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The Best Superhero Movies With Horror Elements, Ranked

It's safe to say that we all love superhero films for their ability to show us fantastical characters with larger than life abilities, living in worlds we would love to see ourselves in. On the other hand, we love horror movies for often showing us realities we're pretty glad don't exist. And with superhero and horror films both being some of the most popular nowadays, it's no surprise that the two film genres would eventually cross paths.

While most adaptations over the years that have tried to mash together horror and superheroes wound up like the ill-fated "Morbius," there's more than a few that ended up getting it right. Below, we'll be counting off some of the greatest films that fused the two genres, with everything from supervillain origin stories to well meaning heroes who probably went a little too far at times. We won't be getting too deep into spoilers for most of these, but you might want to tread carefully if you haven't seen any of these entries before.

13. Brightburn

Though it's far from the best entry on our list, the 2019 film "Brightburn" still got a lot right when it comes to fusing the genres of superheroes and horror. Heavily inspired by Superman's origin story, this interpretation reimagines a similar character never learning the Man of Steels' values, and instead becoming an egomaniacal preteen with powers far beyond anyone else's comprehension.

After an unknown object hurtles towards earth and crash lands in rural Nebraska, the baby boy inside is taken inside and cared for by married couple, Tori and Kyle, who name him Brandon. While they decide to hide the truth surrounding his true identity from him for much of his childhood, Brandon eventually discovers the truth behind who he really is — and needless to say, things don't go over very well. Despite being from another world, it seems like his species still acts like any other preteen, as he violently lashes out against everyone in his way with deadly consequences. And is if an alien riled up on hormones with a willingness to kill wasn't scary enough, 12 year old Brandon wears a crudely knitted mask that's pure nightmare fuel.

12. Blade

While somewhat light on plot, the late '90s action horror classic "Blade" makes up for it by being unapologetically over the top with its violence and awesome visuals. In a world where vampires are real and very much a threat, Wesley Snipes stars as the titular Blade, a cross between human and vampire with all of the strengths and none of the weaknesses. He's dedicated his life to hunting down and annihilating as many vampires as possible, often resorting to some pretty gruesome methods to dispatch his enemies. And when Blade's not spitting quippy one liners or shutting down blood-covered raves, the film does take some time exploring the inner workings of the vampire's unseen society, adding a fun layer of depth to this early Marvel entry.

Blurring the line between horror and truly awesome action, "Blade" was the first live action film from Marvel to really find success with audiences after releases like 1990's infamously bad "Captain America." And it's thanks to this high octane and blood soaked adaptation that we have one of the most beloved Marvel films of the last two decades, both within and separate from the MCU.

11. Aquaman

Released in 2018, "Aquaman" was an excellent showcase a DC hero that was often regarded as the least interesting members of the Justice League. The film set out to change that, with a lengthy two and a half hour runtime fully delving into the character's story. And despite "Aquaman" largely being standard superhero fare, one scene in particular stands out amongst the rest for its tonal shift into the absolutely terrifying.

Let's face it, just about everything that comes out of the ocean blurs the line between reality and Lovecraftian horror. Director James Wan, known for directing horror films like "Saw," and "The Conjuring," took full advantage of that when at the helm of "Aquaman." In a scene in which Aquaman and his companion Mera are on a small ship during stormy weather, they're assaulted by hordes of humanoid monsters that emerge from the ocean. The two are forced to dive below the water to escape, with only a signal flare piercing into the murky waters, resulting in a scene that managed to be both the most terrifying and visually pleasing sequence of the entire movie.

10. The Toxic Avenger

One of the first (and certainly one of the most popular films) from Troma Entertainment, a name now synonymous with low budget gross-out films that push boundaries, "The Toxic Avenger" serves as the perfect example of what's made Troma so popular over the years. Centered around a young man named Melvin who's harassed by everyone in his life, everything changes once he comically falls into a container of toxic waste.

His accident transforms him into a massive disfigured creature, determined to hunt down the crooks and other miscreants that live in his fictional New Jersey town of Tromaville. And unlike Batman's strict "no-killing" policy, the Toxic Avenger kind of makes that his whole thing. Short on budget, "The Toxic Avenger" makes up for it by packing its short 82 minute runtime with so much extreme violence and hilariously bad acting that the end result is some thoroughly enjoyable horror comedy schlock.

9. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

The latest entry from director Sam Raimi also marked his long awaited return to filmmaking, ending a near decade-long hiatus. Best known for directing the original "Spider-Man" trilogy, as well as the "Evil Dead" franchise, Raimi's directing style has proven to be a great match for both the superhero and horror genres time and time again, thanks to both his distinct visuals and lovably campy writing. There really couldn't have been a better jumping off point within the MCU for Raimi to return with than "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," with the vast world building surrounding Dr. Strange's character, as well as the concept of the multiverse both being on full display here.

After America Chavez, who is capable of traveling through the multiverse, appears in our universe, the Scarlet Witch becomes the unexpected villain of this story, determined to seize Chavez's power to live in a world with Billy and Tommy. And while the MCU and horror don't often combine, it ended up working surprisingly well in this one. Between the Scarlet Witch's use of the Darkhold, or the final act in which we saw a zombified strange harness the power of the damned themselves to put a stop to things, this was easily the creepiest Marvel flick to date.

8. Split

Famous for his twists, director M. Night Shyamalan created this 2016 thriller that would wind up being a part of a much larger story with a surprise ending that no one saw coming. It focuses on the mentally ill Kevin Crumb as he struggles to manage nearly two dozen distinct personalities. The two of the worst of which are Dennis, his most extreme and violent personality, and Patricia, who he deems completely delusional. Kevin makes the startling revelation to his therapist, however, that a new and entirely uncontrollable version of himself may soon completely take over, one which Patricia has a near religious devotion to.

His worst fears soon come to pass, and this new personality, dubbed "The Beast" makes an appearance, shortly after three girls have been kidnapped and help captive in Dennis's underground lair. And as if the other versions of Kevin weren't bad enough, The Beast is shown to possess both superhuman strength and cannibalistic urges, making this one of the closest to a straight up horror film on our list.

7. Batman Returns

The first entry on our list to feature the caped crusader, 1992's "Batman Returns" also saw Tim Burton return as director, adding his signature horror styling to the film, which proved to be a great match for the gritty aesthetic of Gotham. Following the now classic 1989 "Batman," the sequel took a decidedly darker turn, all while blending with some of the more campy aspects of its source material. Even though certain aspects are tame by modern standards and at times downright goofy, like the Penguin's army of penguin minions, his tragic backstory nonetheless results in him becoming a villain with some pretty messed up goals.

He's not the only terrifying foe in this one, with the Red Triangle Gang's creepy clown outfits adding to the darker nature of this more gritty sequel. And even though the "Batman" franchise has since had entries that far surpass this one's tone when it comes to grit, Tim Burton definitely paved the way for darker Batman adaptations with his first two films, before dropping the ball with "Batman Forever."

6. Hellboy

With a name like "Hellboy," it almost goes without saying that certain horror elements would be front and center. What you might not expect is for the same film to kick off amidst the Second World War, with a group of Nazi scientists constructing an interdimensional portal full of demons on the other side. Though their plans are thwarted by Allied forces, one infant demon gets trapped in our world and raised by one of their scientists, Trevor Bruttenholm.

Fast forward to the present day, and the demon child, now known as Hellboy, has grown into an agent working with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense with an understandable hatred of Nazis. His job mostly consists of fighting demons and other freakish oddities that wind up in our universe, but one scheme by the same scientists that brought him here threatens to unravel the world order. Full of bizarre monsters from Hell, the 2004 adaptation of "Hellboy" is easily one of the best in its genre.

5. Darkman

Another entry from director Sam Raimi, this would be his first foray into the superhero genre, taking a wholly unique spin on the concept long before the release of "Spider Man" back in 2002. Whether the character of Darkman is a true superhero, though, is definitely up for debate. A highly skilled scientist who becomes caught up in a vicious mobster's wrath, Doctor Westlake is less inclined to use his newfound powers for good after being horrifically injured, and instead is only set on getting revenge against those who wronged him.

