- Published on Friday, May 11 2012
- Written by Sarah Osman
As The Avengers proved this last weekend, everyone loves a great superhero movie. Over the years, superhero films have evolved into award-winning masterpieces that fuse multiple film genres including action, romance, comedy, drama, and thriller. Superhero films have the ability to make us feel as though anything is impossible, that we too can use our powers to take out the bad guy, save the world, and get the girl -- and that is what makes them so super (pardon the pun).
In honor of The Avengers and other superhero movies that will be released this summer, I have compiled a list of the top 10 most epic, awesome, super, superhero films. All of these films are from different series of the character, so even if there is a repeat, note that the same story can be completely different when told by different filmmakers.
So, while you’re waiting for The Dark Knight Rises to be in theaters (July 20!), or if you are still waiting in line to see The Avengers, check out some of these classic super hero flicks:
1. The Dark Knight (2008): What other superhero movie would you expect me to put as #1? Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to Batman Begins is so much more than just another comic book movie. It’s a radiant example of brilliant directing, superb acting, and a well-crafted script. The Dark Knight should have received a Best Picture nomination from the Academy, but I’m just as happy remembering the moment when Heath Ledger received a posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his turn as the twisted, wildly entertaining, and horrifying Joker. The true joy of the film was watching the battle between Batman (Christian Bale) and the Joker, as well as watching Harvey Dent’s (Aaron Eckhart) disturbing transformation into Two-Face. A fun fact about the production of the film: The Joker’s portrayal was inspired by the Joker’s first two appearances published in the first issue of Batman (1940.)
2. The Incredibles (2004): Yet another Pixar masterpiece, The Incredibles is a superhero film for the whole family (literally). Written and directed by Brad Bird, The Incredibles follows a family of superheroes who come out of hiding as they take on an unexpected villain’s attempts to take over the world and eliminate superheroes forever. The fun flick appeals to both children and adults with nods to the Witness Protection Program, James Bond, and marital troubles, as well as astounding action sequences and relatable characters. Some of the most classic moments from the film include Edna, the endlessly stylish fashion designer and her fabulous superhero ensembles (that are machine washable!), the million-mile Dash, and the local neighbor boy who consistently witnesses Mr. Incredible’s incredible abilities.
3. Spider-Man (2002): While I enjoyed Spiderman 2, I do feel that Spider-Man is one of the finest character adaptations to date. Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of the delightfully awkward Peter Parker’s transformation into the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was an utter joy to watch, and Sam Raimi’s direction of Spider-Man swinging through the city were classically beautiful. And did I mention that the film has one of the all-time best kisses in the history of cinema? I would argue that an upside-down kiss in the rain is more epic than just a kiss in the rain!
4. X2: X-Men United (2003): While X-Men was a strong action film, X-Men 2 simply knocked it out of the park. Having the X-Men team up with Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) to defeat the dangerous military man William Stryker (Brian Cox) was a brilliant move, and the addition of Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) was a welcome addition to the cast. The film’s upgrade to stronger special effects and more epic action sequences made it more visually pleasing to watch, and the climatic ending proved that superheroes with claws coming out of their hands and who have the ability to create storms can carry a heartfelt scene. I do think that since director Bryan Singer left the franchise, the ensuing films have not remained as strong, although director Brett Ratner’s X-Men: First Class showed promise for future sequels.
5. Batman (1989): Tim Burton’s vision of the Caped Crusader was certainly a different take when compared to Nolan’s but has remained a pop culture phenomenon since its premiere in 1989. Although it feels slightly dated, Burton’s version of Gotham City is still fun to watch -- which includes Jack Nicholson as the demented Joker and Michael Keaton as Batman in one of the best performances of his career. The catchy Prince song included on the soundtrack was considered an odd choice at the time, yet ironically still works with the film even today. I recommend watching this one beforehand to help you get pumped up for The Dark Knight Rises.
