Ask any child who his or her favorite superhero is, and whether s/he’s four or 14, s/he’ll have a ready answer for you. That’s because kids love superhero movies. Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-man, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Black Panther – these are all common, household names in homes where there’s at least one child present. Sometimes they’re household names even in houses without kids!
Every superhero movie, though, is not created equal. There are some out there that just aren’t suitable for children or for children under a certain age. How do you know which ones are okay for your child? We hope this list of our 40 favorite superhero movies will help you decide.
Best Superhero Movies for Kids in Preschool (Ages 2-4)
It’s hard to find superhero movies suitable for children this young. Although the Marvel and DC movies are all the rage and toys from the movies are being marketed to children of this age range, the movies are much too mature and violent for preschool aged children to watch.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some great options out there, though. You just have to know where to look, and it’s usually going to be in the animated superhero section as opposed to live action.
Scooby-Doo & Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2018)
Scooby Doo is always a hit with younger viewers, and when you add Batman into the equation, it gets even better.
Even though I’m not really a Scooby fan, I had a surprisingly great time watching this one because it featured some of my favorite DC characters including the Joker, Aquaman, Mr. Freeze, Catwoman, Riddler, Penguin, Harvey Bullock, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.
It had a huge cast of characters! The crossover finds Scooby and the gang helping Batman put a stop to some of the never-ending evil in Gotham City before heading back into their own world.
VeggieTales: The League of Incredible Vegetables (2012)
I’m not a huge VeggieTales person, but I understand why so many kids and parents love them.
Each show features some great faith and life lessons little kids are never too young to learn. Plus, the songs are pretty catchy at times. So while I don’t enjoy the show, I do respect it.
The same is true for this movie featuring the popular VeggieTales characters calling out the big guns – the VeggieTales Superheroes!
There are some great, faith-based messages as usual, and Junior Asparagus finding his faith both in himself and in God is pretty inspiring.
Bratz Super Babyz (2007)
It seems like the Bratz dolls and cartoons are extremely polarizing for parents. Many parents have no problem with them, but others truly detest them for the message the high heels, plump lips and over-the-top makeup sends to young girls.
If that’s your complaint with the Bratz, you shouldn’t have a problem with this movie.
The baby Bratz featured in this animated film don’t feature the makeup and revealing clothing for which the normal Bratz are so well-known.
Instead, they’re cute, chubby-cheeked babies who’re magically transformed into their favorite superheroes and fly off to save the day. It’s actually quite darling, and I enjoyed watching it with my niece.
Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups (2019)
Although I’ve never watched much of the cartoon, I do find the Paw Patrol pups to be pretty endearing. For kids who love Paw Patrol and superheroes, this movie is the perfect crossover.
A meteor crashes to Earth and somehow turns all the puppies into Superhero puppies, which comes in handy when a bad guy decides to steal the meteor for himself.
Best Superhero Movies for Young Kids (Ages 5-7)
There’s a little more variety for this age range, but even so, the big-name, super popular superhero movies still aren’t exactly suitable for most five- to seven-year-old children either. Most of the age-appropriate superhero movies for kids of this age are still going to be animated, but there are a few live action options available too. At this age, kids can handle a little more smash and bash without getting too violent and rowdy themselves.
Lego DC Super Hero Girls: Brain Drain (2017)
Okay, I know a lot of parents don’t like these movies because they feel like they’re just extended, over-long commercials enticing kids to go buy the Lego DC Super Hero Girls toys, but I 100% disagree.
I feel like little girls aren’t often given much chance to experience the pleasure of superheroes – at least not in the same way little boys are.
TV shows market to girls with princesses, Barbies and fluffy animals, and that’s okay! None of those things are bad things!
As a huge super-nerd myself, though, I feel like girls deserve a chance to feel like superheroes too, and although the Lego DC Super Hero Girls are totally aimed at commercialism and consumerism, they still give little girls that chance.
