Best Superhero Movie of the Year: Counting Down the 2010s

The Age of Heroes

Iron Man: “God, what a world. Universe, now. If you told me 10 years ago that we weren’t alone, let alone, you know, to this extent, I wouldn’t have been surprised but come on, you know?”

Avengers: Endgame

The 10’s was the Decade of Superheroes. They had been revitalized in the 2000’s by series like Spider-Man, X-Men, and the Dark Knight, but the 10’s are when the genre blew up large. The Justice League and The Avengers finally united on the silver screen. Little known characters became household names. Movie studios realized their dream of creating epic storylines by weaving together a dozen individual series.

Dozens of superhero movies have flooded the market, but there is only room for ten on our list of the best superhero movies by year. Which ten stand on the shoulders of giants? Let’s find out.

2010: Batman: Under The Red Hood

Starring: Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, Neil Patrick Harris, John DiMaggio

Batman: You’re becoming a crime lord.
Red Hood: “Yes! You can’t stop crime. That’s what you never understood. I’m controlling it. You wanna rule them by fear. But what do you do with the ones who aren’t afraid? I’m doing what you won’t, I’m taking them out!

Batman: Under the Red Hood

Plot Synopsis: A villain called the Red Hood takes over several of Gotham City’s gangs. He begins a gang war with another villain called Black Mask.  When Batman intercedes, he discovers that Red Hood uses several of his own moves and tools. While Black Mask recruits The Joker to kill Red Hood, Batman discovers that Red Hood was created at the site of his greatest failure…

Why This Movie: Batman: Under The Red Hood is one of the darkest Batman stories. Batman is forced to fight a threat of his own making while simultaneously trying to stop a gang war. Batman also questions whether it would be better to emulate Red Hood’s effective lethal style. And while Batman and the Red Hood are the stars, lesser known characters like Nightwing, Black Mask, and Amazo get some time in the spotlight.

More Batman & the Hood: This also made our list of Top 5 Batman Movies.

2011: Captain America: The First Avenger

Starring: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving

Steve Rogers: “[Erskine] told me you were insane.
Red Skull: “Ah. He resented my genius and tried to deny me what was rightfully mine, but he gave you everything. So, what made you so special?”
Steve Rogers: “Nothing. I’m just a kid from Brooklyn.”

Captain America: The First Avenger

Plot Synopsis: At the height of World War 2, a sickly patriot named Steve Rogers volunteered for an experiment to create super soldiers. He got superhuman strength and agility, but the scientist responsible is assassinated. Steve takes on the identity of Captain America and is sent to the front lines in Germany. But is Captain America enough to stop the high-tech army of Hydra and their leader, The Red Skull?

Why This Movie: The MCU was already successful by 2011, but needed an ideal hero. Iron Man was arrogant, The Hulk a loner, and Thor was too brash. Captain America: The First Avenger provided a hero who cared about others and wasn’t caught up in his own flaws. And all of this was wrapped up in a simple good vs. evil adventure story. As Coulson put it, sometimes people need a little old-fashioned.

Captain America History: check out our exclusive Captain America backstory.

2012: The Avengers

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey jr., Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson

Tony Stark:You’re missing the point — there’s no throne, there’s no version of this where you come out on top. Now, maybe your army comes and maybe it’s too much for us but it’s all on you. Because if we can’t protect the Earth you can be damn well sure we’ll avenge it.

The Avengers

Plot Synopsis: The Norse god Loki appears on Earth, seeking an artifact called The Tesseract. He uses it to begin an alien invasion, leading Nick Fury to bring together all of Earth’s heroes to form The Avengers. Unfortunately, the clashing personalities may kill the Avengers before Loki and his troops ever get the chance.

Why This Movie: The Avengers proved that a shared superhero universe could work. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk, and Hawkeye were set up in the previous movies so allowed Avengers to skip to the fun parts. The eclectic superhero team was the perfect foe for Loki, who was portrayed with a stunning blend of snark and menace.

What We Thought 7 Years Ago: Check out Sue’s review of the first-run movie.

2013: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

Starring Justin Chambers, Kevin McKidd, C. Thomas Howell, Michael B. Jordan

Zoom: “No matter how fast you run, you can’t save everyone.”

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

Plot Synopsis: The Flash wakes up one morning to find the world altered. No one has heard of him or even Superman. Batman is a gun-toting vigilante. Worst of all, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are waging a war that threatens to destroy the world. Flash must figure out what caused the world to change, his journey made more difficult by the loss of his super speed.

Why This Movie: Flashpoint Paradox is an adaptation of DC’s last storyline before they rebooted everything with their New 52 imprint. The movie streamlines the convoluted story while setting up a series of New 52-based movies. Flashpoint Paradox gives lesser-known characters a chance to shine while big names like Batman and Superman are altered enough to feel fresh.

Speed read: We’ve got Flash’s backstory ready for you here.

2014: Guardians of the Galaxy

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel

Quill: “What should we do next? Something good? Something bad? Bit of both?”
Gamora: “We’ll follow your lead…Star-Lord.”
Quill: “Bit of both!”

Guardians of the Galaxy

Plot Synopsis: Intergalactic adventurer Peter Quill finds an artifact on a planet. He’s quickly targeted by several people who want the artifact, including infamous assassin Gamora, vengeful brute Drax the Destroyer, and the bounty hunters Rocket Racoon and Groot. They eventually form a group referred to as the Guardians of the Galaxy to keep the artifact away from a psychotic tyrant called Ronan the Accuser.

