Top 5 Movie Guide: Marvel Superhero Movies

With this week's edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we decided to go after some of our favorite Superhero Movies! And since "The Avengers" just released yesterday (and we all loved it), we figured before the film potentially invades all of our Top 5 Marvel Movie lists, we'd better crank one more out beforehand, using this film as inspiration. So below, our favorite Marvel-produced superhero movies.

Marvel Entertainment has been around for decades, but it wasn't until very recently that the studio managed to break out of its shell. In the 1980's and early 90's, Marvel's characters were completely outsourced; loaned out to the studio with the highest bidder. This lead to low-quality productions, and a bad name for the studio in general. But in 1996, Marvel Studios was officially formed, and underwent dramatic new leadership and visionary changes. Upon creation, plans were quickly developed for upcoming X-Men and Blade films. With the studio and its properties nearly bankrupt, "X-Men", released in 2000, came along just in time to be a savior for the company. It was a massive success and started the momentum that's lead us to where we are today.

In 2004, Marvel Studios set out to become an "independent" film production company. They quickly acquired the necessary funds and set out to buy back as many of their character rights (previously outsourced) as possible. With their characters and their movie rights as collateral with the banks, and a collection of about twelve characters in their possession, they quickly gathered production plans for their first film. And in 2008, "Iron Man" became the first superhero film independently funded and produced by the studio; it was met with exceptional commercial and critical success. Since then, Marvel has laid ground work for all films leading to the creation of this most current installment, something never before done in the film industry.

So check out all of our favorite films from this studio, and some of the great characters they've brought to the big screen!

Alex Schopp -
What I love about the fact that we broke this list down to just Marvel movies is that I got to include "Hulk". At this point, it unfortunately has fallen off of my overall Superhero List; I'm glad to show it some love today.

     1. X-Men: First Class (2011)

This was one of my favorite overall movies from last year. I think it focuses so much more on the personal relationships with these characters than most other superhero movies I've seen. Michael Fassbender as Magneto made this movie.
     2. Iron Man (2008)
This was kind of the first of this new wave of superhero films. This movie made superheros/superhero movies "cool". Plus I've always rooted for Robert Downey, Jr., and this was the perfect role for him. I feel like it intertwined with his own actual personality so much. Can anyone even imagine Iron Man without Downey, Jr. anymore?
     3. X2: X-Men United (2003)
My favorite superhero movie of the first new wave (late 90's-early 00's). Between this and "Spider-Man 2", I think this was the first time non-superhero movie fans could look at these and say 'wow, these are quality movies, aside from any aspects that make them "superhero movies"'.
     4. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Just as with the above film, I think we need to thank their first installments. They showed the movie industry that this was a bona fide genre that warranted actual attention. From then on out, the bar was exponentially raised. It showed new peaks with this film.
     5. Hulk (2003)
Like I said at the beginning, I'm glad this list allowed me to include this film. I've always thought Eric Bana made a great Hulk, and Jennifer Connelly was perfect in her role as Betty Ross. I'm not saying the film was perfect, but it was a lot better than it got credit for. Ultimately, I just don't think the general public was ready for this more serious type of superhero movie at the time.

Ben Foutch -

     1. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Finds the right balance of comic book charm, while being relatable on a human level.
     2. Iron Man (2008)
Now that is how you pull off an origin story!
     3. X-Men: First Class (2011)
Emotionally charged from start to finish.
    4. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Superhero origin wrapped in an 80's style adventure film. What more could you ask for?
    5. Blade 2 (2002)
Perfect blend of horror, action, and camp.

Derek Clem -

     1. X-Men (2000)
My childhood wishes finally came true when my favorite superhero team finally hit the big screen.
     2. X-Men: First Class (2011)
Some of the X-Kids could have used a little work, but everything involving Professor X, Magneto, and Sebastian Shaw is perfect in this movie. Using real world events to tell the story only heightens the experience.
     3. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Succeeds in feeling like a comic book movie without ever getting too goofy.
     4. Hulk (2003)
While having some minor flaws, there is no better toned Marvel movie out there. For the most part, it takes itself as seriously as "The Dark Knight" takes itself. Plus, Eric Bana kills it! True drama.
     5. Blade 2 (2002)
This was the last time we saw Wesley Snipes in all his glory. Guillermo del Toro really took this franchise to the next level.

Nathan Hinds -

     1. Iron Man (2008)

After this movie, I could never imagine anyone other than Robert Downey, Jr. playing Tony Stark.
     2. X-Men: First Class (2011)
Great cast, great use of real events to tell a superhero story, and in my opinion, this is hands down the best of the X-Men films.
     3. X2: X-Men United (2003)
I really don't care about the other two movies in the original X-Men trilogy but this one was pretty awesome. I think anyone who reads our blog has figured out by now that all of us here are a sucker for a team up between rivals for the greater good.
     4. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
I was nervous about how Chris Evans would do in the lead role. It didn't take long into watching the film for all of my doubts go away.
     5. Blade 2 (2002)
Finding a fifth film to put on this list seems a little pointless right now as it is already guaranteed to not be on my next Top 5 list that we do for Marvel films. I'll let you interpret what I mean by that. Even though I don't generally associate this with Marvel films, or superhero films for that matter, it doesn't change the fact that it is a bad-ass movie and one of the best vampire movies ever.

Andy Schopp -
A lot of movies wanted to be on my list! So many of the Marvel movies have aspects in them that are amazing, even if the overall films aren't the greatest themselves. Take "Daredevil", for instance. The scenery and cinematography in that movie is as if the whole movie was straight out of the comic. It's too bad the music was awful and there or two casting problems though. But when it's all said and done, every Marvel movie can hold its ground and be a tonally enjoyable experience...except X3...and "Elektra".

     1. X-Men: First Class (2011)

     2. Iron Man (2008)

     3. Hulk (2003)

     4. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

     5. Punisher: War Zone (2008)

So there we have it. The best Marvel Superhero Movies as seen by the Slackers Selection crew! No surprises that for a "newer" film studio that only recently has really found its bearings, there would be a few repeats. But no worries here as there are still plenty of options to guide you through this studio's filmography! Still, the only film showing up on all five lists was "X-Men: First Class". As you read in our Top 10 of 2011, this was a huge hit for all of us, capturing the essence of a comic book movie, but also adding deeper characters than previously seen before. It's funny too that this film had an average ranking of 2.0 on all of these lists - the exact spot it held on all of our Top 10's last year. It's a hit with all of us, but collectively, it's just never quite the best.

Outside of that, "Iron Man" and "Spider-Man 2" showed up on four of five lists, but with "Iron Man" having a much higher average ranking than Spider-Man: 1.75 compared to 3.0, respectively. Both still excellent selections though, and it's no surprise that they both hit on as many lists as they did. From there, two films hit on three lists: "Hulk" and "Blade 2", while "Captain America: The First Avenger" and "X2: X-Men United" each appeared on two.

Hopefully all of these film selections help you to expand your knowledge on some of the best films Marvel Studios has to offer, and guide you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!