What’s better, The Dark Knight or Spider-Man 2? How about Superman II or X-Men: First Class? Like a marauding plague, these questions cling to movie goers, turning otherwise pleasant conversations about the latest super hero flick into barbaric, bloody diatribes. So, to settle the score once and for all, we’d like to present you with UTF‘s official ranking of…TOP 10 SUPER HERO MOVIES

Before we start, let me explain some of the ground rules. First, just because a movie is a comic book adaptation doesn’t necessarily make it a super-hero movie. There are tons of great comics and graphic novels that have nothing to do with caped avengers, so we’ve wisely chosen to ignore them. And the same applies in reverse…a super-hero movie doesn’t need to be based off of a comic book property in order to be considered. That’s good news for some, and bad news for others, especially my two favorite comic book adaptations: Road To Perdition and The Fountain.

Second, the more plausible, the better. Now, don’t get me wrong, realistic and plausible are two entirely different notions. Plausible entails that everything that occurs within a certain film, considering that particular universe’s parameters, is entirely practical and authentic. Take Sin City for example…some things in that film didn’t seem entirely realistic, but considering the circumstances (hookers, corrupt cops, serial killings), it all seemed plausible. Now, a film like Fantastic Four is on the other end of this spectrum. If Reed Richards is the smartest man on the planet, then why the hell is he working with technology that looks like it’s straight out of a Radio Shack? And why would he put a HEMI in a space ship? Not only is this not plausible, it’s not even humorous…which is what the director sought.

Lastly, remember… this is supposed to be fun, so don’t get your panties in a bunch. No, but seriously, this is the definitive list, so if you don’t like it…Come at me Bro!!!

10.  Superman

This list wouldn’t be right if we didn’t give the original super-hero film a proper show of respect. Every modern flick has modeled itself, at least in bits, after Christopher Reeves odyssey. Just look at Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man…those films feel like good ol’ spiritual successors. Now, there are some who think this film should be placed higher, and even though this Donner classic certainly deserves its fair share of reverence, the recent deluge of Super-hero flicks simply has it outclassed. Even the much maligned Superman Returns, which is a faithful continuation of the first two Supes’s stories, is considerably better than the originals. So Superman, we love you, but in the way that a grown man still loves playing a favorite board games on a stormy Tuesday afternoon…it’s all about nostalgia.

9. The Incredibles

Pixar’s The Incredibles was a simple, great film. Blatantly stealing the family dynamics of Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four, Pixar created a fun PG super-hero movie. While nothing really broke the mold…as they say…the film still remains as one of the most enjoyable heroic romps, which is perfect for mindless movie enjoyment.

8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

This movie is just fun. It’s not high-minded, it’s not deeply analytical…it’s just a really, really fun movie. Turtles is the perfect 80’s super-hero flick. It perfectly encapsulates the gritty New York streets and mixes them with a host of goofy, Henson-era animatronic turtles…what more could you want? Honestly, if I could choose to live in any ‘movie-verse’, I would choose Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and not just because I heard that April O’Neal puts out.

7. Watchmen

Forget about Alan Moore’s seminal classic. I know that might seem like sacrilege, but the film version of Watchmen is a shorter, sweeter version and a spot-on adaptation. Zach Snyder, the film’s stylish director, basically based this film panel-for-panel on the original graphic novel and in doing so, he excluded some of the stuff that Moore just couldn’t get right. Remember those annoying addendums at the end of every issue…through a beautiful and well-calculated montage, Snyder fluidly melded them right into the opening credits. And the comic’s contrived, genetically engineered, space invaders? Snyder’s transformed that plot device into something far more practical and succinct.

6. Iron Man

Who knew being a drunk billionaire would be so much fun? In Robert Downey Jr.’s first outing as “The Man in the Can”, this film is by far the best production from the relatively young Marvel Studios. Filled with amazing improvisation and a timely origins story, this movie can stand among the best.

5.   Blade

People often forget that 1998’s Blade was the first Marvel property to make it big in Hollywood. Even though Wesley Snypes’s version of the vampire hunter is a far shot from the character’s comic book origins, it still managed to spark the giant wave of super-hero films that we see today. Oh, and did I mention that it had the single best opening scene out of all these flicks? That’s high praise considering The Dark Knight‘s bank heist and X-Men‘s heart-wrenching concentration camp opening.

4.  X-Men: First Class

Who doesn’t love a globe-trotting NAZI revenge plot? Nobody…just what I thought.  Thus, I present to you X-Men: First Class.  Even though this film’s titled X-Men, it spends far more time trailing Magento’s origins and his inevitable fall into villainy. Beginning with his torture in Germany’s concentration camps, the flick quickly flashes to the 1960’s, where the much older Erik Lensherr is on a man hunt for his Arian oppressor. What ensues is possibly one of the best revenge film’s that I’ve ever seen.

3.  Spider-Man 2

Oh, my sweet, sweet Raimi-verse Spider-Man. While some Marvel purists may hate you, I miss the days of your carefree, table-top dancing, whimsical antics. While the happy-go-lucky montage set to the sound of Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head may have been a bit cringe-worthy, every other amazing aspect of the film more than made up for that slight mix up. Peter Parker’s inner turmoil, forced to choose between happiness and heroism, provides for one of the of the best performances we’ve seen in a comic book flick…and considering the recent bounty of spectacular Marvel films, that’s saying a lot.

2.  The Dark Knight

You guys knew that Nolan’s Batverse would show up on this list eventually. As much as I love to be a contrarian, there’s no denying that this 2008 epic is one of the single greatest super-hero films ever made, if not the best. Throughout this new Caped Crusader’s career, Nolan’s melded Batman’s detective skills with a social philosophy that even John Locke would envy…and the result is a pretty amazing tale. Admittedly, some of the attempts at ‘high-minded’ dialogue can become a bit nauseating, but at the end of the day, Batman is still the best adapted character that we’ve seen.

1.  Unbreakable

Remember Unbreakable? Yeah…not many people do. This film was released right after Shyamalan’s biggest hit The Sixth Sense which also stars Bruce Willis. And, through no fault of its own, Unbreakable has been lost in a forgetful haze, which is an incredible injustice. I consider this to be Shyamalan’s greatest work, which, if you consider his 90’s stuff, is actually a pretty big statement. This film is filled with amazing, carefully crafted suspense as our hero tires to understand his role in the world. When he finally acts in a daring feat of heroism, it’s simply one of the most rewarding, poignant moments in film history…and one of the reasons it sits atop our list.


And there you have it…the TOP 10 SUPER HERO MOVIES.   So what did you guys think?  Sound off in the comments section below.