7 Hugely Underrated Superhero Movies!

in Marvel

Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker/Spider-Man) in 'Spider-Man: No Way Home'

Credit: Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures

We’re not sure how many superhero movies have come out in the past 20 years, but we’ve got a feeling that, based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe alone having 32, it’s probably the best part of 100 — maybe more! But how many underrated superhero movies are there?

Well, there are probably a fair few, to say the least — though not as half as many that are overrated, especially when it comes to the MCU. Either way, we’ve decided to hand-pick seven special superhero flicks that definitely deserve a lot more attention.

Here are seven underrated superhero movies from the past 20 years…

Related: All 21 Fox and Sony Marvel Movies That Are Now Canon Within the MCU

1. The Punisher

Thomas Jane as Frank Castle in The Punisher 2004
Credit: Lions Gate Films / Marvel Entertainment

The Punisher (2004) pits Thomas Jane’s Frank Castle/The Punisher against John Travolta’s Howard Saint, following the gut-wrenching massacre of Castle’s entire family while on vacation. While the film could have probably been a lot more brutal, watching the titular vigilante’s tactical and strategic dispatching of his enemies is pure genius.

We’d be lying if we said that The Punisher didn’t have a cult following, though. While this underrated superhero movie was a critically-panned flop at the time, it went on to become widely appreciated, despite the preferred (and far more brutal) portrayal of the character later being introduced in Marvel’s Daredevil series (2015) in the form of Jon Bernthal.

Recently, The Punisher franchise lost one of its own, as talented actor Ray Stevenson sadly passed away aged 58. Stevenson portrayed the iconic character in the 2008 film Punisher: War Zone (2008). He’ll soon be appearing in his last role in the live-action Star Wars series Ahsoka (2023), in which he plays Dark Jedi Baylan Skoll.

Related: 5 Actors Who Could Play Wolverine In the MCU

2. Superman Returns

Superman Returns
Credit: Warner Bros.

Though something an underrated superhero movie, Superman Returns (2006) is a confusing entry in the Superman film franchise. In fact, off the top of our heads we can’t think of any other film quite like it! While many fans consider it to be a reboot of the four Christopher Reeve-led Superman films, it can also be viewed as an actual sequel.

The confusion, no doubt, lies with the actors, as Superman Returns has a complete recasting — Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey), Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth), and the Man of Steel himself, Clark Kent/Superman/Kal-El (Brandon Routh). But the story suggests that the film follows on from the first four, with Superman’s legacy on Earth being long established.

It might be a little on the bland side, but Superman Returns is worlds better than Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). Routh also shines as Christopher Reeve’s successor (although he doesn’t hold a candle to Man of Steel‘s Henry Cavill). Yet another reboot is now in the works, which is titled Superman Legacy (2025).

Related: ‘Jumanji’ Star Becomes the Man of Steel For James Gunn’s ‘Superman’ Reboot

3. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man
Credit: Marvel Studios / Sony Pictures

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) is a widely hated film, and it didn’t do as well at the box office as Sony Pictures would have liked (although it still grossed $709 million worldwide). As such, it became another scrapped Spider-Man film series, following the Sam Raimi-directed trilogy of films starring Tobey Maguire.

But The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which stars Andrew Garfield as the titular web-slinger, is vastly underrated superhero movie. Sure, Dane DeHaan’s Green Goblin is pretty awful, and though Jamie Foxx’s Max Dillon/Electro is entertaining enough, it’s the electricity between Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker/Spider-Man) and Emma Stone (Gwen Stacey) that holds your attention.

We’ve all spent many hours crying over the death of Uncle Ben, but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the most tragic Spidey flick yet (although Aunt May’s death in Spider-Man: No Way Home does give this film a run for its money). Even if you still hate this film, though, it paved the way for Spidey’s introduction in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Related: All the ‘Spider-Man’ Movies Ranked Worst to Best

4. The Dark Knight Rises

Bane in the dark in The Dark Knight Rises
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) is the epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films, which started with Batman Begins (2005) and continued with The Dark Knight (2008). When it comes to the 2012 film, though, there are two very big camps. In other words, the consensus on this film is as equally divided as Harvey Dent’s scarred face.

