There was a time in the not-too-distant past where superhero movies were few and far between. Superman had success in 1978 with Richard Donner’s beloved, Oscar-nominated movie, and Tim Burton rejuvenated the genre once again with his 1989 success, Batman.
Nowadays, though, the idea that superhero movies were few and far between seems like an ancient myth. Not only are they are constantly churned out, but they’re also incredibly successful.
It seems like almost every (Marvel) movie is gobbled up by extremely pleased fans, and critics have also been gushingly kind to the exploding market.
With great success, comes great profit, and the superhero genre not only dominates the realm of pop culture, but also kingly wealth.
Where’s there is wealth, however, there are always copycats, and the resurrected, ever-growing superhero genre has no shortage of strange knock-offs, rip-offs and otherwise horrifying imitations.
We wanted to catalogue some of the worst with the 15 Superhero Movies That Shamelessly Ripped Off Better Ones.
We’re not just going to be discussing the big budget, big studio inter-industry rip-offs, such as DC and Marvel aping one another, but also the realm of utterly bizarre foreign interpretations and low-budget mockbusters that will leave you in a state of both shock and awe.
15 Avengers Grimm ripped off The Avengers
When the first Avengers movie premiered, it was an absolute game changer.
For years, the Marvel movies had all hinted at the ultimate team up between the disparate characters that each solo movie would set up, but despite the immense success and positive response there was a lingering hint of skepticism as to whether or not the well would dry up before the promised gift could be created.
Thankfully, superhero movies were here to stay and the Avengers hit theaters with a force that only Earth’s mightiest heroes could have provided.
Living up to every promise throughout the years, audiences were bedazzled by the unity of Marvel’s heroes against the forces of evil, so it was only natural that someone would try mine some of that gold with the exact some formula, and, of course, fail miserably in the process.
Avengers Grimm is the story of a bunch of fairy tale characters (with a grimdark coating for good measure) uniting against the forces of evil.
In this case, it is Rumpelstiltskin, played by infamous the infamous spacefaring shocktrooper and bug destroyer, Casper Van Dien, who has an army that only the likes of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and others can stand up against.
14 The Black Knight Returns Ripped Off The Dark Knight Returns
Where something like Rise of the Black Bat opted to capitalize on multiple movies and superheroes (while arguably inspiring the same things that it would eventually rip-off), The Black Knight Returns comfortably steals from a single source: Batman.
Batman is easily one of the absolute most popular comic book characters of any era. His rogue’s gallery is unmatched, his story is simple to understand, and his characterization as a regular man in a world of gods and meta-humans is appealing.
He has gone by many names, but the one that has become the most popular would be “the Dark Knight,” likely thanks to the uber-popular Christopher Nolan movie of the same name.
The production team behind The Black Knight Returns decided to take that moniker (and also borrow from the well-known The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel and the sequel to Tim Burton’s original Batman, Batman Returns), and then alter the character of Batman to be literally a dark knight or, rather, a black one.
Much like Bruce Wayne, our main character, Evan Grail, learns that his parents were destroyed by a cruel villain, Simon Darth (likely as in “Vader”).
He takes up the mantle of Black Knight, and becomes a member of a secret band of warriors to fight evil and injustice, seemingly exactly like Batman’s “League of Shadows.”
13 Italian Spiderman ripped off Spider-Man
Okay, if we’re being honest, Italian Spiderman isn’t really “shamelessly ripping off” a better movie. Well, on second thought, the Spider-Man movies are technically superior to this piece of… er… cinema, but that’s not really the point.
The so-called Italian Spiderman is a 2007 Australian parody of cheesy '60s and '70s Italian action movies.
For the most part, this movie's Spiderman has almost nothing to do with the popular comic character other than the name and very basic design of his costume. T
aking inspiration from the Stan Lee-approved Japanese tokusatsu version of Spiderman, the movie has an incredibly surreal edge throughout all of its proceedings, along with a healthy dose of sci-fi madness and general absurdity.
The “Spiderman” is tasked with protecting a duplicate-creating asteroid from space, and he goes up against the likes of the villainous Captain Maximum.
Spiderman’s wide array of “powers” include summoning attack penguins, extreme surfing, and venomous bites, and he uses them all to achieve total victory against Maximum, eventually growing to a gargantuan height in order to go toe-to-toe with his nemesis.
Again, this isn’t based on a current Marvel movie or story, but its heavy inspiration from certain foreign knock-offs (which we will see on this list) and the surprisingly cool Japanese Spiderman earns this “Italian” triumph a place on our countdown.
