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I love superheroes, I love movies, I love superhero movies and I love talking about superhero movies. In the spring of 2008, I published a list of The Top 10 Superhero Movies. As it turns out, the summer of 2008 was pretty big for superheroes and shortly after publishing the list I had to revise it. I also recognized that there are a handful of superhero movies I haven't seen and still more I've seen but never officially rated.
On Saturday, 19 July 2008 I initiated The Great Superhero Movie Project. The goal is simple, if ambitious: watch, rate and review every superhero movie ever made. Sort of.
I've got a few rules about what qualifies as a "superhero movie" for this project:
- Theatrical releases, made-for-TV movies and direct-to-DVD movies all qualify, provided they aren't disqualified by another rule.
- No pilots for or direct spinoffs of television series. Since Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is essentially a long episode of Batman: The Animated Series, it won't be included in the project. Justice League: The New Frontier, however, is a stand-alone feature, so it makes the cut.
- Comic book origin optional. This means The Incredibles and Blankman, neither of which originated in comic books, are both included.
- The definition of "superhero" is entirely subjective, and I am the subjector. If I don't feel that the movie features superheroes, I'll disqualify it. Transformers is the first victim of this rule, even though I've watched, rated and reviewed it. Giant robots from outer space ≠ superheroes.
- Movie serials are not eligible. I think I'm going to do a separate project for these.
The rules are subject to change at my whim. The most current version of the rules will be posted here.
I'll be posting ratings and reviews on this very site as I complete them. If a movie is on the list and I've already reviewed it, I'll provide a link to that review and update the review with a rating if necessary. All movies will be rated on a five-point scale, with 5 being the highest possible rating and 1 being the lowest.
The current Top 10 will be reflected in the images accompanying this page. As of July 2008, Iron Man holds the coveted top spot and Spider-Man Hellboy II: The Golden Army rounds out the top ten.
Here it is: the ever-growing list of every superhero movie (as defined by the aforementioned rules) ever made. These are all (unless otherwise noted) movies I pulled out of the rusty recesses of my own feeble brain, so the list is probably far from complete. If you think I've overlooked a superhero movie—be it good or bad—let me know and I'll probably add it to the list.
If I haven't seen a movie, the title will be bold. If I've rated and reviewed it, the title will be linked to the review. If a reader suggested the movie, their name (or nickname) will appear after the title.
Update (December 2008): All movies I've reviewed have been collected into a single category: The Great Superhero Movie Project, which has its own RSS feed. Subscribe to the feed to keep informed of new reviews as I write them.
Update (July 2009): I've been making progress on the "watching" part of the project—I've recently watched Punisher: War Zone, Supergirl, Ophelia Learns to Swim and Hancock—but not so much on the reviewing side. That should change shortly.
Update (October 2009): Thanks to the excellent WordPress plugin, Xavin's Review Ratings, I'm able to post ratings for individual movies on this page. An expanded explanation of the ratings is available at the Ratings page.
- Batman (1989) ★★★★☆
- Batman Returns (1992) ★★★☆☆
- Batman Forever (1995) ★★½☆☆
- Batman & Robin (1997) ★★☆☆☆
- Batman Begins (2005) ★★★★½
- The Dark Knight (2008) ★★★½☆
- Black Mask (1996)
- Black Mask 2: City of Masks (2002)
- Black Scorpion (1995)
- Black Scorpion II: Aftershock (1997)
- Blade (1998)
- Blade II (2002)
- Blade: Trinity (2004)
- Blankman (1994)
- Captain America (Made for TV, 1979)
- Captain America II: Death Too Soon (Made for TV, 1979)
- Captain America (1990)
- Catwoman (2004)
- Constantine (2005)
- The Crow (1994) (Thanks, Jared!)
- The Crow: City of Angels (1996) (Thanks, Jared!)
- The Crow: Salvation (2000) (Thanks, Jared!)
- The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005) (Thanks, Jared! I didn't realize they'd cranked out three sequels.)
- Condorman (1981)
- Daredevil (2003) Note: Rating is based on the director's cut. ★★★☆☆
- Darkman (1992) ★★★★☆
- Darkman II: The Return of Durant (1994)
- Darkman III: Die Darkman Die (1996)
- Doctor Strange (Animated, 2007)
- Dr. Strange (Made for TV, 1978)
- Elektra (2005)
- Fantastic Four (1994)
- Fantastic Four (2005) ★★★☆☆
- Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) ★★★☆☆
- Flash Gordon (1980) (Thanks, Stuart!) ★★★☆☆
- Ghost Rider (2007) ★★★☆☆
- Green Lantern: First Flight (2009) ★★★½☆
- Hancock (2008) ★★★★☆
- Hellboy (2004) ★★★★½
- Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) ★★★★☆
- Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms (2006) ★★★☆☆
- Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron (2007) ★★★½☆
- Hero at Large (1980) (Thanks willywoollove!)
- Howard the Duck (1986)
- Hulk (2003) ★★★☆☆
- The Incredible Hulk (2008) ★★★★☆
- The Incredibles (Animated, 2004) ★★★★☆
- The Invincible Iron Man (Animated, 2007) ★★★½☆
- Iron Man (2008) ★★★★★
- Judge Dredd (1995) (Thanks, Nycteris!)
- Justice League of America (Made for TV, 1997)
- Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)
- Lightspeed (2006)
- Man-Thing (2005)
- The Mask (1994) (Thanks, Ivan!)