Why This Movie: Guardians of the Galaxy was a gamble that hit the jackpot. No one had ever heard of these characters, but nowadays they are as well known as any of the Avengers. Throw in a killer soundtrack, great special effects, and a focus on humor for the Marvel equivalent of Star Wars.

The Galaxy’s Newest Heroes: Here is Mrs. Norman Maine’s review.

2015: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Starring: Evans, Downey, Hemsworth, Johannson, Elisabeth Olson, James Spader, Paul Bettany

Captain America: You know, I really miss the days when the weirdest thing science ever created was me.”

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Plot Synopsis: Tired of all the fighting, Iron Man creates an A.I. called Ultron to serve as a replacement for The Avengers. Ultron immediately goes rogue and attempts to wipe out humanity. To slow down the Avengers, he recruits supervillain siblings Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. While they fight The Avengers, Ultron works to create his masterpiece: Vision.

Why This Movie: Age of Ultron may not be the best superhero movie, but it served as the springboard that would let future MCU movies like Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming shine. Despite being jokey, Spader’s Ultron was an entertaining threat that still managed to push the Avengers to the brink. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch also proved to be sympathetic villains who found redemption with the Avengers.

Contrarian view: I liked the robot ruckus, but Mrs. Norman Maine’s review was scathing.

2016: Deadpool

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, T.J. Miller, Morena Baccarin, Stefan Kapičić

Deadpool: I may be super, but I’m no hero. And yeah, technically this is a murder. But some of the best love stories start with a murder. And that’s exactly what this is: a love story. And to tell it right, I gotta take you back to long before I squeezed this ass into red Spandex…”

Deadpool

Plot Synopsis: Irreverent assassin Wade Wilson learns that he is dying of cancer. He’s approached by a shady supersoldier project that gives him a souped-up healing factor. After learning that the healing has horribly scarred him, Wade becomes Deadpool to kill the projects leader, Ajax. Meanwhile, X-Men Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead attempt to track down and recruit Deadpool.

Why This Movie: Most superhero movies try to keep things serious. They deconstruct the genre, bring in ever-more apocalyptic threats, and delight in breaking the heroes. Deadpool is more concerned with having fun with one of the craziest anti-heroes in comic history. The threat of Ajax is small, but personal. Colossus and NTW serve as perfect straight men to Deadpool’s antics and references.

Reynolds Rap: Mrs. Norman Maine’s review praised Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds.

2017: Logan

Starring Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant

Wolverine:Nature made me a freak. Man made me a weapon. And God made it last too long.

Logan

Plot Synopsis: In the near future, Mutants have nearly gone extinct. Wolverine is struggling with depression while caring for a dying Professor Xavier. He is spurred into action when he meets a young girl named Laura who is on the run from a corporation called Transigen. Wolverine reluctantly agrees to smuggle her to safety, but the duo are pursued by Transigen’s enforcer, a cyborg named Donald Pierce.

Why This Movie: Logan is a post-apocalyptic Western dressed up in superhero trappings. Wolverine is clearly ready to die, but spends his last days slowly becoming the hero he once was. This is interspersed with emotional scenes with the ailing Xavier and Laura helping to restore his hope in the world. Logan serves as a picture perfect ending to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, and Fox’s X-Men series as a whole.

One for the road: Mrs. Norman Maine’s review says that Logan is a cut above other movies in the superhero genre.

2018: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Kimiko Glenn, Nicholas Cage, John Mulaney

Miles: [about his Spider-Man costume] “Can I return it if it doesn’t fit?
Stan Lee:It always fits…eventually.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Plot Synopsis: Miles Morales is an ordinary high school student until he is bitten by a radioactive spider. He witnesses Spider-Man’s final battle against the Kingpin and is entrusted with a device that can destroy Kingpin’s multiverse portal. Miles soon finds a mentor in an alternate version of Spider-Man whose life had collapsed due to years of acting as a superhero.

Miles and Spider-Man soon learn that Kingpin’s portal will destroy the Multiverse if it is activated again. Luckily, they have an entire team of Spider heroes to help them, including Spider-Woman, Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker and her robot SP//dr, and the cartoonish Spider-Ham. But will they be enough to stop Kingpin and his enforcers, The Sinister Six?

Why This Movie: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a breath of fresh air on our best superhero movie list. Rather than another Peter Parker origin story, Spider-Verse lets Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man have a turn in the spotlight. Even better, it brings in lesser known characters from across the Marvel Multiverse. The animation is gorgeous, and the soundtrack is catchy as hell.

Ultimate Successor: Miles Morales’ backstory tells you why he is the ultimate Spider-Man

2019: Avengers: Endgame

Starring: Pretty much anyone who has ever appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Iron Man:This time travel thing that we’re gonna try and pull off tomorrow, it’s… it’s got me scratching my head about the survivability of it all, that’s the thing. But then again, that’s the hero gig, right? Part of the journey is the end.”

Avengers: Endgame

Plot Synopsis: The Avengers struggle to move on following Thanos‘ victory in Infinity War. Ant-Man reveals to the team that time travel exists, and The Avengers plan to travel back in time to save their fallen friends. But Thanos isn’t going to let his work be undone without a fight. The stage is set for the Avengers final battle.

Why this Movie: Endgame is the culmination of more than a decade of movies and it shows. Chekhov’s Gun is fired every few minutes as past events are addressed. Many characters end their journey and others begin. The final fight is spectacular, with every hero in the MCU going to war against Thanos and his army. Endgame stuck the landing while still leaving room to grow in the future.

Who’s Next: I’m thinking that this is the next MCU Big Bad.

What do you think was the best superhero movie each year? Are there some you would swap out? Let us know in a comment.

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