Since we’re about to crack the top ten on my lists of favorite and least favorite superhero films, now seemed like a pretty good time to identify a few films that just didn’t quite make the cut on both lists.
(Hopefully this will also give you a pretty good idea of why my Favorite list was so much shorter than my Least Favorite list.)
(Disclaimer: I haven’t seen the Superman/Batman animated movies, the two Hulk animated films, or Thor: Tales of Asgard.)
Honorable Mentions (Favorite Superhero Films)
Not nearly as good as the first film, but not half bad either.
A lot of this film is very silly (in a good way!), but some of it is surprisingly poignant. Consider the main character’s narration: “In the world I lived in, heroes only existed in comic books. And I guess that’d be okay, if bad guys were make-believe, too. But they’re not.” Not to mention this film actually (realistically) has him get his ass kicked in his first few attempts. And Nicholas Cage was hilarious in this.
A lot of people would probably have this on the other list, but I enjoyed it. I’ve never been a huge Wolverine fan, but Hugh Jackman makes the character pretty impossible not to like. One pleasant surprise was having Cyclops, Emma Frost, and a bunch of other mutants rescued by Professor Xavier. I wish they had used this hook for X-Men: First Class as it would’ve allowed them to give a lot more screen time to some of my favorite characters (Cyclops and Emma Frost), but oh well.
Many would consider this a serious omission, but I have to admit I’m not quite as impressed with this film as everyone else was. Don’t get me wrong: it was good, and the fact that they managed to craft a version of this character whose patriotism didn’t bother me even a little was impressive, but I didn’t find it nearly as memorable as Thor or Iron Man.
These Marvel Animated Features were a cut above The Invincible Iron Man for sure. The two films actually hit a lot of the same beats as The Avengers between the two of them (though not entirely as successfully.) Granted, these films suffer greatly in comparison to The Avengers, but at least we know Marvel is capable of making halfway decent animated features.
Yeah, the Adam West one. I absolutely loved that series. This was intentionally bad (like the series!), and featured appearances by pretty much every single villain from the show teaming up to try to defeat the caped crusader.
This may be largely symptomatic of the DC animated movies being far superior to DC live-action movies, but I’ve yet to see an animated Superman film I didn’t like.
Justice League: The New Frontier was a pretty solid narrative and very distinct as it made the conscious choice to set the film in the 1950s, allowing them to make use of some Golden Age aesthetics. I was, however, frustrated that some characters (like Green Arrow) just randomly showed up for the final battle and didn’t do or say anything. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths was pretty easily the best Justice League film I’ve seen, and probably belongs on the main list, if it weren’t for the fact that I didn’t see it until after I started the list. Justice League: Doom had the pretty major problem of trying to cram too much into too short of a film (and consequently being a bit of a mess), but I still enjoyed it.
It might not be the most popular opinion, but I actually enjoyed this one quite a bit. Yet again we have to turn to the animated adventures of Batman to see him with an actual mystery plot.
I have to admit I was never a huge fan of the Batman Beyond series, but this film really made me wish I had been. It was shockingly good. And the way it tied back into older Batman continuity is the kind of thing that would’ve made me enjoy Batman Beyond if they had done more of it.
Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011)
More on these later. (“Wait, but they’re on your Honorable Mentions list. Doesn’t that mean there won’t be an entry about them?” You’ll see.)
Man, in retrospect, this definitely belonged on the main list, I’m pretty upset that I forgot how good it is. It’s a bit below the cinematic quality of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (but only a very little bit), which it largely makes up for with a great plot, one of my favorite villains (Mr. Freeze), and features Robin and Batgirl. This is a really great film.