Best Superhero Movies of All Time

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Superhero stories are exceptionally popular among moviegoers. And, as evidenced by the recent record-setting opening weekend of Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame,” demand for such films shows no signs of slowing down.

Yet, while superhero movies frequently translate to box office gold — many rank among the top grossing movies of all time — critical and audience reception of the movies can vary drastically. Even within a single franchise certain films are admired more than others. For example, many fans who loved “Black Panther” (2018) didn’t think much of “The Incredible Hulk” (2008), even though both movies are a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

24/7 Tempo has identified the 30 best superhero movies of all time based on audience and critic ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and Internet Movie Database. These are the films that stand out in a crowded genre as the highest caliber of this type of cinema.

While superheroes have been appearing in movies for nearly as long as they have been appearing in comic books, appreciation for the genre has increased greatly in recent years as special effects technology has improved. Among the best superhero movies, more than two-thirds were first released in 2010 or later. These include movies from numerous hit franchises, including the Marvel Cinematic Universe, X-Men, and Batman, all of which rank among the top grossing franchises. Some of these movies even rank among the top rated movies of all time, regardless of genre.

Hollywood studios are making the most of this trend. Numerous superhero movies are currently in some stage of production and have already had their release dates announced. These include “Wonder Woman 1984” in 2020, “The Batman” in 2021, and “Aquaman 2” in 2022, each of which will likely do well at the box office.

Click here to see the best superhero movies of all time.

To be considered for this ranking, a film had to have attracted a total of at least 10,000 user ratings from either IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, 10 Tomatometer critic reviews, and be labeled as a “superhero” movie on IMDb. Our index tallied an average for each film using its average audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes and average user rating on Internet Movie Database, each weighted by the number of votes. We then averaged the combined user rating with the film’s Rotten Tomatoes’ average critic rating.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

30. Shazam! (2019)
> Directed by: David F. Sandberg
> Starring: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel
> Domestic box office gross: $140.0 million

“Shazam!” is the seventh film in the DC Cinematic Universe. The lighthearted treatment of a superhero centers around a wisecracking 14-year-old boy who pranks police and is transformed into an adult superhero when he says the name of a wizard, “Shazam!” The film resonated with critics, who gave it a 91% freshness score on Rotten Tomatoes, and 86% of audiences liked the movie.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

29. X2: X-Men United (2003)
> Directed by: Bryan Singer
> Starring: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry
> Domestic box office gross: $215.0 million

The sequel to the highly successful “X-Men” finds the superheroes joining forces with former foes Magneto and Mystique to rescue Professor X, the leader of the X-Men, from evil scientist William Stryker. “X2: X-Men United” was the sixth highest grossing film in the X-Men series, and it received an 85% scored from both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

28. Doctor Strange (2016)
> Directed by: Scott Derrickson
> Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams
> Domestic box office gross: $232.6 million

Benedict Cumberbatch, familiar to audiences from the Sherlock Holmes television series, plays a gifted, though arrogant, neurosurgeon, who injures his hands in an accident. In his search to heal his injuries, he learns of the power of the mind to heal and becomes involved in a battle to combat evil. Other stars powering this fantasy/action film from Marvel Entertainment include Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Rachel McAdams. The film scored an 89% freshness rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and 86% of filmgoers liked the movie.

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

27. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
> Directed by: Jon Watts
> Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr.
> Domestic box office gross: $334.2 million

Critics hailed “Spider-Man: Homecoming” as having “limitless optimism.” In the fourth highest grossing of the web-slinger series, Peter Parker/Spider-Man, under the tutelage of Tony Stark/Iron Man, is feeling more comfortable with his superpowers. He’ll need them to battle the villainous Vulture.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

26. Wonder Woman (2017)
> Directed by: Patty Jenkins
> Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright
> Domestic box office gross: $412.6 million

“Wonder Woman” was the first superhero movie to be both directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, and starring a woman, Gal Gadot in the title role. The plot revolves around an Amazonian warrior who is destined to save the world from destruction during World War I. The film scored a 93% freshness rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and 88% of moviegoers liked it. “Wonder Woman” was the biggest blockbuster of the summer of 2017.

Source: Courtesy of Lionsgate

25. Kick-Ass (2010)
> Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
> Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Chloe Grace Moretz
> Domestic box office gross: $48.1 million

A superhero movie of a different sort. Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a comic-book nerd, who without special powers can still lay down a nasty beatdown. He calls himself Kick-Ass and joins forces with a father-daughter crime-fighting team to clean up their city. The film got an R rating for brutal violence, sexual content, and drug use. It got 76% freshness rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and 81% audiences like the movie.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

24. Superman (1978)
> Directed by: Richard Donner
> Starring: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman
> Domestic box office gross: $134.2 million

