We live in an age where hero movies aren't just celebrated, they're churned out to the masses with massive budgets on a regular basis. It's easy to forget this wasn't always the case, and that there are more places than the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe to look when it comes to entertaining and quality hero movies.
The following is a list of highlighting a handful of these movies. Some of them came well before this era of hero movies, some came out smack dab in the middle and got lost in the mix. Let's kick things off with one of the most underrated movies that, sadly, probably won't see a sequel: Dredd.
While it got some love at the time of release, Karl Urban's Dredd has always struggled to get out of the shadow of The Raid: Redemption. There's no denying the movie overall feels like the Indonesian thriller re-skinned with intellectual property, but the fact of the matter is we never got a Dredd 2 for it to be seen as anything different. Karl Urban's continued success in television and movies has me optimistic it could still one day happen, but until then, we should all appreciate the stylized version of Judge Dredd that put the original to shame.
Bulletproof Monk (2003)
Look, I'm not trying to say that Bulletproof Monk is the perfect movie, but I will say there are parts that are way better than others. Chow Yun Fat is a high point in this comedy action that also features an actor you never see in the superhero genre, Seann William Scott. Again, it's never going to measure up to the best that kung fu has to offer, but I do think critics went after it a little too harshly due to it being famed commercial and music video director Paul Hunter's debut film.
Power Rangers (2017)
As much as it pangs me to say the original Power Rangers movie is not the definitive movie of this franchise, you have to hand it to the reboot. The action was on point, and while there was still some camp, it was far from the level of cheese the '90s series brought. Unfortunately, it wasn't such a hit that plans for a sequel have gotten much traction, and apparently there are even talks of rebooting the property again. It's good for what it is though, and certainly a movie that at the very least had me interested in the Green Ranger joining the team in the future.
Mystery Men (1999)
We live in an era where there are so many offbeat superhero shows and movies that people may take Mystery Men for granted these days. Beyond the fact that this movie rocked a stellar cast with Ben Stiller, Paul Reubens and Greg Kinnear, to name a few, it's overall just a fun movie from start to finish with some good laughs. Personally, I think that this movie is certainly worth a watch in the era of The Boys, though the fun is a good deal cleaner here. I'd also like to remind the world this is the true movie where the world was exposed to Smash Mouth's "All-Star," not Shrek.
The Punisher (2004)
I love Jon Bernthal as The Punisher, and if the MCU were to bring the vigilante into its world, I'd say he's the man you call every time. With that said, Thomas Jane's run as Frank Castle was pretty awesome too, and there were some who were disappointed he wasn't called back to the role back when the idea for the show was first floated. To be honest, the movie could be better considering John Travolta was in it, but also the movie caught some flack for being so down. I think it's in character for Frank Castle to take little joy in what he does, and feel it's a necessity given his tragic past.
Constantine may not be the best project involving the character you can watch, but damn does this supernatural hero flick feature a stunning performance by Keanu Reeves. In an age where he can do no wrong, this is certainly worth a watch, and maybe even a re-watch after seeing a recent Reeves movie. I don't think I'll ever get over the fact Reeves didn't go blonde for the role, but I can overlook it for just how fun this journey to hell and back gets towards the end.
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
If you're someone who frequents the online film community, you're well familiar with the fact there's an army of people fully on board with Alita: Battle Angel. They want to see this franchise continue, and it's hard not to get on board with that idea after seeing the robot-smashing action Alita goes through to learn more about her origins. This movie has content to adapt for a follow-up, but only time will tell if we'll get to see another movie made in this universe or not.
The Shadow (1994)
Once a highly popular hero in the early 20th century, without The Shadow, we may not have Batman today. Granted, some changes were made, and if you watch the 1994 movie The Shadow, you'd see why this bizarre hero doesn't get as much play as the Caped Crusader. The movie is weird, but how can you say no to a cast that features Alec Baldwin as the hero, Ian McKellen and the incomparable Tim Curry? "The Shadow knows" the movie it needs to be, and for more audiences than not, that will be enough upon viewing.
Blade II (2002)
It wasn't until recently I learned that Blade II is one of the lowest-rated Guillermo Del Toro films on Rotten Tomatoes. Of course, there's also a good deal of people that would contest Wesley Snipes' second movie is the best of the Blade trilogy. I'd consider myself to be a part of that camp because lets be honest, this trilogy is meant to be sword-slashing vampire killing fun. Perhaps later takes on Blade will be a bit more plot-heavy, but it's fine that this franchise didn't have to have much more going on than that.
Do you have any other underrated hero movies that deserve some love? Be sure to throw them down in the comments below, and stick with CinemaBlend for all the latest happening in television and movies.