Whether they come to us from outer space or tragic scientific mishaps, superheroes have always been larger than life, capable of sweeping us off our feet, both figuratively and literally. So it's no wonder that the greatest superhero movies can do the same.
We count down the 10 best films featuring the costumed men (and women), mutants, scientists and billionaires who've saved our planet many times over. Superheroes of the silver screen, we salute you.

Best Superhero Movies

    Just as Will Smith's darkly comedic 'Hancock' flies into theaters, we count down the 10 best (and 10 worst!) films featuring the costumed men (and women), mutants, scientists and billionaires who've saved our planet many times over.

    Superheroes of the silver screen, we salute you ... Or diss you, depending on which list you fall.

    Clockwise: Sony | AP | 20th Century Fox | Sony

    10. Superman II (1981)

    Thought Spider-Man was the first superhero torn between a girl and his obligation to humanity? Think again. Here Supes faces a choice: Defend Earth from three evil Kryptonians or get naked with Lois Lane. Luckily, Margot Kidder ain't so hot.

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    Everett Collection

    9. The Incredibles (2004)

    You know what they say, "The family that saves the day together, stays together." Or something like that. We only know that the Mr. and Mrs. must be doing something right, because their three kids (and the Pixar film) are just super.

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    Disney

    8. Batman (1989)

    Bat-fans freaked when Michael Keaton was chosen to play the Caped Crusader, but they needn't have worried. Inspired by Frank Miller's Dark Knight series, Tim Burton's film gave us a brooding antihero whose angst doesn't keep him from kicking ass -- or getting the girl.

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    Everett Collection

    7. Superman (1978)

    Just a few bars from John Williams' chills-inducing score will transport most of you back to childhood, when an azure-eyed Adonis named Christopher Reeve became the Man of Steel. He flew through buildings, saved lives and proved tights can be manly.

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    Warner Bros.

    6. X-Men (2000)

    With his smart storytelling, hair-raising action sequences and the sexiest cast of superheroes since ... well, ever, Bryan Singer didn't just raise the bar for comic-book flicks when he made 'X-Men' -- he drop-kicked that sucker into another universe.

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    20th Century Fox / ZUMA Press

    5. Spider-Man (2002)

    Wrought with a strong origin story, an impressive performance by Tobey Maguire as the amazing arachnid and plenty of web-slinging action, Sam Raimi's first Spidey installment revived the superhero genre AND the upside-down makeout session.

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    Sony

    4. X2: X-Men United (2003)

    Before 'Superman Returns,'Bryan Singer made this, his second -- and sadly, last -- 'X-Men' installment, following Marvel's eclectic (and hot) cast of mutants as they battle a corrupt general. And for once, a woman (Famke Janssen's Jean Grey) saves the day. Saucy!

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    20th Century Fox

    3. Iron Man (2008)

    Wait a sec -- troubled, underachieving genius Robert Downey Jr. as a guy who flies around in an iron suit? Well ... yeah. In fact, can we get a HELL yeah? Downey is all insouciance and cheeky charm as conscience-struck billionaire Tony Stark. His performance, a smart script and whiz-bang visuals transformed 'Iron Man' into that rare breed indeed: a superhero movie for grown-ups.

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    Paramount

    2. Batman Begins (2005)

    Director Christopher Nolan delivers us from the camp-fests of Batmen past, serves up the most badass Dark Knight ever to defend Gotham (Christian Bale) and makes us do something we thought we'd never do: want more 'Batman' movies.

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    Warner Bros.

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