The following is a list of the top 10 superhero movies to watch before you die. Warning: This list contains some spoilers. They’re needed to explain why a movie is where it is on the list. Please note that this is a list of recent superhero movies, not a list of the top 10 of all time. If you want a list of the top 10 of all time, let me know in the comments section below! Here’s the list:
1. Batman: The Dark Knight
Batman: The Dark Knight is one of the must see movies to watch of all time, not just one of the best superhero movies out there. From the opening robbery scene featuring the Joker, to the brilliant cat and mouse game Batman and the Joker play throughout the film, The Dark Knight is an epic spectacle that won’t be forgotten. As one of Heath Ledger’s final performances, this movie is an excellent sum of his work and acting talent. I believe he was one of the best jokers, as he is positively terrifying. The action scenes, the film work, the acting, the plot… This movie has it all in spades. If you haven’t seen it already, you need to right now.
2. Batman Begins
This film actually helped to save the struggling movie industry when it was released, and unleashed the plethora of superhero movies we now have. Personally, I regard both as wonderful things. While Batman Begins isn’t as good as the Dark Knight, it’s still an excellent superhero movie in spite of this. The gadgets are cool, Christian Bale is the best batman (sorry Batfleck fans!) and the new batmobile is amazing. Ras’al’ghul is an incredibly cool villain, with his army of ninjas and desire to destroy Gotham. The inclusion of some epic scenery and state of the art special effects really help this film achieve greatness. The musical score by Hans Zimmer is amazing too. Strongly recommended.
3. Man of Steel
There is a strong division of opinion of this film among Superman fans. Personally, I loved it. It was extremely refreshing to see a dark take on the Superman genre of films. I was tired of seeing the bright, cheery Superman overcome all in his path with his fists. Admittedly, this film takes the opposite route to an extreme, with hundreds or thousands of innocent people dying in the battle between Zod and Superman. And understandably, this put off a number of people. For me though it made perfect sense. In a battle between two godlike beings, there are bound to be a number of casualties. Especially if one of the godlike beings in question doesn’t care at all about killing innocents. Yes, there was a lot of controversy about Superman killing Zod as well, but come on. What else was he supposed to do, give him a time out? The combination of the breathtaking special effects, spectacular musical score and great acting by Zod make Man of Steel a movie you have to see.
4. Iron Man
The film that launched Marvel’s saga of movies to greatness. Picking Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man was probably the best casting decision a studio has ever made, and it has worked as well for Marvel now as it did 8 years ago. Robert Downey Jr. has a delightful mix of sarcasm, wit and humor that makes him perfectly suited for this role. Unfortunately the second and third Iron Man movies were nowhere near as good as this one, but that doesn’t have any bearing on the quality of this film on its own. The scene where Stark uses the Iron Man suit to fly and takes it on a test drive is extremely memorable, and showcases all the future potential the Iron Man suit will have over the years. Jeff Bridges was great as the bad guy, even if the plot surrounding him was a little clumsy (Why would a multi-billion dollar arms company with contracts from the US military take the risk of selling arms to the US’s enemies?) his acting was typically excellent and he was by far the best villain of the Iron Man movies. Even if that’s not saying much thanks to the second and third movies (A guy with a whip? Really?). Overall, Iron Man is a great introduction to one of the Avengers team members and sets up the rest of the Marvel movies excellently.
5. The Avengers
The first of the Marvel superhero combination movies, and it was done very well. It had a few notable weaknesses, but overall it was a wildly entertaining blockbuster movie. The first issue it had is that the enemies were positively generic. They were literally “evil space aliens” that were taken from none of the previous movies. Loki was also a villain, and personally I’ve always found him a little weak as far as villains go. He’s the master of illusion and deception, sure, but he’s always outclassed by Thor and never seems exactly sure what he wants or what he’s doing in a given film. The second questionable choice is showing Thanos behind the machinations in this film. Thanos would most assuredly have had a far more competent lieutenant than Loki or Generic Space Alien #627 to take over Earth with. In spite of these questionable decisions, Avengers continued the Marvel theme of not taking itself or the superhero genre too seriously, and having tons of excellent humor. There were tons of hilarious dialog moments and funny scenes that greatly help to carry this movie along. Additionally, the special effects are excellent.