They still show girls as powerful, world-changing forces for good, and I love that. So I say let the kiddos watch this flick, even if it means a little extra whining on the toy aisle at Wal-Mart.
The Powerpuff Girls Movie (2002)
This is another movie I like for the same reason I like the Lego DC Super Hero Girls movie.
It features strong, powerful, young girls saving the world. If you don’t know much about the Powerpuff Girls, they were made – similar to Astro Boy – by a lonely professor who just wanted a family.
Something goes wrong in their creation, though, and the girls come out with superpowers. This movie shows the girls’ creation, their struggle to “fit in” and their ultimate triumph over evil.
It’s a surprisingly good, complex story with a lot of important lessons about treating others with respect and kindness and the value of family and friends.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017)
I absolutely, unequivocally don’t like Captain Underpants. However, this seems to be because I’m not a five- to seven-year-old child since every one of those I’ve met – and as a teacher, I’ve met a lot – absolutely loves him.
For that reason, I decided he’d make the list. In this movie, based on the popular book series, two young students hypnotize their principal into thinking he’s Captain Underpants, which works out fine until an actual bad guy attacks the school.
This probably isn’t something you, as a parent, will enjoy, but your kids will love the onslaught of potty humor – “Uranus – hahaha” – that fills up the movie.
The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
Batman and Legos – it doesn’t get much better than that. This movie came about because Will Arnett’s Lego Batman character was so popular in the first The Lego Movie.
In this not-quite-sequel/kind-of-spin-off, Arnett’s Batman is back and better than ever. At first, he thinks his life is perfect, but then he starts to feel a little lonely and has to do something about it.
Maybe it’s because Batman is my favorite superhero or because Arnett’s Batman voice is hilariously perfect, but I happen to love this movie. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a great one to watch with your younger children.
Astro Boy (2009)
This animated movie, which was originally a manga series in the 60’s, features a great cast of voice actors and a pretty decent plot as well.
As a parent, you’ll enjoy hearing well-known voices like Samuel L. Jackson, Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell and Donald Sutherland pop up in the film.
You’ll also appreciate the sweet, slightly sad, story of a robot boy built by a lonely scientist and taught to love.
Your kids will enjoy Astro Boy’s superpowers – flight, x-ray vision and super strength – and all the hardcore action in the film.
Kim Possible (2019)
If your kiddos enjoy the animated cartoon Kim Possible, they’ll very likely appreciate the live action movie as well. There isn’t a lot of background info in this movie, so if you never watched the cartoon with your child, you’ll probably be lost.
The movie has a pretty simple and straightforward plot – cool, crime-fighting girl kicks a lot of bad guy butt – but it’s a good representation of a strong female lead, and it’s quite empowering for young girls.
The Incredibles (2004)
Probably one of Pixar’s most popular films, The Incredibles follows the story of a family of superheroes living in a world where superpowers are illegal.
The movie has a great plot, and there’s a hugely important lesson to be learned in the fact that the Incredibles, though technically “criminals” for using their superpowers, nevertheless do the right thing and save the city when it’s under attack anyway.
This is one of my all-time favorite super hero movies for kids. If you’ve ever read one of my articles before, you already know how much I love Will Ferrell. That doesn’t change when he’s in animated form.
In this unique twist on the classic superhero/super villain tale, the bad guy has to become the good guy and save the planet when he creates his own nemesis who decides it’s more fun to be bad than good.
Like most Will Ferrell movies, Megamind turns all your notions of what should be upside down, and you’ll love every second of it.
Big Hero 6 (2014)
This is one of the few cartoons my son still loves and watches regularly at 15. Although Baymax and his friends aren’t the typical “superheroes” we think of when someone says the word, they’re heroes nonetheless.
More importantly, this movie is a great one for kids to watch because it touches on some really important stuff like overcoming loss, how to deal with grief, the importance of friendship and why we should appreciate people while we have them.
