10 Greatest Years For Superhero Films We Can Only Hope 2021 Lives Up To

10 Greatest Years For Superhero Films We Can Only Hope 2021 Lives Up To

Superheroes have dominated theaters for a long time, but there are ten specific years which stand out as being the best. These were epic years for the genre, and 2021 will need to try hard to top them!

Superhero films have been making an impact in theaters for a long time, but it's only really been over the past two decades that they've transformed from niche stories for "nerds" to global blockbusters which break records and earn widespread acclaim. 

There are, however, specific years stand out as being better than others. 2021 looks super exciting thanks to titles like Eternals, The Suicide Squad, and Spider-Man 3, but will it be able to stack up to the list we've put together of the 10 greatest years for superhero films?

Some of the years you'll find here have had a handful of releases, while others have been jam-packed with blockbusters. Each of those stand out to us as being particularly special times for the genre, though, and ranking them was certainly no easy feat for us!

Opinions are like, well, you-know-what, so we're sure you'll have your own favorite years and some thoughts on the way we've ranked those included here. Those can be shared in the comments!
 

10. 2002

2002

It was still early days for the superhero genre in 2002, but there were a couple of big films this year which resonate with fans to this day. 

Guillermo del Toro's Blade 2 is still considered a classic, and set a benchmark that the reboot starring Mahershala Ali now has to live up to. The film that really stole the show in 2002, however, was Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. Groundbreaking technology brought this iconic Stan Lee and Steve Ditko creation to life in a way which was previously unimaginable. 

Men in Black II was a low point this year, but Road to Perdition - which was based on a comic - made up for it. 

2002 was an important year that may have only had a couple of noteworthy releases, but ones which we're still talking about almost two decades later.
 

9. 2013

Mos1

2013 might not have been a year remembered for the quality of its superhero films, but the importance the year had for the genre cannot be denied. 

Yes, there were rubbish films like Kick-Ass 2, 2 Guns, and R.I.P.D. which did little to help the genre in the long run, but imagine how different both the MCU and DCEU would look without Thor: The Dark World and Man of Steel. The latter birthed the DC SnyderVerse, while the former was so bad, it led to Taika Waititi totally reinventing the God of Thunder.

Iron Man 3's portrayal of the Mandarin was divisive, but the film made it clear Marvel Studios was embracing comedy in its films after the success of Joss Whedon's The Avengers.

The Wolverine was also pretty damn great.
 

8. 2011

Cap

Another important year, 2011 massively expanded the MCU and proved it wasn't just Iron Man who could find success in theaters.

Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor may look tame by today's standards, but a decade ago? These films knocked the socks off comic lovers across the globe. No one ever imagined Steve Rogers would work on screen, but Chris Evans successfully wielded the shield and proved everyone wrong. 

Green Lantern was a noteworthy flop this year, and sadly shelved the character to this day. 

X-Men: First Class, however, successfully rebooted that series, and while the quality would soon dip, Matthew Vaughn's casting decisions were faultless.
 

7. 2017

Rag

Things got busy in 2017, and the quality of the superhero films we got to enjoy was incredible. 

On the Marvel side, we got Baby Groot cuteness in James Gunn's stellar Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, while Jon Watts successfully rebooted the wall-crawler's solo franchise with Spider-Man: Homecoming. That was the perfect follow-up to Captain America: Civil War, and Watts proved himself as perfect a fit for the hero as Sam Raimi.

Taika Waititi, meanwhile, was similarly successful overhauling a Marvel icon with Thor: Ragnarok.

On the DC side, Wonder Woman blew us all away, and Justice League...didn't. It turned out Joss Whedon's magic Marvel touch didn't translate in the DCEU.
 

6. 2014

DOFP

2014 wasn't a win on all fronts.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a colossal disaster, while films like Sin City: A Dame to Kill For300: Rise of an Empire, and RoboCop underwhelmed. Snowpiercer, however, was an absolute gem of a film. 

Back on the superhero side of things, James Gunn managed to put the Guardians of the Galaxy on the map with his hilarious, uplifting, and memorable take on the little-known characters. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a masterpiece of a film, and X-Men: Days of Future Past arguably remains the best X-Men film ever made.

Animated adventure Big Hero 6 - based loosely on the Marvel Comics series - also deserves a mention.
 

5. 2008

IM

This wasn't a majorly busy year, but there were still a few important films that were utterly superb. 

The Dark Knight was a game-changer for the genre which gave us Heath Ledger's unbeatable take on The Joker, and a film which made people sit up and take superheroes seriously. 

Punisher: War Zone came and went, but Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk were the opening chapters in what would come to be known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Like Spider-Man before it, the visual effects in Iron Man were nothing short of groundbreaking. 

Hellboy II: The Golden Army from Guillermo del Toro was good enough that fans still want a part three.
 

4. 2016

BvS1

2016 was a divisive year, but one which deserves to be remembered as one of the best for the genre.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad weren't to everyone's liking, but how great was it to see the Dark Knight and Man of Steel come to blows on the big screen? The same can be said for Task Force X, and while the quality of these films is up for debate, they had their good points. 

It's a shame X-Men: Apocalypse sucked, but it never stood a chance in a year that saw the release of a masterpiece like Captain America: Civil War. Doctor Strange brought some crazy visuals to the MCU too. 

In some ways, however, it was Fox that stole the show with Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds was finally given the chance to play the version of Wade Wilson he wanted, and what a hit that proved to be.
 

3. 2012

Aveng

There are some years which will go down in the history books, and this is bound to be one of them. 

Beyond that, though, it was just a seriously exciting time to be a fan. Spider-Man returned to the big screen in The Amazing Spider-Man, a film which didn't live up to expectations, but had us invested at the time. Christopher Nolan ended his trilogy in 2012 with The Dark Knight Rises, a true event film that did what no one had before: concluded Batman's story. 

The Avengers was the biggest talking point; revisit an internet message board prior to 2012, and you'll soon see that no one thought it could work. Oh boy, did it.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance sucked, but there's a reason we all still talk about Dredd...
 

2. 2019

Jo

Little did we know that 2019 would be the last normal year for many more to come. 

Thank goodness all those annoying release date delays didn't happen this year, though, because we'd have missed out on some gems. Avengers: Endgame was a perfect, breath-taking conclusion to the first few Phases of the MCU, and it deservedly became the highest-grossing film ever. Captain Marvel was fun, and Spider-Man: Far From Home was spectacular. 

Shazam! proved there was more to the DCEU than grim and gritty stories, though Joker later earned widespread critical acclaim and awards attention for being a legit masterpiece. 

Let us not forget that Dark Phoenix finally ended the Fox era of X-Men films too. Woo-hoo!
 

1. 2018

Jo1

2018 was a mixed bag in some ways, but it deserves this top spot nonetheless. 

Avengers: Infinity War blew us all away with an ending no one saw coming. Ant-Man and The Wasp was a fun, forgettable ride, but Black Panther perhaps remains the best film ever released by Marvel Studios (it's the only one that's earned a "Best Picture" nomination). It's hard to talk about after Chadwick Boseman's tragic death, but it was more than just a film, that's for sure. 

Deadpool 2 was a decent sequel, and Aquaman exceeded expectations at the time.

Another very special film in 2018, though, was Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This animated adventure put Miles Morales on the map, and is rightly considered the best Spider-Man film...it also made Venom easier to forgive.
 

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