In most comic book movie franchises, the idea is that there are sequels that don't only fail to match up to the original films but are terrible movies in their own right. There are those that surpass the original films, such as Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight and Superman II, but there are also those movies that fans hate and believe destroyed the entire franchise. There are also sequels that followed movies that fans already hated that then helped them pile on the criticism for. However, when it comes to the movies fans seemed to despise, not all of them are as bad as people like to believe.
Just about every superhero movie franchise has sequels. Even with bad reviews for the original movies, Daredevil, Ghost Rider and Fantastic Four pulled off the goal of getting a sequel greenlit. However, other franchises like the '90s Batman movies and the Superman movies from the '80s saw their series come to a crashing to an end due to lackluster sequels. With that said, there are plenty of these "bad" movies that are nowhere near being franchise killers and actually have some quality traits making them entertaining in their own right. Here is a look at 20 superhero sequels that are nowhere near as bad as some hardcore comic book fans and film critics would have you believe.
20 BATMAN FOREVER
Most people argue that Joel Schumacher ruined the Batman franchise. After two fantastic movies by Tim Burton, Schumacher came aboard and did what the studio asked him to do. He turned the Batman franchise into a major commercial franchise that was meant to sell toys and Happy Meals to kids all over the world. When asked about the movies, Chris O'Donnell honestly said that making Batman & Robin was like making a feature-length toy commercial.
With that said, Schumacher's first movie was not as bad as some fans might claim. There were major problems with it, not the least of which was Tommy Lee Jones going way overboard as Two-Face and Nicole Kidman miscast as the love interest. However, Val Kilmer was a great Bruce Wayne and Jim Carrey really brought The Riddler to life. It isn't perfect, but it is nowhere close to being the disaster that Batman & Robin was.
19 SUPERMAN RETURNS
Bryan Singer was so excited to play in the sandbox of DC Comics most beloved superhero that he left the X-Men franchise to do so. Fans were so disappointed in the final result that Singer ran back to Fox and rejoined the X-Men as a producer shortly after the movie failed to reignite the Superman franchise. This is disappointing as well because Superman Returns is actually a pretty good movie.
The problem that most fans had with it was that they wanted a Superman movie that was full of action and adventure while Singer wanted to make a movie that dealt with Superman and his place in this world. Brandon Routh was fantastic as Superman, really channeling Christopher Reeve, while Singer chose to ignore everything after Superman II and had his movie as a direct sequel that that seminal Superman story.
18 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
When Sony relaunched the Spider-Man franchise with an older, less geeky Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, it seemed to polarize fans. There were many who didn't like the new Spider-Man and those who felt that Garfield was perfect as the wise-cracking Spidey that comic book fans have grown to love over the years. The movie was still a success and led to Amazing Spider-Man 2, which a lot more fans hated.
There were problems with the movie, the biggest being Dane DeHaan's performance as the Green Goblin. However, there were also great things here including the big screen moment of the death of Gwen Stacy from the comics, more great quips by Andrew Garfield, who was miles better than Tobey Maguire, and a game Jamie Foxx as the sympathetic villain, Elektro.
17 IRON MAN 3
Iron Man 3 angered a lot of fans of the franchise due to one thing -- The Mandarin. However, not only is Iron Man 3 not a bad MCU movie, but it is one of the best MCU movies period. This movie really tied up the story of Tony Stark perfectly, following him from the man who took on the role of a hero in the first movie, to the arrogance of the second and the PTSD of the first Avengers movie.
Iron Man 3 was all about Tony learning that being a hero was more than putting on expensive armor and fighting bad guys. In this movie, director Shane Black forced Tony to fight without his armor and in doing so, he finally became a hero that he knew was worthy. Plus, the Mandarin twist was expertly done even if it didn't pay off fan's expectations of seeing the actual villain on the big screen.
16 THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
The problem that faced The Dark Knight Rises was that it followed what is considered the greatest comic book movie of all time, The Dark Knight. After all, that second Christopher Nolan movie was an Oscar contender and is compared to even non-comic book movies in terms of greatness, so nothing could hold up to that.
What resulted in The Dark Knight Rises was a movie that was agreeably too long but nowhere near as bad as many fans have made it seem. Anne Hathaway was great as Catwoman and Tom Hardy turned in a solid performance as Bane, helping people forget about the disappointment that arrived on screen in Batman & Robin. It was a good, solid movie that might have worked better with a shorter running time.
15 THE CROW: SALVATION
While it may be known as the movie that ended the life of Brandon Lee, The Crow was one of the best comic book adaptations of its time and still remains a fantastic gothic action-horror movie to this day. However, almost no one talks about the sequels, some of which remain some of the worst critically reviewed movies of all time, with The Crow: Wicked Prayer sitting at a zero on Rotten Tomatoes.
