Now that I’ve been thoroughly depressed by the Oscars let’s talk about movies that will never get a live action Oscar- superhero movies. I have actually not been a huge superhero movie fan. In fact, in 2011 I wrote a post on my other blog called ‘Thumbs Down to Summer Movies’. I had recently seen Green Lantern and it was the tipping point. Here’s what I said
“It’s at this point I must make a confession- I don’t like super hero movies. It’s hard to explain why but I have never liked them. With the exception of Harry Potter, I can’t think of a super hero/fantasy franchise I’m a fan of (I’m a marginal fan of Lord of the Rings). I also like the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but they have been sullied by mediocre follow-ups in recent years.
Despite all the special effects I find most super hero movies boring and I don’t like 3D”
So, yes I had sworn off superhero movies and all their progeny but then Avengers happened and I smiled at these likable fun characters with witty dialogue. And we got 2014 and I saw Captain America 2 which was actually a spy movie, Xmen Days of Future Past which is actually a time travel story, Guardians of the Galaxy which is actually a space opera, and Big Hero 6 which is a movie about loss and grief in the guise of a superhero movie.
It was then I had a revelation ‘I like superhero movies when they aren’t superhero movies’. Ding, ding, ding! Fortunately for me Hollywood has figured this out and aside from the odious Man of Steel and the cluttered Amazing Spiderman 2 they have had a remarkable track record of late to the point where I’m actually looking forward to superhero movies now (although highly skeptical about Batman v Superman but we will see). Marvel at least has made me a believer.
I feel like I also have to give a caveat that I am actually not a big Dark Knight fan. It’s super well made and acted but it was just too violent for me and I found it cynical, dark and Batman is such a bore. I wanted him to lose the whole way through. You can all hate me now but it’s really how I felt….
So with all that what are my favorite superhero movies? Here goes.
10. Superman- Christopher Reeves is so charming as Superman and he makes an ok Clark Kent. It doesn’t get bogged down in exposition but is light and fun with great music and decent if hokey special effects. Gene Hackman is good as Lex Luther . Superman is kind of a boring superhero because he’s so perfect but this film finds the balance of embracing the silly while not being too silly (aka Superman 3 and 4…). We also don’t get too much of the Savior metaphors like we do with Man of Steel or Superman Returns that take themselves way too seriously.
9. Batman Mask of the Phantasm- Yep friends this is my favorite Batman movie. Maybe that won’t be a surprise because I love animation but I honestly think this is the best movie depiction of Batman. He’s not just a bore but he gets jealous, frustrated, happy, a mixture of emotions. Kevin Conroy is great as Batman and perhaps it is only in animation that you can pull off the mixture of Bruce Wayne and Batman because you can draw whatever you want it to be where an actor may just be better at one side than the other (same problem so far with Peter Parker). Mark Hamil is wonderful as Joker. It’s a well written script with a bit of a mystery involved but it isn’t too grim or violent. Now I just wonder when the heck it will come out on blu-ray!
8. The Rocketeer- A movie too often forgotten but a very sweet homage to 40’s action movies. It stars Billy Campbell as a stuntman who finds a rocketpack that was designed by Howard Hughes. Jennifer Connely plays his girlfriend and the rest of the cast is stellar with Alan Arkin, Timothy Dalton as our Nazi bad guy, Terry O’Quin and more. I defy you to not be charmed by it.
7. X-men: Days of Future Past- Of the big franchises Xmen has always been my favorite. Even when I had sworn off the genre I still kind of liked the X-men movies. Maybe partly because they are the only franchise to pull of interesting female characters and they almost always deal with something thoughtful and complex without getting mean spirited and who doesn’t like Hugh Jackman? I think the recent X-men Days of Future Past is the best of the 7 (including the Wolverine movies) to have come out. It has it all- amazing ensemble (Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Michael Fassender, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, James McEvoy I could go on. Almost every member of the cast has an Oscar nomination or win. Not bad for a superhero movie).
But its also the Inception of Superhero movies. The time travel element creates layers of a puzzle to figure out and Quicksilver is an amazing villain with special effects. It’s great!
