Movies have always been one of the pivotal forms of entertainment. We love watching them, theorizing about them, writing them, re-watching them and re-watching them again. However, of the thousands of different genres, one has risen above the rest and has captured the imaginations of the general population. Whether you love them, or you hate them, there is no denying the impact superhero movies have had on cinema.
And, like all genres, superhero movies have their fair share of hidden gems. They’re diamonds in the rough, so to speak. And, to the surprise of basically every die-hard MCU fan, there are quite a few superhero movies that deserve way more attention. Or, in some cases, way more love.
So, here are the Top 10 Underrated Superhero Movies:
1. The Amazing Spider-Man
The Amazing Spider-Man is the fourth time Spidey has been adapted for the big screen. Produced by Columbia Pictures with help from Marvel Entertainment, this reboot of Spiderman saw limited success. Following Sam Raimi’s 2002–2007 Spider-Man trilogy, The Amazing Spider-Man was released in 2012. This film was directed by Marc Webb and stars Andrew Garfield.
However, The Amazing Spider Man One is one of the few movies that Spiderman fans genuinely dislike, aside from its sequel. However, looking aside its clear flaws, Marc Webb did an amazing job with this movies action. And, unlike some other none-MCU superhero movies, The Lizard was both believable effects-wise and character-wise. Unlike some other notably bad villains, The Lizard is an enemy that actually threatens Spider-Man. The plot of the film revolves around The Lizard, played by Rhys Ifans, attempting to turn all of humanity into lizard-human hybrids.
Unlike other notable bad-performances in Sony’s lineup of Superhero movies, Andrew Garfield is differently up-there when it comes to Spider-Man’s multiple actor portrayals. However, as noted by fans, like all actors, he was at the mercy of the screen-play writers. The main complaints for fans about this movie are the mostly boring support characters, a mundane plot and a convoluted story that is especially noticeable in the sequel.
The Amazing Spider Man, at the very least, is palatable; especially when compared to its sequel. It’s definitely under-rated when it comes to non-MCU Spider-Man movies. So, if you have already seen Spiderman: Homecoming and Spiderman: Far From Home and you want more Spidey-Filled action, than this film is for you! But, if you are looking for in-depth storytelling, believable characters and a movie that closely follows the source material, then this movie doesn’t really offer anything new to the table.
2. The Dark Knight Rises
The third installment in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, it is by-far one of the most underrated in the entire series. Set eight-years after the events of The Dark Knight, Batman is forced to once again don the mask to face-off against his strongest foes yet, a relentless revolutionary named Bane. Directed by Christopher Nolan, this final installment of one of the best superhero series ever created is an almost perfect ending.
The story is almost completely unique, only taking a few elements from the comic “The Dark Knight Returns” and story arch “Knightfall”. Although, it has the most comic-book-like feel out of the entire Nolan series. Although comic book fans adored the somewhat different style, the average movie-goer didn’t appreciate the somewhat different style when it conflicted with the other two movies.
Out of all of the Nolan trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises has some of the best acting as well as some of the best writing. Christian Bale, just like the other two movies, did an almost perfect job as Batman. Not only capturing batman’s “Superhumanness,” but also capturing the more “human” side of his personality. The music, plot, characters, writing, dialog and music are all amazing in their own right. Although, in some regard, The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t pull them off as well as The Dark Knight does.
So, why would anyone ever consider The Dark Knight Rises underrated? It made a substantial amount of money and is regarded as a fantastic movie in its own right by fans. However, the only reason fans consider it is so underrated and overlooked is because the other two films are just that good. To be realistic, there was no way The Dark Knight Rises could live up to the Dark Knight, so, ever since its release, it has been regarded as the forgotten middle child.
Although not a superhero film in the traditional sense Megamind is an astounding look into superhero clichés and why we love them. Megamind is a 2010 animated superhero film/comedy. This movie tells the story of how the super alien villain, Megamind, my end up being the city’s hero. After things turn haywire, Megamind decides to set things straight by becoming what he swore to destroy, a superhero.
