Well, I’d say that it’s a pretty great time to be a superhero fan.
During the gathering of nerds and cosplayers known as Comic-Con (A world I desperately want to be a part of) several superhero movies were presented to the ever-voracious nerd public. The films include the second Thor movie (Loved the first one), The Wolverine (Fuck the first one), Captain America: Winter Soldier, the second Amazing Spider-Man movie (Damn, another one?) , X-Men: Days of Future Past, Avengers: Age of Ultron (Oh God, yes!!!), the Superman/Batman movie (Nerdgasm achieved), and Guardians of the Galaxy, which I don’t know shit about except for the fact that there’s a talking raccoon involved.
That said, I got to wondering about which superhero film franchises have been the most successful, both critically and commercially. So, I decided to rank thirteen franchises from worst to best in FOUR different categories, which are A) critical reception on Rotten Tomatoes, b) audience reception on Rotten Tomatoes, c) my opinion and d) the average commercial success per film of the series.
I define a franchise as being at least two confirmed films (For example, Kick-Ass would be considered a franchise because it has a released film and a confirmed film that has yet to be released. On the other hand, The Incredibles is not a franchise because at this point, any news of a sequel is just idle speculation. )
Anyways, let’s meet the franchises!
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Superhero: Spider-Man/Peter Parker
Films: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014 ), The Amazing Spider-Man 3 (2016), The Amazing Spider-Man 4 (2018) Fuck, talk about getting ahead of yourself.
Directed By: Marc Webb
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Rhys Ifans , Jamie Foxx , Dane DeHaan , Paul Giamatti , Denis Leary, Chris Zylka
Suggested Tagline: “Anybody want another Spider-Man series humping the still-warm corpse of the Sam Raimi series? No? Well fuck you, here it is anyways.”
Superhero: Batman/Bruce Wayne
Films: Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995), Batman & Robin (1997)
Directed By: Tim Burton , Joel Schumacher
Stars: Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Jack Nicholson, Danny Devito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman, Chris O’Donnell, Michael Gough, Kim Basinger, Nicole Kidman, Alicia Silverstone
Suggested Tagline: “Before there was Christian Bale… There were Bat-Nipples.”
Superhero: Blade/Eric Brooks
Films: Blade (1998), Blade 2 (2002), Blade: Trinity (2004)
Directed By: Stephen Norrington, Guillermo del Toro, David S. Goyer
Stars: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Stephen Dorff , Donal Logue , Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela, Thomas Kreschmann, Luke Goss, Dominic Purcell, Parker Posey, N’Bushe Wright, Jessica Biel, Ryan Reynolds
Suggested Tagline: I’ve actually never seen any of the Blade movies.
Ow! Stoppit! Are those rocks?! You’re hurting me!
Superhero: Batman/Bruce Wayne
Films: Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Katie Holmes, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Suggested Tagline: “I’m the goddamn BATMAN, motherfucker!”
Superheroes: Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards, Invisible Woman/Susan Storm, The Thing/Ben Grimm, Human Torch/Johnny Storm
Films: Fantastic Four (2005), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Director: Tim Story
Stars: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Doug Jones, Laurence Fishburne (Voice Only), Kerry Washington
Suggested Tagline: “Fine, YOU try designing the Thing realistically, assholes!”
Superhero: Ghost Rider/Johnny Blaze
Films: Ghost Rider (2007), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)
Director: Mark Steven Johnson, Neveldine/Taylor
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Peter Fonda, Wes Bentley, Johnny Whitworth, Ciaran Hinds, Eva Mendes, Violante Placido, Sam Elliott , Idris Elba
Suggested Tagline: “Yes, The Wicker Man did teach us nothing. So what?”
Films: Hellboy (2004), Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, John Hurt, Karel Roden, Jeffrey Tambor, Seth MacFarlane (Voice), Luke Goss, Anna Walton
Suggested Tagline: “What do you mean “Is Dark Horse still around?”‘
Superheroes: Kick-Ass/Dave Lizewski, Hit Girl/Mindy MacReady, Big Daddy/Damon MacReady, Colonel Stars and Stripes
Films: Kick-Ass (2008), Kick-Ass 2 (2013)
Director: Matthew Vaughn, Jeff Wadlow
Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Jim Carrey
Suggested Tagline: “Ten year olds committing mass murder? Bring that shit on.”
MAN OF STEEL
Superheroes: Superman/Clark Kent, Batman/Bruce Wayne
Films: Man of Steel (2013), Batman Vs. Superman (2015)
Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Christopher Meloni, Russell Crowe
Suggested Tagline: “Fine, we’ll add Batman. You fuckers interested yet?”
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE
Superheroes: Iron Man/Tony Stark, Hulk/Bruce Banner, Thor, Captain America/Steve Rogers, War Machine/James Rhodes, Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff, Hawkeye/Clint Barton, Ant-Man/Hank Pym, Nick Fury
Films: Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Ant-Man (2015)
Directors: Jon Favreau, Louis Leterrier, Kenneth Branagh, Joe Johnston, Joss Whedon, Shane Black, Alan Taylor, Joe and Anthony Russo, James Gunn, Edgar Wright
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Terrence Howard, Don Cheadle, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Djimon Hounsou, Tom Hiddleston, Jeff Bridges, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Hugo Weaving, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pierce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Bridge Dale, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Frank Grillo, Georges St.Pierre, Benicio del Toro, Clark Gregg, Jon Favreau, Ty Burrell, Tim Blake Nelson, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Joshua Dallas, Jamie Alexander, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Dominic Cooper, Neal McDonough, Stanley Tucci, Cobie Smulders, Zachary Levi, Rene Russo, Emily VanCamp, Anthony Mackie, John C. Reily, Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Gwyneth Paltrow, Liv Tyler, Natalie Portman, Hayley Atwell,
Suggested Tagline: “We just really, really hate people who work at movie theaters.”
Superhero: Spider-Man/Peter Parker
Films: Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004), Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Stars: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Rosemary Harris, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Rosemary Harris, Cliff Robertson, J.K. Simmons, Bryce Dallas Howard
Suggested Tagline: “Fuck it, let’s throw ALL the villains into one movie. What could possibly go wrong?”
Films: Superman (1978), Superman 2 (1980), Superman 3 (1983), Superman 4: The Quest for Peace (1987), Superman Returns (2006)
Directed By: Richard Donner, Richard Lester, Sidney J. Furie
Stars: Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh, Gene Hackman, Kevin Spacey, Margot Kidder, Terence Stamp, Marlon Brando
Suggested Tagline: “Just try not to stare too much at the codpiece while the theme music is playing.”
Superheroes: No way I’m listing all of these guys. After the MCU? No way.
Films: X-Men (2000), X2 (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), X-Men: First Class (2011), The Wolverine (2013), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Directed by: Bryan Singer, Brett Ratner (Booo!!!), Gavin Hood, Matthew Vaughn, James Mangold
Stars: Oh, fuck you.
Tune in soon for my rankings. Or to mock me for not being at Comic-Con. Either one.