(Photo by Columbia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection)
Spider-Man swung into theaters in 2002, cementing Marvel Comics as a viable player in the superhero movie arena, which had been dominated by DC with Superman and Batman. And though 2000’s X-Men felt the need to modernize its team, Spider-Man fully embraced its classical roots, down to the iconic outfit. That’s because director Sam Raimi was a lifelong fan who fully knew how to navigate and celebrate Spidey, from the relatable morality at the core of Peter Parker (played by Tobey Maguire) and the shattering death of his Uncle Ben, to his stormy relationship with Mary Jane and those workplace shenanigans with hard-ass newspaper boss J. Jonah Jameson, and finally Parker’s iconic battle with the Green Goblin, whose son just happens to be Peter’s best friend.
Spider-Man arguably fights the greatest rogues gallery in all of Marveldom, and they certainly got their due on-screen in the Raimi trilogy. Doctor Octopus gets his tentacles all over Spider-Man 2, while Sandman, Venom, and junior Goblin stack the cast in Spider-Man 3. Though a box office hit like the others, Spider-Man 3‘s tepid critical and fan response was enough to kill the momentum on continuing the series.
In 2012, Spider-Man was rebooted with The Amazing Spider-Man, with Andrew Garfield as Parker. The film sought to bring in the pre-Mary Jane flame, Gwen Stacy, and pitted Spider-Man against another classic villain, The Lizard, as director Marc Webb developed a more realistic portrayal of Peter’s world, as opposed to Raimi’s comic-book overtone. The second Amazing Spider-Man fell for the too-many-villains trap (we had Electro, Green Goblin, and Rhino), and the franchise shut down again.
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe in full motion, Marvel Studios was able to negotiate a deal with Sony, which holds the theatrical rights to Spider-Man, to get the character to jump to the MCU. Thus, Tom Holland made his debut in 2016 for the centerpiece battle in Captain America: Civil War, before starring in his own celebrated film, Spider-Man: Homecoming one year later.
It’s been good times for Spidey fans ever since, with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (the animated blockbuster that brings Miles Morales into the fold), Spider-Man: Far From Home, and No Way Home. Even his bad guys have reason to celebrate: Critics may not have loved 2018’s Venom, but audiences sure did. And Tom Hardy clearly does as well, as he returned as Eddie Brock for Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
Now, we’re ranking all Spider-Man and Venom movies by Tomatometer!
The third Marvel Studios Spider-Man film almost didn’t happen. In the summer of 2019, arguments between the Walt Disney Company and Sony Pictures Entertainment about the former’s profit participation in the project seemingly stopped development dead. Soon after the companies stopped negotiations, Tom Holland used his clout to get both organization to resume talks.
At least, that’s one version of the story.
However it actually happened, Disney and Sony agreed to produce another Spider-Man film (and to feature the Holland version of the character in a yet-to-be announced Marvel Studios film). And if the recent trailers any indication, this third Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man is going to be the biggest film of the webhead’s cinematic career.
So let’s take a look at what we know about the film so far and what it might mean for Peter Parker’s (Holland) future in the MCU, the Spider-Verse, or some combination of the two.
[Updated on 8/24/21]
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Since Holland leveraged his participation in the upcoming adaptation of Sony’s Uncharted video game series to make it happen, he is definitely back as Spider-Man. Joining him, as they have for the previous few films, are Zendaya as MJ, Jacob Batalon as Peter’s best friend Ned, and Marisa Tomei as Peter’s aunt, May Parker. Tony Revolori will also appear as quasi-nemesis Flash Thompson, and J.K. Simmons will continue on as J. Jonah Jameson following his cameo at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home. But his appearance was more of a tease than we ever realized about the next Spider-Man and the return of some familiar faces. More on that in a moment.
Behind the camera, director Jon Watts returns to join a very exclusive club of filmmakers who navigated Marvel machinery to make a full trilogy – currently, Ant-Man series director Peyton Reed and Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn are scheduled to join him in that fraternity by 2023.
On the script side, Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers also return for their third outing with Holland’s Spider-Man, as do producers Amy Pascal and, of course, Kevin Feige, who seems to be using the film as an opportunity to introduce a lot of Spider-Man film history into his Marvel Universe.
(Photo by ©Columbia Pictures)
Although the COVID-19 epidemic slightly delayed the film – it moved from an initial July 2021 release to the end of that year – news started emerging throughout 2020 that suggested it may be the biggest Spider-Man film to date.
It all began on October 1, 2020, when word broke that Jamie Foxx would appear in the the film as Electro, the character he played in Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — the film’s whose relative shortcomings led to the studio’s talks with Marvel about placing Peter in the MCU in the first place. Though it was possible Foxx would play a new version of the character more tailored to the Marvel reality, many began to wonder if he was playing the same Electro from that earlier film, giving it a place in the tapestry of the MCU.
A week later, Benedict Cumberbatch joined the cast to reprise his role as Doctor Strange. According to the reports at the time, Strange was presumed to serve the same “mentor” role as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Nick Fury/Telos (Samuel L. Jackson) in Far From Home. From the teaser trailer released in August of 2021, though, it’s clear Strange’s role is more “co-conspirator” than mentor as Peter tries to use magic to erase his public outing. In the trailer released in November, Strange also charges Peter with a new task – although some moments suggest they will also come into conflict.
(Photo by Matt Kennedy/©2021 CTMG)
Of course, Strange’s choice to help Peter will lead to his next starring role in 2022’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which seems poised to serve as an Avengers-style keystone in the Multiverse plot weaving its way around Phase 4. In addition to returning to threads from WandaVision, it seems pretty clear he will become aware of the Loki problem as well.
When asked about the nature of his role, Foxx played coy at first, but then infamously posted – and subsequently deleted – a picture of the three live-action Spider-Man actors (Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Holland) to his Instagram. It inspired hope that perhaps Holland’s Spidey would meet his colleagues from other realities, echoing Sony’s Oscar-winning animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
(Photo by Marvel Entertainment)
Then, in December of 2020, a flood of info seemed to confirm this notion. Alfred Molina was spotted on set, and the trades subsequently reported he was reprising his Spider-Man 2 role of Doctor Octopus. Just a few short hours later, a report from Collider indicated Kirsten Dunst was in talks to reprise Mary Jane Watson from the first Spider-Man film series, with The Amazing Spider-Man’s Andrew Garfield also planning to join the film. Original Spidey Tobey Maguire and Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy in the ASM series) were also said to be circling the project; Stone’s pregnancy may prevent her from appearing, while Maguire may only need the right deal to make this meeting of the cinematic Spider-Men a dream come true. Aside from Molina’s casting, none of the others has been confirmed, but the November trailer made it clear that both screen Green Goblins, the Lizard, and the Sandman will all appear as more deadly foes Spider-Man must face. It is still unclear, though, if they will be played by the original actors or just appear as costumes and CGI.
Also, eagle-eyed fans on the Internet have already noticed the Lizard reacting to a seemingly invisible opponent at one point, indicating some world-famous Marvel image manipulation may be obscuring certain characters in the trailer.
At this time, it is unknown if the previous Aunt May actors, Rosemary Harris and Sally Field, have also been approached, but other rumors indicate Charlie Cox will play Matt Murdoch from Netflix’s Daredevil series — apparently to represent Spider-Man in court.
While all of these actors represent a huge cast, particularly for a Spider-Man film, it also suggests No Way Home is looking more across the gulf to Sony than a story about Peter’s place in the MCU. Which may not be a bad plan, all things considered.
(Photo by ©Columbia Pictures)
The wildly successful Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse already established all the fictional architecture required to either transfer Holland’s Spider-Man into Sony’s film universe – a narrative setting it tried to dub the “Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters” in 2019, but shortened to “Sony’s Spider-Man Universe” last August – or bring the Spider-Verse into the MCU. The various realities are all true, after all; even the reality where Spider-Man 2099 is played by Oscar Isaac. Considering the way other realities appear to be converging toward the end of the November trailer, we could imagine the film establishing a long-term explanation for the two movie universes and Peter’s place within them.