One of the only films on this list that did not have memorable special effects. No, what made this movie excellent was the writing. The whole film’s premise was basically “If there were a superhero in real life, what would he actually be like?” Answering that question turns out to result in a very entertaining movie filled with lots of twists and turns. The cast is spectacular, featuring both Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. The movie is also quite dark, which personally I appreciate. I won’t say too much about this one as pretty much the whole movie revolves around the reveals unveiled throughout. If you want a realistic superhero movie, go see it.
This movie definitely has its flaws, and is not the penultimate comic book adaptation fans were hoping for, but it’s still very good and watchable on its own. The special effects beat most of the superhero movies on this list, especially all of Doctor Manhattan’s crazily godlike superpowers. His construct on Mars was breathtaking to behold, and watching him tear people to shreds / seeing how he became Doctor Manhattan were both extremely memorable scenes. It’s also refreshing to watch a dystopic view of superheroes, in a very dark and dangerous universe. Some pacing issues and frequent slowness however drop this movie down to 7th on this list.
8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I’ll start this off by saying that I’m not a huge fan of Captain America. I find his background story too pure, simple and good for my tastes. Nonetheless this movie is quite good, and it’s one of the rare cases where the second movie is better than the first. The Winter Soldier is a far better and more well written villain than Red Skull. Red Skull was a cringeworthily cheesy villain, whereas The Winter Soldier is sympathetic, with awesome powers. Seeing him catch Captain America’s shield and throw it back at him was an extremely memorable scene. Hydra’s insidiousness is also very well portrayed in this film, and watching them infiltrate pretty much everything is delightful. The twists and turns that result from this are highly entertaining to watch. There are some downsides though, for example I found Anthony Mackie’s Falcon role to be pretty much unnecessary. Even Mackie himself initially begged Marvel for a different role. In fact, I’d say it was downright cheesy. He has pretty much no backstory beyond being “Captain America’s friend”, and it’s never explained how he can fly or where he got his wings. I guess it’s implied he got them in his vague military service doing something we know nothing about, but overall his character is wayyyy too underdeveloped.
9. X-Men: First Class
It was extremely tough to decide which X-Men movie to put on this list. The original X-Men movie was a close second, but some cringeworthy dialog and a dated feel resulted in it getting the axe. X-Men: First Class shows the origin story of most of the iconic superheroes from Marvel. It does a great job at it, too in spite of occasional cheese. The movie is set in the ‘60s, and tries to play off that humorously at times with minimal success. A few of the new mutants introduced are pretty dumb as well (A fairy that shoots fire out of her mouth? Really?) Overall though, this movie is a great introduction to the X-Men series and definitely deserves a place on this list.
10. Guardians of the Galaxy
I hate anthropomorphic animals. I find that they shatter realism and make no sense whatsoever. Whenever I see a talking snake or racoon, I cringe. So for me, this movie loses tons of points for that. Nonetheless besides that this is a great movie. The humor is great, the action as creative as it is laden with sci-fi special effects and the scenery is amazing. The space prison break scene is extremely entertaining, creative and memorable, with the use of flying guard robots as thrusters. There are so many awesome, memorable scenes in this movie I can’t name them all. I debated about putting the movie on this list however because none of the characters are really superheroes, at least not until the end. And even then with Star-Lord’s origin story big reveal, he doesn’t really have any noticeable superpowers. If I’m wrong to regard this as a superhero movie, yell at me in the comments! It could have gone either way. Even with my dislike of Rocket, this movie definitely deserves at least one watch.
Agree or disagree with this list of movies to watch before you die? Let us know in the comments section below! What do you think the 10 superhero movies to watch before you die are?