Top 10… Movie Superheroes

This week saw the drop of the latest episode of the Lambcast, on which the topic of discussion was Iron Man 3. Not only did I appear on this episode (something I’ve been making a bit of a habit of lately), but I only went and hosted it too! Apparently it didn’t go too badly, so I urge you all to listen to it, but only after going to see the film (which is pretty damn good), as Dylan, Lindsay, Bubbawheat and I got into some fairly heavy spoiler territory. Anyway, as I’ve been doing recently, I’ve tied this week’s Top 10 into the theme of the podcast (as will also be the case for the next two weeks, anticipation-lovers), and this week that means counting down my list of Top 10 Movie Superheroes. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean my favourite superhero movies, although in some respects they do pair up. No, this is more a list of the heroes themselves. I’ve tried to take into account if the character has been played by more than one person, although on occasion this hasn’t always worked in the character’s favour. Also, this is entirely based upon the character’s depiction in cinema, mainly because I’ve never read a comic book (the closest I’ve come are graphic novels Sin City, Preacher and Watchmen), and I’ve done my best to block out every Saturday morning cartoon I ever saw in the otherwise culturally empty void of my so-called childhood. I’ve tried to steer clear of sidekicks too, that’s a whole different list, as is super-villains.

Honourable Mentions:

Thor-007I think the position that’s hardest for me to decide upon each week is the Honourable Mentions. There are generally an awful lot of viable entrants, and this week is no exception, and as such I feel the need to offer the position to be shared once again. This week the honours go to Thor, a surprisingly funny chap (“How dare you attack the son of Odin!”), Hellboy, Big Daddy and, on occasion, Spider-Man. I was tempted to include the Human Torch too, because Chris Evans does a good job with him, but he’s just such a dickish character that I couldn’t bring myself to do it.


10. Dr. Manhattan

dr-manhattanAs I mentioned, I’ve read Watchmen, and having read it I therefore loved it, and couldn’t wait for the film. One aspect I was tentative about, though, was how they would handle radioactively modified super-being Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), a scientist destroyed to an atomic level when he gets accidentally locked into one of his experiments, but somehow re-builds himself back together, although this time with powers beyond anyone’s imagination. With the ability to change everything – including himself – to a molecular level, he is the ultimate superhero, or at least he would be if he hadn’t become quite so nihilistic and lost any kind of faith in doing things. As such he is worthy of a place here, because you just can’t get any more super than Manhattan. Wow, I wrote a paragraph on him without using the word penis. Ah, nuts.


9. Crimson Bolt

super-rainn-wilson-nei-panni-di-crimson-bolt-217691Recent years have seen a slew of amateur, power-less, ‘regular’ guys having a go at being a superhero. Kick-Ass was probably the most commercially successful, but as a character Dave Lizewsky’s alter-ego wasn’t all that great. This doesn’t mean I’m not greatly anticipating the sequel, despite a director change, but it does mean that the guy gets bumped for Rainn Wilson’s Crimson Bolt from James Gunn’s Super. Granted, the Crimson Bolt is less a superhero and more of a crazed nutjob with a wrench who doesn’t take kindly to people cutting in line, but dammit if he isn’t entertaining to watch. “Shut up, crime!”


8. Wolverine

MiddleClawHugh Jackman’s Wolverine is unquestionably the best thing to come out of all the X-Men movies so far. Jackman was far from a household name when he was cast for Bryan Singer’s X-Men, but his spot-on depiction of the character shot him onto the A-list. It helped that the first film was almost entirely devoted to him, and that his arc was the driving force of X2, and he even went on to earn his own spin-off, although it is just as terrible as everyone says it is. I caught the tail end of it on TV a few weeks ago, and it was just dreadful. Ugh, the effects. And there’s a bit where… no, wait, this isn’t a Top 10 Worst Things About X-Men Origins: Wolverine list. His cameo and f-bomb in X-Men: First Class was the highlight of that film too, and I’m overjoyed to hear he is returning for Days of Future Past, though I’m a little wary of his next standalone project, entitled simply The Wolverine. More Logan please, but as part of a team, not on his lonesome.


