If you’re questioning why you seem to be the only person truly not that interested in the latest superhero box office record-breaker, just know (a few) others feel the same. It could be that the endless list of highly-rated options gives you too many to choose from. Where do you even start? Maybe the genre doesn’t speak to you the way it does to others. If it hasn’t been a top choice in the past, but you’re wanting to get into it now, it’s not too late.
Is there a special someone in your life who has a passion for Marvel or DC? Do you have kids getting into the superhero phenomenon? Maybe you’re just ready to check it out and see what all the fuss is about. If you’re looking for a way to ease into the genre, but first want to understand the basics, these movies will give you valuable information to comprehend some important backstories to figure out what the heck is going on.
10/10 ‘Superman: The Movie’ (1978)
This is a great movie to watch to get an understanding of where Clark Kent came from, along with how and why he becomes Superman. Before viewing movies and shows featuring “the caped wonder” that may have more complex plots, it’s ideal to have some background information.
With Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent and Superman, the movie was successful with critics and at the box office. It was the most expensive movie made at the time, and as the second highest-grossing movie of the year, was nominated for three Academy Awards. The groundbreaking visuals and special effects set a precedent for future films in the genre.
9/10 ‘Spider-Man’ (2002)
Before diving into the more recent Spider-Man films which include the complex multiverse and Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it’s probably best to first watch how it all started. Audience watch as Peter Parker, played by Tobey Maguire, gets “the” spider bite. It sets the stage for the obstacles the superhero faces in the scenes that follow.
By the time Spider-Manpremiered in 2002, it had been in the works in some form for 25 years. As a successful comic book character, fans were ecstatic to see Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, on the big screen. It was the first film to reach $100 million in one weekend and redefined the modern genre of superhero movies.
8/10 ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008)
After the success of Batman Begins in 2005, a sequel was the next step in The Dark Knight Trilogy. For those new to the genre, viewing The Dark Knight is a great way to learn more about Batman while taking in a dark, gritty beautifully done film.
With early concerns about casting Heath Ledger as The Joker, he proved to be the only choice, posthumously winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The Dark Knight became the highest-grossest superhero film at the time and is considered by many to be one of the best films ever made.
7/10 ‘Iron Man’ (2008)
Iron Man is a quality film to add to the superhero starter kit for a few reasons. For anyone new to the genre, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) has a presence that is inviting for any viewer. It is also the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Iron Man is also one of several superheroes that star in The Avengers a few years later. Before the ensemble project, this blockbuster introduces the audience to Tony Stark. As he gives a demonstration of the new missile created by his company, he’s attacked and imprisoned by the terrorist group, the Ten Rings. The remainder of the movie continues to engage the audience as the protagonist becomes Iron Man and gains the strength to fight evil.
6/10 ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ (2011)
Taking place during World War II, Captain America: The First Avenger is another superhero tale. This is the first of three Captain America movies starring Chris Evans. With the character being involved in so many films in the MCU, it’s a good idea to have some background on Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) and his backstory.
Steve Rogers is a young man wanting to help his country, but his physical strength gets in the way of successfully enlisting. While he does end up being a war hero, it happens in a way that is quite fascinating. Viewers will feel like they’re transported back to the 1940s with authentic period costumes and set designs.
5/10 ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (2014)
The first of multiple stories featuring this unique superhero group, Guardians of the Galaxy has a stellar soundtrack and entertaining twists and turns. The unlikely unit includes a raccoon and even a tree-like humanoid. Not the usual superhero descriptions, but the humor and connection between the five unlikely allies take the audience on an action-packed journey.
Peter Quill (played by Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldaña), and the rest of the gang appeared together again in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 in 2017. The third film is set to premiere in 2023.
4/10 ‘Deadpool’ (2016)
There are quite a few X-Men films before this spin-off pops up in 2016. Anyone new to the genre may be overwhelmed by the idea of catching up with all of them, but Deadpool zooms in on one particular character from that world.
With Ryan Reynolds playing Wade Wilson, he lets viewers in (even breaking the fourth wall) as they watch him go from a man in love and recently diagnosed with cancer to the witty anti-hero. The movie can be thoroughly enjoyed by both comic book fanatics and curious newbies.
3/10 ‘Wonder Woman’ (2017)
As a founding member of the Justice League, and regularly appearing in DC Comics since the 1940s, it was about time Wonder Woman was able to take center stage. The film did not disappoint with Gal Gadot showing her strength in the lead role in the box office hit.
Wonder Woman begins by exploring Diana Prince’s story and how she ends up tasked with protecting mankind. With the movie’s success, a sequel – Wonder Woman 1984 – was made with a third film in the works.
2/10 ‘Black Panther’ (2018)
With the recent release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it might be a good time to catch up and watch Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman first made an appearance as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. As Boseman’s character got his own movie in 2018, the finished product was culturally significant and is praised as one of the best films in the MCU.
The movie explains the history of Wakanda and its leaders, going back thousands of years to where and when it all started. As enemies try to destroy Wakanda, Black Panther and his allies work to keep it safe. Boseman has sadly passed away since portraying this epic character, but his legacy will live on in future films.
1/10 ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ (2021)
While it’s helpful to introduce classically popular superheroes to those new to the genre, it’s equally important to highlight current and future favorites, as well. Adding diversity to the characters in the MCU will only expand the already gigantic fan base as they get to meet “new” heroes on the big screen.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Ringsdigs deeper into the Ten Rings organization that has been mentioned in previous MCU movies. After completing a traumatic assassination order from his father (the leader of the Ten Rings) Shang-Chi escapes to San Francisco. The action-packed film continues with Simu Liu in the lead role, following the estranged family and their tense, life-changing reunion.