For a long time, there has been a real sameness to all of the Superhero movie posters released by Marvel, DC and other studios, with mandates followed to ensure no one is offended and everyone is enticed to spend big bucks on the latest blockbuster. But that doesn't mean every Superhero movie poster has to suck. And in recent years, some filmmakers have had a lot of fun establishing unique alternative posters that might not find their way into multiplexes. But they have certainly found their way into collector's hearts.

Though the superhero genre only really started to come into its own in the early 2000s, there are also some very cool old school posters as well. What does it take to make a memorable Superhero movie poster that stands out above the crowd? Bright colors, striking images and an artistic approach that is unique to each character certainly helps. Today, we're looking at 21 of the best Superhero movie posters ever released by a major studio. And one of the things you may notice right away: A great poster doesn't always mean a good movie!

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1Batman v Superman (2016)

Batman v Superman Poster

We kick things off with a brand new poster for a movie that hasn't even arrived yet! We chose this as our first one-sheet, as it takes a step in a different direction from what we've seen coming from Marvel over the past couple of years. Though there are two versions, we went with Batman, because his poster looks slightly cooler than The Man of Steel. But Superman is still represented, as his logo gets slapped across Ben Affleck's morose face. Hopefully the movie can live up to this aesthetic when it finally arrives in theaters next March.

2Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy Poster

Director James Gunn held a contest for Guardians of the Galaxy, which resulted in quite a few cool fan posters that were incorporated into the marketing campaign. This one quickly became a fan favorite, as it spoofs Star Wars while keeping the Marvel movie's own merits in tact.This particular image came courtesy of Blurppy's Poster Posse and is still often used in the early promotion for Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

3The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight Poster

Was there a bigger catchphrase in 2008 than 'Why so serious?' It perfectly captured what this sequel to 2005's Batman Begins was all about. The viral campaign for Christopher Nolan's epic saga launched with this slogan in 2007. And this particular poster is memorable for teasing Heath Ledger's Joker without fully giving him away. It still remains a classic.

4Kick-Ass (2010)

Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass proved to be a very different kind of superhero movie. And with that came a different kind of ad campaign. The movie is about street vigilantism, and the movie smartly incorporated the old WWII recruitment posters into the marketing campaign. While Hit-Girl and MotherF*#@er both got their own poster, Kick-Ass still has the best one.

5Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Poster

According to both Box Office Mojo and IMDB, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a superhero. And before she had a hit TV show on the WB, she had a cult movie that wasn't quite as good as it's marketing campaign. This poster perfectly sells the teen adventure to audiences who were hungry for this type of B Movie Drive-In genre fare at the time. The poster may be even better than the title itself. A vampire stake and a cheerleader skirt is iconic imagery that plays on a lot of different levels. And it sold a lot of tickets. This was Joss Whedon's first foray into the superhero genre!

6Flash Gordon (1980)

Flash Gordon Poster

While Flash Gordon bombed at the box office, it did get this beautiful one-sheet from Italian poster artist Renato Casaro. And it might be the best thing about the entire movie. Sadly, it didn't entice too many people into the theater. But the sci-fi adventure, with it's driving Queen soundtrack and cheesy special effects, has gone onto be come a true cult classic. And it was even given its proper due in the 2012 Seth MacFarlane comedy Ted. Maybe you don't ever need to see Flash Gordon again, but I bet you could stare at this poster all day long. Its that gorgeous, and one of the best movie posters of the 80s.

7Hellboy (2004)

Hellboy Poster

Before Drew Struzan completely retired from the game of movie posters, he created a one-sheet for Hellboy at the request of director Guillermo del Toro. The studio rejected it, as the icon's art had fallen out of popularity. But it has become one of Guillermo del Toro's most treasured possessions, and is one of the only superhero/comic book movies that Drew Struzan ever worked on. That in itself makes it quite special. Sadly, Drew Struzan retired before the superhero genre fully came into it's own as a viable commodity in Hollywood.

8The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man Poster

While The Amazing Spider-Man wasn't as well received by fans as Sam Raimi's trilogy, it did get a better poster campaign. Most of the one-sheets for the original Spider-Man series were quite pedestrian, and didn't show us more than Spidey himself in close-up. This cool teaser poster changed that, though. It teased the story we didn't know while offering up some cool iconography of a spider's shadow. Sure, other movies have used this same technique. But not with such great affect. Sadly, this rebooted franchise was canceled before we could ever really get to know the full story that the poster promises is coming. However you view the Marc Webb movies, one thing is for certain, they sure did get a couple of great posters.

9Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man 3

Most of the current Marvel movie posters all look the same. So it's cool to see a one-sheet that deviates from the norm. This art is notable, as it foreshadows Tony Stark's descent as a superhero, and marks his fall from grace. Which is the theme of the movie. It's one of the best posters Marvel has released thus far. And that makes sense, as Iron Man 3 is one of the best sequels in the MCU. Sadly, the rest of the posters for this campaign went back to the traditional hero pose that incorporated all the main characters and the bright, poppy color scheme that we're so used to seeing.

10Batman (1989)

Batman Poster

There was a huge gap between 1978's Superman and 1989's Batman, and there weren't a lot of superhero movies in-between. So when this poster arrived at the local cineplex, it got every geek's heart racing. Simple. Beautiful. It tells the entire story with one simple image. Batman is coming. And things will never be the same. Some consider this the pentacle of teaser posters, and it's one of the greatest superhero movie posters of all time. Otherwise it wouldn't be on this list.