However, one movie that doesn't deserve the scorn is the third in the series, The Crow: Salvation. While it is ranked at 22-percent rotten, the movie is a fun ride. Eric Mabius does an admirable job by stepping in as a new Crow. In this story, he avenges his late girlfriend after he was wrongly taken out for her passing. He was found guilty in order to cover up the crooked cops who were really guilty of the crime and set out for vengeance.
14 X-MEN: APOCALYPSE
The X-Men franchise is a strange beast. It arrived as one of the first major superhero properties for Marvel and was an instant success. Many people consider X2: X-Men United to be one of the top superhero movies of all-time, although it has dropped somewhat since the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, the third movie in the series and X-Men Origins: Wolverine really left a sour stench on the entire franchise.
When Matthew Vaughn helped relaunch the franchise with X-Men: First Class, things started looking up. However, the next two movies were not as readily accepted by fans with X-Men: Apocalypse taking the brunt of the complaints. With that said, there was a lot to like about the movie, including the John Hughes-esque teens in the lineup, but too many fans still remain dissatisfied with Oscar Issacs Apocalypse.
13 GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE
Is Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance a good movie? No, it is not a "good" movie but it is also not a bad movie at all. This movie followed a very lackluster first movie in the series where Nic Cage overacted every scene he appeared in as Johnny Blaze and the villains and special effects were eye-rolling at every turn. What the franchise did after that was bring in the Crank filmmakers of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.
The idea was that they already proved that they could bring the crazy in Crank and that is exactly what they did with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. For people who believe in "guilty pleasures," this is a movie that fits that definition and for people who just want to watch a movie that is not afraid to go completely nuts, this is a perfect movie example of that kind of movie as well.
12 BLADE: TRINITY
Blade: Trinity remains one of the most disappointing comic book movies ever made for many fans. The first Blade movie was the earliest major release of a Marvel Comics superhero if Howard the Duck and Punisher are discounted. While that was a nice introduction, it was still a minor movie with a great Wesley Snipes performance. The second movie, though, was a huge jump in quality with Guillermo del Toro going all out to make a fantastic comic book film.
Compared to Del Toro's effort, Blade: Trinity falls short. Regardless, Ryan Reynolds was solid as Hannibal King but the movie tried too hard to add too much and lost focus when it needed to keep Blade as the center of attention. Dracula was the obvious next level villain, but he couldn't match up to the hybrid vampires from Blade II. With that said, the action was hard-hitting and it is still a fun watch when turning off your brain.
11 JUSTICE LEAGUE
The DCEU has polarized the comic book fandom. While there are fans of both Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, there are many vocal fans who absolutely hate them -- and with the critics siding with the haters, the complaints are louder than ever. With that said, DC tried to do something to fix the biggest complaints of the DCEU with Justice League.
Marvel fans felt the DC movies were too dark so, with Justice League, humor was added. That angered many DCEU fans who liked the darkness. However, at the end of the day, Justice League was a ton of fun. Aquaman was a revelation to watch, Wonder Woman was as great as ever and Flash brought some great humor and innocence as well. This movie never deserved the hate it received, even though Steppenwolf was a really bad villain.
10 PUNISHER: WAR ZONE
None of the movies about The Punisher got good reviews. The first movie, with Dolph Lundgren as Frank Castle, was an '80s B-level action movie that really only shared the name with the title character. Thomas Jane's version was a shallow attempt at the character, although Jane was great in the role as Castle and deserved better. However, Punisher: War Zone was a great adaptation of the character.
The movie has an interesting distinction, with two females leading the way including director Lexi Alexander and producer Gale Anne Hurd. This is surprising since Punisher: War Zone is the bloodiest and most violent version of any Punisher movie to date. This just shows Castle mowing through the criminal underworld on his vendetta of vengeance. It is brutal and it is exactly what a Punisher movie should look like.
9 SUPERMAN III
There is one major problem with Superman III. The film was more about showcasing Richard Pryer than about showcasing Superman himself. After a great first movie and an even better follow-up in Superman II, there was no way that Pryor's minor criminal could compete with General Zod. It also didn't help that adding a comedian like Pryor would cause the film to take on a more comedic and campy tone than the first two.
However, that does not mean there is not a lot to like about Superman III as well. The entire idea of Superman having a dark and bad side was brilliant and seeing Clark Kent battling the evil Superman was great. This movie was not nearly as terrible as people remember. Plus, it was miles better than Superman IV, a critically bashed film that caused Christopher Reeve to quit and destroyed the entire franchise.
8 AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
The Avengers ended up as the most successful comic book movie of all time, ranking third behind only Avatar and Titanic when it hit theaters. That meant that Avengers: Age of Ultron had a lot to live up to. Sadly, the second movie didn't reach the level of the first when it comes to both critical and fan opinion and was a lesser film despite the iconic comic book villain of Ultron.
