Best and Worst Comic Book Superhero Movies

DC “invented” the super-hero genre. Secret identity, tight-fitting costumes in bright colors, every hero having a weakness (Kryptonite, etc.) and so on. Their heroes were always Boy Scouts to begin with and their stories were about them foiling villainous plots.

Marvel in the 1960s changed comics. They emphasized character development, humor, good dialogue, interpersonal relationships, and they had longer, more complex plots.

In the mid-1980s, the Watchmen changed comics again. Heroes were less heroic and became thrill seekers, storylines just incredibly longer, bleaker and darker.

Nowadays, however, we realize that the comic book creators were not just creating comics, but creating characters, concepts and visuals that come alive in the movies. In fact, most people who see these cinematic events don’t even read comics!!! Here is a list of my favorites and a list of my least favorites. What’s your opinion?

Superman: The Movie

  1. Superman: The Movie (Extended Version). Directed by Richard Donner this movie stands the test of time and the extra minutes actually add a great deal to the movie. It also ha becomes the standard in which super-heroes are measured. Unlike Man of Steel this is a bright, colorful, humorous movie as Superman should be. I love the soundtrack too. And I miss Chris Reeves, he was perfect. And forty years later the effects and surround sound hold up very well.
  2. Superman II: The Richard Donner Edition. The original released II was an okay movie mostly directed by Richard Lester. The Donner version is just incredible and carries on from the first movie. There are a few Lester scenes, but it is mostly Donner.
  3. Iron Man is really the first movie of the Marvel Universe and it does its job well. A great cast, a good plot, a lot of humor makes this movie well worth watching.
  4. Spider-Man II. The first Spidey was okay and the next three went downhill quick (especially with the last two). This movie was so good, with Alfred Molina as a wonderful villain.
  5. Batman: Michael Keaton was on target with both Bruce Wayne and the Batman. This was the first seriously dark and dramatic comic book movie. It loses me a bit at the end, but well worth watching.
  6. Captain America: The First Avenger. Actually, he was the sixth Avenger, but I thoroughly enjoyed the performances of Chris Evens, Hayley Atwell and everyone else. A more complex movie that most of the Marvel Universe, it also had the Howling Commandoes.
  7. Captain America: Winter Soldier. More of the same but less Hayley, this was really a sequel to Robert Redford’s Three Days of the Condor. Really a good movie with a complex plot.
  8. The Avengers: Simply it would be hard to put together so many characters and get it right. And they got it right. Most right was Tim Hiddleston, as Loki, being the perfect villain. He was missed in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
  9. Justice League: The New Frontier (animated). Marvel had a different view of storytelling than their competitor DC in the 1960s. DC relied on “plot” and Marvel, as if they were writing novels and short stories, dealt far more with characterization and inter personal relationships. Here DC “rewrites” the origin of their most famous team as if Marvel had written it. (And they admit that in their book introduction). Very different, very good.
  10. A tie. I enjoyed the first X-Men movie, then X-Men First Class, The X-Men: Days of Future Past (The Rogue Cut). The Rogue Cut adds fifteen minutes of new material, 10 minute are good, and we see why they cut out the last five. But a good time is had by all.
  11. Batman Begins. I thought a compelling and original start to an interesting franchise. I liked this better than the next two.

The worst superhero movies:

The Spirit 2008 movie

  1. Without a doubt, The Spirit is one of the worst movies I ever saw. Bad acting, bad storytelling and egocentric director who says (no joke) he was making another Citizen Kane. It’s just horrible.
  2. Amazing Spider-Man I and II. Wow, how do you take a successful property and squeeze the life out of it. By ignoring the character, the history and the humor. And don’t forget to cast people 10 years too old for their parts.
  3. The last two Batman movies of the 1980s, Batman and Robin and Batman Forever. Wow they were bad.
  4. The last two Superman movies with Chris Reeves, Superman III and IV. They got off to a fly start and then just crashed, not using Donner who had done a great job.
  5. Green Lantern: All of DC Heroes were Boy Scouts, it was Marvel’s characters that needed redemption. Here, Hal Jordan was picked to be a GL because of his outstanding character, but we have to spend the first hour of the movie finding it. A misfire, indeed.
  6. Fantastic Four I and II: Miscasting, bad writing and everything else took a great franchise, the first of the Marvel Universe, look like the last.
  7. The latest Fantastic Four. This needed its own listing. The dumbest thing about this movie is that they blamed the fans, really, for their racist casting and poor plotting. Whew!
  8. All the Captain America movies before The First Avenger. There were three of them.
  9. The Hulk: This movie was so bad I wanted to leave. It took an hour for Greenie to appear, he didn’t want to be in this mess either.
  10. Blade: Trinity: Blade was Marvel’s first successful movie and it was pretty good. The third one made little sense and was terrible.
  11. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: I have a hard time calling this a movie. Nick Cage shows complete acting range from A to C. Dumb story too.
  12. Howard the Duck: Howard was a great satirical and unusual comic of the 1970s. George Lucas sucked all that out and gave us a stupid, childish plot.
  13. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For: not a fan of the original, this made no sense, had no acting and was just too violent.
  14. While I am here, let me throw in the first original Supergirl movie.