For years, Marvel couldn’t get a movie off the ground and DC owned the big screen with Superman and Batman. Eventually, Marvel caught and passed DC; which will try to return to the pinnacle with Batsoup. Today we take a look at the superhero films that excelled despite not having the built in advantage of the DC/Marvel banner. And as a Gabbing Geek bonus, we’ll also tell you where the film’s characters would best fit if you shoehorned it into the DC or Marvel comicverse. Cuz we’re awesome like that. If you love superheroes just as much as us and you’re in the process of trying to get your children to share the same passion as you, why don’t you try to convince them through buying superhero capes. Who doesn’t love wearing a costume?
Why It Worked: Because Mark Millar knows how to write stories tailor made for the big screen. This one take a kid on the streets who has no training or skill whatsoever and throws him into the world of superheroics. The rest of the cast is strong (finally, Nic Cage was good in a superhero film!), but Chloë Grace Moretz carries this one! She was incredible as the ultra-violent Hit Girl.
Where it would fit: Kick-Ass is definitely not DC so we go Marvel by default. I could see Kick-Ass fitting in on the dark side of the Marvel U occupied by the Netflix properties maybe…
Why It Worked: Because it was really just a strong revenge story with a little bit of superhero dolloped on the side. It didn’t hurt that Liam Neeson was a star in the making and Sam Raimi clearly had a good idea on how to make superhero films long before he’d helm the Spider-Man movies. Darkman spawned an unmemorable franchise of medicore sequels, but the initial installment was top notch.
Where it would fit:While there are more characters like him in Marvel, let’s put him in DC. I could see Darkman playing a Punisher-esque role in the Suicide Slums area of Metropolis.
Why It Worked: Rocketeer really captured a mood of light hearted, high adventure decades before the MCU would make it popular. It wasn’t campy and it wasn’t gritty. In the early 90’s, sadly that was the only two speeds that superhero movies could move. I think Rocketeer is primed for a comeback.
Where it would fit: This one is easy. Drop Rocketeer right in the DCU’s WW2 era Golden Age heroes. He’s an easy fit for the JSA or All-Star Squadron.
Why It Worked: Because it was funny and had a certain charm. This group of lovable losers looking for respect were both colorful and entertaining. Like Rocketeer though, it was ahead of its time. The film, while excellent, didn’t do well at the theater because Superheroes were not popular with broader fans in the late 90s. I wonder how this movie would have done had it been released today?
Where it would fit: DC, if anywhere. I could see some of these characters having appeared in the Giffen Justice League run from the late 80s.
Why It Worked: The Crow hit the theaters just at the time the Goth craze was peaking and he instantly became an icon for the movement. Sadly, the death of Brandon Lee during filming, much like Heath Ledger’s after The Dark Knight, also made watching the film creepier and more brooding. Crow also spawned a number of sequels but, without Lee, the quality and interest waned.
Where it would fit: DC already has the iconic Madame Xanadu in this area so we don’t need him there. The Crow could spend some time in the mystical neighborhoods of Marvel frequented by Dr. Strange. Thanks, JENNY!
Why It Worked: Because it was more about the rubber faced Jim Carrey than a superhero/villain story. The Mask is as much a Bugs Bunny-esque anarchist than an anti-hero, and there were just enough gags and memorable quotes to have a lasting legacy. As a bonus, this was the film that really introduced the world to Cameron Diaz, and in this movie she was SMOKIN’!!!
Where it would fit: I think The Mask could be a side character in the cosmic side of the Marvel universe; alongside GotG, Howard the Duck, and Cosmo the Space Dog. Actually, let’s give Howard the Duck the mask to wear and watch hilarity ensue.
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
Why It Worked:While the first one was really good, I loved the visuals and approach taken in the second film. The Golden Army was a blend of style and action that is rarely seen. Too bad global box offices weren’t strong enough to warrant a third film.
Where it would fit: Hellboy could easily be an A-list headliner in the Marvel Universe. In fact, it would be awesome if the MCU could license him and put him in a movie like the Infinity War.
The Green Hornet
Why It Worked: That I liked this film was shocking. I had no intention of seeing this, but Ryan kept on insisting it was quality, so I watched it just to shut him up. Thank goodness, because it was excellent! The Jay Chou martial arts scenes reminded audiences that this media property has always been driven by the awesomeness that was Kato. Before Chou, some random dude named Bruce Lee played the “sidekick”…
Where it would fit: I could see GH and Kato filling the Batman and Robin void in the Marvel Universe.
Why It Worked:Found footage movies are hit or miss. This one was one that hit. Chronicle had a brilliant premise, smart use of effects on a low budget, and a cast/director that would go on to much bigger things.
Where it would fit: This had a very Marvel feel to it. Chronicle could have easily been one of those 90’s era Marvel efforts to create the next iconic character that Tom Kelly writes about on this site.
Why It Worked: The take no prisoners action sequences made this film. Don’t listen to the people who say this ripped off the Raid. This was made first, and Raid raced to rip it off. This movie was pure, brutal, gory excellence. Dredd is the definition of good, dumb fun.
Where it would fit: You have to have Dredd in the future, but the DC future is too bright to have Dredd. Marvel doesn’t really have a definitive future timeline like DC, so maybe Dredd can be in the Days of Future Past future. The Sentinels take care of the mutant scum? Dredd takes care of the regular scum!
Gabbing Geek will not be having a “Worst Superhero Movies That Were Not DC/Marvel” because I can sum it up in five words: ALL THE REST OF THEM!