10 Superhero Movies That Expertly Blend Genres

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10 Superhero Movies That Expertly Blend Genres
10 Superhero Movies That Expertly Blend Genres


Genres within the film industry are a perfect way to subvert the unassuming audiences’ expectations and challenge the way a story can be told. Especially within one of the most popular genres of the last 22 years, the superhero film. With this boom in superhero genre films, there has been a multitude of transformations and blending of genres making audiences come back every time.

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The superhero genre relies on characters with superhuman abilities that fight against the evils of the world and has been a staple narrative for decades. However, with the consistency in the Marvel Cinematic Franchise and DC Universe producing new films and television shows, there was no doubt that blending genres such as horror in Brightburn or comedy in Thor: Ragnarökcreates depth and complexity to the popular genre. Keeping the superhero genre alive and kicking!


‘The Dark Knight’ (2008)

The Dark Knight was Christopher Nolan’s second film in the trilogy of a darker and more realistic crime thriller direction of the Batman narrative. Bringing the unpredictable Joker to life, Heath Ledger became an iconic portrayal alongside Christian Bale’s duality of a billionaire playboy and a brooding superhero.

The thriller and crime genre throughout this superhero classic balanced what was only known as the Tim BurtonBatman film of 1989 back to the Batman the Animated Seriesdetective roots. Nolan successfully balanced the superhero genre through a John Huston lens, with the thriller elements being inherently the Joker’s character as the crime genre is inherently Batman.

‘Thor: Ragnarök’ (2017)

Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Image via Marvel Studios

Chris Hemsworth’s cocky, blasé and confident Thor is transformed in Taika Waititi’s classic comedic directing style. Following on from two more serious films, Thor is confronted with charming yet deadly Cate Blanchett as Hela, his sister who takes over Asgard after Odin’s death. They head back to Asgard through the Bifrost Thor is thrown out – landing on the unique and quirky planet Sakaar. He must try and get back to Asgard with the impending Ragnarök looming.

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The comedy within Thor: Ragnarökis exaggerating and juxtaposes Thor’s strengths and insecurities against themselves in Waititi’s much-loved film. Hela destroys his hammer, and he is pitted against the raging Hulk. However, Thor is able to tap into his child-like confidence even in the direst of situations. Even though Thor is a superhero and a god, the audience is still able to sympathize with him which makes the humor relatable and charming.

‘Chronicle’ (2012)

Three friends exploring a cave
Image via 20th Century Fox

Found footage peaked throughout the early 2000s after the incredibly successful illusion of The Blair Witch Project. In this fresh take on the superhero genre, three friends all start developing superhero powers after accidentally discovering a mysterious hole in the ground during a night out. The isolated Dane DeHaan, likable Michael B. Jordan, and the every-guy played by Alex Russell all struggle to control their personal lives as much as their new-found skills.

Chronicle cleverly balances found footage with the superhero genre by director Josh Trank developing that child-like wonder with real-world consequences that the three teens navigate. Typically denoted as a technique over a genre, found footage is the major difference in this superhero film that makes it unique but contributes to its tone. While still grounded in reality using typical technology of its time, the superhero element enhances this blending of genres.

‘Logan’ (2017)

Two men standing in the sun

The sub-genre neo-western is exemplified in the X-Men film, Logan. Hugh Jackman reprises his role as Logan, also known as Wolverine, as he reluctantly decides to help a young child who was made into a mutant similar to himself. She is seeking refuge from the people who created her and who now want them dead.

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Neo-westerns such as Gran Torino and No Country for Old Men showcase typical character traits and themes like the western genre but in a contemporary setting. In Logan, the lone-wolf gunslinger archetype has to traverse the American landscape and its dangers to protect a mutant child. It is a more somber genre where the action sequences take a back seat to the moral injustice and character development that balances with the superhero genre so well.

