Top Ten Superhero Movies of All-Time

Featured — By on July 18, 2005 at 3:50 pm

Until they finally get around to making a feature-length Groo: The Wanderer film and Nate Von Milner and I finish our yet untitled Aquaman feature film, here are the top ten superhero movies of all time (this is completely subjective, obviously):

10) Flash Gordon (1980) – Ultra campy with loads of color and detail and featuring a fantastic score by Queen. Great villain in Max Von Sydow as Ming the Merciless, but the movie is brought down a bit by the horrific acting performances. If they had been intentionally horrible this movie would be much better.

9) Superman II (1980) – While it’s not as ambitious as the first installment it certainly has its moments; specifically the internal conflict of Superman trying to decide whether to choose a normal life or a superhuman one in a time when the planet needs him the most and Terrence Stamp’s blistering performance as General Zod. The film’s production woes clearly affected the overall picture. Marlon Brando’s scenes had to be cut out of the final product due to legal issues, Richard Lester had to take over for director Richard Donner after he was fired due to “creative differences” after filming had already begun, and since Gene Hackman didn’t return they had to rely on leftover footage from the first movie and the use of a body double and vocal impersonator for the Lex Luthor scenes. While it’s still very entertaining, the choppy editing and lack of continuity drop it down a few pegs.

8) Hellboy (2004) – The story of a cigar-smoking, cat-loving demon who came to earth after Rasputin and some Nazi’s opened a transdimensional portal could easily have been completely over the top and a total disaster. But Director Guillermo Del Toro (who chose to make this over more money and the chance to direct Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) presents everything in a way that we’re able to suspend disbelief and identify with the characters – even if they’re anything but believable. Ron Perlman, Selma Blair and the great John Hurt bring warmth and humanity to their roles and Del Toro inserts humor into all the right places. Certainly not a great film, but Hellboy is a lot of fun and certainly above average in the realm of superhero movies.

7) X-Men (2000) – Bryan Singer had his work cut out for him as the X-Men characters probably needed more adapting to fit the big screen than any other comic to date if it was going to work effectively, as the costumes from the comics would have looked campy on the big screen and the story would have lost its grit. An amazing cast and a great script written by Singer and Tom DeSanto (currently writing the Transformers feature film) provided a great introduction to the characters and a solid first chapter to the X-Men saga, making a star of Hugh Jackman in the process.

6) Sin City (2005) – Creator Frank Miller’s vision was brought to screen without being compromised or sanitized; this is probably the best job to date that anyone has done of re-creating the comic book universe to the big screen. Brutal and relentless, this definitely isn’t for everyone.

5) Batman: The Movie (1966) – I’m undoubtedly in the minority, but in my opinion this is the best Batman made to date. To truly appreciate this film you should check out the Batman and Robin movie serials from either 1943 or 1949, the latter of which are now available on DVD. The writers played on the absurdity of the Batman universe from the comics and the earlier movie serials to give us the funniest comic book inspired movie yet. Frank Gorshin, Lee Meriwether, Burgess Meredith and Cesar Romero absolutely ham it up as the super-villains and contrast perfectly to Adam West’s by-the-book Batman.

4) Superman: The Movie (1978) – This movie is a pure slice of Americana. There are some cheesy moments (really, what were they thinking with the hair on young Clark Kent?) but getting Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor and Marlon Brando as Jor-El was as close to perfect casting as you can get.

3) X-Men 2: X-Men United (2003) – Improving upon his first X-Men effort, writer/director Bryan Singer upped the action, the realism and the humor in a movie that gets better with every viewing. Despite the spectacle of the action sequences – and some of them are truly spectacular – the real heart of the movie is the interaction between the mutants who are seeking acceptance and the normal members of society who fear them because of their differences. Greatly aided by the character development in the original film, X-Men 2 is able to greater explore the core group of characters while still having the time to introduce new ones – Brian Cox’s performance as the mutant-hating William Stryker nearly steals the show. For those eagerly anticipating X-Men 3, be aware that Bryan Singer is out as director and that it is already being called the last in the franchise.

2) The Crow (1994) – This haunting story of revenge from beyond the grave took on greater significance when star Brandon Lee was killed during filming; though it may not be tasteful to say, the death of Lee truly adds to the emotional impact of the film and makes it much better than it may have been otherwise.

1) Spiderman 2 (2004) – Hands down the greatest superhero movie ever made, Spiderman 2 should earn Sam Raimi a statue outside of every multiplex in the country. Much like the plot of Superman 2, Spiderman 2 focuses on the struggle of a superhero trying to choose between a normal life and love of a woman with the responsibilities he has had thrust upon him with his superpowers. Unlike Superman 2, however, it has a single focus and improves upon everything seen in its predecessor. I could write several pages on what makes this movie so great, but I’ll boil it down to this: Spiderman 2 has the greatest action sequences, storyline, emotional depth, character development and direction of any superhero movie ever made.


  • Captain Fantastic says:

    I am a blogging god.

  • Rob Cee says:

    While I was pleased that Flash Gordon made the list, I am highly disappointed that there was no mention of Brian Blessed’s over-the-top performance as Prince Vultan in the film. What a pity that Blessed’s booming Shakespearian-style voice never got him more American work beyond playing Kevin Costner’s daddy (Lord Locksley) in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves and voicing Jar-Jar’s “Boss” in Episode I. If you’ve never seen it, check it out- his turn as Vultan is sheer delight.

  • Captain Fantastic says:

    The only movie I felt bad about leaving off the list was the Tim Burton Batman from 1989… really entertaining movie… the music scenes where everyone danced around are just so bad though that you cringe when watching them now…just goes to show you that they should have hired Bobby Brown instead of Prince to do the soundtrack. Worked for Ghostbusters 2, you know. “We’re called the ghostbusters and we’re in control…”

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