There’s something inescapable about superheroes. Whether it be the big action spectacles, the tights, or the image of the man who we all imagined becoming one day (*sniff* there’s still time…), we live in an age of superheroes. (NOT an Age of Ultron. That would be bad.) Since we, as a society, always strive for the best and need to sort things into specific little boxes, I thought that this was a perfect time to consider some of the best superhero movies that have debuted on the big screen recently.
But first, some disclaimers! FIRST: These are just the movies. I love Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Arrow (the first two seasons at least…) and most other superhero TV as much as the next guy. However, we’re only focusing on the big budget releases in theaters for today. SECOND: These are just the recent movies. As in, these films have all comes out after January 1st, 2010. I did a Top 10 Superhero Movies Ever list a couple years ago and it quickly became outdated, so I’ll wait a little while before doing one again… Regardless, some of the best Superhero Movies have come out just in the past seven years! THIRD: This is only my list. There are gonna be some movies that you love that simply didn’t make this list, so feel free to rant to your friends or leave a comment about it. I’d love to hear what your take it and what your favorites are, for real!
BUT, now with all those disclaimers out of the way, let’s dive into the Top 10 Best Superhero Movies of the 2010s! (So far)
- Man of Steel
If you ask me, this inaugural entry of the list is the best part of the DC Extended Universe to date. The simple focus on the strength of one character is impeccable. Zach Snyder, love him or hate him, uses visual flare to his advantage in creating a definitive origin story. The competent script ties together everything on Krypton, Earth, and the characters without sacrificing any of those elements. The 1970s Superman is great, no doubt, but Man of Steel optimizes a gritty tone while still showing off a smile-inducing glimmer of hope.
- Iron Man 3
Haters, put your keyboards down! Iron Man 3 is possibly the most unique film to exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so far. Like Man of Steel, the direction makes it amazing. Shane Black uses his signature style of charm and wit to make the final chapter in the Tony Stark trilogy insanely memorable. Despite some complaints about “The Mandarin” (or lack thereof), Iron Man 3 tells a really impressive human story about jealousy and ambition, all while showing what it would be like to have an all out war of Iron Man suits. THAT’S impressive.
- Big Hero 6
Yeah, I’m kinda soft at heart, what can I say!? Big Hero 6 is the type of cute animated superhero movie that we’ve been waiting for since The Incredibles. In one of the most cheery and touching superhero movies out there, Big Hero 6 shows us that family is everything and friends are just as important. The action set pieces are beautiful, Baymax is a giant marshmallow that I wish I could hug right now, and the jokes are on point. Not to mention, this movie features the best Stan Lee cameo ever. ‘Nuff said.
- The Dark Knight Rises
Many say that this movie falters when compared to its 2008 predecessor and is the weakest of the trilogy. To them, I reply, “just because The Last Supper isn’t as good as The David or The Mona Lisa doesn’t make it any less impressive!” Where Batman Begins represented fear and The Dark Knight represented destruction, The Dark Knight Rises represents hope. Despite the terror the Bane plunged upon Gotham, the concept of Batman as a symbol and true justice factor into this thought-provoking tale. It perfectly rounds out Nolan’s trilogy by tying up loose ends for all characters, dealing out more action than the previous two iterations, and leaving fans wanting oh so more…
Let’s forget about 2015’s Fantastic Four for a second. (Or actually, let’s forget about it forever.) Chronicle was Josh Trank’s sleeper hit that displayed a realistic exploration of testing your powers. Though some could argue it’s more of a supervillain origin story than a superhero origin story, it still evokes pathos in its audience by showing that everyone comes from somewhere, even the evil of the world. Led by the powerhouse performances of Dane DeHaan and Michael B. Jordan, this indie flick is one to check out if you love a spin on the genre.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Where Chronicle was the Carrie for a new generation, this is the All The President’s Men for a new generation. The Winter Soldier opened with an incredible sequence of thrilling action that never let up throughout the movie. The boat scene was amazing, any scene involving the Winter Soldier character was great, and the final action set piece was, in a word: breathtaking. Not only was the action great, but the characters also felt real and like they were truly inhabiting this politically slimy world in which they live. Navigating through conspiracies and assassinations, Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff headline one of Marvel’s best sequels to date.
- X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class could have taught the DC Extended Universe a lesson. This is a film that brilliantly introduces a TON of characters but makes them all feel equally relevant. At the forefront of the film is an ideological difference between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr that is absurdly compelling. The two are the best example of frenemies on the big screen, brought to the life by the oodles of charisma present in James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender’s performances. Beyond just showcasing a gaggle of really cool mutant powers and having a unique setting of the 1960s, the ideological difference between Professor X and Magneto makes this a real thinking man’s superhero movie that is more than originally meets the eye.
- Captain America: Civil War
Here we have another film that does justice to TONS of characters! Besides just the fantastic introductions of fan favorites Spider-Man and Black Panther, Civil War really shows what makes Steve and Tony tick. At this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, audiences have seen amazing action and awesome heroes. Beyond that, we’ve even seen what those characters stand for. However, Civil War is the movie that answers the big question: WHY? By peeling back the layers of Tony Stark’s family history and Steve Rogers’s compassionate loyalty to his friends, Civil War becomes deeper than just another superhero action flick. Well, all of that AND the airport scene is pretty sweet.
- Guardians of the Galaxy
This movie is sheer, blissful entertainment. The Guardians dish out awesome humor and establish five memorable characters that put a smile on your face from beginning to end. Sure, the villain isn’t great… But by making the villain weak, the script highlights each hero and makes him or her even cooler. James Gunn directs a visual masterpiece, making space seem like a lively and adventurous place. Guardians of the Galaxy seemingly brings out the kid in all of us and checks every necessary box to be the best Marvel movie to date. With great origin stories, this departure form the regular boundaries of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was much appreciated and provided a rich setup for future galaxy-saving quests to come.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
What!? Not Deadpool!???? Not Doctor Strange!????
X-Men: Days of Future Past is the best superhero film ever made. This film boldly ventures into new territory for the genre and makes you think about life, morality, and the kind of person you are. Though that may sound depressing on the surface, Days of Future Past is ultimately a movie about hope and learning to believe in humanity. Incorporating time travel (a premise that has rarely worked for any superhero movies), a heist, political conspiracies, richly developed characters played by world-class actors, and visual set pieces that make the world feel real, X-Men: Days of Future past has something for everybody. This was a film, in my opinion, that had no flaws. The time travel made sense for the ability of the characters; the timeline was consistent at the end of the film; no decision made by any character felt odd or out-of-place. The entire film felt genuine. By taking the success of First Class’s maturity and developing it further, the X-Men franchise is slowly developing into a special outlet for smart audiences interested in the superhero genre. This movie will make it laugh, it will make you cry, it make you marvel in its awesome, and it will make you question why it isn’t brought up more frequently when discussing the best superhero films ever made…