Superheroes have taken the world by storm. Now, more than ever, they sit on every corner, on millions of t-shirts, on posters, bags, toys, and in video games. The genre has become so big that there are very few places in the world where they haven’t been heard of.
The leading cause for their popularity is the movies. Iron Man. Captain America. X-Men. Batman. Superman. Movies have caught on like wildfire ravaging the forest. They are literally everywhere and companies are churning them out faster than a Formula One race car.
With so many to choose from, which ones deserve your attention? Which ones are the best superhero movies? Which movies have been talked about long after their release? Of them, what makes each one of the best superhero movies? More than that, why are they considered some of the best superhero movies of the last decade? Let’s find out.
1. The Avengers
The Avengers was the movie that made Marvel realize that all their work was worth it. The Avengers was the movie that, for the first time, brought the likes of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the Hulk together. The movie was funny, filled with action, and left audiences not content with seeing it only once. I actually saw it four times overall, and three times in its first four days of being released.
By the end of the movie, audiences knew that they were in capable hands with Marvel. More important, however, was that at its conclusion, audiences knew that the entirety of the MCU was building for an epic showdown with Thanos.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
Who knew that a group of misfit characters that most of the world wouldn’t know could turn out to be so popular? Guardians of the Galaxy worked because Marvel was willing to take a chance. The movie was a dramatic departure from what Marvel had done up to this point. It was a space opera filled with more humor and one-liners than all the movies before it combined.
Guardians of the Galaxy saw the meteoric rise of Chris Pratt, his character Star-Lord, and every other hero associated with the movie. Names like Groot, Rocket Racoon, and Gamora became household names. Arguably, for the first time in Marvel’s existence, their “C-List” characters were more well-known than some of their “A-List” characters.
Of everything associated with the movie, none was as well-liked as the soundtrack. The soundtrack was so good that it was only the second soundtrack to sell $1 Million in digital copies.
3. Wonder Woman
DC struggled mightily with their first few attempts at creating comic book movies. Man of Steel was average and Batman v Superman was a disaster. So when Wonder Woman hit the screen, audiences held a quiet reserve under their collective breaths.
Wonder Woman didn’t just surpass all expectations, it shattered them like a glass window. Not only was it a massive commercial hit for DC, but it was also a huge step forward for comic book movies. Wonder Woman proved that a woman-led comic book movie could succeed as much, if not more than their male counterparts.
Was the movie perfect? No, but which movie is? The movie didn’t strive to be perfect. It didn’t need to. What it did was show the world that DC did belong standing beside Marvel.
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Still widely regarded as one of the best superhero movies in the MCU, The Winter Soldier is in a class all to its own. A political spy thriller unlike anything before or after it, The Winter Soldier saw the cinematic adaptation of Ed Brubaker’s comic of the same name.
The story follows Captain America as he learns and comes to terms with the fact that his dead childhood best friend Bucky Barnes, is not actually dead. Instead, he’s been brought back and brainwashed as an assassin for Hydra. The Winter Soldier deserves all the credit it gets simply because it is that good.
5. Captain America: Civil War
As the Captain America movies continued along, so did their inclusion and reliance on other characters. Case in point, Civil War. For as much as Civil War was a Captain America movie, it was an Avengers movie. The movie saw the entire cast of Avengers, minus Thor and Hulk, battle against one another due to conflicting beliefs.
And battle they did. The airport battle has gone down as one of the best comic fight scenes in the history of the genre. However, as good as the climactic battle was, it wasn’t even the best part. Civil War introduced three new characters to the MCU. Three! Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Giant-Man.
Civil War was a spectacle that laid the groundwork for Infinity War. More than that, it showed that superheroes don’t always have to get along.
6. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Homecoming was a big step for Marvel. The company had been riding high for years and could seemingly do no wrong. However, for all the right they were doing, there was always something missing. That something turned out to be their most recognizable hero, Spider-Man.
Fans wanted Spider-Man back at Marvel but due to legal constraints, he was owned by Sony. Thankfully, the two companies were able to come to an agreement and the rest, as they say, is history.
