For every great superhero movie, there's a terrible one. Marvel Studios has changed the game with the (mostly) consistent quality of their superhero films, but prior to the MCU's creation, there wasn't much of a standard on how to make a good superhero film, with only a few standing out as great adaptations. Even after the MCU hit its stride, there were still a good number of bad superhero movies coming out each year. In fact, you could easily argue that since the MCU spawned the superhero movie boom, it was indirectly responsible for studios churning out superhero movies that were critical and financial failures in order to compete with Marvel.
This is all to say that there are a lot of bad superhero movies out there, some worse than others, some completely unwatchable. But, even the worst superhero movies of all time have some redeeming traits, little bits that are worth watching. Be it a perfect shot, an awesome costume or great special effects, there's something to love about some of the superhero movie industry's biggest stinkers. Everything from Spider-Man 3 to all of DC's disasters have something to love about them, despite how bad they were overall. Perhaps these small parts of big flops aren't enough to make the film good, but they are worth pointing out to show that not everything went wrong. So, without further ado, let's take a look at 25 redeeming traits of some of the worst superhero movies of all time.
25 SPIDER-MAN 3 - SANDMAN'S FORMATION
Let's start off with one of the better parts of Spider-Man 3: Sandman's origin. While the accident itself was not great, when Flint Marko has to reform himself from the sand, it's one of the most beautiful scenes in superhero cinema history.
Sandman tries to form his whole body, but it's too much to handle, so instead, he forms himself one piece at a time, the thought of his daughter finally giving him the strength to walk in his new body. It's a very poetically shot scene that sadly got overlooked.
24 MAN OF STEEL - THE FINAL FIGHT
Fans were somewhat split on Man of Steel, but it was mostly panned by critics, many pointing out the film's dark tone as the root of its problems. However, there is one moment that was absolutely breathtaking: the final fight between Zod and Superman.
Though the fight played a part in the film's tone problem, if we look at it as a separate piece of cinema, it's simply fantastic. The fight shows just how two god-like beings would clash, complete with epic punches, awesome choreography, both combatants being knocked through buildings and stellar special effects.
23 X-MEN 3 - KELSEY GRAMMER AS BEAST
X-Men 3 had a lot of problems, but it also had a few redeeming qualities, particularly Kelsey Grammer as Hank McCoy/Beast. The actor brought the perfect amount of charm and intelligence to the role, which fit the character perfectly.
This version of Beast didn't seem to be the scientific genius that his comics counterpart was, and was instead a politician fighting for mutant rights, but he was still a standout character in the film, especially with Grammer's Frasier-esque portrayal of him.
22 GREEN LANTERN - CASTING CHOICES
Before the comments section goes nuts, we'll start off by saying that the Green Lantern film was all kinds of terrible, but there was one thing that went right in pre-production: the casting. Now, people might be split on Ryan Reynolds playing Hal Jordan, but he's known for playing cocky, smart-aleck-type characters, so the choice actually fit (on the surface).
Two other great casting choices were Mark Strong as Sinestro, who brought a lot to the role despite not having much to work with, and Michael Clarke Duncan as the drill sergeant-like Corps veteran Kilowog.
21 THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 - COMICS ACCURATE COSTUME
Costumes in superhero movies have ventured beyond the all-black leather suits of the first X-Men movie and the muted tones of the first Spider-Man film. Instead of trying to make a costume work in a realistic setting, superhero movies go all out, and a great example of this came in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
The costume made for the sequel was, in many ways, excellent. It has a few minor issues in the webbing and insignia, and it didn't look great in motion, but otherwise, it was the most comics accurate a Spider-Man film costume has ever been.
20 TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2014) - TURTLE OUTFITS
Speaking of costumes, another great example of cool designs in a bad movie can be seen in 2014's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Before anyone gets up in arms about this claim, we're not talking about the Turtles themselves, since the decision to make them hulking lip-faced monsters was questionable at best.
The clothes that the Turtles wear on the other hand? Those are some great designs; each outfit has personality and look exactly like what four ninja-trained teenagers would make out of scraps and rags. We especially love Donnie's guards, which are made out of solar panels to charge his gear.
19 DAREDEVIL - MICHAEL CLARK DUNCAN AS KINGPIN
2003's Daredevil wasn't a complete mess of a film, it still had a few good things going for it, one of them being the Kingpin played by Michael Clarke Duncan. The late actor was perfect for the role; big and intimidating with a booming voice that all made for a fantastic performance.
As much as we love Vincent D'Onofrio in Netflix's Daredevil, Duncan brought just as much to the character, which is why he was one of the best parts of the movie.
