10. SPIDER-MAN 2
Spider-Man 2 is without a doubt the best movie in that franchise so far. The Spider-Man brand is in tatters now, but back in 2004, Spider-Man was THE premiere superhero in America and Spider-Man 2 showed audiences and critics just how good superhero movies could be. In my mind, Tobey Maguire is and always will be Spider-Man and he gives a great performance in this film. This film also has the best Spider-Man villain- Alfred Molina's Doc Ock. It's a vulnerable, terrific performance. All in all, Spider-Man 2 is the definitive Spider-Man movie. It's the most clear and concise film in the series and it has an emotional storyline that's free from clutter. Spider-Man 2 is simply brilliant.
9. THE INCREDIBLES
The Incredibles might seem like an odd fit on a list that includes a lot of comic book films that feature characters from Marvel and DC. However, it features superheros and it's a perfect fit. Pixar has made many great films over the years, but none may be quite as awesome as The Incredibles. This movie has it all. Quotable lines, stellar action scenes and a sleek retro style. The voicework and the direction is brilliant and it tackles some pretty weighty themes. It's simply terrific and one of Pixar's finest achievements thus far.
8. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
X-Men: First Class is more a Bond film and less a superhero film. However, that doesn't prevent it from being one of the best films in the superhero genre. Like Batman Begins, X-Men: First Class sets up the next installment in the series expertly. The characters are interesting, the action is stellar and the pacing is terrific. Director Matthew Vaughn has a unique style and it really shows in this film (I can't wait for Kingsman, his next film). James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence make for a great trio and Kevin Bacon is the best villain in the X-Men franchise. Plus, you can't go wrong with a cameo from a profane Wolverine.
7. BATMAN BEGINS
6. X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
The X-Men franchise is incredibly inconsistent and I've noted that in every single review that I've written about the series. Some are good (X2), some are terrible (The Wolverine) and some fall in between (X-Men: The Last Stand). However, the creative talent behind X-Men band together occasionally to create something truly astonishing. It's only happened twice in the history of the franchise, but it happened this year with X-Men: Days of Future Past. It's a film that has to juggle many balls and still maintain a clear focus, which seems almost impossible. But thanks to James McAvoy's career-best performance as Charles Xavier and some awesome cameos (Quicksilver's slo-mo scene is still the best I've seen this year), Days of Future Past just works. It's the most emotional superhero movie of all time and it's also one of the best.
5. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
Captain America is the most retro hero in Marvel's catalog and director Joe Johnston conveys that in his terrific film Captain America: The First Avenger. This Saturday morning serial-esque romp is a patriotic good time and lays the groundwork for Marvel's best solo franchise. The WWII setting is perfect and the muddy visual style is great. It's the rare superhero film that pays homage to films like Raiders of the Lost Ark instead of Superman (1978). The performances are also stellar. Chris Evans is perfect and Tommy Lee Jones is great in his supporting role. I absolutely love this movie and at this point, I would say that the Captain America franchise is Marvel's best.
4. THE AVENGERS
At this point, I've watched The Avengers way too many times. Almost every party or school event I've been to for the last two years has featured The Avengers in some shape or form and I'm kind of sick of it. But that doesn't mean that it isn't a great movie. It most certainly is. The Avengers is the definition of a crowd-pleaser and I'll never forget the first time I saw this movie in theaters. People cheered and laughed their way through the whole movie and it culminated with thunderous applause when the Avengers finally unite to stop Loki in downtown New York. It was a pure adrenaline rush and the film is still great. It's a hilarious, rollicking good time and it's one that will be a classic for years to come.
3. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Marvel has produced some great films, but in my mind, most of them are the same. Either it's a simple origin story or it fits the template of hero lives life normally, then the villain appears and a minor character is killed or wounded. After that, the hero must rally to fight villain, and finally, a big battle occurs in a Metropolitan area where the villain dies. The End. It's a template that pervades through every Marvel film. Captain America: The Winter Soldier still follows that basic storyline. However, The Winter Soldier is probably the darkest and most thematically interesting Marvel film so far. It's a conspiracy thriller and a very good one. It's tense from start to finish and yet, the hero remains as idealistic as ever. But you can't deny the differences between the America in the first Captain America film and the America in this one. It's quite compelling, but it's also quite thrilling. There are stakes, there are repercussions and there is darkness, but it still is quite humorous. It's a perfect Captain America film and I hope that Marvel can close out the trilogy well with the third installment in 2016.
2. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
I could not have been more excited for The Dark Knight Rises when it came out in 2012. I had been waiting years for this movie and it lived up to all of my expectations. Rises takes its time to set up the story, but after that, it's a thrill ride that doesn't stop. But it's also an emotional thrill ride that doesn't stop. From the inspiring moment in the pit to the final scenes, The Dark Knight Rises might be one of the few superhero movies that can make you cry. Christian Bale gives his best performance as Batman and Tom Hardy is a formidable villain as Bane. It's a brilliant end to the trilogy and a great film that will live on for years to come. I know that some fans give it hate because it's not as good as The Dark Knight, but too bad. This is still a masterpiece.
1. THE DARK KNIGHT
The Dark Knight is the best superhero film of all time. There is no question in my mind about that. It's one of my favorite films of all time and an absolute cinematic masterpiece. From Heath Ledger's delicious performance as the Joker to the non-stop thrills of the crime thriller plot, this movie is just terrific. The score by Hans Zimmer is brilliant and the plot is filled with social implications. This is one of the few blockbusters that deserves to be called one of the greatest films of all time. Awesome.
Also- some honorable mentions:
-SPIDER-MAN- This film represents the dawn of the modern superhero movie, but the effects are really dated.
-BATMAN- Tim Burton's kooky take on Batman is awesome, yet completely over-shadowed by Nolan's brilliant trilogy.
-SUPERMAN II- It's certainly the best Superman film ever put on film, but it still drags at times.
-IRON MAN- Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic universe in style and Robert Downey Jr. is terrific. However, it suffers from a lack of scale and a certain blandness that it simply can't shake.
-IRON MAN 3- It's a colorful and crazy sequel filled with great action and Ben Kingsley is terrific, which is enough to overshadow the fact that the first act is dreadfully boring and that the PTSD subplot is overdone.
With over forty superhero films coming out in the next few years, this list is sure for change. But for now, these are the ten best that have ever graced the silver screen.