The tragedy that befalls Westlake doesn't just physically disfigure him, as it becomes increasingly apparent that his entire personality has begun to transform. Turning into a ruthless killer as he exacts his revenge step by step, by the film's conclusion, Westlake realizes he no longer has any place in respectable society, disappearing into the shadows and taking on the name "Darkman." Despite the grisly fate that our antihero suffers at the onset of the film and the overall bleak tone, "Darkman" still manages to be a fusion of slapstick style comedy and goofy visuals, all accompanying the film's brutal violence in a way that works and that only a director like Raimi can pull off.

4. The Crow

Appearing in theaters back in 1994, "The Crow" has become something of a cult classic amongst horror fans in the years since its release. The enduring legacy is due in part to the tragic on-set death of the film's lead, Brandon Lee, but also largely thanks to the incredible worldbuilding on display throughout the film. After a young couple is brutally murdered during a break in on the eve of their wedding, the tombstone of the husband to be, Eric Draven, is visited by a crow with the powers to bring him back to life.

Another entry that focuses on our protagonist fueled by revenge and doing whatever it takes to right the wrongs against them, Eric is guided by his newfound companion to dish out some vengeance on each and every member of the gang that slaughtered him and his fiancé. With brutal kills punctuated by some striking visuals that are sure to please any horror fan, "The Crow" likely is still near and dear to every goth kid at heart who has seen it since it first hit theaters.

3. The Batman

Released in early 2022, the most recent adaptation of "The Batman" fully fleshes out the criminal underworld that plagues Gotham, while simultaneously capturing the moody atmosphere surrounding the city. In a wholly fresh take on one of Batman's greatest foes, the Riddler is less of a vibrant green suit wearing goofball this time around, and instead a deranged serial killer, taunting both the police and his victims while carrying out complex and unpredictable murders. Starting from the early sequence in which the Riddler is skulking in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to methodically kill Mayor Mitchell, all the way through till his final sentencing to Arkham, this version of the Riddler makes it clear he's not afraid to let his foes meet truly gruesome deaths.

And while the Riddler himself is the main enemy Gotham's facing, he's definitely not the only character adding to the horror elements of this one. Between his devoted followers turned domestic terrorists, and even the titular Batman's menacing personality at odds with his insular demeanor, "The Batman" is one of the darker interpretations of the iconic character in all the right ways.

2. Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Sequels coming off of an already highly successful film always have an uphill battle, and it's not uncommon for them to fall flat on their face. For every downright terrible follow up film though, there's some that manage to go above and beyond the original, and the 2008 sequel to "Hellboy" is firmly in the latter category.

Revisiting the world of "Hellboy" where the first film left off, the sequel turned up the fantasy horror to 11, with both Ron Perlman reprising his role as the titular hero and director Guillermo del Toro returning to add his imaginative style to the film. It all pays off, as the array of enemies this time around include creatures from the titular mechanized golden army to the hordes of nightmarish tooth fairies that eat people alive. Roger Ebert giving it a near perfect 3.5/4 in his review, praising del Toro's direction and calling it "in every way the equal of his original." It's just a shame the series and Guillermo del Toro parted ways here, as the long awaited 2019 sequel turned reboot was a total disaster

1. The Dark Knight

While it might not be the first entry to come to mind when you imagine a mashup between horror and superheroes, it's important to remember just how unprecedentedly grim "The Dark Knight" was when it was first released. Imagining both the Joker and Batman in entirely new ways, not to mention two-face's grisly appearance, made "The Dark Knight ” one of the most disturbing superhero movies to date. And though there's nothing supernatural in this one, the Joker is nonetheless a ruthless murderer with motives that defy most characters understanding, making this interpretation of the character one of the most heinous villains on this list.

"The Dark Knight" would famously be the last film in which actor Heath Ledger would complete his role, and one that quite gave audiences one of the most memorable cinematic performances to date — one that still stands as one of the best depictions of the character. Though certain portrayals of Gotham and its cast of characters may have outdone "The Dark Knight" by now, it's hard to imagine the legendary and terrifying performance by Ledger will be topped in a Batman film anytime soon.