What are your favorite superhero films?
It’s too long,too dark and tries to tell too many stories for one movie, but you can’t beat the action scenes. Heath Ledger is absolutely riveting as the Joker, a role for which he deservedly won the only Oscar ever given to an actor in a superhero movie.
Best line: "I’m not a monster, I’m just ahead of the curve." — The Joker
Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
There were superhero movies before “Spider-Man,” but it’s the one that really launched the craze. It starred Tobey Maguire, (who, with all due respects to current webhead Andrew Garfield, is the definitive Peter Parker) as a mild-mannered science geek who gains super powers after he’s bitten by a radioactive spider.
Best line: "Remember, with great power comes great responsibility." — Uncle Ben
Photo: Sony Pictures
One of Pixar’s finest, about a married couple who’ve retired from the superhero business. Mr. Incredible and Elasti-Girl are forced back into action (with their superpowered kids) when an old nemesis resurfaces, complete with an island lair. It’s one of those rare movies that appeals to kids and adults alike.
Best line: "That was totally wicked!" — Neighbor kid on tricycle who just witnessed The Incredibles defeat Syndrome.
Photo: Disney/Pixar/Warner Bros. Pictures
This one sits apart from the rest of the X-Men films. It’s set in the early ‘60s, when an upright Charles Xavier first starts putting together his team of superpowered mutants. Plus, Jennifer Lawrence looks good in blue and Kevin Bacon makes a great villain.
Best line: "I am going to count to three and I’m going to move the coin..." — Magneto
Photo: 20th Century Fox
Four previous superhero movies — “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” — served as prequels for this all-star smash-fest, which pitted Earth’s Mightiest Heroes against an an alien army. The movie lived up to the hype, especially in the climactic battle scene, which left Manhattan in ruins.
Best line: "And Hulk? Smash!" — Captain America
Photo: AP/Disney, Zade Rosethal
This one snuck under the radar for a lot of people, but it’s worth searching out. Ben Stiller (Mr. Furious), William H. Macy (The Shoveler), Hank Azaria (Blue Raja), Janeane Garafalo (The Bowler) and Paul Reubens (The Spleen) are a gang of wannabe heroes who have to step up when Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) goes missing.
Best line: "I don’t need a compass to know which way the wind shines." — Mr. Furious Photo: Handout image
This really is a rollicking action movie, about a 1940s guy who’s too wimpy to join the army until he’s injected with a super-serum that turns him into an unstoppable hero, who is promptly sent out on tour to sell war bonds even though he’d rather be fighting real Nazis.
Best line: "I know this neighborhood. I got beat up in that alley. And that parking lot. And behind that diner." — Steve Rogers
Photo: AP/Paramount Pictures
We could just as easily have picked the first Christopher Reeve “Superman” movie (but not the inferior third and fourth). But we really like this one, where Clark reveals his identity to Lois and gives up his powers just as General Zod and friends escape the Phantom Zone and head for Earth.
Best line: "Come to me, son of Jor-El, kneel before Zod!" — General Zod
Photo: AP/Handout image
Will Smith plays a superhero with an image problem — he drinks too much, swears a lot and has a tendency to destroy buildings while fighting crime. A PR guy agrees to help him out, even though his wife thinks it’s a terrible idea (for good reason, it turns out).
Best line: "Call me an [expletive deleted] one more time." — John Hancock
Photo: AP/Columbia Pictures, Frank Masi
Robert Downey Jr. is the only guy who could pull off the role of bazillionaire genius Tony Stark, who suffers a critical injury and has to build a mechanical suit to stay alive — and fight bad guys. It’s probably the best of the recent Marvel superhero movies, largely because of the performances of stars Downey, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges.
Best line: "The truth is ... I am Iron Man." — Tony Stark
Photo: AP/ Marvel Entertainment, Zade Rosenthal
Fair warning: This movie is just awful. But it’s awful in sort of a fun-to-watch way. It stars Nicolas Cage as a guy who rides around on a motorcycle with his skull on fire, which ought to be reason enough to watch.
Best line: "Wherever innocent blood is spilt, it’ll be my father’s blood, and you’ll find me there, a spirit of vengeance, fighting fire with fire." — Johnny Blaze
Photo: Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
In honor of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," which opens Friday, here are a dozen of our favorite superhero films: