Superhero movies have gone on to become one of the most successful genres of film in the past decade. Thanks in no small part to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that kicked off back in 2004 with Iron Man. But just because Marvel is dominating the box office with seemingly every release, doesn't mean they are the only company who has been pushing out successful superhero films. Wonder Woman was one of the best-reviewed films of the year. Not to mention the extremely high level of quality of the Batman films that were being produced by the team of Christian Bale/Christopher Nolan.
Even if you look away from the world of Marvel and DC, there are many amazing superhero films that have been released over the years such as The Incredibles franchise whose sequel may not have topped the original but still scored in the 90s on Rotten Tomatoes. Fans also had to wait a long time to see Captain Underpants on the screen, but the reviews seem to indicate that at least fans weren't disappointed by the wait.
And while not all superhero movies are created equal, as things like the 3rd Tobey Maguire Spider-Man film, the lowest score on our list of 83% should at least indicate that if you need to convince someone to love superhero films, that things from this list are a great way to start. Especially because our top two entries - for Black Panther and The Incredibles - had a near perfect score! Included are all the critical consensus' from Rotten Tomatoes to help paint an even clearer picture as to why these 30 superhero films were able to come out on top above all the others.
30 Deadpool - 83%
"Critics Consensus: Fast, funny, and gleefully profane, the fourth-wall-busting Deadpool subverts superhero film formula with wildly entertaining -- and decidedly non-family-friendly -- results."
Ryan Reynolds can rest easy that both of his Deadpool movies have been well-received with critics, as both scored 83%. But instead of opening the list with back to back Wilson, perhaps you'll agree with me that the original was even better than the sequel. It was definitely a risk making an R-Rated superhero, but the $750+ million that the original made definitely helped quell any of those fears. Let's just hope people didn't take their kids.
29 Avengers: Infinity War - 83%
"Critics Consensus: Avengers: Infinity War ably juggles a dizzying array of MCU heroes in the fight against their gravest threat yet, and the result is a thrilling, emotionally resonant blockbuster that (mostly) realizes its gargantuan ambitions."
Avengers: Infinity War may be the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it by no means was a disappointment for fans. While several individual efforts from the MCU were better received by critics, as was the original The Avengers, Avengers: Infinity War has still set the stage for what should be an even better sequel.
28 Batman Begins - 84%
"Critics Consensus: Brooding and dark, but also exciting and smart, Batman Begins is a film that understands the essence of one of the definitive superheroes."
Who is your favorite Batman? If you say Christian Bale, it may be due to the fact that Batman Begins was a fantastic way to kick off a trilogy. While it is the worst reviewed of the three, you'd be hardpressed to say you wasted your evening by watching it. Especially if you follow it up with the sequel!
27 X2: X-Men United - 85%
"Critics Consensus: Tightly scripted, solidly acted, and impressively ambitious, X2: X-Men United is bigger and better than its predecessor -- and a benchmark for comic sequels in general."
Hugh Jackman may have made his debut as Wolverine in X-Men but it was the sequel, X2: X-Men United that landed him a spot on this list. It's just unfortunate that The Last Stand dropped all the way down to 58%! Though I don't think you'd be able to blame Hugh for that one. Jackman fans can also rest easy that Logan was an even better-received film.
26 Hellboy 2: The Golden Army - 86%
"Critics Consensus: Guillermo del Toro crafts a stellar comic book sequel, boasting visuals that are as imaginative as the characters are endearing."
With the news that David Harbour will be the new Hellboy, I'm going to have to apologize if seeing how well Hellboy 2: The Golden Army did makes you want to go back and watch the film as well as the original, and in the process, makes you love Ron Perlman even more! Let's just hope Harbour is able to live up to the expectations put in front of him by the team of Perlman and del Toro.
25 X-Men: First Class - 86%
"Critics Consensus: With a strong script, stylish direction, and powerful performances from its well-rounded cast, X-Men: First Class is a welcome return to form for the franchise."
