10 best superhero movies ever made, ranked

We all love a good superhero movie, but these ones stand above the rest. From Batman to the Avengers, who gave us the greatest one of them all?
On the Set of "Batman"
On the Set of "Batman" / Sunset Boulevard/GettyImages

Superhero movies are a fixture of the Hollywood landscape in today's day and age, but it wasn't always like that. Once upon a time, they were far and few between, with the spectacle of them often drawing in huge audiences (or some misguided attempts to cash-in on the success of the genre flopping at the box-office).

Nevertheless, they are all the rage these days, with anywhere between four to ten released on a yearly basis. The market is full of them, and we all have Marvel and DC to thank for that. While not all of their entries have been perfect, it's a wonderful experience for comic book fans to see their favorite characters come to life on the big screen. And even though everyone wants to tell us their opinions on superhero movies (no matter how wrong they might be), we're in a peak era for the genre.

The greatest thing about the genre is that it has produced some absolute classics over the years. From incredible Batman movies to the epic heights of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, let's take this opportunity to appreciate the greatest superhero movies ever made.

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Christopher Reeve in Superman: The Movie / Guang Niu/GettyImages

10. Superman: The Movie

If someone asked you to close your eyes and think of Superman, there's a pretty high chance that an image of Christopher Reeve would come to mind. He's so closely associated with the character that even now, nearly 50 years after the first movie's release, he's still considered the definitive Man of Steel to so many. Good luck arguing against that.

Superman: The Movie was released in 1978 and the Richard Donner movie was revolutionary to the genre. Yes, it was as light-hearted and triumphant as superheroes were expected to be at the time, but it was also a serious movie. That's not to say that it wasn't cheesy or over-the-top at times, but it was committed to being a dramatic film; this wasn't comedy and it wasn't looking to be laughed at by the naysayers, it was looking to prove them wrong. And it did.

Reeve's performance as Kal-El of Krypton was everything you could have wanted from the character, and he did a phenomenal job of differentiating between the Clark Kent and Superman personas; it went a long way in making people believe that the ridiculous disguise could work, because there was more to it than just a pair of glasses. Just as the movie went a long way in making people believe a man could fly.

With the days of the low-budget and campy comic book TV shows long gone, the superhero genre needed a future. Superman: The Movie provided it with that future, and it was a beautiful, heroic, and triumphant one - just like the movie itself.

AVENGERS: ENDGAME, best superhero movies
Marvel Studios' AVENGERS: ENDGAME..Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019 /

9. Avengers: Endgame

The culmination of a decade-long storyline came to fruition on Marvel Studios' Avengers: Endgame and it was beautiful to see. The big-budget blockbuster briefly became the highest-grossing movie of all time, and after pushing boundary after boundary with each of its larger-than-life affairs, that felt like a fitting conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's revolutionary Infinity Saga.

From dealing with the fallout of the equally impressive Avengers: Infinity War to wrapping up the storylines of multiple primary Avengers, Endgame had a lot to do. That's not even taking its travel across time, steal some Infinity Stones, and battle with the franchise's big bad plots, all of which it had to do between those. And yet it found a way to do that, bringing together almost all of the saga's most beloved characters, many of whom featured in what is undoubtedly the greatest battle sequence the silver screen has ever seen.

Some thought it took on too much, others weren't happy with all of the departing characters' endings; but everyone had thoughts on Avengers: Endgame. And as the years go on, it becomes increasingly clear what a moment in time it truly was. A feat that not even Marvel Studios could replicate again, it was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of movie, and I'm glad I got to witness it in mine.

The Batman - Credit Jonathan Olley and DC Comics
Zoë Kravitz and Robert Pattinson in The Batman. /

8. The Batman

You're going to see a bit of trend here with Batman movies, but what can we say?; The Dark Knight knows how to produce bangers. That includes Matt Reeves' 2022 reboot, which sought to bring the DC Universe back from its lacklustre days of the DCEU. Needless to say the mission was very quickly accomplished.

The Batman is an immersive experience unlike the vast majority of the modern comic book fare. From its invasive cinematography to the gritty portrayal of Gotham City, the movie is an intriguing character study of its complex protagonist, taking us inside his head in a way that few other stories ever had. It takes its cues from some of Batman's greatest comic book storylines, making the vivid world in which it is set that much more tangible. And when you have characters like the Caped Crusader, Catwoman, and The Riddler at your disposal, that's a good thing.