The Marvel Rising TV Specials (2018-2019)
There are a few of these television specials, and all of them are good.
There are some instances of death and loss, which may be hard for younger children to deal with, but these types of things are handled well.
There’s also a lot of fighting and violence, but it’s cartoony violence that isn’t too brutal or disturbing.
I like these for the strong female characters and the underlying message that shows viewers that one’s true power lies in loyalty, friendship and kindness.
Best Superhero Movies for Bigger Kids (Ages 8-9)
For kids aged eight and nine, you should be able to get a pretty even mixture of appropriate animated and live action superhero movies. There are usually quite a few fight scenes in movies for this age group, but they aren’t too graphic, and they don’t usually show blood. All of these movies are still pretty clean, but you may see a little more evidence of true good versus evil and some actual, physical fighting between the characters.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
I didn’t care for this movie, but it’s a great one for kids who love video games and superheroes.
Jim Carrey does a good job portraying the iconic Dr. Robotnik, and the story of Sonic being a super-powered alien sent to Earth was new and interesting.
It’ll definitely hold your child’s interest but probably not yours.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Spider-man is my son’s favorite superhero, and honestly, I can’t stand him. I mean, seriously… What kind of superpower is shooting out sticky webs and sticking to the side of buildings?!
Even so, I enjoyed this movie, which throws Spider-man back into the world of animation. This is the Miles Morales version of Spider-man.
Miles is a young black boy from Brooklyn who loves tagging and music.
Having a young, fresh-faced Spider-man is a much-needed breath of fresh air to the franchise, and the plot of the movie – multiple Spider-men sucked in Miles’ reality and working with him to fight the big evil – is a nice change of pace as well.
Sky High (2005)
This is a really cheesy, super corny superhero movie you probably missed when it came out. As a parent, there’s not much in it for me, but my son watched it ad nauseam when he was about nine.
In it, a teenager tries to navigate high school life in a high school full of kids with superpowers even though he doesn’t have any yet.
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (2018)
I’m not usually a fan of the Teen Titans, but this animated musical is funny. It has a lot of sly, adult humor cleverly disguised so as to be overlooked by children, and it pokes a lot of fun at traditional superhero movies.
Robin is upset when Hollywood makes a superhero movie about another hero and tries everything he can to get the movie’s director to change her mind and make a movie about him instead.
The only problem is that while he’s begging for attention, a real threat is approaching, and if Robin can’t get his act together, the Teen Titans might just be defeated for good.
Superman I-IV (1978-1987)
These are the original Superman movies featuring the legendary Christopher Reeve, and if you’ve never seen them, they’re awesome.
They’re also very clean, pure and family-friendly, so they’re perfect for sharing with your children, perhaps even earlier than age eight.
Even the goofiest of the movies (ahem, Superman III) is good and a lot of fun. A lot of great people also popped up in these movies over the years including Richard Pryor, Gene Hackman, Terence Stamp and Annette O’Toole.
Your kids will love watching Superman face and defeat one big bad after another.
- Superman The Movie (1978)
- Superman II (1980)
- Superman III (1983)
- Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Featuring Adam West as Batman and Cesar Romero as the Joker, this is a Batman classic.
It might be a hard sell for your kids at first because it’s shot in that cheesy, over-the-top, slightly ridiculous 60’s superhero movie style, but convince them to give it a chance. They’ll soon find out it’s completely worth it.
Batman and Robin race against time to save the UN Security Council from being dehydrated in a dehydration machine by the Joker, Catwoman, Riddler and Penguin. It’s hilariously good.
Batman vs. Two-Face (2017)
This animated movie is a great complement to the 1966 version of Batman because it has that same cheesy, campy, over-the-top feel to it. It premiered just a few years ago, but it’s an intentional throwback to the 60’s style of bringing comic books to life onscreen.
There are plenty of comic word bubbles (POW! PLONK! ZAP!) that pop up to obscure fight scenes, and some of the dialogue is pretty silly, but it’s still a super fun movie, especially for kids. It tells the story of how Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face and then some.
