Skip to main content

Superhero Movies and TV Shows: A Cash Grab or Actually Good?

Camillia has BA in University Studies with a minor in English. Has enjoyed writing reviews since her sci fi/fantasy class in high school.

The History Superhero film and Comics

Superhero movies have been around a long time but did not come to cinema until 1916 with the first superhero movie Judex. Mandrake the Magician was the superhero who needed to defeat the wasp. Superhero films came first before comics were even a thing with the first comic The Phantom that came out in 1936. Today, there are so many movies and comics based on superheros. Even though bad superhero films have come out in the past there are still people who may defend them. Especially those who are a fan of a specific character in the superhero universe. Today, superhero films are praised and sequels have been the main source of income for the companies that own Marvel and DC. It begs the question if the superhero films are actually good or are they medicore films that are only made for the big pockets of the greedy media corporations.


The Formula to a Good Superhero Film

  • Character Development

It is important that the film has good character development. This means that the superhero is more than a shell but has an interesting backstory with a personality. They may have past trauma or grief that they deal with on a daily basis. It is possible that the superhero is vain or proud and needs to deal with his or her overconfidence and be humbled. Superheros need to be a round, interesting character with more than a nice costume and catch phrase. If the movie does not have good character development, it will likely fail. Characters are the essential backbone of the story. Sometimes the villian has a more interesting backstory than the superhero but this does not mean that the movie will fall flat. In the 2008 film, The Dark Knight the Joker played by Heath Ledger is one of the most interesting, round characters of the film. Because of Heath Ledger's performance, the movie did really well.

  • Plot

The plot and character development need to marry to make a good superhero film. It is possible that the plot would be the only thing the screenwriters would concentrate on and this leads to less character development and a more plot driven story. The problem with this is that there is less character development which can make the characters unrelatable to the audience. If the plot is all over the place, the audience is less likely to follow the movie. It is important that the plot follows a structure for the audience and character development.

  • Action

Most superheroes have abilities and skills that help them defeat the bad guys. Action is given within a superhero film. If the effects are over the top or bad, it can create a bad movie. Action sequences help move along the plot and provide the superhero's opportunity to develop as a person and a hero.

  • Resolution

The movie needs some type of resolution and this may include providing a sequence that flows naturally into a sequel. Usually, the resolution includes the hero saving the day and getting the love interest. If the movie has no resolution and ends on a cliffhanger, it can make the audience irritated. Marvel has sequences after the credits that usually gives the fans a brief easter egg of the next movie. They still have the original movie have some type of resolution but the easter egg provides the audience with something to look forward to in the future.

Scroll to Continue

The Worst Superhero Films

It is possible to say that there have been both good and really bad superhero films. The following are examples of terrible superhero films:

In 1997, one of the worst superhero films came out Batman and Robin. It was the most cringeworthy movie of the 1990's era. I am not only talking about the horrible costumes that are pretty laughable(especially the nipples of Batman and Robin's costumes) but also the cringeworthy acting and set work.

In 2004, Halle Berry starred as Catwoman in one of the most awkward and overly sexual films imaginable. Catwoman starts out as Patience Phillips, a very meek woman who tries to please other people. When she finds out that the cosmetic company is not what it seems, she is "disposed" of and becomes Catwoman. The catlike mannerisms and the oversexuality can be too much for anyone. People still think this film is redeemable because it is about a tough female character. But it shows how bad a superhero film can be. Catwoman's character is one note, with either too meek or too overly sexy. She does not have much of a personality and that is what makes this film fail. The plot in this movie is well thoughtout but the execution could have been better.

In 2005, Fantastic Four came out and it was considered a good superhero film at the time it was made. The audience would get some laughs from the characters and there was some redeeming qualities of the film. It could be considered mediocre because it did not necessarily hit the mark regarding the draw of superhero movies. It is probably because of the flat characters and poorly executed plot.


The Best Superhero films

Marvel and DC both compete for the best superhero films and TV shows. Marvel has shown to be the most impressive with 23 movies that include both original and sequels. This does not include the TV shows Disney plus seems to keep coming out about superheroes. Probably the best Marvel film is the 2012 film, Avengers which included various characters that were charismatic, funny, and heroic. The Avengers have characters that are fully developed, an interesting plot, fun action sequences, and a well thought out resolution. DC also has an extended movie collection with 42 feature films that include various superheros. DC can be even as impressive as Marvel for the content it has come out with over the years. The Dark Knight(2008) is probably the best DC superhero film because it has also has good character development especially with the Joker, an impressive plot, some cool action sequences, and a thought out resolution.


The Future of Superhero Film

Superheroes in film have been around a long time so it makes sense that it will not go away anytime soon. There have been some really bad superhero films in both the 1990s and the early 2000s but this did not deter the big corporations from making more films about superheroes. If they did stop making these types of movies there would not be good films like Avengers(2012) or The Dark Knight(2008). Superhero films may not ever go out of style because of the devoted fans of Spiderman and Iron Man. But one thing is for sure, that even if the movie is bad, big corporations like Disney is still going to make bank on it. Because, hey, it is another cool film about a superhero with powers. And who doesn't want to see a lame hero beat up a bad guy, again.

Related Articles