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Every Superhero Movie And Special From 2022 Ranked

There was a time, not too long ago, where reading comic books and watching superhero media was seen as kid's stuff, or disposable fluff at best. While comic books and superhero stories matured a lot in the ensuing decades, it took much longer for more established entertainment entities, like Hollywood, to catch up with them. Furthermore, most big-budget movies that were greenlit in the past were relegated to only the biggest of names, like Batman or Superman, while the TV shows used to be cheesy low-budget affairs like the '70s "Incredible Hulk" and "Spider-Man" series — not to mention cheap, stilted cartoons like "Super Friends."

Currently, however, costumed do-gooders are dominating the media landscape, with a majority of top-grossing movies — and the most-viewed streaming series and specials — now based on superhero, or at least superhero-adjacent, stories (which is causing some backlash from Hollywood's old guard, via Variety). This is more than most fans could have ever hoped for, with the big-budget treatment even being given to comic book C-listers like the Guardians of the Galaxy, who still manage to be smash critical and commercial successes while also making huge impacts on mainstream pop culture at large.

But, like the superheroes these adaptations are based on, not all heroes (or anti-heroes) are created equally. So what are the best and worst pieces of superhero media that came out in 2022? From living vampires to the living embodiment of dreams, read the list below to find out!

Warning: spoilers below!

14. Morbius

"Morbius" is probably the only legitimately bad movie on this list, despite being championed by Martin Scorsese, making a trillion dollars at the box office, and receiving an over-200% score on Rotten Tomatoes (via Know Your Meme). Now, while obviously those aren't real accomplishments, it is still utterly fascinating how Sony Pictures — which has been struggling to make a "Spider-Man Cinematic Universe without Spider-Man" for years now — thought Morbius, a C-level Spidey villain at best, could headline a major blockbuster film. Even more fascinating is the fact that they thought Jared "The Literal Worst Joker Ever" Leto should be the man to headline it.

What is really most fascinating about "Morbius," is how, after the film failed hard at the box-office, it then became the aforementioned meme factory, which led to Sony releasing the film again — only to fail even harder (via Vulture).

The story itself isn't anything to write home about either. It follows Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto), a brilliant scientist with a debilitating and fatal fake blood disease, who splices vampire bat DNA with human DNA, accidentally turning himself into the eponymous "Morbius, the Living Vampire." His power set includes super strength, super speed, echo location, weird ears, the ability to "fly" on air currents, and transforming into rubbery '90s-level CGI.

The only real fun is Matt Smith's campy performance as the villainous Milo. The former "Doctor Who" star is at least interesting to watch (especially his dance moves, arguably the only non-ironic meme to come out of the film).

13. DC League of Super-Pets

"DC League of Super-Pets" is a CG-animated family film about the titular team of superhero-adjacent animals. It has an all-star voice cast, headed by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (in the first of two DC starring roles this year) as Krypto, the trusted super-powered dog of Superman (voiced by John Krasinski, who also appeared as another superhero in 2022).

It's the first theatrical film to introduce the other super-pets from the comic books, which includes Ace (Kevin Hart), who will later become Ace the Bat-Hound after he gets adopted by Batman (Keanu Reeves). Other super-pets include PB, a pig with the ability to change their mass (Vanessa Bayer); Mertle, a turtle ironically gifted with super-speed (Natasha Lyonne); and Chip, a squirrel with electricity powers (Diego Luna). There's also the villainous Lulu (Kate McKinnon), a genius guinea pig with telekinesis, who wants to take over the world after somehow successfully capturing the Justice League (necessitating the League of Super-Pets to save the day).

The film does have slick animation, deep-cut nods to DC's vast comic history, some exciting action sequences, and even a few genuine heartfelt moments (via Rotten Tomatoes). But despite all that, it's also often a little too childish for its own good, seemingly talking down to — or lowering the stakes for the sake of — the presumed younger audience. The "League of Super-Pets" were never a marquee title for a reason, despite having some decent stories during their initial comic book run. And the less said about the cringe-worthy after-credits sequence with Black Adam's dog (also voiced by Johnson), the better.

12. Thor: Love and Thunder

Thor has been a difficult character to adapt into live-action. Even the usually solid Marvel Cinematic Universe had trouble getting the character right, despite the spot-on casting of then-unknown Aussie beefcake Chris Hemsworth. The first "Thor" film, directed by Kenneth Branagh, was decent, if not great, and definitely one of the lesser entries of Phase One. It got even more dire with "Thor: The Dark World," considered by many to be the worst MCU film of all time.

