet as a kid.

    If you’re pretty much invincible you can do anything, I’d rather the hero at least be in some danger.

  19. Faiqa Khan

    Loved Blade and X2. I am right there with you on Superman (do you just LOVE how sycophantic I am being right now, or what?). Strangely enough, I always crushed on Clark Kent way more than Superman. I don’t know what that means in the grand scheme of it all, but it feels significant.

  20. maman

    Excuse me? Sci-Fi? Does not Kal-El come from another planet and our yellow sun gives him his powers? What is that? Science Fact?

    Flash appeared in comic strips, books, tv, movies and radio serials from the 1930s on. Take that Superman! :pissed:

  21. Dave2

    It’s shocking how close we are on our thinking for this list. I agree with almost all of it… except X-Men 2, which I think was a pice of shit. I positively loathe all the X-Men films, and feel they’re a total failure at capturing the comics.

  22. Hilly

    I’m way late and there are already a million comments so I will just say this. Batman Begins is my favorite superhero movie to date. Christian Bale is my favorite Batman as well.

  23. SciFi Dad

    Agree with you on most (didn’t like Hulk 2003 myself, and not a huge Superman fan).

    A personal fave of mine is the live-action Spawn movie. Leguizamo as the Clown was just great casting. (And the soundtrack was and still is amazing.)

    I have to give a shout out to the Tom Jane version of The Punisher. It didn’t get a lot of attention, but it was an excellent adaptation (and way better than the Dolph Lundgren one).

  24. Avitable

    Mik, I like dark and gritty, but Superman just has a place in my heart. I don’t know who Captain Scarlet is, though.

    Faiqa, I love sycophants! And I knew you always liked the nerdy types.

    Maman, he’s too old and cheesy.

    Clown, go eat a baby.

    TMP, they were poorly written, predictable, and horribly acted. Jessica Alba was horrible in them.

    NYCWD, no, he didn’t. The first Superman was superior.

    Crystal, that is a great phrase!

    Dave, I think that they weren’t true to the comics as much, but they still managed to capture each character well. Especially Wolverine.

    Hilly, you’re MY favorite Batman!

    Jeff, that’s true. That is a classic scene.

    CMG, I think Watchmen will end up on the list, too. It looks like it has promise.

    Kapgar, I liked the Thomas Jane one. The Dolph Lundgren one sucked. I’m looking forward to seeing if the War Zone one is any good.

    Stephanie, there’s a per-smilie charge if you use more than four.

    Scifi Dad, thanks for the visit and comment. Spawn was a pretty cool movie, although it didn’t capture the awesomeness of the HBO cartoon that was before it. Leguizamo was amazing, though. And I do agree with you about Punisher, although relocating it to Miami and changing the story so much was pretty stupid.

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