The story, although now somewhat of an overused trope, was almost completely unique at the time of its release. Directed by Tom McGrath, and starring Will Ferrell, this film was an amazing amalgamation of different talents, animation styles, comedy and superhero elements that together, forms a unique experience that just works. What makes this film more superheroish than most animated movies, is the fact that it sacrifices more cartoonish humor for a more mature audience.
This movie does two things right that basically every modern-day animated superhero film gets wrong. One, unlike other animated superhero movies that are intended for a younger audience, its humor does not rely on making fun of traditional superhero clichés. Instead, it embraces them to its highest capacity. Secondly, it is one of few movies that perfectly blends the feel of a Saturday morning cartoon and a serious superhero drama in a way that is both humorous and fresh.
With its lovable characters, unique plot and spectacular superhero elements, Megamind should have been an instant classic. However, a truly unfortunate turn of events doomed this film into obscurity. Megamind was released almost 5 months after the release of illuminations wildly successful Despicable Me, a similar movie where the villain becomes the hero. If Megamind was not released so closely to the opening installment to a massively successful multi-billion-dollar franchises, then it might have made more of an impact. Regardless, Megamind is appealing to fans of both traditional superheroes and animated films.
4. Ghost Rider (2007)
Ghost Rider (2007) was the first time the raging fire-skull himself has ever hit the big screen. Directed by Mark Steven Johnson and starring none-other than Nicolas Cage as the man, Ghost Rider, himself. This film was met with heavily negative reviews by fans and is still regarded as one of the worst Marvel movies of all time. However, it has a small cult-following that was significant enough to spawn an inferior sequel in 2012.
The film stars the legendary Nicolas Cage, playing the titular Johnny Blaze. Johnny sells his soul to the devil to save his father from cancer. Unfortunately, Johnny’s dead dies just days later due to a stunt accident, making his deal pointless. Things really start to heat up when Johnny is forced to work for the devil to take down the evil Blackheart, who wants to obtain the lost contract of San Venganza; which would give Blackheart incredible power.
This film suffers because of a poor plot, terrible characterization, horrible dialog and a cheesy, mustache-twirling villain. However, what saves this film in some regards is its above average effects for the time, and Nicolas Cage’s performance. Another thing that has helped elevate this movie above its non-MCU brethren, is the fact that it is still somewhat consistent with the source material. The penance stare does the exact same thing in the comic, and the Ghost Rider doesn’t develop some non-canonical powers to further the plot.
Overall, Ghost Rider (2007) is not a great film, let alone a superhero film. However, it is a cut-above the composition for its above average effects, faith to the source material and just the simple presence of Nicolas Cage. If you want in-depth storytelling, relatable characters and a plot that makes sense, then this movie is not for you. However, if you want to see Nicholas Cage with a fire-skull fighting demons, then this film just might be up your ally!
5. Blade (1998)
Blade (1998) was the first movie based on a Marvel-Property that garnered any real kind of success. Directed by Stephen Norrington and starring the now iconic Wesley Snipes as Eric Brooks, this film has one of the largest cult-following of any movie; and, it thoroughly deserves it. Widely regarded as one of the best superhero films released before the MCU, Blade was almost entirely responsible for the plethora of Marvel movies we have today.
The plot of Blade, just like the movie itself, is fantastically well-done and believable, although, silly at sometimes in a good way. When vampires walk the earth, Eric has one goal and one goal only. His goal is to rid the world of all evil Vampires. However, when Eric witnesses a vampire bite, he battles the beast. Forcing it to retreat before taking the bite victim back to his hideout. From there, Eric tries to stop the evil deacon frost from releasing the Vampire Blood God to wreak havoc upon the world.
Blade is one of, if not the, best superhero film ever made. From its believable characters, to its great effects for its time, it’s amazing setting is almost unrivaled. And, most of all, its action was almost unparalleled for superhero movies at the time. The only real-complaint critics at the time had was that it felt more like a Vampire movie than a superhero movie. However, anyone who has ever read the original comics know that it is simply not the case.
