The 10 Best Superhero Movies of All Time Blog Relay

Comic Book Movie Costumes

My fellow blogger and all-around swell guy Wendell Ottley, creator of Dell on Movies, (check out the site, it’s packed full of lots of cool takes on movies) handed me the baton for my first blog relay and fortunately it’s about a subject I have no problem going on and on about — The Top 10 best comic book movies.

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For the rest of you, Bubbawheat of Flights, Tights and Movie Nights, decided to create a blog relay and wanted the take on fellow bloggers for a Top 10 list featuring what will eventually be a consensus greatest comic book movie list. It’s an interesting list, but rather than just spouting off a few films, Bubbawheat put rules to this game:

  1. The list of movies will be passed to another blogger who will post their list within a week.
  2. The blogger will take their list, remove 3 movies – with explanations, and replace with 3 new movies – with explanations.
  3. If a movie lasts five rounds without being removed, it becomes locked in; it is permanent and can no longer be removed from the list.
  4. If a movie is removed three different times, it is locked out and can no longer be put back onto the list by someone else.
  5. Once four movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 2 movies.
  6. Once eight movies are locked into place, bloggers will replace 1 movie.
  7. Once all ten movies are locked into place, the relay will be complete.

I’ve got a particularly tricky challenge as a number of the essential films are locked in, but I’ve still got a little leeway to play around and put some more of my favorites on the list. But let’s break down the locked in films first (in no particular order)

Marvel’s The Avengers

Marvel's The Avengers

You can’t have a Top 10 list without having the (current) greatest all-time pure comic book team-up film on it. Joss Whedon fully gets the characters and their interaction with one another is almost as big a treat as watching them throw down with Loki and the Chitauri in the epic final act. This is a movie I won’t ever get tired of watching and may only get topped by the upcoming sequel, “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Until then, if I were ranking comic book films, this would easily be in my Top 3 all-time.

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight Harvey Dent Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman Commissioner Gordon and Batman Christian BaleOn the opposite end of the fun and bright spectrum of “Avengers” is Christopher Nolan’s dark masterpiece. Packed with stunning action, brilliant performances (Heath Ledger gets all the credit, but Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are all tremendous) and a complex, yet easy to follow script, this is the best “realistic” comic book movie. It’s the film you put on for people who you would be turned off by the “comic book movie stigma.” This would be in my all-time Top 3 as well.

Iron Man

Iron Man 2008 movie

In a brilliant bit of inspired casting and a willingness to go all-in with its portrayal of a comic book hero adapted for the big screen, this 2008 gem not only has become the definitive comic book origin film, but put Iron Man on the same level as Superman and Batman in terms of mainstream pop culture. And it’s a heck of a film too. With Robert Downey Jr.s’ electric performance, it’s easy to categorize comic book films as pre-“Iron Man” and post-“Iron Man” as the bar was significantly raised after its release. This is arguably the biggest game-changer on the list as it not only established a new dominant A-level hero, but also marked a creative way to build a franchise with the start of the Avengers in a memorable post-credit scene.

Spider-Man 2relay-spider-man-24

This is one I understand why it’s on the list as it was the most enjoyable of the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy, but I’ve always considered it overrated. True, it features the fantastic Alfred Molina in a wonderful turn as Dr. Octopus and a better Peter Parker/Mary Jane dynamic, but I’ve never been a big fan of how Raimi made the fun-loving Spider-Man a mute and constantly felt the need to remove his mask. That said, the train sequence is one of the best shot comic book battles we’ve seen so far.

Unbreakablerelay-unbreakable4

Night Shyamalan’s last great movie is an interesting film to already be locked up considered the quality contenders still awaiting that distinction and the fact that this is so purely an origin story there’s hardly any of the normal comic book elements to it, but this was a solid mystery with Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson doing yeomen’s work pulling this off. I haven’t watched it in awhile, because I needed enough time to forget everything so now is as good a time as any to revisit it.