His debut in Civil War coincided with applause that could be heard around the world. Marvel knew that they had to follow it up with a solo outing, so they got to work on Homecoming. Homecoming was special. From the picture-perfect cast choices to the undeniably “Spider-Man” story, the movie delivered.
Homecoming wasn’t great because Spider-Man was back at Marvel. Homecoming was great because it perfectly personified who and what the character was.
7. Batman: The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight is known for many things, none of which are as important as Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker. His outing was so good that it landed him the only Oscar ever given to an actor in a superhero movie. That should be enough to make it one of the best superhero movies ever, but it’s not.
As the second movie in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight had high expectations. Batman has just been revived in the mainstream by its predecessor, Batman Begins, and was doing extremely well for the first time in decades. With the weight of the world on its shoulders, The Dark Knight delivered.
Ledger’s performance has reached “untouchable” status. No matter how many movies he’s done, or how good his other roles were, he will be forever linked to the Joker. His interpretation, more than any other, truly showed how demented the character actually is.
8. Thor: Ragnarok
After two lackluster Thor movies, Thor: Ragnarok needed to succeed. But to do this the franchise couldn’t go back to the well that it had come from. Its prequel, The Dark World is one of the most hated movies in the MCU and followed a pretty mediocre formula.
Ragnarok brought in director Taika Waititi and his hiring made all the difference in the world. The franchise took an about-face and ditched everything about itself. It brought in Hela as its main antagonist and threw in Surtur for good measure. But it wasn’t only the perfect villain choices that cemented Ragnarok as one of the best Superhero movies.
Thor: Ragnarok was different from the get-go. It was funny, over the top, had Thor speaking to the audience, and became eerily similar to many buddy cop movies from decades past. The chemistry between Thor, Valkyrie, Hulk, Loki, and the Grandmaster is undeniable. Ragnarok succeeded where the others couldn’t because it wasn’t afraid to reinvent itself.
The comic book movies that work, and I mean really work, are the ones that aren’t afraid to defy their own stereotypes. Logan is one of the most stereotype-defying movies. For everything it was, heart-wrenching, action-packed, and memorable, Logan was a western. The movie brilliantly paid homage to a genre that had no business inserting itself into the comic medium.
I remember leaving the theatre for the first time, (I did see it twice) and wondering why it had moved me so much. Sure, it was Hugh Jackman’s final appearance as the character, and sure, Logan dies in the end, but I couldn’t figure it out. After weeks of thought, it finally hit me. The movie didn’t feel like a comic book movie.
Logan touched on all the right emotional spots without ever sacrificing what it was. I don’t think we will ever see another like it and that’s ok. There isn’t another name in comics deserving of it.
10. Avengers Infinity War
The culmination of 10 years of work, Infinity War was the spectacle that everyone thought it would be. Infinity War crushed box office records to the tune of $2 Billion. When it was all said and done, it became the highest-grossing superhero movie of all time. This automatically makes it one of the best superhero movies of the last decade.
The movie saw Thanos finally appear as the threat Marvel fans know him as. Throughout it, he collects the Infinity Stones and uses them to decimate the entire population of the galaxy. With a simple snap of his fingers, he obliterates all those who oppose him.
The movie brilliantly sets up the fourth Avengers movie, End Game, and leaves the audience wondering how the remaining Avengers will possibly defeat their foe.
Bonus: Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse
Ok, I’m not done just yet. I have one more to include on this best superhero movies list.
Whether or not you like animated movies, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is one everyone should see. The movie, like Logan, is a radical departure from its own stereotypes. The animation, while as fluid as can be, is unlike anything ever used before. In fact, it is so fresh that it nabbed Into The Spider-Verse countless awards and nominations.
The movie sees Spider-Men from all over the Multiverse come together to stop the Kingpin from destroying the world. What makes the movie so special is that it becomes a passing of the Spider-Torch, so to say. Yes, Peter Parker is in the movie but the movie doesn’t follow him. It follows the lesser mainstream known, Miles Morales.
As with almost all animated movies, Into The Spider-Verse follows a “coming of age” storyline but that doesn’t prevent it from being great. The movie is so good that I was able to take my 3-year-old son to it and answer his many questions after. Yes, it was able to keep the attention of a 3-year-old.