5. The Incredibles
One of Pixar's most beloved films, The Incredibles takes inspiration from the golden era of comic books, imitating recognisable moments and sequencing them for a family adventure that's entertaining for both kids and parents alike.
Beneath the lycra outfits and caricature villains, The Incredibles makes for a heart-warming tale about the importance of family. Director Brad Bird, who also voices the movie's best side-character Edna Mode, proves why Tom Cruise wanted the filmmaker for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol with some stunning action set-pieces.
Best superhero moment: Samuel L. Jackson's Frozone can't lay his hands on his super suit and loses his – ahem – cool.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy rewrote the rules of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Turns out, superhero movies can be silly and irreverent. From the opening scene right up until the final moments, writer-director James Gunn's love for the material is on brazen display, every frame oozing with soul.
And the cast. Chris Pratt's turn as the hilarious Star Lord was a revelation, the actor only really being known for Parks and Recreation pre-Guardians. Then there's Zoe Saldana as the moody Gamora, Dave Bautista as the excellent Drax, and Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket. Every member of the eponymous group of misfits works. Plus, there's the throwback soundtrack and just enough fan service to make this a must-watch instalment in the MCU.
Best superhero moment: "Dance off, bro!"
Despite Fox marketing Logan as Marvel's answer to Nolan's Batman trilogy, comparing the X-Men spin-off to The Dark Knight does the movie a disservice. Sure, both are superhero stories thoroughly grounded in realism, yet Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold's depiction of a world-weary, ageing Wolverine and his dysfunctional family remains a unique character study.
Logan offers a deeper look at a character who's always suppressed his actual feelings, having always defaulted to pure rage. There are few flashy action set pieces, with Mangold keeping to messy scraps between characters. Logan subsequently delivers an emotional, surprising wallop that will have every X-Men fan in tears.
Best superhero moment: That bittersweet, yet utterly pitch-perfect ending.
2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse understands Spider-Man than any other Spider-Man movie: that he's a teenager struggling with Uncle Ben's famous adage: "With great power comes great responsibility."
Produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (of 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie fame), Spider-Verse makes for a beautifully animated romp through multiple dimensions that gives dozens of knowing nods to Spider-Man films and TV shows of the past, yet never excludes those viewers who may not have seen every Spidey outing.
While the story centres on Miles Morales, Peter Parker's still here, thanks a split in the multiverse. As a result, we have multiple Spider-Men (including an older, chubbier Parker, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham, and even Nicholas Cage's noir Spider-Man) going up against Kingpin. The premise may sounds complicated, but Spider-Verse makes things seem so simple thanks to a hilarious and wip-smart script that has huge amounts of heart, all while toying with superhero convention. Plus, the animation is mesmerising, with every frame having been painstakingly crafted by the astoundingly good animation team. Did we mention this won the Oscar for Best Animation? Deservedly so.
Best superhero moment: Peter Porker (AKA, Spider-Ham, voiced by John Mulaney) asking Miles whether animals can talk in his dimension, "cause I don't want to freak [anybody] out."
1. The Dark Knight
Forget everything you know about comic book movies: the Dark Knight takes the formula and smashed it to smithereens. The middle instalment in Nolan's trilogy changed everything.
Splitting screen time between day and night, The Dark Knight focuses as much – if not more – on Batman's alter ego, Bruce Wayne, who must grapple with the decidedly chewy morals of fighting crime and doing what's acceptable when saving the day. Gotham, meanwhile, is presented as a dark nightmare city with a festering underbelly of crime-lords and a general public aching for a hero.
Of course, any good superhero must have a super-villain to match them. Enter Heath Ledger's Joker. A controversial casting at the time, Ledger makes for the perfect manic, unnerving murderer. With garish makeup and enigmatic platitudes, Joker steals the show. When he was awarded a posthumous Oscar for best supporting actor, few were surprised.
There have been several attempts to faithfully recreate Batman's story since Dark Knight, but never has it been achieved with such brazen disregard for the rules. Every superhero movie since 2008 owes a debt to The Dark Knight, and none have surpassed its glory.
Best superhero moment: Batman's decision to save The Joker at the last second with his grappling hook, and then going on to take the blame for Two-Face's crimes. A true hero.