The No. 1 worst superhero movie ever is...
What's the worst superhero movie of all time?
Mark your calendars! Wonder Woman 1984 is set to come out Aug. 14, 2020 (delayed from June 5 due to the coronavirus pandemic). The trailer looks phenomenal, which is a good indication the flick will be just as explosive and exciting as the first one.
If it isn't, however, it may join our list of the worst superhero movies ever.
These movies about heroes with supernatural abilities, or the villains they clash with, were marred by poor screenwriting, flat performances and confusing direction. For this list, we considered only films made after Superman (1978), whose release we consider the birth of modern superhero movies.
We rank our movies based on the scores of our sister site Metacritic (or a combination of the IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes score when no Metacritic score is available). Here's our list of the worst superhero movies ever made.
First on the list, at No. 49: Spider-Man 3 (2007).
Spider-Man 2 lifted the franchise to new heights with more humor, better set pieces and a great villain. Spider-Man 3 brought it crashing back down with this overcrowded sequel. Too many villains and entirely too much emo-finger-pointing dancing.
48. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) [Metascore: 58]
There have been nine X-Men movies since The Last Stand. That's a surprise; it felt like the franchise was out of ideas during this film. Just like Spider-Man 3, it was cluttered without having the heart and inspiration of the first two in the series.
"But for all the sound, fury and spectacle," Maitland McDonagh of CNET sister site TV Guide wrote, "the film feels vaguely hollow and unsatisfying."
47. Thor (2011) [Metascore: 57]
There were bright spots in Thor, particularly Chris Hemsworth. But for the most part, this movie was a mishmash of tedious Norse mythology and analytically driven plot points.
Not horribly offensive in the moment, but not memorable after the point.
46. Iron Man 2 (2010) [Metascore: 57]
Iron Man was a surprise smash hit, and there was a lot of buzz for the sequel. Especially for Mickey "Whiplash" Rourke, who was coming off his Best Actor Oscar nomination for The Wrestler.
Ultimately, the public was let down by a lackluster performance in a so-so movie.
45. Watchmen (2009) [Metascore: 56]
Though some loved the visuals, plot and music of Watchmen, others criticized the glorification of violence typical of Snyder's films.
Anthony Lane of The New Yorker described this phenomenon well: "The problem is that Snyder, following Moore, is so insanely aroused by the look of vengeance, and by the stylized application of physical power, that the film ends up twice as fascistic as the forces it wishes to lampoon."
44. Man of Steel (2013) [Metascore: 55]
Man of Steel advertised itself as an introspective look at an alien in a faraway land. However, it mostly ended up being two flying computer graphic bodies throwing fake cars into fake buildings.
"The set-pieces are just relentless, noisy, CGI fights between Superman and ... some nameless alien guys, while the sound guy hits the speakers with a hammer ... Who cares?" asked Richard Trenholm of CNET.
43. Hulk (2003) [Metascore: 54]
In between Oscar-winning masterpieces Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain, visionary director Ang Lee turned out... Hulk.
The movie didn't know if it was an art-house take on superheroes or a behemoth monster movie. The result was a clunky, confusing letdown.
42. Thor: The Dark World (2013) [Metascore: 54]
The first Thor was forgettable, and the filmmakers didn't learn their lesson for the sequel. Thankfully, Hemsworth and company bounced back with the vibrant, hysterical Thor: Ragnarök.
"This is a superhero movie that feels like it might have been made by anyone and no one at the same time," wrote David Fear of Time Out.
41. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) [Metascore: 53]
The Amazing Spider-Man rebooted the same origin story only five years after Spider-Man 3. By the time The Amazing Spider-Man 2 came out, it seemed like people had lost all interest.
Scott Tobias of Dissolve put it best in his review for the sequel: "The silver lining: Like its predecessor, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 offers its successor another fresh start, since no one will remember what happened in this movie, either."
40. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) [Metascore: 52]
39. Batman Forever (1995) [Metascore: 51]
Batman Forever borderline invented the "third movie in a superhero trilogy" syndrome. Too many villains, too much spectacle, not enough narrative cohesion.