Luckily, the franchise got a shot in the arm — both critically and financially — with the more colorful and Jack Kirby-inspired "Thor: Ragnarok," directed by Taika Waititi of "What We Do in the Shadows" fame. In "Ragnarok," Hemsworth's natural comedic talent was utilized to great effect, and the tongue-in-cheek tone felt fresh and different from a lot of mainstream superhero media at the time. So it made sense to bring Waititi back to direct and co-write the sequel, "Thor: Love and Thunder." 

Unfortunately, like many good things, going back to the same well led to massively diminished returns (via Rotten Tomatoes). The film does have its merits: there's the focus on Natalie Portman's Jane Foster as The Mighty Thor, the unambiguous LGBTQ+ representation, Russell Crowe hamming it up as Zeus, and some fun action set pieces. However, Christian Bale is wasted as Gorr the God Butcher, with muddled motivations and extreme tonal whiplash as the character's devastating pathos doesn't mesh well with the more goofy aspects of the film — a tonal tightrope that Waititi is usually better at walking.

11. Moon Knight

Before this big-budget Disney+ streaming series, most fans knew Moon Knight through hilarious Photoshopped comic book panels, such as the now-infamous one of Moon Knight's profanity-laden screed against Dracula (via Moon Knight-Core). Regardless, the Disney+ "Moon Knight" show is a much more po-faced adaptation. The series stars Oscar Isaac as both the mild-mannered and bumbling British-accented Steven Grant, as well as his alter-ego (or is the other way around?) Marc Spector, a dashing and globe-trotting mercenary. Turns out Steven shares a split personality with Marc, who can transform into the supernatural superhero Moon Knight — the human avatar for the Egyptian moon god, Khonshu (voiced by F. Murray Abraham).

Like everything on this list except for "Morbius," "Moon Knight" does have quite a few things going for it. Oscar Isaac does a great job, balancing a dual role — sometimes even in the same scene — and delivering a surprisingly raw, emotional performance in the latter half. Since "Moon Knight" deals with a mentally unstable hero who  constantly questions his own reality, the series also takes a surreal, almost Lynchian – if all too brief — turn into the hero's psyche at one point.

However, like a lot of MCU projects, it ends with a boring CGI-laden finale that is especially rubbery and weightless, given the lower if still considerable budgets given to the streaming-only projects. It's also fairly unfocused, with the pacing feeling both languid and rushed at the same time.

10. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is the sequel to 2016's well-received "Doctor Strange," with Benedict Cumberbatch returning as the supernatural superhero. Iconic filmmaker Sam Raimi replaces the first movie's director, Scott Derrickson, for this entry. Luckily, Raimi is no stranger to superhero films, having famously directed the classic "Spider-Man" trilogy from 2002-2007.

Unfortunately, while "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" has a lot going for it and even does a lot right, it ultimately ends up being less than the sum of its parts. On one hand, it's nice seeing Raimi go back to his horror roots, with some of Scarlet Witch's (Elizabeth Olsen) magical attacks reminiscent of iconic scenes from Raimi's "Evil Dead" movies. It's also nice to see more LGBTQ+ representation in the MCU by showcasing the loving mothers of America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), who's also a highlight. Finally, having Wanda completely destroy the smug Illuminati heroes from Earth-838 (including a returning Patrick Stewart as Professor X and John Krasinski as a Mr. Fantastic variant) rules.

However, as mentioned, a lot of it doesn't work. One of the main issues is the lack of multiverses that Doctor Strange even visits, with most of it taking place in just one (minus a single shot of him and Chavez traveling through painted and comic book dimensions). It also completely undermines all of Wanda's growth from "WandaVision." It's fine to make her the villain, but she disappointingly has almost no nuance throughout the film.

9. Werewolf by Night

"Werewolf by Night" is a unique Disney+ streaming special directed by Michael Giacchino, best known as the composer on such blockbuster films as "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," as well as Marvel movies like "Spider-Man: Homecoming." It stars Gael García Bernal as Jack Russell, who joins a hunt for a monster alongside other famous monster hunters — including Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly) — who are all after the magical, mystical Bloodstone. However, it turns out Russell is actually just there to rescue the aforementioned creature, who is his friend Ted (aka Man-Thing), before he himself turns into the title beast.

What sets "Werewolf by Night" apart from the rest of the MCU is its look. Giacchino purposely makes the special aesthetically evoke the old Universal monster films of the '30s, '40s, and '50s — including black and white cinematography, stark high-contrast lighting, and even realistic film grain, even digitally adding "cigarette burns" (marks on old films meant to signal the projector to move to the next film reel).

Even better, there are almost no digital visual effects — outside of Man-Thing — with Bernal (and his stunt double) in full werewolf prosthetics. The special is also satisfyingly bloody and violent, and could conceivably have been rated R if it wasn't in black-and-white. The only thing really setting it back is that, while it's a fun novelty, the story is somewhat predictable after the initially intriguing set-up. Also, while the special should be praised for its use of mostly practical effects, the CG that is utilized is pretty rough.