With that said, the problems with Avengers: Age of Ultron was not that it was a really bad movie. The problem was that there was too much thrown into the movie. From reports, Joss Whedon had his ideas for the film but Marvel wanted more and it just got out of control. Despite this, the movie is still a great story and is a fun film that just needed a tighter reign on its running time.
7 HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY
It is hard to really find a bad Gullermo del Toro movie, although there are some that mainstream audiences just don't seem to care for. When it comes to Hellboy II: The Golden Army, there was just something that turned some people off. It received great critical acclaim, carrying an 86-percent on Rotten Tomatoes but also has a 71-percent ranking by fans.
It is still slightly positive, but for some reason, the studio didn't like it enough to let Del Toro finish his trilogy and even creator Mike Mignola didn't seem to like where the filmmaker was going. That is too bad because there is so much to like about this movie. The visuals are amazing, the characters are great and the villains in this movie beat the first film in every aspect.
6 THE WOLVERINE
The Wolverine might have suffered from following X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which did so much wrong that there was little to redeem that film. However, when it comes to The Wolverine, the real complaints were based on the fact that James Mangold isn't really a fan of superhero movies and created something that comic book fans weren't ready for.
Outside of the poor realization of the Silver Samurai, The Wolverine was a good movie, taking Logan outside of the comfort zone of his X-Men world and giving fans the look at the Japanese-based stories that were always popular in the comics. While Logan is the real masterpiece in the Wolverine franchise, this movie does more than enough to warrant appreciation from fans of the comics.
5 TEENAGE MUTANT TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows has low Rotten Tomatoes scores both from critics (36%) and fans (47%). While there might be some problems, overall the movie stands on its own as a fun, bombastic adventure for the Heroes in a Half Shell. Plus, there is one thing that really sends this film into a must-see affair.
Bebop and Rocksteady were brought to glorious life with perfect voice performances by Gary Anthony Williams (The Boondocks) and WWE superstar Sheamus. The movie is also an improvement over the first film in the rebooted series, and while it may not reach the brilliance of the comic books or television cartoons, it is still better than all but the original classic movie and remains a fun ride.
4 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
No one thinks that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a "bad" movie, but there were a lot of fans vocal about how it was a step down from the first movie in the franchise. That first movie was great, changing up the MCU in a way that was both entertaining and thrilling. With that said, there are a lot of reasons that the second movie matched and might have even surpassed that first film.
Ego is a much better villain than Ronan and that is likely because Kurt Russell really delivered the goods in his performance. The fact that the group has been together allowed them a lot more fun when it came to dialogue and interactions. However, the Yondu storyline with both Peter and the Ravagers was what really delivered most in this movie, making it one of the most emotional experiences in the MCU to that point.
3 THE INCREDIBLE HULK
After the Marvel Cinematic Universe launched with Iron Man, the second movie in the series was The Incredible Hulk, with Edward Norton taking on the role of the Green Goliath. However, when fans rank their favorite movies from the MCU, this one ranks near the bottom of most lists. However, what is interesting is that Marvel made what fans claimed they wanted.
When Ang Lee made The Hulk, he made it more cerebral and created a movie about what it was like for Bruce Banner to share a body with a monster. Fans complained and said that they wanted "Hulk Smash" action in a Hulk movie and that is exactly what the MCU gave them, and fans still were not happy. The Incredible Hulk does rank near the bottom of the list of MCU films, but it isn't as bad as some will have you believe.
2 BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE
If the online and critical reaction to Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice says anything, it is that this is one of the worst superhero movies ever made. However, look a little deeper and there are just as many very vocal fans of the movie who loved everything about it. When it comes to things this polarizing, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Despite its 27% critic's score on Rotten Tomatoes, Batman V Superman is not one of the worst comic book movies ever. It falls more in line with the 3.5/5.0 rating that fans gave it on that same website. The movie stuffs too much into the running time and might have been better as two movies, but the new look at Batman and Superman's relationship is interesting and fresh, and the movie is better than critics would have readers believe.
1 IRON MAN 2
Most people consider Iron Man 2 to be the worst of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, but that really isn't fair. It is disappointing that Jon Favreau didn't explore the Demon in a Bottle storyline further and this might be the only chance fans get to see that event. With that said, the only thing that Iron Man 2 is guilty of is being too fun.
The movie was easily the least serious of the three Iron Man movies, with the first a perfect origin story and the third a great conclusion to Tony Stark's journey. With that said, outside of Whiplash getting a rushed and generic treatment, Iron Man 2 was a ton of fun and deserves a lot more respect that it gets from fans and critics online.