11Punisher: War Zone (2008)

Punisher: War Zone Poster

Love it or hate it, there's no denying that Punisher: War Zone went out of its way to give fans something different. And that included some incredibly cool posters. While the Skull logo one-sheet for this particular franchise sequel is pretty great, this striking image of Frank Castle centered in a frame made from his own firearms is a perfect piece of pop art. It even recalls some of the Marvel character's best comic book covers. It strikes a fierce pose on the cineplex wall, helping it step away from the pack. Maybe the movie isn't everything you wanted. But you can't deny how well this poster services the character, selling home everything Frank Castle is about.

12Marvel's The Avengers (2012)

Marvel's The Avengers Poster

Sure, while Marvel's The Avengers poster does hold the same aesthetic and style as the rest of the MCU posters, it's notable for bringing this entire team of superheroes together for the first time. And it still stands as the best example of what this type of marketing tool can do. This image itself has become iconic, and was even used throughout much of Avengers: Age of Ultron's marketing campaign. It encompasses everything the Marvel movies are about. And if you could only have one Marvel Cinematic Universe poster hanging on your wall, we're sure you'd pick this one.

13X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

X-Men: Days of Future Past

This poster was launched during Comic-Con 2013, and serves as the best example of a viral movie poster. Its unique and iconic, and sells home the fact that we're going to see the Sentinels in this franchise sequel. It sets the stage for what turned out to be one of the best movies in this Marvel mutant series thus far. Some of the X-Men posters have been called out for being truly awful. Especially some of the early X-Men: Days of Future Past teaser posters that featured Xavier and Magneto's floating heads. This poster almost makes up for that.

14Ghost Rider (2007)

Ghost Rider Poster

We can't even believe two Ghost Rider movies exist. The fact that they are not exactly beloved does nothing to tarnish what might be one of the truest Marvel movie posters ever created. This just screams classic Ghost Rider. It's cool in all the ways the movie failed to be. And it delivers a cool kick of true comic book style. Maybe the movie couldn't deliver on that level, but this poster certainly does.

15The Spirit (2008)

The Spirit Movie

Here's another movie that got a great poster, but couldn't quite live up to the hype it sells to the audience. This may be the only case where the artist behind the poster also directed the movie. Frank Miller is a comic book icon, and his signature style helps sell this piece home. It's just too bad that his prowess behind the paintbrush isn't as stellar behind the lens. If nothing else, The Spirit made the hallways of the local cinemaplex look great back in December 2008.

16The Dark Knight Rises (2013)

The Dark Knight Rises

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy found its way onto this list twice. Not only did he create one of the greatest superhero trilogies of all time, it had an interested marketing campaign that captured the hearts of comic book fans and geeks everywhere. This one-sheet once again puts the iconic Batman logo to great use, and was very innovative for its time. In the years since this poster's release, we've seen quite a few other movies try to ape its style. But that hasn't worked out as well as it did for Bruce Wayne's superhero alter ego.

17The Wolverine (2013)

The Wolverine Movie

The Wolverine set out to prove that it was going to be quite a bit different from the somewhat unpopular X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It did so with this instant classic. A poster so cool, no one could hardly believe it was actually for a movie. The image perfectly captures the classic spirit of the Marvel X-Men comic books. If there is one Wolverine poster to frame and hang on the wall, there's no doubt...It's this one!

18The Rocketeer (1991)

The Rocketeer Poster

Wow! The art deco style of this Disney poster truly makes it stand out from the pack. It's hard to believe the studio let this fly in 1991, a time when most movies were shying away from original artwork for crude photoshopped images of actors heads ( a technique in poster making still prominent today). This awesome poster perfectly captures the time period the movie takes place, and gives us one of the all-time great poster images. Stylish, colorful, and almost too cool for words. This might not be the 'best' poster on this list. But it's certainly the most perfect.

19Watchmen (2009)

Watchmen Movie

Before he turned the DC Comics characters Batman and Superman into a fighting force at the box office, Zack Snyder made a decidedly different kind of superhero movie with DC Comics Watchmen. Keeping Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' style in place, this series of character one-sheets perfectly captured the graphic miniseries. Instead, replacing the drawn heroes with the actors that played them. This resulted in a very cool, modern take on what the superhero genre was supposed to be. It looks like the comic, yet it's so much more. And absolutely cool!

20 The Toxic Avenger (1984)

The Toxic Avenger

Hard to believe, but in 1984, The Toxic Avenger was one of the few superheroes on the scene. Troma was clearly way ahead of it's time. And this poster helped sell the movie to the masses. A super low budget affair, the studio had to rely on cool marketing materials to entice interested audiences. In this case, the movie also had a lot of gratuitous violence going for it. While Troma's movie making credentials are questionable, there's no doubt they now how to make a very cool poster.

21 Swamp Thing (1982)

The Swamp Thing Poster

We had to end our list with one of the coolest B Movie posters ever created. This Drive-In style one-sheet perfectly captures the cheesy nature of Wes Craven's DC Comics superhero. Back in the 80s, Swamp Thing was one of the few characters to get his own movie. And though this is pure post-grindhouse Schlock of the best kind, you can't deny that it has one of the best movie posters of the 80s. It just screams cool in every direction. Its another instance of hate the movie, love the poster!

There you have it. In a world were most of our superhero movie posters all look the same, these are 21 of the greatest one-sheets ever created for the cineplex. Let us know which ones are your favorite. And make sure to let us know if we left out any that you feel should have been included. Or, god forbid, we included one that you don't think belongs here!

Evan Jacobs at Movieweb
Evan Jacobs