12 3 Dev Adam Ripped Off The Avengers
Where Avengers Grimm was nothing more than an incredibly low budget take on the Avengers with pro-schlock actors and public domain characters, 3 Dev Adam is a far more crazy and surreal experience that actually tears apart the mind of the viewer with its absurdity and uncaring destruction of copyright laws.
To be fair, 3 Dev Adam (meaning “three giant men”) isn’t necessarily based on The Avengers movie, as it came out in 1973, well before the 2012 juggernaut, but this is such an experience that it’s worth noting anyway.
This Turkish masterpiece prominently features Captain America, Spider-Man and a famous Luchador named Santo in a crossover that needs to be seen to be believed.
Spider-Man is actually evil, as he and his gang of criminals commit heinous acts across Istanbul, and it’s up to Santo and Captain America to eliminate the not-so-friendly neighborhood web-slinger and restore order to the embattled landscape.
When Captain America is finally able to defeat the violent Spider-Man, a shocking twist is revealed: there are multiple Spider-Men, and they must all face the swift punishment of American justice.
While the overall plot doesn’t directly mirror anything too closely, the ultra-surreal (and ultra-illegal) take on well-known characters and a certain luchador is worth checking out on its own merits.
11 Captain Battle: Legacy War Ripped Off Captain America
While creating rushed knock-offs to cash in on event movies like The Avengers is often a wise bet, it doesn’t mean that solo superhero movies escape the crosshairs of the same unscrupulous crowd of snake oil salesmen.
Case in point is Captain Battle: Legacy War, a 2013 disaster of a movie.
Captain America: The First Avenger is one of Marvel’s finest efforts. With a unique direction and color-palette, charming writing and characters, fantastic action and a great plot, it’s hard not to love.
It follows the story of a man granted great power by a secret WWII super soldier program. Using his newfound skills, he grapples with the Nazis, and an even more sinister offshoot known as Hydra.
In Captain Battle, we follow the exploits of a man named Sam Battle who is injured during the Gulf War and is injected with a serum that saves his life, but also gives him superpowers.
After recovering, Neo-Nazis threaten to overwhelm life as we know it. Following in the footsteps of his WWII hero grandfather, Sam becomes Captain Battle, and he faces off against the Neo Nazis, their arcane magic and (of course) certain resurrected members of the original Nazi hierarchy.
Just looking at Captain Battle proves that he’s nothing more than a cheap imitation of Captain America, with an eerily similar costume.
However, the rabbit hole goes deeper, as Captain Battle was an actual comic book that was more-or-less a rip-off of Captain America, even way back in the 1940s.
10 Almighty Thor Ripped Off Thor
Marvel’s initial Thor isn’t the best movie in their roster. On the contrary, it’s arguably one of the worst.
To start, everything shot on Earth is horrendously ugly, with a dirty color-palette that looks even worse after spending time in Asgard.
Second, its writing comes across as an awful sitcom, or adaptation of those old Geico commercials with cavemen in them. To top it all off, the story itself is far below the appropriate quality threshold.
Yet, despite all this, The Almighty Thor manages to be much, much worse. Created by the The Asylum, the most prolific of mockbuster studios, The Almighty Thor proudly apes everything about one of Marvel’s worst products, and still manages to be exponentially inferior.
In this particular piece of trash, the Norse God Thor must stop “the demon god Loki” (so much for tricks) after he acquires the so-called “Hammer of Invincibility.”
Of course that plot mirrors the one true Thor’s plot rather accurately, but it just doesn’t reach the charm of the original, no matter how inadequate that original must be.
Perhaps worst of all is that the fact that it isn’t even “so good it’s bad.” It’s just… well… bad. No surprise there.
9 Guardians Ripped Off The Avengers
Marvel’s 2012 blockbuster, The Avengers, featured solo superheroes from various walks of life joining together to form a team against a threat that was beyond any of them on their own.
As a single unit, they represented the best of what the world had to offer, and were a shining example of heroic ideals for the embattled people of New York and beyond.
In Russia’s 2017 superhero movie, Guardians, a Cold War secret organization called “Patriot” recruits a team of Soviet superheroes who represent the best of the multiple nations within the Soviet Union, and they unite against a force that is beyond any of them on their own.
As a single unit, they represent the best of Soviet-era ideals, and are able to overcome their enemies by discovering the shared power of working together (and maybe reigniting the USSR).
Complete with a post-credits scene, the very structure (and basis) of Guardians is incredibly Marvel-like, with Avengers as the primary source.
Of course, Guardians’ quality-level is vastly inferior to even the worst of Marvel’s efforts, and was panned heavily, even in its own country of origin.
Despite being a critical and commercial failure, it seems that Guardians will be getting a sequel. The jury is still out on whether or not it will be ape any other superhero movies in the process, but let’s just hope that its overall quality will improve at the very least.
