100 Greatest Superhero Films

(NEW July 2018) Superhero films are a relative newcomer to the entertainment world. 78% of the films on this list were released in the 21st Century -- by far the most recent-heavy list on the site. But the genre has already created some of Hollywood's most indelible classics. I anticipate this list changing a lot as I update it every year.  You can see a list of sources used to compile the list here.

 
 
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#1) The Dark Knight

(2008 - dir. Christopher Nolan)

The Dark Knight changed the expectations for comic book films forever. Few movie villains have ever become instant icons to the extent that Heath Ledger's Joker did, before the film was even released. The Dark Knight's sinister tone is emulated by nearly every superhero blockbuster and blockbuster-wannabe. Its failure to be nominated for Best Picture prompted the Oscars to change the way nominations are conducted.
READ: How Heath Ledger Took “The Joker” From Clown Prince to Psychopath at highsnobiety.com

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#2) The Avengers

(2012 - dir. Joss Whedon)

Now we take the Marvel Cinematic Universe for granted, but just six years ago it was still an untested concept. The Avengers was cinema's most ambitious attempt at serialization and world-building, and it paid off handsomley.
READ: Joss Whedon On Why ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ Made ‘The Avengers’ A Better Movie at The Huffington Post

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#3) Guardians of the Galaxy

(2014 - dir. James Gunn)

Guardians of the Galaxy was a surprise hit. Unlike the Superman, Batman, & Spiderman films studios had previously invested in, this featured characters most of the public had never heard of. It's focus on fun veered the genre in a lighter direction just as it was getting dangerously close to being overly dark and self-important.
READ: Guardians of the Galaxy by John Truby at Truby Writers Studio

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#4) Logan

(2017 - dir. James Mangold)

Released just a little more than a year ago, Logan was instantly acclaimed as a landmark in the superhero genre. Critics hope it will help usher in a new, mature stage of the genre's lifestyle. No longer a kiddie action flick, the R-rated X-Men spinoff emulates two other genres that vacillate between pop fluff and very adult themes- Westerns and noirs. It's wonderful to see Wolverine become one of the first on-screen superheros to truly wrestle with what he is.
READ: Logan review: not just the bloodiest X-Men movie, but also the saddest by Tasha Robinson at The Verge

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#5) The Incredibles

(2004 - dir. Brad Bird)

The Pixar classic came just as the century's superhero boom was beginning. The studio's masterful storytelling created a powerful family film and superhero landmark.
READ: The slippery politics of The Incredibles and other superheroes by Charles Bramesco at The Dissolve

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#6) Spider-Man 2

(2004 - dir. Sam Raimi)

Spider-Man 2 has a tight, personal story that stands alone - a rarity among superhero films right now. The action is tremendous, Peter's relationships with his girlfriend, his best friend, and the villain hits at what people have always loved most about this character.
READ: 15 Reasons Why Spider-Man 2 Is Still The Best Spider-Man Movie by Spencer Coriaty at Screen Rant

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#7) Thor: Ragnarok

(2017 - dir. Taika Waititi)

Chris Hemsworth is the most charismatic of the actors in the Avengers, and he's put on full display in Ragnarok. Cate Blanchett likewise makes perhaps Marvel's most compelling supervillain in the series yet.
READ: Ragnarok gives Thor the multiple buddy comedies he's always deserved by A.A. Dowd at The AV Club

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#8) Iron Man

(2008 - dir. Jon Favreau)

This is the one that started it all. Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark was a new type of superhero, proudly declaring his identity and taking joy in who he was. Iron Man's legacy is so secure in cinematic history is feels difficult to remember a world in which it, and the Marvel Cinematic History that followed, did not exist.
READ: Iron Man review from 2008 by Roger Ebert

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#9) Wonder Woman

(2017 - dir. Patty Jenkins)

Gal Gadot IS Wonder Woman. She and Jenkins create a new take character from a source that was already beloved - not an easy task, as we've learned from the numerous tries as Superman. The World War I setting is unique and well-crafted.
READ: Why Wonder Woman is a masterpiece of subversive feminism, by Zoe Williams at The Guardian