18 BATMAN V SUPERMAN - BATMAN'S ARMOR
Batman V. Superman was a completely incomprehensible mess of a movie that had a few stylistic elements that are worthy of praise. One of the best-looking parts of the film was the scene that more or less recreated the Superman/Batman fight from Frank Miller and Klaus Janson's original comic, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
The reason the initial parts of this scene looked so good was because Batman's armor was fantastic, an awesomely designed take on the Dark Knight Returns armor that was filmed really well, making Batman look intimidating and imposing when standing next to a godlike being such as Superman.
17 SPIDER-MAN 3 - DEBUT OF THE BLACK SUIT
One of the cooler moments in Spider-Man 3 was the first time we see Peter in the black suit—the music is great, the change in tone and visuals are great and the way he wakes up suddenly are all superb.
After the symbiote covered Peter, he wakes up in the middle of the city, with no idea how he got there as a spike in music plays before he swings around a now much darker, much more noir city that shows the shift the symbiote has created in his life.
16 X-MEN: APOCALYPSE - THE QUICKSILVER SCENE
With each modern X-Men film that comes out, the quality of the franchise seems to drop, something that became very evident in Age of Apocalypse. However, among the confusing and downright silly parts of the film, there was one part that stood out: the Quicksilver scene.
This scene was a follow-up to the super speed scene from the previous X-Men film that amped things up to 11. As an explosion goes off in the X-Mansion, Quicksilver single-handedly saves every single person in a matter of seconds, making for an amazing spectacle.
15 BATMAN V SUPERMAN - THE OPENING
If there's one thing that Zack Snyder excels at, it's openings, something that is evident in the beginning of Warner Bros.' Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. There are two strong storytelling beats at the film's start: the way Superman is filmed and Bruce Wayne's response to the destruction of his world.
Superman and Zod's fight is shot in the same vein as shaky UFO footage, which ties in with how Bruce later views Clark, as an alien threat. And speaking of Bruce, seeing him run into the wreckage and danger as others ran away was a fantastic character moment that was a great way to start the film, giving audiences a sense of Bruce Wayne's character from the get-go.
14 FANTASTIC FOUR (2005) - THE THING'S PROSTHETICS
If we had to choose between Fox's first Fantastic Four film and the 2015 reboot, the original is definitely the lesser of two evils. It's not a perfect movie, but it has its moments, and it also has one thing that still holds up incredibly well: The Thing's prosthetics.
Again, the practical effects aren't perfect, but for the most part, the suit/prosthetics that actor Michael Chiklis wore still hold up incredibly well, since they make him look just like the comics character and frame his eyes to make him look like a vulnerable being behind his rocky exterior.
13 CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER - THEMATIC MOMENTS
Captain America: The First Avenger is often thought as one of the MCU's weaker films, but it's actually a fantastic thematic piece, however, some elements just don't quite mesh enough to stick the landing. Despite this, some moments in the movie stand out as excellent storytelling moments.
By thematic moments, we are talking about parts like Steve fighting in the alleyway, the flagpole scene, the grenade scene and the part where Steve performs for the troops as Captain America -- one of the most brutal scenes in the film -- since it shows the contrast between supporting war, and experiencing it.
12 TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2014) - PASSES THE BECHDEL TEST
This is perhaps the weirdest entry on our list, since we doubt anyone was expecting a high-budget superhero movie like 2014's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would pass The Bechdel Test. For those who don't know, The Bechdel Test is meant to measure the representation of women in media, the requirement being that the story features two women having a conversation that's not about a man.
It's not a perfect, catch-all test, of course, but it's still interesting that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles passes this test when April talks to her boss, Bernadette Thompson, about pursuing a story for their news network.
11 THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 - THE FIRST 10 MINUTES
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 got a lot of things wrong about the character, mostly in making his parents a big part of his story and origin. However, the film also treated us to ten minutes of fantastic Spider-Man crime-fighting action.
Isolated, these 10 minutes serve as a short film of sorts that gives us some of the best Spider-Man storytelling in all of cinema. The opening depicts Spider-Man fighting crime as he usually does, quipping and thwipping and sort of stumbling as he struggles to make his graduation on time, all of which just perfectly captures the character.
10 BATMAN V. SUPERMAN - BATMAN AS A FORCE
Another thing that filmmaker Zack Snyder got right with his interpretation of Batman in Batman v Superman was how Batman operated as a crime fighter. Both in the warehouse scene that seemed to be plucked right out of the Arkham games and in how he moved in the shadows, one thing was clear: Batman was something of a force of nature.
