These 10 Movies Are The Definition of Pop Culture

Ellie Tishdale

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Movies have such great entertainment value that can barely be matched by other forms of media. However, some movies go beyond mere entertainment and become cultural phenomena, shaping the way we think, talk, and interact with the world around us. Here are 19 such movies that have made a huge impact on pop culture:

Iron Man (2008)

Photo Credit: Marvel Studios.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been one of the most successful franchises in recent history, but it all started with Iron Man. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man did not only achieve immense commercial success, but also set the tone for the 31 MCU movies that have been released since.

Avatar (2009)

Avatar (2009) 20th Century Studios
Photo Credit: 20th Century Studios.

James Cameron’s Avatar was a groundbreaking film. Leveraging revolutionary 3D technology, the movie transported audiences to the visually stunning landscapes of Pandora while also tackling important themes like imperialism. Upon its release, Avatar became the highest-grossing movie of all time, a record it held until 2019.

Frozen (2013)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Disney’s enchanting tale Frozen melted hearts worldwide with its captivating story of sisterhood and empowerment. The iconic song “Let It Go” became a cultural anthem, and Elsa and Anna’s journey resonated deeply with viewers.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-03)

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s iconic novel is a timeless classic that continues to impact pop culture. With its excellent fantasy storytelling, The Lord of the Rings captivated audiences right from its first film in 2001 to its final in 2003 and has inspired several other works, including a 2022 TV series.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Photo Credit: Warner Home Video.

The Wizard of Oz has managed to stand the test of time since it premiered over 80 years ago. The tale of Dorothy Gale’s adventure in the Land of Oz is one that enthralled audiences all over the world in the ‘30s and ‘40s, and continues to do so even today.

The Matrix (1999)

The Matrix Warner Bros
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

The Matrix is one of the most revolutionary movies in the history of cinema for a myriad of reasons, from its stunning visuals and fight choreography to its complex themes and captivating plot. The film has inspired many memes and popularized terms like “red pill.”

Titanic (1997)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Given how prominent Titanic is in the modern public consciousness, it’s almost unbelievable that it was released over two decades ago. But such is the impact of a film that tells a story as beautiful and tragic as Jake and Rose’s.

Back to the Future (1985)

Back to the Future - Universal Pictures
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

Back to the Future is still one of the best executions of a time travel film. With multiple quotable lines and iconic sci-fi tech like the DeLorean, the Robert Zemeckis-directed film has remained a pop culture touchstone since its release.

Inception (2010)

Inception (2010) - Warner Bros
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Inception is one of those movies that leaves you with more questions than answers. The 2010 Christopher Nolan masterpiece revolves around a thief who steals secrets by infiltrating his targets’ dreams. Inception is continually revisited in pop culture through references in TV shows, song lyrics, and music videos.

Star Wars (1977)

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm.

George Lucas’s space opera epic Star Wars transported audiences to “a galaxy far, far away” and introduced iconic characters like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Its groundbreaking special effects, imaginative plot, and memorable quotes such as “May the Force be with you” have become ingrained in pop culture.