The Rocketeer

rocketeer4

Classic, old-school goodness. This 1991 film by Joe Johnston (“Captain America: The First Avenger”) isn’t flashy, but a throwback where comic book films weren’t a mass of CGI patchwork and snarky heroes. This is another one I haven’t seen in years so it’d be fun to watch again.

The Incrediblesincredibles4

Pixar’s animated gem captured the Fantastic Four family dynamic better than any of the two movies and I doubt next year’s take will force me to change that thought either. This Brad Bird love letter to comic books is one of my favorite Pixar films and it continues to baffle me why we haven’t gotten a sequel yet. No argument at all with this being on the list.

relay-batman3For his list, Wendell added “Superman: The Movie,” “Kick-Ass” and “Blade II.” On the scoreboard are “Batman” with one vote away from being locked in, followed closely by “X-Men: First Class” with three votes.

So what will I do? I’m not going with “Batman” as I feel “Batman Returns” is a better, more complete movie as opposed to a Joker spotlight effort so someone else will have to lock that up.

For starters, I’m definitely gonna keep “Blade II.”Wesley Snipes as Blade

Guillermo del Toro was the perfect director to handle the second chapter of Wesley Snipes’ Blade and only positively built upon its predecessor with the addition of The Bloodpack, a hideously scary new menace and an early appearance by Norman Reedus (“The Walking Dead’s” Daryl Dixon). I’m sure part of the reason people were so disappointed with “Blade: Trinity” was due to how high the bar was raised here.

Now it’s time to kick things up a bit.

Kick-AssKick-Ass Kick-Ass meets Hit Girl and Big Daddy

Director/Writer Matthew Vaughn deserves a medal for how he adapted Mark Millar’s story for the big screen and make it into a fun, unpredictable film that’s much more entertaining than its crude source material. Additionally, Vaughn as well as getting a great performance out of Nicholas Cage and unleashing the scene-stealing Hit Girl on us, but in the end, I’ve always found “Kick-Ass” to be way too familiar to other films. It’s equal parts Spider-Man and Batman with a dose of Punisher thrown in for good measure and what makes the other films on the list so special is that they don’t make me think “this is like a twisted version of something else.” Sorry KA, but you’re outta here.

And now it’s that point where we zoom around the planet super fast and remove another film from the list.

Superman: The MovieSuperman the movie 1978 angry Superman

Granted, this is the movie that made us believe a man can fly. Christopher Reeve can do no wrong in the role, Gene Hackman is perfect and Margot Kidder embodies Lois Lane to a tee. Only problem is, the biggest action sequence is Superman walking through a weapons-filled tunnel. And that reverse time ending has always been problematic for me. Especially when there’s such a better option to go with instead…

I’m adding “Superman II.”

Superman II Superman finally kneels before General ZodThis remains one of my favorite movies as this was the one time on the big screen that Superman was conveyed as the underdog and woefully over-matched as he had to contend with three Kryptonian criminals. Sure the effects are a bit dated now, but this captured Superman best as the Phantom Zone villains used Superman’s concern for the innocent bystanders against him (something “Man of Steel,” which I did really enjoy, failed to address at all).Terrence Stamp ruled the screen in his take as Zod, one of the best comic book movie villains performances ever. Gene Hackman had some great moments and I love that final all-too human moment where Clark Kent gets his revenge on the diner bully.

And for my final choice, I’m going with my favorite film of 2014. Some have argued against it saying it needs more time for repeated viewings to see how it holds up, but I’m not gonna hold the fact that it came out this year against it and add

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

Captain-America-The-Winter Soldier poster

Granted, I’ve seen it three times this year so it holds up just fine for me, but this was a comic book film that like “Dark Knight” found an untapped type of story — a paranoid spy thriller — as the basis for an exhilarating adventure featuring an unwavering hero and a vast conspiracy. There’s great surprises, action and outstanding performances by Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson.

So that’s my list. Time for me to pass it on to one of the nicest and most prolific bloggers out there right now, my buddy Dan who runs Dan the Man’s Movie Reviews. Even though he’s on a bit of a hiatus, I figure he’d have some fun participating in this as well. So with that said, it’s all on you now Dan.

