Superheroes seem to be all over the big screen at the moment. Between Marvel and DC alone, audiences receive around 6 or more comic book films a year. While most of these movies are generally successful, some of them attempt to do things differently. Whether those films succeed or fail, there is still generally something to appreciate about the effort. Likewise, comic books in general don’t adhere specifically to characters with superpowers.
Over the years, all sorts of crazy, wild, and funny stories have been told through the medium. However, plenty of superhero films themselves have even struggled with being distinct. To look back at some of the more underappreciated efforts in comic book cinema, here is our list of 10 underrated comic book films.
Based on the French graphic novel of the same name, Snowpiercer (2013) stars Chris Evans in a very unique, post-apocalyptic thrill ride. After the Earth completely freezes over, what's left of humanity resides on a constantly moving train that continually circles the globe. Unfortunately, many social systems are still in place, with people being segregated into train cars with the poorest in the back.
Eventually, those in the back start to push their way to the front, encountering all sorts of obstacles along the way. Though the film itself is a great action/thriller, there is also a lot of subtext within the film that helps it stand apart from other comic book films. While the film does have mostly positive reviews, most people aren’t too familiar with it, making it one of the more underrated comic book films out there.
9 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Ultimate Edition)
While the theatrical release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) certainly had its flaws, the Ultimate Edition of the film was a significant improvement. Though it added an additional half hour of story, all the extra information really helped to clarify certain plot points, as well as explain why certain changes were made.
Granted, the film is still not for everyone, especially those who prefer a more fun and colorful cinematic experience. However, upon the release of the Ultimate Edition, several people actually changed their mind about the film overall. Despite all the drama that centered around the film as well as its Justice League (2017) sequel, the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition improves drastically upon the original release, and is far more underrated than most may give it credit for.
8 Scott Pilgrim vs the World
Unlike many other comic book films, Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010) embraces the weirder aspects of comics and incorporates them into the big screen. With an incredibly wild romantic plot, the film also explodes with action, comedy, and deeper meanings. Edgar Wright’s film has since gone on to become a cult classic, with many quotes from the film still being used by nerds today.
Furthermore, with an incredible cast like Chris Evans, Brie Larson, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, the film is practically guaranteed to have something for everyone. Though the film was not a box office success, it still earned some modest reviews. Though the film’s style certainly isn’t for everyone, the film is considered by many nerds to be one of the best comic adaptations yet made.
7 300: Rise of an Empire
While the original 300 (2006) film received very high praise, its sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire (2014), didn’t fare as well. However, though the sequel focused on very different aspects from the first, it really wasn’t as bad as the reviews say it was. Firstly, with a plot that takes place before, during, and after the original film, Rise of an Empire does a lot to expand on the world, also filling in key details of character motivations.
Secondly, both Sullivan Stapleton and Eva Green gave some very good performances. In terms of style, the film also does a great job of capturing the same aesthetic as the original. While the original is still the superior film, 300: Rise of an Empire is still well worth a watch.
6 The Rocketeer
Though The Rocketeer (1991) bombed at the box office, the film still has its own unique aspects that set it apart from many other superhero films, even today. While the CGI leaves a lot to be desired, The Rocketeer succeeds in finding the perfect balance between children and adults, with a little something for everyone to enjoy, it is hard to see why the film wasn’t successful.
Perhaps, with comic book films being what they are today, a remake of the movie would fare much better. However, graphics and profits aside, The Rocketeer is far underappreciated and well worth a watch.
5 The Losers
Though they weren’t as big then as they are now, The Losers (2010) features incredibly big names like Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, and Chris Evans. Likewise, the movie also captures the same charms from the book, offering a nice spin on classics such as The A-Team.
With a nice balance of action and humor, The Losers is a nice, simplistic action/adventure film. Though it received some fairly negative reviews from critics, audiences were still a bit more receptive to it. Though it is not the best comic book film by any means, there is still a lot to enjoy in Sylvian White’s, The Losers.
Despite the mixed reviews, 2005’s Constantine has been a fairly successful film. Though Keanu Reeves’ Constantine is a bit different from the character in the comics, the actor still brought his own charm and merit to the role. Nowadays, the special effects in the film are incredibly cheesy, though it definitely adds to the aesthetic.
Furthermore, the story itself is very complex, yet comprehensible, which is part of why the film is still a cult classic today. Seeing a character like Constantine lie and cheat his way into postponing the apocalypse made for an incredibly intriguing film. Considering how this movie helped set the stage for darker superheroes, it is easy to see how it can be underrated.
3 V for Vendetta
Serving as an adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel of the same name, V for Vendetta (2005) broke new ground for comic book films. Not only did it succeed in capturing a lot of the political components of the book, but the changes the film made were appropriate and didn’t take a lot away from the original story.
While certain things happened out of order and a few major changes were made, director James McTigue succeeded in capturing the same voice and aesthetic from the book. The film received relatively positive reviews, but is certainly not the most celebrated film ever. While it did win a few notable awards, V for Vendetta is still very underappreciated.
Despite a very poor performance at the box office, 2012’s Dredd actually proved to be a hit with the fans. With a strong script and an actor like Karl Urban at the helm, Dredd captured much of the same appeal that the comics always had. Considering how the atrocious Sylvester Stallone film was as well, Dredd is easily an underappreciated improvement.
Granted, the character doesn’t exactly have the largest established fan base, so, while it did a great job with the character, general audiences never quite got the appeal. Hopefully, with R-rated superhero films becoming more popular, Dredd will come to receive the recognition it deserves.
1 Sin City
The live-action adaptation of Frank Miller’s dark and gritty comic series, Sin City (2005) was met with some above average reviews. Like the original 300, Sin City was shot in a very unique style. Furthermore, the film takes advantage of a black and white setting, using colors instead to identify certain characters.
The film also does a great job of telling specific character stories within the entirety of the film. Functioning more as a collection of short stories, the film juggles a wide cast in a very well done way. Thanks to its unique style and distinctive story, Sin City is easily a very underappreciated comic book film.