Is it a bird?! Is it a plane?! No, it’s another superhero film landing at a cinema near you! The last decade saw a massive influx of films in the superhero genre and audiences were treated to numerous films and franchises. Some of these films saw audiences introduced to new and lesser known characters and some of these films gave audiences more from the most recognised superheroes and super villains. Either way, by the end of the decade most regular cinema goers could name their favourite superhero and their favourite superhero film – something that would have been much harder in previous film decades.
There has been some controversy regarding the superhero genre, and in particular there are some who find its current dominance of the box office rather distasteful and disappointing. Indeed recently, director Martin Scorsese compared Marvel films to theme parks in a disparaging comment. But difference of opinion and taste in films and genres is nothing new in cinema and it cannot be denied that the superhero genre has produced some incredible films in the last decade.
10. Wonder Woman (2017)
Hailed as the saviour of the fledgling DCEU, Wonder Woman garnered so much attention and positivity that it was even discussed as a possible Academy Award contender.
The film also set a number of box office records at the time, grossing over $820 million at the box office and becoming the fifth highest grossing superhero film of all time at the domestic box office. It also helped push the DCEU past the $3 billion mark at the worldwide box office.
Wonder Woman also had a significant cultural impact. The film, which was directed by Patty Jenkins, was praised for being a box office smash and superhero film that was directed by a female director and it has been said that Wonder Woman has led the way for female directors in the genre. As well as this, Wonder Woman raised issues regarding feminism. Whilst many see the film and character as a feminist icon, just as many see both as a step back for the feminist movement. Whether see agree with the former or the latter, it can be agreed that Wonder Woman prompted discussion and debate.
Wonder Woman 1984, the sequel to Wonder Woman, is set to be released later this year. Patty Jenkins has returned to direct as well as co-writing the screenplay.
9. Chronicle (2012)
Directed by Josh Trank and based on a story by Trank and writer Max Landis, Chronicle is a superhero film with a difference. Using found footage, Chronicle feels really unique and original when compared to a lot of other recent superhero films. The premise is simple, but incredibly effective and the three central performances are excellent.
Chronicle keeps the audience guessing, you may think that you know what is going to happen, but a stunning finale blows all expectations out of the water. When compared to some other big budget superhero films, Chronicle may seem somewhat of an underdog. But Chronicle is a worthwhile addition to the superhero genre and certainly worthy of recognition.
Chronicle grossed over $126 million against its $12 million budget. There have been talks of a sequel ever since the film’s release back in 2012. Trank and Landis worked on the script for the sequel until 2013 when it was revealed that 21st Century Fox had hired new writers to write the sequel. As of August 2019, development of the sequel entitled Chronicle 2: Martyr was put on hold indefinitely.
8. Fast Color (2018)
Fast Color takes on the superhero genre via the smaller and lower budget scope of independent film, and it works just as well. With a strong focus on women, Fast Color captures the importance of family, familial relationships and the bonds of love, whilst also depicting a mysterious and intriguing dystopian world where water is in short supply.
Visually, Fast Color is really strong and the lower budget doesn’t stop there being some stunning sequences involving superpowers. Whilst, as one might expect, these effects do not rival the big budget, blockbuster superhero films, the visuals are still striking and just as effective. The film also features strong performances, especially from Gugu Mbantha-Raw who plays central character Ruth. All these elements were enhanced by a really strong score, which elevates all the emotions that the film evokes.
Fast Color was well received critically and as of 2019, a television series based on the film is currently in development. The television series is being developed by Amazon Studios and will be by Juvee Productions, of which Viola Davis is one of the producers.
7. Deadpool (2016)
The character of Deadpool was first introduced to audiences in the X-Men film, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The character’s portrayal in the film was widely criticised and so writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick worked with Ryan Reynolds to adapt the character more faithfully. Tim Miller was brought on to direct and Deadpool was born. This adaptation which saw the much-loved character making sarcastic quips and breaking the fourth wall was a smash hit with audiences and the film grossed over $782 million at the box office. Deadpool was the highest grossing R rated film of all time until it was surpassed by Joker in 2019.
Deadpool’s use of breaking the fourth wall, its humour and a great performance by Reynolds really makes Deadpool stand out amongst dozens of other films in the genre. There are lots of other superhero films that are funny, lots of other superhero films that feature a great central character but none of them feel like Deadpool. Deadpool also had a big cinematic impact in that it showed that there was a market for massively successful R-rated films and that superhero films could be R-rated and still be successful. And as such, Deadpool definitely belongs on this list.
Deadpool was such a big success that a sequel, Deadpool 2, was released in 2018 and grossed even more money than the first film. A third film is currently in development.
6. Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010)
Director Edgar Wright’s adaptation of the comics was an irreverent, funny and visually cool film that may have lost money at the box office but was well received critically and has since garnered a cult following.
The 2010s gave audiences a myriad of superhero films, from bright, big budget blockbusters to darker takes on our favourite characters. With its quirky style and onscreen graphics, Scott Pilgrim vs The World doesn’t really feel like any other superhero film in the genre, which is what makes it so appealing. The film was perfectly cast, featuring a number of recognisable actors as well as up and coming actors such as Brie Larson (who would go on to star in her own superhero film) and Anna Kendrick, it has a great soundtrack and its re-watchability factor is incredibly high – Scott Pilgrim vs the World can be watched countless times and still be enjoyable.
Though fans of the film would love a sequel, everyone involved in the first film has categorically stated that there will never be a sequel.