Top 10 Animated Superhero Movies

Published 2 years ago by , Updated August 9th, 2013 at 6:16 pm, This is a list post.

Justice League Animated Superhero Movies It's a good time to be a fan of comic book movies, with Marvel's 'Phase Two' projects either filming or in development, and Man of Steel set to get things rolling for DC and Warner Bros. But in case that seems like too long a wait - especially since the first Justice League team-up won't arrive until 2015 - we've got you covered. Warner Bros. and DC Comics have been hard at work for years now, turning their best comic book arcs into animated films with the help of their most trusted talent. For comic book fans, or fans of good super-powered storytelling in general, we've decided on our Top 10 Animated Superhero Movies. See if your favorite made the list.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)

Justice League Crisis On Two Earths Director: Lauren Montgomery, Sam Liu Written By: Dwayne McDuffie Though Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths originally began development as a bridge between the Justice League animated series and Justice League Unlimited, it's more directly based on Grant Morrison's Earth 2, which was itself based on Earth 3 of the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths comic book continuity. Crisis on Two Earths provides a look at an alternate reality; one where DC's heroes have become the villains, leaving Lex Luthor to seek out our world's Justice League to save the day. The plot offers an opportunity to see the darker sides of each hero not just highlighted, but taken to their villainous extremes. Unsurprisingly, it is Batman's counterpart who embodies the most terrifying and nihilistic ideals, offering the Bruce Wayne we know the chance to show what keeps him from ever becoming a true villain. The storytelling isn't as ambitious as other films on our list, but the wealth of super-on-super action and nods to fan-favorite heroes and villains make it a solid animated feature for the TV series' continuity.

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)

Superman Batman Apocalypse Director: Lauren Montgomery Written By: Tab Murphy, Jeph Loeb, Michael Turner Based on the critically-praised "The Supergirl From Krypton" comic book arc, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is centered around the heroic pair's discovery of, you guessed it, Kara Zor-El, a.k.a. Supergirl. Superman's cousin and fellow Kryptonian survivor crashes into Gotham City blessed with all the Man of Steel's powers, but none of his discipline. Never one to miss an opportunity, Darkseid takes advantage of the newest piece on the board by enacting a plan to claim Kara as his own apprentice. A trip to Apokolips and a knock-down, drag-out fight with Granny Goodness and the Female Furies soon follows, showcasing some truly accomplished and memorable actions sequences that not only feature the principal characters, but supporting characters like Wonder Woman and Big Barda as well. Every effort is taken to translate Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner's words and art into motion, so those who know the books front to back may not be as surprised by the plot twists and turns. To anyone who missed the story, the journey to the realm of the New Gods is one we recommend.

Justice League: Doom (2012)

Justice League Doom Director: Lauren Montgomery Written By: Dwayne McDuffie, Mark Waid Justice League: Doom calls on all the best-known League members, pitting the world famous heroes against the Legion of Doom. In a pleasant surprise it's the villains who get the upper hand this time, exploiting each of their respective nemesis' weaknesses as part of a master plan for - what else? - world domination. Translating Mark Waid's original "Tower of Babel" arc wasn't easy, requiring several changes to the details and even a replacement of the central antagonist. But shockingly, the changes largely work in simplifying the story and building suspense. As entertaining as the action is, it's the justice paid to each of the heroes that most resonates. A truly dark and brooding glimpse into Batman's paranoia and chronic distrust, the film manages to blend classic mythos with DC's New 52, enhanced by sharp dialogue and crisp animation. Doom provides a fun but powerful Justice League story - a worthy tribute to the late (great) Dwayne McDuffie.

Superman: Doomsday (2007)

Superman Doomsday Animated Movie   Director: Lauren Montgomery, Bruce Timm, Brandon Vietti Written By: Duane Capizzi, Bruce Timm It's the story that shocked the world (for a while), and with Superman: Doomsday those who missed the death of Superman the first time around now have their chance. The fist-fight with Doomsday starts the show, but is just the beginning of the story. Skipping over the long line of imitators and successors to Superman's vacant throne, the film instead focuses on the lengths to which Lex Luthor will go to attain his ultimate victory over Metropolis's guardian - even in death - and what it is that keeps Kal-El relevant after all these years. The only criticism we could level against Doomsday would be the noticeable absence of other heroes in the DC universe. That said, there's enough Superman - or, Supermen - to keep any fan of Superman: The Animated Series happy. Elements of the story will be familiar to some, and the scope may be smaller, but the plot gets to the heart of the character with skill and reverence. And for that, we love it.

