The Most Hated Superhero Movies of All Time

Batman gets in a heated exchange with Superman while standing in the rain
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice | Warner Bros.

Superhero movies tend to be big-budget, special effects-laden affairs that emphasize spectacle over substance. That isn’t to say that there haven’t been some thoughtful movies made in this genre, it’s just to state the obvious: That superhero movies aren’t usually made with the Oscars in mind, but for comic book fans who will flock to theaters to watch their favorite characters come to life on the big-screen. For this reason, it’s worth asking just how important critical reviews are to superhero genre films.

On the other hand, whether you agree with their opinions or not, film critics are still going to review superhero movies, and sometimes it can be fascinating to read why one particular superhero movie is reviled while another is praised. So without further ado, here are 10 superhero movies that were generally loathed by the critics.

We should note that only mainstream Hollywood superhero movies are included in this list, so don’t expect to see any low-budget knockoffs like Three Giant Men (aka: 3 Dev Adam, aka: Turkish Spider-Man). Movies are ordered by their Rotten Tomatoes ratings, from highest (best) to lowest (worst).

10. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) (tied with 2005’s Fantastic Four)

Batman stands next to his Bat-signal in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice | Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 27%

Depending on who you ask, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was either a good superhero film with a few flaws or an almost unwatchable disaster that nearly derailed Warner Bros.’ plans for a cinematic DC Extended Universe. However, as with many things, the truth probably lies somewhere in between. Despite being savaged by most film critics, Batman v Superman had the fourth-largest worldwide opening of any movie ever, with global box office receipts of over $422 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

On the other hand, let’s face it: Batman v Superman was a slog to watch, no matter how cool Batman looks in his nifty armor with the light-up eye holes. And as noted in our own review of the film, Batman v Superman seemed more interested in setting up the burgeoning DC Extended Universe than it did in building its own main characters or delivering a comprehensible storyline.

9. Fantastic Four (2005) (tied with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 27%

Ten years before Fox dropped the ball again with 2015’s muddled reboot, the studio gave us this campier version of Marvel’s most famous superhero family. Starring Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, Jessica Alba as Sue Storm/Invisible Woman, Chris Evans as Johnny Storm/Human Torch, and Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm/The Thing, Fantastic Four was panned by critics, but still managed to rake in a worldwide box office gross of nearly $331 million.

And while this version of Fantastic Four holds up better than 2015’s atrocious version; it does make you wonder if Batman v Superman deserved a Rotten Tomatoes score that is the same as this forgettable flick. Or is it the other way around?

8. Suicide Squad (2016) (tied with Green Lantern and Superman III)

The Suicide Squad villains walk in a formation in the rain
Suicide Squad | Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 26%

As if Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice wasn’t enough punishment for DC fans in one year, the highly anticipated Suicide Squad also turned out to be a less than stellar superhero movie. And like Batman v Superman, many of the problems with Suicide Squad seemed to come from its plot and pacing, rather than its visuals (which were actually amazing).

The disappointment felt over this superhero movie may have cut even deeper than Batman v Superman though, thanks to an expertly made trailer set to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Unfortunately, a good trailer doesn’t necessarily equal a good movie. Despite an impressive cast that includes Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, and Viola Davis, Suicide Squad was panned for its jumbled plot and disjointed directing.

7. Green Lantern (2011) (tied with Suicide Squad and Superman III)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 26%

Ryan Reynolds may have earned the love of comic book fans everywhere with his recent big-screen portrayal of Marvel anti-hero Deadpool, but his previous superhero role in this 2011 film failed to impress critics and fans alike.

“Noisy, overproduced, and thinly written, Green Lantern squanders an impressive budget and decades of comics mythology,” notes the critics’ consensus on Rotten Tomatoes. On the other hand, if it wasn’t for Green Lantern, we wouldn’t have gotten all those great jokes at its expense in Deadpool.

6. Superman III (1983) (tied with Green Lantern and Suicide Squad)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 26%

The already campy Superman film series starring Christopher Reeve got even sillier in this third installment. Richard Pryor plays a computer genius who builds a sentient supercomputer that attacks Superman with a Kryptonite ray and inexplicably turns a human woman into a cyborg. Critics were not amused (at least not enough) and the film became an open coffin for the 1980s Superman franchise until Superman IV: The Quest for Peace decisively nailed it shut four years later.

5. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 12%

Superman III was goofy, but the franchise really didn’t hit rock-bottom until Superman IV: The Quest for Peace came out four years later. Featuring some of the worst special effects in the franchise (which is saying something when you’re talking about the Christopher Reeve-led Superman movies), this film effectively ended the Man of Steel’s cinematic appearances until 2006, when Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns was released.

Actually, in many ways, the campy, optimistic tone of this film is the polar opposite of the overly serious, brooding Batman v Superman. Maybe a mash-up of these two films would create the perfect superhero film? Then again, maybe not.

4. Batman and Robin (1997)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 11%

The Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher-directed Batman film series came to an ignominious end thanks to this atrocious excuse for a superhero flick. By marrying the campy tone of the 1960s TV series with the semi-serious approach pioneered by Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), Schumacher managed to create a cinematic Frankenstein that was deservedly chased by angry critics with pitchforks and torches. Maybe critics who hate Batman v Superman so much should sit down revisit George Clooney and his Bat-nipples for a little perspective.

3. Elektra (2005)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 10%

Long before Elodie Yung was cast as Elektra on Marvel’s acclaimed Netflix series Daredevil, Jennifer Garner tackled the role in a 2005 standalone movie that was panned by critics. Intended as a spinoff to the generally loathed 2003 Daredevil movie starring Ben Affleck, the critics at Rotten Tomatoes noted that Elektra’s “tone deaf script is too self-serious and bereft of intelligent dialogue to provide engaging thrills.”

Interestingly, “self-serious” is a criticism that several reviewers have also leveled against Batman v Superman, such as Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson. And while Elektra probably deserves a lower critical ranking than Batman v Superman, Daredevil — the movie that spawned Elektra — has a 44% score on Rotten Tomatoes, which is considerably higher than Batman v Superman’s score of 27%. Go figure.

2. Catwoman (2004) (tied with Fantastic Four)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 9%

There’s not much to say about this cat litter box of a movie that hasn’t already been said. Best Actress Oscar winner Halle Berry earned a Golden Raspberry (or Razzie) award for her turn as the titular character, which she graciously accepted in person. Here’s how Berry described Catwoman in her Razzie acceptance speech: “I want to thank Warner Bros. for casting me in this piece-of-sh–, god-awful movie.” ‘Nuff said.

1. Fantastic Four (2015) (tied with Catwoman)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 9%

Fans’ hopes were high when this reboot was in the works. After all, all the right pieces were there, from the stellar cast (Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Miles Teller, and Jamie Bell) to a director (Josh Trank) who had already helmed an acclaimed superhero movie (2012’s Chronicle).

Unfortunately, the pieces never came together and Fantastic Four became one of the most loathed movies of 2015, providing yet another reason for Fox to just give up and return the movie rights for these beloved characters back to Disney-owned Marvel.

All movie cast, crew, and awards information courtesy of IMDb.

Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS

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