Home » Ranking the Super-Hero Movies: Episode 3

Ranking the Super-Hero Movies: Episode 3

Diamonds in the Rough

The third stop on our trip through super-hero memory lane features mutants, vigilantes, the living and the dead…ish. Let’s get started!

70. X-Men: The Last Stand

Angel was my favorite of the original X-Men, so you can guess how I feel about his portrayal here. It stinks. Sadly, it never gets any better, but that is only the beginning of the problems with this entry.

This revision of the Dark Phoenix saga is filled with problems, not the least of which is the off screen death of Cyclops and the horrendous continuity issues following the death of Xavier.

On the plus side, the mutant ‘cure’ is handled well, and Kelsey Grammer makes a surprisingly good Beast. The romance between Bobby and Marie, as well as the friendship forming between Bobby and Kitty was well played and added some emotional depth that countered the clumsy, overwrought Jean Grey/Wolverine story line.

69. The Punisher (Thomas Jane)

This is my favorite of the three Punisher movies for a few reasons. First, Thomas Jane has the physical presence and the acting chops to portray the brutality of the Punisher as well as the agony of Frank Castle, and to meld those together to create a nobility that elevates the Punisher from a street thug. Second, the movie is a throwback, almost an homage to the 70s and 80s revenge thrillers like Death Wish. Frank is driven by rage and grief but channels it to protect and spare the innocent.

Speaking of innocents, this brings me to another strong point, and that is the three tenants who befriend and protect Castle, even at a high cost to themselves. Their nobility inspires Castle to seek more than just vengeance.

68. Judge Dredd

“I AM THE LAW!”

Okay, so, a bit over the top, as Rob Schneider does an excellent job of showing a bit later in the movie. And that’s what makes this movie fun.

It’s also what pushed the movie down the list a bit. Judge Dredd is not supposed to be funny.

67. Spider-Man 3

Tobey Maguire’s last outing as Peter Parker/Spider-Man is his least successful. Maguire always made a good Parker but only an adequate Spidey. In this movie, he is given a lot to do, and it is ultimately overwhelming. We get Harry Osbourne as the New Goblin, who promptly hits his head and forgets everything, and becomes friends with Peter again. Only, of course, the amnesia is only temporary, and Osbourne goes back to trying to kill Peter. Until the end of the movie, when he becomes Peter’s friend again and dies while fighting beside Spider-Man against sandman and Venom.

Sound busy? Well hold on to your shorts, there’s more! At the same time, Parker is being affected by the Black symbiote suit, which sends MJ away from him and into the arms of Harry. It gets even more complicated as Gwen Stacy shows up, but you get the point. There’s enough material in this movie for a trilogy and cramming it all into a single film makes everything feel rushed and unsatisfying.

This was Sam Raimi’s Spidey swan song, which is too bad because I would have liked to see his next movie, featuring John Malkovich as the Vulture. Fortunately, we get to see that classic villain a few years down the road.

66. Mystery Men

Seeing Greg Kinnear as the smarmy Captain Amazing get fried by the frakulator is worth the price of admission.

On the other hand, since this movie stars BEn Stiller and Janeane Garafolo, well, that’s a fairly high admission price. There’s only so much smug I can stomach.

William Macy’s earnestness as the Shoveler grounds and propels this team of misfits and the movie itself.

The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, so we don’t have to either.

65. Ghost Rider

Yeah, uneven at times, and too many plot holes to count, but Nic Cage does a good job with Johnny, and Sam Elliot makes just about any movie worth watching. The scene of the two Ghost Riders rasing across the plains, one on a motorcycle and the other on horseback is worth the price of admission.

Neat note: the devil’s son went on to play another villainish role. Any guesses?

The Game Maker in Hunger Games.

64. Constantine

This movie would fare much better and rank higher if it weren’t called Constantine. Look, Keanu Reeves is a good actor, but he is simply not the right choice for John Constantine. His earnestness is completely at odds with Constantine’s cynicism. For a better take, look at Matt Ryan’s performance for the WB.

That being said, if you skip the source material and view the movie on its own, its pretty good.

63. Suicide Squad

Without Margot Robbe, this movie would rate much lower on the list. Without Jared Leto, it would be about the same amount higher. The most involving story line to me was El Diablo, the fire demon, as his character was really the only one who developed to any extent.

62. Dredd

This is one of the cases where the reboot is better than the original. Dispensing with the forced humor of the first movie, this one plays it straight for the most part. Karl Urban does a good job in the role and conveys some of the complexities of the Judge despite never taking off the helmet.

The plot is decent, although at times it feels more like a video game, as the judges climb level after level seeking the boss at the top.

61. The Crow

It seems a shame that such a good movie is so far down the list, but that’s an artifact of my ranking system which is based on which movie I’d rather watch. The Crow is a good movie, but it is painfully good. It affects me the same way as Million Dollar Baby, albeit to a lesser extent.

The Crow is achingly, hauntingly sad, as director Alex Proyas convincingly translates writer James O’Barr’s grief-drenched comic to film. Certainly worth watching and re-watching, it is a wrenching and draining experience.

The follow on movies are dreck and I didn’t even bother to list them.

Or watch them.

The TV show, on the other hand, was fun to watch. Which of course meant it was cancelled after a single season.

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