This isn't your typical Batman movie; it's a compelling murder mystery with The World's Greatest Detective at the center of it. And it's a masterclass in both storytelling and tension-building for good measure.

A surprising new take on the Batman lore that spotlights one of the most underrated aspects of the character, it's led by a fantastic performance from Robert Pattinson that brought The Dark Knight's silver screen legacy back to where it needed to be.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, best superhero movies
"Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier"..L to R: Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) & Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) ..Ph: Zade Rosenthal..© 2014 Marvel. All Rights Reserved. /

7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has produced some cracking movies throughout its decade-and-a-half of dominance, but the closest it has ever come to perfection is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The first movie in the Captain America franchise was a brilliant (albeit underrated) opener, but the 2014 sequel garnered both it and the MCU a new level of acclaim.

The film focuses on the arrival of a relentless super soldier with an unexpected connection to Steve Rogers' past. The result is thoroughly compelling, as the first part of that sentence provides us with some of the most tense scenes in the history of the genre, while the second adds the emotional gravity to them. If you aren't on the edge of your seat, you're reaching for a tissue to dry your eyes with, and you can't really ask for more from cinema than that.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is easily the best direct sequel in the MCU's vast collection of movies, and it stands apart from the alien invasions and infinity stones as a damn good action thriller with a ton of emotional depth to boot. If Marvel Studios had a Dark Knight, this would be it. It's that good.

Batman Returns, best superhero movies
Photo: Batman Returns / Warner Bros. Studios, Image Courtesy Fathom Events Press (Batman 80th Anniversary) /

6. Batman Returns

In an era where the superhero genre is experimenting more often to battle the notion of "superhero fatigue", we can appreciate the beauty of a movie like Batman Returns. From the mind of Tim Burton, it was an array of the weird and unusual, taking the franchise into the realms of fantasy and horror. It wasn't as well-respected as it should have been in its day, but as the years have gone on, it's been recognized as one of the very best the genre has to offer - and rightfully so.

Batman Returns is a strange beast, placing very little focus on Batman himself, and instead spotlighting its villains. Danny DeVito's Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman are the stars the of the macabre show, highlighting how complex and compelling villains can be. We don't give the movie enough credit for doing that at a time when many weren't, but this venture into the mind of its antagonists made for a gripping character study. It also illustrated a very very vivid picture as to why - in a world as insane as Gotham City, Batman was the sanest choice of protector; nature's way of restoring the balance.

This is an immersive, and at times outrageous, movie that broke new ground for the superhero movie. It's barely a superhero movie, but its unique approach to the source material and outlandish vision of its director still made it one of the very best the genre has ever seen.

Batman 1989, best superhero movies
Photo: Batman / Warner Bros. Studios, Image Courtesy Fathom Events Press (Batman 80th Anniversary) /

5. Batman

Released at a time when superhero movies were renowned for light-heartedness and family friendly fun, Tim Burton's Batman was a game-changer. A distinct mobster-heavy approach paired well with the grim scenery of the art deco-inspired Gotham City, making people sit up and take the genre seriously. And that was before the dark avenger known as The Batman spread his ghoulish wings across our screens.

The 1989 film struck the perfect balance between the seriousness and silliness of the comic book genre. It crafted a dark, somewhat grounded world early on that somehow served as the perfect setting for the extraordinary that would come soon afterwards. Jack Nicholson was also serving, convincingly going from slimy henchman Jack Napier to loud, boisterous (and murderous) kingpin The Joker.

Nicholson almost stole the whole damn show. I say "almost" because as wondrously attention-grabbing as his performance was, the star of the show was actually the star of the show. A silly sentiment to share? Perhaps, but Michael Keaton's reserved, stoic, and eccentric take on the Batman character has become the yardstick for what The Dark Knight should be, and it hasn't been bettered since.

4. Spider-Man 2

Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy is considered one of the greatest collection of movies produced by the superhero genre. Granted, the third one didn't live up to expectations, but overall, it's hard to argue against the love for the film series. The first one was pretty game-changing, finding success at a time when there weren't too many costumed crimefighters on our screens. It was the second one, however, that truly changed things.

