Superhero movies have quickly become one of the most popular genres in Hollywood. Marvel, Warner Bros, FOX, Sony, and many other studios have attempted to create their own films based on characters from comics. Some of the most successful movies of all time include films such as Avengers: Infinity War, The Dark Knight, and Black Panther. However, popularity doesn't always equal quality. What we find with films is that many people can be attracted to a franchise regardless of whether it's good or not -- just look at how much money was made by the Transformers films. The same goes for superhero movies. They've proven to resonate more with general audiences, but how do they stack up when compared to other movies that were critically well-received?
There are plenty of reviewers out there who have voiced their opinions on those films that either reinforce or contradict their popularity. Most reviewers rate movies on a score system that then tells a reader what they can expect when watching each movie. Metacritic takes many of those reviews and congregates them, which leads them to develop an overall score that's based on the opinions of many reviewers. This is to give readers the most well-rounded score possible and because Metacritic has taken so many reviews, they have scores for just about every movie in existence. That said, which superhero movies do they find the worst? Which do they find the best? Get ready to explore the minds of critics as we dive into 20 of the worst superhero films and 10 of the best according to Metacritic.
30 WORST: SUPERMAN III (44)
Superman III was the rather lackluster follow-up to the exciting Superman II. However, without the right team to make magic happen a third time, this movie ended up feeling like a hollow shell of what Superman used to stand for on film.
The movie meanders around several weird plot lines and feels shockingly disconnected from the previous two films. That's all without mentioning the fact that they cast Richard Pryor is an antagonist for the film, despite him being known for his comedy in the real world.
29 WORST: THE LOSERS (44)
The Losers was based on a comic series, but you'd be hard pressed to find anything fun or engaging in this adventure. Despite having an all-star cast of veterans from the MCU at its disposal, the film still manages to misuse them at almost every turn.
It's full of "hardcore" moments and jokes that are all topped with action scenes that feel so fake that it hurts. It could've been a modern version of the A-team, but it feels more like the F-team.
28 BEST: IRON MAN (79)
Metacritic's number 10 best superhero movie of all time is the Marvel movie that started it all. Iron Man was directed by Jon Favreau and was proof that a connected universe was an idea worth investing in.
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark was perfect casting, and seeing his journey of redemption to become a superhero was one that would keep people interested for quite some time. Featuring a practically-built Iron Man suit, a charismatically evil Jeff Bridges, and plenty of AC/DC, this was the superhero movie to beat.
27 WORST: BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (44)
After the middle-of-the-road start to the DCEU with Man of Steel, the next film brought in both Batman and Wonder Woman hoping to have something more interesting and exciting.
Despite having these major characters appearing on-screen together, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was a painfully polarizing film, separating many people into those who hated or disliked it. Now that the dust has settled, most agree that the film doesn't have much to offer and tried too hard to set up a universe.
26 WORST: DAREDEVIL (42)
Before we were graced with Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock in the Netflix Daredevil series, there was FOX's Daredevil movie starring Ben Affleck in 2003. However, the early 2000s was not a good time for superhero movies, as many of them were corny and trying too hard to be cool.
Daredevil falls into all of those problems while ripping off The Matrix at the same time. Affleck doesn't do Murdock a lot of justice either. Just think that this movie managed to get a crappy spin-off while the show can't even get a fourth season.
25 BEST: THE INCREDIBLES 2 (80)
After fans waited over a decade, they finally got the chance to see the Parr family once more in The Incredibles 2. This film brings back everything people loved about the first one, including humorous family dynamics, well-directed and animated action sequences, and more supers than before.
Many will agree that it doesn't surpass the original, but it's more than a good attempt at bringing fans back into the antics of supers. That's all without mentioning just how much more impressive the animation looks this time around.
24 WORST: SUICIDE SQUAD (40)
After the controversial Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros hoped to bring people to the DCEU once and for all with the release of Suicide Squad. Bringing fan-favorite characters like Harley Quinn and Joker, big names like Margot Robbie and Will Smith, and having a certain edge, it was almost a guaranteed slam dunk.
However, Suicide Squad suffered from a lot of reshoots, poor direction, and one of the worst villains in a superhero movie to date. It felt like a shameless ripoff of Guardians of the Galaxy.
23 WORST: X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (40)
Often touted as the worst X-Men movie ever made, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was far from what it should've been. Learning about Wolverine's backstory should've been exciting, compelling, and tragic. Unfortunately, the movie brought none of those things to the table.
What we were left with was a cheesy movie that looked like it was halfway through the editing process. It also became forever despised because of how it treated the cinematic debut of Deadpool. If anything, it only exists as a joke in the Deadpool movies now.
22 BEST: SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE (80)
Christopher Reeve is still the most iconic portrayal of Superman to date and that's all because of Superman: The Movie. While the film didn't try to do anything impressive, it was a wonderful insight to Superman's character while also being just a fun and hopeful superhero movie from start to finish.
