With The Batman dominating box offices around the country and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s pull over cultural conversations for the last decade, there’s no shortage of superhero movies for you to watch in theaters or at home. But what if someone wanted something, you know, a little different?
We’ve put together this list of 15 great superhero movies outside of the Marvel and DC universes that you can watch at home right now. In favor of digging deeper through the superhero movie canon, we’re not including some of the more obvious picks you probably already thought of, like The Incredibles (Disney Plus) and Robocop (Prime/Tubi/Hoopla). Similarly, there are some great superhero titles that aren’t currently available on streaming (such as Johnnie To’s The Heroic Trio) that would otherwise be listed here.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
Across the 8th Dimension is the latest cinematic adventure of Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, the famed physicist/neurosurgeon/test pilot/rock star who occasionally saves the world. Oh, you’re not familiar?
Peter Weller stars as Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, who in this installment must save the Earth from the Red Lectroids, a group of inter-dimensional aliens led by an absolutely maniacal John Lithgow (delivering one of the most deliciously amped-up performances the 80s had to offer). Banzai is aided by his sidekicks, who are also his band mates, including Jeff Goldblum dressed up as a cowboy named “New Jersey.”
One of the great joys of Buckaroo Banzai is despite actually being a standalone film, it throws you into what feels like the middle of a long-running serial, to its great (and often bizarre) benefit.
One of two movies directed by W.D. Richter (writer of 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Big Trouble in Little China and, improbably, Stealth), Buckaroo Banzai is an unforgettable cult classic. And just remember … no matter where you go, there you are. —Pete Volk
Based on James O’Barr’s dark fantasy comic series, Dark City director Alex Proyas’ 1994 superhero film The Crow stars the late Brandon Lee as Eric Draven, a poetic up-and-coming rock musician who is brutally murdered, along with his fiancée Shelly, by the henchmen of a powerful crime lord. Resurrected by a mysterious crow on Halloween Eve, a year after his murder, Eric returns as an avenging angel with supernatural powers to exact vengeance on the criminals who stole his life from him. Made infamous for the death of its star Brandon Lee, who was shot and fatally wounded in a freak accident during production of the film, The Crow is a stunning visual spectacle and an enthralling revenge thriller. —Toussaint Egan
Sam Raimi’s superhero predecessor to his Spider-Man films is closer in tone to Universal’s ill-fated Dark Universe than the MCU. Liam Neeson stars as Peyton Westlake, a scientist designing synthetic skin for burn victims. After his girlfriend (Frances McDormand) discovers evidence of bribery committed by a local billionaire, Westlake’s lab is attacked and he is left with burns all over his body and nearly dead. When the treatment for his condition leaves him with greatly increased strength and an inability to feel pain, the newly minted Darkman seeks revenge. With a score by Danny Elfman and cinematography by Bill Pope (The Matrix, Spider-Man 2), Darkman is a 96-minute treat. —PV
If you love Gareth Evans’ 2011 Indonesian action-thriller The Raid and somehow haven’t seen 2012’s Dredd … holy shit, are you in for a great time. Starring Karl Urban (The Boys) as the gravel-voiced authoritarian super-cop, the film follows Dredd and his apprentice partner, Judge Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), as they are forced to bring law and order to a 200-story high-rise block ensnared in the vise grip of resident drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). Penned by screenwriter-turned-cerebral-sci-fi-director Alex Garland (and who according to Urban might have had more of a hand in the film’s production than previously known), Dredd is an explosive action experience packed with dazzling slo-mo action sequences and charged with a biting satirical undercurrent of dark humor. —TE
Dredd is available to watch on Hulu.
