There hasn’t been a bad superhero movie in a while. Not really. I mean, sure, we’ve had our Batman v Superman and Fantastic Four, but the early 2000s were littered with half-baked comic film concoctions that were put together without much thought beyond money.
In terms of batting averages, the post-Dark Knight superhero films have done way better than the early 2000 superhero glut in terms of financial and critical success. But were those movies truly that terrible? Well, yes actually for the most part a lot of those movies did suck a bit. There were, however, silver linings, and creative directors were able to throw in some great moments into superhero films that ultimately ended up falling flat regardless. Here are are the 10 best parts from otherwise bad superhero movies.
Spider-Man 3 - Sandman Emerges
I remember watching Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 in theaters and loving it. This isn’t really a view I hold today, but Sam Raimi is still a great director, and the transformation of Thomas Haden Church into the villain Sandman is both heartbreaking and visually stunning. Tobey Maguire dancing scene, this ain’t.
Darkman - Take the elephant!
Another Sam Raimi superhero film, only this time it stars Liam Neeson as Raimi’s original creation, Darkman. Darkman was a scientist named Peyton Westlake before he was brutally attacked by the mafia, that is. Westlake survives, but with severe burns, destroyed nerve endings (so he doesn’t feel pain), and superhuman strength. Unfortunately the whole movie was pretty hokey all around. This scene however, in which Neeson attempts to win back his former love at a carnival post-accident is amazing. What begins a day at the fair quickly takes a sinister turn. This is peak Sam Raimi insanity after his Evil Dead films.
Constantine - Tilda Swinton
I maintain that Constantine wasn’t that bad. It has its faults, sure, but it was an earnest attempt at remaking the character, rather than adapting the comic for film. It was stylish, the CGI holds up pretty well, and the mood of the entire film was appropriately ink-black. Even if you decide to ignore Keanu Reeves’s perfectly acceptable American re-imagining of John Constantine, there is still Tilda Swinton’s amazing performance as the angel Gabriel. Swinton plays Gabriel as an androgynous, religious zealot. Emerging from the film like a Gothic David Bowie, Swinton’s performance as the film’s villain is a highlight in every appearance she makes.
Fantastic Four (2015) - Cronenberg Origin Story
I’m not even going to sugarcoat it; Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot is a real stinker. Muddled, incoherent, and boring, 2015’s Fantastic Four film rightfully deserves much of the criticism leveled against it. But there is one standout moment, after the four leads receive their powers from the alien planet. Imprisoned by the government, Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimes are observed by scientists in a secret lab. The scenes of the main characters struggling with their powers is both horrifying and disturbing, with Trank channeling his inner David Cronenberg and shooting their powers like true body-horror moments.
Fantastic Four (2005) - Chris Evans
Chris Evans was still running high on his “bro”-phase from Not Another Teen Movie when he starred as the Human Torch in 2005’s Fantastic Four. Even though Evans had yet to take up the shield as Captain America, his humor and charm as Johnny Storm must have left a good enough impression for Marvel to give the man another shot at super-heroing.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman was, hands down, the best part of Batman v Superman. Maybe if her scenes were a little longer, Zack Snyder would have found a way to mangle her character as well, but fortunately for us, her limited screen time could have been an accidental blessing. From the moment she appears in full Amazonian regalia, the audience knows that it’s so on. Even her theme music in the movie is badass.
Daredevil (2003) - Evanescence
The main problem with the 2003 Daredevil movie was that it was designed to look like an extended music video for a nu-metal band. Everyone’s outfits were made entirely out of pleather, and the aggressively early-2000’s aesthetics is almost an act of violence against anyone watching it today. That said, nothing dates the film better than the scene in which Jennifer Garner’s Elektra has a lightning storm training montage set to Evanescence’s “Bring Me To Life”.
Catwoman - Basketball Scene
Catwoman’s basketball scene is so ridiculous, it can only be seen out-of-context from the rest of the movie to be appreciated. It looks like a shoddily shot ad for “Get Out The Vote,” only it stars Halle Berry. Mixing decidedly un-sexy, sexual tension between the film’s two leads, with equally un-sexy basketball moves, the scene is an ironic masterpiece.
Batman & Robin - Mr. Freeze
Mr. Freeze is one of the all-time greatest villains in Batman history. Scientist Victor Fries dedicates his life to save his terminally ill wife, only for the greedy businessmen that run Fries’s lab to sabotage the lovelorn doctor’s treatment and turn the man into an ice-cold monster. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze however, is a villain who says “Time to kick some ice!” There is no contest between which is the better version of Mr. Freeze.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine - The Video Game Tie-In
X-Men Origins: Wolverine has no redeeming features other than Hugh Jackman’s regularly game portrayal of the mutant. Instead, the film shares its name with a fantastic video game tie-in. Although the game was criticized as being a tad repetitive at times, X-Men Origins: Wolverine The Game is one of the best, bloodiest X-Men games ever to be made, with fluid combat that perfectly embodies what it must feel like to be Wolverine. Forget the movie, find a copy of the game.