The 10 Greatest Superhero Movies of All-Time

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This madness all started in 2000 with "X-Men." Sure, before that, we had Tim Burton's "Batman" and both "Superman" films, but when it REALLY started? "X-Men." And then, 2008's "Iron Man" brought it to stratosphere. The beginning of what would be an important chapter in film history: The mass invasion of a genre.

This is a list that was concocted after careful re-watching and analyzing . I remember back in my "film studies" days, at Concordia University, I wrote an essay about the "modern-day superhero genre." It was only 2004. A lot of research went into it. I not only consulted token reviews by the likes of Ebert and Turan, but essays that were written by "scholarly" journals such as Film Comment and Sight/Sound. Why is this the most resonant essay of my film school days? Because it's the most relevant genre around. Superhero movies are everything in Hollywood today. 

I have shared my discontent concerning the lack of creative ideas or original thought in today's movie studio system, and of course a lot of the blame has to go to the genre that have populated our screens since the early aughts and has become bigger and bigger with every passing year. Just look at 'Black Panther," it might eclipse "The Dark Knight" at the box-office this year, who knows.

However, at its core, a superhero movie still has the potential for greatness.  In a way it's the apex of what the Lumieres and George Melies eventually wanted to achieve with advanced technology at their disposal. Am I far reaching? Of course not. The superhero movie has all of the elements that have epitomized moviemaking since its inception more than a century ago: Science Fiction, Horror, Drama, Film Noir, and, especially in the Marvel movies, a little added dose of Comedy.

1) The Dark Knight
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"If you haven't heard of Christopher Nolan's superhero classic then you just don't live in this planet. Nolan along with an A-list cast headed by Christian Bale as Batman, but, especially, the late Heath Ledger as a Joker to haunt your dreams, triumph in this artful blockbuster. Many have evoked the film as a post 9/11 depiction of a world gone to hell by trying to inflict evil to get rid of evil itself, they might not be far off as the caped crusader fights a Joker in a battle that might not be far off America's own fight against terrorism. Ledger's joker is so real and so intense that he almost threatens to overshadow the rest of the movie, but it's also Nolan's eye for detail that puts this film over the edge. This is his dark, twisted take on a misunderstood superhero and the crowning movie event of the superhero genre."

2) Logan
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Logan is a bold, risk-taking superhero film, a character-driven piece on mortality and past mistakes. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart give the best performances of their careers and director James Mangold takes full advantage of the R rating at his disposal. This is the most legit take on Wolverine, a hard R rating that does the clawed hero justice and possibly the most violent superhero movie I have ever seen or, at the very least, right up there with "Blade." A vastly different comic book movie simply because it decides to focus on character rather than action, this is a mature take on the genre and the most essential addition to to the X-Men catalogue. Jackman's performance is incendiary. While watching Logan one can't help but feel like they are watching a neo-western film. The fact that there are also, purposeful, partial, moody detachment from the Marvel cinematic universe allows Mangold to have more flexibility to go his own way and create his own vision. Mangold stages numerous, incredibly-staged action sequences, especially one at a farmhouse where three sides collide in brutal and deadly ways. 

3) Spider-Man 2
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"Now this is what I'm talking about. After the average "Spider-Man" movie in 2002, director Sam Raimi completely redeemed himself by creating one of the best superhero movies ever made. A mind blowing mix of action, heart and character that had viewers on the edge of their seats. The special effects are outstanding and the action sequences, including a thrilling speeding-train finale, make this a knockout through and through. Raimi knows that to make a great superhero movie you need to care about the characters that are onscreen and, with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst along for the ride, he makes sure every shot counts. Also Alfred Molina, as Doctor Octopus, makes a very strong case for the title of greatest Marvel movie villain of all-time"

4) Captain America: The Winter Soldier
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Forget about "The Avengers" which is cotton candy entertainment when compared to "The Winter Soldier." This film ranks as the most accomplished Marvel universe film to date. Nothing comes close. Not even its high-grade sequel "Civil War." The action scenes are great, there are suspenseful moments aplenty, and the emotional toll the film packs at its conclusion is deeply ingrained in humanism. this film strengthens Just like Nolan's "The Dark Knight" trilogy, Anthony and Joe Russo's film is a cinematic experience through and through, recalling some of the great political thrillers ("Three Days of Condor," "The Parallax View.") while also adding new dimensions to what was starting to become a very predictable and frustrating cinematic genre."

