Popular Opinion Podcast POP – Top 25 Superhero Movies Of All Time, Part 5 written by Sean Gerber November 11, 2015 Sean Gerber and Mark Hughes conclude their countdown of the Top 25 Superhero Movies of All Time with #5 through #1. It’s time to unveil our Top 5 and see which superhero movies truly are the best of the best. Batman has been perched atop a gargoyle watching over this list and waiting for the most opportune moment to strike. With THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY a heavy favorite to factor into the end of this countdown, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe ready to put up a fight of its own, there’s no time like the present to demonstrate the will to act. Please rate, review, and subscribe to Popular Opinion Podcast on iTunes. POP – Top 25 Superhero Movies Of All Time, Part 5 was last modified: February 19th, 2016 by Sean Gerber Related 28 comments 0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest Sean Gerber Sean Gerber is the founder and editor-in-chief of Modern Myth Media. When he's not writing here, you can catch him as the host of Popular Opinion Podcast, Batman News, and Marvel News! previous post STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Covers EW (4x) next post Weekly Ratings Roundup: November 8 to 14, 2015 You may also like POP – Top 25 Superhero Movies Of... October 26, 2015 Popular Opinion Podcast: STAR WARS: THE FORCE... January 18, 2016 POP – Top 25 Superhero Movies Of... October 28, 2015 Popular Opinion Podcast- STAR WARS: THE FORCE... October 19, 2015 Popular Opinion Podcast: Marvel Vs. DC February 2, 2016 POP – Top 25 Superhero Movies Of... November 3, 2015 Popular Opinion Podcast #14: ROGUE ONE Trailer... April 8, 2016 POP – Top 25 Superhero Movies Of... October 22, 2015 POP – STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS... November 8, 2015 POP – SPECTRE Review And The Future... November 9, 2015 DKDave Yes! Rises! I knew there was a reason I liked you two. I unabashedly love The Dark Knight Rises. It is my favorite movie of all time, not just superhero movie. I literally broke down sobbing the first time watching the end of the movie, which is perfection. I still tear up watching it over 20 plus times now. Objectively, I’d probably say The Dark Knight is a “better” movie. But it’s difficult for me to be objective because it hit me in such an emotional way. It’s everything Batman is for me personally, and everything a movie should be. One quibble with Sean, you make a good point about the stuff with Gordon. But the shot with the new Bat-symbol and that smile on his face completely makes up for the problems. Oreole Now do a all time worst 25 superhero movies podcast! Adrian Edmondson 100 % agree Sean Gerber I don’t think we’ll dedicate list to the 25 worst superhero movies. While it might be fun it also seems a little mean-spirited, as I’d prefer to celebrate good work rather than go looking for a conversation about stuff we all know is bad. That said, we have kicked around the idea of ranking EVERY superhero movie ever made, which would have to include the worst as part of that comprehensive list. Just don’t look for that project right away, as we want to wait a few years and let some DCEU and MCU Phase 3 films roll in. Michael Lalaian Agreed, we don’t need that. What would be interesting, perhaps, is a list of the best comic book adaptations that are not superhero films. Some that spring to mind are Ghost World, Road to Perdition, The Fountain and American Splendor. Matthew Malecki I like the Top 5. I was pleasantly surprised to see Batman Begins at #2. I assumed The Avengers would hold that spot. I agree with Sean that after The Dark Knight, spots 2-5 (or 6) are separated by very little. I have the exact same top 6 as you guys, just in a slightly different order. 🙂 Great podcasts! I absolutely loved this list. I hope you do an updated version in a few years. 🙂 Sean Gerber Thanks! On my personal list, I also had the same top 6, just in a different order so I can’t really complain over where we ended up. We’re probably going to revisit the list annually. It won’t be a 5-episode series every year. It’ll just be one show to discuss what’s changed on the list from the previous year. Once every few years or so, however, we’ll probably go over the whole list again in detail. With so many superhero movies coming out in 2016, it’ll be interesting to see how our list looks just one year from now. Matthew Malecki That sounds great, Sean! I fully support the decision to revisit this list every year. 