Wonder Woman (2009)

Wonder Woman Animated Movie Director: Lauren Montgomery Written By: Michael Jelenic, Gail Simone With Wonder Woman, DC and WB provide a more mythically-infused introduction to the mystical, hidden island of Themiscyra and its inhabitants: goddesses in human form, none more potent than princess Diana. The plot may sound like a fairy tale, but that all changes when Colonel Steve Trevor crashes on the island, bringing the world of men and Amazons crashing together. The chemistry between Steve and Diana is the heart of the story, with writing that is charming, witty, and most of all, believable. The great dialogue is made even better by vocal performances from Nathan Fillion and Keri Russell. Understandably, signs that the same fiery relationship will be playing a significant role in casting the Wonder Woman TV show has us optimistic. But for those still skeptical about whether Amazon could work - or that a Wonder Woman film could both stand on its own and fit well into a Justice League universe - we think a viewing of Montgomery's film will change your mind.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (2012)

Dark Knight Returns Part 1

Director: Jay Oliva Written By: Bob Goodman, Frank Miller It was Frank Miller who helped shape Batman into the 'Dark Knight' we know and love, and with Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 his pivotal story is recreated in painstaking detail. From the dark undercurrents of despair to the not-suitable-for-children violence, Miller's vision of an aging Batman pushed to extremes is brought to life better than we had hoped. Set ten years after being forced into retirement by laws against vigilantism, a fifty-five-year-old Bruce Wayne must put the cape and cowl back on to cleanse Gotham's streets before they are lost for good. Familiar faces appear along the way, as Batman is forced to suffer and brutalize like never before, putting every bit of him to the test. Commitment to the brutal violence and terror Miller made a key part of Batman makes The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 a must-see for any Batman fan. Part 2 will will release soon, promising a fight for the ages and the return of Batman's greatest foe. Better see the first chapter before then.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)

Superman Batman Public Enemies Director: Sam Liu Written By: Stan Berkowitz, Ed McGuinness, Jeph Loeb When DC first launched their Superman/Batman line of comics, they turned to writer Jeph Loeb and artist Ed McGuinness for the first story - ultimately, one of the best to date. Both the story and style of "Public Enemies" have been faithfully recreated here in animated form, and the results speak for themselves. After being elected President of the United States, Lex Luthor (surprising nobody) declares Batman and Superman enemies of the state. Sending both fellow crime-fighters and iconic supervillains to bring them in, the heroes-turned-outlaws have no choice but to outsmart and out-punch the rest, proving why they're the top dogs. Plenty of nods to both fan-favorite and lesser-known villains, memorable action and a story that sings in motion as much as it did on paper all make Public Enemies one of our most beloved animated superhero films. And yes, the Batman/Superman robo-rocket is still included.

Batman: Under The Red Hood (2010)

Batman Under the Red Hood

Director: Brandon Vietti Written By: Judd Winick An adaptation of the 2005 Batman comic book story line “Under the Hood” by Judd Winick, Batman: Under the Red Hood delves into the darkest chapter of Bruce Wayne's life under the cowl, and the Batman's greatest failure - the death of Robin at the hands of the Joker. If that wasn't enough of a challenge for director Brandon Vietti, traditional voice actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill make way for Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek) and John DiMaggio (Futurama) as Batman and Joker, respectively. Both actors don't just suffice, but offer new takes that may become overnight favorites for some. Supernatural star Jensen Ackles voices the eponymous villain, and does a good job of it. Those who've read the comics already know the mystery of the man under the mask, but the film manages to successfully change up the story and pacing for the new format, while still making every emotional moment land just as it was intended. Terrific action, stellar voicework and faithful versions of the entire Bat-family make it a must-see film for any comic book fan.

The Incredibles (2004)

The Incredibles Superhero Movie Director: Brad Bird Written By: Brad Bird Pixar's foray into the realm of superheroes, The Incredibles focused not on origin stories, but the impact exceptional gifts have when heroes settle down and start a family. And the resulting drama and comedy was, in many ways, a side to heroes and villains that had never been addressed. A family film that both kids and parents can take plenty away from (the dinner tables scenes rang a bit too true for some of us), writer/director Brad Bird didn't skimp on superhero antics (and a dose of 007 )that were genuinely refreshing. The action and style even helped Bird earn the task of saving the Mission: Impossible series. For The Incredibles' ability to make superpowers work on screen like never before (and in ways only digital animation made possible) it became an exceptional entry in the very genre it set out to explore - the mark of a truly great film, and one that proved the genre can still surprise us.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

Batman Mask of the Phantasm Director: Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski Written By: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Martin Pasko, Michael Reaves While older than the other films on our list, there's no mistaking the fact: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of the best Batman movies made so far. The fact that it's animated is an afterthought, and at the time, it proved that cartoons weren't just for children anymore. Inspired shot composition, exceptional vocal performances, genuinely clever writing and unrelenting animation all work to make Phantasm one of the best-paced, best-directed superhero movies, period. Granting a glimpse at the life Bruce Wayne almost led, the film delivers a new story, a sliver of Batman's "Year One" origin and a hero more familiar, relatable and human than Christopher Nolan ever attempted. Those entrusted with rebooting Batman for Justice League aren't likely to follow our advice of simply remaking the film shot-for-shot, but a viewing of Phantasm would certainly teach them a few lessons.

