While some still argue that the world of comic books is in decline, there seems to be no stopping the medium when it makes the leap from page to screen. The comic book movie boom started in the early noughties, but it is arguably the MCU and Iron Man in 2008 that turned the average comic book movie from box office poison to a box office bonanza. Nowadays, nothing prevents the big studios from turning those colorful panels into some serious money spinners.
That being said, these days we are too quick to jump on a Rotten Tomatoes score to decide whether a film gets a thumbs up or a thumbs down. While Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is held as probably the pinnacle of the comic book movie world, entries like Batman v Superman were met with wide-spread disdain.
However, what about the rest of the pack? Floating among Batman 89, X2, and Spider-Man 2, there are some pretty epic movies that have since plateaued, while weaker entries are held in a much higher regard.
Just to point out, it isn’t that any film on this list is particularly bad - some a pretty damn good - but do they suffer from an inflated sense of ego?
Let’s not try to start a “Civil War” on this one, so with that in mind, let’s look at the 15 Most Overrated Comic Book Movies, Ranked.
As a bold entry to the comic book genre, James Mangold’s Logan came tearing through the X-Men franchise. However, the fact that Logan wasn’t really a film about Xavier’s mutants may have put some people off. Others had hoped for a full adaptation of the gloriously gory “Old Man Logan” storyline, but instead, we got a loose adaptation. Admittedly rights issues meant that we could never see Wolverine bursting out from inside Hulk, but missing out on our clawed Canadian riding a T-Rex? Come on, Mangold!
Also, given that Yukio had foreshadowed Logan’s death back in The Wolverine, the climax of Logan could be seen coming a mile off. Admittedly, the final shot of Laura laying that wooden “X” was the perfect swansong to Jackman’s 17-year tenure, but there was a lot of fat in the middle that could’ve been trimmed.
At times Logan was a style over substance affair. What we were left with was a stylistic noir romp through the New Mexico desert that was a poignant farewell to Jackman and Stewart as two characters we had come to love since 2000. But, was it the best superhero film ever? Not by a long shot.
Oh look, another masked vigilante whose teenage troubles are getting in the way! Long before brought Spider-Man: Homecoming to cinemas, Matthew Vaughn gave us the big screen outing of Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass.
With a cast of Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Nicolas Cage, expectations were running high. It was a feature full of twisted fun, but did no one feel a little uncomfortable hearing Chloë Grace Moretz drop the C-Bomb every five seconds?
Kick Ass inadvertently became the Nicolas Cage show, while Taylor-Johnson faded into the background as a character that could be accused of being annoying. Lyndsy Fonseca made a lackluster love interest, and the whole affair relied on old superhero tropes and riffing off Batman.
Admittedly, Kick-Ass could be attributed to the boom in more mature comic book movies, but it is relatively tame by today's Deadpool and Logan standards. Also, given that the mixed-bag first movie gave birth to the frankly limp Kick-Ass 2, perhaps Vaughn and co. should’ve stopped with their first feature? What could’ve been an epic beat ‘em up became one crass joke away from an American Pie movie.
13 Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: Civil War had the good and the great of Marvel comics, but brought them together for a storyline that effectively focuses on one scene at a Berlin airport. Perhaps the biggest problem for the Russo Brothers is that Civil War will always live in the shadow of The Winter Soldier and drew more attention to this with an oversized roster of characters.
The arrival of both Spider-Man and Black Panther were highlights of the film, Giant-Man was superb, and it was fan service to see Vision and Scarlet Witch get closer.
Admittedly, the absence of Hulk and Thor meant that we can watch them shine in Thor: Ragnarok, but at times, Civil War came across as a faux Avengers movie; a filler to set up Infinity War. The villain problem was back with a frankly unthreatening Baron Zemo - and it is only when you walk away from Civil War that you realize you just spent 2.5 hours watching a soap opera.
We have already covered why some may see Tim Miller’s Deadpool as overrated, but is the Merc with a Mouth really all mouth? There is no denying that Deadpool shocked comic book audiences everywhere when it threw out the movie mold in 2016, but it may not really be all he’s cracked up to be.
How Fox manages to class this as an X-Men movie is beyond most fans, and with only tentative links to the X-verse, it was at a times a lonely affair for true comic book fans. All anyone really wanted was Patrick Stewart to wheel in as Charles Xavier.
Sure, Reynolds manages to cast off the dire X-Men Origins: Wolverine to play Wade Wilson once more, but the film was dogged with a host of new mistakes. The script was funny, but we swapped out the drama for cartoonish violence and Ed Skrein as the atrocious Ajax. Deadpool never took him seriously, and to be honest, neither did we.
11 Kingsman: The Secret Service
Another entry from Matthew Vaughn, but this time we are swapping superheroes for super spies. Unfortunately, 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service relied a little too much on its British stiff upper lip. Focusing on Taron Egerton’s boy from the wrong side of the tracks, Kingsman quickly skimmed over Eggsy’s time at the academy before sending him head-first into a James Bond rip-off.