‘Scott Pilgrim vs the World’ (2010)

Image Via Universal Pictures

Edgar Wright’s highly stylized and charming take on the unlikely hero of Michael Cera’s Scott Pilgrim makes for a unique mix of romance and superhero genres. Falling for the mysterious Ramona Flowers played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Scott starts being challenged to death by her seven evil exes.

While the superhero battle scenes are epic, at the core of Scott Pilgrim vs the Worldis a romance story for the ages. Entangling the narratives together, the balance of romance and superhero genres is perfectly suited for the relationship drama that comes with Scott and Ramona’s new relationship.

‘Captain America: First Avenger’ (2011)

Dr. Erskine and Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger

Joe Johnston directed the origin story of Captain America: First Avenger which takes the viewers back to World War Two in this mix of superhero and war genre film. When a small and scrawny Steve Rogers played by Chris Evans is chosen for a radical science experiment that makes the kind-of-heart Rogers into a physically enhanced soldier. Being used as a motivational mascot, Rogers finally breaks free and starts fighting alongside his brothers in arms.

From Roger’s repeated efforts to enlist to his eventual leadership of a squad of men on the battlefields in Europe, the core elements of a classic war genre film include the relationships built out of the intensity of wartime. Captain America balances the two genres by creating a superhero whose selfless acts and struggles during war ripple to those around him.

‘The Batman’ (2022)

Robert Pattinson's Bruce Wayne in his Batman suit in 'The Batman'

The newest installment of the Batman film narrative is Matt Reeves’s mix of superhero and gothic crime noir in The Batman. Batman, played by Robert Pattinson, takes on more of his detective roots to investigate a web of corruption throughout the city of Gotham.

Taking another step further toward a darker and macabre Batman story, The Batman emphasizes the neo-noir genre that brings the crime drama and cynicism of film noir into the contemporary superhero narrative – not without the aid of neo-noir lighting. A cast of known comic book favorites mixed with the intensity of the crime drama plot balances the lingering build of suspense until the very end!

‘Brightburn’ (2019)

child under the rain getting ready to shoot lasers out of his eyes

David Yarovesky directed this superhero horror film that plays on the lack of emotional control in a young superhero child. Played by Jackson A. Dunn, Brandon Breyer is adopted by parents Elizabeth Banks and David Denman as Tori and Kyle.

Brightburn mixes the classic horror style of relatable people put in horrible situations with dramatic almost demonic violence with the superhero genre twist. Using horror to emphasize Brandon as he is discovering his abilities but also going through the toughest time in a young person’s life. Similar to the classic tale of Superman, Brandon has incredible abilities. However, his leanings to a darker side make him into the makings of a supervillain rather than a hero.

‘Robocop’ (1987)

RoboCop - 1987 (1)

Science fiction superhero film Robocop uniquely brought the two genres together to effortlessly bring a ‘protect and serve’ cyborg into the classic superhero narrative. When police officer Murphy (Peter Weller) is brutally killed by criminals, is saved by being transformed into a cyborg machine that is programmed to “serve the public trust, protect the innocent and protect the law”.

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This late 80s classic balanced the essence of a superhero, with enhanced abilities that are used for good, with the moral questioning and technology of a science fiction genre film. This ‘supercop’ ideology brings in the futuristic speculations of the world of tomorrow as much as other science fiction films I,Robot or Total Recall.

‘Watchmen’ (2009)


Zack Snyder’s beautifully stylized Watchmen focuses on an alternate version of Earth’s reality leaning in on its historical fiction genre. When one of the original members of a group of superheroes called the Watchmen is murdered, Rorschach played by Jackie Earle Haley investigates the suspicious circumstances.

Using many historical events in history and re-writing them in light of superheroes’ existence, change the course of this superhero film. Dr. Manhattan, played by Billy Crudup, used his immense power to help America win the Vietnam War, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Comedian shot Kennedy, and even Nixon is elected for a third term. All historical events that the audience recognizes are adjusted to the superhero universe that it is based thoroughly in.

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