Top 10 Animated Superhero Movies

Justice League Animated Superhero Movies Those are only ten, but everyone is sure to have their favorites on both the Marvel and DC sides. DC Comics has certainly gotten a head start on the animated front, but it remains to be seen if the company will be able to translate the proven track record of Bruce Timm, Lauren Montgomery and Co. into live action blockbusters. For Marvel it's the opposite: proven success with live-action, but still so much untapped potential on the animated feature front; hence why you find DC ruling this list. Fans still have The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 to look forward to next year. And with Superman: Unbound and Justice League: Flashpoint also confirmed, this list may need some adjustment before long. Which comic book stories do you think shined in animated motion? Or better yet, which ones should be next? - Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
TAGS: batman, batman under the red hood, green lantern, justice league, superman, superman batman: public enemies, wonder woman


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    • I included Superman/Shazam because of the awesome Showcase features that used to run with there movies each is a classic and tackles obscure but cool characters like Spectre,Jonah Hex and Green Arrow.

    • has anyone seen Hulk vs. Wolverine?

  1. If Marvel animated Civil War, or Siege, or Dark Reign, or Secret Invasion or Annihilation they would blow DC out of the water. Someone read those stories and tell me they wouldn’t make amazing films! Or the Death of Captain America. Where was Planet Hulk , that was better than Public Enemies, and no All Star Superman?

    • Marvel Civil War would be cool as would World War Hulk and DC vs Marvel. I personally enjoyed All Star Superman, Batman: Under the Red Hood, and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse as they are my favorites.

    • I disagree, not because the story isn’t great, but because Marvel have proven completely inept at turning out quality animated versions of their heroes. DC is miles ahead in that regard. Interestingly the reverse is true when dealing with live action.

  2. Incredibles is kind of a cop out on the list. But Phantasm was legendary, and Red Hood would make for a good storyline in a rebooted Bats.

  3. Batman Sub Zero was awesome, I can’t believe I forgot that. What was the Batman Beyond movie where Tim Drake became Joker. They did the Joker AMAZING in that film.

  4. Justice League: The New Frontier is definitely the best of the DC adaptions that I’ve seen, well other than Mask of the Phantasm. The “Superman/Batman robo-rocket” in Public Enemies is utterly ridiculous. I mean, if you are trying to tell a serious, dramatic story, sometimes you have to edit things like that out…but they didn’t.

  5. Where do you guys rank Batman vs. Punjabi Prince from Pakistan?

  6. Justice League Doom really? It was so uninspired and boring, only nice thing was the animation and the voice cast. At least they put in Wonder Woman, that was such a good film.

    • oh, and I forgot to add Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. That should be on here, soooo good.

  7. Are you serious? All DC? First of all the first Ultimate Avengers movie was as good as anything up there. Especially some of the weaker movies on the list and anything Wonder Woman is in as the story focus sucks. She just isn’t a central character.

    You have to at least add – Ultimate Avengers I, Dr. Strange (which was a really good movie surprisingly since I didn’t care for the comics) and Hulk Vs. Planet Hulk was OK, but it wouldn’t crack the list.

    Superman vs the Elite WOULD have been one of my favorite movies if they would have been consistent with the ethical dilemma that was the driving point of the first 3/4 of the movie. They really copped out in my opinion by making the anti-hero an actual “bad guy” to justify Superman’s “I don’t kill position”. I was terribly disappointed by them not continuing to explore the “Why do you have the power to permanently stop someone who keeps killing people because you don’t permanently stop them when you have the chance”.

    DC did make some really good Superman movies, the Justice league movies were just OK in my opinion. But then again, DC just has so many more to choose from.

    I don’t think it is fair to include incredibles unless we open it up to all animation which would include Japanese Anime.

    • When it comes to animated movies, DC blows Marvel away. The Avengers (animated movie) was not like a movie, it was more of a two part TV episode.

      Planet Hulk was okay. Dr. Strange was good, but it does not beat Crises on two earths, the weakest of these movies mentioned (have not seen Wonder Woman)

      I do agree with you about the Incredibles though.

