5. Iron Man (2008)
Director: Jonathan Favreau
The one that started it all. Iron Man is significant for many reasons. It was the first film in MCU’s planned Phase 1, and today, to us, it marked the dawn of one of the greatest cinematic universes ever made. The whole film boasted a great script and a plethora of renowned stars. But what took our breath away back in 2008 was how good Robert Downey Jr. was in the movie. To have a performance so utterly brilliant that even the source material decided to take inspiration from the portrayal.
Tony Stark did have all the alcohol abuse, the heart trouble issues and all that from the comics. But what RDJ did was add so much depth to the character that the brand name of Iron Man skyrocketed to the top of superhero royalty, standing amongst the already popular flagship stars like Spider-Man and Batman. With the success of Iron Man, Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth followed with Captain America and Thor respectively, creating the Big 3 of Marvel’s Infinity Saga. But 11 years on, Iron Man still remains one of Marvel’s finest films.
4. The Incredibles (2004)
Director: Brad Bird
The only superhero film on this list that isn’t a part of Marvel or DC. Simply put, The Incredibles was a breath of fresh air. It was everything we loved about the superhero genre put together in a family-friendly, yet incredibly mature animated movie by Pixar. It takes a lot of political plot points in the movie, like the use of government action to ban superheroes, without losing that ‘superhero’ feeling. It’s been 15 years since that movie released, but no matter how many times I watch it, I never get tired.
Brad Bird proved that you can include gritty plots in a story whilst make it fun at the same time. The Incredibles won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film, which was very well deserved. Should’ve given it a Best Film nomination too, if you ask me.
3. Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Endgame is the latest addition in this list. It marked the end of an era of a decade of Marvel films, which was recently given the title ‘The Infinity Saga’. For all those ardent, faithful fans who watched the MCU right from Iron Man, it was as perfect as could be.
Avengers: Endgame provided closure to Marvel fans after the unforeseen chaos that was Infinity War. The film is three hours of pure fan service. A mix of nostalgia, shock, euphoria and finally an ending which couldn’t be bettered if anyone else tried. It wasn’t the macho-heroism or the superhuman abilities that defined these heroes. It’s what they were willing to give up for the greater good that mattered. That’s what 10 years of world building by Marvel told us time and time again. The conclusion is probably the most perfect part of the film. This is the end of an era. But it is also the beginning of a bright new future with endless possibilities. It was a privilege to watch the evolution of this universe, and the world cannot wait to see what Marvel has planned next.
2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Directors: Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, Bob Persichetti
I’ve been reading comic books ever since I was a little kid, especially Spider-Man comics. Up till 2018, there never really was a movie that captured the essence of Spider-Man. Not Peter Parker. Spider-Man. The closest movie that lived up to those standards was Spider-Man 2. That was, until Sony released Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
READ: 10 Best Animated Movies 2018, Ranked
There have been numerous titles and adjectives used for the various Spider-Man issues written by Marvel Comics. Amazing, Spectacular, Sensational, Superior, Ultimate and so on. All these adjectives could be used to describe this movie. Directors Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey, writer-director Rodney Rothman, and writer Phil Lord gave us the perfect Spider-Man movie, complete with fantastic writing, comic book callbacks, and a kickass soundtrack. And if that wasn’t enough, Sony managed to bring together a bunch of diverse characters with completely outlandish character settings and managed to band them together with fantastic chemistry.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has managed to become the definitive Spider-Man movie, and ultimately one of the best comic book movies ever made.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Was there ever any doubt? After Tim Burton’s Batman which brought back the dark toned theme that Batman deserved, that progress was almost brought to a halt with Joel Schumacher’s abysmal Batman and Robin, starring George Clooney as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Thankfully, visionary director Christopher Nolan decided to reinvent the character of Batman in his own realistic perspective when he released Batman Begins in 2005.
But as good as Batman Begins was, it doesn’t hold a candle to the cultural significance, techincal brilliance and cinematic excellence that was The Dark Knight. And you can’t mention The Dark Knight without mentioning Heath Ledger’s legendary performance as The Joker. If Jack Nicholson brought out the Joker’s gangster persona, Ledger assumed the persona of an anarchist. Ledger’s tragic demise weeks after the movie’s release seemed to make him a cinema legend, as he received a posthumous Oscar for his role.
Mere words cannot describe the impact the movie has made on world cinema. Never has a movie seemed to inspire such intelligent conversation, especially regarding the ideals of The Joker. Perhaps the movie is more of a crime thriller than a superhero drama.
Nevertheless, The Dark Knight ranks top of our list, and probably will for the forseeable future. Not only is it the best superhero movie ever made, but also one of the best movies made in the last 20 years.
There we are! That’s my pick of the best superhero movies ever made.
Your turn! Tell me your favourites in the comment below.