WHO IS THE MOST SUPER OF ALL HEROES?
Why have we gone so crazy for superhero movies in the last 10 years, which are essentially just the same story retold in different ways, writes Duncan Lay
Everyone has their favourite hero but what is the best movie? We rank the 25 Marvel and DC movies since Iron Man and ask: Which one is the best?
Our obsession with superhero movies shows no sign of slowing down, with Aquaman set to make an enormous splash at the box office on December 14.
But why do we rush, quick as a flash, to see what is essentially the same plot, retold in different ways? Is it a comment on the state of the world today, or is that just a Thor point?
We had enjoyed superhero movies before, with Heath Ledger’s The Dark Knight the clear standout, while Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man gave us the legendary upside-down kiss.
But there were many other dodgy attempts, including several hideous Fantastic Four movies, a woeful The Green Lantern and a Catwoman that should have been quietly put down.
They seemed to have run out of steam — until Marvel’s Iron Man in 2008, which launched the takeover of the movie world. Marvel’s success was swiftly followed by DC trying to get into the action.
“We have always been obsessed with these stories,” Dr Antony Lambert, a senior lecturer in Macquarie University’s media department, says. “Without getting too much into religion, they tie into old myths … they are part of the cultural fabric.
“That good vs evil, the morality tale, it is embedded in our stories. They are tales as old as time and they aren’t going anywhere.
“The fact a five-year-old and a 55-year-old can watch the same film and both get something from it tells us something about the central nature of heroism.”
The evolution of these movies, with characters such as Loki, who swings between working for the goodies or being a baddie, as well as Captain America Civil War, where two sets of heroes fought each other (as they did in Batman v Superman) are a fascinating development, Dr Lambert said. “Good and bad is still there but it gets more confused,” he says.
But what keeps us coming back to what is essentially the same tale, told in different ways? “They are absolutely the same story,” Dr Lambert says.
“But you get dragged in. You know the story but these are very fertile worlds, you just decide which part to focus on and what part of the world needs saving.”
These days there are three main worlds featured in these movies. First there is the Marvel Universe, second the DC Extended Universe and finally the X-Men universe.
For the purposes of this list, we’re going to ignore the X-Men universe, given its best three movies are all R-rated and its first three had been and gone before 2008’s Iron Man. All you need to know about that is Deadpool and Logan are brilliant, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is terrible and the rest are enjoyable.
Anyway, given you would need to be an iron man or a wonder woman to sit through them all, we’ve ranked the Marvel and DC films since 2008. And if you disagree, go online and tell us.
25 SUICIDE SQUAD
Despite Margot Robbie’s best efforts as Harley Quinn, this mean meandering movie about supe supervillains forced to save the worl world looked great on paper —a — and terrible on screen.
24 2 THE INCREDIBLE HULK
Way better than Eric Bana’s diabolical Hulk, this was still pretty dodgy. The best bit was the end c credit scene where Robert D Downey Jr turned up.
23 THOR: T THE DARK DA WORLD
It ha has its moments but when Tom Hiddleston’s Loki had the best of them — and he wasn’t the hero or villain — you know it’s a bit of a mess.
22 MAN OF STEEL
Thank goodness for Russell Crowe. He stole every scene he was in. Sadly, he wasn’t in enough of it to rescue this stodgy blob. Needed more laser-like focus.
21 BATMAN V SUPERMAN
Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot did their best but a boring Superman, a silly story and a ridiculous plot twist made another great premise fall flat.
20 IRON MAN 2
Great in parts, boring in others. Robert Downey Jr was fun, as always, but the villains weren’t that inspiring and Tony Stark’s search for a cure
went on for just a bit too long.
19 JUSTICE LEAGUE
The computer-generated villain looked cheap and you just knew that once Superman was back on the team, all was going to end well. Still, The Flash (Ezra Miller) was great.
18 AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON
Again, some great scenes that had some not-so-good ones in between. Extra characters also meant less time for our favourites. Ultimately, the end battle wasn’t as good.
17 CAPTAIN AMERICA
A very solid origin story that didn’t have any lows — but just didn’t quite hit the highs of some of the other movies above it.
16 DOCTOR STRANGE
Plenty of humour, some really trippy special effects and a villain with freaky eyes. I just felt it dwelt too long on his medical problems before getting to the good stuff.
15 ANT MAN
Packed with laughs, as well as an emotional core. Michael Pena nearly steals the show, while Evangeline Lilly overcomes a severe haircut to demand more screen time.
14 ANT MAN AND THE WASP
Another fun outing for these characters, which at least gives equal billing to Lilly. The stakes are smaller (literally!) than Avengers but it is still a hugely enjoyable movie.
An arrogant Chris Hemsworth gets dropped into Earth, where he falls in love and learns rippling muscles don’t equal a hero. It mixes action and humour well, although the final battle is a bit light on ass-kicking action.
12 IRON MAN 3
Robert Downey Jr was fantastic, as always, and the battles where he relies on ingenuity and tricks rather than the suit are great. The Mandarin plot twist is also very clever.
11 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2
The gang’s back for another fun-filled space adventure, this time taking on Chris Pratt’s dad, the God-planet called Ego. It’s actually less insane than it sounds. Plus Young Groot steals the show.
10 AVENGERS INFINITY WAR
This one is a little hard to judge, given it is only half a film. There is so much to like but it will ultimately be classed as either brilliant or flawed depending on how part two ends the story.
9 CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER
A great mix of action and politics, with a terrific twist that changes the whole dynamic of the Marvel movies as Captain America’s best buddy comes back from the dead as a baddie.
8 SPIDER- MAN: HOMECOMING
This is the third Spider-Man after the very good Tobey Maguire and the very bad Andrew Garfield. Tom Holland takes him younger and makes him even better.
7 CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
For a change, goodies fight goodies, thanks to the plan of a baddie. It’s clever, it’s actionpacked and manages to make you support both sides at the same time, which is pretty amazing.
6 THOR: RAGNAROK
Thor goes Kiwi and goes fully sick, bro. It’s a redemption story, a buddy movie and a comedy, all rolled into one. The only thing keeping it out of the top five is Cate Blanchett’s bland villain.
5 IRON MAN
The movie that started it all. Robert Downey Jr is simply brilliant in a role that he has been playing for 10 years now. It’s a superhero origin story that had a turbocharger stuck in its heart.
4 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
A real surprise hit but a great cast, a fun story and some amazing lines take it to the next level. Perhaps the only superhero movie with a climax that involves a dance-off.
3 WONDER WOMAN
The only brilliant DC movie so far. There’s so much to love about this movie, with the only tiny flaw being how Captain Trevor’s sacrifice was pretty much a repeat of the end scene of Captain America.
2 BLACK PANTHER
This has easily the most sympathetic villain in all the superhero movies, as well as amazing action and plenty of laughs. In some ways a little predictable but it also has a surprise twist.
1 THE AVENGERS
It has it all. Brilliant characters, lots of laughs, drama, tragedy and an end battle that ticks every box. A high point yet to be bettered.