🙂 I think it’ll be really interesting to see if anything jumps up to that #1 spot over The Dark Knight. I think there are a few movies that have that potential: Captain America: Civil War, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League, Justice League 2, Avengers: Infinity War part 1, Avengers: Infinity War part 2. Whether or not those movies live up to their hype remains to be seen. I have a lot of confidence in the Russo brothers. I have a healthy moderate amount of confidence in Zack Snyder. Adrian Edmondson No problem at all with the movies that were listed . Well thought out guys . BB is underrated and DKR gets more hate than it deserves . Glad Cap WS was high up also on the list . Jessie The Dark Knight Rises does not get that much hate. When it is hated, it’s the hate that it deserves. That movie has like 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. Most critics and audiences love it. I don’t hate it. I just strongly dislike it. It is more overrated than The Dark Knight. You see, an overrated movie is something people love, but you don’t understand why they love it so much, because it is a dumb movie to you. The Dark Knight is not overrated. It deserves all of the love and hype that it always gets. Bookee Love the podcast. Agree mostly with the top 5 but i cant put the Avengers in the top 5 let alone top 10 for best movie due to such a lack of story and plot. Could see it being in a top 10 FAVORITE. Number one and number 2 are right on. Batman begind is my favorite movie of all time and Im ashamed as a life long batman fan i didnt see it in theaters. But it gets better with each viewing. I do find the dark knight to be the superior movie, everything was just turned up a little, it is probably the only Oscar worthy movies in the top 10. On another note I would suggest you all relook at TMNT from the 90s. For me it could easily crack top 20. The movie ages really well and has a deep story about personal connections and what it means to be a family. Jessie Thank you! Someone finally agrees with me! The Avengers lacks story, plot, and good dialogue. It is so focused on great special effects and cool characters, that they forgot to make a good story with emotion and heart. The Dark Knight is definitely Oscar worthy, and is my number 1. Michael Lalaian Great as always, I actually have the exact same 5 as my top 5 as well, however I put them in a slightly different order: 1. The Avengers 2. The Dark Knight 3. Captain: America: The Winter Soldier 4. Batman Begins 5. The Dark Knight Rises You guys basically made the argument for me as to why Avengers should be at the top of the list, you guys just didn’t put it there. As this is a list of the top 25 superhero films, weight has to be given in my opinion to the film that exemplifies that genre the best in addition to all the other great things it does. The Dark Knight might be a slightly better film overall than The Avengers, but The Avengers, even as you guys put it, is the best superhero experience out there. For me, that means it should have been number one. To use a sports analogy, its like the difference between asking “Who is the best basketball player of all time?” and “Who is the best Laker of all time?” I think people like Kareem and Wilt could potentially fit both definitions despite having played for other teams, but while I wouldn’t say Jerry West is one of the top 5 greatest basketball players of all time, I would say he is one of the top 5 Lakers of all time. Dwight Howard is also a great player (Despite the hate he gets), but he is certainly not one of the best Lakers, despite having been one for a brief while. Hope that makes some sense. SeanLM Here’s my list. I break some of the rules. 1-3: Nolan Trilogy: Choosing between these three is like choosing between my children. I think they’re just on a different level of filmmaking and it shows what a strong directorial hand (not an overbearing hand like some directors) can accomplish. For me, this trilogy replaced Star Wars as the best movie trilogy. 4 Robocop (1987) 5 Conan the Barbarian (1982) (I pointed out in an earlier thread that in the late 1970s Conan was Marvel’s second most popular character behind Spiderman) 6 Dark Knight Returns parts 1 and 2 (not theatrically released but the best adaptation of a comic book story) 7 Dredd (Not even an honorable mention, fellas?) 8 Guardians of the Galaxy 9 Spiderman 2 10 Avengers 11 Iron Man 12 Thor 13 Iron Man 3 14 Captain American: The Winter Soldier 15 Superman 2 (The first two Chris Reeve Superman movies show the proper tone for Superman movies. You will will never convince me that breaking a guy’s neck and then screaming like a maniac is the way to go with Superman) 16 X-Men: Days Future Past 17 X2 18 Hellboy 2 19 MIB 20 Hellboy 21 Superman 22 Watchmen 23 The Crow 24 Darkman 25 Mask of Zorro -Honorable mentions: Ant-Man, the first half of Captain America, Mask of the Phantasm, -Movies that I don’t “get”: X-Men: First Class, AoU, The Wolverine -Dishonorable mentions: MoS, ASM 1&2. pud333 I’m surprised most of you made it this far listening to the podcast. I stopped part