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#10) Batman Begins

(2005 - dir. Christopher Nolan)

The strength of Nolan's first Batman film is now usually overshadowed by its place as the initiator of The Dark Knight trilogy. It recreated the pulpy character into one of darkness and drama. 
READ: 2005 review of Batman Begins at Decent Films

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#11) Captain America: The Winter Soldier

(2014 - dir. Joe & Anthony Russo)

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#12) Spider-Man

(2002 - dir. Sam Raimi)

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#13) Deadpool

(2016 - dir. Tim Miller)

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#14) Superman

(1978 - dir. Richard Donner)

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#15) Captain America: Civil War

(2016 - dir. Joe & Anthony Russo)

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#16) Spider-Man: Homecoming

(2017 - dir. Jon Watts)

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#17) The Dark Knight Rises

(2012 - dir. Christopher Nolan)

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#18) X2: X-Men United

(2003 - dir. Bryan Singer)

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#19) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

(2017 - dir. James Gunn)

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#20) Big Hero 6

(2014 - dir. Chris Williams & Don Hall)

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#21) Batman

(1989 - dir. Tim Burton)

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#22) X-Men: Days of Future Past

(2014 - dir. Bryan Singer)

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#23) Superman II

(1980 - dir. Richard Lester, Richard Donner)

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#24) Doctor Strange

(2016 - dir. Scott Derrickson)

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#25) Batman Returns

(1992 - dir. Tim Burton)

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#26) Hellboy

(2004 - dir. Guillermo del Toro)

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#27) Iron Man 3

(2013 - dir. Shane Black)

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#28) X-Men

(2000 - dir. Bryan Singer)

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#29) Hellboy II: The Golden Army

(2008 - dir. Guillermo del Toro)

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#30) Captain America: The First Avenger

(2011 - dir. Joe Johnston)

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#31) Ant-Man

(2015 - dir. Joe Johnston)

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#32) Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

(1993 - dir. Bruce Timm)

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#33) The Lego Batman Movie

(2017 - dir. Chris McKay)

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#34) X-Men: First Class

(2011 - dir. Matthew Vaughn)

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#35) Darkman

(1990 - dir. Sam Raimi)

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#36) The Crow

(1994 - dir. Alex Proyas)

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#37) Black Panther

(2018 - dir. Ryan Coogler)

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#38) Avengers: Age of Ultron

(2015 - dir. Joss Whedon)

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#39) Unbreakable

(2000 - dir. M. Night Shyamalan)

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#40) Batman: The Movie

(1966 - dir. Leslie H. Martinson)

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#41) Watchmen

(2009 - dir. Zack Snyder)

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#42) Superman Returns

(2006 - dir. Bryan Singer)

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#43) Blade II

(2002 - dir. Guillermo del Toro)

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#44) Thor

(2011 - dir. Kenneth Branagh)

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#45) The Avengers: Infinity War

(2018 - dir. Joe & Anthony Russo)

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#46) The Wolverine

(2013 - dir. James Mangold)

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#47) Iron Man 2

(2010 - dir. Jon Favreau)

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#48) The Mask

(1994 - dir. Chuck Russell)

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#49) The Rocketeer

(1991 - dir. Joe Johnston)

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#50) The Amazing Spider-Man

(2012 - dir. Marc Webb)

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#51) Dredd

(2012 - dir. Pete Travis)

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#52) Captain Underpants

(2017 - dir. David Soren)

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#53) Kick-Ass

(2010 - dir. Matthew Vaughn)

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#54) V for Vendetta

(2005 - dir. James McTeigue)

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#55) Deadpool 2

(2018 - dir. David Leitch)

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#56) The Incredible Hulk

(2008 - dir. Louis Leterrier)

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#57) Batman Forever

(1995 - dir. Joel Schumacher)

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#58) Chronicle

(2012 - dir. Josh Trank)

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#59) Justice League

(2017 - dir. Zack Snyder)

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#60) Constantine

(2005 - dir. Francis Lawrence)