6. Superman (1978): In my mind, there will never be another Superman as super Christopher Reeve. Reeve completely owns Superman, and to this day his ability to embody this character is what makes the film such a classic. Gene Hackman’s turn as Lex Luthor is great fun to watch, and Richard Donner’s careful directing of a well-paced script that tells Superman’s origin makes the film work. And Superman easily has one of the best endings ever -- flying around the world so fast that it turns the rotations of the planet in the other direction? Classic.
7. Kick-Ass (2010): Kick-Ass could easily be argued to be one of the most ridiculous superhero movies ever made. But come on, who hasn’t wanted to become a superhero? I love that Dave Lipetsk (Aaron Johnson) wakes up one morning and decides to become a superhero, despite the fact that he has no super powers whatsoever. Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s turn as rich kid/villain was classic (I loved that he constantly listened to Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”), and Chloe Grace Montez’s breakthrough role as foul-mouthed Hit-Girl was easily some of the best child acting done in years. And even Nicolas Cage did a strong job of playing Big Daddy! While Kick-Ass may not be as epic as other superhero movies, it does have all of the great elements that a superhero movie needs: comedy, romance, a crazy villain, and a lovable hero.
8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990): Arguably one of the cheesiest superhero films ever made, there is something oddly endearing about this live action flick bout four teenage mutant ninja turtles who are named after Italian Renaissance painters, love pizza, and fight crime in New York City. The film is filled with ridiculous moments -- from the turtles salivating over April O’Neil (Judith Hoag) to a long training sequence with Splinter (Kevin Clash), and yet you can’t help but root for them. The turtle suits that the actors wore, which were crafted by Jim Henson and were some of his most complex work to date, took 18 weeks to build and were made out of fiberglass, clay, and foam rubber latex. The following sequels only got more silly (who else remembers Vanilla Ice’s “Go ninja, go ninja, go!” rap?) and never quite captured the magic of the first. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may have one of the best endings to a superhero film when Splinter suggest the word “Cowabunga” as a word to cheer with, then quickly laughs, “I made a funny!”
9. The Crow (1994): Probably the most underappreciated superhero film of all time, The Crow deserves more recognition than beyond the fact that Brandon Lee was killed on the set. Directed by Alex Proyas, the film has a dark, stylized beauty to it that no doubt later influenced some of his other films such as I, Robot. Lee did give a final, brilliant performance as The Crow, aka Eric Draven, a rock musician who is revived from the dead and given powers of invincibility by a crow; he then decides to use these powers to avenge his and his fiancée’s death. Since its release in 1994, The Crow has grown a cult-like following. In 2008, Stephen Norrington (The League of Extraordinary Gentleman) announced that he planned to re-make The Crow. Today, director F. Javier Guiterrez has signed on to direct the film and the remake is still in negotiations. In this case, it would be best to leave this Brandon Lee classic alone.
10. Blade (1998): Wesley Snipes truly owns Blade -- a half-human/half-vampire hybrid who protects humans from vampires. Directed by Stephen Norrington, Blade is a bit of a hybrid itself, fusing together elements of superhero, horror, martial arts, and action flicks. As a superhero, Blade easily has some of the best weapons, including a silver samurai sword and guns that fire silver bullets. Blade also takes on some great vampire foes, such as Stephen Dorff as creepy vampire Deacon Frost, and Dragonetti (Udo Kier). The visual elements of Blade are dazzling, including extreme camera angles, extravagant costumes, and exquisite sets. The success of Blade actually went on to convince Marvel to develop the X-Men series as well as the Spider-Man film series. Way to save the day, Blade!
If you still feel the need to be saved by a superhero after watching these awesome flicks, then check out these honorable mentions:
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)
Iron Man (2008)
What are some of YOUR favorite superhero movies?
- Sarah Osman, YH Staff
Viewers to Decide Fate of Upcoming "Hawaii Five-0" Ep!
Top Designers Create Disney Princess Gowns for Harrods!