With more and more superhero movies coming to theaters every year, filmmakers have had to get creative with the way they tell these superhuman stories. Filmmakers have gotten so creative, in fact, that “superhero” has become an almost inadequate category with which to define a movie. More and more frequently, directors and writers are exploring all of the various sub genres that can fall under the wide umbrella of “superhero” movies. From sci-fi to horror to spy thrillers, the term “superhero movie” has become remarkably fluid.
The most common sub genre of superhero films by far, is the comedy. Comedy and superhero films have always made for good bedfellows, beginning all the way back with Richard Donner’s first Superman. That film combined rousing spectacle with classic slapstick, and proved to be an enormous hit. In the years since then, we’ve seen superhero movies that land all over the place on the comedic scale, from straight up comedies that are only loosely disguised as superhero flicks, to pure action/adventure superhero films that happen to feature a hefty dose of comedy. Below, we’ve put together the our favorite funny superhero movies. Here are the 15 Funniest Superhero Movies.
15. Captain America: Civil War
There’s no shortage of big emotional moments in Captain America: Civil War. By exploring the fallout between former teammates Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, Civil War plumbed emotional depths previously unexplored in the MCU, resulting in some of the darkest moments of the series thus far. What a relief then, that the movie didn’t wallow in a dour mood entirely. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo wisely included many scenes of levity to balance out the potentially grim tone of the film. These scenes of levity turned out to be some of the funniest in the entire Marvel franchise so far.
Probably the biggest laughs come during the fantastic airport sequence. By pitting so many of the superheroes in the MCU against each other in one battle, the Russo Brothers opened the door for a plethora of hilarious banter and witty one liners. The introduction of Tom Holland as Spider-Man and the re-introduction of Paul Rudd as Ant-Man ensured some hilarious back-and-forths between some of our favorite Avengers. We didn’t expect to laugh a lot in a movie about the Avengers turning on each other due to legal legislation, but we were happily surprised to find that we did.
14. The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Age of Ultron is a deeply flawed movie. But there are moments during the film, where everything is firing on all cylinders, and it becomes immensely enjoyable. Not unsurprisingly, considering Joss Whedon was at the helm again, these moments tend to involve humorous group interplay. Whedon is a champion at mining laughs from misfit group dynamics. The opening scene featuring an assault on a HYDRA compound drops us right into the center of the action, and right into the center of hilarious Avenger dialogue. The highlight of this being the running joke of Tony Stark teasing Steve Rogers for his reluctance to curse. This is an honest moment that feels true to the characters, and it’s very funny because of that. Another highlight comes during the party scene, where the characters all take turns trying to lift Thor’s hammer. The soul of these movies is the relationships between the different Avengers, and scenes like this one drives this home in a hilarious way.
Of course, we can’t talk about humor in Age of Ultron without mentioning Ultron himself. Some fans were surprised to see just how much a sense of humor the sentient robot had. James Spader seems to have taken great pleasure in delivering Ultron’s smarmier snarks with his signature drawl. For being a psychotic automaton bent on destruction, he’s got a pretty good sense of humor.
Possibly one of the greatest superhero casting decisions of all time was made when Guillermo Del Toro chose Ron Perlman for the role of Hellboy. It’s hard to imagine another actor bringing the smartass charm of the roguish demon to life as brilliantly as Perlman did. The two Hellboy movies have a lot going for them, from wonderful creature designs to inventive action set pieces, but it’s the humor derived from Hellboy’s character that really carries the films.
The world of Hellboy is a dark and sometimes disturbing one. Satanic rituals, demonic cults, and interdimensional beasts aren’t always par for the course in superhero films. This makes Perlman’s hilarious, world-weary hero all the more welcome for viewers. Playing Hellboy as a gruff everyman grounds the outlandish events in a recognizable reality, and gives viewers unfamiliar with the comics something to latch onto. Here’s hoping we get to see Perlman don the costume a third time, as Del Toro keeps promising.
12. Mystery Men
While initially panned upon its release, Mystery Men has developed a sizable cult following. Yes, the movie is proudly, boldly, ridiculously dumb, but it wears it’s dumbness on its sleeve. It embraces its dumbness with reckless abandon. Director Kinka Usher (who has not directed another film since) plays the nonsense completely straight.
A remarkable lineup of comedic actors play the titular Mystery Men, a group of misfit superheroes called upon to save Champion City. Featuring Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, Geoffrey Rush, Janeane Garofolo, and William H. Macy, to name a few, this ridiculous romp attracted some of the greatest comedic talents in Hollywood. The misfit heroes have powers that range from “ability to throw bowling balls” to “being invisible as long as no one is looking”. Not to mention the hyper-flatulent one. Like we said, the movie is ridiculous, but it’s ridiculous in all the right ways.