The venerable DC Comics superhero was revived in the 1978 blockbuster, starring Christopher Reeve as the man of steel, Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, and Gene Hackman as arch-villain Lex Luthor. Its $55 million budget was the highest of any movie to that point. The film won a Special Achievement Oscar for visual effects. “Superman” was well received by critics and audiences — 94% of critics liked it on Rotten Tomatoes, and 86% of audiences gave it a thumbs up — for not taking itself too seriously yet respecting the legacy of its superhero.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

23. Batman (1989)
> Directed by: Tim Burton
> Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger
> Domestic box office gross: $251.2 million

In the Tim Burton-realized “Batman,” Michael Keaton is the caped crusader who battles the psychopathic Joker, played by Jack Nicholson. Burton’s stylish and eerie take on the dark knight was a box-office smash, pulling in more than $251 million at the box office. On Rotten Tomatoes, 84% of audiences liked the film, but only 71% of critics gave it a positive rating.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

22. Incredibles 2 (2018)
> Directed by: Brad Bird
> Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell
> Domestic box office gross: $608.6 million

The animated sequel from Pixar has the family of superheroes assigned a new task, only this time, Bob Parr (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) is a stay-at-home dad, while mom Helen Parr (voiced by Holly Hunter) does the heavy lifting of saving the world. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 94% freshness rating, and 85% of audiences liked “Incredibles 2.” The 14-year gap between Incredibles movies didn’t hurt the sequel, which has rung up more than $608 million in domestic box office gross and was more successful than the original.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

21. X: First Class (2011)
> Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
> Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence
> Domestic box office gross: $146.4 million

“X: First Class” was among the poorer performers at the box office in the X-Men series and is 10th among the films in the franchise in box-office gross. In this film, Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr, humans with extraordinary powers, try to find others like them. Things get complicated because of Erik’s quest to find a mutant who ruined his life. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave “X: First Class” an 86% freshness rating, and 87% of audiences liked the film.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

20. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
> Directed by: James Gunn
> Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista
> Domestic box office gross: $389.8 million

The Guardians of the Galaxy are based on the Marvel Comics superheroes. The sequel focuses on the team traveling through the universe to help their leader, Peter Quill, discover the truth about his parents. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” was the 15th Marvel Cinematic Universe movie released. Audiences gave it a score of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, and critics gave it a freshness rating of 84%.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

19. Deadpool 2 (2018)
> Directed by: David Leitch
> Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin
> Domestic box office gross: $324.6 million

Like its predecessor, “Deadpool 2” offers up a profane slice of self-aware violence and humor. The movie did well at the domestic box office and is the fourth highest grossing movie in the X-Men franchise when adjusting for inflation. A PG-13 version of the movie titled “Once Upon a Deadpool” was also released in 2018, and it received significantly worse reviews.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

18. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
> Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
> Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson
> Domestic box office gross: $408.1 million

“Captain America: Civil War” is the eighth most successful film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the third Captain America-themed movie. In the most recent film, the government, appalled by the collateral damage from the world-saving Avengers, puts restrictions on the actions of superheroes, causing a division in the ranks of the Avengers. Critics and audiences alike responded positively to the sober theme of “Captain America: Civil War,” with critics giving it a 91% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes and audiences awarding the film a score of 89%.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

17. Big Hero 6 (2014)
> Directed by: Don Hall, Chris Williams
> Starring: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung
> Domestic box office gross: $222.5 million

A product of Walt Disney Animation Studios, “Big Hero 6” tells the story of Hiro, who along with bulbous robot Baymax and some of his close friends, form a team of heroes to save the city of San Fransokyo. Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus describes the flick as “agreeably entertaining and brilliantly animated,” with 91% of audiences giving it a positive review.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

16. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
> Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
> Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson
> Domestic box office gross: $259.8 million

Critics lauded “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” as “suspenseful and politically astute,” according to Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes. And CinemaScore gave the movie an A rating. In the film, Captain America is paired with Avengers colleague Black Widow and the two are tasked with thwarting an assassin called Winter Soldier.

Source: Courtesy of Miramax

15. The Crow (1994)
> Directed by: Alex Proyas
> Starring: Brandon Lee, Michael Wincott, Rochelle Davis
> Domestic box office gross: $50.7 million

Based on an underground comic book from 1989, “The Crow” tells the story of a murdered rock star who returns from the dead to seek revenge. The movie’s look is highly influenced by graphic novels, and critic Roger Ebert called it “the best version of a comic book universe (he’d) seen” in his 1994 review. Unfortunately, leading man Brandon Lee was accidentally killed on set while shooting a scene portraying the death of his character.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

14. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
> Directed by: Taika Waititi
> Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett
> Domestic box office gross: $315.1 million

“Thor: Ragnarok” is Marvel Cinematic Universe’s 17th film and the sequel to “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World.” In Norse mythology, Ragnarok are the events that lead to the apocalypse. In “Thor: Ragnarok,” Thor, played with a touch of wry by Chris Hemsworth, must escape his imprisonment to save his planet from destruction. According to Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, the film is a “colorful cosmic adventure.” Critics gave it a 93% freshness rating on the site, while 87% of audiences liked the movie.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

13. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
> Directed by: Eric Radomski, Bruce Timm, Kevin Altieri
> Starring: Kevin Conroy, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner
> Domestic box office gross: $5.6 million

“Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” is a feature-length animated movie based on “Batman: The Animated Series” that has been largely praised by both critics and audiences alike, with 84% and 88% giving it positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, respectively. The movie was intended to be released directly to video but was given a last-minute theatrical release. The lack of a marketing campaign prior to its release may be to blame for the movie’s low domestic box office gross of $5.6 million.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

12. Iron Man (2008)
> Directed by: Jon Favreau
> Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard
> Domestic box office gross: $318.4 million

Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark, a billionaire who creates a lethal suit of armor to combat evil. “Iron Man” revived Downey’s career and launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has become the most successful motion picture franchise of all time.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

11. Deadpool (2016)
> Directed by: Tim Miller
> Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller
> Domestic box office gross: $363.1 million

“Deadpool” is the most financially successful movie in the X-Men franchise, grossing more than $363 million domestically. The film is fast paced, R rated, and filled with self aware jokes, giving it an edge that resonated with many viewers who flocked to its sequel two years later.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

10. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
> Directed by: Bryan Singer
> Starring: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman
> Domestic box office gross: $233.9 million

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” is the fourth highest grossing movie in the X-Men series. Hugh Jackman plays superhero Wolverine who is sent by the X-Men into the past to change history and prevent an event from causing catastrophe for humankind. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a freshness rating of 90%, and audiences awarded it a score of 91%.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

9. Logan (2017)
> Directed by: James Mangold
> Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen
> Domestic box office gross: $226.3 million

“Logan” is centered on X-Men character Wolverine — played by Hugh Jackman — in his later years, living in a future with a dwindling mutant population. Similar to X-Men movies “Deadpool” and “Deadpool 2,” “Logan” earned itself an R rating for its violence and language, as well as brief nudity.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

8. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
> Directed by: James Gunn
> Starring: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper
> Domestic box office gross: $333.2 million

Funny and irreverent, and laden with stars such as Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper, “Guardians of the Galaxy” was a hit with critics and audiences alike, scoring over 90% among critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. Pratt plays Peter Quill, an adventurer in possession of an orb whose powers he has yet to understand. Pursued by the villainous Ronan, he enlists the aid of a group of galactic misfits to help him.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

7. The Avengers (2012)
> Directed by: Joss Whedon
> Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson
> Domestic box office gross: $623.4 million

The sixth film released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “The Avengers” features a number of fans’ favorite heroes in one movie, including Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America. The movie was a huge financial success, grossing the second most in the series when adjusting for inflation.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

6. Batman Begins (2005)
> Directed by: Christopher Nolan
> Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe
> Domestic box office gross: $206.9 million

Christian Bale plays the often gloomy and complicated dark knight in the film directed by Christopher Nolan. Audiences liked the movie more than critics on Rotten Tomatoes, giving it a score of 90%, while critics gave it a freshness rating of 84%. Bale, who played Batman in three Nolan-directed films, announced last year he will not play the caped crusader any more. The three films have grossed $1.19 billion at the box office.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

5. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
> Directed by: Christopher Nolan
> Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway
> Domestic box office gross: $448.1 million

“The Dark Knight Rises” is the final film in director Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy. It’s a superhero movie of epic proportions, running 165 minutes in length and featuring extravagant sights such as a collapsing football field. The movie grossed over $1 billion worldwide, making it one of the top grossing films ever.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

4. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
> Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
> Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo
> Domestic box office gross: $678.8 million

All of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s superheroes unite to try and defeat the powerful Thanos before he can destroy the universe. The film earned an 85% freshness rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and 91% of audiences liked the film. However, some critics chided the film for the quality of computer generated imagery as well as what they considered the predictable plot line of always putting the fate of the universe at stake.

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
> Directed by: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
> Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld
> Domestic box office gross: $190.2 million

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is the first animated Spider-Man feature. The movie was praised by critics not only for its groundbreaking visuals, but also for its humor and storytelling. In 2019, it took home the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2. Avengers: Endgame (2019)
> Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
> Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo
> Domestic box office gross: $834.9 million

“Avengers: Endgame” is by far the highest grossing movie of 2019 and the top grossing film in the history of Marvel Cinematic Universe, the most successful movie franchise of all time. In “Avengers: Endgame,” the Avengers seek to restore order in the universe in the wake of the destructive war battle with Thanos. The film received a freshness rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 91% of audiences like the motion picture.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1. The Dark Knight (2008)
> Directed by: Christopher Nolan
> Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart
> Domestic box office gross: $534.9 million

Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” is dark, atmospheric, and filled with unforgettable images. It is the second to last feature film that actor Heath Ledger would appear in before passing away at age 28, making his Oscar-winning performance as The Joker all the more haunting. The movie is the most successful Batman movie to date, grossing nearly $670 million at the domestic box office when adjusting for inflation.