Samuel L. Jackson played the menacing Richmond Valentin; a role that he probably won't be overly remembered for. While the rest of the cast were competent, Colin Firth’s Harry Hart became the shining star, only to bow out in that bloody church scene. With the announcement of the sequel, Fox ruined perhaps their biggest surprise that Harry had survived his death and effectively robbed the original movie of its best moment.
Kingsman relied heavily on British stereotypes, which is sure to become an even bigger problem when Vaughn returns for the sequel and we head stateside for Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Ultimately, Vaughn is one of those directors you either buy into or you don’t, so if you aren't a fan of Tarantino-esque gore, Kingsman just isn’t for you.
10 Road to Perdition
What may seem like an odd inclusion to the list, 2002’s Road to Perdition was a graphic novel before it hit the silver screen. Whereas the source material was a mass of violence and gore, Road to Perdition actually surpassed its original. However, that still doesn't stop it being an overrated piece of noughties nostalgia.
Road to Perdition isn’t a bad film by anyone’s standards, but to claim it is one of the best gangster movies out there may be a bit of a stretch. When you compare Sam Mendes’ Great Depression thriller to the likes of The Godfather or Goodfellas, there is no comparison.
Also, while Hanks is superb as Michael Sullivan, Sr., is he really up there with Brando’s Don Corleone or Pacino’s Tony Montana? Daniel Craig’s performance was drubbed as being one-dimensional while Hanks can be accused of being too soft at times. Mendes certainly relied heavily on the visuals, but that alone isn’t enough to carry a film to greatness.
Given that Road to Perdition is rarely mentioned nowadays other than to reference a pre-Bond Mendes, is it really worth all the acclaim?
Bringing the 2000 AD comic books to our screen once again, 2012’s Dredd just about beats the Sly Stallone era in terms of storytelling. Considering that most comic book movies come from either Marvel or DC, there was so much potential for Lionsgate to kickstart their own comicverse, however, can anyone explain why Dredd remains so popular in fandom?
Mega-City One was a sprawling spectacle, but the characters seemed to blend into one, and Lena Headey’s Ma-Ma is effectively a scarred version of Cersei Lannister. The action tries to Matrix itself - director Pete Travis uses the Slo-Mo drug to remind us that Dredd was trying to be edgy.
Then we have Dredd himself - alongside the Terminator and Robocop, Judge Dredd isn’t exactly the most thrilling protagonist out there, is he? However, despite you being unable to tell it was him under that helmet, people seemed to become obsessed with Karl Urban as Dredd.
While Dredd may be coming to TV, the fact that we never got that silver screen sequel speaks volumes for why Dredd might not be as great as the cult fans would have you believe.
We may have had X-Men in 2000, but Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man gets the nod for starting the comic book movie boom that we find ourselves in today. Peter Parker has always been a nerd, but Tobey Maguire clunked his way through the film as Raimi gets caught in its own web of hype.
Spider-Man is effectively a rip-off of 1978’s Superman, while Raimi is even bold enough to have Peter tear his clothes to reveal his Spidey Suit underneath. There was nothing out of the ordinary from your usual high school teen romance movie - the only difference, this one had a radioactive spider.
Dafoe’s Green Goblin looked like he stole his costume off a Power Rangers villain and we never really get the bottom of his motives. Elsewhere, that will they/won’t they between Dunst and Maguire was painful across one movie, let alone three. Thank God for Rosemary Harris and J.K. Simmons, who save the day far more than our titular hero.
7 Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
In a world where there are no rules, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was never going to play by them anyway. Edgar Wright’s film treads that fine line between brilliance and being too in your face. Flash and crass (just like the characters), Scott Pilgrim was hyped up long before it made its way into cinemas.
Jazzy scene cuts put your head in a spin, and the quest to defeat “Seven Evil Exes” had some exes that were much better than others. Trying to combine the worlds of video games, the music industry, and comic books, Scott Pilgrim was overly ambitious at times.
Most characters were made to be totally unlikeable to the point of obnoxious. As for Scott’s band, did anyone really care if they win the contest or not?
Wright pulled a gimmick out of every orifice at every turn to assault you at all times from all angles. While Scott Pilgrim was undoubtedly a fun watch as a faithful adaptation of the comics, does it really deserve such acclaim among its fans?
6 Iron Man 2
In the wake of The Dark Knight changing the landscape of superhero movies, you would’ve thought the MCU had been taking notes, but 2010 gave us Iron Man 2. Robert Downey Jr. was typically superb as our playboy philanthropist, but is Tony Stark’s second solo film anything but okay?
There were, of course, positives, Don Cheadle was an improvement on Terrence Howard as Rhodes, and the MCU was introduced to Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. However, by relying a little too heavily on the comedy, Iron Man 2 was a middling affair.
