The 30 Greatest Comic Book Superhero Movies I Have Ever Seen

The 30 Greatest Comic Book Superhero Movies I Have Ever Seen

The 30 Greatest Comic Book Superhero Movies I Have Ever Seen

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Though I know what my number 1-4 choices are, I'ts been awhile since I ranked them all like this, it'll be fun. Instead of everybody just making their top 25 lists and having post after post 60 lines long, how about you just critique mine? Tell me what I missed or what's way too low.

Now I'm listing 'Superhero Movies adapted from comic books', not 'Comic Book Movies' and not 'Superhero Movies'. No Sin City, no 300, no History of Violence. No Hancock, no Lucy, no Blankman.

I'm not going to make an honorable mentions list, I feel that's cheating. If you have a top 25 and 5 honorable mentions, you really have a top 30 where you're too lazy to explain the last 5. I had a top 25 with 4 more I wanted to add, so I just turned it into a top 30.


The 'Just Made It' Division

30. Thor: The Dark World

Amongst MCU movies only The Incredible Hulk missed the list, but this one was close. Ultimately, it suffered from a limited villain, too few new characters, and a plot that felt like it should have been only 30 minutes long.





 

29. Hellboy II: The Golden Army

- A little disappointing for how good the first one was, but overall still worth the price of admission. The Golden Army itself seemed like an extremely generic maguffin, but Prince Nuada was great.





 

28. Iron Man 3

- Well, I liked it.
 
 


 

27. Watchmen

- The point I feel I have to repeatedly reiterate is that being at the bottom of this list does not mean I disliked the movie. I could named 60 Comic Book Movies off the top of my head, and Watchmen fits in with the top half because it was quite the movie. It suffered from a few Snyder-isms: no coherent romantic subplot, overly emotional reactions, and consistently grim tones. Sometimes it needs to be remembered that different forms of entertainment and literature aren't written specifically for motion picture adaptation, so following closely isn't always the best idea. This one still turned out great, though.




 


 

26. Batman Returns

- It was either Batman Returns or Watchman for 26. I made the decision simply by what I'd rather rewatch right this second. Pretty amazing to think this movie doesn't even make the top 25 as I liked it very much, but it just goes to show how many truly great movies have come out in the genre lately.

How much of it is just Batman 1 carry-over feelings? I saw it on TV again recently, and it was a little campier than I remember. I liked the Penguin much less this time around, but Catwoman and Max Shreck were even better than I recall. It's up and down at times, but it has some seriously awesome scenes.


Earned Franchise Sequels



25. Blade

- Just a great, out of nowhere movie. Back when CBM's had zero expectations, this one delivered. Deacon Frost was a great character, Whistler was a great character, and Wesley Snipes had a 'Bad Man' take on Blade. Dark, gritty movie like Constantine. Just good cinema.




 

24. Spider-Man

- I can't explain it. Maybe it was the stupid robot suit Green Goblin was wearing, or maybe Peter was just way too whiny in this movie. I LOVED the second one, but simply liked this one. From Batman Returns to here, they're all about the same.




 

23. Hellboy

- Nice little non-'Big Two' movie. Original, and Ron Perlman is perfect in the role. Guillermo Del Toro was definitely the right director to do make Hellboy, as this movie could have gone wrong in so many ways. As an aside, I chose this gif because a lot of people miss the crown.




 

22. Iron Man 2

- I really liked Mickey Rourke as Vanko. He had a quality about him that was genuinely sinister. They way you could just tell that he didn't give one lick about Justin Hammer, and it was all about his revenge. I wish he'd have been in it much more. The thing I always here is that the fight scene at the end should have been longer. I was fine with it. But what I feel is the downfall of this movie is the drama. In every great superhero movie, the main protagonist is in a perilous situation. Vanko's attack on the fair wasn't really perilous to Tony, he just decided to intervene. The peril was supposed to be his palladium poisoning. But other than tripping out of his classic car and Rhody having to help him to his desk, there was never any real danger to it. The whole movie you were just waiting for Tony to 'win', because nothing was really holding him back. That lack of drama really dulls the movie.




 

So Close, But Not Really

21. The Dark Knight Rises

- And here it is. The big twist to my list. I'll start by saying while I am a Marvel fan, I am in no way a DC/Nolan basher. TDK is high on my list. As is Batman begins. Superman, Batman, I love good movies. Now how do I explain what I didn't like about this as simply as possible? Hmm... it felt like a great director fixing a bad script. He couldn't fix it all the way, but he made it watchable. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of every movie above this one and many below it. Being 16 doesn't mean it's anything bad. It's still above a 7.0 in my opinion on IMDB's rating scale. But let's go through a few things: I don't like the term 'plot hole.' Nearly everyone uses it incorrectly. A plot hole is when the movie in no way should be able to continue on because something completely out of nowhere occurred. Usually the things people are calling plot holes in this movie are simply assumed or implied concepts. Like when Bruce sneaks back into Gotham. He's Batman, that's what he does. It's not a plot hole. They've spent two movies building up that he's this stealthy ninja, and then when he does stealthy ninja stuff you're upset?