There was definitely a risk involved with the creation of X-Men: First Class which served as a prequel of sorts for Professor X and Magneto. The film also brought in several mutants that fans may be less familiar with, such as Emma Frost and Azazel. But the performances from all the leads, including Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, helped push this franchise off in the right way.
24 Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie - 86%
"Critics Consensus: With a tidy plot, clean animation, and humor that fits its source material snugly, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is entertainment that won't drive a wedge between family members."
If you grew up loving the Captain Underpants book series, you were probably pretty excited - if not cautiously optimistic - that a film was being made. But judging by that fantastic critical consensus, you can definitely rest easy that they created a wonderful tribute to the franchise and would be a perfect pick for a family movie night.
23 Superman 2 - 87%
"Critics Consensus: The humor occasionally stumbles into slapstick territory, and the special effects are dated, but Superman II meets, if not exceeds, the standard set by its predecessor."
Christopher Reeve is in many people's opinion, the best actor to ever get the opportunity to play the role of Superman. And one thing that may definitely strengthen that opinion is the fact that this is not the only Superman film that stars Christopher Reeve to make our list, but he is also the only live-action Superman you'll see.
22 The Dark Knight Rises - 87%
"Critics Consensus: The Dark Knight Rises is an ambitious, thoughtful, and potent action film that concludes Christopher Nolan's franchise in spectacular fashion."
Christian Bale is going to go down as one of the best actors to ever get to play the role of Batman. And while he was helped by a tremendous supporting cast, such as Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman) and Tom Hardy as Bane, Bale was outstanding in his swan song, The Dark Knight Rises, that made over 1 billion at the box office.
21 Ant-Man and the Wasp - 87%
"Critics Consensus: A lighter, brighter superhero movie powered by the effortless charisma of Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, Ant-Man and The Wasp offers a much-needed MCU palate cleanser."
There are many movie franchises out there that start out strong but then fall off the map. Thankfully, for Paul Rudd (and especially Evangeline Lilly), that isn't the case with Ant-Man. The sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, is sure to leave fans laughing and entertained and as the consensus states, may be exactly what you need after some of the heavier MCU films!
20 Captain America: The Winter Soldier - 89%
"Critics Consensus: Suspenseful and politically astute, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a superior entry in the Avengers canon and is sure to thrill Marvel diehards."
Chris Evans may be Captain America, but with the amazing performances in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it's hard to say that Sebastian Stan wasn't even more impressive as the main antagonist. Which also bodes well if there does come a moment when Evans puts down the shield and it is picked up by Stan!
19 Doctor Strange - 89%
"Critics Consensus: Doctor Strange artfully balances its outré source material against the blockbuster constraints of the MCU, delivering a thoroughly entertaining superhero origin story in the bargain."
Benedict Cumberbatch is an incredible actor as has been shown through various past performances such as The Imitation Game, and in Sherlock, not to mention some of his voice-over work such as Smaug in the Hobbit franchise. I'm sure having a British lead also doesn't hurt the success of the franchise outside of North America.
18 Spider-Man - 89%
"Critics Consensus: Not only does Spider-Man provide a good dose of web-swinging fun, it also has a heart, thanks to the combined charms of director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire."
Tobey Maguire may not have been making a name for himself in the MCU with his role as Peter Parker, but it's very possible that he was still your first main introduction to the character. I'm sure if Tom Holland got to talk to Tobey that he would have learned many helpful things. But if not, Holland still clearly figured that out on his own!
17 Big Hero 6 - 89%
"Critics Consensus: Agreeably entertaining and brilliantly animated, Big Hero 6 is briskly-paced, action-packed, and often touching."
Big Hero 6 was a huge success for Disney as it ended up making over $650 million at the box office, despite being one of the smaller known Marvel properties. Though if you are holding out hopes for a sequel, you'll have to instead settle for Big Hero 6: The Series which debuted in June 2018 and sees many of the main voice actors returning.
16 The Lego Batman Movie - 90%
"Critics Consensus: The Lego Batman Movie continues its blockbuster franchise's winning streak with another round of dizzyingly funny -- and beautifully animated -- family-friendly mayhem."