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#61) Mystery Men

(1999 - dir. Kinka Usher)

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#62) Blade

(1998 - dir. Stephen Norrington)

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#63) The Punisher

(2004 - dir. Jonathan Hensleigh)

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#64) Man of Steel

(2013 - dir. Zack Snyder)

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#65) The Lego Movie

(2014 - dir. Phil Lord, Christopher Miller)

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#66) Thor: The Dark World

(2013 - dir. Alan Taylor)

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#67) Batman: Under the Red Hood

(2010 - dir. Brandon Vietti)

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#68) Super

(2010 - dir. James Gunn)

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#69) Spider-Man 3

(2007 - dir. Sam Raimi)

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#70) Sky High

(2005 - dir. Mike Mitchell)

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#71) X-Men: Apocalypse

(2016 - dir. Bryan Singer)

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#72) Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

(2013 - dir. Neveldine/Taylor)

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#73) Justice League Dark

(2017 - dir. Jay Olivia)

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#74) Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

(2016 - dir. Zack Snyder)

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#75) The Amazing Spider-Man 2

(2014 - dir. Marc Webb)

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#76) Power Rangers

(2017 - dir. Dean Israelite)

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#77) The Phantom

(1996 - dir. Simon Wincer)

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#78) Suicide Squad

(2016 - dir. David Ayer)

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#79) Daredevil

(2003 - dir. Mark Steven Johnson)

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#80) Spawn

(1997 - dir. Mark A.Z. Dippé)

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#81) X-Men: The Last Stand

(2006 - dir. Brett Ratner)

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#82) Hancock

(2008 - dir. Peter Berg)

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#83) The Powerpuff Girls Movie

(2002 - dir. Craig McCracken)

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#84) Hulk

(2003 - dir. Ang Lee)

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#85) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

(1990 - dir. Steve Barron)

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#86) Fantastic Four

(2005 - dir. Tim Story)

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#87) Wanted

(2008 - dir. Timur Bekmambetov)

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#88) Orgazmo

(1997 - dir. Trey Parker)

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#89) RoboCop

(1987 - dir. Paul Verhoeven

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#90) Megamind

(2010 - dir. Tom McGrath)

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#91) Green Lantern

(2011 - dir. Martin Campbell)

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#92) Blade: Trinity

(2004 - dir. David S. Goyer

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#93) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

(2014 - dir. Jonathan Liebesman)

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#94) The Green Hornet

(2011 - dir. Michel Gondry)

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#95) The Shadow

(1994 - dir. Russell Mulcahy

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#96) Ghost Rider

(2007 - dir. Mark Steven Johnson)

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#97) TMNT

(2007 - dir. Kevin Munroe)

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#98) Swamp Thing

(1982 - dir. Wes Craven)

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#99) Judge Dredd

(1995 - dir. Danny Cannon)

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#100) Flash Gordon

(1980 - dir. Mike Hodges)

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LIST NOTES:

Films from Each Decade:
1960s - 1
1970s - 1
1980s - 5
1990s - 15
2000s - 30
2010s - 48

Oldest Film: 1966, Batman: The Movie
Newest Film: 2018, The Avengers: Infinity War

Year with the most represented films:
2017 with 10 (Logan, Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Lego Batman Movie, Captain Underpants, Justice League, Justice League Dark, Power Rangers)

Directors with Multiple Films Listed:
5, Bryan Singer (X2: X-Men United, X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men, Superman Returns, X-Men: Apocalypse)
4, Sam Raimi (Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man, Darkman, Spider-Man 3)
4, Zack Snyder (Watchmen, Justice League, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice)
3, Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, Blade II)
3, James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Super)
3, Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises)
3, Joe & Anthony Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, The Avengers: Infinity War)
2, Tim Burton (Batman, Batman Returns)
2, Richard Donner (Spiderman, Spiderman II)
2, Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Iron Man 2)
2, Mark Steven Johnson (Daredevil, Ghost Rider)
2, Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Rocketeer)
2, James Mangold (Logan, The Wolverine)
2, Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass)
2, Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
2, Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron)