Superhero stories have been a part of popular culture for over 75 years, but it’s not just on the printed page that they’re being told. Marvel and DC continue to announce new projects for their cinematic universe, and even other companies are contributing to the genre whether it’s adapting an existing property or coming up with something original.
Many kinds of adaptations have been told across various media, but the big screen is arguably the most popular destination besides the comic books themselves. With so many entries, both live action and animated movies, there’s more than enough to determine which are the greatest of the bunch.
Currently we live in a time when the superhero movie’s popularity is at an all time high. The superhero movie genre is one of the biggest and most popular around, but finding a consensus on the very best superhero movies ever made is tough.
Which is why the folks at Newszii came together to discuss, debate, and downright fight over the Top 20 superhero movies of all time only for you. Enjoy the list…
1. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos.
A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality.
Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment – the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.
Review: Peter Rainer
“Avengers: Infinity War” reportedly cost around $300 million and was 10 years in the making. This doesn’t mean the film took 10 years to make. It just means that all that time was required to amass virtually all the Marvel characters into a single entity.
The other Marvel movies can be viewed as a sort of prequel to this one. For that matter, “Infinity War” is essentially a prequel, too – the second installment of the two-part story is scheduled to arrive with a heavy thud next summer. Read Full Review…
2. Deadpool 2 (2018)
After surviving a near-fatal bovine attack, a disfigured cafeteria chef (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Mayberry’s hottest bartender while also learning to cope with his lost sense of taste.
Searching to regain his spice for life, as well as a flux capacitor, Wade must battle ninjas, the Yakuza, and a pack of sexually aggressive canines, as he journeys around the world to discover the importance of family, friendship, and flavour – finding a new taste for adventure and earning the coveted coffee mug title of World’s Best Lover.
Review: Richard Brody
In many ways, “Deadpool 2” is an improvement on its predecessor. Like the first film in the series, it’s largely a comedy, because of the torrent of snark that the protagonist (Ryan Reynolds) spouts, onscreen and in voice-over, from beginning to end—and because much of the action, even when it deals with earnest matters, is shaped to match these antic attitudes.
The drama of “Deadpool 2” is more sharply focussed than in the earlier film. The first “Deadpool” set out the protagonist’s grim origin story. Read Full Review…
3. The Flash
Barry Allen is a Central City police forensic scientist with a reasonably happy life, despite the childhood trauma of a mysterious red and yellow lightning killing his mother and framing his father. All that changes when a massive particle accelerator accident leads to Barry being struck by lightning in his lab. Read Full…
When John Wesley Shipp first appeared as Barry Allen, a.k.a. The Flash, on CBS it was a surprise that the series wasn’t terrible.
Up until this point, superheroes on film and television tended to come across as cheesy, over-the-top camp or simply poorly produced blights on the medium that were best left forgotten. Read Full Review…
4. Incredibles 2 (2018)
While the Parr family has accepted its collective calling as superheroes, the fact remains that their special heroism is still illegal. After they are arrested after unsuccessfully trying to stop the Underminer, their future seems bleak. Read Full Description…
Review: Richard Brody
The very premise of Brad Bird’s 2004 Pixar film, “The Incredibles,” pits “a world of born” against “a world of made,” and comes down strongly in favor of the former.
The villain of the story is Buddy Pine, a.k.a. Syndrome, a warped genius who creates a device that can rival the powers of superheroes, especially those of Mr. Incredible, a.k.a. Bob Parr. Read Full Review…
5. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
In the aftermath of ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ Scott Lang grapples with the consequences of his choices as both a Super Hero and a father.
As he struggles to re-balance his home life with his responsibilities as Ant-Man, he’s confronted by Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym with an urgent new mission.
Scott must once again put on the suit and learn to fight alongside The Wasp as the team works together to uncover secrets from their past.
Review: Katie Walsh
The playful and appealing “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” out Friday, like “Ant-Man,” seen in 2015, are outliers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They feel far more self-contained than the sprawling, interconnected capers featuring the other superheroes.
The buggy movies are local, family-oriented stories. They even manage to make the stakes appropriately sized, which is ironic, given how much Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and his new partner, the Wasp, enjoy playing with the scale and proportion of everyday objects. Read Full Review…
6. Justice League (2017)
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat.
