When you think of “superhero movies,” two things probably come to mind right away: Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe. They produce most of today’s superhero movies.
With iconic figures like Spider-Man, Wolverine, Superman, and Wonder Woman, it’s hard to imagine what a superhero movie could be like when it doesn’t fall into the same tropes used by MCU and DCEU.
The good news is, Netflix’s library contains more than a handful of superhero movies that are very different from the ones by Marvel and DC—and that alone makes them worth checking out.
Here are some of the best superhero movies on Netflix that involve super-powered or super-geared heroes who are up against corruption, evil, and impossible odds.
11. Psychokinesis (2018)
Psychokinesis is a South Korean superhero movie from the director of Train to Busan. The story centers on a bank security guard who gains psychokinetic powers after drinking meteor water, and uses those powers to fight against an evil construction company.
You’ll find that South Korea’s idea of a superhero feels a bit foreign compared to Hollywood’s tropes. It may not have the world-shattering stakes that you’d expect in a Marvel movie, but the character development and action sequences are top-notch.
10. Project Power (2020)
Project Power is what you get when you mash superhero elements into a gritty crime thriller. The film stars Jamie Foxx as an ex-soldier trying to stop widespread distribution of a pill that can grant five minutes of a superpower to anyone who takes it.
While Project Power is an entertaining movie, its main issue is that it doesn’t fully explore its underlying premise and the consequences of pill-based superpowers. Still, that doesn’t make it a bad movie, and it’s certainly worth a watch if you think the idea is cool.
9. Code 8 (2019)
Code 8 is a sci-fi action movie that takes place in an alternate history where the existence of superhumans was discovered back in the early 1900s. By modern times, superhumans have been marginalized by society and governments fight superhuman criminals using drones.
While there isn’t much that makes Code 8 stand out from other sci-fi movies like this, it’s a solid production built on an intriguing idea and delivers a solid viewing experience. A little more craft could’ve pushed this from a good movie to a great movie.
8. Ninja Assassin (2009)
Ninja Assassin is a martial arts action movie about an assassin who abandoned his ninja clan and now works to intervene in all of the clan’s assassination attempts, with the ultimate goal of taking down the clan’s leader—who made him who he is.
The movie is a neo-noir exploration of darker themes that we don’t normally see in martial arts movies. It takes itself a little too serious for what it is, but the action scenes are exquisite and the underlying concept has potential. Be warned: it’s quite bloody.
7. Bhavesh Joshi Superhero (2018)
Bhavesh Joshi Superhero may not explicitly have superpowers, but it features a protagonist who trains and rises above to become the vigilante superhero that his city needs.
This Indian action-crime film is packed with social commentary and themes around corruption and justice, and the cast puts in solid performances. It’s enough to make the movie worth watching despite a script that takes a predictable route.
6. Gantz: O (2016)
Gantz: O is a 3D CGI-animated sci-fi movies about a group of fighters who are repeatedly brought back to life when they die—which happens quite often since they’re tasked with killing all the monsters that have invaded the city of Osaka.
While it isn’t your typical superhero movie, Gantz: O’s characters wear advanced tech-suits and wield super-tech weapons in their fight, and their repeated resurrections put in a fun twist.
The CGI animation takes a little time to get used to, but once you’re over it, the story that unfolds is an interesting one.
5. Underworld (2003)
Underworld is the kind of movie that feels like it was based on a comic book—and when you realize it wasn’t, it feels all the more impressive.
This action-paranormal-fantasy movie stars Kate Beckinsale as a vampire who hunts werewolves. She falls for a human, but when that human is bitten by a werewolf, she faces a dilemma: kill him (according to her clan’s principles) or save him (and face the consequences).
Underworld demands that you shut off your brain and enjoy it for what it is—an action-packed ride that’s extremely stylish, gothic, fun, and built on a commendable effort at worldbuilding.
4. Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
Batman: The Killing Joke is the only movie on this list about a “mainstream” superhero franchise, but it’s nothing like any of the Batman live-action movies you’ve probably seen.
This animated movie is based on the one-shot graphic novel of the same name, which features an origin story of how The Joker became the tragic villain that he is, and the conflicts that arise when he tries to wreak havoc against Gotham City’s police force.
Batman: The Killing Joke stars Mark Hamill as The Joker, Kevin Conroy as Batman, and Tara Strong as Batgirl. Definitely worth watching!
3. Bleach (2018)
Live-action anime movies are often terrible, but every once in a while a director comes along who understands the source material and manages to adapt it in a way that actually works.
Bleach is one such example. Ichigo Kurosaki checks all the boxes that describe a typical hero—strong-willed, compassionate, empathetic, willing to sacrifice himself for those he cares about—and becomes a superhero in all but name once Rukia transfers her powers to him.
This isn’t your typical superhero movie… but it also sort of is. The CGI is impressively good, the action sequences are compelling, and the character development is solid.
2. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is one of those movies that’s about as far as you could get from a traditional superhero movie, yet we all recognize that it is indeed a superhero movie.
It’s obvious what the creators were going for with this movie—it’s directed by Edgar Wright and based on a series of graphic novels—in that it’s quite an offbeat superhero movie, featuring a slacker who’s on a quest to defeat his girlfriend’s seven ex-boyfriends.
If you’re a fan of Michael Cera’s style of comedy and want to see it mixed with stylish special effects and action sequences, then this is a must-watch title to move to the top of your watchlist.
1. The Old Guard (2020)
The Old Guard is based on a comic book series of the same name, featuring a team of immortal mercenaries who have been around for centuries. One day, they have a shared vision—and they’re made aware that there’s another immortal out there in the world.
The premise may not seem like it at first glance, but The Old Guard is an attempt to elevate superhero movies with deeper characters, grounded worldbuilding, intimate stakes, and subversion of cliches while staying true to the heart of superhero movies.
Charlize Theron puts in a strong performance as the leader of the immortals. Writer Greg Rucka and director Gina Prince-Bythewood succeed at adapting the source comic into a winning movie.