7. Batman

Adam+West+Batman+BombBefore Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy Batman wouldn’t have been such a certainty on this list, although that’s probably more because I hadn’t seen any of the other Batman films at that point, and in fact didn’t really care all that much about movies. Ah, simpler times. Now, however, I’ve seen them all, and could put forward a case for the most enjoyable of the bunch to be the 1966 Batman: The Movie starring Adam West. My reasoning being that it’s just so ludicrously ridiculous and features such dialogue as “It happened at sea…sea…C for Catwoman!” and has an impending-bomb-explosion finale far superior to that seen in The Dark Knight Rises.


6. Nightcrawler

711523-399px_nightcrawlermovDespite only being in one film, and even then for only a relatively short amount of time, Nightcrawler (Alan Cummings) is one of my favourite of the X-Men, but I can’t really say why. His ability to teleport short distances and superior close quarters combat skills hardly make up for the fact that he’s blue, has clawed limbs, pointy teeth, yellow eyes and a prehensile tail, meaning travelling incognito is all but impossible. However, he’s just so damn cool, despite the lack of retractable claws, eye-lasers, psychic powers or advanced magnetism.


5. Frozone

PixarFrozoneOzoneAnd speaking of cool, if Samuel L. Jackson plays a superhero, then I only have nine other places to fill on my Top 10. You could argue his Nick Fury is a more prevalent character, but as far as the movies have shown so far he isn’t actually all that super, whereas Frozone can spout waves of ice from his fingertips, upon which he can skate, surf, skid and help bring giant out-of-control robots to justice. He’s a much better character than any of the eponymous Incredible family, although this could be because we don’t see that much of him, so all his scenes and are gold, without any filler. His brief argument with his wife before going to fight crime is always quoted, line for line, whenever we watch it here (“Where’s my supersuit?”).


4. Beast

Beast-X-Men-Grammar_lNightcrawler and Wolverine may be two of my favourite X-Men, but the top spot goes to Beast, or Dr. Hank McCoy, as he’s otherwise known. He’s the perfect blend of a genius intellect with an animal ferocity, plus he’s bright blue and furry. It also helps that the two actors that have played him onscreen are two actors I really like, Kelsey Grammer and Nicholas Hoult. A lot of people were annoyed at Grammer’s casting in X-Men The Last Stand, but personally I thought it was inspired, and he is easily oen of the better aspects of that otherwise disappointing film. In First Class Hoult ably portrayed the origin story – that classic tale of a ‘different’ kid attempting to fit in but distancing himself further in the process, but for once he became a hero rather than the usual villain path (this, of course, is how The Lizard came to be in Spider-Man)


3. Rorschach

imagesWatchmen again! Of the less ‘super’ of the superheroes, Rorschach is an easily liked character, although that would definitely not be the case were you to know him personally. He has, shall we say, questionable methods for acting out judgement – chaining a perpetrator to a radiator and leaving him with a saw to cut his hand off, before setting fire to the house – but you cannot question that he is effective. He also has a badass mask that continually changed using oppositely charged particles between layers of fabric which, whilst soudning cool, would be very difficult to retain the symmetry of durign use. The fact that he’s mastered this without the use of a complex arrangements of magnets just shows how resourceful the guy is.


2. Hulk

The Hulk in The AvengersWhen it comes to having a superpower, owning the ability to become a giant, unstoppable, ridiculously strong behemoth could be seen as an advantage, especially when it comes to saving the world from any number of attacks. However, that’s only really useful if you retain a control over the ability, which alas isn’t necessarily the case with the Hulk’s default persona, Dr. Bruce Banner. No, he just needs to get a little angry and he’ll hulk out and destroy everything you’ve ever seen. One of the best moments in the recent Avengers film was the reveal that, after many years of suffering with his Hyde-like dilemma, Banner (Mark Ruffalo) had devised a way of keeping some modicum of control over his alter ego – by remaining angry all the time, thereby controlling when he hulks out or not. And I’ll never get tired of watching the altercation between Hulk and Loki (Tom Hiddleston).


