DC/Marvel Films Ranked, 37 to 13

It is important to note that while I held most of the films on the prior list in contempt, I really like these.  In some cases, a lot.   The last three were so close to making the top list, but they just felt a step below. As with all things, my feelings on the films below are subject to change.  They could get the call up to the big leagues at any time.

37. Superman Returns

Why I really like this film   Kevin Spacey pulls off a nice Hackman homage and Brandon Routh an oatmeal bland version of Reeve It respects the first two Superman films and their universe…

Why no “love”  …until it doesn’t.  Superman having a child with Lois then jetting off only to return and try to shoehorn his way into her life again…  that is more of a crime against the character than the issues many fans have with Man of Steel.

36.  Iron Man 2

Why I really like this film   Robert Downey Jr. makes people forget that Tony Stark was 2nd tier in the comics world.  Perfect casting.  Sam Rockwell is amazing as Justin Hammer.

Why no “love”  The rest of the film is a mess.  Classic sequel mistake: too much going on, not enough of it is interesting.

35.  Swamp Thing

Why I really like this film  Guilty selection.  I have not seen it in decades.  But as a 9 year old, I loved it.  I would stake out the HBO guide every month to see if The Black Hole or Star Wars were listed.  If not, this film was my go to.

Why no “love”  It is schlock.  My recent visit to YouTube confirmed there is no reason to tarnish my semi-happy memories.

34.  Superman III

Why I really like this film   The fight between Superman and Kryptarnite Superman in the junk yard was great fun (when I was 9).  Annette O’Toole, who played Lana Lang, was my 9 year old crush; so pretty.

Why no “love” Pretty awful otherwise.   They stow Lois Lane in South America. This was the big bad:


33. Superman

Why I really like this film   This had to be one of the first five films I ever saw in a theater and was another HBO staple for me in my formative years.  Gene Hackman is great.  Otisburg will always be a pop culture bullet point for those who try to add in a bad idea in a bush league way.

Why no “love”  It is a really dry film with a very weak final act.

32. Blade

Why I really like this film Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson make a great duo.  Donal Logue; I will watch anything with Jimmy the Cab Driver in it.

Why no “love”  Really dodgy special effects.  I really like the film, pales compared to Blade II.

31. Thor: The Dark World

Why I really like this film  Added more scale to the Thor film universe.  Thor and Loki’s arc and chemistry are outstanding.  Limited, if any, dutch angles.

Why no “love” Lackluster big bad in Malekith.  I remember being unimpressed the first time.  Watched part of it again this weekend on FX.  Confirmed.  A comic book film I would have killed for in 1988 is middle of the pack now.

30. X-Men

Why I really like this film This film opened big and got the studios primed to make comic book films.  Love the intro with Wolverine in the cage match.  The X-Men were tied with Spidey as my go to comic series as a kid

Why no “love” Boring black leather costumes. Limited action set pieces. Some poor character choices in this film.  Sabretooth looks like he stepped onto the Muppet Show set but forgot to put on the Sweetums head.




29. Hulk

Why I really like this film  Sam Elliot as Thunderbolt Ross. Up until the final “battle” I was digging this film, yes, even after the Hulk-poodle.  The film was not on the rails, and I respect that.  Sins of the father story-line worked for me…

Why no “love”  Until they tried to make Daddy Banner into Absorbing Man via acid trip. That final battle is a damn mess.

28.  The Incredible Hulk

Why I really like this film   Great Hulk-Abomination action.  Ed Norton as Banner is a step up from Eric Bana.

Why no “love”  Liv Tyler and William Hurt (who I love) are steps down as the Rosses. though I love his battle with the Hulk, I hate the look of the Abomination.

27. Punisher: War Zone

Why I really like this film Appropriately full of gratuitous violence.  This is the best Punisher yet on screen.   Loved seeing Micro on-screen.  Great casting.

Why no “love”  The Frank Castle side of the coin is lacking. Jigsaw makeup is distracting.

26.  The Punisher

Why I really like this film  The whole Frank Castle lead in had me cringing.  I knew it had to happen, but did not want to see it…great tension. Loved seeing Roy Scheider as Frank Castle Senior.  That glorious fight scene with the Russian…

Why no “love”  The Punisherness in this film is lacking.  I hate the three misfits who live near him, even though I love Ben Foster as an actor.

25. X2: X-Men United

Why I really like this film Wolverine gets some great scenes in this film. Stryker is perfectly realized by Brian Cox. Nightcrawler gets a nice opening scene, some glimpses of a great story but…

Why no “love” It becomes too much about Wolverine…and he has always been my favorite, but enough already. The film left us with the promise of greater things…then Ratner happened.

24.  Thor

Why I really like this film  I love Thor’s arc.  Tom Hiddleson is a straight from four-color Loki. Son of Coul.

Why no “love” The shoehorned in Hawkeye was on the nose fan service with no context for non-Believers.


The town in New Mexico looked like the production designer said, “well, budget is kicked!  This is all we have.”

The film dutch angles you to death.

23.  Batman

Why I really like this film “Fried, is that what you heard” scene. Jack as the Joker.

