12 Underrated Superhero Movies That Were Better Than The MCU Movies

When it comes to film genres that have dominated the eras, we tend to think of the influence of the American Western during the 50s and 60s, the defining action films of the 80s and, of course, how whose superhero movies have been unmatched over the past two decades. During this time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has reigned supreme, with only Christopher Nolanit is The black Knight Trilogy – which ended ten years ago – able to consistently match the MCU for quality and box office success.

RELATED: The Best Pre-MCU Superhero Movies, Ranked

But there were so many others who not only delivered great stories, but were able to top their MCU counterparts in some way. From recent character-driven dramas to unapologetically fun adventures, and even blockbusters that never got their due, these underrated superhero movies offer some of the best experiences in the genre and give the most successful films a boost. the category a run for their money.

Updated on December 28, 2022 by Hannah Saab:

As Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to begin with the highly anticipated first movie, ANT-The Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (February 17, 2023), it’s clear that there’s an enduring interest in MCU superhero movies. Fans looking for non-MCU superhero movies are in luck, because there’s always a wide selection of underrated films outside of the mega-franchise universe.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse” (2018)

Available to stream on FuboTV, FXNow and DirecTV.

sony Spider Man the filmography ranges from the acclaimed heights of Spiderman 2 banal worthy of memes Morbius. Unfortunately for many, the highlights of the company’s tenure with the friendly neighborhood hero belong to the Sam Raimi trilogy, with far fewer celebrations of the historic achievement that was Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.

A hit among fans of the genre, the animated feature film won acclaim from critics, audiences, and filmmakers due to its fantastic story, irresistible charm, ingenious visual effects, and superb animation. Considered by those who have seen it as one of the best superhero films of all time, it is a masterpiece that everyone can enjoy.

“Defender” (2009)

Available to stream on Tubi TV.

A tragedy disguised as a black comedy that is actually a superhero movie, Defender juggles a lot like a character study of a man with delusions and mental health issues searching for “Captain Industry,” the villain responsible for his mother’s death when he was a child. Armed with a sliced ​​club, marbles and lime juice, Arthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson) takes to the streets as a defender.

At times the film suffers from drastic tonal shifts and its scope overwhelms its scope, but Harrelson’s performance – one of the best and most underrated of his career – keeps you locked in. Backed by a stellar cast, Defender is a little superhero movie that packs a really big punch.

“Mysterious Men” (1999)

Available to stream on Peacock Premium.

One for those who just want to have fun, Mysterious men is an endearing parody with a stacked cast and a healthy dose of absurdity. When the arrogant Captain Amazing (Greg Kinner) is captured by his nemesis, he returns to Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller) and his team of budding, but seemingly useless, superheroes to do something about it.

Much like the heroes it contains, the film fumbles a bit in execution, but good intentions and a ton of heart see it emerge as a triumph, especially for a pre-2000 superhero movie. It may not stand up to the MCU’s biggest pictures, but against the franchise’s small comedic efforts, it holds more than its own.

‘Blade II’ (2002)

Available to stream on Hulu.

Effortlessly cool with a penchant for style and action, Blade II is one of those rare sequels that surpasses its predecessor. Marvel’s legendary vampire hunter (played perfectly by Wesley Snipes) is approached by those he kills to help them hunt down an even deadlier bloodsucking enemy known as “the reapers”.

If complex storytelling and character development are what you’re looking for, you might want to look elsewhere, but Guillermo del Toro gives this action-horror hybrid the king of energy and atmosphere that few other superhero films have been able to match. It will be fascinating to see how the MCU’s take on the vampire-hunting hero compares to this ultra-violent gem.

“Man of Steel” (2013)

Available to stream on HBO Max.

From brilliant flickers to total surrender, the evolution of the DCEU has been difficult for even the most optimistic superhero fan, but let’s not forget that it started off on the right foot. Following the success of The Dark Knight trilogy, and buoyed by record-breaking MCU achievements, Steel man introduced audiences to a new look of Superman.

Henry Cavill was cast perfectly and the relationships Kal-El has with both sets of parents are well explored to underscore the film with a strong emotional core. Zach SnyderThe adrenaline-pumping antics lend themselves to the film’s massive action sequences that provide a heart-pounding climax to what was such a thrilling start.

‘The Rocket’ (1991)

Available to stream on Disney+.

Captain America: The First Avenger perhaps the best known director Joe Johnson, but it was not his first. This honor goes back to the years 1991 The Rocketa truly delightful superhero movie based on the 1982 comic of the same name.

