#1 – The Incredibles
For a few years, there was no better animation studio in the world than Pixar. they were leading the way not only in animation, but in story development. Every summer, people waited eagerly for their next project to emerge, and they were never disappointed by what they saw on the screen. When they had Brad Bird tell his story about a superhero family forced into retirement, it was the height of Pixar’s reign as animated kings. It also tells one of the best superhero stories ever, and this was not one that was previously told in comic books. It showed how dysfunction can control all aspects of your life if you are not allowed to be the person you know you are. It also showed typical family life as kids grow up with parents who are the heroes they always make them out to be. This could easily be the best animated feature highlighting the lives of superheroes.
#2- The Dark Knight
I have a hard time deciding which takes more to believe, why this movie didn’t get nominated for an academy award, or why it only got a PG13 rating. Both are head scratchers as you watch this masterpiece. The one thing that won’t make you wonder is if there has ever been a better villain in any type of movie. Heath Ledger gave this character a darkness that goes back to the original Batman comic books. He is only on the screen for 46 minutes in this movie that almost runs for three hours, but each time he is there, you remained glued to your seat to see what he will do next. He definitely deserved the academy award for the best supporting actor that year just as the movie deserved to be mentioned among the best not only that year, but maybe even this century. Granted an argument can be made for Slumdog Millionaire which won that year as being a better movie, but who is going to talk about The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons again. Whereas, we will talk about this movie as the best installment in the Batman series and the best superhero movie ever made. It will take a lot to remove this movie from its position on the list because not only are the performances amazing, but it looks into the power of chaos, chance, and what will really happen if we all started to play vigilante. This movie is legendary and by far the best superhero movie ever made.
#3 – Iron Man
Growing up, I really didn’t like Iron Man. Who would like a narcissistic arms dealer turned superhero? Yes, it is the dream of all arms dealers, but I really didn’t want to spend my fifty cents on a comic book reading about it. When I saw they had made a movie about Tony Stark, I knew instantly that I had to skip this one. But then the reviews came out, and I learned that John Favreau was the director. I could overlook the fact that Robert Downey Jr. was the lead and give this movie a chance. Boy, my initial reaction was wrong and I was surprised how good this movie was. Given the fact that it was released during the height of the war on terror just added to the timeliness of the movie, and who better to play a narcissistic arms dealer turned superhero than Robert Downey Jr. The humor combined with the action intertwined in a relevant story made this movie the first to make this list.
#4 – Spiderman
#5 – Man of Steel
#6 – Guardians of the Galaxy
Americans have a special place in their hearts for bad guys. We even like them better if they start off bad, but as time goes on, they find the right way and end up doing good. If you don’t believe me, think of your favorite Star Wars character and most of you will think of Han Solo right away. (Yes, I know Yoda popped into a lot of your heads as well.) But for those of you who thought of Yoda, I bet Han Solo is number two. Now imagine a movie where six Han Solos get together to save not only the world, but the universe. What you get with this band of misfits is the number two spot, Guardians of the Galaxy. Most of the time I would tell you to stay away from a movie that has too many origin stories because they don’t have time to tell each of their stories, and the whole thing turns out flat, but this is not the case with Guardians of the Galaxy. James Gunn did a wonderful job of developing the characters and entertaining us all in this less than known story from Marvel comics.
#7 – The Avengers
Growing up, my brother was really into this group of superheroes. I did not feel the same way. It involved more of a love story and bunch of overrated heroes talking than getting into fights. A West Coast version came out that I was more interested in than the original group of heroes. Of course, this was post Ultron days when the story centered on the Vision and the Scarlet Witch. When I heard that Marvel was working to bring this story to the big screen, I was skeptical, but I liked the way that they were doing it. It was nice to get all of the origin stories out of the way, so they could focus on the story itself. What I was not expecting was the action adventure that followed. There is so much action in this movie that it never gives the viewer time to breathe. It is just pure fun all the way through. It also doesn’t hurt to see the Hulk throw a god around like he is a rag doll. This definitely deserves this spot on the countdown.
