Top 10 Live-Action Superhero Films [Linwood’s Picks]

Zack Snyder's Watchmen

Although I don’t show a lot of praise for the genre for a number of reasons, I’ve never written it off as I grew up with the comic books of many of these intellectual properties and fondly remember several animated television shows that partially influenced my growth as an author. While I’m not a fan of formulas that franchises of the superhero genre often abide by because they have proven to be artistically limiting, I do give kudos to movies that place most of its tropes on the backburner to be relatively innovative, thoughtful, and deliver what I find to be a highly enjoyable experience. While there are many animated superhero films, for this list, I’m focusing on live-action releases that are my top ten favorite.

10. WATCHMEN: ULTIMATE CUT

“In an alternate 1985 where former superheroes exist, the murder of a colleague sends active vigilante Rorschach into his own sprawling investigation, uncovering something that could completely change the course of history as we know it.”

9. MAN OF STEEL

“With the imminent destruction of Krypton, their home planet, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and his wife seek to preserve their race by sending their infant son to Earth. The child’s spacecraft lands at the farm of Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent, who name him Clark and raise him as their own son. Though his extraordinary abilities have led to the adult Clark (Henry Cavill) living on the fringe of society, he finds he must become a hero to save those he loves from a dire threat.”

8. THE DARK KNIGHT

“With the help of allies Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman (Christian Bale) has been able to keep a tight lid on crime in Gotham City. But when a vile young criminal calling himself the Joker (Heath Ledger) suddenly throws the town into chaos, the caped Crusader begins to tread a fine line between heroism and vigilantism.”

7. THE SUICIDE SQUAD (2021)

“The government sends the most dangerous supervillains in the world — Bloodsport, Peacemaker, King Shark, Harley Quinn and others — to the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Armed with high-tech weapons, they trek through the dangerous jungle on a search-and-destroy mission, with only Col. Rick Flag on the ground to make them behave.”

6. SPIDER-MAN (2002)

“”Spider-Man” centers on student Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) who, after being bitten by a genetically-altered spider, gains superhuman strength and the spider-like ability to cling to any surface. He vows to use his abilities to fight crime, coming to understand the words of his beloved Uncle Ben: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

5. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

“Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo deeply divides members of the team. Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) sharply disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must pick a side.”

4. KICK-ASS

“Using his love for comics as inspiration, teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) decides to reinvent himself as a superhero — despite a complete lack of special powers. Dave dons a costume, dubs himself “Kick-Ass,” and gets to work fighting crime. He joins forces with the father/daughter vigilante team of Big Daddy and Hit Girl, then befriends another fledgling crime-fighter called Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), but a scheming mobster soon puts their alliance to the test.”

3. THE GREEN HORNET (2011)

“Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) is a slacker by day, party animal by night… until he finds a serious career that’s seriously cool: crime-fighting action hero. As the Green Hornet, he teams up with gadget wiz and martial arts master Kato (Jay Chou) to take down LA’s underworld. Even Britt’s assistant Lenore (Cameron Diaz) doesn’t suspect this mismatched pair is the masked duo busting the city’s toughest thugs led by Chudnofsky (Academy Award® winner Christoph Waltz, 2010, Supporting Actor, Inglourious Basterds). With style, swagger, and an arsenal of awesome gear, the Green Hornet and Kato are doing justice their way, making every mission a mix of over-the-top action and outrageous comedy.”

2. X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

“Convinced that mutants pose a threat to humanity, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) develops the Sentinels, enormous robotic weapons that can detect a mutant gene and zero in on that person. In the 21st century, the Sentinels have evolved into highly efficient killing machines. With mutants now facing extinction, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) volunteers to go back in time and rally the X-Men of the past to help change a pivotal moment in history and thereby save their future.”

1. AVENGERS: ENDGAME

“Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers — Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Bruce Banner — must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos — the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe.”

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