Superhero movies have a lot to live up to. Not only are there millions of comic book fans counting on accurate and engaging adaptations of their favorite characters, but now there’s an expectation for the films to generate hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office as well. And for the most part, the superhero movies of the past decade or so have done quite well.
But there are a few of them, even going back to the ’90s, that for various reasons have ended up with poor reputations. Either they didn’t make as much money as others, they weren’t well reviewed, or the fans just didn’t seem to take to them.
A few of the movies in this category, however, deserve a second chance.
So, below we’ve put together a list of five superhero movies that deserve a bit more appreciation.
5 Highly Underappreciated Superhero Movies
Here they are:
#1 Batman Forever
Joel Schumacher’s follow-up to the Tim Burton Batman films is by no means a great movie, but on a second viewing, it’s quite a bit of fun. Everything about it is delightfully over-the-top, resulting in a goofy but satisfying version of a Batman tale.
As a list at What Culture put it, this movie is like a Saturday morning cartoon put to the big screen (in live action). And we’d also argue that Jim Carrey’s Riddler is still one of the more engaging (if ridiculous) Batman villains we’ve seen on screen.
Not that it matters in the context of the original film release, but as a piece of Batman lore, this movie is also interesting in that it resulted in a surprisingly good video game by Acclaim. It wasn’t very well reviewed, but it was a decent beat-em-up experience for SNES and Genesis.
#2 Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance
As with Batman Forever, this isn’t exactly a great film. In fact, it’s a pretty bad one. But it’s hard not to appreciate the spirit of it (no pun intended), following up on a widely detested original by fully embracing its own lunacy.
This movie pulls no punches in seeking to become a wholly ridiculous guilty pleasure, and it succeeds in that regard.
Watching Nicholas Cage intentionally overact his way through this sequel is like seeing The Rock in The Scorpion King, or watching 2 Fast 2 Furious; it’s cheesy, campy, and absurd, and you kind of can’t help having fun.
#3 The Incredible Hulk
It didn’t lead to a full Hulk series the way other Marvel hero movies have for their respective characters, but The Incredible Hulk was a fairly strong film.
Edward Norton was a very effective Bruce Banner, and he managed to show the sadder side of being a superhero—fleeing his own powers and threats to his existence until he’s forced to confront them.
Tim Roth’s Emil Blonsky (The Abomination) could have been more compelling as a villain, but overall this was a surprisingly emotional and satisfyingly action-packed project.
Additionally, like Batman Forever, it’s got an unexpectedly amusing game boosting its legacy all these years later. Betfair’s online gaming platform is perhaps best known for its various card and casino table games, but it also hosts arcade and slot sections with Marvel-themed options. And yes, that includes one based on The Incredible Hulk. It’s a simple game, but it’s one that fans of the movie or Hulk comics will enjoy for the included symbols and animations associated with the character.
#4 Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2 takes some pretty harsh criticism as one of the worst of the Marvel movies, and we can understand why. Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash villain was underutilized, the movie doesn’t always feel as if it’s really progressing a meaningful narrative, and some felt that the sillier parts approached Spider-Man 3 levels of nonsense.
We still think these criticisms go a little bit too far. Iron Man 2 isn’t a great superhero film for those who like the more serious side of the genre, but it’s got a pretty good amount of humor, some thrilling action sequences, and as always a great performance from Robert Downey, Jr.
#5 Batman Begins
It’s not as if anyone believes this is a bad movie. But The Dark Knight was so good and The Dark Knight Rises was such a major release by the time it came out that Christopher Nolan’s first Batman movie tends to be forgotten.
It’s an extraordinarily different Batman film. It arguably focused more on the origins of the hero than any other film we’ve seen, which really allowed Christian Bale to shine as Bruce Wayne before he ever dons a cape.
Batman Begins has been horribly underrated in conversations about our best superhero movies. It may even be better than The Dark Knight Rises (though we wouldn’t say it’s as good as The Dark Knight). And I’m not the only one! Just recently Moviepilot argued that this is one of the best comic book movies ever made.
Superhero movies is a very competitive genre these days, and it’s inevitable that some very entertaining movies get overlooked. But when you go back and watch them, each of these has more to offer than its reputation may suggest.
What are your most underappreciated superhero movies? Do you agree with these selections? Let us know!
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