It makes great use of the technology at the time and births many of the character's most iconic moments. DC movies decades later still tried to replicate the shots and moments from this film.
21 WORST: FANTASTIC FOUR (2005) (40)
It's safe to say that the Fantastic Four have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to movies for a while. It's unfortunate that such a potentially interesting family dynamic hasn't received a better film. FOX tried to give them a good movie with Fantastic Four in 2005.
However, it was hurt with many problems that plagued other bad superhero movies at the time. It was just downright cheesy and had no compelling character dynamics. It's a movie that most people forgot right after watching it.
20 WORST: GREEN LANTERN (39)
Probably placed on Metacritic's list by Ryan Reynolds himself is the Green Lantern movie. Made in 2011 as an attempt by Warner Bros to start their own superhero cinematic universe, it failed before it even hit the ground.
The film was largely criticized for directly ripping off elements found in better superhero films. It was also criticized for having a weak villain (both physically and narratively) as well as having some downright inexcusable CGI. The movie used CGI to create the Green Lantern mask.
19 BEST: SPIDER-MAN 2 (83)
When people talk about the best cinematic Spider-Man of all time, most people say Tobey Maguire then point to this movie. There's no doubt that Spider-Man 2 is a gold standard for superhero movies in a lot of ways.
The villain has a personal connection to the hero, and the hero also goes through many life crises as he tries to continue his life as Spider-Man. It shows the toll that a man would take by being a superhero for so long. It's brilliant, emotional, and incredibly memorable.
18 WORST: BLADE: TRINITY (38)
With the surprising success of the Blade films, it was decided that the third one would be a launching point for a soft reboot in many ways. Focusing on a younger cast of new characters, Blade: Trinity was severely hurt as a result.
It also had a lot of problems in the story department, suspending disbelief way too much to get anyone invested in what was going on. The final film was inconsistent, unfocused, and took itself too seriously. It was a sad end to a respected series.
17 WORST: GHOST RIDER (35)
Ghost Rider has always been one of Marvel's more interesting characters, but making a movie around him has proven to be quite a challenge. To be fair, it was probably a bad decision to cast Nicholas Cage as the titular Spirit of Vengeance, but the movie had more problems than just that.
It seemed much more with its new special effects rather than trying to tell a well-written story. It says a lot about the quality of film, then, when you consider that the effects were pretty poor.
16 BEST: THE DARK KNIGHT (84)
Considered by many to be the greatest superhero film of all time, The Dark Knight is a movie that has no restrictions on itself. Director Christopher Nolan crafted a thriller movie that featured Batman, the Joker, and Gotham City.
It works as a follow-up to Batman Begins, addressing all of the complaints from that film as well as giving its characters compelling arcs that make sense for what they did in the last movie. It has an exciting moral battle between its two leads and leaves a lot for the audience to think about after it ends.
15 WORST: GHOST RIDER: THE SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE (34)
This film came out in 2012, the same year as The Avengers, and you probably don't even remember. Despite the fact that Ghost Rider wasn't well-received or very successful, Columbia decided it was interesting enough to garner a sequel.
It shouldn't come as a surprise then, that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was slightly worse than the previous film. It could've been a chance to redeem the franchise, but the film falls into more mistakes, leading it to be the final nail in the coffin that version of the character.
14 WORST: ELEKTRA (34)
Daredevil was already on this list, but FOX felt they had something on their hands. With Elektra already introduced in that movie, it was decided that she should get her own spin-off film. It's almost universally agreed on that Elektra was worse than Daredevil.
It tries to add in some techniques found in a drama film, but never commits to them, which makes the whole film feel inconsistent. That's not to mention how poorly the action was shot, making it obvious when stunt doubles were on screen.
13 BEST: SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (87)
Despite that people often point to Spider-Man 2 as the best Spider-Man movie of all time, it seems that it has finally been dethroned. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the youngest movie on this list, but it has already made an impact in a big way.
Redefining what can be done with animation, the movie is not only a joy to look at, but a joy to get invested in. Each of its characters has real purpose, but it never gets distracted from Miles as the one who holds everything together.
12 WORST: THE PUNISHER (33)
The Punisher succeeds when the writers play into his violent nature and the grittiness of the source material. It's worked for Netflix so far, but that was in the wake of a few movies that didn't understand that at all. The Punisher in 2004 was a weak film.
Despite having the pieces there for a more realistic superhero film similar to what The Dark Knight did just a few years later, it squandered its potential at almost every turn. Some people even prefer the version with Dolph Lundgren back in the '80s.
11 WORST: JONAH HEX (33)
Jonah Hex had a lot of pieces going into it that should've made for an ornate and beautiful puzzle. Despite having the talents of Josh Brolin and Michael Fassbender at its disposal, the movie ends up a serious mess altogether.