Overall, Blade (1998) is an incredible film, let alone a superhero film. However, it’s legacies far-extends outside of its original intentions. Before Blade, superhero movies were known for their campy, PG fun. Without Blade, it is highly unlikely we would have ever developed anything remotely resembling the diverse arrangement of superhero flicks we enjoy today. From its effects, to its in-depth storytelling, to its relatable characters. Blade deserves its reputation and should absolutely shrug-off its underrated status.
6. Superman (1978)
A classic is a classic for a reason! Directed by Richard Donner and starring the then and now acclaimed Christopher Reeves as Clark Kent, Superman (1978) was the movie that turned the already incredibly popular Superman into a house-hold name. Regarded by fans as the only time Clark Kent has been properly portrayed on the big screen, this was the first “big” superhero movie.
As everyone knows by now, right before the destruction of Krypton, Jor-El the scientist sent his only son, Kal-El onto a spaceship headed towards Earth. After landing in rural Kansas, young Kal-El discovers the source of his superhuman powers and moves to Metropolis to fight the evil forces of Lex Luthor. Meanwhile, under the name or Clark Kent and with the clever disguise of a pair of glasses, Superman attempts to save Metropolis on his off time. Meanwhile, he attempts to solicit Lois Lane.
The film, in some regards, has not aged very well. Although its effects where spectacular for its time, they look rather dated with today’s standards. Its cheesy story is almost immediately notable when watching it, especially during the ending. Although it’s debated whether its campiness is a flaw, even though it differently is a sign that it was created in a simpler time. One thing fans can agree on, however, is the fact that Superman is portrayed like he should be, like he is in the comics, an unstoppable force of nature that is only slightly hindered by his main weakness, kryptonite.
The film is a classic in every regard. As the first big superhero movie, it set the standard for everything that came after it. Really, without it, comic book movies would have never been anything more than cheap cash-grabs. Still, if you look past its dated effects and its cheesy story, you can still believe a man can fly.
7. The Punisher (2004)
The Punisher (2004) was the second attempt at bringing Frank Castle to life on the big screen. Directed by Jonathan Hensleigh and staring Thomas Jane as the judge, jury, and executioner himself. This movie was critically panned by critics stating that although the movie definitely lives up to the desired levels of gore/violence a Punisher movie should live up to; it’s characterization and dark tone kills the movie. However, Punisher fans often sing a different tune to professional critics.
After agent Frank Castle retires, he expects to spend the rest of his days with his family in peace. However, an old foe holds Frank responsible for the death of his son. As a result, this new adversary butchers Frank’s entire family before going on the run. Frank sets out on an epic adventure to avenge his family, becoming the judge, jury, and executioner he’s known for. As Frank sets out to punish Howard Saint, he is not willing to give up until those responsible are dead.
This movie almost doesn’t feel like a Punisher movie. Rather, it feels as though it’s a call-back to the traditional back action films of yesteryear. However, unlike the other 2 Punisher movies, this one delivers when it comes to action-sequences and characterization. Thomas Jane as the Punisher was the very best casting possible. The fight scenes are fantastic, the main villain is both intimidating and satisfying to watch. And, most importantly, it follows the Punishers origin-story almost to a tee.
Although this film definitely has some shortcomings, it is the closest we have gotten to seeing Frank Castle on the big screen. If you have some time to kill, and you are not queasy around blood, then this film definitely delivered. Although, it is a rather good film, Punisher fans are still hoping that the judge, jury and executioner is someday portrayed in all of his glory on the big screen, the right way, that is.
The most obscure movie on this list, Darkman, if anything, is a unique spin on the superhero movie craze. Directed by Sam Raimi and starring Liam Neeson as Peyton Westlake. The film was massively successful, making more than double its original budget. On top of that, it got almost universally positive reviews by critics and fans alike. Although the film was a massive success at launch, it has sadly faded into somewhat obscurity.