1. Iron Man

ironman3_2540730bAs I mentioned in the recent Iron Man 3 Lambcast, Tony Stark and his metal-clad alterior persona are my favourite superhero. As I said then, the reason I love his character so much is that he doesn’t have any powers other than a hefty bank account and an intellect to match. However, if you leave him in a cave with a bunch of scraps, he’ll still be able to MacGyver his way into creating the greatest weapon the world has ever seen. He’s also the funniest superhero, and the one it would be great to know, of only for the parties he throws. Robert Downey Jr. was an unconventional but inspired choice for the casting of a guy who has to essentially be the most likeable arsehole in the world, and Downey walks that line perfectly, never straying into the insufferable territory that Chris Evans falls into with Johnny Storm. His Avengers contract may be up, but I’d rather they not make any Iron Man films in the near future rather than casting someone else. Downey is too big a presence to be replaced so quickly. Of course, the optimum solution is he (and the rest of the Iron Man cast) remain for as many films as they want to make, and Shane Black writes and directs them all.

12 thoughts on “Top 10… Movie Superheroes

    • Thanks Steve, glad I inspired your evening’s film-watchign decision. It’s been far too long since I saw Watchmen last, I need to watch the directors cut at some point too.

      Frozone was one of the first I thought of for the list. No pun intended, but he’s so damn cool.

  1. Love the Watchmen shoutouts. The only one on your list that surprised me was the Hulk being so high. Whedon definitely redeemed the character in The Avengers, but I still have issues with the two films that preceeded it. I would have had Spider-Man on the list, although I agree the crappy reboot last summer would have knocked him down the list some. Another that I definitely would have had on my list is Hit Girl from Kick Ass. Moretz stole every scene she was in and the penthouse hallway scene was badass.

    • I’m not a big fan of the previous Hulk films, although I like Nick Nolte and Sam Elliot in Ang Lee’s one. Edward Norton was good in the second, but the films themselves were pretty tepid. What I love is the character of the Hulk instead, the fact that he has a superpower that is partially really useful, but that he really doesn’t want to use.

  2. I would have Thor and Captain America on there too. I’ve never seen Super, but I would of included Hit Girl in that spot. Probably not Beast over Magneto. Beast is such an amazing character in the comics, and i don’t think it ever translated well. Hoult was good though. Jesus, this is hard. I also think the inclusion of the Watchmen is great. That movie takes a lot of shit, but it’s pretty badass.

    • Magneto is saved for the supervillains list, whenever I get to that. I’m not a huge Captain America fan, although Chris Evans was good in Avengers, he’s just a little bland for my liking. Maybe I’ll like him more after his next film. Hit Girl came close, but I prefer Big Daddy in terms of Kick-Ass characters, but again maybe I’ll like her more after K-A2. I recommend Super. It takes a bit of a knocking too, but it’s pretty great in my opinion.

  3. I know I came by this list earlier but must have forgotten to comment. Great list, really love all the ones you mentioned. Glad to see Crimson Bolt make somebody’s list, it’s such a divisive movie, but I enjoy it. Also been reading through the Watchmen TPB for the first time and just read the Dr. Manhattan chapter, I think that chapter works better in the comic book than in the movie, though overall I think I still enjoy the movie better.

    • I was waiting for you to comment on this one, I figured I’d made some huge, egregious omission that had offended you into not commenting 🙂

      I definitely agree about the handling of Dr. Manhattan’s story. You get a much better sense of his motivations and abilities from the book.

  4. Pingback: Top 10… Animated Voice Performances | Life Vs Film

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