    • If Japanese anime is fair game, then put ninja scroll in there. Blew my mind back in the day.

  8. All my favorites were included, Under the Red Hood, Batman/Superman: Apocalypse, Crisis on Two Earths, and The Incredibles.

  9. Wait a minute. “Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker” isn’t on this list? That movie was flipping amazing

    • I was about to post the exact same thing… very disappointed with this list.
      JL Doom should be higher up as well IMO.

      • “Batman: Year One” beats out at least one of the Superman/Batman movies IMO

          • Better than some though. I can enjoy it more than some DC movies

            • I have to agree with Longshanks when it comes to Batman: Year One. It was pretty bad. The graphic novel was good though.

              • I just watched it again. Take back what I said about Year One, you’re both right. It is just bleh :\

    • agreed

    • Totally agreed. Was expecting to see it in the top 5.

  10. “As proof that not all the best Justice League stories are adaptations, Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths has its roots firmly planted in the animated TV series.”

    Sorry, but that is completely incorrect. The origins of this movie WERE in the original comic books, and are based on stories that were printed as far back as 1964, when an alternate Earth then called “Earth 3″ was introduced (based off of the “Earth 1″ of the Justice League and the “Earth 2″ of the Justice Society.) Years later, after one of DC’s universal reboots, the character were re-introduced in the “Earth 2″ graphic novel, which featured the same five characters: Ultraman, Superwoman, Johnny Quick, Power Ring and Owlman.

    And, yes, there are some similarities to the animated Justice League episodes involving the “Justice Lords”, but they came a completely separate storyline in the old Justice League comics.

    • Yeah. It threw me off too when I read that part before. Because that sentence was basically complete BS.

  11. Batman Beyond should have made the list.

  12. How is it that Warner Brothers can make such good animated movies of their heroes, yet, outside of the Nolan Batman movies and somewhat Superman Returns, can’t get their live action heroes off the ground…

    • Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm deserves the #1 spot for sure imo. Batman: Subzero should be considered because in the same year, it was better than Batman & Robin was. They even almost planned on releasing it in theaters but decided against it because of Schumacher’s film. Another that should be mentioned was Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker Unrated version.

      heres how id list my favorites as i haven’t seen all of them.

      1. Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm

      2. Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker

      3. Justice League:Doom

      4. Batman:SubZero

      5. Batman/Superman: Public Enemies

      6. Superman:Doomsday

      7. Justice League: New Frontier

    • @ sykora44

      That’s easy to answer. They probly wouldn’t think of to ask Bruce Timm,Paul Dini & Co if they would wanna put together DC’s live-action shared universe since they had such success with animation & know the characters of the comics.

      They’d be people id ask of considering of building a shared universe in making the jump to. Paul Dini knows write great stories as Bruce Timm had his momments & could design the background for sets on films aswell as cotumes.

  13. It’s always amazed me that when the discussion amongst fans arises as to which superhero movie (animated or otherwise) is the best, The Incredibles is never really up for consideration. The stigma of animation as a legitimate form of adult storytelling? I would hope not, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    To put it another way, The Incredibles is a better movie version of Watchmen than Watchmen was.

    • Yeah, I agree with you. The Incredibles was, well…and incredible movie (lol, sorry I just had to do it). Not only did the movie make sense, but it was something that adults could honestly watch without thinking they were being silly (not that I think I am being silly when I watch animation flicks because I don’t). I go to the movies to check out pixar flicks, and will even tell you that I went to see BRAVE…and I went by myself and didn’t feel silly at all, thank you very much.

      FYI, I read something about there not being an INCREDIBLES 2. I hope that is not true.

  14. I own all the animated feature films that DC and Marvel has created and they are all great in their own right. I will agree that DC trumps Marvel all around but I am a sucker for Planet Hulk. It puts the biggest meanie on earth in a scenario where he isn’t the big guy anymore. Also, JL:TNF should be an honorable mention since it can definitely be a storyline for the live action to learn from.

  15. Very much seconding disbelief at ommision of Return of the Joker…

  16. The only two movies on that list that I haven’t seen are Wonder Woman and The Dark Knight Returns Pt.1, so with that in mind, here’s my list:
    1. The Incredibles
    2. Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm
    3. Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker
    4. Justice League: Doom
    5. Batman: Under The Red Hood
    6. Ultimate Avengers
    7. Hulk Vs
    8. Justice League: Crises On Two Earths
    9. Batman/Superman: Public Enemies
    10. Batman: Sub Zero

    • And in case the Ninja Turtles are considered superheroes, the 2007 movie ‘TMNT’ would be in there too at the #5 spot.