6. Spider-man 2- For my money it is the only good Spider-man movie that has come out so far. The others have good elements but this is the only one that fires on all four cylinders. The special effects still hold up, the large set pieces like the train fight is gripping, Tobey McGuire is charming enough to get me to ignore Kirsten Dunst and James Franco and him have good rivalry. But really the reason the movie is special is Dr Octopus who is such a great, engaging villain. He has really positive motivations through a lot of the movie but he has no self control . It makes him very interesting and fun to watch.
5. Captain America 2: Winter Soldier- A great superhero movie because it’s not really a superhero movie. It’s a spy flick like Mission Impossible with an amazing villain for Winter Soldier, great action fight sequences, a car crash sequence which felt so real, Robert Redford is great (that’s the quality of actors we are getting now!). The Nick Furry twist was very clever and it is so well paced. It never lost my interest or got boring. They build the case with very minimal exposition typically housed within a trip to the museum or some other outing so it doesn’t feel like exposition. Captain America is likable and Chris Evans keeps the character innocent like a man from the 40s might be while still being tough.
4. Big Hero 6- I just got Big Hero 6 on blu-ray and watched it and loved it all over again. It is a superhero movie with real heart. I loved the connection of the two brothers through Baymax. It reminds us that those we love never really leave us because the love continues on. I also loved the diversity of the Big Hero 6 and I thought the motivation of the villain was really clever and surprised me. Also Sanfransokyo was gorgeously drawn and a fun new setting. Overall a huge win for Disney.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy- Don’t worry this is my last from last year. Guardians has everything I want in my superhero movie. It is a likable band of misfits that are gathered together to fight a bad guy. I love the friendship between Groot and Rocket. Chris Pratt is great as Starlord. It’s fun, keeps you guessing and has the best soundtrack I’ve heard in years. It really reminded me a lot of Star Wars with a much weaker villain, and that’s really its only mark against it. I think they actually picked the wrong villain. Nebula is much more complex than Ronan. Still I loved it!
2. Incredibles- Even when I had sworn off Superhero movies I still loved The Incredibles. What’s so great about this movie is it includes so many of my favorite genres all in one. It’s a family movie with a stay at home Mom and her 3 kids who all have their struggles, it’s a movie about work and how when we aren’t doing what we are made to do we aren’t happy, and its gorgeous animation. Every choice they made works. The villain is very scary with a believable and brief backstory. Edna is hilarious (no capes!), and the ending is perfect with everyone learning just the right lesson. Also love Samuel L Jackson as Frozone! It’s actually the first movie I saw when I came home from my 20 month mission for my church and it was a great choice to get reintroduced to cinema.
1. Avengers- This actually came out when I was in my ‘I hate superhero movies’ phase but it was the biggest movie ever so of course I ended up seeing it and to my surprise I loved it. What I liked most is it didn’t take itself too seriously. It was fun without being stupid. I hadn’t seen most of the precursor films leading up to Avengers except Ironman but I don’t think you need to enjoy the movie. Joss Whedon is such a great writer creating likable characters that we can root for and a team dynamic that is unpredictable.
I like that the destruction isn’t too bad and its not really trying to teach us anything. Just give us a team we can root behind and see them seriously challenged by a formidable villain in Loki, who I love. Tom Hiddleston is my favorite performance in the movie. He has motivation behind what he is doing and he never gets mean or too violent like the Joker can. He’s probably my favorite comic book villain, maybe because he doesn’t really see himself as a villain. In the end the script is well written and funny with good action. That’s enough to get 1 on my list.
So there you go! What do you think of my list? I know all of you would put the Dark Knight so maybe give me some other one’s besides Dark Knight you would have included? I’d love to hear.
What are the worst superhero movies? Well, I haven’t seen all of the worst but I’d probably say (does Howard the Duck count as superhero movie? If so than he’d be 1):
2. Batman and Robin
3. Superman 4
4. Green Lantern
5. Man of Steel
46 thoughts on “My Favorite Superhero Movies”
Howard the Duck Counts. And, yeah, it is a real stinker.
“Maybe partly because they are the only franchise to pull of interesting female characters and they almost always deal with something thoughtful and complex without getting mean spirited and who doesn’t like Hugh Jackman?”