Sony, as it happens, was ready to walk away from the MCU in 2019 thanks to the success of its incipient Spider-Verse. The animated film took home a Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards and created a lasting legacy. The studio’s 2018 film Venom, meanwhile, proved they could launch a successful Spider-Man movie without Spider-Man. That confidence led to some of the disagreements when Disney wanted a larger cut of No Way Home, and it emboldened Sony to finally move ahead with Spider-related projects they wanted to produce since The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
(Photo by Sony Pictures Entertainment)
That film was supposed to lead directly in to a Sinister Six movie in which the most dastardly foes of Spider-Man teamed up against him. The tepid box office and critical response to ASM2 put a hard stop those plans and led to a rebooted Peter Parker’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War and subsequent Marvel releases. Nevertheless, Sony continued to develop Venom, Into the Spider-Verse, and a movie centering on Black Cat and Silver Sable.
As it stands, Sony is currently developing films centering on Madame Web, Black Cat and Silver Sable as separate projects, Silk, Kraven the Hunter, and Spider-Woman, the latter with Olivia Wilde slated to direct. It also has two completed films, Venom: Let There Be Carnage — which bowed in October — and Morbius, set for release early next year.
(Photo by Sony Pictures Entertainment)
Morbius also raised eyebrows with a trailer released in late 2019 that referenced Peter’s current problems in the MCU; that is to say, various shots offered glimpses of posters referring to Spider-Man as a murderer. Making Morbius’s place in the Spider-Verse murkier was the surprise appearance of Micheal Keaton, presumably playing Adrian Toomes from Homecoming and offering Micheal Morbius (Jared Leto) a piece of the action. It left fans wondering whether Spider-Man was finally going to fight the Sinister Six or the group was coming to him to fight on MCU turf. The November trailer presents a sinister group of Spider-Man’s enemies ready to fight him, and Let There Be Carnage’s stinger scene made it clear two Sony characters are definitely in the MCU.
It remains to be seen, though, just how connected the MCU and the Sony Spider-Man Universe will be. There are certain advantages to keeping the MCU and the Spider-Verse close, particularly if the relationship between Sony and Disney warms up. But as with No Way Home’s apparent cast list, the potential universe-hopping plot leaves many breathlessly anticipating its release.
(Photo by Marvel Entertainment)
Spider-Man: No Way Home is set for release on December 17th, 2021, a date that seemed in doubt even after the August trailer. But with just a month to go before release, Sony is absolutely committed to letting fans see the film soon.
Thumbnail images by ©Sony Pictures Entertainment
(Photo by ©Sony Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)
In 2007, Sam Raimi’s Certified Fresh run of Spidey movies came to an end with Spider-Man 3, the barely-Fresh and definitely bloated threequel that saw Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker doing battle with not one, not two, but three villains – while the audience had to battle with a cinematic villain of their own, the jazz-loving Emo Peter.
Today, the movie is largely seen as a big misstep for all involved, the film that ended the Maguire Spider-Man era and precipitated the 2010s reboot franchise with Andrew Garfield. (See the 51% Audience Score, the lowest of any live-action Spider-Man movie.) But at the time of its release, critics were happy-ish with what they saw, with enough reviews tilting Fresh for the movie to be sitting at 63% on the Tomatometer.
Who’s right? Who’s wrong? And – we can’t stress this enough – what the hell was with that dance sequence?
Spider-Man 3 is the subject of the first episode of our brand-new podcast series, Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong (A Podcast from Rotten Tomatoes). Each week, hosts Jacqueline Coley and Mark Ellis and guests go deep and settle the score on some of the most beloved – and despised – movies and TV shows ever made, directly taking on the statement we hear from so many fans: “Rotten Tomatoes is wrong.”
This week, swinging with them through the 2-hour-and-19–minute clash of awesome FX and bizarre soap that is Spider-Man 3, is pop-culture commentator and unabashed Spidey 3 fan girl Roxy Striar, who believes that, despite its flaws, the much-maligned film is Fresh AF; our hosts don’t quite see it that way. In this episode, the trio digs into how the glow of Spider-Man 2 might have boosted that score for Spider-Man 3, what went on off-screen that led to an all-in villain fest on-screen, and whether the movie holds up 13 years later in the wake of The Dark Knight trilogy and the MCU.
Is Rotten Tomatoes “wrong”? Tune in to find out and join the discussion.
Meet the hosts
Jacqueline Coley is an editor at Rotten Tomatoes, with a focus on awards and indie coverage but with a passion for everything, from the MCU to musicals and period pieces. Coley is a regular moderator at conventions and other events, can be seen on Access Hollywood and other shows, and will not stand Constantine slander of any kind. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter: @THATjacqueline.
Mark Ellis is a comedian and contributing editor for Rotten Tomatoes. He currently hosts the Rotten Tomatoes series Versus, among others, and can be seen co-hosting the sports entertainment phenomenon Movie Trivia Schmoedown. His favorite Star Wars movie is Jedi (guess which one!), his favorite person is actually a dog (his beloved stepdaughter Mollie), and – thanks to this podcast – he’s about to watch Burlesque for the first time in his life. Follow Mark on Twitter: @markellislive.
Tom Holland is riding high as Marvel Studios’ current live-action Spider-Man, but he is far from the first to slip on the Spidey suit. Some would say it was Tobey Maguire, with his three Spider-Man films directed by Sam Raimi, who kicked off the superhero movie era as we know it and respect must be paid; others would say Andrew Garfield was an underrated web-slinger who perhaps failed to soar less because of his performance than the movies that surrounded it. Others would counter with a GIF of Maguire dancing. We’re here to settle the debate once and for all – at least Mark Ellis is. Our Vs. host is breaking down the Spider-Men by Tomatometer, box office, and the villains they faced to determine once and for all who wore it best – “it” being the blue-and-red suit, of course.
Check out clips of some of Spider-Man’s best moments.
Welcome to the end of summer, friends. As the big blockbuster movie season winds to a close, and whispers of upcoming horror flicks, holiday films, and awards contenders float on the breeze, it’s nice to know you can settle in at home and catch some quality entertainment. With that in mind, here are 22 films, TV series, and originals newly available on Netflix in September that might be worth your time.
(Photo by © Warner Bros.)
Neil Blomkamp is reassembling RoboCop, Joaquin Phoenix is getting his own Joker movie, and Robin is about to lead the Titans on streaming. That’s the great thing about our favorite characters: they’re never really gone – someone new can always bring them back. But how many of these adaptations really capture what we love about our favorite characters? And which adaptations do it best?
To find out, we took a deep look at 15 characters who have had at least five different versions of them made, and which have current or upcoming adaptations on the way. For some who’ve had dozens (thanks to public domain), we stuck to the 10 most famous versions. If a role was just recast during the same series – as opposed to a wholly new take – we counted them together. For each character, we also found their highest Tomatometer-rated portrayal – the ultimate arbiter of which version is the best (and likely the ultimate argument-starter among those who disagree!).
(Photo by © Orion/courtesy Everett Collection)
Number of RoboCops: 6
All the RoboCops: Original Trilogy (Peter Weller/Robert Burke), 1988 animated series (voice of Dan Hennessey), 1994 RoboCop TV Series (Richard Eden), RoboCop: Prime Directives TV series (Page Fletcher), 2014 RoboCop (Joel Kinnaman), Neil Blomkamp RoboCop (TBD)
The Best RoboCop: RoboCop (1987) 90%
No surprise, the original 1987 RoboCop is still rated highest. But we would never bet against Neil Blomkamp giving that version a run for its money.
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite RoboCop
(Photo by ©Warner Home Video)
Number of Jokers: 17 and counting
10 Most Famous Jokers: ‘60s TV Series (Cesar Romero), 1989 Batman (Jack Nicholson), Batman: The Animated Series including Mask of the Phantasm and crossover films and series (voice of Mark Hamill), The Batman (voice of Kevin Michael Richardson), The Dark Knight (Heath Ledger), Batman: The Brave and the Bold (voice of Jeff Bennett), Suicide Squad (Jared Leto), The LEGO Batman Movie (Zach Galifianakis), Joker Origin Movie (Joaquin Phoenix), Martin Scorsese-Produced Joker Movie (Leonardo DiCaprio)
The Best Joker: Batman: The Animated Series
At 97%, Batman: The Animated Series edges out even The Dark Knight’s 94% if we judge versions purely by Tomatometer. Morgan Jeffery of Digital spy praised the show’s voice cast, saying, “On top of its beautiful visuals and vocals, Batman also boasted a tone far more adult than one might expect from a comic book cartoon.” Hamill’s Joker is so acclaimed that he continued voicing him in many animated incarnations. However, as live-action Jokers go, Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning portrayal is hard to top. Will Phoenix or DiCaprio do it?