8 Thunderstorm: The Return Of Thor ripped off Thor: The Dark World
With superhero movies comfortably sitting upon the golden throne of cinematic success, it’s only natural that the market is increasingly populated by more and more additions to the genre.
When it comes to Marvel’s efforts specifically, there is a long list of year-by-year plans for sequels, spin-offs, crossovers and television activities.
In other words, superhero sequels are as common as blinking your eyes, and even in the sickening world of mockbusters, knock-offs, rip-offs and bootlegs the love (and profitability) cannot be ignored.
So far, Marvel’s Asgardian hero has three movies, but his bootleg counterpart is behind by one, with 2011’s Thunderstorm: Return of Thor being the most recent.
Sharing eerie similarities to future mainline entry Ragnarok, Return of Thor is about the goddess of death named Hel (likely purposefully leaving out the “a” for Hela) and the coming of Ragnarok.
Similarities end here, though, as the hero isn’t a god, but rather a man in a “battle suit” with an electric conductor that suspiciously looks like a hammer.
Oddly enough, he’s eventually imbued by the power of the “real” Thor and starts going by the name “Thunderstorm,” so things take a turn from the horrible to the horribly bizarre.
7 Wonder Woman Ripped Off Captain America
Wonder Woman was one of DC’s most well-received movie, and there’s a lot to love about it. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman herself is wonderfully entertaining to watch, as is the personality and fighting skills of the Amazon.
The story was fairly entertaining as well, as was the seemingly unique setting of World War 1.
The only real issue is that this entire movie was basically done already with Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger.
Both feature old-school heroes in a World War, ending up in a battle against supernatural forces that they were not adequately prepared for, with a team of specialists and commandos at their sides to offer support.
The two films even look similar, featuring cinematography and color-grading that seems like they were ripped from the same book.
We’re not trying to disparage fans of the Wonder Woman film, as there’s a lot to love, but it’s fairly obvious that the production took some major inspiration from Marvel’s own World War-focused period film.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Wonder Woman’s follow-up. Will it take more notes from Captain America’s films and perhaps some other Marvel entries, or will it forge its own destiny and deliver something comparatively unique both visually and storywise?
6 Metal Man Ripped Off Iron Man
Metal Man. Were they even trying with that title? From the same studio that brought us the abhorrent Transformers rip-off, Transmorphers, we have Metal Man, a painfully obviously cash-in.
Iron Man follows Tony Stark, an ultra-rich entrepreneur who makes his money developing devastating weapons.
After finding himself captured by terrorists, and with a heart full of shrapnel, he develops a miniaturized version of an incredible reactor, and the first of many powered armors. After escaping from captivity, he refines his process and the armor (and persona) of Iron Man would be forged.
In the process, though, he’d have to wrestle a crazy coworker who had plans that were less than ethical. Despite these hiccups, Tony Stark and Iron Man would become icons for the Marvel universe, and the MCU franchise as a whole.
Metal Man, on the other hand, is an icon of horrible movie production quality, acting, writing, direction, execution and every other thing that you could possibly imagine going into a film.
It’s literally about almost the exact same thing when you take a step back and squint your eyes so the finer details blur out.
But worst of all? Where Metal Man was clearly made to rip-off Iron Man, the production company didn’t want to miss out on making dishonest bucks from Iron Man 2, so they straight up renamed the movie to “Iron Hero,” despite it being the exact same movie.
5 The Amazing Bulk Ripped Off The Incredible Hulk
What are some of the worst films you’ve ever seen? What makes them terrible and so hated? Is it an abysmal direction, shockingly awful acting, excruciating writer, or perhaps effects that are so heinous you’re immediately taken out of whatever world the film was trying to suck you into?
The Amazing Bulk, a mockbuster based on 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, has all of those issues, but at such an extreme degree that it’s a miracle (?) the movie was ever released in the first place.
Originally meant to be a parody of Spider-Man with a female protagonist, years of development hell lead the project to morph into a bootleg version of Marvel’s Hulk.
Following roughly the same basic story as the Hulk, our protagonist experiments on himself and transforms into a rage-filled behemoth that goes on a rampage.
Instead of green like the Hulk, the “Bulk” is purple, and comprised of some of the worst CG ever rendered. To make matters worse, the entirety of the movie is shot on a green screen with free stock photo backgrounds, including fields filled with leprechauns. Yes, leprechauns.
The Amazing Bulk is a bonofide disaster. In fact, it’s so blatantly terrible that even watching it to make fun of it isn’t worth the cost in time and life force to do so.
4 Rise Of The Black Bat Ripped Off Batman
It’s one thing to create a direct rip-off mockbuster like Metal Man for Iron Man, or even one of the abysmal knock-off Thor disasters, but it’s another to rip-off multiple heroes all at once.