11. The Specials
James Gunn likes to traffic in misfit superhero stories. Before he used his unique brand of humor to explore wrench vigilanteism or space racoons, he wrote a small budget feature film about a second tier group of superheroes on their day off. The Specials was made for just under a million dollars, making it the cheapest superhero movie on this list. Of course, James Gunn would never be interested in telling a conventional superhero story. He uses the genre to explore and poke fun at the genre as a whole. Starring Rob Lowe, Thomas Hayden Church, and Paget Brewster as some underappreciated superheroes, The Specials explores the day-to-day, humdrum inner workings in the life of a superhero. They deal with infidelity, they navigate the press, they throw dinner parties. The Specials treats superhumans as regular old people, albeit with outrageous abilities. The result is a very funny, cleverly subversive take on the classic genre.
10. The Avengers
A years-long experiment paid off in spades with Joss Whedon’s wonderful Avengers. This movie showed that not only was it possible to bridge multiple franchises and storylines together into one cohesive film, but that the final product could be a jubilant, entertaining adventure in it’s own right. The fact that Whedon was able to juggle all of the various facets of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and produce a cohesive story is impressive on it’s own. The fact that he was able to produce a movie as charming and outright funny as this one is downright miraculous.
While Ultron has it’s moments of charming character interplay, the original Avengers is really where Whedon knocked it out of the park. He was able to tie the loose threads of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk into one rousing adventure, and he mined some huge laughs out of it. Now classic moments like the Hulk smashing Loki, or the post-credits shawarma meal really cemented this as one of the funniest superhero films to ever be released.
9. Iron Man
The first ten minutes of the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe set the tone for what would become a historic cinematic achievement. The introduction of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man is funny, charming, buoyant and thrilling. These words would go on to describe the 13 (and counting) movies released under the Marvel banner. This balance of action to humor has been a key pillar in the success of the Marvel movies. While DC films have tended to lean more into dark, gritty realism, the Marvel movies, beginning with Iron Man, have always been colorful, jubilant, and genuinely funny.
Much has been said about the casting of Robert Downey Jr. For most audiences, this movie was the definitive sign of his triumphant comeback, and completely reshaped the trajectory of his career. It’s easy to see why this role had such an enormous effect. Downey’s Tony Stark is a pure joy to watch. He’s effortlessly cool, disarmingly funny, and just the right amount of arrogant. His early scenes with Rhodey elicit some of the movie’s biggest laughs, but our favorite moment might be his hilariously sarcastic walk through of his own open heart surgery at the hands of Pepper Potts.
Kick-Ass is a comedy masquerading as a superhero film. Its goal is undeniably to get laughs, and it accomplishes this goal in spectacular fashion. The movie asks the question, “what would the world be like if regular people chose to be superheroes?” The answer, it turns out, is batsh*t insane.
Aaron Taylor Johnson plays the titular character, a dweeby high school student who dons a green spandex costume and a pair of nunchucks to fight crime at night. He’s soon joined by a wonderfully over-the-top Nicolas Cage, playing Big Daddy, and the breakout star of the film, Hit Girl, played by Chloe Grace-Moretz. It’s the introduction of this sadistic, violent, athletic thirteen year old girl that ratchets the insanity up to 11. Featuring some gleefully disgusting violence (a guy’s head gets popped inside a human size microwave) and some genuinely thrilling action sequences (Hit Girl’s assault set to “Bad Reputation”), Kick-Ass redefined what a superhero could be.
7. Sky High
As superhero films have become more widely accepted as respectable, adult entertainment, they’ve also begun leaning into bleaker and more complex storytelling. That’s not a bad thing at all. Some of the best superhero movies have been some of the darkest. Occasionally though, it’s nice to return to the days when superheroes wore colorful spandex and spewed corny one-liners. That’s where Sky High comes in.
You may not immediately remember this live action Disney release that focuses on a high school for superheroes, but in terms of sheer, aw-shucks decency, it’s one superhero movie that can’t be beat. The entire film is played with complete sincerity. There’s no winking at the camera, and no ironic sense of detachment. The actors and filmmakers wholly embrace the inherent goodness of superheroes, and this makes it a tremendously uplifting and feel-good film. When you need a break from the grim existentialism of modern day superheroes, you could do a lot worse than Sky High.
6. Big Hero 6
The first superhero film to be released under the Walt Disney Animated Classic series introduced most of the world to Baymax, the lovable and adorable inflatable robot voiced by Scott Adsit. Based on the Marvel comic book series, Big Hero 6 tells the story of a child robotics prodigy and his robot with a heart of gold best friend. This simple story sets the stage for some colorful, inventive, zany antics.