way through part 1 when I heard Burton’s Batman didn’t make the list and Man of Steel didn’t crack the top twenty. I couldn’t take this list seriously after that. Matthew Malecki That’s ok. These lists are largely subjective even when you are trying to be as objective as possible. I liked Batman ’89 as a kid but my adoration for it slowly ebbed away as I got older and was almost completely shattered when Batman Begins was released. Keaton, while good in the role, was not playing Batman as I see the character (I mainly blame Burton). think Mark and Sean were kind to give Batman ’89 an honorable mention. I love Man of Steel and have it at #9 on my personal top 25. However, I understand why others have issues with it and why others would put it much lower or not on their lists at all. stock Pudd, I absolutely agree with you. I had exactly the same feelings as you did. There is no way Batman 89 does not make a list of 25 greatest superhero moves of all time. Any Bat-fan, despite some Sam Hammy goofs, got everything they could want from that flick, plus it gave birth to the greatest rendition of an Batman animated series ever or since, with the principle cast of that becoming icons in their roles and continuing them in some pretty badass games. Doesn’t happen if 89 sucked. And it was great and still is. It’s inconceivable that it didn’t make the list and then, a lightbulb hit me! Birdman! ‘Twas Birdman, with its mocking attitude toward superhero films and with Michael Keaton himself playing the titular role, it was a slap in the face to all who live to see their heroes on screen. Danny Elfman score. A dark and serious Batman! Come on. I know most here were just twinkles in their daddy’s eyes then, but that Forbes guy knows it, that’s for sure. I mean, Thor? The Incredibles? That’s an animated parody for Pete’s sake. stock Only meant to up vote but my fingers got in the way! Robert Reineke I’ll say this, I largely agree with the top 6, although the order might be shuffled a bit. And I’d shuffle Robocop in. To me, The Dark Knight is the cream of the crop and there is a decent gap with 2 to 6 very close. It’s the political subtext that really elevates it for me. I like Captain America: The Winter Soldier a lot, but I don’t agree that it flawlessly navigates the political territory. Revealing that it is neo-nazi Hydra behind it all instead of misguided patriots feels like a cop out to me, even if they cleverly use the real life Operation Paperclip and concerns about the modern security state as background. I’d argue that Watchmen is the only other superhero film that really threads the needle on complicated politics and superheroes. V for Vendetta comes close and I think V’s political legacy can’t be understated. People weren’t overthrowing Arab dictatorships wearing Tony Stark masks. That might be another one worth discussing in the rebuttal episode. FWIW, polticially speaking, I tend to think that legal gay marriage perhaps owes a little something to the popularity of the X-Men under Bryan Singer and the explicit homosexual metaphor in his films. Matthew Malecki Robert…what is your definition of a superhero movie? Why do you include Robocop? I’m not saying I don’t agree with you…I was just wondering if you could expand on that. Robert Reineke You could probably write a PhD dissertation on what is the precise definition of a superhero. Beyond the “I know it when I see it” test, I’d suggest the following basic characteristics. 1. Has powers and/or abilities above those of mortal men and women. 2. Has a public moniker different from the character’s actual name, secret or not. 3. Has a distinctive look separating the character from the rest of humanity (in the movies that sometimes translates into having a distinctive musical theme as well). 4. Battles criminals/evil that are beyond the scope of regular law enforcement/forces of good to handle (these criminals are generally over the top and colorful in their own right). I don’t know if it’s a characteristic or consequence of the above, but these characters often require an origin story to explain themselves. Obviously, these are not hard and fast rules. Jessica Jones may not qualify if we apply rule #2 to the character, but I think they’re a good starting point. Concrete satisfies the first three, but not the fourth, which is why I don’t consider him a superhero. These characteristics also explain how James Bond is so very close to crossing over into superhero territory. In the case of Robocop, besides the fact that the character was created because they couldn’t get the rights to Judge Dredd, I think he easily satisfies those four characteristics. Certainly, a comic book of Robocop would fit in with 1980s books like Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Ronin, & Elektra: Assassin, 2000 A.D., and Howard Chaykin’s The