But what I did have a problem with was the pacing/scene order. It was really, really up and down. And the bomb timer, that was ridiculous. 5 minutes left, the movie goes on for 10 minutes then there's 2 minutes left? And then Batman flies the bomb 6 miles outside of city limits within 2 minutes? (300 MPH in a pseudo-helicopter if he started at maximum speed, which he started at a complete stop) And then Bane says "If anyone enters or leaves the city, I blow the bomb." Batman enters the city, and Bane doesn't care. "The triggerman is an ordinary citizen, like all of you." Talia later admits she may be a citizen, but she is anything but ordinary. If Bane is just pulling stuff out of his butt, why even say those things at all? Batman is a cripple for 8 years, puts on a leg brace that lets him kick through walls and suddenly he's a world class gymnast again? Yeah... no. Great Direction, poor script.




 

20. X2: X-Men United


-Ten Years ago, it would have been crazy to think this movie wouldn't make your top 5. First, it goes to show just how many extraordinary Superhero Movies we've had in the last decade. Second, while all this is subjective, I try to keep as much extreme bias as possible out of these rankings. But it is definitely hard with the X-Men movies, as they are simply not anything like the X-Men we know... so then you have to view them as a different property altogether. The later installments were a bit more on par, but the first few installments, while good, don't measure up to these next 19.





 


19. X-Men: First Class

- I'm perfectly okay with you thinking my criticism of these movies is unwarranted. Man, I still remember how deflated I felt when I left the theatre back in 2000 at the end of X-Men 1. My last thought before I went to sleep was, "Well, at least I got to see a live action version of the X-Men. I'm happy they tried instead of never doing it." But in all seriousness, how could anyone think that was a better idea than ACTUALLY making a decent X-Men movie? Throughout the entire trilogy, Cyclops, far and away the most important X-Man, had zero backstory. Zero plot. His only inclusion was to be a thorn in Wolverine's side. Sabretooth was just a guy in bad makeup. Magneto was 90, and Jean Grey was like 10 years older than Scott. Did that bother anyone else? He was dating someone old enough to be his friggin' mother! What the heck?! Usually, I say I don't mind changes as long as they improve the quality of the movie. I don't mind that Wolverin is 6'4 or that Mystique's mutant power is that she has no nipples so she can walk around nude. However, I did not think any of the other changes made it better than if they just stuck to the source material. Everyone has that one movie or franchise they're overly picky about, and this series is mine. It would have been okay if it wasn't called X-Men, because it hardly had anything to do with the X-Men.

Now, First Class. This movie was good enough that I'm able to put my grudges aside and enjoy it. Havok is my alltime favorite hero, and I'm even able to overlook the pink hula hoop thing because it was a solid movie. Great job on the Magneto/Xavier dichotomy.



 

18. Kick-Ass

- So well done. From start to finish it was funny, awesome, dramatic, and fully entertaining. Hit-Girl will end up being one of those memorable movie characters that people reference decades later. But most importantly, this is the one that allowed Matthew Vaughn to make his name known to mainstream studios.




 

17. Constantine

- I don't care that Reeves is a wooden actor. He's entertaining. I liked this movie very much. Great pacing, really good atmosphere... dark, yet energetic. Rachel Weisz sounds like she has emphysema, but it works. Shia Lebeouf and Gavin Rosdale were both very good.


 

Results Met Expectations

16. Blade II

- This one nobody ever talks about. The story was very simple, but it was extremely entertaining. Guillermo Del Toro: job well done. I found Nomak very compelling as a villain/anit-hero, and the super Vampire squad that teamed up with Blade was really fun. From the sewer scene where they're being ambushed to the part where Nomak attacks the Vampire stronghold, not one moment of boredom. Maybe the most start-to-finish-entertainment on this whole list.




 

15. Superman II

- This movie created all the archetypes: lackeys with little-to-no backstory, a Superhero struggling with the desire to live a normal life, and finally where the protagonist has to out-think his opponents rather than just out-muscling them. And in many ways, Terrence Stamp's Zod was the original benchmark for Supervillains.




