10 Greatest Steampunk Films Ever Made

These are the best steampunk movies ever made.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

steampunk movies

Steampunk is one of those genres that really sneaks up on you. For example, you might not realize that Hellboy is steampunk until it’s too late, and none of us expected those Sherlock Holmes movies starring Robert Downey Jr. to be steampunk right up until they were. If you’d rather do the sneaking than get snuck up on, though, here’s some good news: we’ve rounded up the definitive list of the best steampunk movies for your viewing pleasure.

Wild Wild West (1999)

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Back before he was mostly known for slapping Chris Rock, Will Smith was known for two things: headlining massive blockbusters like Men in Black and then writing the slightly cringe-inducing theme song to them. Wild Wild West is a steampunk movie that has all of the charm of a typical Smith performance with some genuinely over-the-top Western action. 

As with many of the greatest steampunk movies, the real strength of this film is in its casting. Joining Smith is Kevin Kline, who plays the role of straight-arrow sidekick to perfection, and Thor director Kenneth Branagh is clearly having fun as a mustache-twirling villain. The music isn’t even that bad, but if you saw this in theaters and have been humming the theme song while reading, we’re sad to report that you probably need to schedule another chiropractic appointment for your back.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

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Look, before you comics fans throw anything at us, we know that the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie is nothing like the extraordinary Alan Moore comics. And we know that Sean Connery only signed on to this film after passing on franchises like Lord of the Rings and the Matrix. But if you can enjoy this just as a steampunk movie, it’s surprisingly good.

If you’re a literature lover, you’ll love playing “spot the reference” as this film brings various literary legends to life. And if you’re a film buff, you’ll enjoy exploring this veritable “who’s who” of awesome Hollywood character actors. Ultimately, if you’re looking for steampunk movies that are big on fun and a little light on substance, this film will do just fine.

Van Helsing (2004)


X-Men fans are likely to enjoy Van Helsing because this is a steampunk movie that puts Hugh Jackman in the boots of the world’s most famous vampire hunter. And he adds a lot of charm and personality to a film that really needs it. That’s because the director wanted lowkey campy comedy vibes, and some actors got the memo while others didn’t.

If nothing else, we’d recommend this steampunk movie to any horror fan that recently enjoyed Renfield. While there is the obvious vampire connection, the recent Nicholas Cage film paid homage to the Universal monster movies of years past. And Van Helsing does the same, showing us the story of Dracula, Frankenstein, Mr. Hyde, and more, all sharing the big screen like this is one of Universal’s black-and-white blockbusters from yesteryear.

Sucker Punch (2011)

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Sucker Punch is an iconic steampunk movie, and it’s somewhat ironic that it has gotten so overshadowed by director Zack Snyder’s other work. Once he got the nod to start crafting the DCEU, many fans forgot about Sucker Punch, the film that plays out like a dream sequence in a video game. In short, this film follows the adventures of a young woman committed to a mental institution, and she must navigate increasingly more fantastic worlds where she sees her fellow inmates as strong warriors straight out of a music video.

In this steampunk movie, you will be captivated by many big names. In addition to awesome work from Emily Browning, Jenna Malone, and Vanessa Hudgens, we get to see a pre-Star Wars Oscar Isaac hamming it up (metaphorically) and a mid-Mad Men John Hamm hamming it up (literally). Love it or hate it, this is one film you’ll never forget.

Steamboy (2004)


Steamboy is one of the greatest anime steampunk movies you’re ever going to see. This film gained early buzz among fans because it was both written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, he’s the director of Akira, which is generally considered the most influential anime film ever created.

Part of the charm of this steampunk movie is that it actually takes place during the 19th century. Rather than seeing a modern world transformed by steam technology, we instead see what the past could have looked like if such technology allowed us to build things like dirigibles way back when. We’d go as far as to say the only downside to watching this movie is that you’ll now have to share in our confusion why Sony didn’t give it a larger release.

The City of Lost Children (1995)

steampunk movies


We wouldn’t be surprised if you walked by The City of Lost Children in a video rental store in the ‘90s, looked at the cover, and decided “this looks too weird for me.” The rest of this steampunk movie matches the insane aesthetic of the cover, but that’s actually its greatest strength. Even when the plot and character beats aren’t entirely clear, this film is always giving us innovative imagery.

While you may not recognize too many of the names in this steampunk movie, the big exception is Ron Perlman. He’s at the center of a strange tale during a time in his life when he wasn’t quite the Hollywood star that he is today. And we’re thankful to Perlman because his performance anchors a film that wowed over critics and audiences alike (well, the ones that bothered to rent it, anyway).

The Prestige (2006)


Shortly after introducing Christian Bale as Batman, Oppenheimer director Chris Nolan released The Prestige. You may remember the advertisements for this film playing up the rivalry between two magicians, and you may be asking: what makes this a steampunk movie, exactly? The short answer is that the magicians soon interact with Nikola Tesla, and his technology threatens to change the world as we know it.

If you like genre films, you’ll love the casting of this. For example, comic fans will love that this steampunk movie brings Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, Andy Serkis, and Scarlett Johansson into the same film. But the real casting coup was getting the unforgettable and inimitable David Bowie to bring Tesla to life in a truly stunning performance.

Howl’s Moving Castle (2003)


Howl’s Moving Castle is so much more than just another steampunk movie. As a film from anime legend Hayao Miyazaki, this movie explores concepts as complex and varied as war, death, and age. And it does so against a setting that has fantastic steampunk and magical elements that have created a world very unlike our own.

There is more to love about this steampunk movie than we could ever list here, but it’s worth noting that the film is a masterclass in telling an explicitly political story in a very entertaining way. The movie’s pro-feminism and anti-war messages are very easy to pick up on, but the narrative never slows or stops to beat the audience over the head with any message. Instead, we are left with a timeless message of the need to enjoy life by a creator who worried fans had forgotten how to do so.

Metropolis (1927)


Before you throw anything at us, we get it: Metropolis is a divisive movie. It will always have a place among the great steampunk movies for its Art Deco designs and full embrace of expressionist principles make it an innovative and trippy mess that we can’t look away from. However, even film critics nearly a century ago criticized the story for being too simplistic.

Compared to other steampunk movies, though, Metropolis has gotten plenty of acclaim due to both the critical revaluation by big names like Robert Ebert and the different restorations of the film that have brought it more mainstream attention. If you’re in the mood for some downright mythic visuals and don’t mind a silent movie, this one’s a great pick. Plus, we have to imagine you level up as a movie lover when you cave in and watch Metropolis, one of the most-discussed films of all time.  

Brazil (1985)


Steampunk movies don’t always embrace the inherent silliness of the aesthetic. And, of course, steampunk fans and cosplayers often take this more seriously than your average person. But audiences looking for a film that embraces comedy but also makes a larger point need look no further than Brazil.

The movie offers some in-your-face commentary about the nature of government, capitalism, technology, and so much more. And despite being a steampunk movie focusing on a very different kind of world, modern audiences might find this 1985 black comedy a bit too similar to our reality than director Terry Gilliam ever intended. But from the wild premise to the shocking visuals, this film has content every movie buff should experience at least once.

  • GFR Score calculated using averages of audience and critical reactions across multiple platforms.