Best Superhero Movies for Tweens (Ages 10-12)
Although you may not think so at first, there are actually quite a few “popular” superhero movies suitable for tweens. While there are still some that are a little too dark and violent, the vast majority of the major Hollywood blockbusters should be okay for ten- to 12-year-old children. There will, of course, be even more fighting, and there may be some instances of suggestive flirting and mild language, but it shouldn’t be anything too intense or ugly.
Doctor Strange (2016)
I’m probably alone in this, but I’m not a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch, which kind of turned me off this movie. However, my son loves it.
Doctor Strange almost overtook Spider-man as his new favorite superhero – almost. It’s an interesting addition to the Marvel Universe, having a sorcerer as a superhero, and the plot is quite good.
As long as you aren’t anti-Cumberbatch, you’ll probably really like this one.
The Rocketeer (1991)
When discussing “Best Superhero Movies,” The Rocketeer often gets overlooked, and I’m not sure why. Starring Billy Campbell and a young Jennifer Connelly, this Disney movie about a pilot turned superhero is remarkably good and ahead of its time.
Cliff, the pilot, will put your kids in mind of Iron Man with his rocket jet pack that transforms him into… Well, a red-and-gold-suited superhero. There are no true “super villains” in the movie; instead, Cliff has to keep the rocket pack away from all kinds of government agents and the mob.
Still, it’s a great flick with lots of action and some pretty cool special effects, considering it was made in 1991.
Black Panther (2018)
Although technically Blade was Marvel’s first big-screen black superhero, Black Panther is the first blockbuster superhero movie to feature a cast predominantly made up of people of color, which gives it all kinds of props in my book.
Beyond that, though, this movie is visually breathtaking! Wakanda is the most gorgeous place I’ve ever seen, and the costume choices, action scenes and special effects are impeccably done and frankly amazing.
The story is just as good as everything else, so if you haven’t seen this one, you definitely need to give it a watch.
Captain Marvel (2019)
As you can probably already tell, I love a movie with a good plot and a strong, powerful female lead. As a result, I’m crazy about Captain Marvel.
It features Brie Larson as an Air Force Pilot who crashes an experimental aircraft and is “rescued” by aliens known as Kree.
To save her life, they turn her into a human/Kree hybrid, which gives her extraordinary powers she then uses to protect Earth – and the entire galaxy – against anyone who tries to destroy it.
The Mask (1994)
Some people may not agree that this is a superhero movie, but I feel like it fits the bill.
A shy banker (“Stanley” – played by Jim Carrey) finds a magical mask that’s inhabited by the spirit of Loki, the Norse god of trickery, deceit and chaos. The mask imbues Stanley with all kinds of insane powers, but it also gives him a sense of confidence, suaveness and boldness that the shy man has never had.
Additionally, it also causes him to make some incredibly bad decisions, which get him in further hot water. Stanley then has to decide whether or not to give the mask up… If that’s even possible.
I, personally, watched this movie for Jason Momoa, but luckily, there’s a little something in it for everyone. This is not your grandpa’s Aquaman, guys. You won’t find any green pants, orange shirts or yellow arm guards. This is 100% pure, driven action.
The beautiful underwater scenes are simply entrancing to view, and the casting of Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman and Patrick Wilson is absolutely perfect. Man, woman, boy or girl, this movie is a must-see for every superhero lover.
There are some intense battle scenes, some mild language and some drinking, but all-in-all, it’s a great flick that’s fairly clean.
Although Spider-man is my son’s favorite superhero, Shazam! is his favorite superhero movie. To be honest, it’s one of mine as well. This movie is absolutely hilarious. We cracked up through the entire thing.
In it, a young boy shuffled from foster home to foster home is unexpectedly given magical powers that turn him into an adult with superpowers.