If you wanted to compare The Lego Batman Movie to The Lego Movie that predated it, it's possible you'd be disappointed. As The Lego Movie was even better received with critics, scoring 96%. But 90% is more than adequate for any movie, much less one that was as ambitious as The Lego Batman Movie. Will Arnett will never play the caped crusader in a live-action film, but he does nail the voice!
15 X-Men: Days Of Future Past - 90%
"Critics Consensus: X-Men: Days of Future Past combines the best elements of the series to produce a satisfyingly fast-paced outing that ranks among the franchise's finest installments."
Movies that deal with time-travel are always going to be a lot for some audiences to take in, but if you want to get someone hooked on the genre, perhaps show them X-Men: Days Of Future Past. The film ended up making close to $750 million at the box office, helped perhaps by the return of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and the addition of Game of Thrones actor, Peter Dinklage.
14 Guardians of the Galaxy - 91%
"Critics Consensus: Guardians of the Galaxy is just as irreverent as fans of the frequently zany Marvel comic would expect -- as well as funny, thrilling, full of heart, and packed with visual splendor."
I'll be honest, one of my favorite television shows is Parks and Recreation where Chris Pratt plays a character who is, let's say, less than intelligent. So to see him buffed up as Star-Lord took a bit of adjusting, but thankfully for Pratt, everyone loved him in the role. 91%, as you've seen, is one of the best marks for an open to a series.
13 Captain America: Civil War - 91%
"Critics Consensus: Captain America: Civil War begins the next wave of Marvel movies with an action-packed superhero blockbuster boasting a decidedly non-cartoonish plot and the courage to explore thought-provoking themes."
It's great to see superheroes getting along and teaming up to take down some bad guys. But superheroes are also people who at times, can have giant egos and conflicting ideas as to what is the best decision to make. The result was the tension-filled, but tremendous film Captain America: Civil War that highlighted the clash of personalities between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers.
12 Marvel's The Avengers - 92%
"Critics Consensus: Thanks to a script that emphasizes its heroes' humanity and a wealth of superpowered set pieces, The Avengers lives up to its hype and raises the bar for Marvel at the movies."
Marvel may have struck out in comparison to the others with Avengers: Age of Ultron but they may just be grateful that their first big shot at creating the Avengers on-screen was a huge hit. While it's possible some of your favorite heroes didn't get enough screentime, that's an inevitability with such a jam-packed cast of heroes!
11 Thor: Ragnarok - 92%
"Critics Consensus: Exciting, funny, and above all fun, Thor: Ragnarok is a colorful cosmic adventure that sets a new standard for its franchise -- and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe."
If you had to look at the first two Chris Hemsworth' Thor films, you'd find many people who feel the character's origin film and sequel paled in comparison to characters like Iron Man or Captain America. But the best "standalone" film for Hemsworth is better than most MCU films, as critics stated that Thor: Ragnarok was one of the most entertaining movies of the year.
10 Wonder Woman - 92%
"Critics Consensus: Thrilling, earnest, and buoyed by Gal Gadot's charismatic performance, Wonder Woman succeeds in spectacular fashion."
There were many people out there who thought that after the amazing movies being pushed out by Marvel that DC wouldn't stand a chance. And while something like Suicide Squad has no place on a list like this, 358 of the 387 critics gave Wonder Woman a thumbs up. Due in part, as mentioned in the consensus, by the amazing performance of Gal Gadot.
9 Spider-Man: Homecoming - 92%
"Critics Consensus: Spider-Man: Homecoming does whatever a second reboot can, delivering a colorful, fun adventure that fits snugly in the sprawling MCU without getting bogged down in franchise-building."
Tom Holland knew he was joining a billion dollar franchise when he first got the nod to appear in Captain America: Civil War. But he proved himself more than worthy of the role not only with his performance in the film but even more so with his origin film Spider-Man: Homecoming. While other elements like Michael Keaton as the Vulture were also tremendous, nobody swung quite as high as Holland!