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Joker
(Photo by © Warner Bros.)
Number of Batmans: 17 (including a radio show) and counting
10 Most Famous Batmans: ’60s Batman TV series (Adam West), The Batman/Superman Hour/Super Friends (voice of Olan Soule), Burton/Schumacher film series (Michael Keaton/Val Kilmer/George Clooney), Batman: The Animated Series through Justice League Unlimited (voice of Kevin Conroy), Batman Beyond (voice of Will Friedle), The Dark Knight trilogy (Christian Bale), Batman: The Brave and the Bold (Diedrich Bader), Gotham (David Mazouz), DCEU (Ben Affleck), LEGO Movies (voice of Will Arnett), The Batman (TBA)
The Best Batman: Batman Beyond 100%
Batman earned his highest Tomatometer score in the futuristic Batman Beyond with 100%. EW’s Ken Tucker said, “The new, black-winged, red-blooded Batman on display Saturday mornings will have you pouring a steaming mug of coffee and shouldering aside any nearby children to catch all the fresh fun and action.” In the live-action realm, Christian Bale’s Dark Knight trilogy is the most consistently Fresh Batman series with a high of 94% for The Dark Knight.
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Batman
(Photo by © Lionsgate)
Number of Robin Hoods: Dozens
The 10 Most Famous Robin Hoods: 1922 Robin Hood (Douglas Fairbanks), The Adventures of Robin Hood (Errol Flynn), Disney’s Robin Hood (voice of Brian Bedford), Robin and Marian (Sean Connery), Time Bandits (John Cleese), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Kevin Costner), Robin Hood (Patrick Bergin), Robin Hood: Men in Tights (Cary Elwes), 2010 Robin Hood (Russell Crowe), 2018 Robin Hood (Taron Egerton)
The Best Robin Hood: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) 100%
With 100%, Errol Flynn is hands-down the most acclaimed Robin Hood. Not bad considering Rotten Tomatoes didn’t exist yet in 1938! But our critics still respect the classic, with Village Voice’s Elliott Stein commenting, “Movie pageantry at its best, done in the grand manner of silent spectacles, brimming over with the sort of primitive energy that drew people to the movies in the first place.”
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Robin Hood
(Photo by ©Walt Disney Pictures)
Number of Mulans: 15
The 10 Most Famous Mulans: Hua Mulan Joins The Army (Hu Shan), Lady General Hua Mu Lan (Ivy Ling Po), The Saga of Mulan (Bai Shuxian), Disney Mulan franchise (voice of Ming-Na), The Secret of Mulan (uncredited voice), A Tough Side of a Lady (Mariane Chan), Mulan: Rise of a Warrior (Zhao Wei), Once Upon a Time (Jamie Chung), Live-Action Disney Mulan (Liu Yifei), Alex Graves-directed Mulan (TBD)
The Best Mulan: Mulan (1998) 86%
Since most of the Chinese film and television productions of the Mulan story weren’t available to international critics, the Disney Mulan currently wins on the Tomatometer by default. Film Journal International’s Wendy Weinstein wrote, “it is in the subtlety of its characters’ ‘acting’ that Mulan excels” and it does have an 86% Fresh rating. We have every hope for the upcoming live-action renditions, too.
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Mulan
(Photo by ©Walt Disney)
Number of Tinker Bells: Dozens
10 Most Famous Tinker Bells: 1924 Peter Pan (Virginia Browne Faire), Disney’s Peter Pan/Return to Neverland (Silent), 1960 Peter Pan (stage light), Hook (Julia Roberts), Peter Pan (Ludivine Sagnier), Neverland (Keira Knightley), Tinker Bell film series (voice of Mae Whitman), Peter Pan Live (CGI), Once Upon a Time (Rose McIver), Live-Action Tinker Bell (Reese Witherspoon)
The Best Tinker Bell: Tinker Bell (2008)
Tinker Bell’s solo movie is even fresher than the original Disney Peter Pan, and subsequent sequels are Fresh too. The L.A. Times’ Michael Ordona wrote, “To its target audience, it will be another self-empowerment fable with loads of imagination and colorful, painterly images (and a keen marketing blast for Disney fairies).” The 1924 film is praised unanimously by a handful of critics, so it’s worth seeking out.
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Tinker Bell
(Photo by © The CW)
Number of Portrayals: 16 (including radio)
10 Most Famous Superman: Live-action serials (Kirk Alyn), Superman and the Mole Men + The Adventures of Superman (George Reeves), Superman: The Movie through Superman Returns (Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh), Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (Dean Cain), Superman: The Animated Series (voice of Tim Daly), Smallville (Tom Welling), Warner Animation Superman films (voices of Adam Baldwin, Kyle MacLachlan, Tim Daly, Mark Harmon, James Denton, Kevin Conroy, George Newbern, Matt Bomer, Sam Daly, Alan Tudyk, Jerry O’Connell, Benjamin Bratt), DCEU (Henry Cavill), Supergirl (Tyler Hoechlin), Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (voice of Nicolas Cage)
The Best Superman: Superman: The Movie (1978) 94%
You never forget your first Superman, so the franchise that began with Christopher Reeve’s 94% Fresh Superman: The Movie remains the most acclaimed. As recently as this May, The Times UK’s Ed Potton called Reeve “manlier and steelier than recent portrayals by Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill.” John J. Puccio of Movie Metroplis (appropriate name) said of Reeve “the casting department found someone with just the right charisma to pull it off.” Recently, Tyler Hoechlin’s portrayal of Kal El on a few episodes of Supergirl earned new raves. Digital Spy’s Morgan Jeffery says, “Tyler Hoechlin is the best live-action Man of Steel since the sorely underrated Dean Cain hung up his tights.” TV Fanatic’s Stacy Glanzman agrees that Hoechlin “nailed it.” Give him a few more seasons and see if he can catch up to Reeve!
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Superman
Number of Different James Bonds: 006
All the James Bonds: “Casino Royale” episode of Climax (Barry Nelson), EON Film Series (Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig), Casino Royale comedy (Peter Sellers, David Niven, Woody Allen), “The British Hero” episode of Omnibus (Christopher Cazenove in re-enactments), Never Say Never Again (Sean Connery), James Bond Jr. (voice of Corey Burton)
The Best Portrayal: Goldfinger (1964)
It’s the long-running EON films version of the character, obviously. At its height, these films scored a 97%. Roger Ebert remarked of Goldfinger and the franchise, “it is a great entertainment, and contains all the elements of the Bond formula that would work again and again.” Now, whether you pick Daniel Craig or Sean Connery as your favorite from this version…we’ll let that debate continue among Bond fans.
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite James Bond
(Photo by ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Number of Portrayals: 13 including Marvel animated guest appearances
10 Most Famous Hulks: The Marvel Super-Heroes (voice of Max Ferguson), The Incredible Hulk TV series (Lou Ferrigno), The Incredible Hulk animated series (voice of Bob Holt), The Marvel Action Hour (voice of Ron Perlman), The Incredible Hulk (voice of Neal McDonough), episodes of Iron Man: Armored Adventures (voice of Mark Gibbon), Superhero Squad Show (voice of Travis Willingham), Hulk (Eric Bana), MCU (Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo), The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes through Avengers Assemble and appearances on Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man (voice of Fred Tatasciore)
The Best Portrayal: Marvel's the Avengers (2012) 91%
With a 92%, The Avengers‘ incarnation of Hulk smashes the rest – and the MCU version as a whole, including Ed Norton and Mark Ruffolo’s tale,s has a Fresh average of 81.8% . The animated Earth’s Mightiest Heroes scores higher even than The Avengers, but with only five reviews, we’re still giving the title to the MCU’s Hulk Matt Brunson of Creative Loafing said when reviewing The Avengers, “The scene-stealer is Ruffalo, who provides Bruce Banner with a soulfulness missing in the portrayals by Bana and Norton.” Even CNN’s Tom Charity singled out the Hulk among other Avengers, saying, “Never underestimate the entertainment value of the Hulk Smash.”