There are many fans who find The Dark Knight Rises to be a disappointing chapter in The Dark Knight Trilogy, whether it’s due to plot holes or the fact that Christian Bale gets far more screentime as Bruce Wayne than he does Batman. But there are just as many fans (perhaps more, we like to think) that absolutely adore this film.

No need to guess which camp we sit in. But we don’t just think The Dark Knight Rises is an underrated superhero movie — it’s an absolute masterpiece. The performances from Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman) and Tom Hardy (Bane), the incredibly high stakes, and that hair-raising score by Hans Zimmer. Wow, wow, wow.

Related: 7 Batman Villains You Definitely Missed in ‘The Dark Knight Trilogy’

5. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Superman and Batman about to fight
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

Yet another underrated superhero movie featuring Batman (and Superman) has made it onto our list, in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). But this is where things get a little complicated. Not only was the film absolutely lambasted by critics upon its release, there are actually two versions in existence.

The second entry in the DC Extended Universe (now known as the DC Universe) served as both a sequel to Man of Steel (2013) and a crossover event between the two titular DC superheroes. The film has an abysmally low score on Rotten Tomatoes, but fans have always defended it against the critics, even though we’ll be the first to admit it isn’t perfect.

What comes close, though, despite the fact it still has Jesse Eisenberg’s cringe-worthy Lex Luthor, and a ton of character-shoehorning in preparation for Justice League (2017), is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Ultimate Edition). It’s not so different to its theatrical counterpart in the same way Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) is to Joss Whedon’s 2017 film, but it’s still infinitely better.

Related: Latest “Batman” Trailer Raises the Bar For ‘The Brave and the Bold’

6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Leonardo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows poster
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Back in 2014, the first Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) caused quite a stir, with many fans comparing the new Ninja Turtles’ designs to Shrek. In hindsight, though, while on first glance it’s no surprise that this bold new look left some fans suffering from second-hand embarrassment, they really aren’t that bad.

There’s not much we can do to defend the film they’re in, though — the writing is abysmal, and the Turtles themselves are pretty annoying and obnoxious. Its sequel, however, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016), is a very underrated superhero movie, especially if you look at it as a live-action adaptation of the iconic 1987 cartoon series.

This is where you really start to appreciate those designs too — both the motion-capture special effects and performances are nothing short of mind-blowing, and soon enough, the otherwise jarring hulk-ish appearances of the half-shell heroes becomes just as impressive. The Turtles’ distinct personalities are also a lot more refined in the 2016 sequel.

Related: R-Rated, ‘Logan’-Inspired ‘Ninja Turtles’ Installment Confirmed

7. Power Rangers (2017)

Power Rangers 2017 Poster
Credit: Lionsgate / Saban

One of the most underrated superhero movies in recent years isn’t even Marvel or DC. The Power Rangers (2017) reboot didn’t impress at the box office upon its theatrical release, but it did leave fans and critics mildly surprised by just how solid it was. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough, and now, another big-screen reboot is already underway.

Power Rangers does try to distance itself from previous iterations of the color-coded, lycra-clad superheroes — for the most part, it feels very much like a coming-of-age indie drama — but the problems arise when the filmmakers try to have their cake and eat it, and Elizabeth Banks’ incredibly camp Rita Repulsa is a perfect example of this.

The 2017 reboot never truly commits to being one things more than the other — its teen-centric storylines are far more compelling than any of the actual Power Rangers stuff, but as we move into the third act, it abandons a lot of the serious set-up in exchange for some cheesy fan-service. With that said, even the latter is wildly entertaining to watch.

(L to R) Black Ranger, Yellow Ranger, Red Ranger, Pink Ranger, and Black Ranger in Power Rangers 2017
Credit: Lionsgate / Saban

Related: 4 Reasons Why ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie’ Is Awesome

Do you like any of these underrated superhero movies? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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