The Good, the (Not) Bad & the Ugly – Superhero movies


Premise first: There are a million cinematic genres out there just waiting for you to find them. Within those genres are countless films ranging from atrocious to (hopefully) all time great. We care at OGR, so in 2012 we will periodically be highlighting a different genre and identifying which films in your respective genre are;

The GOOD: 8 / 10 and above

They might not all be great, but we wholeheartedly recommend that you check these out, as they represent some of the best the genre has to offer.

The (NOT) BAD: 6.5 / 10 to 7.5 / 10

These films might have a few flaws and probably won’t blow you away, but they aren’t terrible, boast at least a few decent moments and who knows there might just find a gem or two in here that works better for you.


The UGLY: 6 / 10 and below

Films that are ordinary at best, and worse… not much joy to be found here I’m afraid.

For the most part I will let the full reviews in the links tell the story. Feel free to let me know what I missed or which of your favourites is ranked too low.

Super Heroes

Got a cape tucked away in a cupboard somewhere? Well have a quick shave and get ready for your close-up, a film will inevitably be made about you. I only hope Maccas or Hungry Jacks do justice to the toys in the kid’s club meals…

According to a survey held in my mind a few seconds ago there are officially more superheroes in America than there at any time in recorded history. In fact there are so very many superheroes that they have run out of actors to portray them, this scenario is reminiscent of a pick-up game of basketball with 9 NBA All Stars and a short fat dumpy accountant who happened to show up at the gym and now wants a game.

Eventually even chunky Steve from audits will have to get picked and lace ’em up.

Is Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern that short fat accountant, or is it actually possible that we are in for the following trailer voiceover:

“They took his family, his self respect, his shoelaces.


In 2012.

Adam Sandler is;

Mr Stupendous.

*Cut to Sandler with his patented goofy smile. “You thought you’d heard the last of me? How stupendous!”

Mr Stupendous.”

Summer 2012

(This movie will not be screened for critics – but will make millions anyway.)

Superheroes, Hollywood’s cash-cow. Today I try to sift through the decidedly un-super to bring you the undiluted cream of the kryptonite-proof crop.

I put Blade 2 atop my list of Good/Bad/Ugly Vampires. Just know if he wasn’t there, he would be right here. Blade 2: (Review)

Right next to The Crow, which I also can’t justify into the superhero world, but can recommend regardless. The Crow: (Review)

Please note that Superhero movies breed like rabbits, where one makes money several follow within minutes, so where it was logical to do so I lumped franchises together, at least when they are reasonably similar in quality.

The Good

Batman Begins (Review) / The Dark Knight (Review) / The Dark Knight Rises

Yep, I am more than confident enough to whack a movie that hasn’t been released into the oh-so-good category, that is the faith I have in one Mr Christopher Nolan.

The man doesn’t have as much as a speck on his resume and practically single-handedly revived the superhero genre as a viable, credible field.

Unfortunately the rest of the films on this list are below the Batman reboots, mostly with very good reason.

Nolan stripped Batman of the kitsch and gave him a backstory, a mission and a cast second to none, Christian Bale bulked up and ate a spoonful of gravel and went to work.

The Dark Knight Rises arrives next week. It will be awesome. If I was a betting man I would just rate it a 9+ right now and take my chances that it won’t ‘disappoint me’ with an 8.5.

Iron Man: (Review)

Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr struck gold with the original, which while not great was better than any non-Nolan helmed effort for some time.

Iron Man proved even better than the original Spiderman at taking a ludicrous premise and actually making it both believable and fun.

It helped that the fast talking, quick witted end enigmatic Downey Jr was cast as Tony Stark, without him the film would have undoubtedly been very different, more than likely to its detriment.

His Stark is one of the better realized characters in film, a millionaire playboy genius inventor who decides to be a superhero because he can? Awesome, sign me up. (Unfortunately the second film took the wind out of the sails a little.)

The Incredibles (Review)

Yep it’s a ‘cartoon’. But it’s a cartoon about an entire family of superheroes, all with different powers.

The action scenes are the best ever created in an animated film, the film is fast, funny and works on many levels, meaning the parents and kids can both love it.

