Ranking The 10 Greatest Marvel & DC Superhero Movie Directors Of All-Time

Ranking The 10 Greatest Marvel & DC Superhero Movie Directors Of All-Time

Countless filmmakers have now offered their contributions to the superhero genre, but which of them stand out among the best? In this feature, we rank our ten favourite Marvel and DC movie directors...

We're finally living in the "Golden Age" of superhero movies, and while there are still a few stinkers here and there, certain studios (well, Marvel Studios for the most part if we're being completely honest) are becoming synonymous with quality. There are also certain directors who, through singular or multiple efforts, can now be relied upon to deliver the goods.

Whether we’re talking about filmmakers whose names are instantly recognisable after years of work or the most unlikeliest of choices who ended up directing what many consider to be an instant classic, everyone listed here has made an impact on the superhero genre in a big way. 

We'll be focusing primarily on Marvel and DC Comics movies in this feature, but taking into account what some of these directors have done with other comic book adaptations they've helmed. It goes without saying that this is just our opinion, though, and we would love to hear your thoughts.

So, to check out this ranking, all you guys need to do is click on the "Next" button down below!
 

10. Matthew Vaughn

Vaughn

Plenty of superhero movies landed on Matthew Vaughn’s desk over the years, but he ultimately chose a low-budget adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s Kick-Ass, a Marvel Comics imprint.

Violent, funny, and sometimes shocking, the movie led to Vaughn tackling an even bigger comic book adaptation in the form of X-Men: First Class. That was a controversial one due to the way it failed to adhere to the source material, but the prequel put the franchise back on track, particularly with the way that the filmmaker handled the relationship between Magneto and Professor X.

Later, Vaughn would set his sights on adapting Millar's Kingsman series, and remains hard at work on a third chapter in that franchise. However, his name remains in the mix for a number of comic book movies, including a possible Superman reboot somewhere down the line.
 

9. Taika Waititi

Taika

The tone of Thor: Ragnarok wasn't to everyone's liking, but filmmaker Taika Waititi gave the God of Thunder the overhaul he needed with this movie, and arguably saved his franchise in the process.

Essentially an action-comedy, this threequel set the stage for Thor's memorable arc across Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, and Waititi proved that he was one of most Hollywood's most talented directors in the process. The visuals were stunning, the action sublime, and the soundtrack badass; everything came together and worked perfectly.

So, with that in mind, why doesn't he rank higher? Well, Thor: Love and Thunder is shaping up to be a busy movie, so we need to see that before deciding whether he really is one of the all-time greatest.
 

8. Jon Favreau

Favreau

2008’s Iron Man was the opening chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and little could we have suspected where things would go from there. The first two Iron Man movies helped propel The Avengers to its then unprecedented $1.5 billion box office haul in 2012, and Favreau's work helped cement Tony Stark as one of the most popular comic book movie characters of all-time.

While Iron Man 2 was far from perfect (far too much time was spent setting up Joss Whedon’s eventual superhero ensemble), it was still an enjoyable and successful second outing for the iconic Marvel superhero. Plus, you can't really blame the filmmaker for all that exposition!

Regardless, the first movie was truly something special, taking its time to tell Iron Man’s origin story and kicking off the MCU in style, while simultaneously breathing new life Robert Downey Jr.' career.
 

7. Sam Raimi

Raimi

Spider-Man 3 was kind of terrible, but that was arguably down to scripting issues more than the direction of Sam Raimi. The action in the disappointing threequel was top-notch, but it’s his work in the first two movies which really earned him a place here. In 2002, Spider-Man was the first real superhero movie and the special effects at the time were groundbreaking.

After a definitive origin story which 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man failed miserably in topping, Raimi followed that up with a sequel which is not only considered one of the best comic book movies of all-time, but also featured an unforgettable villain in the form of Doctor Octopus. 

The train sequence in particular was something really special, and while he fell back on the damsel in distress trope once too often, these movies were undeniably a triumph for Raimi. Now, we can't wait to see what he does with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. 
 

6. Zack Snyder

Russos

Yeah, this could be a divisive entry. 

