Superhero movies have been dominating the movie industry for decades. So much so, that many acclaimed movie directors despise the genre. But in franchises as vast and expansive as the MCU or the DCEU, it’s a nice change of pace to tell self-contained stories in the form of trilogies.
Superhero trilogies are certainly not a new thing, and have been around long before the MCU. The likes of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy were the golden standard of what a superhero movie trilogy should be.
Since the MCU we have seen many of our favorite superheroes receive brilliant trilogies that are easily among the best trilogies of all time. To that end, here are the best superhero trilogies of all time.
10 Eastrail 177 (Unbreakable, Split, and Glass)
Unbreakable is an incredible superhero movie that was one of the first movies to ask, “What if superheroes existed in the real world?” This premise, at the time, was a fresh and unique way of looking at comic books and the superhero genre.
Split, the second film in M. Night Shyamalan’s superhero trilogy, is an intense thriller that explores Dissociative Identity Disorder and has a surprising connection to 2000’s Unbreakable. Both movies come to a head with 2019’s Glass, the final film in the Eastrail 177 trilogy, which was sadly a huge disappointment. However, Glass managed to wrap up its previous films and finally answer many important questions.
Although it was the X-Men movies and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy that skyrocketed the success of the superhero genre, it was 1998’s Blade that essentially kick-started it. The Blade movies may be far from a perfect superhero movie trilogy, at least by today’s standards, however, they are all still a ton of fun.
The first movie’s dark tone and phenomenal action carries through to the rest of the trilogy, and Wesley Snipes’ exceptional performance as the “Daywalker” is still among the best superhero performances of all time.
8 Iron Man
Kick-starting the MCU, 2008’s Iron Man is a masterful super origin film that introduced the superhero genres to more casual audiences. Iron Man 3 is incredibly convoluted, especially in its third act, but is still a very compelling and underrated superhero movie. Iron Man 2 was a little convoluted and had to deal with a lot of set up for future MCU installments, which crushed the movie under its own weight. But seeing Tony Stark’s character grow and the evolution of the Iron Man suits, make for a fully engaging trilogy.
The first two X-Men movies are easily some of the best in the genre, sadly, the third movie was not. Although, for the most part, X-Men: The Last Stand managed to deliver on everything we loved about the first two movies, with its jaw-dropping action and stellar performances. However, the third movie’s story, pacing, and writing couldn’t quite come together. Yet the trilogy is still among the best in the superhero genre.
The trilogy’s cast is incredible, and the movies just wouldn’t be the same without them. Hugh Jackman is a fantastic Wolverine, Sir Ian McKellan and Sir Patrick Stewart are perfect as Magneto and Professor Xavier, respectfully, and Halle Berry is incredible as Storm.
6 The Wolverine
X-Men Origins: Wolverine isn’t a particularly great start to a trilogy, yet it’s the final two movies in the Wolverine trilogy that rank it among the best. Anytime we get to see Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is always a delight, and Logan’s overall arc combined with the X-Men trilogy is fully engaging.
The Wolverine doesn’t receive the credit it deserves, yet it’s the brilliantly crafted Logan that cements this trilogy as a phenomenal superhero trilogy, and is a satisfying yet deeply emotional end, to the character of Wolverine, and Hugh Jackman’s time in the role.
5 Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy is a ton of fun. It’s a campy superhero trilogy which beams with nostalgia for almost anyone who watches it. Tobey Maguire is a great Spider-Man and the villains, bar Topher Grace’s Venom, were all phenomenal villains.
The action is high-octane and brilliantly stylized the whole way through, and the music is just the cherry on top of the cake. The movies certainly aren’t perfect, yet the insurmountable amount of fun that beams from this trilogy, makes it one of the best trilogies of all time.
4 Spider-Man Home Trilogy
Bringing Spider-Man into the MCU has been something fans have wanted since the start of the cinematic universe. Thankfully, 2016’s Civil War made this wish a reality. From there, it wasn’t long before we got a fantastic Spider-Man trilogy, that sees Peter Parker grow so much, and seeing his journey through this trilogy and the MCU allows for three great superhero movies.
Homecoming was a compelling tale of Peter Parker coming into his powers and dealing with high school. Far From Home sported some truly sensational visual effects that enhanced Peter’s story. No Way Home is still a dream come true, which sees villains from the Raimi and Marc Webb movies return, as well as Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield return to their roles as Spider-Man. The villains in the trilogy are all phenomenal, and Tom Holland is a fantastic Spider-Man.
3 Captain America
For many, the Captain America trilogy is the best MCU trilogy, and while we think that the case most recently, ever so slightly differs, the Captain America trilogy is still a sensational trilogy. The Captain America trilogy is full of some of the best action scenes in the MCU. Cap vs the Winter Soldier, and the jaw-dropping airport battle will always remain as some of the best action scenes. As a character, Captain America never really had an arc, but his righteousness and charisma is enough to make us love him.
The First Avenger isn’t great, but It’s still an underrated MCU movie, The Winter Soldieris still one of the best MCU movies, and Civil Warwas an epic action movie that introduced characters like Black Panther and Spider-Man into the MCU. Two of the three Captain America movies are among the best MCU and superhero movies ever made, which certainly accounts for something.
2 Guardians of the Galaxy
The Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy is simply flawless. James Gunn managed to make us emotionally connect to a group of galactic misfits, buffoons, and assassins, and turn them into one of the best superhero teams of all time. In every single movie, there is at least one moment that will make audiences cry, no matter how many times they may have re-watched it. Whether it’s Groot saying “We are Groot”, Yondu’s heartbreaking sacrifice or Rocket’s disturbing backstory, this trilogy connects audiences to its characters in ways no trilogy ever has.
Each movie offers some of the best comedy in movie history, as well as some truly jaw-dropping visual effects. The action is exhilarating, and the soundtracks only make each movie feel far more epic and emotional.
1 The Dark Knight
Was there really any doubt that The Dark Knight trilogy wouldn’t take the top spot? Christopher Nolan offers an authentic superhero movie trilogy that shines in its sense of realism, which is enhanced by the profound amount of impressive practical effects. All three movies offer some deeply compelling performances, and Heath Ledger’s Joker is still among the best villain performances ever.
Sure, The Dark Knight Rises may not live up to the levels of The Dark Knight, yet it still offers a brilliant superhero epic and a satisfying finale to this incredible trilogy. The Dark Knight trilogy is easily one of the best trilogies ever made.
This story originally appeared on Movieweb