Marvel and DC Comics fans always seem to be fighting with each other these days. Each fan base despises the other simply because they prefer one brand over the other, and frankly, it’s a bad look for fandom in general.
Why fight over who has the better movies or the better characters?
Instead, why not be happy we live in a time where superhero films are all the rage and there’s no end in sight for this medium. There is no ceiling for how high these films can go! We even have some Golden Globes to throw around now. Quit rooting for one side to fail, and instead root for both sides to succeed!
The more quality superhero films we have to enjoy, the better, if you ask me.
That is the inspiration for this post. As movie goers and comic book movie fans, we should appreciate the quality films from both Marvel and DC. This A-List combines the top films from both the MCU & the DCEU. Both companies have accomplished tremendous achievements in film today and we should celebrate them all.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 (and a couple honorable mentions) from the two biggest superhero cinematic universes in motion picture history. Enjoy!
Spider-Man: Homecoming (Honorable Mention)
This is something Marvel fans and Spider-Man fans for which they had been hoping and praying for a long time…Spider-Man in the MCU! And, my-oh-my was the wait worth it or what?!
After his surprise appearance in Captain America: Civil War, fans were introduced to Tom Holland’s take on Peter Parker/Spider-Man for the first time. You know that old saying “You only get one chance to make a first impression”? Well, Holland knocked his one chance out of the park, which led to high anticipation for his first solo film.
Homecoming does a tremendous job separating itself from past Spider-Man films. Peter hasn’t mastered his abilities yet; it’s still so new to him. We actually see him struggle in the film. This is the most relatable portrayal of Peter Parker we’ve seen yet on the big screen.
The best thing Homecoming’s director John Watts does with this film is make sure we all know this is Peter’s story. With the decision to include Iron Man, a lot of people felt Robert Downey, Jr. would command a lot of screen time, but the film always has Spider-Man right at its heart.
Batman v Superman (Honorable Mention)
When the film was first announced to be in development, the hype could not have been bigger. Batman. Superman. A fight for the ages. Epic in every sense of the word.
The marketing for the film was brilliant because it placed all the focus on the upcoming conflict between two of the most popular superheroes in comic history. People were excited to see Cavill’s Superman again after a terrific solo outing in Man of Steel, and people were itching with anticipation to see Affleck’s new take on The Dark Knight.
Then, the film released and the reaction was…well, divisive to say the least.
Snyder went for a very dark tone in the film. His goal for the audience wasn’t to see heroes as just people who save us from bad guys, but rather question the very nature of these heroes. After his city-leveling fight with Zod, Superman is wanted by the public and the government to take accountability for the collateral damage. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne sees Superman as a potential threat to the planet who needs to be stopped.
The more times you watch the film, the more you really understand the deeply rooted themes Snyder implemented. This is definitely a film that gets better with each rewatch.
And now on to the main event…
Aquaman is as comic book as a comic book film can get!
Crazy trippy visuals, larger-than-life characters, an underwater world filled with bizarre creatures, intense action sequences, some cheesy dialogue and a little over-the-top acting. Momoa’s ‘Aquaman’ is a far cry from his comic counterpart in the looks department, so when Momoa was first announced, many fans were quick to voice their concerns. It’s safe to say they’re eating their words now!
As of now, Aquaman is crushing it at the box office, has become the highest-grossing DCEU film after only three weeks, and is only a few thousand away from $1 billion! People are loving Momoa’s take as King of Atlantis. The film itself is highly enjoyable and features some great performances by Momoa, Nicole Kidman, and Patrick Wilson. The dynamic between Momoa, who is half Atlantean and half human, and his half brother King Orm (Wilson) is by far one of the highlights of the story.
The gorgeous visuals and insane action sequences make this a must-see film. We can’t wait to see where his character is taken in a sequel! Besides, who wouldn’t want to take another trip into that beautiful underwater world James Wan has crafted for us?
9. Black Panther
Another film hot with anticipation when it was announced was Black Panther, which represented more than a film, but a cultural milestone. The way the film performed at the box office, it was nothing short of a cultural phenomenon.
After his scene-stealing appearance in Captain America: Civil War, fans were left begging for more. Boseman seemed at home in the role. His performance in Civil War really went a long way with Marvel fans to assure them he was going to do this role justice.
At the end of Civil War, we see T’Challa ready to become king of Wakanda after the death of his father, which is where we pick back up in Black Panther. As T’Challa tries to balance being Wakanda’s protector and king, a lost relative comes back to take the throne for his own, which opens the doors to one of the most memorable villains in all of comic book films in Erik Killmonger.
Killmonger is memorable because, unlike most villains, his justifications for his horrific actions actually hold some weight. It’s not crazy for people to say they didn’t 100% disagree or sympathized with him. Aside from having a phenomenal villain, the film also does a beautiful job of showcasing Wakanda. The shots of the technologically advanced city are simply gorgeous and the first reveal of the city might be one of the best parts of the entire film. We cannot wait for Black Panther 2!
8. Wonder Woman
This is another film that represents a cultural milestone. Not only was this film incredibly leggy at the box office, it also received glowing reviews from critics and fans alike, something that the DCEU sorely needed after the divisive receptions of Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. Both those films made a lot of money but the reception they received caused people to start to question Warner Bros. handling of the DCEU.