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Hulk
(Photo by © Columbia)
Number of Spider-Man: 16
The 10 Most Famous Spider-Men: The Amazing Spider-Man (Nicholas Hammond), Spider-Man (voice of Christopher Daniel Barnes), Spider-Man: The New Animated Series (voice of Neil Patrick Harris), Ultimate Spider-Man and LEGO Marvel (voice of Drake Bell), Sam Raimi Trilogy (Tobey Maguire), Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2 (Andrew Garfield), Turn Off The Dark (Reeve Carney and Justin Matthew Sargeant), LEGO Spider-Man (voice of Jackson Buffington), (MCU/Homecoming (Tom Holland), Into the Spider-verse (Jake Johnson and Shameik Moore)
Best Spider-Man: Spider-Man 2 (2004) 93%
With a peak at Spider-Man 2’s 93%, the Sam Raimi trilogy remains the most critically acclaimed Spider-Man films (Holland’s appearances in Captain America: Civil War and Homecoming comess close though.) AP’s Christy Lemire praised the series when reviewing the second film: “The web-slinging sequences are bigger-better-brighter-faster than the already spectacular ones in 2002’s Spider-Man, and at the same time, the film’s smaller emotional moments are denser, richer and more resonant than those in the first.”
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Spider-Man
(Photo by © The CW)
Number of Jugheads: 7
All the Jugheads: Radio show (voices of Hal Stone, Cameron Andrews and Arnold Stang), The Archie Show and spinoffs (voice of Howard Morris), The New Archies (voice of Michael Fantini), Archie’s Weird Mysteries (voice of Chris Lundquist), 1976 Archie pilot and ’78 special Archie Situation Comedy Musical Variety Show (Derrel Maury), Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again (Sam Whipple), Riverdale (Cole Sprouse)
Best Jughead: Riverdale 84%
Riverdale has a series Tomatometer score of 88%, crowning Cole Sprouse as the best Jughead. It’s also the only take who’s been reviewed enough to have a Tomatometer score, but we have a feeling this CW fan favorite would likely win against his animated competition even if the data was there.
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Jughead
Number of He-Men: 5
All the He-Men: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (voice of John Erwin), Masters of the Universe (Dolph Lundgren), The New Adventures of He-Man (voice of Garry Chalke and Doug Parker), 2002 series (Cam Clarke), New Live-Action Film In Development
Best He-Man: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 100%
Boy, did all the Tomatometer critics grow up on the weekday afternoon cartoon in the ’80s, or what? Well, this one may still be up for grabs if they make a really cool live-action movie, but for now the original cartoon is the master. Nerdist’s Rosie Knight puts it in perspective saying, “Beloved for many reasons. There’s the notoriously rushed production… giving it a unique and charming look. It’s also revered for its vision of a kid friendly techno-barbarian landscape.”
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite He-Man
(Photo by © Netflix)
Number of Punishers: 6
All The Punishers: 1989 The Punisher (Dolph Lundgren), Spider-Man: The Animated Series (voice of John Beck), 2004 The Punisher (Thomas Jane), Punisher: War Zone and Super Hero Squad Show (Ray Stevenson), Netflix series (Jon Bernthal), Avengers Assemble episode “Planet Doom” (uncredited)
Best Punisher: Marvel's Daredevil: Season 2 (2016) 81%
Bernthal remains the only certified Fresh Punisher, and his stint on Daredevil season 2 bested even his own series (though Marvel’s The Punisher is still Fresh). New York Observer’s Vinnie Mancuso singles out Bernthal’s haunted portrayal, “Jon Bernthal is the perfect Punisher because there is zero fun in his performance.”In reviewing Daredevil‘s second season, Aggressive Comix’s Steph Cozza adds, “The Punisher is the true MVP here.”
Poll: Vote for Your favorite Punisher
(Photo by © Toho Films)
Number of Godzillas: 9
All the Godzillas: 31 Toho Films, Hanna-Barbera Godzilla, Godzillaland, Godzilla Island, 1998 Godzilla, Godzilla: The Series, Nike commercial with Charles Barkle, Legendary Films’ Godzilla, Netflix Godzilla
The Best Godzilla: Godzilla (1954) 93%
With a 93% for the classic Gojira and seven more Fresh movies in the franchise, nobody’s done Godzilla better than Toho. The Washington Post’s Stephen Hunter put it best in 2004 when he said, “Its images of the destruction of the cities is far more powerful than in American films, where the cities are trashed for the pure pleasure of destruction, without any real sense of human loss.”
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite Godzilla
Number of Kongs: 9
All the Kongs: 1933 King Kong and Son of Kong (stop motion animation), 1966 King Kong animated series, King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes, 1976 King Kong (voice of Peter Cullen) and King Kong Lives (Peter Elliott), Kong: The Animated Series and Return to the Jungle, 2005 King Kong (Andy Serkis), Kong: King of Atlantis, Kong: King of the Apes (voice of Lee Tockar), Legendary King Kong (Toby Kebbell)
The Best Kong: King Kong (1933) 98%
Certified Fresh at 98%, the original 1933 Kong is still King (its sequel, rushed into release later in 1933, not so much). Robert Ebert explained why it still works nearly a century later, writing that “there is something ageless and primeval about King Kong that still somehow works.”
Poll: Vote for Your Favorite King Kong
There are many more characters who’ve been portrayed over and over again. Who are your favorites? Tell us in the comments.
To go by his words and deeds, Avengers: Infinity War’s Thanos (Josh Brolin) may be the most consummate and powerful foe the Marvel Cinematic Universe has yet unleashed. To hear him tell it, his attempt to give the universe balance by obtaining the Infinity Stones is a merciful and humane action. Perhaps more than any other Marvel villain, he is a hero in his own mind with goals he perceives as altruistic.
But will his Infinity War appearance make him one of the great film supervillains of all time? And what makes for greatness when it comes to villainy? Is it a grand plan executed with aplomb? An iconic look or an immediately quotable motto? Or is it a knack for banter with the hero? As more and more people see Infinity War, Thanos’s merits as one of the great villains will be debated, but let’s take a look at 20 of the big screen’s greatest superhero foes he will have to contend with to get that honor.
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)
The big screen’s first Joker was also television’s original Crown Prince of Crime. Romero memorably gave the character his psychotic laugh and off-kilter sense of humor. In the film, he also succeeds at being a cabin boy to a senile admiral. Armed with his repertoire and a “dehydration” gun, the Joker — along with the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) and the Riddler (Frank Gorshin) — creates plenty of trouble for the Dynamic Duo.
Film Appearances: Batman: The Movie (1966), though he previously appeared in the Batman TV series.
North American Box Office: $1.7 million
Destruction Factor: Turns the “United World” Security Council to a fine powder.
Memorable Line: “I’m afraid they’ll find our humor very, very dry!”
Powers: Puns and gag weapons.
Cosplay Cred: Few are ever willing to grow a Romero mustache for the perfect Joker ’66 look.
(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)
As a deep-cover spy, Neville Sinclair was the toast of Hollywood with the ability to bed any woman and earn the trust of any man. But his attempt to secure Howard Hughes’s (Terry O’Quinn) experimental rocket pack fills him with a particular mania that serves to be his undoing. Also: his sophisticated movie star image is the perfect counterpoint to the unkempt style of the Rocketeer (Billy Campbell).
Film Appearances: The Rocketeer (1991)
US Box Office: $46.7 million
Destruction Factor: Assists in the destruction of a dirigible, the rocket pack itself, and a portion of the “Hollywoodland” sign.
Memorable Line: “It wasn’t lies, Jenny. It vas acting.”
Powers: A strong resemblance to Errol Flynn and Timothy Dalton.
Cosplay Cred: Sadly, none.
(Photo by Warner Bros.)
The Phantasm is one of the most personal villains the animated Batman (Kevin Conroy) ever faced. In costume, the Phantasm speaks with the voice of Stacy Keach and strikes terror into Gotham’s organized crime families. But in reality, she is Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany), the only woman who could ever pull Bruce Wayne away from his life as a vigilante. Sadly, the dissolution of their relationship leads them both to don masks and face the City’s worst criminals.
