Adapting any kind of material for the big screen can be tough. Comic book movies are among the toughest, as they often come with 50 plus years of history— sometimes more.
These are characters that have become staples of pop culture, so to condense their stories to two hours can prove very difficult. Sometimes the results turn out very bad. Other times, fans are treated to modern masterpieces like Superman: The Movie, Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight, and Logan.
There are many, many other superhero movies that range from very good to just okay. They’re the ones that don’t catch on at quite the same level, even when they have a lot going for them. Even great superhero features can be taken down a peg by a less-than-stellar ending.
For a movie that already wasn’t great, the climax might just be the last straw. Like Superman’s first attempt at flight in Man of Steel, these movies often have no problem taking off, building momentum and gleefully rocketing into the air—but they can come in for a pretty rough landing.
We’ll be looking at all kinds of bad endings on this list, from the ones that made bad movies worse to the ones that prevented good movies from greatness, and even great movies from reaching the potential that everyone hoped they would.
Here are the 16 Superhero Movies Ruined By Terrible Endings.
16. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman was one of the most important movies of last year and, for the most part, it was one of the best. Its success ultimately lied in being completely different from the DC Universe films that had come before it. Less existential and brooding, Wonder Woman was largely bright and fun and full of hope. It felt different and it looked different than what had just come before.
That’s true right up until the third act, when Ares is revealed as the villain. The reveal itself is great and makes sense. If Ares were to influence the war, he’d do it by pretending to promote peace while laying the seeds of destruction.
However, the fight itself quickly becomes a CGI mess that looks exactly like the endings of both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. Ares shouting “I will destroy you!” is a far cry from the masterstrokes this movie had been hitting only minutes earlier.
15. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Many people felt that they saw Batman v Superman’s red flags right away— and of course there are many who vehemently defend it as well— but in this case it was about a movie that was at least trying to say something, trying to craft its own identity, that ultimately fell apart under its own colossal weight.
There were a few cringe-worthy moments, but Batman v Superman ultimately failed for simply trying to do way too much, and that became impossibly clear in the third act.
In addition to telling a serious political story about power and manipulation and what a character like Superman represents in a cynical world, they tried to introduce the DC Universe and set up Justice League is a single stroke, tried to establish Batman as a major character in their world, and in the end tried to toss in a version of Death of Superman.
14. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Many fans tend to forget just how many of Origins’ most unforgivable flaws were thrown into the third act. It had a great opening credits sequence, maybe one of the best for a movie of the type.
Ryan Reynolds’ first few moments as Wade Wilson provided everything people loved about that character. For the most part, it was just a bland, by-the-numbers Wolverine origin story. Then it got to the Three Mile Island, where all the groundwork Reynolds laid as Wilson were almost completely undone by the mouthless final boss the movie had turned him into.
13. Iron Man 2
Part of what made Iron Man so great is that it wasn’t attempting to set up the MCU or build anticipation for Avengers. They didn’t know if any of that was going to work, the post credits stinger was thrown in to see how people would react after they had already made the movie.
However, people reacted extremely well, they went nuts over the idea of a shared universe and couldn’t wait for Avengers, leading Iron Man 2 to be a different beast altogether.
Iron Man 2 is so devoted to building the universe that its own plot falls by the wayside. This is never more obvious than in the movie’s climax, where the final battle with Whiplash lasts about three minutes and feels like a complete afterthought.
Before the Netflix show provided the definite live-action take on the character, people had just started coming around to the director’s cut of the movie as actually being pretty decent.
For the most part, it’s really not a terrible movie and the extended sequences and plot lines allow it to feel more like a true Daredevil story than it originally did, even if it’s far from perfect.
The ending is Daredevil’s biggest problem. Elektra is killed in her first time wearing the uniform, so her death comes off more incompetent than tragic. There are fights with Bullseye, Elektra and Kingpin in rapid succession, so that it feels like the movie is trying to adapt Frank Miller’s entire run in a single 20 minute stretch.
11. Blade: Trinity
They don’t tend to be what first come to mind when people think of comic book movies, but the first two Blade movies are some of the most exciting, edgy, air tight horror/action hybrids out there.
The first finally put Marvel on the map theatrically and allowed the last 18 years of comic book boom to happen. Many fans consider Guillermo Del Toro’s sequel to be even better.
Even if Trinity goes off the rails, it’s got Ryan Reynolds and Parker Posey doing their best to pull the weight. Blade is still Blade and Snipes is still appropriately stoic. But then it turns into a knockoff Power Rangers episode where Blade has an embarrassing fight with a foamy demonic Dracula monster.
10. Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3 is still a pretty divisive movie, even if it’s still the most financially successful Spider-Man movie ever. It tried to take on too much, between the Sandman story Sam Raimi wanted to tell, the Harry Osborn Goblin story they felt they needed to wrap up, and the Venom story that was essentially forced on Raimi by producer Avi Arad.
There are some cringe-worthy moments in there, but also moments that feel as much like a Raimi Spidey flick as anything in the first two.
The ending, however is a mess, not just in terms of how everything tries to wrap up all at once, but the actual final minutes. If the movie had just ended at Harry’s funeral, it could have salvaged something by poetically linking back to the original, which had ended at Harry’s father’s funeral.
9. Avengers: Age of Ultron
The first Avengers movie is one of the very best superhero features in recent years. It’s fun, exciting, thrilling from moment to moment and nails so much of the characterization, even if it has obvious flaws like the total sidelining of Hawkeye.
The second tries to lean too heavily into fixing some of those flaws, like giving Hawkeye way more to do than necessary, but still tries to set up Ultron as the scary and intense villain fans have always wanted to see.