Then came Wonder Woman. After her appearance in BvS, every Gal Gadot critic ate their words. She was arguably one of, if not the, best part in that film.
Wonder Woman is a beautiful film (no pun intended…well, maybe a little). It is definitely one of the best films DC has ever produced, and they couldn’t have found an actress better suited for this role than Gal Gadot. She is 99.9% the reason this film was successful, because she absolutely crushes this role, oozes confidence, and his incredibly magnetic whenever she is on screen. Yes, she’s drop dead gorgeous, but it’s her confidence and how comfortable she is in this role that allow her to steal every scene she’s in.
The film also gives us our first look at Wonder Woman’s home, Themyscira and her people — the Amazons, a race of all female super warriors. This film really served as a film for empowerment as it featured powerful female characters everywhere. It was a long time coming to get a female-led superhero film. And while we shouldn’t have had to wait so long for it to happen, the wait was more than worth it!
7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1
If you said “who?” when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 was announced to be in development, you weren’t alone. Definitely a lesser known property from Marvel, especially to the casual fan, many wondered if this film would be a rare flop in the MCU.
Oh, how the doubters were wrong. This film solidified Marvel’s inability to miss with any of their properties. Assembling an A-list cast that includes Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, and Dave Bautista certainly didn’t hurt either. That, and hiring a director whose style fit this group of misfit intergalactic defenders in James Gunn.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 introduced fans to an entirely new, and much lesser known, team of Marvel heroes. These aren’t your average Avengers though. This group is made up of thieves, assassins, and criminals. The film does a terrific job giving each member of the Guardians a back story so we become more familiar with them and had a reason to care about these characters.
The dynamic between all the members of the team is electrifying and magnetic. It’s the chemistry they had together on screen that elevated the film to unforeseen heights. Leave it to Marvel to turn a group of lesser-known characters into household names and fan favorites–even a talking raccoon and a living tree that only says “I am Groot.”
6. The Avengers
Marvel made history with the release of the first Avengers film. The culmination of the first phase of MCU movies, the Avengers paid off plot threads from five different movies that came before it and combined all of these previous stories into one huge blockbuster event.
Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye — they all shared the screen in a truly remarkable, history-making moment that earned an enormous $1.5 billion at the box office. The movie held onto its title of top-grossing MCU film (and top-grossing film ever) for a long time.
The shot of all the heroes huddled together ready for battle is one of the most epic and memorable money shots in all of film. I know I had goosebumps. What’s truly remarkable is the perfect balance each of the characters were given with screen time while never sacrificing the story.
A shared cinematic universe was pretty much unheard of prior to the MCU. Sure there have been cross-overs before, but never anything quite like this. Many critics believed taking the plot threads from different stand-alone films and tying them all together into one massive team just seemed like too big of a task to handle. The Avengers proved it could work, which solidified the MCU as a successful shared cinematic universe.
5. Thor: Ragnarok
A lot of fans, and even Chris Hemsworth himself, had grown bored of the ‘Thor’ character post Age of Ultron. Our favorite Asgardian was becoming a one-note character without much substance. A Norse god that wields an indestructible hammer shouldn’t be seen as a comical figure but he also shouldn’t be seen a character with little personality.
Moreover, when you have a versatile actor like Hemsworth who just so happens to be comic genius, you tinker with the source material slightly to play to your star’s strengths. Enter Taika Waititi, another comedic genius with a very particular sense of humor. Waititi and Hemsworth used Ragnarok to reinvent Thor for the MCU, and they absolutely crushed it.
Thor Ragnarok represents a rebirth of sorts for Thor. He gets stripped of his hammer, his armor, his home and yes, even his hair! That’s one way to reinvent a character–take away everything that’s made him Thor up until this point.
Hemsworth gives a terrific performance in this one. The audience can see that he really let loose and had some fun in this film. Not everything has changed though as the relationship between brothers Loki and Thor remains a highlight of the film. The progression of their relationship throughout these films is beautiful.
Then you add in Tessa Thompson’s badass Valkyrie, Mark Ruffalo’s now talking Hulk, a wicked performance from Cate Blanchett as Hela and a screen legend like Jeff Goldblum…this film had all the tools to be a turning point for the Thor franchise and it did not fail to deliver!
4. Man of Steel
Superman. Zack Snyder. An interesting combo that produced a beautiful film.
Superman films of the past were really all fluff with little substance. They were always fairly light-hearted with your typical cliched villains. Zack Snyder brought a whole new take to the son of Krypton. He wasn’t simply this symbol of hope, but rather a conflicted man caught between worlds, trying to figure out his place.
This Superman struggles with accepting his differences and his abilities or being afraid of them. In Zack Snyder’s world, Superman is equally as loved by the public as is feared. Some see him as a protector while others view him as nothing more than an alien to the planet; ergo, a potential threat.
Man of Steel spends a good amount of time exploring Krypton and Kal-El’s parents (including a badass Russell Crowe). We find out that Krypton is dying and an infant Kal-El is sent away to earth to ensure his survival and the survival of their race. The film does a beautiful job showing the struggles Kal-El experiences growing up being different on earth, having to hide his abilities out of fear of being ridiculed by his peers and the world.