Urgh! I hate the way the X-men franchise treats the female characters. In the Comics, Jane Grey is the most powerful of the X-men. In the movies, she is something for Wolverine and Cyclops to fight over. Rogue might be the most fascinating character of the X-men, constantly struggling with dealing with her powers but still very badass. In the movies she is a whiny teenager, most likely so that Wolverine can act has her mentor figure. Storm is only allowed to pilot the plane. All the other female X-men are marginalized to a degree that Wolverine even got a storyline which was not his own in Days of Future Past. Yes, I freaking hate Wolverine. Or, to be precise, I hate the way Wolverine ensured that a movies franchise which should be about a bunch of colourful characters is only about him. I don’t even like Days of Future Past. It’s an okay movie, but the moment you think about it, it does make zero sense, and as cool as the Quicksilver scene is, he is way overpowered (I hope Marvel is smarter and tones it down).
I agree with your top 5, though. Not necessarily in that order, but those are the best Superhero movies so far (though I suspect Batman fans would disagree and push “The Dark Knight”)
Interesting. Thanks! Would you agree the Xmen women are better than most of the other female superheroes? I guess Black Widow is my favorite but the others have been super bad. I like Mystique. I think she’s kind of calm and mysterious (given the name). I don’t think Rogue is so whiny and I always found Wolverine to be very easy to root for. Probably the worst of the female characters is Storm. Halle Berry is a bore in the part and it could be so great. I like Ellen Page as Shadowcat. She’s an interesting and likable character. I don’t need all of my women to be strong so I kind of like there is a variety of personalities within the female x-men. As someone who isn’t a normal fan of superhero movies the female x-men always drew me into the stories more than other franchises but that’s just me.
I thought Days of Future Past did a great job at managing a ton of characters and you kind of needed an anchor in Wolverine but anyway, glad you enjoyed it on some level.
Glad we agree on the top 5! Which one would be your 1 or do you want to save that for your blog? If you do that’s fine.
I honestly was a little hesitant to write this post because of the Dark Knight trolls but I hope they realize that I think it is a very well made movie and I can totally see why they like it. I’m just a softee when it comes to violence and I find myself rooting for The Joker which I don’t like. (It’s actually more of a crime drama than a superhero movie anyway). Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!
Halle Berry has nothing to work with in this part…have you ever watched the X-men animated series? Not perfect either, but it gives you a sense how those characters should be. They should have their own storylines, they are freaking leading ladies with their own storylines. It is downright offensive how little of this is left in the movies.
I guess The Winter Soldier is the best Superhero movie if I look at it from an objective perspective, but Guardians of the Galaxy is most likely the one I would watch the most. And the Incredibles is just as good as those two. Honestly, Impossible to pick.
I haven’t seen that series but I will check it out. It’s certainly an interesting perspective. The female characters are side characters but at least they arent just love interests needing to be rescued. I’ve always liked Rogue and Mystique and like I said I think Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) is good (I have a softspot for Ellen Page and Jennifer Lawrence). I like the ensemble feel of the xmen movies but I do think you need a leader to anchor all of it. If they all had their own story it would get cluttered very fast. As it Mystique is a pretty important part of Days of Future Past. The whole plot revolves around actions she takes. But just because I like doesn’t mean others do so I get what you are saying. Thanks
Good points on your favorites. I always struggle with the order on lists because they are all good in different ways.
That’s the thing…in the comics they are main characters with their own titles. The whole Storyline with Wolverine going back in time…that’s not his, in the original Comic Kitty Pride is the one who sends her mind back in time and changes the future.
And I don’t think that it would be cluttered. They could (and should) have made an X-men franchise in which each movie focusses on a different character.
And, yes, Mystique is a pretty important part…or should be. For all her importance we don’t learn how she changed to a ruthless killer between First Class and this movie, we don’t learn how she feels after Magneto tried to kill her (which is a really big thing, they used to be friends, she left her adoptive brother for her) and to this day I have no idea why she changes her mind in the end, because the movie spends zero time on her motivations. She is just a plot point in this one, not a character. The only reason I like her character at all is one single scene she shares with Nightcrawler in X-men 2. He asks her why she doesn’t hide and pretends to be a normal person, and she answers because she shouldn’t have to.
