First off, people might question the exclusion of The Green Hornet. Part of it is I haven’t seen it yet, though the ads don’t looking promising. Part of it is he originated outside of comics (likewise that’s the only reason The Shadow doesn’t make the cut). TV pilots don’t count or else a number of them would appear just for being uninteresting. With serials the point is moot because all the superhero serials I’ve seen, despite some definite flaws, wouldn’t have made the cut anyway because they have a certain energy via the cliffhangers that carry my interest over.
Fair warning: My tastes in superhero movies… don’t always follow popular trends. I do attack at least three sacred cows below; conversely I actually like Watchmen and The Spirit. The former I thought was very faithful to the source and struck some of the same chords with me; the latter was less faithful but has a twisted humour that grabbed me anyway. Some of the movies below I do have some affection for but were flawed enough to make the cut. In alphabetical order.
- Batman & Robin (1997): Bad writing, some badly delivered jokes, and ill-fated attempts to fit in product placement make this THE worse comic book based superhero film
- Batman Forever (1995): Overacting particularly by Tommy Lee Jones, a rehashed version of the Joker in the Riddler, attempts to make the movie closer to the Adam West show, plus a key scene so obviously cut that I went online after and found a copy of the script (the scene finally made it to the second version of the DVD) Speaking of Adam West…
- Batman: The Movie (1966): It’s probably closer to comics of the time than many readers want to admit and to be sure it’s marginally better than the show with most of the same cast.
- Captain America (1990): Not without its moments but fairly dull as far as superhero movies go. Intended for the theatres but went straight to DVD
- Fantastic Four (1994): Sadly you can only get via bootleg because it never even went to DVD. It this was a list of least enjoyable movies it wouldn’t make the cut, but music attempting to punch up some sadly delivered dialogue and special effects that were awful even for that era do make this technically a bad movie, albeit a highly enjoyable bad movie
- Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012): Overracting, a cheap look (other than host Rider himself) and an uninteresting plot puts this at second worse for me.
- Mystery Men (1999): A small amount of decent satire, but overall I find it warmed over Adam West style mocking, with none of the heroes particularly engaging
- Spider-Man (2002): Sacred cow 1; not a terrible film but with some serious story problems. As depicted a lot more people should have figured out the secret; conversely there’s a point where dramatically Spider-Man SHOULD have revealed his identity to someone but apparently due to attempts to do what the comic version would do, the scene moves away from this dramatic point
- Spider-Man 3 (2007): I admit to a certain bias here because my neck was in pain during this movie (and has caused me to forget quite a bit of it); however, a revelation regarding the Sandman alone helps to send this movie off the rails
- Superman Returns (2006): The deadbeat dad aspect, a certain dullness, plus an ill-fated attempt to do the 1970s-1980s version two decades later make this a weaker superhero film
- Superman: The Movie (1978): Sacred cow #2; All four movies have a tug of war between the attempts to go larger than life vs. an apparent attempt to be campy that doesn’t work for me despite a great look and great music. Hackman’s Luthor chews the scenery and his deductive processes seem illogical even when he’s right, I had trouble believing that Clark would listen to a tape as his father as long as he did without a break, the Can You Read My Mind poem is painful, and the ending effectively eliminates any possible suspense for the rest of the movie series
- Superman II (1980): Sacred cow #3: Same tu of war, more Hackman chewing the scenery, more illogical bits. Still looks and sounds great and I did like the main fight with the Phantom Zone villains.
- Superman III (1983): Same tug of war, only this time the campiness really takes over despite Hackman’s absence. Richard Pryor likely woul;d have done well playing his role straight, but his comedy style doesn’t work well with a superhero movie. I did like the Clark-Superman fight though.
- Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987): This one I haven’t seen in full. However what I have seen hammered home the fact that we had Gene Hackman scenery chewing again.
- X3 (X-Men): The Last Stand (2006): This one’s in “not without its moments” territory. I did like the flashback sequence at the beginning. However, this really should have been two films with the Dark Phoenix story organically leading into the cure story. Between this and a too short running time, there were too many key characters who weren’t given the necessary time to develop their characters.