Julia Hart’s 2018 superhero drama Fast Color stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Black Mirror, Loki) as Ruth, a homeless wanderer with inexplicable powers who returns to her family home after years of hiding from the police. Reunited with her mother Bo (Lorraine Toussaint) and her young daughter Lila (Saniyya Sidney), who both possess the same powers as her, Ruth attempts to regain control over her abilities and reconcile with Lila, all while alluding the authorities who seek to capture and study her. As we wrote back in our review, Fast Color is less a “superhero” film as it is an intimate family drama set in a speculative universe, à la 2016’s Midnight Special. The spectacle on display is not the manifestation of Ruth’s powers, but in the masterful trio of performances at its center, which combine to create a story as poignant as it is exhilarating. —TE
This 2019 neo-noir superhero movie is the first installment of the Bumilangit Cinematic Universe, Indonesia’s answer to the MCU. Sancaka, a security guard, is struck by lightning and given superpowers. As the crime-fighting superhero Gundala, he takes on a corrupt crime boss who has an extraordinarily complicated plot to take control of the city.
Written and directed by Joko Anwar (Satan’s Slaves, Impetigore), and with excellent fight sequences, visual effects and costume design, Gundala is a fun take on the superhero genre, and hopefully the start of many more entertaining Indonesian superhero movies to come. At least seven more movies are planned for future BCU productions, including a Gundala sequel. —PV
The Iron Giant was a box office failure, thanks in no small part to the complete lack of marketing by Warner Bros. But thankfully it found a second life on broadcast and home video. In the film, a young boy named Hogarth finds a strange iron robot in the forest behind his home in Maine. He befriends the giant creature and teaches it more about what it means to be human — all while federal agents try to capture the robot, believing it to be a foreign weapon. The relationship between Hogarth and the giant is touching, as are the giant’s revelations about the nature of humanity. Try not to cry in the movie’s final moments, I dare you. —Petrana Radulovic
At the outset, DreamWorks’ 2010 animated movie Megamind is more of a supervillain story than a superhero story — much like Despicable Me the same year, it focuses on an evil genius who revels in his dastardly schemes. Both movies eventually reshape the villain as the hero, but Megamind goes a lot further in deconstructing the superhero story. More specifically, it taps into the idea (underlined heavily in Batman stories, from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns to Lego Batman) that villains are defined by the heroes they fight, and don’t really have much of a life without them. Will Ferrell stars as the big-headed blue meanie Megamind, who’s locked in an eternal struggle with Superman-esque hero Metro Man (Brad Pitt). When Megamind finally wins that war, he has to figure out who he is — and maybe construct himself a new hero to battle. It’s broad comedy, heavy on the action sequences and comics satire, but it’s also a fun subversion of the entire idea of altruistic heroes fighting the same never-ending battles with the same bad guys over and over, ad infinitum. —Tasha Robinson
Megamind is available to watch for free with ads on IMDB TV.
Acclaimed commercial director Kinka Usher’s one and only feature film is this silly cape comedy about a group of minor superhero left to save the day after the much more lauded and powerful Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) goes missing. With a sprawling, hilarious ensemble cast that ranges from Ben Stiller, West Studi, and Willliam H. Macy to Janeane Garofalo, Eddie Izzard, and Tom Waits, Mystery Men has everything from silly gags about farts to astute send-ups of the nascent genre and its overlap with corporate America. —PV
Multiverse movies are all the rage now, so why not catch up with a classic? Jet Li plays a sinister cross-universe assassin whose lone goal is to kill every other version of himself in across the multiverse, leaving him as “The One.” With each version of himself he kills, he gets stronger, gaining superhuman strength, speed and intelligence. Jet Li also stars as Gabriel Yulaw, the last remaining alter ego for his evil self to kill, and Delroy Lindo (!) and Jason Statham (with an American accent!!!) co-star as multi-verse cops sent to track him down. Come for Jet Li kicking humans out of the air like soccer balls, stay for the wild early-2000s Nu Metal soundtrack. —PV
From Korean animator Yeon Sang-ho — best known for his jump to live action, 2016’s zombie knockout Train to Busan (also on Netflix) — Psychokinesis follows Shin, a bumbling, borderline-alcoholic security guard who drinks from a mountain spring recently contaminated by a meteorite and gains telekinetic powers. Ryu Seung-ryong is a joy as an oaf who’s learning to control his abilities, just as his estranged daughter re-enters his life and sucks him into a real-estate-driven class war. Psychokinesis plays Shin’s “fighting style” for laughs, and while it’s not as cartoonish as Chinese director Stephen Chow’s genre hybrids, the movie can make the flying object mayhem both cheeky and thrilling. The political edge gives weight to Shin’s super-powered decisions, but Sang-ho never loses sight of why everyone showed up: to push the psychic conceit to bigger and bigger heights. —Matt Patches
Psychokinesis is available to watch on Netflix.
