Top 10 Most Disappointing Superhero Movies
In terms of moviegoing experiences, there's nothing worse than anticipating a movie to be great, only to leave the theatre with the feeling that what you watched was nowhere near as good as you expected it to be. Let me preface by saying that this is not a list of the worst superhero movies, as that would be dictated solely on the merit of quality. This list, on the other hand, takes the quality of a movie, and measures it up against personal expectations, potential, franchise-record, among other things. For fun, at the end of the blog, I will place these numbers numerically from worst to best, but this blog is primarily about expectations vs quality. Let us begin.
10. Spider-Man 3
This movie might be higher on the list, but the truth is, upon release, 6-year old me actually liked Spider-Man 3. What else do you expect? I was 6. The good thing about getting older is that you get to look back at movies you watched as a child and think "I actually liked this shit?" On the flip side, I can appreciate how 6-year old me's terrible taste in movies made the impact of the disappointment a lot less powerful. However, going from Spider-Man 2, a solid superhero movie with some of the best exploration of the price of heroism, to a scattershot sequel with a dancing Peter Parker who might as well listen to Marilyn Manson, is quite the disappointment in hindsight.
9. Thor: The Dark World
Thor: The Dark World is higher on this list, not because it is worse than Spider-Man 3, but because I was old enough to feel the impact of the disappointment on arrival. The first Thor movie has a lot of detractors, but I always thought it was a compelling origin story with a multilayered villain, an intense climax and a valuable lesson to be learned by the protagonist and viewers. The Dark World, on the other hand, abandoned any of the strengths of the first.
"You thought the first one had a multilayered villain? Forget about that. We're going to introduce the most forgettable antagonist in any MCU film. You thought the final fight between Thor and Loki in the 1st Thor was intense and personal? Hope you enjoy this bombastic, generic end of the world climax. You liked the 1st movie's focus on character development and the importance of heroism? Well, you aren't going to take anything of value from this movie." The entire movie felt soulless, forgettable and the attempts at humour were often cringeworthy, all of which came together to create a sequel that paled in comparison to the original.
8. The Dark Knight Rises
When I say "this is a lost of the most disappointing superhero movies, not the worst" this is exactly what I mean. The Dark Knight Rises is not a terrible movie, but in terms of the most disappointing, it definitely earns it's place for me. If The Dark Knight was praised for being smarter and having more depth than your average superhero movie, The Dark Knight Rises comes across as a bombastic action movie masquerading as something it isn't.
A wolf in sheep's clothing. An "intellectual" superhero movie, but with the same eye-rolling, dumb story decisions that exist purely to progress the movie from one acton scene to another: such as the scene where Bane reads a letter and everyone believes him, Gordon sending the entire police force into the sewers, Batman's back being fixed with a pseudo-medical treatment, among other things. The Dark Knight is one of the greatest modern movies, superhero or otherwise, whereas TDRK felt like it was made by someone with a superficial understanding of what made TDK great.
I'm aware a lot of people thought this movie would be bad from the moment it was announced, but I held hope. I literally had "Fant4stic will be a great movie" in my status. I've never looked like more of a clown in my life. When the movie dropped, I tried to convince myself I didn't hate it, but I couldn't scape the inevitability that is the five stages of grief. If anyone could ground the Fantastic Four, surely it would be the dude who directed Chronicle, one of the best grounded superhero movies. That, coupled with the excellent cast, and the glimmers of promise shown throughout the movie, particularly the 1st half, add up to an inescapable feeling of disappointment.
6. Justice League
By the time JL dropped, a lot of people had already felt duped and disappointed by previous DCEU movies, which lessened the blow of yet another disappointment. That said, Justice League is still a disappointing movie, whether you liked the preceding DCEU entries or not. This is the first ever live-action Justice League movie, a group we all grew up reading comics or watching cartoons of.
This should be a great movie. Instead, we received something that is the pinnacle of a product. Devoid of soul, dripping from every orifice of studio meddling and conflicting directorial visions, and made with an over inflated budget that still managed to look cheap, JL was supposed to feel like an event for comic book fans, but instead felt like a cynical, soulless product.
