Which are the best superhero movies of all time? Studios pour buckets of money into these films and the “arms race” for better stunts and production value has now been raging for decades.
We’re going to tell you which are the 15 best superhero movies of all time based on purely on the story, the filmmaking, and aesthetic. If you disagree with our list, make your case in the comments below.
Best Superhero Movies
What makes a superhero movie?
We have to set some quick rules for our list of the best superhero movies of all time. We’re going to skip any animated superhero films.
The idea of this movie list is to rank the best live-action superhero feature films, so shows like Amazon’s The Boys won’t make it onto the ranked list and neither will Lego Batman... C’mon!
Now, I personally love Batman Forever, but I have enough objectivity to know that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The purpose of this ranked list of superhero movies is to provide objective analysis of the filmmaking and aesthetics across all of the superhero films.
We'll also take into account the time period when the film was made, but not the film's budget. When a film was made shouldn’t tips the scales, but how it was made should have some weight.
GOOD SUPERHERO MOVIES
15. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008)Hellboy 2: The Golden Army shows that great wide-angle fight scenes, intricate production design, and a strong vision from the director can lead to one of the best superhero movies of all time.
Guillermo Del Toro has shown that his best films depend on his ability to stretch his creative legs and this superhero film is no exception. It’s at the beginning of our superhero movie list due to strong competition.
GREATEST SUPERHERO MOVIES
14. Wonder Woman (2017)
Wonder Woman has some really great moments in the film, like when Diana first steps into no man’s land, or the signature battle scene with the reimagined theme music — which oddly only played once.
Casting superheroes isn’t as much of a layup as one might think, but Gal Gadot is sort of perfect for the role, and athletic enough that the stunt sequences all seem very natural and believable. The main reason this film isn’t higher on the list is the villain and final battle scene.
I love David Thewlis. He’s a great actor, but you need to cast an actor with some serious mobility to facilitate a great final battle scene, otherwise, you’ll be stuck using a CG villain for your climax.
13. The Crow (1994)The Crow is a cult classic that claimed the life of star Brandon Lee. Despite the fatal accident on set, the film is still one of the best superhero movies of all time. An undeniably powerful superhero film.
The great things about The Crow is the overall theme of the film, and how it discusses society’s relationship with chaos, evil, and darkness.
Top Superhero Movies
12. Black Panther (2018)Black Panther is a really great superhero movie that features one of the best car chase sequences in a superhero film. The casting was on point, many of the fight scenes are all intense and suspenseful, and both villains are highly entertaining for each of their own unique reasons.
There are also some really strong emotional moments in the film, most of which involve T’Challa’s relationship with his father, as well as the final battle scene between Black Panther and Killmonger.
11. Spider-Man (2002)
The original Sam Raimi Spider-Man is one of the best superhero movies of all time for many reasons, like the fire scene, or the final battle with the Green Goblin. This was a great execution of the origin story.
Now, the bar was set high, and the following movies didn’t really live up to expectations, but the original Spider-Man movie was a great success.
SUPERHERO MOVIES RANKED
10. Iron Man (2008)Similar to Spider-Man, the first Iron Man movie was a great success and arguably relaunched the career of a very talented actor. The mixture of humor, action, and heart set the tone for every Marvel film to come.
The ending of Iron Man was also a surprising moment that sets this movie apart. Where so many other superhero movies rely on drama caused by secret identities, this film heads in the opposite direction.
DARK SUPERHERO MOVIES
9. Blade (1998)Blade is one of the best superhero movies of all time because it was highly innovative, and built real fear inside the viewer rather than simply telling us we should be scared of the villains.
Wesley Snipes is an awesome actor who brought a unique quality to this role. The entire movie is a sick and twisted expression of darkness and how often the person best suited to fight evil has some in their blood.
FUNNY SUPERHERO MOVIES
8. Deadpool (2016)
Deadpool is the superhero movie Ryan Reynolds was made to star in. The humor and tone of the film are super refreshing, and the action is so closely tied in with the humor that it’s equally exciting and entertaining.
The fourth wall breaks in the film add an extra layer as well, and the overall filmmaking is actually much more creative and innovative than your run-of-the-mill superhero film. Three cheers!
Great Superhero Movies
7. Doctor Strange (2016)
Doctor Strange is one of the most visually stunning mixtures of computer-generated images with live-action, but the connection of the visual to the concept is what makes this such a great movie.
While Doctor Strange owes much of its tonal success to Iron Man, the sound design, filmmaking, and a fantastically clever ending raise the stakes of this film from a fun movie to a complete head trip.
BEST X-MEN MOVIE
6. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)One of the reasons X-Men: Days of Future Past is so high on our list of the best superhero movies of all time is because it’s an awesome journey through time and space. The movie has so many great scenes.
The other things that made this movie so fun to watch were the plainclothes costumes and the soundtrack. You get to have this fun juxtaposition of 1970’s fashion and music all throughout.
BEST SUPERMAN MOVIE
5. Superman (1978)
While not technically the original superhero movie, this was the gold standard for years. Again, so many of the best superhero movies are dependent on their main villain, and Lex Luthor is one of the best.
Gene Hackman’s smile and charisma made Lex Luthor likable, and this would set the tone for many movie villains to come. Unfortunately, we have yet to see many more likable villains in the genre… yet.
SUPERHERO MOVIE LIST
4. Batman Begins (2005)Batman Begins is one of the best superhero movies of all time, not because it was dark or brooding, but rather that it’s super thought-provoking. It’s an adult movie that still appeals to young people and used practical effects that support great filmmaking. It also has a stellar cast.
There are elements of horror, espionage, adventure, and the most important aspect of any Batman movie — detective work. Batman Begins is the origin story so many other superhero movies wish they could be.
BEST COMIC BOOK MOVIE
3. Watchmen (2009)Watchmen is one of the best superhero movies of all time because it’s a wonderful allegory. The film (and comic) uses the powers and celebrity of superheroes to satirize war-monger culture and the cold war.
The cast is awesome, the script is fantastic and dark and funny, and apart from 300, it is the best Zac Snyder film. The philosophy intertwined with the visuals makes this one of the best superhero films.
Best Marvel Movie
2. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)Hand down one of the most expansive and surprising of all the superhero movies, Avengers: Infinity War proved to be a masterful combination of tone, story, action, effects, and sheer production.
Avengers: Infinity War is hands down the best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and was a happy rebound from a few duds in the Avengers franchise that couldn’t seem to make their massive budgets work.
BEST SUPERHERO MOVIE OF ALL TIME
1. The Dark Knight (2008)Some of you may be surprised, but I highly doubt it. The Dark Knight has become the favorite for the best superhero movie of all time. It carried the best traits from Batman Begins and then stepped it up a notch.
Most agree that Heath Ledger’s Joker is the best super-villain to grace the silver screen. The innovative filmmaking, use of practical effects, and compelling storyline hold a special place in the superhero genre.
All James Bond Movies Ranked
Make sure to let us know what you think in the comments. If you make a compelling enough case, we may even change our list. Now that you’ve read our list of the best superhero movies of all time, make sure to check out our list of every James Bond movie ranked from worst to best.