For more than half a century now, there has been a continuous supply of movies about superheroes and supervillains. Some people can’t get enough. Others hope to avoid them. But superhero movies are some of the highest grossing films and they have a huge followership among young and old alike.
“If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely… a legend.”
Fictional characters with supernatural powers are often based on mythical gods and goddesses, fighting battles between good and evil. There are over 100 fictional superheroes and supervillains. Here are some of the most popular among the lot.
Superheroes are usually judged by how closely they resemble the standard established by Superman. His astounding abilities caught an unsuspecting readership by surprise in 1938. Generations later, Superman has become indelibly etched into the annals of American folklore. Today, most historians call Superman the first superhero because he defined a distinct hero type, clearly breaking away from the masked adventurers who preceded him. He was the best-selling superhero character in American comic books up until the 1980s.
Superman (1978) was the first big-budget superhero movie, and its success arguably paved the way for later superhero movies like Batman (1989) and Spider-Man (2002). The 1978 movie spawned four sequels: Superman II (1980), Superman III (1983), Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) and Superman Returns (2006); the last of which replaced Reeve with Brandon Routh. In 2013, Man of Steel was released by Warner Bros. as a reboot of the film series, starring Henry Cavill as Superman.
Batman is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics.
Originally named the “Bat-Man,” the character is also referred to by such epithets as the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, and the World’s Greatest Detective.
Batman films have grossed over $4.99 billion at the global box office, making it the eleventh highest-grossing film franchise of all time. Batman has also appeared in multiple animated films, both as a starring character and as an ensemble character. While most animated films were released direct-to-video, the 1993 animated feature Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (based on the 1990s Batman: The Animated Series) and 2017’s The Lego Batman Movie were released theatrically.
Spider-Man is one of the most popular and commercially successful superheroes.As Marvel’s flagship character and company mascot, he has appeared in countless forms of media, including several animated and live action television series, syndicated newspaper comic strips, and in a series of films. Spider-Man is a fictional superhero created by writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko. He first appeared in the anthology comic book Amazing Fantasy #15.
Spider-Man has been well received as a superhero and comic book character, and he is often ranked as one of the most popular and iconic comic book characters of all time and one of the most popular characters in all fiction. In films, Spider-Man has been portrayed by actors Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Tom Holland. He was voiced by Chris Pine and Jake Johnson in the animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Reeve Carney starred originally as Spider-Man in the 2010 Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
Recipient of the Super-Soldier serum, World War II hero Steve Rogers fights for American ideals as one of the world’s mightiest heroes and the leader of the Avengers. Chris Evans played the star-spangled hero in a film that expanded on Marvel’s cinematic universe in a manner that delighted both comics fans and critics. Evans returned as Captain America in The Avengers (2012), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
Captain America is portrayed as down-to-earth and charismatic, and struck an instant chord with fans. Some of the best endings in this genre happen in Captain America’s films, as the patriotic super just brought a spark to the franchise that no one else could even come close to replicating.
Wonder Woman ranks as one of DC’s most-recognizable characters and a feminist icon. Although she was not the first superheroine, Wonder Woman has consistently proven to be the most popular.
Wonder Woman has been featured in various media from radio to television and film, and appears in merchandise sold around the world, such as apparel, toys, dolls, jewelry, and video games. Shannon Farnon, Susan Eisenberg, Maggie Q, Lucy Lawless, Keri Russell, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Cobie Smulders, and Halsey among others, have provided the character’s voice for animated adaptations. Wonder Woman has been depicted in both film and television by Cathy Lee Crosby, Lynda Carter, and in the DC Extended Universe films by Gal Gadot.
The 2017 movie Wonder Woman with Gal Gadot as lead star grossed over $821 million worldwide, making it the tenth highest-grossing film of 2017, as well as the highest-grossing film by a solo female director.
Doctor Octopus has been featured as one of the most enduring foes of the superhero Spider-Man, which earned him a position as one of his archenemies. Doctor Octopus is notable for forming and leading the first supervillain team to oppose Spider-Man. As one of Spider-Man’s archenemies, the character has been featured in various media adaptations, such as feature films, television series and video games. In film, he was portrayed by Alfred Molina in 2004’s Spider-Man 2.
Dr. Octopus’ popularity has made him a mainstay in many types of Spider-Man media. He has appeared in many animated shows, including the original 1960s Spider-Man TV series, 1980s Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, and 1990s Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
The Joker was planned to be killed off during his initial appearance, he was spared by editorial intervention, allowing the character to endure as the archenemy of the superhero Batman.
The Joker has been adapted to serve as Batman’s adversary in live-action, animated, and video game incarnations, including the 1960s Batman television series played by Cesar Romero and in films by Jack Nicholson in Batman (1989), Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008), and Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019); Ledger and Phoenix each earned an Academy Award for their portrayals.
Joker was also ranked eighth on Empire’s Greatest Comic Book Character of All Time list, (notably being the highest ranked villain character on the list), as well as being the fifth Greatest Comic Book Character Ever in Wizard Magazine’s 200 Greatest Comic Book Characters of all Time list, once again being the highest ranked villain on the list. Wizard Magazine listed him the #1 villain of all time in 2006.
Alexander Joseph Luthor is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. He has since endured as the archenemy of Superman. The character is originally depicted as a mad scientist and later depicted as a wealthy, power-mad American business magnate based in the city of Metropolis.
Lex is a self-made man, and it’s his personal mission to unmake Superman- which he’s come close to doing on many occasions. Though heroes know his villainous heart, his philanthropic ways have earned him the trust of the masses, and this makes him twice as dangerous. Scott James Wells, Sherman Howard, John Shea, Michael Rosenbaum, and Jon Cryer have portrayed the character in television series, while Lyle Talbot, Gene Hackman, Kevin Spacey, and Jesse Eisenberg have portrayed the character in films.
Doctor Victor Von Doom is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist/co-plotter Jack Kirby
There are few villains who inspire fear and respect like Victor Von Doom. Though he is first and foremost the arch-nemesis of the Fantastic Four, the man in the iconic mask is a world-class villain.
Doctor Doom was ranked No 4 by Wizard on its list of the 101 Greatest Villains of All Time and No 3 on IGN’s list of the Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time. In a later article, IGN would declare Doom as Marvel’s greatest villain. Doctor Doom has been portrayed in licensed Fantastic Four live-action feature films by Joseph Culp in Roger Corman’s unreleased 1994 film; Julian McMahon in the 2005 film and its 2007 sequel; and Toby Kebbell in the 2015 film
Magneto is the former rival and a member of the X-Men, and has been included in almost every media adaptation of the X-Men franchise, including film, television, computer and video games.
In his zealousness to protect mutantkind from those who would harm them, however, his methods have seen him commit horrible acts of his own. Magneto refuses to kneel. He is powerful, both in terms of mutant abilities and as leader, and the moral dilemmas he’s presented over the decade never tire. Ian McKellen portrayed Magneto in a majority of the X-Men film series, while Michael Fassbender portrayed a younger version of the character.