James Gunn Ranks His Top 3 Favorite Superhero Movies

By Savannah Sanders Posted:
James Gunn Superman Deadpool

Ranking superhero movies is part of the fan experience, and now, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 director James Gunn has ranked his personal favorites. 

Not only is this reveal timely given Vol. 3's release, but few filmmakers have as much experience and influence on comic book cinema as Gunn.  

And, while there's no doubt that audiences enjoy his superhero films, fans are now getting to know which superhero films he personally enjoys. 

James Gunn's Favorite Comic Book Movies

In a video for GQ, Marvel and now DC Studios' own James Gunn ranked his favorite comic book films. Three of these happen to be superhero-centric movies, while two others were based on graphic novels. The latter group is as follows:

Oldboy (2003)


Gunn acknowledged that most people don't know that 2003's Oldboy "is a comic book film," saying,

"...but it's based on a manga, and it's a Korean film. It reinvented action and it really ushered in the new era of Korean cinema, which has continued to this day."

In addition to touting that Oldboy "works on every level," the director credits the film's hallway fight as "a huge inspiration" and that fans can see his own version of in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

A History of Violence

A History of Violence
A History of Violence

Another more subtle comic book film that James Gunn loves is David Cronenberg's A History of Violence.

Upon his first viewing of the 2005 Viggo Mortensen film, Gunn confessed he was unaware that it was a graphic novel adaptation. And, interestingly enough, that actually influenced him. 

According to Gunn:

"I really was influenced by 'History of Violence.' I was influenced by the way that it didn't play like an action movie. You don't look at it and say, 'Oh, that's an action movie.' But if you watch the way Cronenberg shoots the action sequences in the movie, it's really spectacular and really deft."

Gunn credits the following three superhero flicks as his personal Top 3 favorites:

3.) Deadpool 

20th Century Pictures

Earning the fifth slot on James Gunn's comic book movie rankings (and the third slot out of the superhero movies) is Deadpool starring Ryan Reynolds. 

Gunn explained that Deadpool was even more of a comedy than his 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy was, praising the 2016 film as "a perfect adaption of a comic book" that also manages to give "more heart than the comics have."

He also considers Ryan Reynolds as "one of the all-time great comic book icons," alongside Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man and Christopher Reeves' Superman

2.) Superman (1978)

Warner Bros.

James Gunn's second favorite film in his rankings is the iconic superhero film, the late Richard Donner's Superman starring Christopher Reeves. 

The Superman: Legacy director admitted that this film "changed my life," explaining how it was "the next big magical movie" he experienced after 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope.

In a possible window into DC Studios' casting process for Superman: Legacy, Gunn pointed out "the thing" about Christopher Reeves that no one talks about, saying:

"There's this playfulness about Superman, when he's saving a cat, he's got that wry smile. And that is one of the best parts of the movie is the playfulness of Superman. He enjoys what he's doing."

1.) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Sony Pictures

According to James Gunn, "I just don't think that there's been a better superhero movie than Into the Spider-Verse." 

In analyzing this 2018 animated hit, whose sequel Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is releasing this June, Gunn claims that Multiversal Miles Morales film "does not have a bad beat in it" and approached it as a writer, saying what he respects in a movie screenplay is staying "pointed the entire film."

Honorable Mentions

Gunn also shared a few honorable mention films, most of which also happen to be superhero flicks. 

In addition to Deadpool 2, which he discussed in his Deadpool dialogue, Gunn also loves V for Vendetta and the MCU film that started it all, 2008's Iron Man

Lastly, Into the Spider-Verse isn't the only wall-crawler movie James Gunn loves, as he also mentioned Spider-Man: Homecoming

How Revealing Are James Gunn's Rankings?

Due to James Gunn's impressive list of comic book films thus far, as well as what he's now developing at DC Studios, his personal rankings aren't just interesting but also illuminating. 

The Deadpool films make sense given his penchant for comedy and edge, as do The History of Violence and Oldboy as his style has never been cookie-cutter

But Superman being his second-favorite superhero film is definitely worth paying attention to. 

As Gunn said himself, Superman "changed my life," and that's probably why he elected to write, direct, as well as make Superman: Legacy the first film of his Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters slate

Also, again, his notes about Christopher Reeves are likely telling in terms of who he will cast as cinema's next Man of Steel

Finally, it's fascinating to learn of Gunn's love for Into the Spider-Verse, as it reveals how he views movies from the perspective of a screenwriter. 

Wondering why James Gunn's own superhero films didn't make his rankings? According to him, his "movies are like my children, so I can't say one that I like better than the other."

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is playing in theaters now; Superman: Legacy arrives in theaters on July 11, 2025.

- In This Article: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Release Date
May 05, 2023
- About The Author: Savannah Sanders
Savannah Sanders joined The Direct as a writer in 2020. In addition to writing for The Direct's Star Wars, Marvel, and DC teams, Savannah specializes in the relationship between Disney's blockbuster franchises and the Disney Parks.