38. Hancock (2008) [Metascore: 49]
"Peter Berg's sloppy misfire is situated somewhere between the dumb, high-concept comedy of My Super Ex-Girlfriend and M. Night Shyamalan's dark, anguished Unbreakable," Ken Fox of TV Guide wrote in his review for Hancock. "The result is an inconsistent, incoherent anti-superhero action-adventure comedy."
37. Blade (1998) [Metascore: 45]
Wesley Snipes' usual slick bravado and contagious energy is buried behind a blank persona. The flashy camera moves just add nausea to the so-so fight choreography, and the dialogue is the epitome of late-'90s action cheesiness.
36. Justice League (2017) [Metascore: 45]
A stark contrast to the chemistry and patience of The Avengers' movies. Justice League managed to be overstuffed and boring at the same time.
"Seriously, if we started listing stuff about Justice League that makes no sense or is just plain inept, we'd be here all day," wrote CNET's Richard Trenholm.
35. Fantastic Four: Rise of Silver Surfer (2007) [Metascore: 45]
Critics agreed Rise of Silver Surfer was better than its predecessor, which is more of a diss to Fantastic Four than a compliment for this dull exploration of Marvel's first family.
"The bad news is that otherwise, this follow-up to the much-reviled Fantastic Four is cheerfully stupid, shallow and, frankly, more than a little tedious," wrote Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide.
34. TMNT II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991) [Metascore: 45]
Simultaneously in the running for best and worst title, this movie is just simply not as good as many thought it was when they were kids.
Maybe you're confusing it with the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because it's so redundant. Except this one features less heart, lamer jokes and a choreographed rap/dance sequence led by Vanilla Ice.
33. Superman III (1983) [Metascore: 44]
Superman and Superman II set a high bar for superhero movies; Superman III clotheslined itself with it. Even Richard Pryor in a supporting role can't restore the charm and magic of the first two installments.
"Every composite shot in Superman III appears to be a careless affront to the willing suspension of disbelief. The flying sequences are a letdown, the cataclysms are a cheat, and even the settings are often exposed as a chintzy hoot," wrote Gary Arnold in his review for The Washington Post.
32. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) [Metascore: 44]
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is overly brooding and grim, pretentious without having anything to say.
Jonathan L. Fischer of Slate summarized the release and reaction, writing: "To put it delicately, this comics fan hated Batman v Superman with the fury of a thousand red-dwarf suns."
31. Dark Phoenix (2019) [Metascore: 43]
Dark Phoenix has the dishonor of being the newest superhero movie to make this list. It's a sequel folly seen often: A-list actors turning in contractually obligated performances to an underwritten script.
30. Daredevil (2003) [Metascore: 42]
Daredevil lands in that critical space: It's not good enough to be good, but not quite bad enough to be fun. The story is... expected. The performances are... fine. The filmmaking is... average.
"Daredevil is the sort of half-assed, visually lackadaisical potboiler that makes you rue the day that comic-book franchises ever took over Hollywood," noted Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly.
29. Supergirl (1984) [Metascore: 42]
Supergirl is an undeveloped heroine who's more silly than super in this adaptation. The action scenes were few and far between. The plot was weightless, without any true stakes.
"Jeannot Szwarc's direction is flat and uninspired, emphasizing the jokey elements without any sense at all for the material," wrote TV Guide in its review.
28. Kick-Ass 2 (2013) [Metascore: 41]
Kick-Ass was a surprise hit. It features a deftly created universe with explosive shock value and characters you can't get enough of. Kick-Ass 2 fails to create that same energy. Instead, it plays like a much too violent movie with an obscene amount of foul language.
27. Fantastic Four (2005) [Metascore: 40]
26. Suicide Squad (2016) [Metascore: 40]
Do you remember the first time you heard the plot of Suicide Squad? The supervillains that superheroes put away, working high-risk black ops missions to earn parole? One of the best premises for a comic book ever.
The hype was insurmountable, our disappointment immeasurable.
25. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) [Metascore: 40]
This movie felt like a video game, where thin plot points served only to bring you to computer-animated battle sequences.
"Wolverine's first standalone outing after appearing in a couple of team-up movies was a definite low point in the X-Men canon," wrote Luke Lancaster, putting the movie last in our ranking of Wolverine's films.