Film Appearances: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
US Box Office: $5.6 million
Destruction Factor: Batman’s heart.
Memorable Line: “Your Angel of Death awaits.”
Powers: Combat training and smoke bombs.
Cosplay Cred: Rare, but it’s memorable when you spot a Phantasm cosplay in the wild.
Though he seems to be a mentor, Elijah Price is really the architect of all of David Dunn’s (Bruce Willis) problems. (Sorry: Spoiler.) Though he is the only person to recognize the presence of superpowers in the world, years of abuse and neglect — to say nothing of his brittle bones — lead him to one conclusion: be the supervillain the world needs to find the hero it requires.
Worldwide Box Office: $248.1 million
Destruction Factor: Derails a train to prove David is indestructible, among other acts of terrorism.
Memorable Line: “They called me Mr. Glass!”
Powers: A terrifying intellect.
Cosplay Cred: A surprisingly rare occurrence at comic cons.
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)
As both spy and confidant to Magneto (Ian McKellen), Mystique relies on her top martial arts skills and mutant ability to blend into any environment. But she is also the most visible example of Magneto’s crusade. Though she can choose to appear as anyone she wishes, Mystique’s natural blue serpentine appearance inspires fear in the world. The character was so memorable in the initial X-Men film series that the current cycle revolves around her, now played by Jennifer Lawrence.
Film Appearances: The X-Men franchise.
Worldwide Box Office: X-Men: $296.3 million, X2: X-Men United: $407.7 million, X-Men: The Last Stand: $459.3 million
Destruction Factor: Though she has been known to blow stuff up now and again, that isn’t really her style. Instead she sows confusion and wreaks havoc by manipulating her foes.
Memorable Line: “You know, people like you are the reason I was afraid to go to school as a child.”
Cosplay Cred: An extremely tough look to pull off at comic cons.
(Photo by Warner Bros.)
When Superman is overcome by the toxic effects of Gus Gorman’s (Richard Pryor) counterfeit Kryptonite, he turns into a self-centered jerk who would rather make time with a pretty lady than save a bunch of bus passengers on a disintegrating bridge. Reeve’s attempt to channel an all-id Superman does feel more “bad” than evil, but it provides a fun opportunity for Reeve to play against himself and presents the first on-screen exploration of an idea — “What if Superman were evil?” — that would become a major theme driving the narrative behind movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.
Film Appearances: Superman III (1983)
US Box Office: $60 million
Destruction Factor: Straightening the Leaning Tower of Pisa ruined the Italian economy.
Memorable Line: “You always wanted to fly, Kent!”
Powers: All the powers of a Superman, but he’d rather drink Johnny Walker Red.
Cosplay Cred: Not nearly as common as it should be.
The merger of Nicholson’s persona with the Joker is one of Batman’s great strengths, but the performance is more nuanced than many gave it credit for at the time. Once he falls into the Axis Chemicals acid and adopts his clown persona, Nicholson loses some of his iconic cool to dig into the louder, broader aspects of Gotham’s #1 villain (e.g. the Smilex commercial). A consummate foe for the Batman of the late 1980s.
Film Appearances: Batman (1989)
Worldwide Box Office: $411.3 million
Destruction Factor: Kills his boss, fries a business rival, and poisons Gotham City.
Memorable Line: “Ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?”
Powers: Knowledge of chemistry and a flair for the theatrical.
Cosplay Cred: A fairly rare sight as other takes on the Joker became more popular.
(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)
The ultimate sycophant, Syndrome (née Buddy Pine) was a precursor of the sort of fan culture that eats itself for some perceived lack of purity. His jealousy of the supers leads to a lot of strife for the Parr Family and an America burnt out on superheroes. Nonetheless, his actions also lead to a possible return of heroes, despite an attempt to even the playing field.
Film Appearances: The Incredibles (2004)
Tomatometer: 97% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office: $633 million
Destruction Factor: His robots leave a path of destruction through the metro area the Parrs call home.
Memorable Line: “And when everyone’s super, no one will be.”
Powers: Zero point energy manipulation via technology.
Cosplay Cred: Virtually nonexistent, though memorably spotted on occasion.
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
As the personification of Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) id, Ultron’s attempts to secure the planet make clear Tony’s greatest failing: he cannot see the human cost in any of his endeavors. Powered by the Mind Stone, Ultron makes a final, ugly calculation in regards to humanity and sets out to destroy it. Also, since he’s based on Tony’s brain patterns, he quips. A lot.
Film Appearances: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Tomatometer: 75% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office: $1.41 billion
Destruction Factor: Raises – and razes – the entire nation of Sokovia; the ramifications of which are still being felt throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Memorable Line: “When the dust settles, the only thing living in this world will be metal.”
Powers: All the powers of an Iron Man, multiplied by the ability to self-replicate infinitely.
Cosplay Cred: Extremely rare, though a few Ultrons appeared at cons after the film’s release.
(Photo by Warner Bros.)
While DC Comics’ favorite cat burglar skirts the line between villain and ne’er-do-well, Catwoman’s initial involvement in a plot to disgrace Batman (Michael Keaton) earns her a spot on the list. Pfeiffer’s performance defined the character for a long time – even if she was partly inspired by the TV Catwomen of the 1960s – as she fought Batman and her own turmoil. In the end, her Catwoman chose her own way and never appeared in a film again. Not that anyone has ever been able to forget her.
Film Appearances: Batman Returns (1992)
Tomatometer: 81% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office: $266.8 million
Destruction Factor: She blows up Schreck’s Department Store in an early show of strength.
Memorable Line: “Meow.”
Powers: Nine lives and a filing system that is unstoppable.
Cosplay Cred: Though the film is over 25 years old, this Catwoman costume is still popular.
(Photo by Zade Rosenthal/Walt Disney Studios)
Yes, yes, he isn’t a villain by choice, as he’s very much a weapon of Hydra in the film, but Bucky Barnes is very effective at playing the part. His Soviet brainwashing is so effective that, when activated, almost no emotional appeal will work on him. Well, at least until his old friend Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans), finally breaks through. And, really, Bucky’s relationship with Steve is part of what makes him so compelling.
Tomatometer: Captain America: The Winter Soldier: 89% (Certified Fresh), Captain America: Civil War: 91% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office: Captain America: The Winter Soldier: $714.3 million, Captain America: Civil War: $1.15 billion
Destruction Factor: Assists in bringing down S.H.I.E.L.D. and its helicarrier fleet.
Memorable Line: “Who the hell is Bucky?”
Powers: Heightened strength and agility, a cybernetic vibranium arm.
Cosplay Cred: A beloved fixture of con-going cosplayers.
(Photo by Sony Pictures)
Despite a strong work ethic and good management skills, Adrian Toomes turned to crime when Tony Stark and government officials bulldozed over his contract to clean up Manhattan following the Battle of New York. Granted, the swiftness with which he became a black market weapons manufacturer suggests all he ever needed was a gentle shove to embrace villainy. But the opening scene of Spider-Man: Homecoming made him immediately understandable and compelling as a villain; and even sympathetic once his relationship to Spider-Man’s (Tom Holland) world is revealed.
Film Appearances: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Tomatometer: 92% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office: $880.1 million
Destruction Factor: Rips a ferry in half, crashes a Stark Industries jet, and blasts Logan Marshall-Green out of the MCU.
Memorable Line: “The rich, the powerful, like Stark, they don’t care about us! The world’s changed boys. Time we change too!”
Powers: A flying rig based on crashed Chitauri tech.
Cosplay Cred: Surprisingly rare costume in spite of a great adaptation of the comic book Vulture’s look.
Excusing some of the camp value to Hackman’s Luthor – particularly in the sequel – he exudes the key quality of Superman’s archfoe: egotism. Luthor, a real estate swindler in these films, only decides to fight Superman because his ego dictates it. Consequently, Superman cannot really appeal to his emotions; none are present as he plans to remake the West Coast in his image.
Tomatometer: Superman: 93%, Superman II: 87%
Worldwide Box Office: Superman: $300 million, Superman II: $156.9 million
Destruction Factor: Nearly sank California into the Pacific.
