In an age where the box office is dominated by big-budget action romps such as Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War, comic book films have never been so prevalent in popular culture. As I'm sure you're aware, this has most certainly not always been the case, and over the years several comic book cinematic adaptions have slipped under the radar and gone unnoticed by mainstream audiences. Meanwhile, others had a prickly initial reception, but like a fine wine have prospered with time.
Today, we're going to be looking at 5 such comic book films. Be they unseen or under-appreciated, these five movies are most certainly underrated.
#5 - Batman Forever (1995)
Although a controversial entry, it's fair to argue that Joel Schumacher's first attempt at putting Batman to film was not nearly as terrible as you remember.
Despite being a massive departure from the gritty, gothic and moody Batman films Tim Burton had produced, Batman Forever did have some genuinely promising elements. Val Kilmer was pretty great as Bruce Wayne, and had a good turn as Batman (although the nipple-suit did him no favors), and viewers got to see a much more layered and unhinged side to the billionaire philanthropist that hadn't been explored prior. It tried to bring Batman to a broader audience, and despite some hammy writing and frankly cringeworthy villains, there are plenty of redeeming factors that make this worth at least one watch. And it definitely isn't as bad as its follow-up, but the less said about that, the better. If you want to read more on this, you can check out my review here.
#4 - Watchmen (2009)
One of the most divisive comic book movies in history, many have labelled Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' seminal 1987 graphic novel as unfilmable, and although Zack Snyder's 2009 effort isn't perfect, it definitely doesn't deserve the lambasting it regularly receives.
While some of the film's main grievances — overly long, massively style-over-substance and dodgy CGI — do hold weight, its an undeniably solid effort. There are some incredibly well-handled actions scenes, full to the brim with brutal violence, snappy editing, stunning cinematography and some of the best characterization in recent comic book movie history. Although a lot of the film's standout elements stem from the source material, this is the best Watchmen will ever be on the big screen, and this level of accuracy — and the ability to convert such a dense, allegorical and adult story into a coherent and gripping film — deserves a lot more applause than it garners.
#3 - Daredevil (2003)
Arguably the key reason 2003's Daredevil has faded into comic book movie obscurity is due to the time period in which it came out. A year after X-Men 2 and a year before Spider-Man 2 (both some of the best the genre has to display), Ben Affleck's first shot at superheroics hit just at the wrong point.
Attempting to mix a dark tone with leather-clad heroes and campy villains, this does have an interesting and adult plot, but the overall tone of the film meant it didn't click with moviegoers. Its DVD director's cut has deservedly garnered more acclaim, but for many it's a case of too little, too late, and with Affleck moving onto bigger and better things as Batman, Daredevil is destined to fade into obscurity.
#2 - Blade (1998)
This really is a special one. Some consider Blade as the catalyst of the comic book movie renaissance, and it's not hard to see why.
Mixing slick action with a unique style and a badass protagonist from actor Wesley Snipes, Blade was nothing like viewers had seen before, and was one of the first examples of comic book films done right. Unfortunately, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come along and rewritten comic book cinema forever this one has faded into obscurity. Sure, it's dated poorly in some ways, but a surprising portion of the CGI holds up, and with balls-to-the-wall action and a massively interesting lore it's hard not to be enthralled by Blade.
#1 - Dredd (2012)
Karl Urban's Dredd is pretty much flawless!
It conveyed the atmosphere and universe of the 2000AD comics perfectly, and the action was brutal and shocking yet somewhat poetic. The fact that a sequel may never come into fruition is one of the saddest turns of events in modern cinema, and it's a monumental shame that this gem didn't find the audience it absolutely deserves. Dredd should be the dictionary definition of underrated: it's fantastic, but tragically doesn't get the credit it should have. If we do see a continuation of this story, be it a Netflix series or another film, it'll be down to the dedication and strength of the loyal fanbase this masterpiece has garnered, and if you're a fan of comic book movies and haven't checked this one out, there aren't many films I'd recommend to you more highly.
What do you think of the list? Agree, or are there other underrated comic-book films you'd put down? Be sure to leave a comment as we'll always reply, and if you enjoyed this article and want to see more like it, feel free to hit the follow button. Thanks for reading!