But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes-Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash-it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
Review: Bob Mondello
Exactly like all the others in fact, which is part of the problem. When Marvel does this sort of thing, there’s a lightness that has mostly eluded the folks in the DC cinematic universe.
Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman got the tone right last time, which suggested things were looking up. But without director Patty Jenkins around, she’s subject to the dismissive male gaze for which Hollywood’s long been criticized. Read Full Review…
7. Black Panther (2018)
After the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa returns home to the reclusive, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country’s new leader. However, T’Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from factions within his own country.
When two foes conspire to destroy Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must team up with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakandan special forces, to prevent Wakanda from being dragged into a world war.
Review: Christopher Orr
Yes, Black Panther is another multizillion-dollar installment in the burgeoning Marvel Cinematic Universe. But that is not all that it is.
Other superhero movies have dabbled in big ideas—the Dark Knight trilogy most notably, and the X-Men franchise to a lesser degree. But their commitments to the moral and political questions they contemplated were relatively haphazard and/or peripheral. Read Full Review…
8. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok, the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization, at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela.
Review: Justin Chang
From the opening scene of Thor hanging out in a subterranean cavern, blissfully unconcerned that he’s being held captive by an ancient fire demon named Surtur (picture a more eloquent Balrog), you are invited to kick off your clogs, settle in and pay as much or as little attention to the plot as you please.
One of the more disarming aspects of “Thor: Ragnarok,” at least initially, is that it treats its relatively high-stakes premise as if it were no big deal. Read Full Review…
9. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May, under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark, Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.
Review: Alison Willmore
Did the superhero movie kill the teen comedy? Or at least lure its former audience away with one of those must-have pillars of light? That’s the only reasonable explanation for why a genre with such an active afterlife has been having so much trouble lately getting traction with audiences when it comes to anything new.
Mean Girls is so widely mimed that social media would basically collapse without it. The 20th anniversary of Clueless was commemorated with tributes, oral histories, and a full week of ETonline coverage. Read Full Review…
10. Suicide Squad (2016)
It feels good to be bad. Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S.
intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do.
However, once they realize they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself?
Review: Colin Covert
This is what happens when the comic book fanboys have taken over the asylum.
It is damaged goods from the get-go, the kind of film grown in a petri dish in Hollywood. Read Full Review…
11. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
After stealing a mysterious orb in the far reaches of outer space, Peter Quill from Earth is now the main target of a manhunt led by the villain known as Ronan the Accuser. To help fight Ronan and his team and save the galaxy from his power, Quill creates a team of space heroes known as the “Guardians of the Galaxy” to save the galaxy.
Review: Kenneth Turan
Hard as it is to believe, within the memory of those still living, Marvel was not always the movie establishment’s billion-dollar behemoth but a scrappy, iconoclastic comic book gadfly.
So one of the most pleasant surprises of the altogether pleasant and surprising “Guardians of the Galaxy” is that it takes us back to Marvel’s roots and the subversive satisfactions those early days provided. Read Full Review…
12. Logan (2017)
In 2029 the mutant population has shrunken significantly due to genetically modified plants designed to reduce mutant powers and the X-Men have disbanded. Logan, whose power to self-heal is dwindling, has surrendered himself to alcohol and now earns a living as a chauffeur.
He takes care of the ailing old Professor X whom he keeps hidden away. One day, a female stranger asks Logan to drive a girl named Laura to the Canadian border. At first, he refuses, but the Professor has been waiting for a long time for her to appear. Laura possesses an extraordinary fighting prowess and is in many ways like Wolverine. Read Full Story…
Review: Peter Travers
Is Wolverine getting old? Think of this renegade, genre-defying chapter in the film franchise as X-Men: The AARP Years. Don’t panic: Logan is a hard-ass, R-rated rager that explodes with action.
But what makes it indelibly raw and touching is the sight of mutant heroes raging against the dying of the light. The year is 2029, and the X-Men have gone the way of the T-Rex. No mutant births have been recorded for 25 years. Read Full Review…
13. Green Lantern (2011)
In a mysterious universe, the Green Lantern Corps, an elite defense force of peace and justice have existed for centuries. Reckless test pilot Hal Jordan acquires superhuman powers when he is chosen by the Ring, the willpower-fed source of power. Reluctantly at first, he takes on the challenge after the death of Abin Sur, the finest Green Lantern. Read Full Story…
Review: Richard Roeper
I watched Green Lantern today with my 3D tv and found the movie to be more enjoyable than I remembered. I watched Spider-man last night and even though I loved the reboot I don’t think that the 3D was as bright and dazzling as Green Lantern.