Memorable Line: “There’s a strong streak of good in you, Superman. But then, nobody’s perfect… almost nobody.”
Powers: He is the greatest criminal mind of his time. He also owns a hefty Kryptonite necklace that he uses to weaken Superman.
Cosplay Cred: Between Hackman’s refusal to go bald and the appalling 1970s fashions, he is a truly rare cosplay sight.
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
Currently, the Avengers’ greatest foe is not a flamboyant god or a maniacal robot, but a sad, quiet man with a detailed plan and working knowledge of governmental procedures. Zemo destabilizes the world for a very personal and, ultimately, small goal: hurt the Avengers the way they hurt him. He also succeeds, leaving Captain America a fugitive and Tony Stark so isolated that he has to pal around with a spider-themed teenager hero.
Film Appearances: Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Tomatometer: 91% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office: $1.15 billion
Destruction Factor: With some smoke, a few explosions, and a very inconvenient truth, he brings down the Avengers. He also murders a few people along the way.
Memorable Line: “An empire toppled by its enemies can rise again, but one which crumbles from within? That’s dead… forever.”
Cosplay Cred: Despite his comic book counterpart’s incredible fashion sense, the Marvel Cinematic Universe version inspires few to dress up.
(Photo by Columbia Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)
One of the most sympathetic villains on the list, Molina’s Doc Ock was as much a victim of his passions as he was a willing accomplice in a plan to destroy Spider-Man. The cruelty that emerges in him came from his cybernetic implants; a crucial detail that becomes clear when he finally reasserts control and realizes he was trying to kill his friend Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire). Also, the warmth with which he welcomes Peter — a guy in desperate need of a positive male role model — makes his turn all the more tragic.
Film Appearances: Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Tomatometer: 93% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office: $783.8 million
Destruction Factor: His lab is completely destroyed during an experiment. He also leaves his mark on New York skyscrapers and the subway lines.
Memorable Line: “I will not die a monster.”
Powers: Super-tough robotic appendages.
Cosplay Cred: Popular in the wake of the film’s release, but has since faded.
(Photo by Warner Bros.)
Thanks to Stamp, Zod is as much a staple in Superman’s rogues gallery as Lex Luthor. Seemingly reserved, Zod can lash out without hesitation. Despite the air of refinement Stamp gives the character, he is just another petty dictator — a point underscored when he takes control of the White House (and, by implication, the world) only to suffer from conqueror’s boredom. Superman’s return late in the film comes as a relief to Zod, as debasing the son of Jor-El gives him something to do.
Worldwide Box Office: Superman: $300 million, Superman II: $156.9 million
Destruction Factor: He and his cohorts reshape Mount Rushmore and pummel the West Wing. They also make insurance premiums rise in Metropolis again.
Memorable Line: “Come to me, son of Jor-El! Kneel before Zod!”
Powers: All the powers of a Superman plus advanced military training.
Cosplay Cred: Zod’s look is just a little too disco for most cosplayers.
(Photo by © Marvel and © Walt Disney Pictures)
The secret shame of Wakanda, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) presents a legitimate concern to King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his subjects, even if his methods are woefully misguided: Should Wakanda reveal itself to the outside world and help those who live with the legacy of the African slave trade? The character’s heady subtext is backed by Jordan’s gifted abilities as a performer.
Film Appearances: Black Panther (2018)
Tomatometer: 96% (Certified Fresh)
Worldwide Box Office (To Date): $1.34 billion
Destruction Factor: Destroys all but one of the heart-shaped herbs, which is far more devastating than any property damage he caused in the film.
Memorable Line: “Nah, just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from ships. ‘Cause they knew death was better than bondage.”
Powers: Thanks to the heart-shaped herb, all the powers of Black Panther; Navy SEAL training.
Cosplay Cred: Few could wait for a comic convention to dress in Killmonger’s now-iconic London look. Cosplayers dressed in his subsequent battle suit, which looks suspiciously like Vegeta’s from Dragonball Z, shortly after.
(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)
Erik Magnus Lehnsherr is one of the most compelling antagonists in comics and film for one simple reason: he’s pretty much right. His methods may be unquestionably cruel to conventional humans, but he recognizes two sapient species cannot share the planet. Violence, subjugation, and pain are inevitable. And when his point of view is given McKellen’s voice, it becomes incredibly persuasive. The more optimistic philosophy of the X-Men looks naïve and childish in comparison.
Film Appearances: The X-Men Franchise
Worldwide Box Office: X-Men: $296.3 million, X2: X-Men United: $407.7 million, X-Men: The Last Stand: $459.4 million, X-Men: Days of Future Past: $747.9 million
Destruction Factor: He moves the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz, turns Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) into a water creature, and renders a sick burn unto Rogue (Anna Paquin) about the white stripe in her hair.
Memorable Line: “Let’s just say God works too slowly.”
Powers: The ability to manipulate all metal.
Cosplay Cred: His initial low-key look is rarely imitated these days.
(Photo by Zade Rosenthal/Walt Disney Studios)
The power of persuasion is also a major weapon in the arsenal of the God of Lies. Loki is charismatic, witty, exciting, and a sharp dresser. He’s that bad boy who looks redeemable even as he opens a wormhole to let the Chitauri invade Earth. But then he has a good explanation for his bad choices: he was raised by the god who kidnapped him from his real family. And he means to do good, so shouldn’t that be enough? It’s no wonder Loki returns to the MCU time and again; his brand of villainy looks like it can be reasoned with. Even if he betrays Thor again, again, and again.
Tomatometer: Thor: 77%, The Avengers: 92%, Thor: The Dark World: 66%, Thor: Ragnarok: 92%
Worldwide Box Office: Thor: $449.3 million, The Avengers: 1.52 million, Thor: The Dark World: $644.6 million, Thor: Ragnarok: $853.5 million
Destruction Factor: He seizes the throne of Asgard and almost murders Thor, then later precipitates the Battle of New York, which alerts the world to the presence of superpowered beings.
Memorable Line: “You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.”
Powers: God-level abilities and a snake-oil salesman’s tongue.
Cosplay Cred: A perennial favorite, though his formal tux from Avengers was more popular in the wake of the film’s release.
(Photo by )
In an age when origins are required, Ledger’s Joker arrived on the scene without a name, place of birth, or a particular ambition. As Alfred (Michael Caine) put it, he just wants to see the world burn, and he even tells Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) as much late in the film. His complete lack of backstory and motivation makes him the most unpredictable, dangerous supervillain on this list, and the purity of his cruelty makes him the most fascinating.
Film Appearances: The Dark Knight (2008)
Worldwide Box Office: $1 billion
Destruction Factor: Took out most of Gotham’s entrenched mafia, destroyed Harvey Dent, and made the Batman Gotham’s Number One criminal.
Memorable Line: “Why so serious?”
Cosplay Cred: Thanks to the alterations to the classic Joker look, Ledger’s Joker costume remains popular at cons and at Halloween.
Luc Besson’s return to the big space opera scene with Valerian and the Thousand Planets comes at a hefty price: a reported $180 million, easily making it the most expensive French production ever. And such fiscal modesty inspires this week’s gallery of the 24 most expensive movies ever made! (Budgets and box office are adjusted for inflation, with the base numbers from Box Office Mojo, natch.)
Normally, each week brings us a handful of worthy new selections on streaming services. This, however, is not a normal week. For whatever reason, there are only a couple of notable new releases, both available on Netflix, and they are a recent animated hit and the latest season of one of their original dramas. Then we’ve got some new titles available on FandangoNOW, but that’s about it! Here’s hoping next week’s selection is better.
Taylor Schilling leads an ensemble cast in Netflix’s critically acclaimed comedy-drama about a woman thrown in jail for an old crime who must learn to navigate the prison’s power structure. Season 5 was just released in its entirety, as Netflix is wont to do.
Available now on: Netflix
Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake lend their voices to this animated adventure based on the popular toys from the 1980s, centering on a pair of Trolls who set out to rescue their friends from the evil Bergens, who eat Trolls to feel happiness.
Available now on: Netflix
This documentary charts the career of Baseem Youssef, an Egyptian heart surgeon who quit his practice, created a political comedy show, and became one of the nation’s most vocal critics of the ruling regime.