24. Barb Wire (1996) [Metascore: 40]
Barb Wire could've succeeded as a campy romp. Instead, it tries to be a legitimate action movie but doesn't have the touch and firepower to pull it off.
"Compared to this brash, lunkheaded vehicle for Baywatch star Pamela Anderson Lee, the Barb Wire graphic novels are masterpieces of subtlety and narrative restraint," wrote TV Guide in its review.
23. Green Lantern (2011) [Metascore: 39]
The lime-green CGI suit and setting of Green Lantern are shocking, and at the same time, the most interesting things about the movie. The movie's makers never nailed the tone of this film, which jumps from silly to deathly serious without any rhyme or reason.
"Inconsistent pacing and hasty plotting prevent this ambitious superhero epic from achieving greatness," wrote Jason Buchanan in his review for TV Guide.
22. The Green Hornet (2011) [Metascore: 39]
Yes, 2011 had two superhero movies with "Green" in the title that got a metascore of 39.
The Green Hornet is an action comedy that isn't funny and doesn't have good action sequences. The fact that the filmmakers managed to suck the charisma out of Seth Rogen, Jay Chou and Christoph Waltz is its most impressive achievement.
21. Blade: Trinity (2004) [Metascore: 38]
If. Bl-ade. T.r.inity's (choppy), [flash.y.] ac-tion e.d.i.t.ing ~was~ a sEnTeNcE, it'd LOOK li-ke th(i)s. Not very fun, is it?
"A soulless adrenaline machine that's never scary and rarely engrossing," wrote Maitland McDonagh in her review for TV Guide.
20. The Shadow (1994) [Metascore: N/A]
You'd be hard-pressed to find another superhero film that's so obviously shot on a backlot. At times it has the same production values as a 1990s Nickelodeon live-action show, except the writing is a little less mature.
It's a weird, stylized noir trying to benefit from the success of Tim Burton's Batman movies, without any of the heart or cohesion.
Rotten Tomatoes: 35%
19. Venom (2018) [Metascore: 35]
Venom really put our love of Tom Hardy to the test. And it's not even his fault. The Eddie/Venom relationship is solid. It's just that the entire rest of the movie is, for lack of a better word, dumb.
It's a blunder in screenwriting to treat your audience like they're stupid. On those grounds, Venom was offensive.
18. Ghost Rider (2007) [Metascore: 35]
When Sony and Marvel released a trailer in which Nicholas Cage played a biker bounty hunter with a flaming head who sold his soul to a demon, no one thought it would be Casablanca, but they thought it could be fun.
Instead, Ghost Rider came out flat, plodding and predictable. As long as you've got Nic Cage, why not take a couple of risks?
17. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011) [Metascore: 34]
Annnnnd it got a sequel. In 3D! Look, the inane, lifeless action is floating past your eyes!
"Two hyperactive directors are given a limp script for a comic-book property that's never been given its due on the big screen, and the result is the almost-outrageous, but still-dead-in-the-water sequel," said Jeremy Wheeler's review for TV Guide.
16. Spawn (1997) [Metascore: 34]
15. Elektra (2005) [Metascore: 34]
Poor character writing and glaring plot holes made this ill-conceived spin-off of Daredevil less than enjoyable.
"Never rises above the mediocrity of its opening narration," wrote Maitland McDonagh for TV Guide.
14. The Punisher (2004) [Metascore: 33]
The paint-by-the-numbers plot of The Punisher tries so hard to be grim that it just comes off as lame. None of the humor from the original comics provides levity.
"This gloomy revenge story is undermined by its inconsistent tone," wrote Maitland McDonagh for TV Guide.
13. Jonah Hex (2010) [Metascore: 33]
Before Josh Brolin was Thanos he was Jonah Hex, a gun-slinging bounty hunter who cheated death and upset audiences everywhere. Megan Fox co-stars at the peak of her powers doing... some... type of accent.
It's only 81 minutes, but you'll still never get them back.
12. Hellboy (2019) [Metascore: 31]
The Ron Perlman-led Hellboys were funny, exhilarating and full of heart in a way audiences might not have expected.
This reboot drops those qualities and adds a couple of bad ones. It jumps from CGI action sequence to CGI action sequence with the skittishness of a spooked cat. At no point are audiences given any time to care about the characters or their desires.
11. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) [Metascore: 31]
Michael Bay's TMNT banked too heavily on '80s nostalgia, instead of creating engaging versions of our turtle heroes. The jokes are sporadic and flat. The "gritty" look doesn't match the source material. The action sequences are lit so dark they're almost impossible to follow.
People will say "Who cares? It's a kid's movie." Our children deserve better.
10. Judge Dredd (1995) [MC N/A]
Sylvester Stallone reportedly feuded with director Danny Cannon over the tone of this movie. Cannon imagined an R-rated dark and gritty hero, Stallone wanted the film to be more of an action-comedy.
The inconsistent Judge Dredd serves as a cautionary tale about how actors and directors need to be on the same page.
17% Rotten Tomatoes
9. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) [Metascore: 30]
Director Stephen Norrington somehow manages to deliver a movie of less substance than his earlier entry, Blade. The storyline is incoherent, and the characters don't make you care either way.
Still, even going against Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, it was able to make $179.3 million against a $78 million budget.
8. The Spirit (2008) [Metascore: 30]
The year that gave us Iron Man and The Dark Knight also gave us... The Spirit.
This film was directed by Frank Miller, who wrote amazing graphic novels like Ronin, The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City and 300. To his credit, the visual style is interesting and still holds up. Unfortunately, that's perhaps the only engaging thing about the movie.
7. Punisher: War Zone (2008) [Metascore: 30]
Punisher: War Zone was originally in the works as a sequel to the aforementioned Punisher. But when the lead actor and director didn't return, the filmmakers decided to create a whole new story. Well, congratulations: You made it worse than last time.
"Does it have to be so witless, so stupid, so openly contemptuous of the very audience it's supposed to be pandering to?" A.O. Scott of The New York Times asked in his review.
6. Steel (1997) [Metascore: N/A]
Writer and Director Kenneth Johnson was ready to walk away "several times" when he learned that his star would be Shaquille O'Neal. He should've followed his instincts.
"Its protagonist is good-natured, wholesome, devoid of moral flaws and acutely civic-conscious. But good intentions aren't good enough, and this Shaq attack is too broad and episodic to attract anything other than the most undemanding crowd," wrote Leonard Klady of Variety.
5. Batman & Robin (1997) [Metascore: 28]
Joel Schumacher overloaded every section of Batman & Robin with ridiculous action, costumes and spectacles. It's hard to tell if he had a million ideas for this movie or none at all.
"The fourth installment in the Batman franchise is one long head-splitting exercise in clueless cacophony that makes you feel as though you're being held hostage in some haywire Planet Hollywood while sonic booms pummel your auditory canal," wrote Peter Rainer of the Dallas Observer.
4. Fantastic Four (2015) [Metascore: 27]
They just can't get this one right, huh? Fantastic Four comes in as the 2010s' worst superhero movie.
"Fantastic Four is essentially an hour and forty-five minute montage for a movie that doesn't exist. It feels like a trailer more than a complete story," wrote Mat Elfring in his review for Comic Vine.
3. Catwoman (2004) [Metascore: 27]
What were they thinking? The basketball scene is a great representation of the odd choices this supervillain origin movie makes.
Director Pitof has "managed to create an entire digitalized city that has all the allure of an underground parking garage. And his action, it's cluttered; his editing, it's confused. The result: blandness butchered, hamburger chopped, kitty littered," quipped Rick Groen of The Globe and Mail.
2. Zoom (2006) [Metascore: 26]
Ah, remember Zoom? No? Not surprising. The box office bomb about a ragtag group of kids training to become superheroes made just $12.5 million against its $75 million budget.
"One of the most dismal excuses for family entertainment ever perpetrated by a major studio, this crude, lazy variation on Disney's Sky High (2005) revolves around the education of four "special" youngsters at the hands of a washed-up superhero," wrote Maitland McDonagh for TV Guide.
1. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) [Metascore: 24]
Already past its last gasp in Superman III, the franchise ran into budget constraints for its fourth installment. The product suffered, becoming the worst superhero movie of all time.
"Director Sidney Furie shows little restraint and no sense of the wry humor prevalent in the earlier films of the series, using a heavy and expeditious hand that produces scenes of pure lead. The special effects are decidedly on the cheap side," wrote TV Guide in its review.