While a few have existed for years, superhero movies have become Hollywood’s bread and butter for the last ten years. Some of the hottest directors have and continue to bring our favorite heroes to the big screen. Richard Donner showed us that a man could fly, Tim Burton gave us a dark protector and Sam Raimi showed us that with great box office bank, comes a less than stellar third installment – or something like that.
The good thing is that for every “Daredevil” or “Ghost Rider” – Yeah, I’m looking at you, Nicholas Cage – comes some really spectacular films that make us want to stand up and cheer. Below you’ll find my picks for the top ten superhero films and by no means do I believe this to be a definitive list. While there are many superhero films that I find fun, the ones I’ve picked below have a special quality that makes them shine above the rest.
“Superman” was one of the first superhero movies and definitely set the bar for all superhero movies to come. Richard Donner made audiences everywhere believe that a man could fly when he brought the man of steel to the big screen. His casting of then unknown, Christopher Reeves was perfect because he was equally captivating as bumbling Clark Kent and Superman.
I can remember seeing “Superman” for the first time when I was a kid. While the overall story was amusing, I couldn’t wait until Superman flew across the screen. My fantasy was being Superman. Hell, every little boy’s dream was to be Superman. Who wouldn’t want to leap tall buildings in a single bound or run faster speeding bullet? The day the velvro wore out on my pajamas was the saddest day ever.
What I really loved about Superman – and still do – was the dynamic between Superman and Lex Luthor. Luthor could never match Superman physically, so he would have to use his superior intellect to hit Supes where it really mattered…his heart. At the climax of the film Luthor fires two missiles in two different directions, thus forcing Superman to make a choice of who to save. While Superman is off stopping the first missile the second one hits and through a chain reaction, takes the life of Lois Lane. I’m man enough to admit that I had a tear in my eye when Superman pulled a lifeless Lois out of her car and screamed in agony. Of course, laughter alleviated my sadness when he flew into space and reversed the rotation of the earth, thus turning back time and saving Lois. Oh, what can’t Superman do?
No matter how dated this movie becomes, it still holds a special place in my heart. Superman is definitely a two-dimensional character but he is still a symbol of truth, justice and the American way. He represents so many of the ideals that today’s society has forgotten.
Next on my list is “Hellboy” and I know this is probably a strange choice since he’s not technically a superhero, but it’s my list and I can do what I want.
Guillermo del Torro is one of my favorite directors and was the perfect choice to bring the cat-loving Demon with a heart to life. He created such a dark and realistic world in a way only Del Torro can and his decision to bring Ron Pearlman on was impeccable. Not only is Pearlman able to stand all of the prosthetics, but he was able to bring so many special qualities to Hellboy. He made me believe that this character could really exist in our world and made me cheer for the old red.
My reasoning for including “Hellboy” on the list is because while he isn’t the prototypical superhero, he’s still contains many of the attributes of a superhero. Besides his inhuman strength and agility, he’s an outsider struggling to fit in with society and despite their inability to accept him, Hellboy still risks his life to save a world that fears him. Hellboy was the perfect symbol to us that it isn’t the color of our skin or the size of our hands that defines us; it’s our choices, good or bad.
Once again, I have another unconventional pick but conventional or not, “Kick-Ass” deserves the pick none-the-less. I have to say I’m a little ashamed that when previews started for this movie I had no prior knowledge of the comic but loved the movie anyway. The social commentary was hilarious and despite some extremely outlandish moments involving a machine gun jet pack, the movie had a sense of realism. I mean if someone dressed up in a mask and started fighting crime they’re going to get their butts handed to them and Kick-Ass certainly get’s his handed to him.
The characters of the film are what really make this film. Dave Lizewski is a comic book enthusiast who decides that you don’t need a lot of money, powers or kung fu style fighting ability to be a hero. All you need is a wet suit and a couple of nightsticks and you’re good to go. Ah, the things guys will do to get laid. What I find the funniest about the Kick-Ass character is that he really isn’t the hero at all and more often he’s on the receiving end of the ass kicking.
The real heroes of the movie are Hit-Girl and Big Daddy – played by Chloe Moretz and Nicholas Cage. Moretz completely steals the show whenever she is on screen. It was hysterical to see this little girl jumping around and killing everyone that got in her way. I know that Nicholas Cage has a lot to be thankful for since he finally found a character where he can just be himself.
“Kick-Ass” is a lot of fun from start to finish and is a smart commentary on our society’s obsession with superheroes.
7.) Spider-Man 2
Some may feel that this is a bit of a hypocritical pick after my blasphemous remarks of preferring “The Amazing Spider-Man” over the original series, but despite a few Raimi trademark moments “Spider-Man 2” is still an amazing movie.
I think the three things that make this movie so good is a struggling hero, a conflicted villain who you empathize with and the lack of a dancing emo, Peter Parker. What I like about Spider-man and why he’s my all-time favorite superhero is probably because he is one of the most selfless heroes and of course, his sparkling personality. Sure Superman will throw himself in front of a bullet or put himself in the path of a rocket but only because he’s an indestructible alien.
“Spider-Man 2” showed the more human side of Spidey and it was interesting to see him doubt being a superhero. Why should his life suck for no reason? It wasn’t his fault his best friend’s dad went crazy, dressed up like a Power Ranger and skewered himself. I liked to see Peter be selfish and put himself before others for a change because it made me like the character that much more when he chose to be Spider-man again. That’s what makes Spider-man a true hero and why this movie deserves its spot on the top ten.
It seems that time and time again superhero movies become plagued with the same problem; too many villains or too many heroes. Many filmmakers aren’t able to successfully juggle multiple characters at once without dropping any and until recently only one man was able to do so, Bryan Singer. In 2000 he was able to stun audiences with his hit “X-men” and three years later completely knock their socks off with “X-2.”
While there were so many amazing parts of that sequel, from Wolverine’s rampage through the mansion to Jean Grey’s sacrifice, I believe the opening sequence alone warrants the movie’s spot on the list. Bryan Singer was so brilliantly able to work with a large ensemble cast and make each character feel important. Granted, Wolverine was at much of the film’s forefront, I still felt emotional invested with each character. Except Rogue, she was just stupid. Her only super powers were whining and able to fit any object in the abnormally large gap in her front teeth.
The main reason that I like this film so much is the overlying message of persecution. The film was a perfect representation of how our society. We fear anything we don’t know and that fear quickly turns to hate. That’s what is so special about the X-Men. They’re able to see the good in human kind and fight to preserve it at any cost.
To Be Continued…
Hey everyone, thanks for reading and make sure to like the site on Facebook or Twitter or submit your e-mail to receive updates for new posts. Later this week will be the conclusion of my list for top ten superhero movies. I’d love to hear your thoughts below. Tell me what you’ve thought so far and tell me your guesses for the top five superhero movies!