Available now on: FandangoNOW
This Certified Fresh documentary profiles the octogenarian that’s considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef.
Available now on: FandangoNOW
Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner, and Kelly Macdonald reprise their roles in Danny Boyle’s late sequel to his 1996 dark comedy, following up with the same characters 20 years later in life.
Available now on: FandangoNOW
Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, and Martin Short star in this remake of the 1950 comedy about a doting father reluctant to give up his daughter when he finds out she’s engaged.
Available now on: FandangoNOW
Seth Gordon, Alex Gibney, Morgan Spurlock, and others contribute segments to this anthological documentary based on the best-selling non-fiction book about incentives-based thinking.
Available now on: FandangoNOW
Yes, Sam Raimi’s third and final installment of the Spider-Man franchise is the one where Peter Parker “goes emo,” and it doesn’t meet the standard of its two predecessors, but there are still things to like about it.
Available now on: FandangoNOW
James Gunn (writer/director of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies) wrote this dark thriller about a group of office workers in Colombia who are forcibly trapped in their building and instructed to kill each other or be killed themselves.
Available now on: FandangoNOW
In this big screen reboot of the franchise based on the popular TV series, five high schoolers discover an ancient power source that grants them superpowers, which they must learn to harness in order to defeat an evil from the past.
Available now on: FandangoNOW
Naomi Watts, Susan Sarandon, and Elle Fanning star in this drama about three generations of one family living under one roof and dealing with issues of sexual identity.
Available now on: FandangoNOW
Anna Kendrick and Craig Robinson headline this ensemble comedy about a group of wedding guests seated at a table together who begin to reveal secrets to each other.
Available now on: FandangoNOW
Dax Shepard and Michael Peña star in this adaptation of the 1980s cop show about a pair of California Highway Patrol officers who team up to uncover a ring of corruption within the department.
Available now on: FandangoNOW
Hugh Jackman delivers his slicey swan song as Wolverine in Logan, the R-rated for-realsies conclusion to the arc of Marvel’s famous X-Man. This week’s gallery pays tribute to the Marvel movies that existed before and now compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe — read on for the best & worst Marvel movies (outside the MCU)!
With the May 6 release of Captain America: Civil War, the third phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially commences. It’ll be a four-year, multi-picture deal featuring the debuts of Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, The Wasp and more, culminating in the long-brewing Infinity War. As pop culture at large further commits to the superhero trend, Rotten Tomatoes offers our own ideas as to who (and what) from the Marvel comics should get a shot on the silver screen.
In an alternate universe, Gwen Stacy (not Peter Parker) was bitten by a radioactive spider, and gained superhuman abilities. In that same universe, Peter Parker dies (not Gwen Stacy), and now Spider-Woman fights crime in New York, even as J. Jonah Jameson calls her a menace. Spider-Gwen’s hooded costume was wildly popular, helping what could have been a minor spin-off character get her own regular title. And not only is this Gwen a superhero, she’s in a rock band with Mary Jane Watson. If the Marvel/Sony partnership is viewed as successful by both studios, maybe we’ll see Spider-Gwen get her own movie someday.
It’s not easy being Kamala Khan, but that’s one of the reasons she’s so relatable. A bookish, introverted comics fangirl from a strict-but-loving family, Kamala just wants to be a normal teenager — which is made all the more difficult because she also just happens to be an Inhuman with the ability to stretch and contract at will. A Ms. Marvel TV series is rumored to be on the horizon, which would be welcome news: at a time when politicians traffic in anti-Islamic rhetoric, a Muslim-American superhero from Marvel — particularly one as endearing as Kamala — could stand as a bold rejoinder.
A common criticism you’ll hear from DC diehards is that their celluloid heroes are the dark and gritty alternative to Marvel’s goofy, family-friendly pop spectacles. Well, if Marvel was looking to boost its cinematic street cred, it might look to adapt the tale of Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen, a pair of teenage runaways-cum-crime-fighting vigilantes who do business as Cloak and Dagger. Operating within a grim, perpetually overcast Manhattan, Cloak (a teleporter) and Dagger (who fires electrical knives from her hands) are complex characters, and their troubled histories and interpersonal drama could be the kindling for a grown-up superhero movie. (And lo and behold, a Cloak and Dagger show has been announced!)
Depending on who’s writing for the character, Hercules can be slightly oafish to dangerously irresponsible. In his current title, the legendary god of strength is a little washed up and in need of redemption, and that’s the character we’d like to see hit the big screen. He’s been struggling with forces that few mortals can see, leading many to think he’s lost his mind, and there’s fodder for either broad comedy or tense thrills in that formula.
It’s been a little over five years since the introduction of Miles Morales as swingin’ Spider-Man in the Ultimate lineup, the first major shake-up in the Marvel multiverse since Captain America’s death and the Iron Man movie changed the business. A Black Hispanic teen, Morales’ tales are more urbane and tense, and he eventually finds his way to the main Marvel universe to fight alongside Peter Parker. As Marvel preps yet another Spider-Man origin movie, Morales represents to shake off the cobwebs of Spidey’s story.
On the other hand, what’s one more Peter Parker for the road? Spider-Man had some of the best supporting players and villains swirling in his world and the mid-90s Maximum Carnage storyline brought the oddballs out — not just Venom and Carnage (the former teaming with Parker to take down the latter), but Carrion, Demogoblin, Shriek, Doppelganger, Black Cat, Firestar, Deathlok and more. It’s a blunt and violent brawl and though the sappy conclusion would need to be reworked, it’d be a thrill to see a modern superhero movie that’s pure action with no subtext or symbolism.
Eats nuts, kicks butts! Believe it or not, Doreen Green, aka The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, has a pretty impressive list of victories over some pretty impressive foes, including Doctor Doom, MODOK and Wolverine. She’s got the proportional strength and agility of a squirrel (plus strong front teeth and a prehensile tail) and she can communicate with squirrels. She’s currently trying to balance college life and membership in the New Avengers, which all of the obvious complications that entails. The MCU hasn’t had anything like a sitcom yet, but we think Squirrel Girl is the perfect candidate.
In his 70+ years in Marvel Comics, half-Atlantean Namor has been alternately portrayed as a villian, an anti-hero, and an actual hero. But one thing has been pretty consistent across all of those portrayals; he’s a haughty, stuck-up jerk. The intersection of his regal, overbearing attitude, quick temper, and his fierce determination to fight for what he believes in makes for a character that could have some thrilling confrontations with the rest of the MCU.
Having been first recruited by HYDRA, then involved with S.H.I.E.L.D., becoming an agent of S.W.O.R.D., and finally a member of the Avengers, Spider-Woman’s path could easily crossover Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers, and lead to the Skrull invasion story arc. Besides all that, Jessica Drew is one of the last few top Marvel characters not in movies or TV yet. The good news is that the recent partnership between Marvel and Sony — who might or might not own her rights in the cinematic universe — is a sign that her premiere on the big screen might be closer than ever.
It’s time for another comic book convention, and we at RT are hitting WonderCon in Los Angeles the whole weekend to take photos of the most creative and dedicated cosplayers at the convention. Scroll down for our selection.
Click to Page 2 to see the availability of Kick-Ass, Dredd, 300, and the Superman, early Batman and Men in Black franchises, plus more!
Let’s get one thing straight, right off the bat: making a movie can be insanely difficult work. Making a good one is even harder, and sometimes, even the films we love contain a scene or two we wish had never made it into the final cut. With that in mind, we on the RT editorial staff decided to put together a little list of scenes that, if only removed, would have made some bad movies good and some good movies great. Be forewarned: spoilers will abound here, so proceed with caution if you haven’t seen some of these films.