Green Lantern looks sharp. Spider-man has a darker look. Critics are so very fickle. I don’t think that GL received a fair score. Read Full Review…
14. Man of Steel (2013)
A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.
Review: Wesley Morris
We’ve reached a point of no return with the fantasy movie. The geeks, nerds, and obsessives have so completely taken over the entertainment industry, and so thoroughly know the comic books, science fiction television, and galactic film series they’re working with, that there are no new surprises left. Even when it’s new, it’s nostalgic. Read Full Review…
15. Iron Man 3 (2013)
Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible.
This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. Read Full Story…
Review: Mick LaSalle
Among the movie’s assets is billionaire Tony Stark, as played and embodied by Robert Downey Jr. A fascinating and troubled guy, Tony can’t sleep, and when he does he has nightmares.
He is prone to panic attacks, and his only comfort is in making Iron Man suits. He seems to have an odd intuition that something bad is coming, and he’s right. Read Full Review…
16. Power Rangers (2017)
High school outcasts stumble upon an old alien ship, where they acquire superpowers and are dubbed the Power Rangers. Learning that an old enemy of the previous generation has returned to exact vengeance, the group must harness their powers and use them to work together and save the world.
Review: Danny Yu
“It’s morphin’ time!” fans will yell, as waves of light explode, color-coded armor creeps onto bodies, and tears of recognition are wiped away. Rarely has a franchise dominated childhoods as thoroughly as the ’90s-era live-action Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, devoured on TV and cemented with action figures and toys.
Today’s grown-up kids aren’t ready for the reboot, but they should be: The movie knows to make playground fun out of the material. Read Full Review…
17. Constantine (2005)
John Constantine is approached by Det. Angela Dodson who needs his help to prove that her twin sister Isabel’s death was not a suicide. The dead woman was a devout Catholic and Angela refuses to accept she would have taken her own life. She’s asked Constantine for help because he has a reputation for dealing with the mystical. Read Full Story…
Review: Richard Corliss
Halfway through Constantine, a fully clad Keanu Reeves steps into a shallow pail of water sits on a chair next to it and holds a cat in his lap.
Any actor who can retain his charisma in this weird-silly moment–can keep us watching, and admiring his dutiful nonchalance–deserves to be called a movie star. Read Full Review…
18. Fantastic Four (2015)
Fantastic Four, a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.
Review: Christy Lemire
He wouldn’t bite — but playing catch-up once we returned to Los Angeles was one of our top priorities yesterday, alongside grocery shopping and laundry.
I hate to pile on at this point because that just seems needless. Clearly, this movie is terrible on multiple fronts and a case study of a soulless summer spectacle gone wrong. But I wanted to share a few thoughts. Read Full Review…
19. Batman (1989)
Gotham City. Crime boss Carl Grissom (Jack Palance) effectively runs the town but there’s a new crime fighter in town – Batman (Michael Keaton). Grissom’s right-hand man is Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson), a brutal man who is not entirely sane.
After falling out between the two Grissom has Napier set up with the Police and Napier falls to his apparent death in a vat of chemicals.
Review: Carrie Rickey
It’s an unforgivably flat ending for a movie of such astonishing contours. But its first two-thirds – which should be called The Joker’s Big Misadventure is probably the best film of the year. Read Full Review…
20. Megamind (2010)
After super-villain Megamind (Ferrell) kills his good-guy nemesis, Metro Man (Pitt), he becomes bored since there is no one left to fight. He creates a new foe, Tighten (Hill), who, instead of using his powers for good, sets out to destroy the world, positioning Megamind to save the day for the first time in his life.
Review: Mayer Nissim
When it comes to animated flicks, studios must be tempted to cobble together a clichÃ©-laden script, toss in some pop culture references for the mums and dads, pile on the celeb names, stick it in 3D and hope that the punters will roll in.
Often enough, that works, so it’s a real pleasure when a bunch of people makes the effort to create something a bit more special. Read Full Review…