Plus, Wolverine is actually very boring in my eyes. Oh, the poor guy with the sad past. He doesn’t even have an interesting power.
Fair enough. You make some good points. Will have to watch it again. I wouldn’t mind them getting their own titles but I still like them in the movies. Mystique is trying to stop Trask from killing the mutants. I felt like her motivation is always to do what is right for mutants so it didn’t seem ruthless to me. Given her experience it made sense. I thought she was a pretty interesting character for a superhero. Not someone who is obvious on first glance but is trying to do the right thing. Yeah I see what you are saying but I still think they are a pretty cool group of ladies and I’d love to see them get a spinoff but still happy with them in the franchise. It’s a draw for me. Mystique is the emotional heart of the movie and I was really quite involved in her journey.
Funny your thoughts on Wolverine. I find him very easy to root for and human. He has a vulnerability I like. I certainly think he’s a lot more interesting than say Superman or Batman but that’s just me. It’s kind of interesting with the Xmen bc none of them chose to be superheroes. That makes them conflicted and interesting.
I haven’t read the comics and just like with every book I’m sure they are better but I still find the xmen really entertaining and I like Wolverine and the women. I think they are different and unique and aren’t just pretty faces. But it’s all good. I thought Days of Future Past had so many layers and it was very clever and the whole cast had a little moment to shine with Wolverine being the leader. Kind of like Harry is the lead in Potter movies but everyone else has their moments.
But anyway there are 5 movies we do agree on so that’s awesome
And Howard the Duck really is unbelievably bad and it’s not even so bad it’s good (which is what I was hoping for when I watched it). It was vulgar and stupid and kind of boring. It should have been our first clue on good old George Lucas…
Well, it got the reputation to be the worst comic book movie of all time for a reason…Though Cat woman is similar bad, just in another way.
I’m watching them again and I really don’t think the female characters are that bad. We definitely see these characters quite differently. I think they have a variety of motivations and personalities. They do not exist solely as love interests. In fact, love isn’t really a big part of the Xmen franchise which is refreshing. It’s an ensemble series with one leader of a group kind of like Harry Potter or Toy Story movies are ensembles but have a lead character. I find the xmen women likable and tough in their own way. Each with something unique to offer. I think they could make a cool movie together but I don’t know if any of the Xmen characters can hold their own movie. Wolverine, the lead character, could barely do it in the second Wolverine movie.
And I really do think Mystique is a pretty complex character in Days of Future Past. If all superhero movies had such complex and interesting women I would be thrilled. Oh well. To each their own.
I LOVED GOTG, hands down my favorite superhero movie. Along with the Dark Knight. What can I say, the Dark Knight was perfection to me.
Worst superhero movies: All of the Joel Schumacher Batman(s). All.of.them.
Cool choices. I think Marvel and Kevin Feige were so bold with Guardians. It should have been a disaster but it’s so charming. I’m really excited to see where it goes.
Dark Knight is a very well made and acted movie. I totally get it.
And I completely agree on the Shumaker films. Batman and Robin is so bad it feels like it was written by 5 year olds. I also really disliked the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so that would be on there.
Oh yes, and I was so psyched for Ninja turtles. God damn you Michael Bay!
Took the words right out of my mouth. That movie had potential too but it was so badly edited most of the time I had no idea where they were, who they were fighting or what was going on.
Totally! And I loved the turtles while growing up. Other girls had barbies, I had action figures from Leonardo and Michelangelo. I kindda had a crush on Leonardo. I know, I was a weird kid. But my best friend had a crush on Donatello, so, I’m not alone lol
I’m with you. Turtles were so much fun!
I have to admit I wanted to write this as a little screw you to Birdman 😉 (knew you’d appreciate that)
Just one question. Where is ‘Dark Knight’? Where is it?!?
Did you read the post? I talk about that. Dark Knight is a very well made and acted movie and a good movie just a little too violent and dark to be a particular favorite of mine.
Oh, thanks. Actually, I just read the headings. 🙂
That’s ok. I do that from time to time. What’s your favorite after Dark Knight?
No one in particular. Avengers, Dark Knight Rises…
Cool. Welcome to the blog.
The Dark Knight is my fave…I can’t really rank any others besides that.