Created to capitalize on The Dark Knight Rises, the similarly titled Rise of the Black Bat successfully pulls off the first part of its devious plan: confusing grandmas at drug stores when trying to buy DVDs for the grandchildren who wanted “that one movie with the bat who rises… or something like that.”
Instead of following the story of some rich kid who takes up a bat-based mantle to fight crime after his parents get destroyed, it apes Daredevil, with our main hero being blinded, but still able to “see” in the dark.
Perhaps the weirdest aspect of all is that it seems that, ages ago, Batman and Daredevil actually borrowed concepts from Black Bat himself.
Black Bat is a legitimate pulp character from the Golden Age, born around the same time as Batman, and the two share striking similarities.
To top it off, the concept of being burned with acid to create a new persona was likely the inspiration for Batman’s future villain, Two-Face, and the idea of being blind but having some extra sensory abilities to fight crime would also be taken by Daredevil.
Whether these acts of “inspiration” (or stealing) are true is up for debate, but the whole ripping-off circle of life on display here is pretty weird.
3 Sinister Squad Ripped Off Suicide Squad
It should be obvious just how awful Sinister Squad is, because the “better” movie it ripped is the infamously rotten egg, Suicide Squad.
Not unlike Avengers Grimm, which “graced” an earlier spot on this list, Sinister Squad decided to use public domain fairytale characters in this crossover, including the Big Bad Wolf, Goldilocks and Rumpelstiltskin.
The big difference here is that the team is comprised mostly of fairy tale antagonists, not unlike how DC’s Suicide Squad is filled with comic book villains.
These varied characters must unite against the “literal forces of Death,” which is rather ironic since watching the movie is like combating the forces of Death yourself.
After wrapping up a viewing session of this turd, you’ll have a new appreciation for DC’s schizophrenic, Frankenstein-edited monstrosity.
You might even decide that Jared Leto’s tattooed, gangster Joker was a stroke of genius. That’s the level of quality you’re dealing with when it comes to Sinister Squad.
Yes, even the most hated of DC’s current slate of movies can find redemption thanks to the black hole of quality that is Sinister Squad.
2 Justice League Ripped Off The Avengers
Let’s address the elephant in the room: we are one hundred percent aware that the idea of a group of superheroes coming together to fight as a time for the betterment of mankind is a common trope.
Secondly, we’re also completely aware that the Justice League and the Avengers have existed for decades, and it only made logical sense put both versions up on the silver screen at some point, especially during this period of superhero obsession.
What we want to address specifically in regards to Justice League “ripping off” The Avengers is the implementation of the “cinematic universe.”
Marvel was genuinely the first to concoct the concept of having many movies that are all interconnected in some way, and then having the various sagas come together and culminate in a massive crossover event film, a’la Avengers.
DC’s movies have, for many years, been standalone, but after seeing Marvel’s success with the formula they pioneered, they attempted to ape the idea of a shared universe, and have done so sloppily.
We’re glad the Justice League made it to the big screen, but we’re less glad that DC tried to grab the bull by the horns without thinking things out and taking their time to grab a piece of the pie, unlike Marvel, who waited for years to properly set everything up and then deliver a satisfying pay off.
They’re not alone, as many other studios are attempting the same game plan, for better or worse.
1 Every Straight-To-Video Marvel Movie Ripped Off DC's Animated Movies
Marvel does a lot of great work. From the bold choice of pushing Iron Man, a then-B-list superhero, as the face of their newest cinematic endeavors, or the even more bold choice to have an entire pantheon of films that would eventually culminate in multiple event movies like the recent smash hit Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel has taken tremendous chances and had major pay-offs both critically and financially.
However, despite all this, they don’t have a spotless track record.
Even though most movie studios copy them, they’ve been guilty of trying to break into other markets that rivals have dominated, failing miserably in the process. Specifically, DC’s stranglehold on the animated direct-to-DVD market.
DC’s animations have always been the shining example of superhero cartoons, from the stunning Batman and Superman animated series, to Teen Titans, or Justice League and even Batman: Brave and the Bold, while Marvel’s efforts, minus Spider-Man: the Animated Series, have been fairly lackluster.
Then there are the straight-to-DVD releases. DC has continually pumped out quality product after quality product, with so much success it makes their live-action, big budget, theatrical releases seem even worse by comparison.
Marvel tried to get in on this market, but for whatever reason, floundered in this particular battleground. Their straight-to-video releases have had mediocre voice acting, lame direction and choppy animation, which, when compared to DC’s awesome efforts, made their releases appear as amateur hour.
Can you think of any other superhero movies that ripped off better ones? Sound off in the comments!