- Son of the Mask (2005) (Thanks, Ivan. No, really. Thanks. I so wanted to see this movie.)
- Mercury Man (2006) ★★½☆☆
- The Meteor Man (1993)
- Mystery Men (1999) ★★★½☆
- My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006) (Thanks, Miscellaneous G™!)
- Ophelia Learns to Swim (2000) ★★☆☆☆
- The Phantom (1996) ★★★☆☆
- The Puma Man (1980) (Thanks, Miscellaneous G™!)
- The Punisher (1989) ★★☆☆☆
- The Punisher (2004) ★★★☆☆
- The Punisher: War Zone (2008) ★★★☆☆
- The Return of Captain Invincible (1983)
- The Rocketeer (1991) (Thanks, Jared!) ★★★½☆
- Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD (1991)
- The Shadow (1994) ★★★☆☆
- Sidekick (2005) (Thanks, Ford75!)
- Silver Hawk (2004)
- Sky High (2005) ★★★☆☆
- Spawn (1997) ★★★☆☆
- Special (2006) (Thanks, Eoin!)
- The Specials (2000) (Thanks, Jared!) ★★★☆☆
- Spider-Man (2002) ★★★★☆
- Spider-Man 2 (2004) ★★★½☆
- Spider-Man 3 (2007) ★½☆☆☆
- The Spirit (2008) ★★☆☆☆
- Steel (1997)
- Swamp Thing (1982) (Thanks, Phil!) ★★★☆☆
- The Return of The Swamp Thing (1989) ★★★☆☆
- Super Fuzz (1980)
- Supergirl (1984) (Thanks, Miscellaneous G™!) ★☆☆☆☆
- The Superhero (2007)
- Superhero Movie (2008) ★★½☆☆
- Superman (1978) ★★★½☆
- Superman II (1980) ★★★½☆
- Superman III (1983)
- Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) ★☆☆☆☆
- Superman Returns (2006) ★★☆☆☆
- Superman: Doomsday (2008)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time (1993)
- TMNT (Animated, 2007) ★★★½☆
- The Toxic Avenger (1985) ★½☆☆☆
- The Toxic Avenger Part II (1989) (Thanks, willywoollove!)
- The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie (1989) (Thanks, willywoollove!)
- Citizen Toxie: Toxic Avenger IV (2000) (Thanks, willywoollove!)
- Underdog (2007) ★★★☆☆
- Ultimate Avengers (Animated, 2006) ★★★½☆
- Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther (Animated, 2006) ★★★☆☆
- Ultraviolet (2006) (Thanks, Kevin!) ★★½☆☆
- Unbreakable (2000) ★★★½☆
- Watchmen (2009) ★★★★½
- X-Men (2000) ★★★½☆
- X2: X-Men United (2003) ★★★★☆
- X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) ★★☆☆☆
- Zebraman (2004)
- Zoom: Academy for Superheroes (2006) ★★★☆☆
The DQ List
Here's the list of movies I've disqualified for various reasons:
- Batman (1943) is a movie serial.
- Batman and Robin (1949) is another movie serial. (My two-part review: Part 1; Part 2)
- Batman: The Movie (1966) is a spin off of the television series.
- Batman: Gotham Knight (2008) is six short films.
- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) is a spinoff of Batman: The Animated Series.
- Batman: SubZero (1998) is a spinoff of Batman: The Animated Series.
- The Green Hornet (1940) is yet another movie serial, but there's a movie (apparently starring Seth Rogan in the title role) coming in 2010.
- The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988) is a spinoff of the television series The Incredible Hulk.
- The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989) is a spinoff of the television series The Incredible Hulk.
- The Death of the Incredible Hulk (1990) is a spinoff of the television series The Incredible Hulk.
- Spy Smasher (1942) is a movie serial.
- Sting of the Black Scorpion (2002) is a spinoff of the television series, Black Scorpion, which is technically a spinoff of the movie of the same name. However, since the original movies (Black Scorpion and Black Scorpion II: Aftershock) weren't pilots for the television series, they still qualify, thus demonstrating the intricacies of the rules.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why aren't movie serials included?
I love superhero movie serials; I own both the Batman and Batman and Robin serials from the 1940s as well as the Captain America serial starring Dick Purcell from 1944. I'd love to add Spy Smasher, The Phantom and Captain Marvel to my collection as well. The problem with serials is that, even at just 15 minutes per installment, they require upwards of four hours of viewing time to complete. That's just too much time for a single rating and review. Perhaps in the future I may do a separate project just for serials, depending on how well The Great Superhero Movie Project works.
- Why is/isn't [movie] on the list?
The definition of a superhero is tricky to nail down, so to avoid a list several hundred movies long, I'm taking a somewhat arbitrary approach to who is or is not a superhero. For example, Blade is a vampire movie, but since the character originally appeared in the Marvel Universe alongside the likes of Spider-Man and Wolverine, I felt he should be included. Van Helsing and Underworld, on the other hand, are monster movies that don't have roots in an established superhero universe, so they're excluded.In other cases, such as The Matrix, the distinction is a bit trickier to make. All I can say is that The Matrix really doesn't feel like a superhero movie to me, so I'm not including it.
- What's your deadline for watching, rating and reviewing every movie on the list?
I don't have one, for a couple of reasons. First, there are at least a half dozen superhero movies in various stages of production at the time of this writing (11 August 2008),1 and as soon as they're available I'm going to add them to the list. Second, just finding some of these movies will be a challenge,2 so putting a time limit on finishing the list is just setting myself up for failure.