It's quite the rarity to find a good Nicolas Cage performance these days! In Kick-Ass, he and Chloe Moretz were a riot. But the movie has a lot more going for it besides that. For one thing, it benefits by setting it in a real and feasible world. This isn't a comic book movie, but rather a movie about a kid inspired by those type of movies and consequently, it turns the genre on its head. The fact that elements of this story could potentially happen in real life is probably the best thing about it! And that's saying a lot since this movie is packed to the brim with excitement and humor.
9. X-Men Days of Future Past
While Superman set the original standard formula, Sam Raimi's Spider-man is responsible for the post 9/11 superhero craze. Every studio wanted to copy the success of this film and sought to find superheroes they could build franchises around. While I am absolutely no hater of The Amazing Spider-man films (yeah I said it), there is something so fun about this particular origin. It has its own distinct flavor which makes it stand out from all the rest.
6. X-Men 2
This is just an incredibly fun blockbuster and it totally holds up. I remember how much it thrilled me when I saw it in theaters from start to finish back in 2003, and watching it again just barely I found that it's still a delight. The plot is very well crafted and every character manages to be integral. Like X-Men Days of Future Past, X2 manages quite the juggling act with everything it tries to do and pulls it off brilliantly. A superhero is only as good as its villain, and this one has two excellent ones in the form of General Stryker and, of course, the always reliable Magneto. Side characters like Pyro, Nightcrawler, and Lady Deathstrike manage to steal scenes and everyone in this film seems to be having a fun time.
5. Batman Begins
Christopher Nolan's reboot film in the Batman franchise is fantastic. Tim Burton's films were good, but after Joel Schumacher's movies this character seemed doomed to mediocrity. Batman Begins changed all that and not only wiped the slate clean, but created a new standard for the character and the world he inhabited. But besides being the turning point for the Batman films, it also is a great movie in its own right. Begins is incredibly entertaining and boasts a fantastic cast. Christian Bale, Michael Cane, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson and Liam Neeson all turn in awesome performances. The only false note is the weak performance given by Katie Holmes. This is the origin story that Batman both needs AND deserves.
Oh, my dear Shyamalan. What talent you used to possess (and hopefully can one day still recover.) Unbreakable is a great example of what this man was able to do in his prime. Like Kick-Ass, this is a more "real world" telling of a superhero story. But unlike that film, this one is not a comical take. Unbreakable combines an unconventional superhero origin story with an incredibly suspenseful thriller. Bruce Willis is solid as always and Samuel Jackson gives one of the best performances of his career. While it does feature one of the most annoying child characters ever in a movie, it still remains a fantastic film and one of the most unique tellings of a superhero story.
3. The Incredibles
This might just be the most fun of all superhero films! From start to finish it is an absolute ride. All the characters are delightful and the story is clever. It's the only Pixar film to have ever actually deserved a sequel and still we're left waiting. Let's be honest, Big Hero 6 only wishes it could be as cool as The Incredibles. Seeing these characters in action in the climactic finale is a blast, but they're also just as fun to watch simply arguing around a dinner table. This movie is simply great.
2. Spider-man 2
There's something about this one that I just always loved. Doc Oc made a formidable foe to our beloved Spider-man and the stakes in every area of his life seemed to be higher. The action sequences were a thrill to watch and the storyline was handled just the way I hoped. The ending with MJ was so satisfying to see our hero finally get to be happy (something that doesn't seem to happen a lot for superheroes nowadays!) Seeing him thrive in his career and fail at college lead to the best Spider-man film ever. Too bad we have to regress him back to high school for the third time next reboot.
1. The Dark Knight
This movie is so unbelievably good. This is not just a good superhero movie (or rather the best superhero movie really...) this is a superb film period. Quite honestly, I'm not sure there will ever be another superhero-based film to ever be this good again. The reason? Heath Ledger's chilling performance. It makes the film absolutely unforgettable and frankly untouchable. The Dark Knight Rises was a fine enough follow-up but couldn't help but feel disappointing after this masterpiece. I feel bad for Jared Leto to have to follow such an act, but smart move on the filmmaker's part to go such a different direction with the character, because recreating what Ledger did would be nearly impossible. As amazing as his performance is, the film isn't made up solely of that. It's this character contrasted with our hero that makes things really interesting. The Dark Knight takes everything great that Batman Begins did and just makes it better. In fact, Christopher Nolan makes a near perfect film here full of action, depth, moral complexities and more. It's almost everything you could ask for in a film of such proportions.
Well, that's my list. Unfortunately, I didn't have room for all the solid Batman, Spider-man or X-men films in existence, but they're still in my heart. Hopefully, I didn't offend too many people today, but if so just jot on over to the theater and watch your precious Avengers yet again to soothe yourself.