Things really fall apart in the third act when Black Widow, the one to close the portal in the first movie, is at least momentarily reduced to a damsel in distress, Quicksilver is killed before audiences are given a moment to care about him, and Ultron’s ultimate plan turns out to be to boost a city into the sky only to smash it back down to the ground.
8. Batman Forever
The retrospect of seeing Batman and Robin has led people to be a little kinder to Batman Forever over time.
Far from perfect, it’s not nearly as bad as its immediate sequel, Jim Carrey is clearly having a ball doing his own take on Frank Gorshin’s Riddler, the major beats of the Robin storyline are done right, and it at least attempts to dig into Batman’s psyche and examine why he feels compelled to do all of this.
The climax, though, drives all of the movie’s over-the-top bad elements home. Two-Face is a far cry from the comic book version, flipping his coin until he gets the result he wants, then undercutting any potentially interesting friendship with Batman as the caped crusader murders him to after spending the whole movie convincing Robin not to murder him.
7. X-Men: Apocalypse
As good as Days of Future Past was, it really painted itself into a corner with the character of Mystique. She’d been mostly interpreted throughout that movie as a largely comic accurate vigilante and defender of mutant rights by any means necessary.
Killing Trask was defined in that movie as the thing that would set her down a dark path, which only meant that when that future is averted at the end, there’s really no way to see her as a villain again.
Because of that, seeing Mystique as a hero in Apocalypse, even setting her up to lead the team at the end, is completely jarring. Finally seeing all these heroes in their comic book costumes is completely undercut by Mystique standing there as their leader. It just doesn’t fit and fans definitely noticed that.
6. The Amazing Spider-Man
Part of what makes Spider-Man such a great character is that Peter Parker is inherently a ridiculously good person. One of his defining traits is that he always does the right thing, even if it comes at great personal cost. Even if it means he doesn’t make any money, doesn’t get the job or the car that he wants, and even doesn’t get the girl.
At the end of Amazing Spider-Man, Peter makes a promise to Gwen’s dying father that he will keep her out his life as a superhero, effectively meaning that they can never be together.
In the final moments, Peter goes back on his promise, smugly making the decision to continue dating her anyway. It’s a decision that ultimately confirms Captain Stacy’s greatest fears, and does lead to Gwen’s death in the sequel.
5. The Wolverine
While not at the level of Logan, James Mangold’s The Wolverine is for the most part incredibly strong. It’s an exciting take on the classic Japan saga that fans had always wanted to see brought to life on the big screen.
It would probably be more than an honorable mention on many best comic book movie lists, though, if it weren’t for the third act. One of the best things about the film is that it’s not just another CGI mess of a superhero flick.
Except, of course, in the finale when it devolves into exactly that. The final battle against the Silver Samurai is such a far cry from everything the movie had been before that.
It’s disappointing to see such a serious, personal take on the character get taken down a few notches like that, but seeing that the expensive CGI finale didn’t work probably helped to pave the way for Logan.
4. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
While the first Fantastic Four was not great, it was fun. It was campy, ridiculous, harmless fun that at least felt in nature with some of the early ‘60s stories. The sequel gained some excitement for the introduction of the Silver Surfer.
While the character was portrayed well by Doug Jones and Laurence Fishburne, and half the FF remained well cast with Michael Chiklis and Chris Evans, the finale pushed this one well over the edge.
Dr. Doom steals the surfer’s board in a completely over-the-top sequence to introduce the Fantasticar. For many people, the breaking point was Galactus, who had been teased as an entity inside a giant cosmic cloud throughout the movie, only to reveal that the cloud was the entity and Galactus just wouldn’t be showing up at all, save for a vague silhouette of his helmet.
3. Superman Returns
Superman Returns was far more devoted to being a love story than a full-blown superhero movie. However, even if that was what it was going for, it really falls apart at the end. Superman comes back to find that Lois has moved on and even discovers that he has a son over the course of the movie.
His biological child has been raised by Lois and her boyfriend in his absence.
Once he realizes the truth, Superman decides to leave once again at the end of the movie, not retiring from being Superman, but leaving his child to not know who his father really is.
It could be argued that it’s for the best and he wants the kid to have a normal life, but it’s definitely portrayed as if this is simply a cycle of abandonment that Clark is used to and that feels natural.
Ang Lee’s Hulk offered to be an extremely psychological take on the character. It’s a movie that tries to examine the inner conflict inside most men, as well as childhood abuse and the question of whether or not a parent’s terrible qualities can be ingrained in their child.
It tries to do this in the middle of CGI poodle fights and way over the top comic book editing, but the nail in the coffin is definitely the final fight between Hulk and his faceless CGI dad.
Nick Nolte isn’t playing any actual comic book villain here, though he does take on the traits of the Absorbing Man. This turns into an unexciting mess of a fight, taking away from the actually interesting dynamic between Hulk and General Ross to focus on masses of water and rocks that vaguely resemble Nick Nolte’s face.
1. The Dark Knight Rises
This is one case where a bad ending truly makes the overall movie worse, because it’s a reveal that impacts everything that happened before it in a negative way. As great as it is for fans to see Talia Al Ghul on the screen, her reveal makes it so that Bane was only a pawn in her extremely convoluted plan.
This is so disappointing, as Bane had been such a powerful presence in the movie up to that point. He was proving the potential of that character by being a revolutionary who was feared and revered in equal doses, but that’s all undone by the end.
The ending also undoes Batman’s sacrifice to give him a shot at a normal life which is a lazy way to wrap up a character with that many personal demons, and the fact that he’s retired alongside Selina—a character with just as big of a dark side, if not bigger—only adds nonsensical insult to injury.
Can you think of any other superhero movies that were ruined by awful endings? Sound off in the comment section!
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