Stanley Kubrick tinkered with A.I., an adaptation of the Brian Aldiss short story “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long,” throughout the final decades of his life. Kubrick wanted the central character David, a robotic boy with the ability to love, to be an actual functioning robot; he abandoned the project each time it became clear robotics and special effects were not advanced enough to suit his vision. After his death, Kubrick’s friend Steven Spielberg took command of A.I., casting Haley Joel Osment as the lonely David, who embarks on a hopeless and nightmarish journey to become a real boy. The result is a discomforting mix of two very different directors’ sensibilities, especially in the final sequence, when David becomes trapped at the bottom of the ocean and the film fast-forwards 2,000 years to a new ice age when humans have become extinct, and robots have evolved into highly intelligent creatures. They grant David his impossible wish of spending one more day with his human mother, and then the film concludes. Audiences are left scratching their heads at this overtly sentimental finale; had it been cut, A.I. would’ve been a more straightforward, taut, and tragic tale. And for the record, Spielberg has stated this ending was exactly how Kubrick had scripted it.
Being There, Hal Ashby’s classic 1979 comedy, is a masterwork in how to control the tone of a movie. It stars Peter Sellers as a simpleton who knows existence only through his banal television shows. A chance run-in with high society (literally, his character adopts the name Chauncey Gardiner) escalates in a comedy of errors that witnesses millionaires, businessmen, and even the president misinterpreting everything Chauncey does and says. The situations and positions of power Chauncey stumbles into grow more and more outlandish, but the movie itself stays grounded due to Sellers’ performance. Chauncey plays the blissful fool: we’re invited to laugh at him, but Sellers also gives Chauncey a perfect note of melancholy. There’s something sweet and sad about Chauncey, the center of a vortex of educated people who, in the drive for money and status, have lost touch with the simple joys of life. Being There‘s closing shot is literally lighter than air, so it’s a real travesty the most common cut of the film shows outtakes immediately during the end credits. The fourth wall is destroyed completely, and what was, just seconds ago, a magical journey is demystified by a clinical behind-the-scenes gag reel. Stop the film immediately when it ends and you’ll carry its magic with you for days.
Given the sheer awfulness of the Columbine massacre, Gus Van Sant’s Elephant was bound to be controversial. However, Van Sant’s film was admirably free of exploitation or elucidation — he didn’t depict the high school mass murderers with anything but cold detachment, and he made no effort to explain what drove the killers to act as they did. In fact, this matter-of-factness makes Elephant all the more chilling; in documenting a day in the life of a suburban high school from several different perspectives, Van Sant conjures a deeply ominous mood. However, there’s one scene that sticks out like a sore thumb: the moment when the two killers start kissing in the shower. It’s seriously unlikely that the openly gay Van Sant is implying that his characters’ homosexuality is the reason for their murderous rage; in fact, it’s hard to know exactly what he was going for here, since the scene marks a jarring tonal shift away from the dispassionate, show-rather-than-tell vibe of the rest of the movie.
Flight treats us to a gripping performance by Denzel Washington as a man struggling to overcome his alcoholism. So when he finally comes clean about his drinking in a very public way, we should see him get arrested, and then see the credits roll. That’s it — his redemption is that he finally admitted he had a problem. It’s the perfect note to end the movie. But instead we get another ending: a prison AA meeting. OK, fine. Then we get another ending: Denzel writing letters in his cell. That’s enough now. Wait, there’s another ending after that? Now he’s talking to his son. Do we really need to be force-fed every step of his recovery? No, we really don’t.
Both versions of Funny Games (the 1997 original German language and the 2007 American version) were directed by Michael Haneke (Amour), so they’re virtually identical, language aside… and so is the infamous “rewind scene.” Breaking the fourth wall to address the audience can be tricky enough, but including a sequence in which a character employs a remote control to literally “rewind” — and thereby erase — an earlier event in the film? Well now, that’s just preposterous. When two young psycho kids (Amo Frischare and Frank Giering; Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet in the remake) hold a family captive in its vacation home, the mother, Anna (Susanne Lothar/Naomi Watts), eventually strikes back, grabbing a shotgun (conveniently placed beside her) and blowing away one of the attackers. In the audience, we scream, “YOU GO!” but alas, we were just being toyed with. Haneke treats us like puppets by manipulating us, waving something big in front of us and then taking it away. It’s a case of, “You wish this is what happened. Psych!” Some fans argue that this tactic is brilliant, that if something makes us angry, the result is a success. But in this case, the audience’s time has been wasted. Removing the rewind and fourth-wall elements would make either version of Funny Games far more watchable.
When Peter Jackson announced that his Middle-earth follow up, The Hobbit, would be stretched into a trilogy akin to the Lord of the Rings saga, many wondered how he would manage such a feat with significantly less source material. The answer, of course, was that Jackson’s adaptation would include plot elements from J.R.R. Tolkien’s supplemental notes and texts, as well as new scenes to give more screen time to familiar faces… and that’s where he may have overstepped his bounds. In an entirely fabricated sequence, Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) meets with the White Council in Rivendell, mostly to discuss the impending threat of an ominous necromancer (gee, who could that be?) who never actually shows up in An Unexpected Journey. The scene serves purely to foreshadow what will come in following installments and to provide a more concrete connection to the LOTR series by reintroducing characters like Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and Saruman (Christopher Lee), neither of whom actually appear in Tolkien’s Hobbit. That’s all well and good, except that the largely action-driven film comes to a screeching halt here, hampered by compulsory exposition and needless cameos. Leaving that bit on the cutting room floor would have ensured a much brisker pace.
They don’t call Alfred Hitchcock “The Master of Suspense” for nothing, and Psycho is one of the great director’s most potent fright fests. It laid the groundwork for modern horror, and subverted audience expectations in audacious ways; not only did Hitch kill off his heroine at the halfway point, he also made stab-happy Norman Bates into a sympathetic character. In fact, Psycho was so far ahead of the curve, Hitchcock felt the need to explain to the gobsmacked masses why the owner of the Bates Motel wore a dress and had antagonistic conversations with his “mother.” Thus, he included a coda in which a psychiatrist (Simon Oakland) explains Norman’s twisted mental state. Then he explains some more. Then he continues to explain, just to be sure we didn’t miss anything. Hitchcock closes the film with a haunting final shot — he superimposes “Mother’s” skull over Norman’s face — thereby saving the ending from going completely off the rails; as Roger Ebert wrote, “I have never encountered a single convincing defense of the psychiatric blather.”
Singin’ in the Rain is packed to the gills with entertainment, from its clever meta plot to the legendary dance sequences with Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds. The scene to skip is a fantasy sequence Kelly dreams up towards the finale, a literally showstopping number that grinds the movie’s zippy pace to a halt. It’s understandable why this was included — the only way to see a movie in 1952 was to haul your dapper keister to a theater, and Hollywood wanted to cram in as much film and celebrity to make it worth your money. The choreography is more complex during the dream sequence, involving dozens of people instead of just the three stars, and the costumes more vibrant and varied. Cyd Charisse also shows up as Kelly’s dancing partner, which effectively diffuses the budding romantic plot between Kelly and Reynolds. Skip this entire sequence and shorten the movie down to a perfect, crisp 90 minutes.
When contemplating scenes that should be skipped, you can’t forget about the ridiculous jazz club bit in Spider-Man 3. You know the one, where Peter (Tobey Maguire) takes Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) to the jazz club where MJ (Kirsten Dunst) works, only to show off and deliver a god-awful dance performance that is so out of place it simply leaves you feeling dumbfounded. Yeah, that’s the one. In a film that gave us a trifecta of villains and another iconic love interest of Peter’s, it was downright disappointing to throw in such a useless scene. At this point, we had already seen Pete trash Eddie’s camera and supposedly kill Flint Marko, and we saw the symbiotic organism latch onto Peter, creating a costume-like skin. With so much to cover in this film, it’s almost insulting to the audience to waste time on indulgences like this. It would have been preferable for this scene — and Peter Parker’s emo eyeliner — to take a hike.
As obnoxious as Jar-Jar Binks is, as boring as the political speeches are, there’s one scene that needs to be cut more than anything else: the scene when Qui-Gon Jinn tests Anakin’s midichlorian count. Up until that point, you could assume that anyone could use the force; it was just a matter of belief and willpower. That lent a hopeful and almost religious air to the Star Wars universe. But then George Lucas had to go and use a scientific explanation for the Force, which took a lot of the magic out of Star Wars. Not only that, but now Yoda’s “luminous beings” speech in Empire Strikes Back doesn’t really make sense anymore.
Written by Matt Atchity, Alex Vo, Tim Ryan, Ryan Fujitani, Catherine Pricci, and Kerr Lordygan