Over the last two decades, we have seen superhero movies come in all shapes and sizes. From Marvel to DC, it seems like every summer season has seen at least one major blockbusters adapted from the pages of an iconic superhero or villain. As much as we would love to say that we adore all of these movies, it's a simple fact of life that plenty of them have fallen well below our expectations.
However, just because a movie disappoints us doesn't mean that it's all bad. Some truly unsatisfying comic book movies have featured legitimate strokes of genius -- from awesome characterizations to amazing action sequences. With that in mind, we have come up with a list of the best things about 11 of the more disappointing superhero films of our time. The directors of these films may not have gotten everything right, but they had a few great ideas along the way. Now let's get started with No.1...
Superman Returns - The Shuttle Rescue
It's been a decade since Superman Returns hit theaters, and it's time that people start giving it the respect that it truly deserves. While it's true that the film features a notable dearth of action, what major sequences it does feature are impeccable. One of the most notable comes when Superman saves an experimental shuttle -- obviously carrying Lois Lane -- that has begun to plummet towards the earth. The sequence is exhilarating, and epitomizes the wholesome nature of Brandon Routh's Man of Steel as he harmlessly lands the shuttle in a baseball stadium and reassures its occupants that flight "is still the safest way to travel."
Daredevil - Michael Clarke Duncan's Kingpin
Although opinions on the 2004 Ben Affleck-fronted Daredevil adaptation have softened somewhat in recent years -- especially regarding the film's Director's Cut -- the fact of the matter is that Matt Murdock's solo cinematic outing remains a black eye for Marvel. That being said, Michael Clarke Duncan's take on Wilson Fisk, a.k.a The Kingpin, remains one of the best silver screen Marvel villains we have ever seen. Equal parts menacing, charismatic, and brutal, the late actor's take on the crime boss rises above the low quality of the movie he inhabits and can arguably even stand toe-to-toe with Vincent D'Onofrio's more recent take on the Netflix series.
Spider-Man 3 - The Birth Of Sandman
Although Spider-Man 3 almost single-handedly tarnished the stellar reputation of the two movies that preceded it, it's not without its own merits -- scarce as they may be. The birth of the film's primary villain, Sandman, is an amazing sequence that paints the character in a sympathetic and somber way that few other Marvel adaptations have managed to equal. The way Christopher Young's score swells as Sandman desperately reaches for his daughter's locket, combined with the crude facial animation of his not-quite-reformed self, lends to the terrifying sense that this man has become more of a Frankenstein and less of a father throughout the course of his accident.
The Punisher - The Russian Fight
Most criticisms leveled at 2004's The Punisher seem to revolve around the fact that it's a fairly dull adventure with little flash or excitement. However, those critics seem to have forgotten the downright amazing battle between Frank Castle and The Russian that takes place about halfway through the film. During an era where comic book movies were still trying to reconcile just how "comic book" they had to feel, The Punisher ran headfirst into the idea and gave us a brutal melee that feels ripped straight from the pages of Garth Ennis' series of graphic novels. It's violent, it's flashy, and it's actually funny.
Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice - Ben Affleck's Batman
By now it's no secret that Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice divided audiences. Although the film shortchanges the Man of Steel, it makes up for those flaws by giving us an amazing new Dark Knight in the form of Ben Affleck. Dark, brutal, and all sorts of brooding, the latest incarnation of the Caped Crusader basically steals every scene in the movie and single-handedly shows what sort of amazing things the DCEU is capable of. The 5-minute sequence in which Batman saves Ma Kent hands down stands out as arguably the single best sequence in the entire film.
Iron Man 2 - The "Kill Box" Fight
Say what you will about Iron Man 2; it's overly bloated, boring for long stretches, and far too concerned with setting up future Marvel Cinematic Universe films than giving us a cohesive story. That's fine, and we agree with you. Having said that, the film builds to one of the greatest money shots in the history of the entire MCU. When Iron Man and War Machine lead Ivan Vanko's drone army away from the Stark Expo in New York, they find themselves wholly outnumbered at the bottom of a deep gulch. What follows is about a minute of uninterrupted, adrenaline-pumping action as the two best friends unload their entire arsenals into a platoon of killer robots. That's about as "comic book" as comic book movies get.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine - The Opening Credits
It's a testament to the low quality of X-Men Origins: Wolverine that its best sequence occurs within the opening five minutes. All that being said, it's still a great highlight in a downright terrible film. The opening credit montage of Origins follows Logan and Victor Creed a.k.a Sabretooth as they watch each other's backs throughout every major American war. As the decades wear on, Wolverine grows increasingly averse to the violence of his life, while Victor goes the other way and embraces his inner animal. It's a sequence full of violence and scope grounded in brotherly love; it's just a shame that the rest of the film couldn't match that quality.
X-Men: The Last Stand - Kelsey Grammer's Beast
We're not even going to try and defend X-Men: The Last Stand as a whole. It's a bad movie and we have to accept that. That being said, the movie features one definitive bright spot in the form of Kelsey Grammer's take on Hank McCoy a.k.a Beast. The former Frasier star brought an aura of charisma and intellectual charm to the physically imposing X-Men classic; we will never forget his ability to spout off Winston Churchill quotes as he beat down bad guys. He even he proved himself as such a fan favorite that Bryan Singer brought him back for a cameo in X-Men: Days of Future Past -- continuity be damned. We love Nicholas Hoult and his performance as a young Beast, but this role belongs to Grammer.
Man of Steel - The Krypton Scenes
For too long, adaptations of Superman's lore have relegated his home planet to a simple afterthought while focusing on his life in Smallville, Kansas. Zack Snyder rectified that in 2013 by devoting the first 20 minutes of his Kal-El reboot to actually fleshing out the true home world of the Man of Tomorrow. Man of Steel has many flaws, but the social, political, and scientific exploration of Krypton is undeniably fascinating for any self-respecting DC fan. It also doesn't hurt that well-respected actors like Russell Crowe and Michael Shannon absolutely nail their respective portrayals of Jor-El and General Zod.
The Wolverine - The Nagasaki Sequence
While everyone's favorite clawed mutant fared much better in his second solo outing than his first, most people still agree that The Wolverine proved to be something of a disappointment in 2013. However, much like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Wolverine features an amazing sequence towards the beginning of the film highlighting Logan's military service during WWII. Captured by the Japanese, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) finds himself as a POW as a B-29 drops the "Fat Man" on Nagasaki. Using his healing factor to his advantage, he takes the full force of the blast while shielding a young Japanese soldier from the heat and force of the world-changing weapon. What follows is a gloriously gory sequence that showcases just how much physical damage Weapon X can come back from.
Batman Forever - Edward Nygma
Joel Schumacher's 1995 film Batman Forever is one of those forgotten superhero movies. It's not nearly as good as any of Christopher Nolan's Batman films, but it's also nowhere near as bad as his own work on Batman and Robin. Although numerous aspects of the movie fall flat, Jim Carrey's take on Edward Nygma a.k.a The Riddler actually shines throughout the film -- when the script allows it. Sure, the character eventually goes off the rails and into knock-off Joker territory towards the end of the movie, but many of Carry's earliest scenes offer a Riddler who is as intelligent and conniving as he is crazy. Rewatch the movie; Carrey's Nygma isn't even remotely as annoying as you remember.