The best thing about this movie is how realistic it is. A teenage boy suddenly turns into a grown man, and what does he do? Goes and buys beer, beats up a robber, finds out beer is gross, then goes back inside to get lots of snacks instead.
It’s not all silly antics, though. There’s also a deep, touching message about family, friendship and responsibility as well.
Just a little warning with this one – although this film is targeted at kids there are some pretty horrifying scenes, most notably, the infamous board room scene where one of the monsters chomps a lawyers head right off then tosses him out a 30 story high rise window. So, if you are going to show Shazam to younger kids you may want to fast forward thru that scene!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
Although I loved them when I was a little girl, I’m just not much into TMNT now. They are, however, a great source of entertainment for children.
This reboot is a little darker and a little more mature than other versions of the film, but it features the same wise-cracking, pizza-eating, oversized turtles. If your kids are already fans of TMNT, they’ll love this movie.
Spider-man: Homecoming (2017) & Spider-man: Far from Home (2019)
These are the only other Spider-man movies I’ve ever been able to stomach (aside from Spiderverse.)
As I mentioned, I’m not a Spidey fan, but these movies have solid plots, and Tom Holland is just so freaking adorable, it’s hard not to like him.
I also think of all the Marvel movies, these are probably the best and most appropriate for children.
The fight scenes aren’t too brutal, and Peter Parker’s character is entirely relatable, making these movies favorites of teens and pre-teens everywhere.
Ant-Man (2015) & Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Paul Rudd is absolutely hilarious in just about everything he does, and the Ant-Man movies are no exception. The movies have a killer cast.
In addition to Rudd, there’s Evangine Lilly and Michael Douglas, not to mention all the drop-ins from the Avengers squad. Of all the Marvel superheroes, Ant-Man, whose real name is Scott Lang, is probably the most down-to-Earth.
Parents will relate to the intriguing, nuanced story of a dad who just wants to connect with his daughter, and kids will love the action and Rudd’s witty one-liners. It’s a win-win.
The Percy Jackson Movies (2010-2013)
Technically, Percy Jackson and his friends are demi-gods, not superheroes, but they have all kinds of awesome abilities, such as flight, killer battle skills and instincts and the ability to control water, so that seems pretty super to me.
These are great movies because they’re pretty clean all the way through, but they have enough action, character development and cohesive plot to be enjoyed by adults as well as children.
Plus there are magical creatures like centaurs, Medusa and the furies. It’s a great flick you and your kids can enjoy together.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)
- Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013)
Best Superhero Movies for Teens (Ages 13+)
Once your children hit their teenage years, the superhero movie options really open up for them. You still need to be very careful with some of them though because not all movies in this category are suitable for all teens, especially if you have your own specific restrictions put in place for what you allow your children to watch.
For example, many of the movies in this category are suitable for teens 13 and up, but a few, such as Planet Hulk, are probably more suited to teens of about 15.
The Iron Man Trilogy (2008-2013)
Truthfully, my son watched these when he was a lot younger than 13, and despite him running around the house “blasting” things and causing quite a bit of chaos, they didn’t do him any lasting damage.
It gets the 13+ rating because of all the fighting, violence, explosions and Tony Stark’s ugly reputation as a man who loves the ladies, but truthfully, all the sexual innuendo went right over my son’s head until much later when he started watching them as a teen.
As for all the fighting, well… Little kids probably shouldn’t be exposed to it, but my son adored Iron Man, so I made an exception.
As a parent, you’ll make your own decision about what age is appropriate for your kids to watch these movies, but they’re definitely worth the watch.
Despite his less-than-stellar personality, Tony Stark is a genius, and he was the character who got my son interested in science, computers and inventing things.
There are also clearly defined lines between the good guys and the bad guys, which honestly helped my son be kinder to other kids because “it’s what a good guy would do.”
I just think there are merits to these movies despite all the flash and bang fight scenes.
