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The 10 Best Superhero Movies of All Time Relay Results

When I started this relay I wasn’t entirely sure how it would end up. I’ve seen these Relay blogathons come and go and I thought it was an interesting idea, but it felt too much like just a rotating top 10. Some names would stick around for a while, others would quickly get replaced with little rhyme or reason outside of the individual blogger’s taste. So when I came up with the idea to do my own relay, I wanted to create some additional rules that would give a definite end to the relay. Some found the rules to be a little bit too confusing, while others understood it a bit more clearly. I think it ended up somewhere in the middle. If I did this again, I would make things a little bit more simple, but I would still keep enough of it so that it did have a definite finish line. But it has reached that finish line and so I’d like to share the final top 10 Best Superhero Movies of All Time as decided by a group of 18 different bloggers who have taken their own turn in the relay.

Superhero Movie Relay

Before I get to the final list, I’d like to share a bit more of my thoughts about the relay process overall. To boil the rules down a little bit: essentially if five people in a row decided to keep a movie, it became part of the final list. If I were to do this again, I would toss out the rules involving films that get taken out of the list too often. I initially thought that there would be certain films that kept getting put in and taken out again, but that actually didn’t happen very often. Instead there was a large number of films that people chose from, in fact there were 30 different films that were in consideration for the top 10 Superhero Movies of All Time, including 2 that came out just this year. There were a wide variety of films, going from the original Richard Donner Superman, to less likely superhero films like the Crow and Oldboy. But surprisingly the oldest movie only goes back to 1991, and 9 out of 10 of the films came from 2000 or later, the same year that X-Men came out. It’s entirely possible that the age of those participating played a large part in the list, if there were more older bloggers then it would be much more likely to see one of the original Superman movies or Tim Burton’s Batman films. But overall, I think it turned out to be a pretty great list. So, without further ado, here are the 10 films that made it through to the finish line in this relay.

Rocketeer

The Rocketeer

Originally chosen by: A Fistful of Films

This is the oldest film on this list and the only one to predate X-Men. It’s also the only film on this list I don’t completely agree with. It has a nice cult status to it, even moreso as the director went on to direct Captain America. The greatest thing about this film which does still hold up to this day is the look of it. It’s very steampunk mixed with art deco and it’s filled with a lot of great character actors in supporting roles. While it is over the top in some places, it holds a lot of charm and deserves its cult status.

Relay Unbreakable

Unbreakable

Originally chosen by: Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights

I don’t think it’s a huge surprise to me that a large number of my original choices made it to the final list. When you’ve been writing about superhero films for a few years and have asked almost 100 different people what their favorite superhero film is, you kind of know what some of the best are. While not everyone enjoys M. Night Shyamalan, he is still a talented filmmaker that was able to use the slow pace of this film to build tension. He also used great visuals to help simulate the look of comic book panels alongside bright colors in strategic places. It also has some great performances by both Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson.

Blade 2

Blade 2

Originally chosen by: Dell on Movies

This is the first of a couple films that I will still take credit for to a lesser extent as I chose them for my original 12, but were removed and replaced later on. It’s often a toss up between which is the better film, Blade or Blade 2, but most people know that the superhero sequel is often the better film. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro before getting the chance to go wild in the Hellboy franchise, he was still able to toss in some of his imaginative designs with the ubervampires in this film. It also has one of the best instances of the enemy of my enemy is my friend which will show up again on this list very shortly.

X2

X-2: X-Men United

Originally chosen by: Rambling Film

Another sequel and the only entry in the currently longest-running superhero franchise out there, at least longest-running within the same continuity. Similar to Blade 2 there are often arguments over which one is the best, though First Class and even Days of Future Past are included in the discussion. And also similar to Blade 2 it’s a great example of the enemy of my enemy is my friend story where the X-Men and the Brotherhood have to work together towards a common goal against Striker. It also has a great setup for the Phoenix saga even though it was ultimately botched by the Last Stand thanks in small part to the departure of director Bryan Singer.

Incredibles

The Incredibles

Originally chosen by: Life vs. Film

This film just recently passed its 10th anniversary and I think it’s just as strong as ever. I also have to note that this was another one that was on my original list but taken off right before getting 5 in a row only to be put back on shortly thereafter. This is also the only animated film on this list and it’s just as good, if not better than any of the other live action films on here. It was written and directed by Brad Bird who cut his comedy teeth on the Simpsons and got a taste of superhero with his earlier The Iron Giant. It’s got all the great action beats of a superhero film, it’s not really an origin story, as it gets the origin out of the way within the first ten minutes or so, and it actually smartly uses the super powers to parallel a story about real life issues that everyone could face. It even calls out some of the worst superhero tropes in some great moments such as the capes speech or the monologueing.

Relay Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2

Originally chosen by: Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights

This list is starting to feel like it’s heavily dominated by superhero sequels, as they make up almost half of the full list of 10. Spider-Man was one of the biggest superhero movies of all time when it came out and there was a lot of hype over the sequel. Especially since it brought in fan-favorite villain Doc Ock as the main antagonist. But instead of making him the typical comic book villain, it smartly made him much more sympathetic as someone who respected and was respected by Peter Parker. And it still kept the comic book-style plotline as it included something as incredulous as having the tentacles themselves be the brains behind the villain, so to speak. This also felt like the height of the Peter and Mary Jane relationship between the three movies, and it had one of the greatest cinematic moments of the heroic sacrifice during the subway scene. It’s just great filmmaking and storytelling all around from director Sam Raimi.