Spider-Man 2 is widely considered one of the best sequels ever made. Among the many reasons for that was how it took everything that worked in the first movie and magnified it, while also making time to tell its own story too. The characters and their relationships were at the focus of the film, as it dramatized Peter's struggles to balance his life as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man - a staple of the Spidey comics. It made for a more compelling story than its predecessor while also retroactively improving it, too, by further developing the narrative it started.

If Batman: The Animated Series' Emmy-winning reinvention of Mr. Freeze's backstory taught us anything, it's that a tragic villain is far more engaging than a walking one-liner machine. Spider-Man 2 also understood this assignment, as its portrayal of Doctor Octopus evolves what could have been a one-note villain into a layered human being caught between good and evil without the ability to make that choice for himself. It's beautiful; tragic, but beautiful.

LOGAN, best superhero movies
DF-04338 - Hugh Jackman stars as Logan in LOGAN. Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein. /

3. Logan

Hugh Jackman's run as Wolverine in Fox's X-Men series was one of the greatest portrayals of a comic book character the world has ever seen. Even with the franchise's refusal to adopt the comic-accurate suits, he delivered a performance so in-line with who Logan was that you never once questioned who he was playing or what he was doing. For two decades, he was Logan.

That run came to an end in 2017's aptly-titled Logan. The final installment in the Wolverine solo trilogy, it was inspired by Marvel's Old Man Logan run, showing us how life turned out for the reluctant hero and some of his X-Men friends. It wasn't good, as centuries of loss and injuries were starting to catch up to him, but once he was drawn into one more mission, he became the protector for a young girl like him; unexpectedly becoming what Professor X was to him all those years ago, a mentor.

Logan is a bittersweet gem of a movie; it's the X-Men franchise's most violent installment but also one of its most faithful adaptations, offering up an emotional and yet fitting conclusion to Wolverine's story. Jackman's performance is nothing short of stunning as he delivers the finest work of his career, sending off the character on a tragic but beautiful note. (Well, until his triumphant return in Deadpool and Wolverine!)

Wonder Woman - WB
Wonder Woman. Image Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment, HBO Max /

2. Wonder Woman

The DCEU was a pretty hopeless place. A shaky start to the franchise didn't completely obliterate hopes for Wonder Woman's cinematic debut, but there was still some trepidation. Thankfully, it was all unnecessary, because 2017's Wonder Woman ended up gifting us with not only the saga's finest movie, but one of the greatest superhero movies ever made.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, the film shows us the origins of Diana, Princess of Themyscira, as she makes her way to the world of men during World War I in the hope of defeating Ares and ending the war. In doing so, she inspires those around her to stand up and fight with her; that's the kind of hope that Wonder Woman should inspire, and it made for a welcome change from the broody heroes in the DCEU.

There is something magical about Wonder Woman that, no matter how many times you watch it, you never tire of it. From its hopeful message to the performances of Gal Gadot and Chris Pine and the direction of Patty Jenkins, it's a gem in the world of comic book movies, approaching its source material with a sense of awe and wonder that radiates through the screen and to the audiences who watch it. And no words could sum up the beauty of the "No Man's Land" scene, but for now, I'll just go with "stunning".

Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight, best superhero movies
Celebrities Attend Heath Ledger Tribute / Paul Kane/GettyImages

1. The Dark Knight

You probably knew this one was coming. It's a predictable choice at this point, but one that never feels predictable. For The Dark Knight took cinema by storm in 2008, reinventing the comic book movie as a gritty, unsettling crime drama. The only thing it reinvented more was the response to the comic book movie, as people, organizations, and indeed award ceremonies all finally started to see it for all that it could be (and not what they thought it was).

Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker was remarkable back then and it has only gotten more remarkable in the years since. A masterclass in every way possible, he brought the anarchist to life with what looked like ease, grounding an outlandish character in the reality of director Christopher Nolan's more stripped-back Gotham City.

Christian Bale was on top form as Batman, too, sparring with Ledger's villain in every scene as well as leading an exceptional ensemble cast who all delivered with the strong material they were given.

You may or may not see The Dark Knight as the best Batman movie (there are fair arguments to be made on both sides), but the standard of writing, the production, and the finished product is nothing short of perfection. Your admiration for it only grows with each watch.

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