Superhero movies are sprouting up faster than I can keep track of, and by the end of this summer, who knows how applicable this list will be, but I just can’t wait that long. So, in no particular order, I most humbly present to you my incomplete list of The 10 Best Superhero Movies of All Time.
“Jonathan! There’s a naked kid in this hole! Can we keep him?”
Superman: The Movie
It has its silly moments, but it’s a tight film; great acting, great photography, great story and an immortal score. Marlon Brando is in this movie – need I say more? OK, I will; Superman is such a memorable movie: the destruction of Krypton, the Kents finding him in the ditch, Clark’s decision to leave home, his first flight, catching the jewel thief, fighting the robbers on the boat (“Bad vibrations?”), Lois’ interview, stopping the missiles (“Hackensack, New Jersey.” “My mother lives in Hackensack!”), reversing time, Luthor whipping off his wig… awesome.
“WHERE IS HE?!? Oh… sorry.”
It’s long on style and short of story, but Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson are a dominant force in a movie where Tim Burton’s wackiness was held in check to give us the best possible collaboration of photography, performance and once again, soundtrack. It’s kind of sad that this movie represents the high water mark for Burton and Danny Elfman (artistically, I think), but that’s the way it goes. Sure, the movie doesn’t especially follow Batman canon or style (Bruce isn’t much of a detective in this flick), but it gets the job done.
“I’m not sure who you are, or who I am, for that matter, but… YOU’RE DEAD!”
X-Men United, or X2 or whatever the hell that movie is called
I’ve never been a reader of the X-Men comics, but the end of this movie is essentially a ripoff of Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, and I don’t care because it’s well done. The movie has everything you’d want in a superhero movie: action, drama, compelling story and people getting punched in the face! Even if X3 was one of the bigger disappointments I can think of, X2 is still a great movie for comic book fans.
“I don’t want to see this on your myspace page. Please no gang signs. No, throw it up. I’m kidding.”
There’s superhero movie dialogue, and then there’s Iron Man dialogue coming out of Robert Downey Jr. – you can’t go wrong! The story runs smoothly and the characters are interesting; sure, the end is a little silly, but for a movie called Iron Man, this movie works remarkably well on many levels.
Cap, en route to punch a Nazi in the face!
Captain America: The First Avenger
Being a superhero is generally about punching people in the face, but when it comes to Captain America and the stakes are winning or losing World War II, well, it doesn’t get more serious than that. Still, the movie is a charming, often hilarious period piece. I’ve talked about this movie at length already, so I won’t retread the same ground but just reiterate that this movie is great.
“None of you seem to understand… I’m not locked in here with you – you’re locked in here with me!”
I know Watchmen doesn’t follow the comic as closely as some would like, but it’s still one of the best comic book movies that anyone has or will ever make. It’s dark, stylistic, noir… it’s essentially everything a good mystery comic should be, and the great photography, dialogue and performances makes the re-watch value high.
“No, I don’t know Spider-Man or Deadpool, but thanks for asking.”
Batman: Under the Red Hood
This isn’t the most accessible of Batman movies (animated or otherwise), but it’s so good that it’s worth the effort – a quick read up on Ra’s al Ghul should do the trick, particularly so you don’t confuse the movie version with the comic book version, and you’re good to go. I’ve talked about this flick already, so let’s move on.
Finally, a Batman movie where Batman acts like Batman! The only things I don’t especially enjoy about this movie are the way the fight scenes were photographed (although that didn’t bug me as much as it did others) and Katie Holmes, but after that, it’s all good.
“So listen, why don’t you give me a call when you start taking things a little more seriously.”
The Dark Knight
When it comes to Batman, the only thing better than Batman Begins is The Dark Knight – it’s probably the most quotable comic books movie of all time. (“You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” | “How bout a magic trick?” | “WHERE IS HE?!?” | “You know how I got these scars?” | “He’s the hero Gotham deserves… just not the one it needs right now.”) It’s a story with a second act you never see coming. Tremendous.
“Take that, Bruce Wayne from another dimension!”
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
I’ve really enjoyed the DC animated films – outside of Superman/Shazam, they’re all enjoyable films (I recommend Green Lantern: First Flight, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, Superman/Batman: Public Enemy…), but Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is probably my favorite of the bunch. It’s weird, but it’s fun and has that hard sci fi, Star Trek like edge that I enjoy in my comic books.