Shadow & American Flagg! without anyone blinking an eye. Visually and powers wise, there is very little difference between Robocop and Deathlok or Cyborg. Obviously, individual definitions can vary, but that’s how I see it. Kerry Vanderberg I see your point on Robocop. Even though I really enjoyed the original Robocop movie (and did like the reboot well enough), I think it doesn’t passes the “I’ll know it when I see it” test for me. I think the biggest reason is because the original film is 100% satire on media and corporate America, that rules it out for me as a superhero. Plus, it earns it’s hard R rating with the violence, gore, and profanity (granted, WATCHMEN had those too, but is still rooted in the source material) makes it so that it just doesn’t “fit” for me in the same landscape as Superman or Iron Man. I think of ROBOCOP as being more in line with the Terminator franchise. Plus. it’s so definitively a Paul Verhoeven film, just like UNBREAKABLE is definitively an M. Night Shyamalan movie that it doesn’t fit as a superhero film for me. Matthew Malecki I think the one caveat I would add to the excellent points both of you have made is: for someone to be considered a superhero they need to make a choice. They need to have agency and a will of their own. Most superheroes have a tragic backstory. But it’s not what happened to them that makes them a superhero…it’s the choice of what to do with their powers/tragedy and how they react to it that makes them who they are (and why I find superheroes so fascinating and inspirational). For this reason, I would discount Robocop as a superhero. I totally understand if you disagree Robert. Robert Reineke Where I’ll disagree is that I find that Robocop has plenty of agency as his memories return, pursuing his own private agenda, following it to the top, and finding a way around his own programming. Matthew Malecki Yes, but once he figures all that out and goes down a path of justice of his own choosing…isn’t he really just pursuing a path of revenge? Is there anything particularly heroic in exacting revenge? It’s a lesson Bruce Wayne struggled with. Robert Reineke Considering Robocop is a law officer that gathers evidence, lawfully arrests Clarence Boddicker initially, attempts another lawful arrest of Dick Jones, and ultimately doesn’t open fire on Dick Jones until after he has presented evidence and a hostage situation has developed I think Robocop is a lot more nuanced than a simple revenge story. Robocop consistently gives his foes the option of submitting to arrest. He has a code unlike The Crow, The Punisher, or Darkman. Plus there’s no evidence he’s going to stop being a cop and hang things up after he’s dealt with his personal foes. He’s regained his humanity but not given up his larger mission. The stakes are merely more personal, as they are in most origin stories. bruinfan1331 Here are my thoughts on how the podcasts could be improved. I think there needed to always be a run-down of your list. Continually update each episode 25-21, 20-16, etc. Also, I think there needed to be an explanation of what you guys were looking for in how you evaluated the films and how your lists started out, and then were changed (that could be something that you just posted on the website). I also think there needed to be a set up of what you were defining as a superhero film. Stating that if Luke Skywalker were to be with Superman (South Park aside) that Star Wars would be a super hero film, than the same applies to movies like The Rocketeer, Mask of Zorro, and Dick Tracy. Jessie I almost totally agree. Batman Begins, while flawed, is a great movie. Yeah, the action is a little questionable and some of the acting isn’t great, but they really made a great origin story with heart and depth. Christian Bale is the PERFECT Batman. Ben Affleck can not top him. I really loved that Christopher Nolan took this movie more seriously than the previous Batman films. The Dark Knight, to me, is a flawless movie. It is definitely my favorite of the trilogy. The praise for this movie is well deserved. I could probably write a 20 paged article about how much I love this movie. It is one of my favorite movies of all time. I think this movie is better than all of the Marvel movies combined. That is just my opinion though. The Dark Knight Rises, is definitely my LEAST favorite of the trilogy. It is the most flawed. I really hate the feel of this movie. I don’t absolutely hate it, but I definitely don’t like it. I have literally sat down and made a list of 10 major things wrong with this movie. I’m not counting minor things. I won’t make a list because it would take forever for me to explain every dumb thing about this movie. So many plot holes ( or dumb plots), it is crazy. Other than that, I think that Batman Begins and especially The Dark Knight are the best.