The Avengers showed how a team of super heroes can work together, using their various abilities and strengths to build a formidable unit.

Just know they weren’t the first.

Kick-Ass: (Review)

I’m not sure that the self-dubbed and hopelessly outmatched Kick-Ass can really be dubbed a superhero, that’s kinda like me calling myself a stunt driver and expecting the police not to beat me with clubs after they pull me from the flaming debris of my 1985 Mitsubishi Sigma.

But what Kick-Ass lacks in superhero integrity the movie makes up for with black humour and style.

The film is irreverent, *Gasp* controversial and funny as fuck. While Kick-Ass took the Tony Stark route and just opted for superhero-dom he over-looked his lack of funds and intelligence, that makes for a flawed superhero – but a minor classic of a film.

Marvel’s The Avengers: (Review)

Perhaps the greatest achievement attained by The Avengers was that it wasn’t Watchmen 2.

In truth I would rather watch Iron Man again than this, but it is excellent popcorn fodder with an awesome finale.

The problem is that with every team there are those that are obviously the ‘stars’ and those that are role players and back-ups. Iron Man and the Hulk (surprisingly) are the stars here, only in the interest of fairness Captain America demands attention, Thor wants to show off for the Gods and Black Widow… well what does she do anyway? She stood out more in her Iron Man 2 cameo than in this entire film – the catsuit that she rocked in IM 2 helped. A lot.

The Avengers is fast, funny and exciting. You should watch it. And judging by the box office, you have.

The (Not) Bad

Captain America – The First Avenger: (Review)

Thor: (Review)

The Incredible Hulk: (Review)

There are two reasons for lumping this trio together. The first is that I expected nothing from any of them. Perhaps the fact that I expected nothing more than not being annoyed allowed them a shot at surprising me on the upside, but I have now seen all three films at least twice and can say with confidence that each of them are just really good, fun, well made flicks.

They also represent a fair chunk of The Avengers, which combined with Iron Man already landing in the section above, is the reason that the Marvel vs X-Men argument never even starts for me.

Super: (Review)

Kick-Ass’s even blacker indie brother is named Super. It puts an even more unlikely character in ill fitting tights and then delights in ignoring every logical turn and plot development for 90 minutes.

The good guys don’t always win – and they aren’t always very good either – and the bad guys don’t always lose. One thing is for certain though, you will be confused and enraged at times, but you will never be bored.

Super is a conflicting movie and in truth not an exceptionally good one, but it is unlike anything I have seen in decades. And that counts for something.

Hellboy: (Review)

Guillermo Del Toro makes things look better than they are. Both Hellboy and its sequel are actually pretty run-of-the-mill plots that nonetheless are made better with stylistic flourishes and the amazing imagination and creativity level that few directors have.

Couple this with the fact that Del Toro cares about what his name is attached to, and I am more than willing to give both Hellboy’s a sold B- for effort alone.

The Punisher: (Review)

You: Thomas Jane as the hard as nails ultra violent Frank Castle, hell bent to give every bad guy in town their just desserts?

John Travolta as the bad guy?

Remind me again how this is in the Not Bad section please?

Me: Because for once Hollywood made a violent superhero movie and left the violence in. For once Hollywood gave a character a truly valid reason for developing a death wish and  drinking copious amounts of Wild Turkey before slaughtering anyone with more than a parking ticket to their name.

For once Hollywood listened to my thoughts and killed off Travolta in suitably painful fashion. He probably needed a massage after that…

That’s not the only reason why The Punisher is actually better than you would think. But it sure didn’t hurt. (Maybe next time they can kill him when he’s dancing adorably?)

Spiderman: (Review)

Count me among the minority that think the Spiderman trilogy is wayyyy over-rated – at least aside from the first one. But even that hasn’t aged well, elsewise why the hell would they be rebooting it within a decade of its release? Oh yeah, all that money that even Tobey McGuire couldn’t stop.

The second flick was ordinary and the third straight up sucked, now I need to go before I see sense and demote this franchise to the section below…

(I will no doubt get to the Spiderman reboot soon, I just didn’t want to line the greedy Hollywood pockets just yet when I am still trying to drink the Peter Parker dance sequence out of my memory bank. Besides I am saving myself for the Dark Knight’s ascension.)