This depiction of the Dark Knight wasn't kept up through the whole film, especially when Batman uses guns, but seeing Batman move through the shadows like a crime-punishing force was awesome.
9 GHOST RIDER - THE FIRST TRANSFORMATION
Can we all admit that the effects of the critically panned Ghost Rider film actually hold up pretty well? Everything from the way the penance stare was depicted to the motorcycle CGI were both impressive for the time and still look great today.
One of the best examples of CGI in Ghost Rider was the first time that Johnny transformed into the Ghost Rider, a scene that is super satisfying to watch, since we see his skin burn away to reveal the Spirit of Vengeance in one of the coolest superhero transformations ever.
8 CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER - THE COSTUME
Another great part about The First Avenger was Captain America's costume, which we think is easily one of the best, if not the best costume translations from page to screen in any superhero movie. Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but this costume is still great.
The suit still hits all the same thematic beats as the comics costume, but depicts them in a much more realistic way that fits to the time period and setting. Some of the best parts of this design are the stripes being depicted as straps and the way the colors were adjusted to look camera-ready.
7 X-MEN 3 - WOLVERINE VS. DARK PHOENIX
There were a lot of issues with the final battle of X-Men 3, but there was definitely a lot of power in the conclusion of the fight, which came when Wolverine put an end to the Dark Phoenix. It was an emotional scene with brutal CGI that made us feel for Logan.
After realizing he's the only one who could face Phoenix, Wolverine approaches the woman he loves as she psychically peels away his skin and muscles, healing so she can do it all over again, all so he can get close enough to end the damage that's ensued.
6 SPIDER-MAN 3 - RIPPING OFF THE SYMBIOTE
Tobey Maguire is a great actor, and one of his most well-acted scenes actually came in Spider-Man 3, if you can believe it. The sequence where Peter realizes how bad the symbiote is for him, causing him to decide to take it off is so powerful and well done on all fronts.
The special effects, both practical and CGI, are fantastic as the suit pulls away to reveal the living creature it's made of, and as Peter struggles with freeing himself, we get even more awesome effects as well as some straight-up Oscar-worthy acting from Maguire as he tears the symbiote from his body.
5 WOLVERINE ORIGINS - BROTHERS IN ARMS
We can all agree that the opening to X-Men Origins: Wolverine is superb. The rest of the film might have been a steaming pile, but the opening montage in which Wolverine and Sabertooth fight their way through every major war in history is awesome on all accounts.
Not only is the idea of seeing these brothers throughout different battles a great way to start the film, it was also really well done in terms of cinematography and editing. Seriously, if you haven't watched this opening in a while, give it look, it's absolutely fantastic.
4 WATCHMEN - THE OPENING CREDITS
Like we mentioned with the earlier Batman v Superman entry, Zack Snyder knows how to film an opening, and an even better example than the battle of Metropolis was the opening credits of Watchmen. The intro to the film was set to Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changin'," which played as a montage of alternate U.S. history with the inclusion of superheroes.
Not only was the choice of music perfect and comics-inspired, the intro also caught us up on the alternate history of the world without overloading us with information, seamlessly leading into the state of things at the beginning of the film's main story.
3 FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER - GALACTUS
So, let's talk about Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. It's no secret that viewers didn't care for how Galactus was depicted in the film, as a massive black-hole-like cosmic storm that devours planets.
Sure, it wasn't the comic book version of the character, but it was a pretty smart choice in retrospect to make such a, let's be honest, silly villain into a freaky entity that still fit the basic premise of the character.
2 DAREDEVIL - RADAR SENSE
Other than Michael Clarke Duncan's excellent portrayal of Wilson Fisk, there was one other great part of the Daredevil film: the way that Matt's radar sense was depicted.
It wasn't a perfect interpretation, since there were points where Daredevil had to rely on making noise to see, but the visuals alone were spectacular, especially for the time. The radar sense in the film is pretty spot on when you compare it to the work of various artists in the comics, and we wish the Netflix series took a few notes from these effects to spice up the "world on fire" trick a bit more.
1 JUSTICE LEAGUE - SUPERMAN VS. THE LEAGUE
Justice League was as much of a mess as Batman v Superman, but it did have one great moment that we can all agree was awesome. When Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg and Batman went to face Superman after his resurrection, Clark wasn't himself, and he attacked the League, showing just how much more powerful he is than the rest of his future comrades.
The fight is choreographed just as well as the Man of Steel fight, specifically two key moments: when Superman zooms from the distance to attack Wonder Woman up close and when The Flash watches Superman match his speed in slow motion.