  • Fred

    Great lists Jeff, this is how I would rank my Top 10 favorite superhero films of all time: 1)The Avengers, 2)Iron Man, 3)Spider-Man 2, 4)The Dark Knight, 5)The Winter Soldier, 6)Blade 2, 7)Superman II, 8)X2, 9)GOTG, 10)Man Of Steel/Thor: The Dark World tie, so I cheated a little sue me haha. That wasn’t easy. This list is certainly subject to change over the next few years starting with AOU next year, if that film turns out to be as amazing as I think it can be I might be looking at a new number one film on my Top 10 list. I’m still fluctuating with ‘Cap 2’ in my Top 5 because it could be as high as number #3 possibly on my list, it’s that good. I liked GOTG a lot, but for my money ‘Cap 2’ is a superior film to it. While I’m still not sure what number ‘Cap 2’ is for sure I do know one thing for certain, it’s in my all time Top 5 comic book films list for sure.

  • Thanks for taking part! I wasn’t sure (and am still not fully sure) that my extra rules would make things more interesting or just too complicated. I do prefer Batman Returns over Batman, but the original Superman is just so iconic. And while spinning the Earth backwards isn’t that great, I think it’s just a touch better than the amnesia kiss. And now it’s do or die for Captain America, it’ll either be on the list or locked out completely.

  • Thanks for setting it up! It was a fun and unique take on Top 10s. Love to team up with you again! ?
    I’m pulling for Cap to make it through this time!

  • Thanks man. I’m very interested in how the next two years force us to readjust these Top 10. Definitely anticipating AOU and BatsvSupes making entries as well as Cap3.

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  • Fred

    I can say this with utter confidence, ‘The Winter Soldier’ definitely needs to remain on your list. Just my personal opinion.

  • Fred

    Very true, the more I hear about ‘Ant-Man’ the more I like so who knows how good that could turn out to be. Hopefully “Dr. Strange” has a stellar cast as well. But yeah over the next 2 years AOU, BvS and Cap 3 would seem to be the 3 comic book films with the highest potential to crack the all time Top 10.

  • I’m a bit sad you swapped out the original Superman for the sequel, but you made up for it by keeping Blade II. Hope that means it’s on its way to being locked in.

  • I do like the first Superman, but the action scenes were so much more fun in the sequel. I’d like Blade II to stick around as well.

  • keith

    Im board with your list.. and props to you for not adding the amazing spiderman 1 or 2 (ha) you kept it real with spidey 2 and i thinks it properly rated though. Just me. good job bootign ka.. picking the proper superman movie, and giving blade II its props.

    Blade II is so many films packed in one: its a kung fu movie, a horror movie, comic movie, and a black man who just dont take no sh it movie lol (props to denzel and carl weathers)

  • I like ASM2, but Superman II and Cap 2 rank higher on an all-time list for me.

    KA might rank on my Top 20, but not Top 10. Blade II was a no-brainer for me to keep on the list though as it’s everything you could ask for in a Blade movie.

  • Joey Henderson

    Spider-Man
    X-Men: First Class
    Man of Steel
    Spider-Man 2
    Iron Man
    X-Men: Days of Future Past
    Captain America: The Winter Soldier
    Guardians of the Galaxy
    The Avengers
    The Dark Knight Trilogy

  • Fred

    A pretty damn good Top 10 list I must say, and not too far off y own Top 10.

  • What’s yours?

  • Fred

    “The Avengers”, “Blade 2”, “Spider-Man 2” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “Iron Man”, “The Dark Knight”, “X2”, “Superman 2”, “Spider-Man” and “GOTG/Batman”, yeah I know I cheated a little on that last one haha.

  • Good list too my friend. You like the Raimi Spider-Man films more than I do 😉

  • Fred

    Yeah the Spidey flicks are one of the few superhero film where we differ my friend. To me “Spider-Man 2” is still the best of the 5 Spidey films so far, I don’t get how you don’t love that film Jeff, but hey we all like what we like lol.

  • I love Doc Ock, the train battle and the fight scenes, but I always felt like Raimi missed a major aspect of Spider-Man keeping him quiet and never talking.