100 Essential Superhero Movies – Borrowed Marvel

I decided that I wanted to make a list of 100 superhero movies that I thought were the essentials, the ones that everyone needs to see at one point in time if they want to be a fully fledged superhero movie afficionado, and while I am having guest bloggers this month help me fill out the list, there are many much more obvious choices that were easy to make and I’m here to share some of those with you. Marvel has put out a lot of movies throughout the years and I’ve already taken a look back at the early days of Marvel movies as well as the current state of the Marvel Disney Cinematic Universe, but there is one final category of Marvel movies that I have yet to talk about, and that is what I’m calling the borrowed Marvel movies, the ones that I’m sure Marvel would love to get their hands back on, but they are currently in the hands of either Sony or Fox until the rights finally pass back to Marvel however many years down the line that might be.



I’m a little surprised that it’s taken me this long to get around to talking about this movie, this is what really started the previous big boom in superhero movies back in 2000. It took one of Marvel’s more popular comic book teams with an important social commentary in the background of it and turned it into a compelling action movie with characters that felt a little bit more real except for the fact that they also has mutant powers. Not only that, but it brought one of the X-Men’s most popular characters to life in a way that many didn’t think was possible and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is still the central figure in Fox’s X-Men universe.

X-2: X-Men United

And following up Bryan Singer’s first X-Men movie is an even stronger sequel. It took the strong character dynamics and turned them on their head, bringing in a common enemy to have the two sides from the first movie reluctantly work together. It brought out more of Wolverine’s origin story and had some great fight scenes from the amazing opening sequence with Nightcrawler in the White House to the assault on Xavier’s Mansion. It also has a great scene that throws in a lot of humor surrounding the entire fact that being a mutant is analogous to being homosexual. And for better or for worse it also set up the Dark Phoenix storyline which was taken to an underwhelming conclusion in The Last Stand.

X-Men First Class

X-Men: First Class

After a couple missteps with the overly action-oriented X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine it was time for a reboot going back to the beginning. Almost along the lines of X-Men Origins: Charles Xavier, although it takes many liberties from the original comics, picking and choosing some of the favored characters from the movies and comics and also adding in several more random choices like Darwin and Angel (the dragonfly one, not the bird one). But director Matthew Vaughn brought a fresh feel to the group and this will largely be the cast that will be moving the series forward with the recent Days of Future Past and the upcoming Apocalypse.

The Wolverine

The one constant throughout all of the X-Men movies has been Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, he’s had at least a cameo appearance in all seven movies, had a major role in four of them, and this was his second stand-alone movie. While his first solo outing is generally hailed as a disaster that needs to be forgotten, this one is a much better offering though it still runs the range anywhere between “one of the better movies” and “not as bad as The Last Stand”. It finally takes Wolverine to Japan which has been an important part of his past from the comics, though it takes place within the current continuity after the events in the Last Stand.


It was only a couple of years after X-Men and where X-Men cracked open the superhero doors, Spider-man flew them wide open. It’s also one of those instances where the movie proves that the superhero doesn’t always have to have their costumes turned into something less flashy and less colorful for the big screen and Spider-Man was allowed to have his fully comic book red and blue costume with only a handful of minor changes. It showed some amazing action and had plenty of humor and is still one of the biggest superhero blockbusters out there.

Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2

And similar to the X-Men franchise, the second Spider-Man was bigger and better than the predecessor. Bringing in sympathetic supervillain Doctor Octopus and expanding on his relationship with Mary Jane, the second movie delivers on all cylinders, from the action, to the humor, to the pathos. There’s not a whole lot that can be said about this movie aside from the fact that it is one of my favorites, I especially love the moment in the train, it’s a sequence that’s much improved over the similar one from the first movie on the bridge. It’s a fantastic movie and absolutely essential.

The Amazing Spider-Man

And to finish off our list for now is the reboot a mere five years after the Spider-Man 3 debacle that was still the highest worldwide gross of the series. Many things were changed from Raimi’s Spider-Man which brought things closer to the comic book origin. Mary Jane was out, Gwen Stacy was in. Organic web-shooters was out, mechanical web-shooters was in. Green Goblin was out, the Lizard was in. It also added in a bit of a mysterious back-story for Peter’s parents which was expanded on in this year’s sequel. While Andrew Garfield played a much less awkward and nerdy Peter Parker, he really encapsulated the quippy nature of Spider-Man and had great chemistry on screen with his real-life romance with Emma Stone. And now, this is also the start of a much larger Sony Cinematic Spider-Man Universe.

What I Left Out

I easily excluded the third movie in both of these franchises. They both suffered from too much action, too many villains, and a convoluted plot that couldn’t handle everything they tried to cram into them. I also excluded the similarly convoluted X-Men Origins: Wolverine which took characters from the comics, threw half of their concepts out the window, and put something different on screen. And while I wouldn’t be surprised if Days of Future Past makes it’s way onto this list in a future revision, I doubt the same can be said for Amazing Spider-Man 2. What do you think? Do you agree with my list? Or do you think Spider-Man 3 should be included? Let me know in the comments, until next time this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.


About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 500 superhero and comic book movies in the past seven years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on June 21, 2014, in Blogs, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. To be honest, I’d leave out “The Amazing Spider-Man.” It was okay, but I don’t see anything essential about it. It just re-tells the same origin story we just got a few years earlier, but with a few different characters and not as well. The only thing I would say it improved over Raimi’s first Spidey flick was the way our hero acts when in costume. Other than that, I just thought it was all rather “meh.”

    • Yeah, there’s been a lot of mixed feelings on both of the new Spider-Man movies, but this movie will be more important in the future as it is the origin of what is quickly becoming a very large Sony Spider-Man cinematic universe. And I was a fan of that one, though apparently not a big enough fan to go out and see the sequel in theaters.

  2. Pretty much full agreement here, except I can’t speak for The Wolverine, and like Wendell I’m unsure over Am-Spm. I do see your argument for including it, though, even if I have reasonably low hopes for Sony’s expanded Spiderverse.

    • I’d give The Wolverine a chance. I put it quite a bit below the good ones in the series, but also well above Last Stand and Origins. I’m also of two minds about the future of the Spideyverse, I think it will largely depend on what direction they take with Sinister Six and Venom. But I’m also one of the fans of Amazing Spider-Man. It might be due for a re-watch (and to finally catch the second one as well) but on first watch I put it up there close to Spider-Man 2.

      • Oh, I’ll definitely get to The Wolverine eventually. I had actually been looking to getting to it soon after I did my Oscar block, but, well, real life concerns derailed my movie viewing for a while, and then HitBliss (which had been my main viewing method for a while) put their “earn” feature on hiatus. I’ll still watch it sooner or later, though.

        As for Amazing, I thought it was OK. Not even close to Spidey 2 for me, though, and not even as good as the first Spider-Man.

  1. Pingback: 100 Essential Superhero Movies | Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights

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