“Black Panther” has swiftly become a phenomenon, and it’s proof that the superhero genre isn’t slowing down.
With movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe already scheduled for the next few years, and the DC Extended Universe still pushing forward despite a rocky start (“Aquaman” hits theaters later this year), the genre is here to stay. That’s not even mentioning the non-DC or Marvel films still to come (a “Hellboy” reboot is scheduled for next year).
The genre has produced some very bad movies, and some truly great ones. For every “Catwoman” there is a “Wonder Woman.” As we prepare for another “Avengers” movie (now on April 27), Business Insider reflected on the decades of superhero movies to determine the best.
This is a personal ranking, so we didn’t determine it from critic or audience scores. But we did consider the critical acclaim, cultural relevance, and commercial success when ranking the movies, especially the top ones. Of course, personal preference also plays a part.
Superhero movies can come in many shapes and sizes, and that’s reflected in this list. Some may not be what people would consider typical superhero movies, but they don’t always need to be based on a comic book or feature colorful costumes to be part of the genre.
The top 50 superhero movies of all time are below:
50. “The Rocketeer” (1991)
Directed by Joe Johnston
I’m not saying this movie made the cut because of its gorgeous poster (seen above), but it certainly helped. But beyond the poster, the movie is pure entertainment. It prepared Joe Johnston to direct “Captain America: The First Avenger,” another corny but fun movie where the hero fights Nazis, who, in “The Rocketeer,” are after a stolen jet-pack that our stunt pilot-hero uses to fly.
49. “Ant-Man” (2015)
Directed by Peyton Reed
“Ant-Man” is one of the more forgettable entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (there’s plenty more of those movies to come), but it packs a comedic punch that other superhero movies often fail to get right. The film went through some behind-the-scenes turmoil, as director Edgar Wright (“Baby Driver”) left the project for creative differences. But Peyton Reed stepped up to the plate and delivered an enjoyable film where Paul Rudd is surprisingly heroic in the title role.
48. “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011)
Directed by Joe Johnston
Another Joe Johnston movie, this time with a hero a little more well-known — Captain America, in his first film since the 1990 disaster. Luckily, Marvel Studios has a reputation for reviving classic characters these days. The movie is pure camp, but it works for the alternate-World War II setting. Chris Evans was molded to play the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Steve Rogers, who, after a genetic experiment becomes a superpowered propaganda machine … I mean, Captain America.