An affectionate ode to Saturday morning soap operas in its stunning visual style and charming, innocent tone, the film follows a cocky stuntman who finds and uses a jetpack, propelling him into the path of Howard Hughes (Terry O’Quinn), the FBI, the Mafia, an evil actor and even Nazi spies. By removing the chest-thumping effects that stun audiences in disbelief, it instead enchants viewers with a heartwarming, feel-good bravado that American cinema has sadly lost touch with of late.

‘Kick-Ass’ (2010)

Available to stream on HBO Max.

From microwaved mafiosos to chubby-mouthed tweens, Kick ass arrived just before the superhero genre really took off and remains one of the genre’s most shocking entries. The perfect blend of hard-hitting action and hilarious comedy, the film takes audiences on a wild ride using – and poking fun at – superhero tropes in a delightful way.

After Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor Johnson) and his efforts to be a crime-fighting superhero, the film tackles themes of responsibility and gender identity with surprising power. It’s the supporting cast that elevates the film with the likes of Nic Cage, strong brand, Chloe Grace Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse all the figures that steal the stage everywhere.

“Unbreakable” (2000)

Available to stream on Hulu and Peacock Premium.

One of the most well-known underrated superhero movies, Unbreakable delves into the genre’s themes and motifs with world-weary cynicism. A typically meandering film by M.Night Shyamalan With an all-star cast, the film was truly ahead of its time with its thoughtful deconstruction of the genre.

He follows David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the sole survivor of a catastrophic train crash who learns his advanced strength and other gifts alongside Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), a comic book fanatic who lives with brittle bone disease. Giving both stars plenty of time to shine, Shyamalan’s exploration of character and theme remains one of the best films of the genre.

‘Fast Color’ (2018)

Available to stream on Tubi TV.

The biggest shame of the saturation of the superhero genre is the fact that huge blockbusters are produced at such a prolific rate that smaller gems of non-comedic heroes like Quick Color often go unnoticed. Fleeing from mysterious forces, Ruth (Gugu Mbatha Raw) – a woman with supernatural abilities – flees to her family home, reuniting with her mother (Lorraine Toussaint) and daughter (Sydney cow) that she abandoned.

Combining the grandeur of superhero spectacle with the intimacy of independent film, Quick Color finds a wonderful niche of characters and visual effects amidst an expertly crafted story. Hats off to Mbatha-Raw’s powerful performance, this is a must-see movie that’s as extraordinary as it is thought-provoking.

‘V for Vendetta’ (2005)

Available to stream on HBO Max.

With the exception of Nolan’s Batman films, no superhero film has explored the idea of ​​the hero as a symbol with the contemplative acumen of V for Vendetta. As comfortable as a high-octane political thriller as a superhero movie, the dystopian drama sees V (Hugo Weaving) confronting a tyrannical government and distinguishing between revolutionary and terrorist.

Based on Alan Moorefrom comics, and adapted for the screen by The Wachowskis, V for Vendetta is often provocative, exciting and terrifying at the same time. With the themes it explores, the history it boasts and Natalie PortmanThe vulnerable but undeniably strong depiction of Evey, it feels even more like a movie in its time today than it did when it was released.

“Guardians” (2009)

Available to stream on HBO Max.

Based on the eponymous DC Comics limited series by David Gibbons and (uncredited) Alan Mooreby Zack Snyder watchmen is a superhero thriller set in an alternate version of 1985 during the height of the Cold War. It follows a group of retired American superheroes who investigate a major conspiracy that changed the course of history.

The dark film tackles complex themes around politics and morality, all delivered through a stunning comic book-inspired visual style that perfectly complements its heavy story. The cinematic techniques showcased throughout the film make it a true star of the genre and still hold up today.

‘Dredd’ (2012)

Available to stream on Peacock Premium.

Director Pete TravisDred takes place along the east coast of a dystopian planet decimated by nuclear war, where a superstructure named Mega-City One becomes the scene of a deadly struggle. Based on the 2000 AD comic, Judge Drddthe film follows the titular character and the newbie he mentors as they explore the mega-building following a series of gruesome murders that point to the ruthless Ma-Ma as the prime suspect.

Because of their roles as judge, jury, and executioner, judges have seen the worst that society has to offer. With a new narcotic called Slo-Mo causing chaos and hurting underprivileged residents, the film takes dark turns as Dredd and the rookie try to find the source of the problem while surviving the violence that ensues.

NEXT: The Best Marvel Movies Not In The MCU, Ranked

12 Underrated Superhero Movies That Were Better Than The MCU Movies – GameSpot