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.
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.