Hellboy (2004) & Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008)
Don’t let the name of these movies fool you; they aren’t nearly as dark as the word “Hellboy” implies. For the longest time, these were probably my very favorite superhero movies.
I love the idea of a creature sent to Earth to destroy it turning around and being one its greatest heroes instead.
Ron Perlman absolutely killed it as the cat hoarding, titular Hellboy, and the rest of the cast, including Selma Blair, Doug Jones, John Hurt and Rupert Evans, did a great job as well.
A few of the monsters look a little scary, and in the few moments when Hellboy questions his identity, he looks terrifying, but overall, these movies are actually pretty lighthearted and fun.
- Hellboy (2004)
- Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008)
Planet Hulk (2010)
Despite being animated and featuring everyone’s favorite green rage monster, this movie is intensely violent and, in a couple of places, a little bloodier than you’d expect.
A few parents I know also had some issues with the way the characters are dressed. Yes, they’re cartoons, but they’re skimpily-dressed cartoons. I’d say this might be more appropriate for teens of 15 and older as opposed to 13-year-olds.
Still, once your kid hits the appropriate age, this is one of the better animated movies on the list, at least in terms of plot and action.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) & Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II (2017)
I love these movies. They’re some of my all-time favorite superhero movies.
Chris Pratt is absolutely brilliant as Earth-native Peter Quill, now a space adventurer/pseudo-criminal who loves 80’s music and isn’t afraid to dance.
The rest of the cast is equally spectacular, and the special effects are on point.
You and your kids will quickly fall in love with both Groot (and later Baby Groot) and Rocket Raccoon, and you’ll probably have lighthearted arguments about which one is cuter.
The story’s great too, although it plays into the larger Avengers storyline, so I won’t give the plot away. If you haven’t already seen it, watch it. You’ll love it.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
This movie received incredibly mixed reviews, with about half its viewers thinking its pacing was horrible and its plot trite and the other half genuinely enjoying it. I fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.
I liked the concept of two of America’s favorite superheroes at odds with one another, and the casting choices were great, but the whole thing was executed a little more poorly than I would have liked.
Still, if you and/or your kids are true superhero lovers, it’s worth the watch.
Christopher Nolan’s Three Dark Knight Films (2005-2012)
Batman is my all-time favorite superhero, and Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is my all-time favorite representation of the character.
Christian Bale makes a spectacular Bruce Wayne and an even better Batman, and Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight is legendary.
These movies are pretty dark, though. With the exception of the first one, which is a little lighter, they’re likely more suited to older teens (15+) than younger teens.
The movies follow Bruce Wayne’s story from the beginning of his time as Batman, when he’s sent to the Far East to train, all the way through his final battles with Bane, Ra’s al Ghul and Scarecrow before he leaves Gotham City.
- Batman Begins (2005)
- The Dark Knight (2008)
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The Thor Movies (2011-2017)
Although the last movie in the series is actually mild enough to be suitable for tweens, the first two movies have a bit more violence and could potentially be scarier for younger children. The third film is definitely the funniest of the three.
Altogether, the three movies make a pretty great story. You’ll enjoy watching the tense, awkward, but ever-evolving relationship between Thor and his brother Loki, as well as the romance between Thor and Jane.
Your kids will enjoy the sheer number and intensity of fight scenes, as well as Thor’s amazingly cool hammer.
- Thor (2011)
- Thor: The Dark World (2013)
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
The Captain America Movies (2011-2016)
While Batman is my all-time favorite superhero, Captain America is my favorite Marvel superhero. He’s just such a great, All-American hero with staunch values and a good, true heart; he’s a true role model in every sense of the word.
All three of these movies, starting with Steve Rogers’ transformation into Captain America and ending with Cap and Iron Man going to war over their different principles, are pretty clean and probably safe for most tweens actually, but I put them in the teen category because there’s a lot of fighting, blowing things up, smashing people with the shield, etc.
Despite that, though, these movies are good, wholesome fun.
- Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
- Captain America: Civil War (2016)