Before directing Captain America: The First Avenger, Joe Johnston helmed this comic-book adaptation about a stunt pilot whose discovery of a prototype jet pack turns him into a Nazi-fighting superhero. Billy Campbell plays Cliff Secord as an Indiana Jones descendent, while Timothy Dalton goes full mustache-twirling as the movie’s villain. The art deco style and composer James Horner’s brassy score complete the pastiche for the movie, which found a cult following years after coming and going from theaters. In other news: Disney finally made an animated sequel following a young girl rocketeer! —MP
The Rocketeer is available to watch on Disney Plus.
In another, better timeline, we got the complete Sky High movie franchise and spin off TV show that we deserved. Sky High takes place in a world where the children of superheroes go to a special super hero school to train to take after their parents. Our plucky protagonist Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) is the son of two of the greatest superheroes to ever live: super strong Commander (Kurt Russell) and high-flying Jetstream (Kelly Preston). The only problem? Will hasn’t manifested superpowers yet, so he gets chucked to the sidekick class at school, along with a group of misfits with more … unconventional powers. Will fights the caste system, and when his powers do manifest, he must grapple with newfound popularity — all while an unlikely foe concocts an evil scheme in the background. The epic action scenes are made all the more fun by the cast’s quirky powers. Sky High also embraces superheroes’ comic book roots and go hard on the bright visuals, from the popping costumes to the zany set design. More movies ought to tap into combining the inherent drama of high school with the wackiness of having superpowers. —PR
Sky High is available to watch on Disney Plus.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Cab Passenger: [after Raphael jumps over the cab hood] What the heck was that?
Cab Driver: Looked like sort of a big turtle in a trench coat.
Cab Driver: You’re going to LaGuardia, right?
Delightfully silly and overwhelmingly ’90s (for better and worse), the original TMNT is a fun time for all ages. The movie follows intrepid TV reporter April O’Neill (Judith Hoag) as she works with the turtles to stop a crime ring from taking over New York City. The suits — designed by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, one of the Muppet master’s last projects — look incredible, and bring a real tangibility to this appropriately comic book-like adaptation. The use of real suits also allowed for talent specialization (different performers were used for puppetry, voice acting, martial arts scenes, and skateboarding stunts), allowing the production to swap in different people under the suit without breaking audience immersion. Produced by legendary Hong Kong studio Golden Harvest and distributed by New Line Cinema, TMNT was a surprise box office smash hit, holding the record for highest-grossing independent film until The Blair Witch Project. It’s also got a very young Sam Rockwell in a minor role! —PV
M. Night Shyamalan followed modern trends by turning Unbreakable into the basis for a cinematic superhero universe with the addition of Split and Glass, but also like modern trends, the first one is the best. Unbreakable is a slow drip of a thriller, and a what-if-superheroes-were-real thought experiment built on the backs of 30 years of post-modern comic history. The action is minimal — Bruce Willis’ final fight is basically a wrestling match in a bedroom — but the mood is palpable. Portuguese cinematographer Eduardo Serra’s stark imagery combined with a haunting score by James Newton Howard make David Dunn’s intimate discoveries and Elijah Price’s diabolical plot as epic as any Marvel plot. —MP
https://www.polygon.com/what-to-watch/22961992/best-superhero-movies-not-marvel-dc-streaming 15 best superhero movies that aren’t Marvel or DC on Netflix and beyond