 

14. Man of Steel

- Some will say this is just too high on the list. Others will claim it is way, way too low. I think it's juuuuust right. Visuals were unbelievable, but the love story consisted of "Strange Alien Guy! What's happening to Metropolis! Time to make out! End credits." But I actually think this is a great starting point for the DCCU. It gives WB and Zack Snyder something to improve upon. While I'm sure Marvel loved the box office sales, starting with a movie as great as Iron Man might not be the best way to go. I don't think there was any way Iron man 2 would live up to the hype. On the flipside, Man of Steel quelled the hype for BvS a little, so that it will undoubtedly meet expectations.





13. Captain America: The First Avenger

- Doesn't have that quintessential hero vs. villain feel. Cap didn't have much of an emotional investment in the Red Skull, he just wanted to win the war. But otherwise a well done adaptation. The 'little Steve' CGI is so unbelievably good that if you didn't know who Chris Evans was, you may think it's actually him. Then when you get to the vita-ray chamber scene it would be mind blowing.




The Big Boys

12. X-Men: Days of Future Past

- As you can tell from this list, I feel the X-Men movies are definitely in an upward trend, and I hope it continues. Every character in this movie was the best iteration of the entire series, in my opinion. They also did a nice job of cleaning up most of the bizarre continuity problems they had created over the last 3-4 movies. Happy to see bryan Singer back.





11. Superman

- This one ails from the opposite problem of the Avengers: the first half was AMAZING, the second half was just blah. From the henchman antics of attempting to redirect missiles to the whole Superman-drowning-in-a-swimming-pool and then the whole 'turning back time' stuff, it fell flat. If the second half was as good as the first half, this would be number 1 on my list. I've heard the time travel stuff wasn't supposed to be in this movie, but it was.




 

10. Iron Man

- I was a little surprised when I started hearing the buzz about this movie. Went to it in the theatre, thought it was good, but then just kept hearing people say how it blew them away. Most people put it in their top 3. Now obviously, I had to enjoy it a great deal to make it even this high. But top-top-top tier? Not feeling it. Still very good, don't get me wrong.



 

9. Batman

- So great. Michael Keaton in this movie is still my favorite iteration of Batman. His Bruce was much more neurotic than Bale's, I dug it. Close call between this and Begins. I had a little trouble deciding whether this or Iron man should be 9, so I asked a friend: "Batman was awesome, that's all you need to know."




 

8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

- Funny story, I actually saw this last year. Now I hadn't seen this movie for about 15 years, but oddly enough it's up in its fullest on Youtube. I realize I'm currently ranking this above an all-time cinematic gem, but I enjoyed it MORE now then I did way back when. I was smiling throughout the whole thing. It's nothing short of solid gold.





 

7. Guardians of the Galaxy

All that's left on the list are the usual pop culture icons... and then this movie. I didn't especially like Chris Pratt as Peter Quill, Gamora was much cooler in the comic, Ronana only had about half the amount of scenes he should have, and I'm not entirely sure why everyone keeps saying Batista did such an amazing job (maybe they're being relative because he's a wrestler). Yet still, after all that, this is the 7th greatest CMSHM I've ever seen. All the credit goes to James Gunn and Kevin Feige, I think.





6. Batman Begins

- Awesome movie. Though I have it below Thor as an overall movie, it's the best take on an origin story. Just nailed it. I don't like origin stories where they have a quick flashback and then jump right into the character. I love when they really sink their teeth into it. I felt that they hadn't stopped telling his origin until right up to the point he confronted Ra's Al Gul at the end. At that moment he changed from Bruce attempting to become Batman into just 'Batman.' Spider-man did it much earlier with the thief-murderer scene and Hulk's first hour or so really had nothing to do with Banner's origin into the Hulk. This really got in-depth with it.

Side Note:

There is a common movie term called 'Chekov's Gun' when something that is hinted at early on in a movie comes into play later. Perfect example: Tony Stark's Mk 2 isn't capable of overcoming the icing effect caused by high altitudes, and it's revealed later that he's used this knowledge to trick Obidiah Stane. Chekov's Gun. This movie has more verbal Chekov's Guns, called Ironic Echoes, than pretty much every movie coming out that year combined. Let's list them:

1. Mr. Earle fires Fox, "Didn't you get the memo?" At the end Fox takes his job and repeats it to him.

2. Homeless man encounters Bruce, "Nice Coat." Batman years later see the homeless man and repeats it.

3. Father asks Bruce, "Why do we fall?" Alfred later asks him the same thing when his house is blown up.

4. Best one is when Rachel tells Bruce, "It's not who we are on the inside, but what we do that defines us." Bruce then uses that as a double entendre to reveal later that he is Batman.

