Total Nerd
1.5k voters

The 25 Greatest Superhero Movie Performances Of All Time

Updated September 29, 2020 21.1k votes 1.5k voters 16.6k views25 items

List RulesIncludes hero roles only - villains have their own list.

One of the best things to come from the 21st century has been the rise of superhero movies as a viable and entertaining development in feature films. While it's true that superhero movies have been around for a good half of the 20th century, they didn't hit their stride until movies like 2008's Iron Man launched the MCU. That being said, there have been some great superhero flicks going back as far as the 1970s, but it's only now that the genre has taken over as a near-guaranteed moneymaker for studios.

Of course, you can't have a great superhero film without a superhero, and that's going to require the casting of an amazingly talented actor or actress - assuming they're willing to accept the role, of course. Granted, there have been some incredible actors and actresses who haven't done much with superhero roles, which is why Halle Berry won't pop up for her work in Catwoman. That horror aside, there have been some incredibly impressive performances from some talented players over the years.

This list highlights the 25 best performances from the realm of superhero films and lists them from best to... well, not as good. Check out the actors and actresses below, and don't forget to vote up the ones you think should stand above the rest as the greatest superhero performance of all time.

  • Films: X-Men (2000), X2: X-Men United (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), X-Men: First Class (2011), The Wolverine (2013), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), Logan (2017), and Deadpool 2​​​ (2018)

    If there's one actor who has definitely put his time and energy into a superhero role, it's Hugh Jackman. He played Wolverine for the better part of two decades, and the man seriously put his all into each and every performance.

    He wasn't necessarily the main character in the first X-Men film, but that was only a technicality. He went on to become so popular; Fox kept throwing him into every film in the franchise, whether it made canonical sense or not.

    Jackman ended his time playing the character in 2017's Logan and has sworn off ever taking it on again, but rumors abound that Disney is trying to work its magic to bring him back, if only for a final time... well, another final time, anyway.

    Amazing portrayal?
  • Films: Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019), Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), and Black Widow (2021)

    There wouldn't be an MCU if not for the talented performance Robert Downey Jr. gave as Tony Stark/Iron Man in 2008. He played the role in over ten movies, and his work built the backbone of what would become the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

    Granted, there were thousands of people who made that happen, but the end-product saw RDJ wearing the red and gold armor from start to finish of the first three phases of the MCU.

    Though his character passed away in Avengers: Endgame, he is reprising it once more in Black Widow, which is set prior to the events of Endgame.

    Amazing portrayal?
  • Films: X-Men (2000), X2 (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), The Wolverine (2013), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), and Logan (2017)​​​​​​​

    When talk of a live-action X-Men adaptation was going around in the late 1990s, few people could see anyone in the role other than Sir Patrick Stewart, and it's not just because the man is follically-challenged.

    Stewart is a phenomenal actor, and he has a history of holding up franchises, so his gravitas didn't hurt any when Fox opted to exercise its film license rights by going out on a limb with X-Men in 2000.

    The success of that movie helped give birth to the subsequent cinematic universes, and a large part of that stemmed from Stewart's work on the franchise. While James McAvoy nailed his time in the role, it all starts with Stewart, who made a lot of the superhero films of the 21st century possible.

    Amazing portrayal?
  • Films: Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Doctor Strange (2016) Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019) and Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

    Despite having blond eyebrows when he first started playing the role of Thor Odinson, Chris Hemsworth absolutely looked the part. Ok, the character has those eyebrows in the comics, but they don't translate well to film, and fortunately, they were dumped in subsequent movies.

    Chris Hemsworth was perfectly cast in the role, and it's not just because he turned his body into that of a perfectly chiseled Norse god; he's an amazing actor, and it's hard to picture anyone else managing the role as well as he has.

    Throughout the course of the first three phases of the MCU, he's evolved the character from a headstrong and impulsive young man to a despondent leader who felt he failed his people. Thor completely changed through the course of his movies, and it's all due to Hemsworth's incredible acting.

    Amazing portrayal?