20. Blade II (2002)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela
Best moment: Blade slashing vampire baddie Reinhardt in two after casually walking out of a literal pool of blood.
Sample review (via The Film Yap): “Twilight popularly defined vampire cinema in the Zeroes. But Team Blade could execute every last sullen Cullen. When Blade turns full vampire – suplexing and flying-elbow-dropping people like a crazy Mexican luchador – ’tis pure fanboy nirvana.”
19. Dredd (2012)
Director: Pete Travis
Stars: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris
Best moment: The slo mo shootout.
Sample review (via Express Elevator To Hell): ” Dredd 2012 remains one of the few new millennium remakes that not only stands on its own, but definitively outclasses its previous film incarnation. With strong characters, a smart setting, and wonderfully bloody carnage, Urban does not need to shout, “I AM THE LAAAUUUWW!” He only needs to mutter it softly.”
18. Chronicle (2012)
Director: Josh Trank
Stars: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan
Best moment: The climactic fisticuffs between Andrew and Matt is impressively epic.
Sample review (via Wicked Horror): “The flick works both as a fascinating look into what might really happen if three immature lads suddenly found themselves with super-powers, and as a study of how bullying and abuse leads certain kids to go off the rails.”
17. Unbreakable (2000)
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright, Spencer Treat Clark
Best moment: David testing/learning the bounds of his strength during a workout session.
Sample review (via The A.V. Club): “Modern superhero movies could look many places to learn how to take a step back from their playbooks or perpetual phase/team-up planning. But it’s hard to imagine a better source of inspiration than Unbreakable. A few pinches of the thematic and character driven success of M. Night Shyamalan’s movie could go a long way toward making superheroes and their fights mean something again.”
16. X-Men (2000)
Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn, Tyler Mane, Bruce Davison
Best moment: The opening scene where, instead of introducing us to the heroes, we are introduced to the villain in the form of young Magneto in 1944 German-occupied Poland
Sample review (via SPLICEDWire): “As overwrought, over-buzzed, F/X-driven, pure-popcorn summer escapist flicks go, X-Men delivers the goods better than most.”
15. Spider-Man (2002)
Director: Sam Raimi
Stars: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe, James Franco, J.K. Simmons
Best moment: Spidey facing off against Green Goblin… oh, and the upside down kiss.
Sample review (via People): “Not since 1978’s Superman has there been a live-action, comic book-based film so savvy at mixing self-aware camp with sincere emotion, and so successful at establishing the normal guy life of its spandexed protagonist.”
14. Kick-Ass (2010)
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Best moment: Pretty much whenever Hit-Girl shows up in full costume.
Sample review (via Herald Sun): With its electrifying action sequences, a killer storyline and a maverick comic sensibility, the brilliance of Kick Ass will hit those who want to see it like a thunderbolt.
13. X-Men: First Class (2011)
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Stars: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne
Best moment: In a bar, Magneto gets revenge on two former Nazi’s for killing his family.
Sample review (via Sight and Sound): “For reasons arising from the way the X-Men film franchise has developed, this is the first Marvel movie set in the period when the characters were created, and thus able to embrace the Rat Pack cool that was part of their original charm.”
12. X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014)
Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page, Evan Peters, Halle Berry, Nicholas Hoult
Best moment: The opening scene where a group of mutants get obliterated by a pack of Sentinels.
Sample review (via Metro Times): “A film loaded with snappy dialogue, winking in-jokes, and a fistful of terrific performances that add a layer of emotional resonance and moral complexity, grounding the material even as it threatens to fly away in a blizzard of flying shrapnel.”
11. Batman Begins (2005)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman
Best moment: Bruce Wayne’s training, before he dons his infamous getup.
Sample review (via Quickflix): “It’s a refreshing approach to the genre, even when revisiting years later, in an era inundated with superhero movies where each tries to better the last’s visual effects budget.”