Given the ribbing that superhero movies have received by some of the movie press in the wake of the 2015 Oscars we’ve taken a look at the great and the good of the Superhero genre and despite what all the ribbing against these types of movies the genre itself has served up some absolute beauties. It seems churlish to dismiss these movies as lazy when you consider the cultural impact that they have. V For Vendetta has contributed more culturally than Titanic, don’t believe me? Tell that to everyone on Wall Street wearing a Guy Fawkes mask! The Dark Knight is a far more fitting film for Heath Ledger’s memory than The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus his final film.
Films like this are easily knocked because people like to knock what’s big. If nobody liked superhero movies, people wouldn’t make them! In Reverse Order, here’s our top 10 Superhero Movies of all time!
10. V For Vendetta
V For Vendetta is based on the Graphic Novels of the same name by David Lloyd and Alan Moore. Set in a dystopian future Vigilante and Freedom fighter known only by the name of V seeks to free the lives and minds of his country from an increasingly corrupt and insular government. Hugo Weaving, star of so many of the 2000’s biggest blockbusters stars along side the beautiful and talented Natalie Portman as she becomes tangled in V’s fight for freedom. John Hurt is excellent as a disembodied head on a screen as the High Chancellor and the surrounding cast is perfectly selected. It made over £132 million dollars, but more importantly its influence is felt to this day. V’s trademark Guy Fawkes mask, now a common badge for those opposing tyranny and government conspiracy. Despite it’s Dystopian background it’s theme’s run closer to life than few of us would care to admit and its influence on our culture is more and more present 10 years after its release.
1998’s Blade star’s tax-dodging Wesley Snipes as a Vampire Human hybrid who serves as mankind’s protector from those nasty fanged mother lovers. The film went on to spawn 2 sequels none of which were as good as the first in our opinion. It remains the only film of quality lead antagonist Stephen Dorff has been in. The film grossed $131 million world-wide in spite of Dorff’s presence.
In 2000 Marvel and 20th Century fox began an assault on the Superhero film market that continues in earnest to this day. The first X-Men film and it’s all star cast raked in an impressive $296 and was so good that 5 sequels, 2 of which have been lacklustre have traded on its name since. Charles Xavier, his X-Men and anti-hero Wolverine must stop Magneto from ending persecution of mutants by turning everyone into Mutants. I personally think their goal was flawed. I’d love gills, or to be able to fly or shoot lasers out of my eyes! Who wouldn’t?
Not the Amazing Spider-Man, or Spiderman 2. Just Spider-Man Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire’s 2002 effort set a benchmark the Spider-Man franchise hasn’t since been able to meet. To describe the film as successful would be an understatement as it grossed over $821m! The plot is simple, orphan boy gets bitten by radio active spider, develops spider-like powers and in doing so unwittingly becomes a superhero for a populous who are suspicious of him. Queue crazy super villain in green armored costume flying a gobwing and the battle lines are drawn. Director Sam Raimi cared about the franchise and his opening effort reflected his passion for Spider-Man lore and the comic books.
6. Superman II
Superman II, the Superhero so Movie its premise was essentially remade 33 year’s later. Always a franchise difficult to peddle to a modern audience because the main character is frankly too damn perfect. His only weakness, to a material that doesn’t exist naturally on this planet. Anyway the plot is simple. In his clumsy disposing of a terrorist nuclear device he accidentally frees General Zod and two other Kryptonian criminals who unleash their bad selves on an unsuspecting planet earth. Long Story Short Superman wins.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardian’s was Marvel’s first foray into releasing some of its lesser known back catalog upon the general public. To say they did so with success is an understatement and a half. Despite most of the general public having never heard of the franchise the film’s box office effort of over $774m soon ensured that people did. This film proves that good story telling, a well assembled cast and quality production values matter as much to the Superhero genre as any other. Disney allowed director James Gunn some freedom and they were rewarded handsomely with an incredible movie. The thing that sets this film apart is the quality of its sound-track and the way that the sound-track is integrated into the story. Its a quazi-superhero-sci-fi-musical and the quality of this fusion sets this film above almost any other Marvel effort.
When Jack Nicholson turn’s up in a film you know on the whole its going to be a beauty. Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman is exactly that, not only was it expertly made with great story and beautiful production it changed the way’s superhero movies were viewed. Gotham is a dingy city and Superheros work in where they’re needed most often in the dingiest of places. Tim Burton was a good director at this point in his career but his penchant for Darker narratives was well formed and this darker nature suits the Batman franchise down to the ground. When it was released in 1989 it was the fifth highest grossing film of all time. That said, this isn’t even the best batman film! That one’s even darker!
3. Iron Man
There’s two primary words that describe the first Iron Man film. Cool as. Iron Man’s story of weapon peddling ego maniac turned weapon wielding ego maniac is straight forward enough what makes this film and this franchise is the performance of leading man Robert Downey Jr. You see what you suspect are traits of Downey’s personality easing through into Tony Stark. Stark is a flawed genius as we know from past discretions that Downey Jr is himself in part. He’s perfectly suited to this part. Its brilliantly written and wonderfully produced and directed and most importantly its bold. This film has its superhero balls out and its waving them all in your face… and you LOVE IT!
2. Avengers Assemble
Proof enough that comic book and superhero movies are in the public interest and in demand Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, or the Avengers or what ever you want to call it is the third highest grossing film ever. Making over $1.5bn at the box office it proves once and for all that people love a well quality superhero movie and Marvel has them coming out of the wazzoo. Having spared no expense on plot, cast, production and promotion and you have an absolute winner.
1. The Dark Knight
Everything about this picture is perfect, absolutely perfect. It stands up on its own regardless of what came before or after it. The late Heath Ledger is magnificent as the Joker, with the senseless anarchism and desire to create chaos at all cost. Bale opposite him is underrated by most in this performance. We said earlier on that Batman suits a darker movie and this one is as dark as they come. Our flawed hero in a grim city where crime and corruption rule fighting not against super villains but against men, admittedly mental but just ordinary men. The universe is rich in seedy underbelly and Batman wallows around in it all. All Christopher Nolan’s Batman films are worth a watch but this one is the stand out of the trilogy and the Genre.