8 Logan - 93%
"Critics Consensus: Hugh Jackman makes the most of his final outing as Wolverine with a gritty, nuanced performance in a violent but surprisingly thoughtful superhero action film that defies genre conventions."
Hugh Jackman must have had an incredibly emotional last day on the set of Logan as it is believed he'll never play the character again. But as if the person replacing him eventually couldn't be intimidated enough, the R-Rated Logan finally let Jackman let loose as the character. The result was a film that many people marked as the best of the year.
7 Incredibles 2 - 93%
"Critics Consensus: Incredibles 2 reunites Pixar's family crimefighting team for a long-awaited follow-up that may not quite live up to the original, but comes close enough to earn its name"
Fans had to wait a long time for their favorite superhero fighting family to get back into tights, but man was it ever worth the wait. The sequel may not have done as well as the original, but 265 critics out of 285 were still plenty entertained. Due in part to the amazing voice-over work from the cast including the return of Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter.
6 Spider-Man 2 - 93%
"Critics Consensus: Boasting an entertaining villain and deeper emotional focus, this is a nimble sequel that improves upon the original."
Tobey Maguire was an outstanding Spider-Man in the original that also landed a spot on our list, but audiences and critics loved seeing him as the more experienced Peter Parker in the sequel which boasted an outstanding performance from Alfred Molina as Doc Ock. It's just unfortunate that the 3rd film in the franchise is one of the worst endings to any trilogy.
5 Iron Man - 94%
"Critics Consensus: Powered by Robert Downey Jr.'s vibrant charm, Iron Man turbo-charges the superhero genre with a deft intelligence and infectious sense of fun."
If Iron Man bombs with audiences, there is no MCU. But Robert Downey Jr. completely disappeared into the role of Tony Stark; which was no easy feat given his poor reputation in Hollywood for his issues with substance abuse that had clouded many people's judgment of him. But perhaps that made Tony Stark the perfect character for him to play! Though RDJ may not have expected to be playing the character a decade later.
4 The Dark Knight - 94%
"Critics Consensus: Dark, complex and unforgettable, The Dark Knight succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling crime saga."
There is always going to be a black cloud that hangs over The Dark Knight, as it features the late great actor Heath Ledger in the role of The Joker. But, to Ledger's credit, he is responsible for one of the best performances of any villain in cinematic history. The movie made over $1 billion and saw 310 of the 330 critics give it a positive score.
3 Superman - 94%
"Critics Consensus: Superman deftly blends humor and gravitas, taking advantage of the perfectly cast Christopher Reeve to craft a loving, nostalgic tribute to an American pop culture icon."
As you saw above, this is not the only Christopher Reeve Superman movie to make our list. But considering the original Superman scored 7% higher than the sequel and is the 3rd best movie on our list, it's possible that Reeve left people the most impressed with his performance the first time he got to play the caped hero!
2 The Incredibles - 97%
"Critics Consensus: Bringing loads of wit and tons of fun to the animated superhero genre, The Incredibles easily lives up to its name."
Disney has succeeded in essentially every genre imaginable, so why not take a crack at the superhero genre too? The result was the 2004 animated film, The Incredibles, that quickly became a fan favorite earning over $600 million at the box office. It's just too bad that audiences had to wait so long for the sequel to come out!
1 Black Panther - 97%
"Critics Consensus: Black Panther elevates superhero cinema to thrilling new heights while telling one of the MCU's most absorbing stories -- and introducing some of its most fully realized characters."
The world only got a glimpse of Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. But it's clear that audiences all around the world could not wait to see the character again in Black Panther. And with the highest score of any movie on our list, you'd be foolish to not make sure you see Black Panther even if you have no idea who the character is!
Sources: Rotten Tomatoes (All Critical Consensus' For MCU), Rotten Tomatoes (All Critical Consensus' For Batman Films), Rotten Tomatoes (All Critical Consensus' For X-Men Films), Rotten Tomatoes (All Critical Consensus' For Superman Films),