Batman Begins

Batman Begins

Originally chosen by: And So It Begins…

Christopher Nolan is a name to be reckoned with at this point in time, but when he was tapped to direct Batman he was really only known for his impressive work on Memento. Batman as a film character had gone off the rails a bit too far into the camp territory with Batman & Robin and Nolan was the perfect choice to reboot him back into reality with his first true motion picture origin story. While Tim Burton touched on his origin with the death of his parents, Nolan explored it much more deeply here along with his training in the League of Shadows. This was one of the first big superhero movies that felt much more grounded in reality, taking what was introduced in the X-Men and started to perfect it. He also managed to be the only director or character to snag a second spot on this list…

Relay Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

Originally chosen by: Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights

…with his follow up the Dark Knight. There is no question in my mind that this is the greatest superhero movie ever made, to date. It was one of the biggest box office successes until the Avengers, but it also gained an incredible amount of critical praise. Heath Ledger’s performance is still one of the most talked about aspects of this film and rightly so. His performance changed the way that people in general think about the Joker. It’s true that comic book fans who had read some of the darker Frank Miller arcs might think of the Joker as something closer to this portrayal, but the general public still had memories of Jack Nicholson, Cesar Romero, and Mark Hamill in their heads. A character that was still off their rocker and dangerous, but also goofy and silly when you get deep down into it. There’s also plenty of social commentary that can be read between the lines of the film, from the invasion of privacy and spying over the cell phones, and the deep down goodness of human nature in general.

Relay Iron Man

Iron Man

Originally chosen by: Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights

Another one of my own first five picks that made it through to the end almost immediately. It’s not just the first step in what has become the juggernaut of superhero cinema in Marvel Studios, but it’s a solid movie in its own right. This is the film that kicked off the franchise that has made literally billions of dollars in the box office. It’s one of the most solid origin stories, and not just one of the best casting decisions, but one of the boldest directing decisions. Jon Favreau had really been known at that point for his indie comedy Swingers, but he brought a great comedic sensibility to the superhero story that helped give it some much needed lightness to contrast with the ultra serious nature of Christopher Nolan’s Batman. Iron Man isn’t a superhero just to make the world a better place, he’s a superhero just as much for the rock star aspect of it and that feeling came through in the movie. And it’s that same feeling that has continued with Marvel’s later projects that help tie them together just as much as the end credit sequences.

Relay Avengers

The Avengers

Originally chosen by: Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights

And the most recent film on this list is also one of the first chosen. I also think it’s one of the few films that have really changed the face of superhero cinema forever. Before the Avengers came out, there wasn’t really any inter-connectivity between superhero films. There was continuity between films following the same character, but the Avengers was really the first film to bring together several different characters into one big movie. And it worked big time, making it the highest grossing film of all time next to the James Cameron duo. And now every major studio is trying to create its own Avengers-like universe, whether it’s Spider-Man, the DC Universe, the mutants, or amazingly even the Universal Horror monsters. But on its own it still holds up as a great piece of cinema. Even though there’s no real subtext to it, it’s a masterwork of blockbuster cinema with smart dialogue, great action beats, and a fantastic balancing act between all of the characters. All held together by director Joss Whedon in, honestly, his first big commercial success.

__________________________________

And there you have it! Again, I’d like to thank all of the people who joined in and made this blogathon relay a great success. I couldn’t have done it without you all! I’d love to hear feedback from the people who participated, what do you think worked, what could have been done differently, what didn’t work? If I were to do this again, what topic do you think I should cover? Best-worst superhero movies? Best cinematic villains? As for what I would probably do differently, I would likely not keep the three strikes and you’re out rule, and instead allow movies to be re-included as many times as needed. I also wish there was some way to keep the tail end of the relay more interesting for those participating, rather than having nine films they have to include while only being able to choose one film from the remaining three. But overall, it was a fun ride, and I’m glad to everyone who followed along with me!

Thanks to the Participants

A Fistful of Films
Flixchatter
The Focused Filmographer
Life vs. Film
Simplistic Reviews
InSession Film
GeekCastRadio
Dell on Movies
Jeffrey K. Lyles’ Movie Files
Rambling Film
Two Dollar Cinema
Cinematic Corner
And So It Begins…
Surrender to the Void
Public Transportation Snob
Your Face!
The Cinematic Katzenjammer

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About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 300 superhero and comic book movies in the past four years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on December 9, 2014, in Lists and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This was very fun to participate in and follow along with. I love your adaptation of the rules. I agree that the three strikes rule can probably go. I would love to see one for villains (superhero flicks only???) or possibly best and worst costumes if you want to get into super-fashion. Oh, live the pics in this post showing who voted for each movie. Great work!

    • Thanks, I do have a couple ideas, but I think I’ll leave them for at least a few months before trying again. Villain is probably a good choice, there’s some great ones out there.

  2. I think it’s sad that Darkman never makes it onto any of these lists. Darkman was brilliant!
    Also…the original TMNT was very solid, IMO, although maybe not over the items on this list, except Spider-Man 2, which I think is overrated.
    But even more importantly…where the hell is Hellboy? 1 or 2?

  3. I’m glad to see Batman Begins on the list. I always prefer that one over the others. I love watching his origin story. The Burton Batman probably should be just outside the top ten as well as Superman. Both of those movies really went a long way to helping fans see comic book movies the way we see them today. They broke the ground and laid the foundations.

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