I actually wasn’t a fan of Mask of the Phantasm. I think it’s cuz so many people thought it was so good so I had an unbelievable hype to see it.
Nothing kills a good movie like high expectations. Maybe now that you’re more mellow in expectations it might be worth a rewatch? Thanks for commenting
I dunno. It wasn’t that long ago that I watched it and I’d rather watch an animated Batman film that I haven’t seen before watching this again.
Fair enough. I haven’t seen any of the other animated films but the series is good
It’s great that you like Mask of the Phantasm. I am a fan of The Dark Knight, but Mask of the Phantasm is almost as good – Kevin Conroy is still my favourite Batman and Mark Hamill my favourite Joker. I particularly love the scene where Bruce puts on the Batman costume for the first time: the music and the visuals make it so good. There’s another animated film (with a different voice cast) called Batman: Under The Red Hood, which is also really good, though it’s a pretty dark and gritty one so it might not be your thing. To give you some idea: the opening scene has the Joker beating the second Robin with a crowbar and then blowing him up.
My personal list would probably also include Watchmen, though I like the graphic novel better than the film. As for my favourite, it’s between The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 2. Spider-Man 2 is everything a superhero movie should be: the action is great, the villain is well-done, the hero goes through an interesting journey, and it’s humorous without being silly.
I tend to not find violence in animation as tough to sit through so thanks for recommendation. Totally agree with you on Phantasm. I feel like we get to know Batman so well as a character. It’s underrated.
Dark Knight is very well made movie and maybe even a masterpiece but just not a particular favorite for me.
I agree on Spiderman 2. A great villain who is trying to not be a villain. It’s a great movie
I think the whole Andrea Beaumont story gives Batman more of a history than just the loss of his parents that we normally get.
I’ve never been into Superhero movies and aside from the animated ones, had seen very few of them. I also don’t like Dark Knight because it is too violent and dark for me. But then just last month I finally watched the Avengers, and was shocked at how much I enjoyed it! We’re going to watch the Captain America and Iron Man movies now.
Nice to know I’m not alone on Dark Knight and i kind of had the same experience with superhero movies. I used to hate them but have slowly started warming up to them.
I definitely agree with you that Superhero movies are best when they’re not Superhero movies. We have lots of picks in common! Great list!
Thanks and welcome to the blog. I’ve come a long way on Superhero movies but they just can’t take themselves too seriously.
Great list. My number 1 was the same as yours until Age of Ultron came out. And lots of people seem to hate Man of Steel but I thought it was awesome lol. Catwomen was a solid number 1 cuz it was pretty terrible
Cool. Thanks for your comment. Man of Steel is one of those polarizing films that people tend to feel strongly one way or another. Didn’t work for me but I get why others love it. It took itself too seriously. Superman should be a little bit fun. I didn’t like the flashback structure or Zod as a villain. I hated the action sequences which weren’t violent in an interesting way but kind of gratuitous. What I like about the Marvel movies is they have fun without being stupid like a Catwoman or Batman and Robin. Come to think of it not many DC movies I like. Strange! Oh well. Lots of good one’s. Any others on my list that you like?
I loved the action sequences hahaha. I just loved how over-the-top they were. And yeah I liked the choices of Guardians, Winter Soldier, X-men, Incredibles and then Green Lantern, Batman and Robin for the other one.
You’re excited for Batman v Superman then? I’m not
Definitely. It looks great but it BETTER be great. It has too much riding on its DCU to be sub-par.
Hope so. I have no faith in the director and the casting has been so odd. I’m sure it will make a lot of money like Man of Steel regardless.
So you weren’t a fan of the Jesse Eisenberg casting?
No and Gal Gadot? Very strange. I just don’t trust Zach Snyder after his other movies like Sucker Punch…I would have done Brian Cranston and Gina Carano. But I always try to go into every movie with an open mind so hopefully it will be good. But I will have to put leave my high skepticism at the door.
Cranston would of been great but it also seems too obvious of a choice. Snyder seems to be going in all different directions and I think it’ll work Carano would of been good too. Hopefully Gadot does a good job. And Zack Snyder has his share of misfires but I still like his directing style. Hopefully he can pull of this giant world Warner Bros. and DC is trying to create.