The destruction at the end of Man of Steel may have been controversial, but the reboot did a lot right, and Zack Snyder’s work in the comic book genre is hard to top in many ways, particularly if we're talking about some of his truly faithful adaptations (300 and Watchmen are the obvious examples).

We've not seen Snyder's version of Justice League, but something tells us it could be something special, even if it does prove to be a bit of a mess. However, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, while often too busy for its own good, showed just how much love the director has for the comic books...he just needed a better script to play with. 

Controversial creative decisions aside, it's hard to top Snyder's visuals, and those are something fans should really appreciate (c'mon, that Batman vs. Superman fight was badass). 

5. James Gunn

Gunn

Guardians of the Galaxy proved to be better than anyone expected, and immediately established itself as one of Marvel Studios' most unique and enjoyable movies. Fans simply couldn't figure out how an adventure featuring this obscure bunch of characters would work on screen, but James Gunn proved everyone wrong, and delivered an absolute winner. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 followed three years later and was somehow even better, establishing "Baby Groot" as a legit phenomenon and this team of A-Holes as firm fan-favourites.

After a brief parting of ways with Disney, Gunn has now set his sights on the DC Universe, and The Suicide Squad looks set to be equally as much fun. Of course, he will later return to the MCU for Vol. 3, and that threequel can't get here soon enough based on those first two chapters. 
 

4. Joss Whedon

Avengers

When it was revealed that Joss Whedon had been chosen to direct the then biggest superhero movie of all-time, not everyone was convinced that he was the right man for the job. Sure, his TV and comic book work was very good, and Serenity was a fun time, but could he really cope with merging all of these franchises in The Avengers and make it a good movie in the process?

Well, yes, as it turns out, and while it may look tame by today's standards, it's hard to forget that feeling of watching Earth's Mightiest Heroes assemble on screen for the first time ever. 

Avengers: Age of Ultron was good in a lot of different ways, but perhaps a little too stuffed as Marvel Studios spent so much time looking ahead to the future of the MCU. Whedon's work remained strong, however, and we're just going to try and pretend those Justice League reshoots never happened...
 

3. Ryan Coogler

Coogler

Unfortunately, this isn't an overly diverse list, and that's because women and people of colour have not been given a lot of opportunities to step behind the camera and helm superhero movies. Over the next few years, that looks set to change, and we're sure this feature will look a lot different then as a result.

When it comes to Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, rest assured that he's not here just for the sake of it. His work on that Oscar-nominated movie was nothing short of extraordinary, and while he's only delivered the one comic book adaptation, we're already confident that Black Panther II will be every bit as great.

Black Panther was an inspirational, moving feature which proved itself a groundbreaking entry in the genre. It's also a film which feels more relevant now than perhaps even when it was released.
 

2. Christopher Nolan

Nolan

In 2005, Christopher Nolan did what many would have deemed impossible after Tim Burton’s movies and the likes of Batman & Robin; he made a realistic superhero movie. That’s not to say that Batman Begins didn’t have a few of the far-fetched elements we’ve come to expect from the genre, but his Batman was one we could very much believe would exist in our world.

Nolan followed this up with one of the greatest sequels of all-time (The Dark Knight), before returning a few years later for The Dark Knight Rises to do something else which the majority never expected to see; he gave the Caped Crusader’s story an ending.

While comparisons to Nolan’s work on this series remain a lazy way for critics to describe a movie with a darker tone, he redefined the comic book movie genre with The Dark Knight Trilogy and his mark on it will be felt for years to come. We just wish he'd make a return!
 

1. Joe & Anthony Russo

Rurr

Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger was a blast, but the news that the duo behind You, Me and Dupree helming the sequel didn't exactly leave fans excited about The Winter Soldier.

Well, Joe and Anthony Russo proved all the doubters wrong with ease as they did an incredible job, both in terms of action and storytelling. The filmmakers followed that with Civil War, an epic, jaw-dropping ensemble piece which split the MCU in half and introduced Spider-Man to widespread critical acclaim. Of course, their biggest test was Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame.

Simply put, they nailed it, and delivered the best superhero movie of all-time with the latter. Packed full of iconic moments, it proved to be the perfect culmination of over a decade's worth of stories. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that they've earned the top spot here.
 

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