Overrated adjective.“If something or someone is overrated, that person or thing is considered to be better or more important than they really are.” Well, that’s what the Cambridge Dictionary says. Not bad, but something that may not, in your opinion, turn out as good as what people say or think about it. How many times have you had your friends and colleagues recommend a movie to you with all their fervour, naturally raising hopes, and when you finally end up watching that film, you were filled with nothing but utter disappointment at how mediocre the “best film they ever saw”/ “masterpiece” was? Quite a number of times I guess.
Let’s face it, Superhero movies have changed the game. A ton of movies release each year, out of which the best business is carried out by superhero films, with some of them shattering records and performing unprecedented feats at the Box Office, which is obvious given their mass commercial appeal and some excellent marketing and pre-release hype. In the process, however, there are some remarkable movies that are missed out by the audience, and when you watch them, there is a lingering feeling that they should’ve gotten more attention than some truly average superhero fare. That being said, superhero movies are undeniably fun, and some of them actually try to push the envelope in terms of storytelling. But what about those cliché-ridden, hollow, blockbuster summer movies being pitched at us in the name of popcorn flicks and somehow end up earning millions and a huge fan following too?
Accepting that you can never write such an article without offending a certain group of people because of sentimental value attached to these films, I will still try my best, but at the end of the day, it’s only an opinion, and should be taken as such. So, *shields up* here goes a list of the most overrated superhero movies.
1. The Avengers (2012)
When it released back in 2012, it wasn’t just a movie, it was an event; the hype was unbelievable. Not able to secure tickets for the first weekend, I settled in for an early Monday showing. I wouldn’t lie, but I sat there, prepared to be blown away by a spectacle of sorts. At least that’s what the reviews and popular opinion stated. Alas, it completely eluded my eyes as to what the hype was all about. Certainly it was an ensemble to behold, and the characters were brought together in the end neatly. Sadly, the rest of it just relied on every superhero cliché ever put to screen. Formulaic in its approach, I wonder if the same kind of storyline would’ve worked if it weren’t for a giant team-up of superheroes.
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Continuity is the name of the game here. You have to give it to Marvel Studios in that they have been successful in setting up a shared universe by virtue of continuity in every next feature that hits screens. The same however, cannot be said for Fox’s X-Men saga, now functioning on a kind of ‘rebooted’ timeline, simply because some previous outings in the franchise were not as well received. There were a number of questions that were popping up in my head while watching the film, regarding the previous movies and how they led to this one, and the things happening here that would lead to the next ones. After one point, I just gave up and enjoyed my popcorn. Alas, returned home and heard people hailing this as the best X-Men movie ever. Did people actually forget X2 just like this movie did?
Apart from an outrageously well done Quicksilver sequence and a well handled opening scene, and the usually brilliant Fassbender, Jackman and McAvoy, the rest is just weighed down by inconsistencies and plot holes coming at you quicker than you can comprehend. Hardly the best X-Men movie ever made.
3. Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992)
The films are a masterclass in art direction, with Anton Furst’s sets beautifully realising Gotham’s dystopian skyline, very much in line with the comics. Jack Nicholson as the Joker and Danny DeVito as The Penguin were spot on. This was probably my favourite set of childhood superhero movies until Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ (2002) came along, despite being a lot darker in tone. Alas, like a lot of other classics, its effects too jaded on repeat viewings. A marked departure from the comic books, these feel more like Tim Burton features than Batman films. Tim Burton was once reported saying that he would never be caught reading a comic book, and that shows. As sensibilities grow, one realises that Keaton is not the definitive Batman; the same can be said for Burton’s Batman movies as well.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Pop Culture references, a great soundtrack, and a predictable storyline are what make up most of Marvel’s 2014 space drama that turned out to be a surprise hit. Surprise indeed. It seems like we have a different yardstick for rating superhero movies, because stripped off the flashy special effects, GOTG is a combination of every contrived plot device ever. It could’ve worked as a comedy, but the jokes are mostly misplaced. The movie currently is #250 on the IMDb top 250, and will likely slide off the list in a few weeks. Still doesn’t deserve the immense praise and 8.0 rating though.
5. Kick Ass (2010)
Coming from Matthew Vaughn and earning stellar reviews, I had high hopes from this one, to be the different kind of superhero film then, that I expected Deadpool to be now. Needless to say, I was disappointed both times. Instead, I got an ultra-violent teenage drama. The violence that was supposedly used for laughs was churning to say the least. However the main problem here isn’t even the story or characters to begin with, but the random changes in tone that I couldn’t fathom. It was a comedy one moment, a hardcore action flick in another, and then suddenly sermonising about responsibilities, all this whilst endeavouring to be a cool flick.
Apart from that, watching a 12 year old Chloë Grace Moretz playing Hit Girl in the film, perform unabashed acts of violence, was disconcerting to say the least, and not my idea of fun. I am okay with violence in films, as long as it has good reason to be there, or is highly stylised up to a point it comes to be one of the themes of the narrative (300, for example). Vaughn’s trademark style was there alright, but it lacked enough bang to be called “the action movie of the year” or acquiring the cult status it has now.