Its biggest problem is that it doesn't know what it wants to be, having a little bit of everything. Unfortunately, all of those elements are so loosely connected it often feels like it was fastened together with duct tape before being shipped to theaters.
10 BEST: SUPERMAN II (87)
While Superman: The Movie brought the Man of Steel to film in a big way, Superman II practically perfected the formula. Where the first film had a lot of iconic Superman moments, it didn't have much action or spectacle. That's where Superman II improves on the original.
Essentially filmed as the second part to Richard Donner's story about Superman, we now get to see him go against General Zod. It's a tense film that proves once and for all why Superman deserves the big screen.
9 WORST: PUNISHER: WAR ZONE (30)
Despite the middling attempts at making a movie about Marvel's Punisher character, it seemed that Lionsgate was going to give it their best shot with 2008's Punisher: War Zone. Once again, it had the potential to become an exciting and realistic superhero film, but that's not what direction was taken. Instead, the movie is little more than one big R-rated action scene.
The movie has a barebones plot, as its primary concern is to get the viewer to the next fight sequence and hope the popcorn lasts long enough to keep them entertained.
8 WORST: HOWARD THE DUCK (28)
Howard the Duck was the film that proved not everything was a good idea. Even in concept, a film about a talking duck from outer space is a hard sell. Nonetheless, the execution made it significantly worse. This movie tries to be funny and "different" but comes across as lazy, mean-spirited, and unlikeable.
Howard himself is a lead that no one really likes, as he is selfish and crass at every turn. The film is also plagued with awkward special effects and a tonally weird second act where Howard suddenly has to save the universe.
7 BEST: BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (88)
There are many reasons why Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was so beloved by many people and that's because there are so many things it does right. Not a superhero film in a traditional sense, it satirizes all the superhero movies we watched years ago.
Having Michael Keaton as the lead was a perfect choice, as he both brings his A-game while has a strange homage to his time as the Dark Knight. The movie is also a technical masterpiece, with it filmed as if it were all done in a single take.
6 WORST: BATMAN AND ROBIN (28)
When people ask what the worst Batman movie of all time is, most responses will point to Batman and Robin. Make no mistake, Batman and Robin is an achievement because of how weird, campy, and painful to watch it is. Had Joel Schumacher been trying to create a bad movie so intentionally, he would've succeeded in spades.
The film has a strange cast of actors, some of the worst jokes on cinema, and the ugliest costume for the Dark Knight that's ever been on-screen. It's also way too long.
5 WORST: FANTASTIC FOUR (2015) (27)
The Fantastic Four got a second chance at a proper film franchise in 2015. Unfortunately, FOX's Fantastic Four film proved to be even worst than the previous two, and that's saying something. While the first act of the movie moves nicely, it completely derails once the characters get their powers.
Skipping several years, we never care about these characters or how their powers affected them. Reshoots were extremely obvious with fake-looking wigs and CGI that needed a lot more work. It also used a sky beam in its finale.
4 BEST: BLACK PANTHER (88)
While some people might not agree with this placement, many reviewers found a lot to enjoy when watching Black Panther. Director Ryan Coogler's third film follows T'Challa as he becomes the king of Wakanda after his father's demise.
The film was celebrated as a politically relevant film that also resolves the "Marvel villain problem." All actors bring their best to the table, particularly Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan. When the action is practical, it's also shot very well. Coogler should be proud.
3 WORST: CATWOMAN (27)
While there are good reasons behind why a Catwoman movie would be made, it goes without saying that the Catwoman film made all the wrong steps. Its biggest mistake was using a new character rather than having Selina Kyle and from there, it gets much worse.
Her origin story is as ridiculous as Warner Bros thinking reshooting Suicide Squad would be a good idea. Then it moves onto some of the most awkward scenes in movie history. It's such a trainwreck, we almost have to recommend it just so you can see how bad it is.
2 WORST: SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE (24)
The number one worst superhero movie according to Metacritic is Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. It's crazy to think that all the actors came back from stellar movies like Superman: The Movie and Superman II. Unfortunately, this movie slaps all of them in the face and forces them to forever be in Wal-Mart's bargain bin.
The movie ignores logic about Superman's lore and brings together some of the worst fight choreography ever put on film. It also re-uses shots from previous Superman movies.
1 BEST: THE INCREDIBLES (90)
The number one greatest superhero movie of all time according to Metacritic is Pixar's The Incredibles and it's a fitting placement, too. Director Brad Bird provided an interesting commentary about how superheroes would affect daily life.
It also proves that the Fantastic Four would make for an excellent movie with the right people in place. The film has a lot of heart, great dialogue, well-directed action, a stellar soundtrack, and animation that still holds up. Everything about this movie comes together so well. It's hard to beat.