The journey Kal-El goes on throughout the course of the film is one of self-discovery to understand who he is and why he was put there on earth. Man of Steel is an emotional thought-provoking and visually gorgeous movie. The way the film depicts the use of Superman’s abilities, particularly the flying, is incredible, and the action sequences are second-to-none. This was the Superman film we all had been waiting for, the real question is… where the hell is Man of Steel 2?!
3. Captain America: Civil War
While many people were quick to make jokes about this film being “Avengers 2.5” because of the amount of characters involved, make no mistake, this is 100% a ‘Captain America’ story.
Taken straight from one of Marvel’s most famous comic storylines, Civil War sees earth’s mightiest heroes divided into two opposing factions. Not only does the film include the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, Bucky, Scarlett Witch, Vision, and Falcon, but it also was dealt the task of introducing two new heroes into the MCU in Spider-Man and Black Panther. With an Avengers-sized cast and the introduction of the long awaited take on Black Panther and Spider-Man, Civil War had a ton of hype and also faced some huge expectations.
Here, we see our beloved heroes divided and pitted against each other. One team following Iron Man while the other following Captain America. And right at the center of the disagreement? The Sokovia Accords, a document created by the governments of the world to address all of the collateral damage done by the Avengers battles and as a means for the government to have some sort of control over this super-powered team of heroes.
By far one the of the MCU’s most political films, the Russos created an intense, thrilling, and emotional story. They handled the introductions of Spider-Man (probably one of the greatest introductions in film history) and Black Panther flawlessly. Then to tie it all up in a neat bow, the Russos decided to give us a villain (Zemo) who is more tactical and strategic in his approach with an extremely emotional payoff after Zemo’s plan comes to fruition. This film, by far, had the biggest consequences for the MCU at large than any other film before it.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
After Captain America’s lukewarm introduction into the MCU in The First Avenger, the Russo brothers took the helm of his sequel and really revved up the action and espionage.
Widely viewed as one of the best comic book movies of all time, Captain America’s sophomore film really helped to establish Steve Rogers as one of the MCU’s biggest badasses. The marketing for the film really emphasized the enhanced action and fight sequences, letting audiences know this sequel would be much different than Cap’s introduction film.
It worked because the film made an enormous jump at the box office over its predecessor. The inclusion of Nick Fury, Black Widow, and the Winter Soldier certainly didn’t hurt either.
Right off the bat, we see Steve Rogers in a black ops mission with a SHIELD strike team. He jumps out of a helicopter sans parachute, climbs onto a enormous ship, and immediately proceeds sprinting around the ship’s deck dispatching henchmen with ease. Hands down, this is one of the best action sequences ever put together.
From there the film takes us deeper inside SHIELD to discover corruption and deception within, corruption that has existed within the organization for years but was never detected until now and not even Nick Fury could prevent the fall of the organization he dedicated his life too. We also are given possibly one of the greatest villain introductions in film history with the first appearance of the Winter Soldier.
The film then takes a big, emotional twist when Bucky is revealed to be behind the mask of the Winter Soldier, and for the remainder of the film, Cap does everything he can to bring his old friend back to him. Action, emotion, espionage…this film has it all and deserves every ounce of the praise it has received since its release.
1. Avengers: Infinity War
I mean…did you really think the top spot would belong to any other film?! The word epic doesn’t even begin to describe what we witnessed in Infinity War. By far, this is the biggest ensemble of a superstar cast in film history. The culmination of 20 films that came before it pays off.
Think of all the various and intricate plot threads, incorporating characters from all over the MCU, and giving audiences interactions between heroes befitting for dreams. And, producing one of the greatest villains in cinematic history in the process. The stakes couldn’t be bigger, and this film will go down as one of the most epic, most memorable films ever produced.
The hype leading up to the release of the film was through the roof, and its box office take of over $2 billion is a testament to just how much people and fans everywhere cared about this movie.
Immediately, we are given a glimpse of just how cruel, destructive, and dangerous Thanos is. He defeats both Thor and the Hulk with relative ease and then (SPOILER) kills Loki just for the fun of it, leaving Thor adrift in space among the dead Asgardian bodies that were aboard that ship.
The film wastes no time getting from action sequence to action sequence as we are taken from Germany, to Wakanda, to Thanos’ home planet of Titan. We get to see different avengers team up that we have never gotten to see before and the highly anticipated interactions between such heroes as Iron Man and Star Lord, Iron Man and Dr. Strange, and Thor with Rocket & Groot did not disappoint.
The Russos and all the actors involved told fans from the beginning that they had no idea what’s coming and to be ready for some tears but nobody could’ve predicted the ending of that film.
I mean, how often is it that the villain actually succeeds?! Now, with half of the universe wiped from existence, including a handful of our favorite heroes, it’s up to the surviving Avengers to save the universe and undo the devastation caused by Thanos. I can’t imagine a film having more hype than Infinity War, but that’s exactly what we are going to experience with Endgame. April cannot come soon enough!