6. Iron Man 3 (2013)
While most of the movies on this list are somewhat good movies, just overrated, this one was plain bad in my opinion, and still ended up grossing over $ 1.2 billion worldwide. Post Avengers hype and Robert Downey Jr. maybe. I am not even going to touch on what they did with the main villain, The Mandarin (although that is one thing that stings the most about this movie), for me, the rest of it doesn’t exactly fall in place either. The charm and wit from the last two movies seems somewhat missing here. Downey was born to play Iron Man, and the special effects are great, but that’s about it. I expected this movie to explore Tony’s human side, how he felt powerless in a world with Norse Gods, a Hulk, superspies and aliens, which it does sporadically. However, for the most part, the film fails to take flight much like its protagonist. And sorry, but fire breathing villains just didn’t cut it for me. By the time the spectacular Iron Legion moment came in, I was just exhausted.
7. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
A lot of people, I hope, would agree upon this one. As stated in countless other articles, this is NOT a bad movie. The only reason it turned out to be disappointing for some was that it fell short of the yardstick set by its maverick director and its predecessor. It does strive to be a suitable ending for Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, and succeeds mostly, but capping a great trilogy of films cannot solely be a measure for the greatness of a film. Upon repeated viewing, the glaring inconsistencies begin popping up and you can never go back to feeling the same way about it again. Read more about my take on the movie, what works, and what doesn’t, here.
8. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Consistently watchable and highly entertaining with some incredibly well choreographed action sequences. Yet at its core, this superhero faceoff was in my opinion, plagued by essentially the same problems, more or less, as ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’ released earlier in 2016. Being a DC fan, I was supposedly inclined to favour BvS, but I agree the movie was faulty to an extent. But when I saw a film with roughly the same flaws release two months later, under better packaging, being praised universally and hailed continuously as the better superhero faceoff film, I was puzzled. The film felt overstuffed, character motivations somewhat lacking, and it didn’t hold a candle to the far superior previous Captain America instalment in my opinion.
9. Doctor Strange
Two words: Benedict Cumberbatch. This is a movie it actually pains to put on this list, because it had immense potential to be nothing short of brilliant. I have generally liked Scott Derrickson’s movies (Sinister, Deliver us from Evil), but the promos had me completely sold. Apart from the extremely well done psychedelic graphics and special effects, the rest of the movie was formulaic to say the least, a frequent complaint with other Marvel outings as well. The usually menacing Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, The Hunt) felt completely uninspired here, and the rest of the characters with the exception of Strange himself and The Ancient one, played by Tilda Swinton, seemed less developed in comparison. It is truly disheartening to see a film that could’ve achieved greatness, reduced to mere popcorn entertainment. However, that didn’t seem to be the case with a lot of the audience, giving the film the popularity it enjoys today as a result.
10. Deadpool (2016)
The enfant terrible of superhero movies. Deadpool showed the world that superhero movies needn’t be all serious and brooding. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is cool and everything, and some of Deadpool’s banter and fourth wall breaking chatter is actually funny. The only problem here is the script. It seems like the filmmakers wanted to take risks, but only in the R Rated department. Deadpool’s storyline is as safe a bet as any, generic to say the least. For an unconventional character defying all rules superhero movies stand by, Deadpool is as conventional as it gets, so much so that the side characters come off as hackneyed too. It is completely fine as a different kind of superhero film looking to have some fun, but calling it the reckoning of superhero movies, or a film ushering in a new age in superhero movies, is taking it a bit too far.
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11. Logan (2017)
The kind of post-release hype this movie had was only rivaled by ‘The Avengers’ (2012) in recent times, with people calling it the best superhero movie to have come out in a long, long time. So much, so that people gasped when they heard I hadn’t seen the movie well until 3 months after it was released. I finally caught it on DVD, and the first thing I did after completing a viewing was head to IMDb, and I was glad to see that not all were aboard the bandwagon, a minority of people had actually disliked the movie. Hugh Jackman is the definitive Wolverine, he was phenomenal. So was Dafne Keen. The action was visceral. I even liked the score by Marco Beltrami, a lot. But those are the good things about it.
The X-Men films suffer from continuity issues, but this film outright destroys everything that the franchise built, and what these two characters (Logan and Professor X) stood for. A major problem with Logan was that it was awfully low on information; and no, I’m not one of those audiences who like everything served on a platter, but I’d like some clarification by the end. With a sendoff as unceremonial as the Professor’s, I was left wondering that the legacy that was built by these characters over the last 17 years, was lost. Hugh Jackman deserved a swansong, not melancholy drivel. So did we!
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12. The Dark Knight (2008)
Quite frankly, the best superhero film till date, one of my absolute favourites. To say that the film has a huge fan following would be an understatement, given Nolan’s god-like status and the trilogy’s and character’s massive popularity. If Nolan hadn’t done what he has with the legend of the knight, we would still be left with sore memories of Schumacher’s versions. I am completely sold on Affleck’s Batman, but Nolan’s trilogy has unbelievable gravitas for a superhero film. ACCEPTED. Why then, does it find a spot on this list of most overrated superhero flicks? Solely because of its IMDb ratings. ‘The Dark Knight’ is #4 on the IMDb top 250 list, preceded only by 3 far superior works, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ (1994) and the first two Godfather movies. Agreed that the IMDb ratings express popular opinion, but why it ranks above ‘Forrest Gump’ (1994), ‘Fight Club’ (1999), ‘Schindler’s List’ (1993) and countless other great films is the stuff of lore. Not an overrated superhero movie, but an overrated ‘movie’.
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