5. Suicide Squad
Thankfully, my expectations for this movie were comparatively lower to other movies on here, merely because I wasn't overly impressed with previous DCEU films and didn't care much for the property, but the excitement was still there, and Suicide Squad turned out to be a genuinely awful film. If I was ranking these movies quality-wise, this would be even higher, but once again, this list is a measure of excitement against quality, and the fact I wasn't over-my-head excited for this ultimately awful, hodgepodge movie did help numb the blow.
4. X-Men: Apocalypse
You know how the disappointment of JL and Fant4stic might've been predicted based on past movies in their respective franchises? Well, the disappointment of X-Men: Apocalypse might've as well been a sledgehammer to the face during sleep because I didn't see this shit coming from a mile away. The X-Men Franchise has had some pretty terrible movies, but First Class and Days of Future Past were both great, and there was little reason to think Apocalypse wouldn't follow suite. I mean, you've got the same director, returning cast, same writers and Oscar Isaac, a fantastic actor, playing a villain.
Between the messy screenplay that fails to satisfyingly explore the slew of new characters, while also sidelining and mistreated returning characters from past entries, Sophie Turner's terrible accent, Tye Sheridan's James Marsden impersonation and the introduced, unresolved plot point of Magneto being Quicksilver's father, Apocalypse is almost designed to fail your expectations.
Introducing a group of miscast performers to carry this franchise going forward, and repeating plot points to the point of becoming redundant (Magneto becomes good.... then evil.... then good.... again. Mystique learns to accept herself... again) Apocalpyse is the rare movie which genuinely destroyed a franchise for me.
3. Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2
GoTG Vol. 2 isn't just a disappointing sequel to one of the most surprisingly enjoyable superhero movies: it's a genuinely bad movie in it's own right. Gunn's understanding of character development is people standing in rooms, talking, saying something emotional and moving on. The movie is plagued with telling and not showing. James Gunn tells us Yondu was like a father-figure to Quill, even though we've barely seen anything to indicate this (no - Yondu having a "soft spot" for Quill isn't a substitute for being a father figure), Gunn has Yondu literally spell out Rocket's character and the connection between the two) and Gunn tells us that Gamora was a bad sister and then has them hug it out in a "I just wanted a sister scene" that is just as melodramatic is everything else in the movie. The performances during emotional moments are shockingly bad, such as the woeful "YOU. KILLED. MY. MOTHER" scene, where Chris Pratt might as well be auditioning for The Room.
2. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Let me preface by saying I don't dislike Batman v. Superman. From Ben Affleck's fantastic performance as Batman, to Larry Fong's cinematography, to Hans Zimmer's score, to the fantastic opening scene, to Wonder Woman's badass appearance, to the instantly iconic warehouse scene, there's a lot to like about this movie. However, this movie failed to deliver on the promise of seeing arguably the two most iconic superheroes on the big screen together for the first time: their interactions in the movie are short on supply, the titular fight scene is clunky and unenjoyable, and the contrast between Superman and Batman is less "day vs. night" and more "8PM vs 8:30PM." In addition, this movie made the unintuitive creative decision of starting Batman off as a 40 year old man with his best storylines already behind him, and killing Superman in his second-film, two decisions that ultimately hurt the DCEU in the long run.
1. Man of Steel
God, I was excited for this movie. I fought tooth and nail with my family to take 2 1/2 hours from our time in Rome to instead watch Man of Steel. This literally had the best trailers for any movie I've ever seen, and held the promise of reinventing Superman in the same way Christopher Nolan did with Batman in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The movie itself certainly suggests it has the depth of those movies, but it doesn't take much analysis to feel the movie is just a bombastic action movie that feigns depth, and is plagued by terrible structure, poor use of non-linear storytelling, and an underdeveloped protagonist. It certainly is an interesting movie, but not a good one, which is a shame considering how amazing the trailers are, and how all the ingredients, from the cinematography, to the score, to the perfectly-cast Superman, to the action sequences, but they didn't come together well, resulting in a movie with all the potential in the world, making it all the more disappointing.
That's just my list. Tell me what you think and share your list below!
Here's my ranking of the movies from best to worst:
- The Dark Knight Rises
- Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
- Thor: The Dark World
- X-Men: Apocalypse
- Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2
- Man of Steel
- Spider-Man 3
- Justice League
- Suicide Squad