While it may not be as laugh-a-minute as some other films on this list, Big Hero 6 mines it’s warmth from the relationship between Baymax and Hiro. The relationship between the boy and his robot is immediately endearing and heartwarming. From the very first trailer, we knew we were in for a heartwarming, character-driven superhero movie. The laughs in the film come from our understanding and appreciation of their relationship, not from clever one liners or referential dialogue. This is a superhero movie that will lift your spirit for days after seeing it.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
As we’ve gotten into the later phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the studio has leaned more and more heavily into the comedic elements of their films. The series has always been funny, but with more recent films, they’ve actively drawn actors, writers, and directors from the comedy community to execute their big budget superhero flicks. That’s exactly what they did with Guardians of the Galaxy, and the results speak for themselves.
Between hiring James Gunn as a director and Chris Pratt as a star, Guardians was always poised to be a hilarious romp through the cosmos. Gunn was revered in the comedy community for his absurd, irreverent, comedic takes on various genres. Pratt, now a full-fledged movie star, was at the time mostly known for playing the hilarious doofus Andy Dwyer from Parks and Recreation. The two teamed up to bring one of the weirder entries in the Marvel comics universe to life, and the results were an explosive success. From the lip syncing to Redbone in the intro, to the ridiculously fun prison break sequence, Guardians brought the best of both Gunn and Pratt to the forefront, and turned what could have been a flop into one of the funniest and most financially successful Marvel films to date.
We’ll always wonder what Ant-Man could have been had Edgar Wright stayed aboard. His surprising exit from the project he had nurtured into existence came as a major blow to the film community. Still, we really can’t complain too much about the movie we got. Ant-Man is funny, charming, exciting and creative. Casting Paul Rudd in the title role was crucial. A movie like Ant-Man desperately needs to have a good sense of humor about itself, and casting one of the most charismatic and likable leading men in Hollywood ensured that this would be a fun romp. Director Peyton Reed had a lot of fun with the visuals, particularly during Rudd’s first accidental escapade through the world of being miniature. The climax aboard the Thomas the Tank Engine set was a stroke of genius, and a delightfully sly reaction to the ever-growing scale of Marvel climactic battles. The entire film is an undeniably fun ride, and a charming introduction to one of the lesser known Avengers.
Super is an insane film. If you have not yet had the pleasure, seek it out immediately and come back to finish reading this list.
Directed by James Gunn before he was handed the reigns to a Marvel property, Super tells the story of a sad-sack loser played by Rainn Wilson who takes to crime fighting after his wife leaves him for Kevin Bacon. This fairly standard plot just lays the foundation for the riotous, subversive, pitch black comedy that follows. Wilson chooses to call himself the Crimson Bolt. His weapon of choice? A pipe wrench. The criminals he targets? Everyone from child molesters to line cutters. The Crimson Bolt ropes in a young sidekick played by Ellen Page, which leads to unquestionably the most upsetting sex scene in any superhero film ever. Even without the frequent hallucinations in which he talks with God (played, of course, by Rob Zombie) this would still be the most openly insane, hysterically weird superhero movie ever released. Check it out.
2. The Incredibles
Released during the Golden Age of Pixar movies, when the company could seemingly do no wrong, The Incredibles was a bit of an anomaly. It was the first Pixar film to focus specifically on humans (superhumans, but still humans). The animation style that director Brad Bird chose differed from what we had seen previously in the Pixar universe. And while all Pixar films deal with fairly mature themes, Incredibles saw the company diving into some surprisingly dark, nuanced territory.
The result is one of the most ambitious and audacious films in the Pixar pantheon. Focusing on a family of superheroes living in hiding after legislation bans them from acting as heroes, The Incredibles deals with adult themes such as loss of purpose, struggle with identity, and what it means to be a good person. The fact that the filmmakers are able to handle this heavy material with respect, while also delivering a hilarious and exuberant adventure story is, well, incredible. The Incredibles set a new bar for comedic superhero films, as well as family films in general.
Deadpool had a long journey to the big screen. After a severely misguided appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the character’s standalone film was shelved for a long time. But the fans’ persistence, not to mention Ryan Reynold’s eagerness, seemingly willed the movie into existence. After some test footage was released, studio executives had a much clearer idea of the tone of the potential film. It was greenlit. $760 million later, it stands as the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time.
Fans and newbies alike came out in droves to see Ryan Reynolds slaughter villains in cartoonishly over the top fashion. From the first seconds of the film, it’s clear that the filmmakers absolutely nailed the anarchic, rebellious tone of the comics. Even the credits were hysterical. The entire film is able to act as a referential, fourth-wall breaking sendup of superhero films, while still landing in the pantheon of great superhero films itself. The role of Wade Wilson seems custom made for the rapid fire, smartass delivery of Ryan Reynolds. Everything came together to make this the funniest superhero movie ever released.
Did we leave off your favorite funny superhero movie? Let us know in the comments!