I love Keaton as Wayne. This scene with Vicki Vale, I love the line reads.  “That sounds…nice”

Why no “love”   The film has not aged well.  I hate the Batmobile design and the Bat suit with the neck molded to the shoulders.

22. The Amazing Spider-man

Why I really like this film Great chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.  The story-line with Dr Conners had promise, then fizzled. Denis Leary works as Captain Stacy.  Best quippy Spider-man ever on film.

Why no “love”  Why fix what is not broken? The changes to the costume are brutal. Peter’s parents are a non-starter. Uncle Ben is marginalized. The way the Lizard is realized is awful.  That crane scene…ugh.  Peter Parker was too cocky and too much of a jerk.

21. Spider-man 3

Why I really like this film The Birth of Sandman scene. JK as J. Jonah.  Some great action set pieces. Emo Peter worked to a point.

Why no “love” Too cluttered.  Venom and Eddie Brock are adapted poorly. Too much Emo Peter.


20.  Superman II

Why I really like this film Continuity…Zod and his cronies reappear.  It is impossible to overstate how much I loved the battle in New York City and the trap at the Fortress of Solitude and when Clark returns to the diner.

Why no “love”  Gene Hackman refused to return to set after Richard Donner was booted from the film.  Good enough reason for a de-rank.  That, and the scenes I love don’t hold  held up as well as I remember.

19.  The Wolverine

Why I really like this film I love the way they soft rebooted this series. No more magic bullets.  Logan’s battles with the ninjas: amazing.  I love the idea of him protecting a Japanese solider from the Hiroshima bomb.  The actress who played Yukio was perfect.

Why no “love”  They really botched both Viper (not a great look) and Silver Samurai (Maguffiny).

18.  Spider-man

Why I really like this film  Uncle Ben.  He works.  Every time his death scene comes on I tear up.  Macho Man as Bonesaw: aww yeah. Willem Dafoe is great as Norman Obsborn…but

Why no “love” Mighty Morphin Green Goblin, it is a non-starter

17.  Batman Returns

Why I really like this film  The number one reason, Max Shreck and his son, Chip.

I love the whole Catwoman arc.  Walken and Pfieffer save this film.  Also, great score from Elfman.

Why no “love”  The Penguin is a big miss. This  almost ruined the film for me:

It rips that easily?

16.  X-Men: First Class

Why I really like this film Michael Fassbender nails Magneto. I wish the film focused on his Nazi hunting adventures. 

I love the recruiting montage:

Why no “love”  Some of the proto-X-men make no sense: Darwin?  There were better unused characters to be had.  Still not sold on McAvoy as Xavier.

15.  Man of Steel

Why I really like this film  This film is on the edge of “love”.  The opening sequence on Krypton is wonderful.  Loved Russell Crowe as Jor-El.  Henry Cavill is great as Superman.  I love the narrative structure.  Michael Shannon did something I never thought possible: he gave Terrance Stamp a run for his money as Zod.

I thought Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent worked. People who criticize Jonathan’s actions during the Tornado scene as “a dog is more important to save that a human” misread the scene… to Jonathan, neither is worth Clark revealing himself to the world.

Costner’s line read in this clip is among my favorites in the film.

I adore the score.  While not as soaring as Williams’ iconic theme,  I think I prefer it.  Blasphemy, I know.

This is my favorite cut:

Why no “love”:  The beginning of the “almost at next level”, but there are some pacing issues.  The Christ-figure imagery can be too on the nose sometimes.


The film is better when the Superman as JC/ savior is subtext rather than text because there are many moments, see his last moment with Zod, where the analogy and allegory don’t fit all that well.   This thematic dissonance can be jarring, especially the 2nd or 3rd time through.

14.  Avengers: Age of Ultron

Why I really like this film The band is back together and the chemistry goes a long way. “Jane’s better.”  Hulk vs.Hulkbuster is great.  Spader is awesome as Ultron.  The Vision worked. I will defend Quicksilver here: he is played like the ahole he always was in the comic…

Why no “love” But his powers are better displayed in the #12 film.  AoU is also so very, very bloated.  It does not play as well on repeat viewings, which is a shame.  It does so many things right.

13. X-Men: Days of Future’s Past

Why I really like this film  The Sentinel battle that opens the film is amazing, exactly what I always wanted from an X-men film.  The Quicksilver scene is sublime.  It is easily the best of the X-films. 

Why no “love”  I really like this film. It did not play as well for me when I watched it again.  My 12-1 films, I could (and do) watch them every time they are on and pop the Blus in from time to time.

This list took a lot longer to write than I anticipated, there was a lot of movement up and down.  I re-watched a good number of the films, some in parts on YouTube, others I caught on FX and the like.

With that in mind the “I love these films” tier will be released in two parts.   Next week I will post 12 – 7, followed by 6-1 the week after.  These posts will be more dense and involved.  I love these films and will (and have) defend them all.  While I recognize that each of them have some warts, the films overcome those and are firmly entrenched in my top comic book films list.

Sneak preview of 12- 7 (in alphabetical order): Ant-man, Blade II, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Dark Knight Rises, Iron Man, Spider-man 2.


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