8. Black Adam

"Black Adam" stars former wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the eponymous super-powered anti-hero, who debuted as one of the earliest villains for the popular superhero Shazam (when Shazam was still called Captain Marvel). Like Shazam's Billy Batson, Teth-Adam was just a regular person granted access to god-like powers — like flight, super-strength, super-speed, and shooting lightning from his fingertips — from magical wizards.

Unlike Shazam, however, Black Adam first got his powers 5,000 years ago in the fictional Middle Eastern nation of Kahndaq, but was banished to a magical tomb after using them for vengeance. He's then awakened in the present day, leading Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) from the DCEU "Suicide Squad" films to send an old school superhero group called the Justice Society of America (aka JSA) to try and subdue him.

"Black Adam" is far from a perfect film. It's got some dodgy CGI, some really on-the-nose needledrops, and a somewhat overly-subdued Rock performance. But it makes up for a lot of that with some fun, colorful characters, with Aldis Hodge's Hawkman and Pierce Brosnan's Dr. Fate from the JSA being particular highlights. 

The politics are also more nuanced and interesting than would be assumed at first glance, as it directly calls out modern foreign policy in the Middle East, such as how the US only gets involved when resources are involved, or when they feel threatened — similar to Intergang and JSA in the film, respectively.

7. The Batman

The Matt Reeves-helmed and Robert Pattinson-led "The Batman" had a lot to prove, being the ninth live-action take on the character (10th if you count each "Justice League" cut as separate films) and the sixth actor playing the role. The new Batman film does have a truly stacked cast, including Pattinson as a fittingly moody Bruce Wayne/Batman, Zoe Kravitz as a fun, multifaceted Catwoman, Paul Dano as a truly unhinged Riddler, Colin Farrell as a mafioso Penguin, Jeffrey Wright as the eternally put-upon Lieutenant Jim Gordon, and so on. Each actor does an amazing — sometimes even definitive — take on the classic comic book characters.

There are also a lot of great things about the film besides the performances, such as its striking production design, propulsive score, and exciting action sequences. Highlights include the opening fight scene with the face-painted thugs and the epic Batmobile chase on the highway.

Despite all that, there are also a lot of things holding it back. This includes its muddy and incoherent politics, with the Riddler's final plan to flood Gotham making no sense with his actions throughout the film (and the excuse that "he's just crazy" is both lazy and, worse, simply uninteresting). It also can't help being somewhat derivative, since — despite a valiant effort — "The Batman" doesn't really add much new to the table, and ultimately feels more like warmed-over Christopher Nolan leftovers. But Nolan leftovers are still good leftovers.

6. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

What's great about Disney+ is that it can do unique one-off specials for the MCU — like the aforementioned "Werewolf by Night" — evoking weird, fun single issues from the comics. This isn't even a new concept for the MCU, which for a short time produced One-Shots — like "Item 47" — that were straight-to-DVD and Blu-ray, when those were still a common thing.

James Gunn returns to write and direct "The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special," which follows Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) on a trip to Earth to cheer up Peter "Star-Lord" Quill (Chris Pratt) during the lonely holiday season. This leads to the two kidnapping Kevin Bacon (playing himself) and bringing the actor back to space with them, since — thinking that he's a real-life hero – they know Quill is a huge fan of his.

The cast, of course, kills it as always. The standout is definitely Klementieff's Mantis, who leads the action this time around. The humor is also once again on point, especially the scene where Drax beats up a Go-Bot in the middle of Hollywood (with dialogue implying that they exist for real in the MCU). The only thing really holding it back is that while it's a fun watch, it's also pretty inconsequential, and 2022 happened to be a really good year for superhero media. It's still worth checking out nonetheless, especially if you're a fan of these characters.

5. Sandman

"Sandman" might be the best possible live-action adaptation of the original graphic novels that fans could ever have hoped for. Like any adaptation, it's not perfect, but it's close enough to be considered a minor miracle. Ever since the comics' debut in 1989, Hollywood has attempted to adapt it to the screen. But the recent Netflix show avoids a lot of the issues that previous attempts at adapting the property faced — including one attempted script that Gaiman said was the worst he'd ever read (via Rolling Stone). 

For one, by being a show rather than a movie, it allows for more of the story and characters to be shown on screen, rather than being relegated to the cutting room floor or clumsily composited. Speaking of characters, the show is also extremely well-cast, with lead actor Tom Sturridge looking and acting as if Morpheus, aka the titular Sandman, had walked out of the comic page and into our mortal plane. Kirby Howell-Baptiste as the bubbly goth girl personification of the concept of death is also a major highlight of the show as well. In fact, Netflix's "Sandman" might be one of the most accurate comic adaptations ever.

4. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Following 2018's "Black Panther" was always going to be a challenge, given how much of a cultural phenomenon it ended up being — including getting a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Picture. However, regardless of that, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is indeed a worthy sequel, full of emotion and grief, even if it arguably doesn't necessarily match or succeed the first film.

For one, Shuri (Letitia Wright) is a great successor to the late Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa, filling the hero's vibranium boots with aplomb. Wright does a superb job in the role, despite some of her alleged off-screen behavior (via The Hollywood Reporter), showcasing great wisdom, strength, and even rage. The rest of the returning cast is amazing as well, with Angela Bassett's Queen Ramonda in particular getting a much appreciated expanded role in the sequel.

But the real stand-out in the film has to be Mexican star Tenoch Huerta Mejía as Namor, the flying, ankle-winged, and super-strong king of the underwater kingdom of Talokan (originally Atlantis in the comics, probably changed in part to distance itself from 2018's "Aquaman"). He projects undeniable strength and nobility, but — more impressively — he does the impossible task of making Namor not look ridiculous in live-action. The introduction of Ironheart (Riri Williams) is a welcome addition to the franchise as well.

3. Peacemaker

John Cena, portraying the psychotic patriotic-themed anti-hero Peacemaker, was one of the many highlights in director James Gunn's R-rated DCEU superhero reboot/sequel "The Suicide Squad." Despite that, it was still unclear if Peacemaker himself could actually headline an entire show, especially since he was a colorful side character in the film, which isn't usually the kind of character that lends itself to being put in the protagonist role.

Luckily, Gunn — who created and wrote the entire eight-episode HBO Max series and directed five episodes — knew what he was doing. Not only is "Peacemaker" just as exciting, blood-soaked, and hilarious as "The Suicide Squad," but "Peacemaker" also has a lot of genuine heart as well. The show really plays to Cena's strengths, which include a great grasp of comedic timing, while using his wrestler past to really sell the exciting action scenes.

However, the real standout from "Peacemaker" is probably the uber-violent, murderous — but also surprisingly sweet — green-spandexed Vigilante, played by Freddie Stroma. At least he meant well.

2. Ms. Marvel

"Ms. Marvel" is a completely delightful, and — shall we say – marvelous superhero show about the Pakistani Muslim superhero of the same name. Ms. Marvel was immediately a sensation when she was introduced in the Marvel comics in 2013, which makes a lot of sense. She's a fangirl living in a world full of superheroes, and while not everyone writes fan fiction or creates elaborate fan art, the appeal of a fan of these characters becoming a superhero alongside them is undeniable.

The show itself stars the young, sprightly, and wonderfully talented Pakistani actress Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel, aka Kamala Khan. It's beyond refreshing and overdue to have positive Muslim representation in mainstream blockbuster media, especially the way the show portrays the supportive and loving Khan family, which is maddeningly rare in most Hollywood productions. More than that, it rightfully frames the Khan's religious services — such as praying at mosques or the minutia of Islamic wedding ceremonies — as simply normal and a part of Kamala's world. It even showcases the horrors the British Empire brought upon Pakistan and India during The Great Partition, a part of history rarely covered in American media (via The Conversation).

Most importantly, the show is simply just good fun. It has exciting action sequences as Kamala tries to learn her new powers, and Vellani's bubbly performance helps plaster over some of the show's unnecessarily convoluted plotting or uneven pacing. We can't wait to see Ms. Marvel on the big screen in the upcoming "The Marvels."

1. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

"She-Hulk: Attorney at Law" is quite frankly a breath of fresh air for the MCU. This is especially true of the extremely metatextual season finale (in a nod to the "She-Hulk" comic books), where Jessica Walters, aka She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany), enters our reality to confront Marvel chief creative officer Kevin Feige (depicted as a robot A.I., whose initials mean "Knowledge Enhanced Visual Interconnectivity Nexus") to complain about the many legitimate problems with the increasingly-stagnant MCU formula. This includes an overuse of daddy issues as a dramatic plot point, always ending with a "dark reflection" of the hero as the main antagonist (which almost happens in "She-Hulk"), and even shoehorning in action-packed climaxes, rather than focusing on the characters and their journeys.

This is part of why the show is so great, and it has a fun tone, a great lead performance, and good-to-great CGI (even more impressive given its streaming budget). It also talks candidly about things like the casual harassment of women on the streets, in the workplace, and online. In fact, the penultimate episode is a surprisingly raw expression of online harassment against women, and the feelings of anger and hurt it elicits.

Beyond the show's refreshingly comedic tone, it also has some great, underrated action sequences, such as She-Hulk's fight with Mark Ruffalo's OG Hulk in the pilot episode, and later on her fight against Charlie Cox's now-fashionably red-and-yellow-suited Daredevil.