Best superhero movies of 2023

2023 has been a year of two halves for the superhero genre

Superhero films ranged from fantastic to flop in 2023 for both Marvel and DC. (Marvel/DC)
Superhero films ranged from fantastic to flop in 2023 for both Marvel and DC. (Marvel/DC)

Superhero films have had a difficult year; fatigue for the genre has begun to set in, there's an incoming overhaul of the DC franchise, and the blockbusters have struggled at the box office when they once easily dominated it.

Even with these hurdles getting in the way, a number of superhero films from both Marvel and DC were released over the course of 2023 — one of which is still to be released: Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Some were great, some good, others not so much, and Yahoo UK will be taking a look back at them all.

Read more: Every upcoming DC movie

Of course, since Aquaman 2 has not yet been released this film will not yet be included in this list.

The best superhero movies of 2023

7 | Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (Marvel)

Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man and Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror in Marvel Studios' ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA. Photo by Jay Maidment. © 2022 MARVEL.
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang and Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (Marvel).

With Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) all wrapped up in a not-so-neat bow, it was up to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania to kick off phase five in style, and set the stage for Kang the Conqueror's (Jonathan Majors) dominance of the superhero world. Unfortunately it didn't.

The film follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) as he and his family are swept into the quantum realm and meet Kang, one of his variants at least, who was banished there and is determined to get out to continue his conquering of the multiverse. A film full to brim with CGI and featuring a lacklustre narrative, the movie proved to be the weakest of the Ant-Man movies but also made for a poor start to phase five of the MCU.

6 | Shazam! Fury of the Gods (DC)

(L-r) ROSS BUTLER as Super Hero Eugene, ADAM BRODY as Super Hero Freddy, GRACE CAROLINE CURREY as Super Hero Mary, ZACHARY LEVI as Shazam, MEAGAN GOOD as Super Hero Darla and D.J. COTRONA as Super Hero Pedro in New Line Cinema’s action adventure “SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods marked the end of the DCEU ahead of James Gunn and Peter Safran's reboot of the franchise. (Warner Bros.)

With DC being given the reboot treatment by James Gunn and Peter Safran it was hardly going to be easy to convince moviegoers to see Shazam! Fury of the Gods, and unfortunately the film itself seemed hardly worth the effort for many either as the box office results weren't ideal.

The sequel follows Billy Batson (Zachary Levi and Asher Angel) as he and his fellow "Shazamily" are brought back together in order to face the Daughters of Atlas, Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu). Less focused and not as fun as its predecessor, the film maintained enough of its charm to deliver an average superhero caper.

5 | The Flash (DC)

EZRA MILLER as Barry Allen/The Flash, SASHA CALLE as Kara Zor-El/Supergirl and EZRA MILLER as Barry Allen/The Flash in The Flash. (Warner Bros.)
Ezra Miller and Sasha Calle in The Flash, which was marred by controversy before its release.(Warner Bros.)

Few movies have had as eventful a lead up to release as The Flash, with Barry Allen actor Ezra Miller becoming a controversial figure as a result of multiple arrests. The film was also in the works for so long that its idea of introducing the multiverse into DC no longer felt new.

Even so, The Flash proved to be a middling addition to the DC universe, delivering a nostalgia-filled narrative in which Barry travels back in time to try and stop his mother's death only to change the course of history and find himself faced with another version of himself, and another Batman (Michael Keaton).

4 | The Marvels (Marvel)

Iman Vellani, Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris in The Marvels, the most recent MCU film to be released. (Marvel)
Iman Vellani, Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris in The Marvels, the most recent MCU film to be released. (Marvel)

With Marvel struggling to succeed at the box office on several occasions already this year, The Marvels had quite the challenge ahead of it to bring audience members back to the cinema. Sadly the box office results show it did not succeed in doing so.

Read more: Should Marvel revive the original Avengers?

Despite this, The Marvels is a fun if imperfect addition to the MCU — It follows Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) as they team up to stop the machinations of villain Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton). The film has its moments, thriving in ridiculously camp scenes more so than the familiar, tried and tested superhero narrative that has been done dozens of times before, and better.

3 | Blue Beetle (DC)

Xolo Maridueña as Jamie Reyes in Blue Beetle. (Warner Bros.)
Xolo Maridueña as Jamie Reyes in Blue Beetle, which injected new blood into the DC Universe. (Warner Bros.)

The first film to be part of the new era of DC, even if it was filmed before Gunn and Safran's takeover, Blue Beetle is a charming introduction to a lesser known character in the superhero universe, but one who could inject some new life into it.

Starring Xolo Maridueña as Jaime Reyes, the film follows his character as he comes into possession of the Blue Beetle which chooses to bond with him and sees him become a superhero as a result. While Susan Sarandon makes for a, sadly, forgettable villain, and the story touches on a number of familiar beats, the strength of the film's cast and the moving bond between the Reyes family marked a fun new era for DC.

2 | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (Marvel)

(L-R): Karen Gillan as Nebula, Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, and Dave Bautista as Drax in Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo by Jessica Miglio. © 2023 MARVEL.
Karen Gillan as Nebula, Chris Pratt as Peter Quill and Dave Bautista as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, James Gunn's swan song to the characters. (Marvel)

James Gunn's swan song to the Guardians of the Galaxy proved to be a stunning and emotional send off for the loveable rogues that were introduced into the MCU back in 2014.

The film followed Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff) team up with Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) in order to save Rocket Racoon after he is critically wounded and the only way to save him is to take on his creator: the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji).

Full of moving moments, delightful comedy and, of course, a great soundtrack, the film proved that sometimes it's better to say goodbye when the time is right.

1 | Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Sony)

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (Sony Pictures)
Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse was a stand out of the year (Sony Pictures)

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse cemented the character's enduring legacy in the superhero genre and the prowess of animation, a sub-section of Hollywood that is often not taken as seriously as its live-action counterparts. But this sequel is the easy winner of 2023.

Centred once more on Miles Morales, the film follows the budding hero as he is transported across the multiverse to help stop a new threat. Full of stunning visuals, a heartfelt story and more Spider-Man Easter eggs than you can count, the movie is incredible from start to finish.

Watch: The Marvels director Nia DaCosta discusses the film