Peyton Westlake is a little-known scientific genius. Recently, he has discovered a way to produce completely synthetic skin. However, before he can do anything about this discovery, he is viciously attacked and left for dead. However, with the help of his synthetic skin, and his new-found insanity, Peyton decides to hunt the one man responsible for his current predicament.
The film is rather Gothic in tone, but that is to be expected, as originally, the director created Darkman because he could not get the rights to dark knight himself. However, the film is less known for its tone, and more for its gruesome effects and the core-concept itself. The effects where delightfully gruesome for its time, especially the scene with the cigar and the finger. Although, one complaint even fans of this film complain about is the act that this film is very crowded.
From the real-estate scam, the city’s corruption, the gangland shootouts and the obligatory love story clutter-up the main plot. However, that is a minor grip for an otherwise amazing film. This film is comparable to the Nolan trilogy, before the Nolan trilogy even existed. However, one of the most important effects for this film, was introducing Sam Raimi to the superhero genre; who, later, would direct one of the greatest superhero movies of all time.
9. Wonder Woman (2017)
Directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot as the leading lady, this film demonstrates how to make a marvelous female-lead superhero movie. Not only was this film critically acclaimed by professional critics, but it is also loved by long-time fans of the series. Wonder Woman (2017) is largely considered the best movie in the DCEU by far. Not only that, but it is widely considered by fans to be the best female-lead superhero movies of all time.
Wonder Woman, raised on a sheltered island paradise, lives in peace with her all-female family of amazons. However, when a World War 1 pilot crashes onto their shores of their island paradise, Wonder Woman decides to leave her childhood home behind. However, Ares, the God of war, just might be pulling the wool over Wonder Woman’s eyes as she embarks on an epic quest to end the war in Europe.
From the characterization, to the special effects, to the cinematography and even to the realistic romance; this movie was well thought-out and well executed. The unique contrast of Wonder Woman’s Greek-like outfit and fighting style mixes strangely with the brutal reality of the trenches. However, this makes this movie stand-out when compared to its competition. The only real complaint by fans was the third act, where the final battle itself felt somewhat anticlimactic. However, the final sacrifice more than makes up for it.
This movie overall is a great example of a woman-empowerment superhero movie done right. From the characters, the plot, this movie will definitely be remembered fondly. In fact, the only reason why this film underrated, is the fact that it came out a little under a year before infinity war, the most anticipated superhero movie of all time. So, unfortunately, it fell out of the collective consciousness of most superhero fans.
10. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Although sadly now rather obscure, at least compared to some of the other movies on this list. This film is one of the few animated superhero movies to not only be centered around an already popular superhero series but is also one of the few animated superhero movies to have a theatrical release. Directed by Eric Radomski and starring Kevin Conroy and the legendary Mark Hamill, this movie is regarded as one of the greatest Batman movies ever made. Although it was a financial failure, it is regarded as one of the best Batman movies by not only fans, but professional critics as well.
A blood-crazed murderer with an axe for one hand begins systematically killing Gotham’s most evil crime lords. As he always does, the Batman involves himself with the mysterious killings. To make matters even worse, this crazed killer is mistaken by the police as Batman. Now on the run from the ever-following police, Batman must solve the mystery and clear his name before it’s too late.
Don’t let the fact that this movie is animated fool-you. This movie takes all of the best traits out every Batman movie and puts them all together in one big mixing pot. It is incredibly well-animated, with every frame being expressive in some way. It has incredibly well-thought-out fight and escape scenes. The characters are multidimensional, and quite possibly better represented than in the actual comic-books they are based on. The music is great, the cinematography is great, the color scheme is amazing, pretty much everything about this movie is perfect.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is one of the best superhero movies ever made. As such, it has developed a massive cult-following, with some fans even calling it the best superhero movie ever made. However, more-cynical fans assert that it’s just a glorified episode of the T.V show, and a particularly good one at that. However, regardless, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is an underrated movie that is absolutely fantastic, any fan of Batman, superheroes, or just animation in general will get something out of this movie.