The concept of superheroes and their alternate worlds attracts an almost universal interest. As self-made superhero Dave Lizewski from the film “Kick-Ass” speculates, “At some point in our lives, we all want to be a superhero.” This hits close to our modern, near-rabid fascination with superheroes. Initially fueled during dark timessuch as the Great Depression and World War II, the superhero invention creates a medium to project our mortal fantasies and imagine a limitless world. These larger-than-life characters engage in the classic battle of good against evil, and the modern creations increasingly dominate the film industry.
Some say that the success and creativity behind superhero franchises are “saving Hollywood.” In the next few years, the planned release of more likely-blockbuster superhero films will hammer this point home. Some predict the upcoming release of “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” to have a record-breaking weekend. The superhero genre is now established far beyond just comic books, and could be setting a new precedent for the entertainment industry.
The team at PrettyFamous queried its movie database for the top superhero films. They are ranked according to our Smart Rating, which combines scores from Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb, Metacritic and Gracenote. This list contains the best films that exemplify the superhero genre — and sometimes — challenge it.
Smart Rating: 91.01
“Superman II” is the second film in the DC Comics series. Superman, played by Christopher Reeve, must stop criminals from his home planet, Krypton, from destroying Earth.
Smart Rating: 91.08
“The Dark Knight Rises,” the final film in the Batman reboot trilogy, features Bane, played by Tom Hardy, as the main antagonist. Batman, played by Christian Bale, must come to terms with his past errors and once again rescue the city of Gotham.
Smart Rating: 91.30
“Iron Man,” the first film in this Marvel Comics trilogy, explores the creation of the signature weaponized suit by Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr. Using his Iron Man suit, Stark pursues terrorist operations.
Smart Rating: 92.89
“Big Hero 6,” an animated adaptation of a Marvel Comics series of the same name, follows the adventures of a young robotics enthusiast who uses his skills to create a powerful robot and teams up with other intelligent friends.
Smart Rating: 93.03
This film is another of the unconventional superhero films as it reflects on the life of an actor known for his role as Birdman, a superhero. It follows past-his-prime Riggan Thomson, played by Michael Keaton, as he attempts to reinvigorate his career. “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” won Oscars for best picture, best cinematography, best original screenplay, and best director.
Smart Rating: 93.12
“The Incredibles,” a Pixar animated film, live in a world where superpowers are banned but the family must band together and use their powers to defeat a villain. It won Academy Awards for best animated film and best sound editing.
Smart Rating: 93.22
“Superman: The Movie,” the first of the Superman films featuring Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent/Superman, covers the origin story and introduces love interest Lois Lane, played by Margot Kidder. Superman must defeat evil mastermind, Lex Luthor, played by Gene Hackman.
Smart Rating: 93.37
“Marvel’s The Avengers,” marks the first convergence of superhero films based in the Marvel universe. The heroes included are Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, the Black Widow and Hawkeye. Their goal is to stop Loki, Thor’s brother, from aiding in an alien attack against earth. The film earned over $1 billion at the box office in the first 19 days.
Smart Rating: 96.44
“The Dark Knight” tops the list as the highest rated superhero film. The second and most successful of the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman reboot, Batman (Christian Bale) and Harvey “Two-Face” Dent (Aaron Eckhart) attempt to end organized crime. The Joker, played by Heath Ledger, turns the conflict into a life-or-death situation that tests the moral limits of Batman and Dent. It was the first Warner Bros. Pictures film to cross the $1 billion mark in sales. Heath Ledger died before the film’s release but won a posthumous Oscar for best supporting actor.