The Ugly

X-Men – all of them (First Class Review)

Apparently Craig Ferguson set off a Twitter shitstorm (Twitstorm?) with a simple comment proclaiming Hellboy as superior to the X-Men films. Now I don’t even rate Hellboy all that highly but I for one thought that was always obvious.

As I mentioned more than once in my review of the lousy prequel First Class I simply don’t get the allure of this franchise. Explain to me how the ability to fly and yell shrilly simultaneously makes you super? Come again with the ‘ooh er he’s a big magnet’ stuff?

On top of these obvious deficiencies the creators botched the Wolverine spin-off, the only half interesting character in the ensemble getting the PG treatment in a film boring enough to make his sideburns curl up at the edges.

Call me when an X-Man aside from Wolverine is able to take down a mildly grumpy senior citizen one on one, then I might renew my interest in your shitty franchise.

Hellboy not gr8. But gr8er than X Men.

Green Lantern: (Review)

There are so many superhero films now that even Ryan Reynolds gets to be one.

That is all.



There will be a day when my self respect runs at low ebb and I decide to subject myself to this magnificent hurricane of banality once more.

Ben Affleck as a blind lawyer who moonlights as an all hearing, all smelling, all sensing martial artist committed to sniffing out crime.

With Colin Farrell as a charismatic bad guy called Bullseye! Who has a Bullseye on his head!! Who can throw stuff accurately!!!

With a Kevin Smith cameo!

But seriously I have no idea how this failed. None. And I know the picture crops his head – that’s why I went with it…

(I should also spend some time with Elektra, the spin off movie that was apparently even worse, despite starring Affleck’s real life wife who has broader shoulders than he does and Mr Ed’s teeth!)

Robocop: (Review)

For a start I am on the fence about even labelling Robocop a superhero. After all he is essentially a reasonably well armoured cop with computer assisted weapons aim.

Think about it, that’s his skill.

Juxtapose that one skill with the myriad of things that can do an automated man damage. Bullets and stuff of course, but also slippery floors, electrical surges, computer viruses, light rain…

As a result Robocop gets taken down in every film in the series, only to be rebooted and shuffle slowly back to the bad guys to shoot them in mildly creative ways.

What a hero. And the movies weren’t that good either. What a crappy series.

The Spirit: (Review)

Special mention to The Spirit, one of the first films that I ever reviewed. There’s not much point deriding the film though – no-one remembers it and it deservedly sank without a trace within minutes of arriving in theatres.

I myself can remember absolutely nothing about it. It was bad enough though that in my review I wrote “Previously my least favourite movie based upon a comic book character was DareDevil”.

Gee The Spirit must’ve sucked.

Watchmen: (Review)

I must admit I almost subconsciously think of list ideas that somehow justify this movie’s inclusion, just so I get the chance to bag it again.

Watchmen should have been The Avengers, an unstoppable juggernaut that demanded endless profitable sequels and spin-off films for all. Instead Zack Snyder turned out to be Watchmen kryptonite, the only person capable of stopping the unstoppable.

Watchmen is so bad that even fanboys of the comics and Zack Snyder only half-heartedly pretend to defend this cinematic atrocity.

Stand up comedian Dave Attell has a great joke where he says “Do you ever bag someone so much that you feel like you should thank them for all the good times they gave you?”.

With that in mind, might I finish by saying “Thank you Watchmen”.

The Rest

These particular supes just aren’t ‘super’ good, bad or otherwise to even deserve their own section.

Fantastic 4: You have Jessica Alba and whenever she gets naked she is invisible? Something horribly wrong there.

Superman Returns: To anonymity, only moments after this atrocity was released.

Ghost Rider (Review): Rumours have not been confirmed that Nicolas Cage buys a thousand Ghost Rider DVDs every week in the hope that they stupidly make another sequel…

The Phantom: Bruce Campbell reckons he nearly beat Billy Zane for this part. Lucky miss Bruce.

The Shadow: Like a shadow this film has no substance.

The second half of 2012 will bring dozens of new entries into the superhero genre and OGR will painstakingly waste hours and brain cells sifting through the entrails to sort the classics from the trash.

Stay tuned.


About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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