The 10 Worst Superhero Movies Of The 21st Century (So Far) | CBR – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Despite the 2000s and 2010s being a golden age for superhero movies, the genre has also seen its fair share of disappointment in the last 2 decades.
The 21st century has seen the superhero genre truly come of age/ The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the highest-grossing franchises of all time, wowing audiences across the world and being considered an iconic piece of pop culture. Their closest competition, the DCEU, hasn’t come close to the MCU’s box office success but has still produced several well-regarded films.
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However, despite seeing the best superhero films ever made, the 21st-century has also seen some of the worst, particularly in the years leading up to the MCU. From nearly every company making superhero films, there have been some truly terrible outings gracing the big screen.
Ang Lee is a director beloved by audiences for films such as Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. However, when he tried his hand at the superhero genre, his attempt wasn’t as well-received.
Hulk, released in 2003, has no outright connection with 2008’s The Incredible Hulk or the MCU as a whole, following the adventures of a different Bruce Banner in a different world. Despite visually appealing cinematography, fans considered the movie lacking in terms of its plot and action, and the technology wasn’t there to create a believable CGI Hulk, hampering the film.
The sophomore attempt of the DCEU after the divisive Man of SteelBatman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice pits two of DC’s most iconic heroes against one another as Lex Luthor exploits their vulnerabilities and their different philosophies to create conflict.
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Despite commercial success, the film was savaged critically for its length and its long stretches where nothing of consequence happens. The plot is slow, and there is little action or levity to break things up. The action scenes were praised, but ultimately considered not enough by fans to make the film truly watchable.
Fox’s first attempt at a Fantastic Four franchise never got off to a solid start. The first film is considered watchable enough, with good casting, but was ultimately not an amazing film. Nonetheless, there was the potential for a franchise with its roots in that film.
The 2007 sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer, however, failed to capitalize on anything from the first movie and paired it with a confusing plot, a lack of emotional resonance, and an inability to avoid using Victor von Doom once more. Ultimately, Rise of the Silver Surfer would kill the franchise until 2015’s Fant4stic.
2007’s Ghost Rider was not considered a good film, despite being financially successful. While star Nicholas Cage can usually find fans for his performances, the film was considered by viewers and critics to be dated, conventional to a fault, and uncompelling.
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Its sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance didn’t manage to improve on any of the original’s criticized aspects, with Cage’s performance becoming even more divisive amongst critics. It would also go on to kill the franchise, with no live-action outing for any Ghost Rider until Agents of SHIELD.
Only a couple of years before the DCEU would launch with Man of Steel, Ryan Reynolds played Hal Jordan in Green Lantern. The movie followed Jordan as he gained the Power Ring of a Green Lantern and fought to stop Parallax from being unleashed upon the universe.
The film, however, did not do well with audiences or with critics. In particular, it is notorious for giving Hal Jordan a suit made of CGI that never looks convincing, and is to this day mocked by viewers— and even by Ryan Reynolds himself. While Reynolds would redeem himself in superhero films with Deadpool, so far Green Lantern has only had the slightest of cameos in the DCEU.
The X-Men series has historically been uneven, with acclaimed films such as X2: X-Men United and Logan coupled with mediocre movies such as The Wolverine. It’s even produced poorly-received films such as X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Apocalypse. Few, however, have disappointed fans like X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Starting off strong with a beloved opening credits sequence showing Wolverine and his brother Sabretooth fighting through America’s wars, and with strong casting of characters such as Sabretooth and Gambit, the movie is considered by many to waste these characters— and Wolverine himself— on a generic PG-13 movie. In particular, the movie’s depiction of Deadpool is notorious, having his mouth sewn up and being a silent killing machine.
2003’s Daredevil was not particularly enjoyed by fans in its theatrical release, but still received praise for its stunts and visual design, and made enough money that a spin-off was announced. With Jennifer Garner reprising her role from Daredevil, Elektra follows her battling assassins of The Hand.
Garner’s performance received praise, but the movie is hamstrung by poor dialogue and a story that is hard to follow and not very impressive. In particular, it was picked on for taking itself too seriously and lacking levity. It would also go on to be an outright commercial failure.
With Fox acquired by Disney, the X-Men were due to be folded into the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, leaving Dark Phoenix to finish the story of Charles Xavier, Jean Grey, and the other main characters of the franchise before The New Mutants finished that universe seemingly for good.
The movie was poorly received and became one of the lowest-earning entries in the series. It suffers from a half-baked story, generic threats in the form of the Mutant Containment Unit & the alien Vuk, and underwhelming performances from many of the actors, despite acclaim for Michael Fassbender’s performance. Many fans think of it as a poor end to the stories of many great characters.
From the start, 2015’s Fantastic Four reboot Fant4stic suffered from issues in production. Screenwriter Jeremy Slater and director Josh Trank had vastly different ideas for the film, with Slater preferring an Avengers-style adventure and Trank being vehemently opposed. With Trank leaving Slater out of talks with the studio, Fox would ultimately cut Trank out of the loop themselves with post-production changes.
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The film is notorious amongst superhero movie fans for its conflicting tones, lack of character, thin plot, and questionable pacing that sees the threat of the movie only become apparent in the last half-hour. Considered to be one of the worst superhero movies of all time, it is also the last Fantastic Four film to be released outside the MCU, with Marvel reacquiring the rights in 2019.
Selina Kyle in DC comics is a popular character, a sometimes villain, sometimes antihero with close ties to Batman and an intriguing history. In the 2004 movie Catwoman, the entire character is replaced by a meek graphic designer named Patience Phillips who is brought back to life by cats who give her actual superpowers, and she uses them to combat a global cosmetics conspiracy.
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Criticized for its sexism, objectification, story, action, acting, direction, writing, and many other things, Catwoman is not just considered one of the worst superhero movies ever, but one of the worst movies of all time, with many famous critics rating it as poorly as possible.
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Isaac Williams is a movie-goer, TV watcher, journalist, blogger, gamer, comic book-fan, and roleplayer. He’s been a bartender and a waiter, and now he writes lists for CBR. He focuses on TV shows and movies. In his free time, Isaac can be found gaming, reading, playing D&D, walking Birmingham’s lengthy canals, and catching up on movies.


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