5. While fighting on the ice, Ducard tells Bruice to mind his surroundings. Batman later repeats it back to him right before he dies.

6. Ducard says to Bruce while in the league of shadows, "You cannot lead these men unless you are prepared to do what is necessary." Shortly after, Bruce decides to burn the place down, and when Ducard asks, "What are you doing?!" "What is necessary."

7. When Bruce drops out of college, he asks Alfred, "You still haven't given up on me?" He repeats it much later when his house burns down.

8. Mr. Earle tells Bruce he sold Wayne Enterprises, "through various charitable foundations, and trusts, and so forth. Look, it's all a bit technical, but the important thing is that our company's future is secure." Bruce repeats this to Earle at the end when he explains how he bought out the company.

9. "Don't be afraid, Bruce." First said by Thomas Wayne when he's shot, then at the end by Ducard on the train.

 



5. Thor

- You may not entirely agree with my top four, but they seem to be popular choices. With number 5, however, I'm genuinely surprised there are people who didn't like this movie. I understand people who just don't like Natalie Portman, or who were turned off by the fact that he spends half the movie in GAP jeans, but the movie as a whole was epic. It may have mostly been the score, which is up there with the Superman one for me. Go youtube it, it brings you right back to Asgard so well. Now I have a friend who is a massive Superman fan, and as I was watching this movie, I kept thinking, "This is the Superman movie he's been waiting for!" Whether it was Thor taking out the Jotuns or him flying through Asgard on his way to finally confront Loki, it just oozed with grandeur. They pulled off Asgard extremely well in what might have been one of the most ill-advised comic book movies ever. Before this was made, a lot of people had no idea how this could be pulled off. Thor? The old english-speaking god from another dimension? Good Luck. Well, they didn't need it.



And finally....


In the Conversation

4. Captain America: Winter Soldier

Was this the most expectation-shattering movie of all-time? Everyone was hyped for Dark Knight. You knew that Man of Steel would be a visual feast. Even though it made 1.5B$, it's hard to smash open the hype Avengers had leading up to it. But after 2 lesser MCU movies (relatively speaking), as well as the first CA movie being only good, I think people would have been happy with another 'just good' outing to push the MCU back in the right direction. And then everyone proceed to get punched in the face for 2 consecutive hours.




3. Marvel's The Avengers

- It was everything I'd hoped it would be. It's why they make comic book movies -- years from now I think we will look back and say this movie did so much for the genre it's impossible to overstate. I don't have too many nitpicky things, other than the second half being a lot better than the first half. But I'm not a film expert, so I don't have any answers for this. I liked everything in the first half and can't imagine cutting something, so it is what it is: The Third Greatest CBM ever made.




 

2. The Dark Knight

- People always talk about the great things that this movie did, so let's reverse the field a little bit. It kind of runs on and on toward the end. Right around the time the Joker gets arrested and he sends Batman and the police on the wild goose chase to save Dent, it felt like the movie should have been wrapping up. Then the next 20-30 minutes with all the hospital stuff and all the stuff with Dent going crazy and Joker blowing up ferries, it felt a little like 'part 2'. You know how you have that inner clock that tells you when a movie should be just about over, whether it's dependent on actual time or the events happening in the movie? Mine went off a few times prematurely in this one. However, despite this, the movie is still very rewatchable, while everyone was great including Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhardt. It's that rare movie where however you're feeling, whatever the occasion, you can just pop it in and have a good time. All in all, this is the best Comic Book Superhero movie I've ever seen not named....





 

1. Spider-Man 2

- Many people forget, pre-2008 this was the bar. And then 'BAM!', all the contenders started coming out of the woodwork. Has this movie been trumped in the last 11 years? I'm not so sure... and I know I'm not alone in this sentiment. Through fractions of a percentage, this is the highest rated Superhero movie ever on Rotten Tomatoes' Tomato-meter. Spider-Man 2 has the highest Metacritic rating ever for a Superhero movie.

There seems to be a major theme in CBM sequels: Bad Guy from movie 1 teams up with Good Guys to fight a new threat (Fantastic Four 2, X-Men 2, Blade 2, very briefly in Superman II, and Thor 2. I'm happy Spider-Man 2 didn't go this route. I'd have to think about it, as Hulk punching the Leviathan and Thor rezzing & subsequently taking out the Destroyer are up there, but I still feel Spider-Man slowing down the train is my favorite individual scene from a Comicbook Movie.






So there it is. I'm pretty confident no one has a 1-30 exactly like mine, but hopefully I didn't upset too many people. Spew your vile on 'go'....

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