#8 – Darkman
#9 – Batman Begins
The Batman franchise had hit a slow spot. The movies had turned into the campy version of the caped crusader that plagued viewers in the 60s and 70s. Why would anybody want to come out for a reboot of this story. Christopher Nolan was also struggling as a director after his debut was followed by a lackluster performance with Insomniac. The story was doomed to be forgotten and quickly. At least this was shat I thought. I didn’t even bother going to see it in the theater. Instead, one afternoon while looking for something to do, I threw down a dollar to go see the movie in a rundown theater. What I saw blew my mind. Here was a story about the power of fear in a post-9/11 world. The theme could not be presented at a better time. Gone was the campiness of the previous movies. The villain was not some cartoon parading around on the screen, but instead a real villain. It also presented a new, dark twist to the origin story that is so overplayed that everybody in the world knows it by heart. It blew my mind, and returned Christopher Nolan back to the ranks of one of the best directors out there. Obviously one of the best versions of Batman from a series that have offered up more stories about this hero than any other hero out there.
#10 – Kick Ass
Can a superhero without any superpowers really be included in this list? Hell yeah. After the saturation of superhero movies every summer, it was refreshing to see a movie about the effects it might have on the average viewer. Who didn’t want to be a superhero growing up? There were many days growing up that I fantasized about waking up and finding myself a mutant with hidden powers that I never knew about, but then reality set in. These superpowers do not exist, and no matter how much I wished for them, they would never come. But what would happen if I decided to go fight crime anyway? This is the idea that plays out in Kick Ass, and in amazingly entertaining fashion. The ideas combined with the action makes this a worthy edition to the list.
#11 – Spiderman 2
As a kid, my favorite superhero was Spiderman. So when they made the first movie, I was really excited to see it and was not disappointed in the job they did telling the story. My only complaint was the was the way the dealt with his web-slinging abilities, but that was so minor that I could easily forgive it. I had only wished that they had taken on Spiderman’s greatest enemy, Dr. Octopus. But patience is a virtue, and it was the second installment in this series that allowed me to see how they were going to present this super villain on the screen. The battle scenes in this movie are epic, and you cannot just forget what it was you have seen. I could watch this movie over and over again, and never get tired of it.
#12 – Unbreakable
It was 2000, and M. Night Shyamalan had just wowed the world with his debut movie, The Sixth Sense, won an unprecedented contract, and was ready to release his sophomore effort. The world was ready to see what this wonder director was going to bring to the table with his dark themes and Twilight Zone twists. He gave us another mind-bender with his superhero movie, Unbreakable. Unlike other superhero movies, this one didn’t market itself as a superhero movie. It also didn’t have a lot of action scenes like other movies of its kind. But it has one of the best origin stories that have ever been told, and its deconstruction of the superhero genre has laid the groundwork for all of the other movies that followed. It is one that is usually forgotten by those who love this genre, but deserves a spot on the list for its ingenuity.
#13 – Thor
Yes, I am a big enough geek to claim that my favorite kind of mythology is Norse mythology, and some of this had to do with growing up with the Thor comic books as a kid. Even though it is hard to find the stories that created this ancient religion, the more you look into this mythology, the better it gets. Of course, Marvel embellished a little bit on the original stories, but Kenneth Branagh brought some of the details of these stories back into the movie. It was also the perfect choice of director because the scenes on Asgard needed a classic appeal, and who better to bring that to a movie than a Shakespearean trained actor and director. Even though all of these aspects find themselves in this movie, it is the dynamic between the God of Thunder and Jane Foster as he makes his way to Earth for the first time that really create this movie. It adds the perfect amount of comedy to this action adventure and creates some of the more memorable scenes. It was also a great introduction that followed in the next movies that continued this great story.