5) X2

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From its stunning opening sequence, maybe the best of any X-Men movie, hell maybe even superhero movie, to its bittersweet ending, you had to have watched the film in 2003 to know just how impactful it weas to legitimizing not just the Marvel brand but the whole genre.  Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian Mckellen, Hugh Jackman, are all marvelously coimplimented by a cast which includes Alan Cumming Nightcrawler, Jean Grey, Iceman, and Brian Cox’s  mutant-hating scientist. If 2000's "X-Men" felt more like a tease than anything else, it was more of a set-up than an actual movie, director Bryan Singer never loses touch of character and feeling but draws the story forward with more cinematic panache. It's a film about bigotry, the marginalized and expanded on Wolverine's backstory. 

6) The Incredibles
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While we get relentlessly pummeled by countless superhero movies every single year, it is a breath of fresh air to see the genre work so triumphantly well. Brad Bird has proven his worth in the past, most notably with the criminally underrated animated movie “The Iron Giant”. Bird gives us another visual treat by tackling the superhero genre and coming out with a classic that can stand alongside “The Dark Knight” and “Spider-Man 2″. The action scenes are breathtakingly staged, with Bird’s incredible eye for detail and pacing coming in handy. Unlike many superhero movies, this is one of the rare cases where a sequel would be welcome and well-deserved.

7) Iron Man
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Director Jon Favreau brought a solid mix of action and humor to this 2008 film which basically kickstarted the Marvel Universe, for better or for worse. Favreau's film felt fresh, innovative and just downright satirical about the superhero movies that came before it. It hit a high standard of excellence for the mainstream by combining humor with breathtaking action sequences, it was and still is a cinematic time capsule shapeshifter. In a year that saw the war in Iraq seem never-ending and the market crashing in unxpectedly historical ways, Americans had enough ad chose to elect Barack Obama and Tony Stark to lead the way to the future.

8) Captain America: Civil War
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"I was exhausted by the 150 minutes movie that was Civil War. It`s actually the lengthiest Marvel movie yet. So much stuff is jam-packed into this film, both good and bad, that some of the better moments get quickly forgotten once the next showstopper hits.  I don`t mind that, because this movie solely exists as a marketing entertainment, but I wish it somehow had time to just pause, refresh, reboot, breath before the next action battle comes. Captain America: Civil is entertaining, but it barely has time to have a concrete narrative happening. Are we not entertained? Of course we are, but this doesn't have the cinematic-ness of "Winter Soldier"

9) Batman
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I grew up on Tim Burton and those first two Batman movies. I was obsessed and continuously rewatching them. My fandom stopped once "Batman Forever" happened, which was met with a resounding "WTF?" I mean, it's one thing changing Tim Burton for Joel Schumacher as the director, but replacing Michael Keaton with Val Kilmer as Batman was the final straw for me. I wouldn't be a fan again until Christopher Nolan took over. I do, however, still think Keaton has been the best on-screen Batman we have ever had. He just nailed the caped crusader in a way that not even Christian Bale could. I don't think there is a superhero score as memorable as Danny Elfman's for  Tim Burton’s Batman, maybe John Williams' "Superman" score but that's it.  Elfman's catchy "Batman" theme still gives me goosebumps whenever I hear it. 

10) Unbreakable
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"This is the ultimate in making a superhero movie "cinematic". "Unbreakable" is the act of not even knowing you're watching a superhero movie until the very last frame. That's the biggest magic trick Shayamalan's movie pulls out of its bag and what's more cinematic than magic? Or as Vulture says it "liberate(d) the superhero from the shackles of licensing constraints and fan-pandering." In a way invented superhero-dom is something that hasn't been tackled that much. "Unbreakable" goes to the roots of what it means to read or watch a superhero story and to get swept up in it without any advanced buzz, or preconceived notions about what to expect. It's the antidote to what we're looking for right now. Thank god they never made that rumored sequel.

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