    • I bought all of the movies on Amazon. I think I grabbed Wonder Woman for no more than $7. Worth it IMO.

    • much better than the original list, but i didn’t like the ultimates.

  17. Return of the Joker was pretty good for its time, but the DCU movies are much stronger, IMHO.

    • now that statement from you, kofi, is one I do agree with.

  18. Why isn’t this just called “Best DC Animated Movies Of All Time”?

    Personally,I think that The Incredibles is easily the best of the list.

    Though they aren’t full movie,rather OVAs,the X-Men and Iron Man animes are pretty awesome,and are better than anything on that list,minus The Incredibles.

  19. Well, I agree with most of people here. Personally I’ve been a big fan of Batman Beyond : Return of the Joker. That was a truly thrilling movie. Apart from that, I also liked All Star Superman, Planet Hulk and Megamind very much.

  20. I thought Doomsday was good, but always wondered what the heck happened to him. After he got done giving Superman the beating of his life, he disappeared! Are the Doomsday and Superman clone halves 2 different movies? Because it’s poor storytelling to introduce an epic enemy only to forget about him.

  21. what happened to planet hulk and batman year one

  22. What about Batman and Superman World’s finest? It is a certified classic!

    • My mistake I was thinking of the Superman animated series world’s finest episode arc. Classic none the less!

      • I’ve been thinking that too through out the whole article. Certainly a classic. I don’t know why it shouldn’t be considered for the list. It was a three part episode and they sold it as a whole movie for a few years afterwards anyway. Besides it didn’t really have much to do with Superman TAS or Batman TAS independently so it was basically an animated crossover movie.

  23. The problem with marvel is that not only are their toons not serious enough, their choice of artistry of their characters in animation form is weak compared to DC. DC art work of their characters in animation (as it pertains to ANIMATED MOVIES) look a little more realistic. This can even been seen in DC games such as INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US. Marvel’s choice of artistry in their toons and games look like something a 12 year old drew up. However, HULK VS WOLVERINE was an excellent movie. What i did not like about it was that it was too short. Hopefully, marvel will make a sequel to that film. HULK VS THOR was weak IMO. As a marvel fan, I will admit that DC rules the animation and gaming dept. I hope their upcoming movies…MAN OF STEEL AND JUSTICE LEAGUE are awesome (and not comedic).

    sorry for the typos if any

  24. Dang I wanted to hate this list but its more or less on point I think I would put The Incredibles a bit further down the list and put Under the Red Hood at number 1 and Mask of the Phantasm at number 2 The Marvel animated movies are good but put up against DC movies they don’t stand a chance best Marvel animated film so far would be Hulk VS Wolverine and the first Avengers movie. And I saw the new trailer for the Hulk Iron Man animated movie and it looks like Trash!!!!

    • “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” holds a special place in many Batman fan hearts, due to it being a theatrical animated Batman movie that’s based on the BTAS universe, which was and still is a brilliant cartoon series.

      That, and it’s just a REALLY well done movie

  25. BATMAN/SUPERMAN: APOCALYPSE was nice. the motion of the animated characters looks very real for a toon flick. It’s like the animators made sure they touched on every detail as it pertained to character movements in the film. Example: check out wonder woman and barda’s fight against the furies. The movements of the characters are fluid. Marvel doesn’t do that with their toons. The best art work and character motion of marvel characters in toon form has to be in an old marvel toon called SPIDERMAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS. I was watching some of that particular cartoon series on youtube, and it is awesome. The artwork is well done and the the flow of spiderman whenever he is fighting is just so sharp and clean. Marvel needs to go back to those days of character art and motion. It’s about the details, man.

  26. Its a solid top 10, DC have so many awesome animated films there is always some that will miss out, I love all of them, shocked Batman Year One isnt on it though, I would also add All Star Superman and Return of the Joker to that list, I would move Crisis On Two Earths a bit higher up as well, Batman Under the Red Hood and The Dark Knight Returns are probably my favourites..

  27. I would add the Iron Man anime to this list. Marvel did a great job with the Sons of Yinsen and Zodiac combination, using some great studios in Japan to animate it. Even though it’s a series of shorts, another top one is the Return of Black Adam. The Green Arrow and Spectre shorts are cool. Frankly, the Spectre one SHOULD be a series on primetime, given the 70s vibe and revenge pieces, rather then this CW Smallville and Arrow crap (CW has never had a good series, IMO.) Everyone also seems to forget the HBO version of Spawn these days…

  28. These are all DC comics animated features (save for the incredibles. Hulk V.S.? Hello? can’t have it all now DC.