Perhaps the biggest stumbling block was the villains. Mickey Rourke was about as schticky as you could get, and his accent as Ivan Vanko was borderline awful. Then we had Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer - a character that you could love/loathe in equal measure. Hammer was yet another Tony Stark wannabe who came across as a comedy villain.
What we were left ultimately left with was an overcrowded film that is remembered for its Monaco race scene, Vanko’s love of birds, and that DJ fight scene.
5 Man of Steel
When looking back over the Superman franchise, it is safe to say that Clark Kent got stuck in a phone booth during the noughties with Superman Returns. Finally, 2013 saw Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel arrive amidst a wave of superhero hype.
There is no denying that Man of Steel is a beauty to behold, and as origin stories go, it was pretty thorough. We got a young Clark in Kansas, before hopping neatly over to Metropolis. However, as with most Snyder criticisms, it was all a bit glum wasn’t it? Man of Steel also kicked off the DCEU, so at least it gets the medal for that honor.
The plot basically became a beat ‘em up where no one was going to win. Thoughts of collateral damage went out the window, and a bunch of aliens threw each other around just for the fun of it. In a film that is so epically long, it is frustrating that we only actually see the “Man of Steel” rise in the last 35 minutes.
4 The Avengers
Suiting up and shipping out, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers was a film that rocketed up the IMDb Top 250 after its release. The culmination of four years of the MCU, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes were finally brought together before our eyes.
So, where do we begin? Having so many actors in one place made the great shine and the bad stick out like a sore thumb. The likes of Ruffalo and RDJ were superb, Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner were okay, but supporting cast members bordered on being unwatchable.
A popcorn classic, The Avengers hopped from comedy dialogue to pitting two of our heroes against each other for a fight scene - Loki would cackle a bit and then some aliens came from the sky. If anything, The Avengers began to suffer under its own Hulk-like weight. There was no death, there was no heart, and everyone just carried on with their day after the finale.
3 Batman Begins
Like it or not, the Nolanverse kickstarted our current obsession with gritty superhero films, and while there is no denying that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy revolutionized the face of superhero cinema, the three movies are easily held up by The Dark Knight. Though The Dark Knight Rises gets a bad rep as the weakest entry in the series, that doesn’t stop Batman Begins being the most overrated.
Given that Bale’s performance was so different from the previous Batman portrayals, most were just glad the film didn’t contain George Clooney or rubber nipples.
Katie Holmes was a below average love interest as Rachel Dawes, while Nolan crafted Bruce Wayne as an emotionless husk that was hard to empathize with. The casting of Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine was superb, but was Liam Neeson really the big threat that Ra's al Ghul from the comics is meant to be?
Also, remember that “Batman” doesn’t appear until the middle of the film and we spend the first 45 minutes with snowy retreats and ninjas. You can’t argue that Batman Begins wasn't a great Caped Crusader origin story, but it did get a little lost in its storytelling.
2 X-Men: Days of Future Past
One film that gives us far more questions than answers is Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. Bringing together two eras of X-Men movies, the only constant here is Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Charles walks again, Mystique is a hero, and continuity goes out the window.
At points, the young and new X-Men actors just didn’t marry up, and it was unclear whether Singer wanted James McAvoy or Patrick Stewart to get the screen time.
An already overcrowded roster was trimmed down as we killed off the likes of Banshee and Emma Frost off-screen, which is a big no-no for any superhero film. Annoyingly, this isn’t a film that you can just dip into. You pretty much have to be an X-Men movie expert to know what is going on.
DoFP effectively wrote-off Brett Ratner’s diabolical X-Men: The Last Stand, but also gave Fox’s mutantverse the most convoluted timeline to ever grace cinema. Whereas pretty much every other film teaches us that you can’t change the future, that just wasn't good enough for the X-Men.
Finally, possibly the most divisive superhero movie ever to come from page to screen. Zack Snyder’s Watchmen is seen as either a triumph or a disaster. While there is no doubt that Snyder’s adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel was beautiful, is that enough?
Watchmen is criticized for sticking too close to Moore’s original, and at times, it looked like Snyder and co. were scared to deviate at all from the graphic novel. That being said, the movie then went and threw the source material out of the window for that frankly controversial ending.
The original team of Minutemen were reduced to an opening montage set to some Bob Dylan music and played second fiddle to Jackie Earle Haley as a brilliant Rorschach. Jeffrey Dean Morgan was a great Comedian, but Malin Åkerman stuck out as a vapid performance as Silk Spectre II and Dr. Manhattan is remembered for having a blue member.
Sadly, it seems that the graphic novel really is too big to be wrapped up in just three hours, so let’s see if a TV adaptation from HBO can be met with universal praise.
What superhero movie do you think is overrated? Let us know in the comments!
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