Given the plethora of superhero movies that have been released over the years, getting into a discussion of which is the best can seem like a never-ending conversation. Over the years, there have been many debates about whether superhero movies are more than just spectacle and “popcorn movies”.
Two films that are routinely brought up during the “best of all-time” conversation are The Dark Knight and Logan. Each film has its strengths and uniqueness that separates it from other films in the superhero genre, breaking the mold and their impact has often changed the general opinion about superhero movies themselves.
10 The Dark Knight Features The Best Superhero Movie Performance Of All Time
The Dark Knight is full of good performances, but Heath Ledger’s take on the Joker is hailed as one of the best performances of all time. Ledger posthumously won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime.
Ledger’s maniacal, anarchist take on the Joker boosted the film as a whole. Ledger stole every scene he was in and set the bar for great superhero performances. It’s truly a shame that Ledger did not get to see his success along with the film’s success and impact on the superhero genre.
9 Logan Is Anchored By The Performances Of Its Three Leads
Logan was first and foremost marketed as Hugh Jackman’s final performance as Wolverine, and his work is nothing short of exceptional even though he had been playing the character for so long.
Logan is anchored by the performances of its leads: Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Dafne Keen. Keen holds her own in her first film alongside X-Men vets Jackman and Stewart. And Stewart gave a brilliant performance as an aging, increasingly unstable Charles Xavier. It was among the best performances in Stewart’s career and quite frankly, was snubbed for a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Academy Awards.
8 The Dark Knight Won 2 Oscars And Had 8 Nominations
The Dark Knight set the record at the time with eight Oscar nominations, the most for a superhero movie. It won two; Best Supporting Actor for Ledger and Sound Editing. The film shockingly was not nominated for Best Picture that year.
People were upset that The Dark Knight was not nominated for Best Picture, and the following year the Academy upped the number of films nominated for Best Picture from five to ten. This is largely credited to The Dark Knight, as many feel it was unfairly left out because it was deemed a superhero movie. The film began the renaissance of more respect for superhero films.
7 Logan Became The First Superhero Movie Nominated For Best Adapted Screenplay
While Logan only received one Oscar nomination, it was a pretty significant one. Logan became the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Superhero films are not known for their writing, but Logan changed the game by focusing more on the characters rather than the spectacle that most superhero movies normally have. The fact that it was recognized by the Academy is a testament to not only Logan, but the evolving attitudes surrounding superhero movies and paved the way for more nominations down the line.
6 The Dark Knight’s Added Realism Changed The Genre
When Christopher Nolan took over the Batman franchise, he wanted to move away from the colorful spandex and campy tone of the last Batman films. Nolan filmed his Batman films in Chicago; adding more realism to Gotham City than before, making his Batman more realistic and technology-heavy.
Nolan essentially gave fans the closest version of Batman if he existed in contemporary times. It can be fun to see superheroes that go off in space and fight evil or battle otherworldly beings. However, Nolan gave fans a glimpse for the first time of what a superhero would be like in real life, something that set his Batman trilogy apart from other superhero movies.
5 Logan Subverted The Superhero Genre To Massive Success
Yes, Logan is technically an X-Men movie. But if you took away all the claws, telepathic abilities, and mutants, Logan is essentially a classic Western film.
The film’s massive success critically and commercially showed that superhero movies do not always have to be “save the world” fare. Also, the R-rating for the movie gave it a lot more freedom to tell a more mature story. The brutal violence, blood, and swearing are all things Wolverine fans had been hoping would happen for years, as it is true to the character Wolverine himself across so many mediums.
4 The Ending Of The Dark Knight Is Arguably The Best In A Superhero Movie
No superhero fan could forget the ending of The Dark Knight. After Batman takes the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes, Commissioner Gordon delivers a monologue about the hero that Batman is. Played over Hans Zimmer’s brilliant score, it makes for one epic ending.
The ending makes you feel for Batman after everything that he did for Gotham City. The viewer realizes that Batman really will do anything for his city, whether it makes him a villain or not. It is a pitch-perfect ending that is nearly unmatched across the superhero genre.
3 The Heartbreaking Ending Of Logan Nicely Wrapped Up Hugh Jackman’s Run As Wolverine
Hugh Jackman finally decided to hang up the claws for good after one final performance in Logan. While fans had seen nearly everything happen to Wolverine over seventeen years, he finally died protecting his daughter and her friends and was at peace.
The film had something very few superhero movies have had: finality. Logan had run his course, he protected Laura and left her with important life lessons to not end up like him. Jackman left his massive mark on the superhero genre and left some pretty big shoes to fill for whoever follows him when Wolverine is recast in the MCU someday.
2 Christopher Nolan’s Impact Was Felt Across Future Superhero Movies
Christopher Nolan had a tough task ahead of him when he signed on to direct Batman Begins. After Batman & Robin, the franchise was essentially dead, and it was still fresh for fans how disastrous that film was. Suffice it to say, Nolan knocked it out of the park with The Dark Knight Trilogy.
Nolan’s gritty, realistic style gave new life to Batman. This style also opened new doors in the superhero genre. Man of Steel, on which Nolan was an executive producer, heavily drew from his style, and filmmakers have tried to replicate Nolan’s techniques and success ever since.
1 Logan Is A Deep Character Study, Unlike Most Superhero Movies
Logan is an atypical superhero movie. It stripped Wolverine of nearly everything that made him a superhero. The X-Men, his healing factor, and his sense of purpose were all gone in the film. What happens when a superhero no longer wants to be one anymore?
Superhero movies are often seen as spectacle nowadays, and Logan was anything but. In fact, Logan trades spectacle for a deep character study of a man who is at the end of the line and attempts to keep going despite all odds. It certainly differentiates itself from most films in the superhero genre.
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