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Superhero Movies With Terrible Rotten Tomatoes Scores That You Should Watch Anyway

We're living in a golden age of superhero movies, an era where these genre films are wowing audiences and earning impressive scores on Rotten Tomatoes. Avengers: Endgame conquered the summer of 2019 with a beat 'em up between everyone from the Guardians of the Galaxy to the Dora Milaje. Spider-Man: Far From Home delivered the teen angst we crave in international style. Even DC has rallied from a shaky start with the sunny Shazam! Everyone from big names like Batman to C-listers like Morbius are getting in on the action, which shows no sign of stopping any time soon. Now is the age of the cape and cowl, forever may it reign.

Let us not, however, forget the low points of the superhero genre. And oh, how many low points there have been, from Nicolas Cage's Ghost Rider to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Yet even some of these legendary flops have something to their name, be it wonderful performances, intriguing costume design, or sheer ambition. When held up to the light of reexamination, in fact, many of the "worst ever" superhero movies look pretty okay—sometimes even great. From dismissed Dark Knight movies to an abandoned Britt Reid franchise, these are superhero movies with terrible Rotten Tomatoes scores that you should watch (and hopefully, enjoy) anyway. 

The Green Hornet has a terrible Rotten Tomatoes score but two great leads

Perhaps The Green Hornet was set up for failure from the beginning. Its origins are actually in 1930s radio, and the hero's bulky mask, vintage car, and fictional origin in newspaper publishing mark him as completely old-school. Audiences didn't line up for this one, and critics regarded it as nothing special, rewarding its efforts with a sad 44 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Off it went, into the dustbin of cinema history, another superhero also-ran that couldn't hack it with the big boys.

But let's fetch it out of that garbage can real quick, dust it off, and take another look. What works, immediately, is the rapport between the titular Green Hornet and his partner Kato. Seth Rogen and Jay Chou are a pair for the ages, and their chemistry is bright and bold against the lacking backdrop of the movie they're in. You believe them as partners, friends, and, for lack of a better phrase, total bros in a way few cape movies have managed to pull off. 

Though Kato is undeniably the secondary character, Chou's performance elevates him to equal status and makes the push and pull between the two electric and endearing. It's this jolt that makes the movie worth watching and the partnership at the heart of it so much more compelling than similar friendships in the MCU and beyond. Both men matter in the scope of the film and to each other. And that's worth gambling two hours on.

Tank Girl is terrific fun even though Rotten Tomatoes says it stinks

Tank Girl was never going to look great when judged by the standards of other comic-based movies. Her boyfriend's a kangaroo. She's best known for wearing warheads on her chest. Ice-T plays a character named T-Saint. It's not trying to be a good movie according to the standards of anything but itself. Naturally, people had no idea how to regard it, and as a result, it only has a 38 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

But boy, is Tank Girl still a whole lot of fun. It understands its appeal as more superhero films could really stand to, steering into its silliness with total abandon. There's a Jet Girl, a Sub Girl, villainous corporations, Iggy Pop playing a villain called Rat Face, and an ending that involves water-skiing over a waterfall. Yeah, it's a little disjointed, and parts of it start to collapse when you apply the same scrutiny you'd give to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But it doesn't care about succeeding by those metrics. It cares about being a punky ode to freedom at all costs, when the only thing more important than securing access to dwindling water supplies is looking unimpeachably cool. Tank Girl doesn't care if you like it because it likes itself. And that's apparent in every vivid, joyful frame.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer soars above its Rotten Tomatoes rating

The superhero movie explosion has not been kind to the Fantastic Four, despite their status as one of the founding titles of the genre. As it turns out, prestigious history as the comic book that kicked off the Marvel we know and love counts for little at the box office. Tim Story's Fantastic Four was a ho-hum interpretation, while Josh Trank's Fantastic Four was an outright disaster. Something about the famous foursome just doesn't click with Hollywood, resulting in movies that lack the tension and familial love that made the comics successful.

But even though it has a 37 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it's in Rise of the Silver Surfer that we glimpsed what might've been and what we still might get. Though the movie is afflicted with the same flat writing that so mired its predecessor, it understands the wonder the Four bring to the Marvel universe. Where Captain America battles insidious government forces and Iron Man dukes it out with technocrats gone mad with power, the Fantastic Four face off with planet-eating gods and deities so beyond our conception of existence as to be impossible. Theirs is the world on the bleeding edge of comprehension, science fiction in its truest and most fantastic form. When you watch Doug Jones plead for understanding, despite the fact that he looks like a hood ornament, you believe in him and the better world the Four might be able to foster. And that, in the history of the Fantastic Four on-screen, is a herculean achievement.

Barb Wire is way better than what Rotten Tomatoes would have you think

Few things embody the excess of 1990s comic books better than Barb Wire. A bounty-hunting bartender in a war-ravaged United States, she's as buxom as she is deadly. We're not enjoying the uplifting ideals of Superman here, nor the post-apocalyptic dread of the The Walking Dead. Barb Wire is all about watching a babe in leather beat down baddies in a world where violence and the rule of cool are all that really matter.

A movie adaptation has to deliver on that very specific promise. And you know what? Despite its Razzie Awards and 28 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Barb Wire does just that. No, Pamela Anderson isn't putting in an Oscar-worthy performance here, and yes, it's a lurid story that doesn't pretend to be anything else. But critics fails to realize that Barb Wire isn't looking to succeed by the rubric they're using. It's a vibrant mess that doesn't want to be anything more than an appeal to the id. And deranged though it may be, it accomplishes being exactly that sort of movie with flying colors.

Suicide Squad is big, brash, and bold, no matter what Rotten Tomatoes says

Remember when much of the cast of Suicide Squad got matching, purposefully misspelled "SKWAD" tattoos (that Margot Robbie still managed to incorrectly misspell)? Remember when Jared Leto sent people rats as part of the process of getting in character? Remember the posters, featuring everything from psychedelic cereal bowls to mushroom clouds? Suicide Squad's promotional phase was nearly as wild as the movie itself — and, to be frank, it made a lot more sense. 

Suicide Squad feels more like a fever dream than a story. Its first act drags on and on, followed by an eyeblink of a second act and a trainwreck of a third. The characters don't have arcs so much as meanderings, all of which culminate in the film's sudden and jarring declaration of the group to be, after a night's worth of mercenary work, a "family." It's a jumbled mess. It's a trope pile-up. It's an aesthetic nightmare. No wonder it has a shocking 27 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 

But you know what? It's not embarrassed to be what it is. Characters stride across the city in spangled shorts, sarashi wrappings, and velour sweatsuits like they're Parisian runway-strutters. Margot Robbie sells you on Harley Quinn's lunatic charm so successfully that she argued her way into a spinoff. It wants to look like five different movies with 12 different color palettes, but it isn't the same old MCU stainless steel-and-olive-drab that your eyes have grown used to. Suicide Squad is loud, brash, and often obnoxious, and it isn't interested in being anything else.

Green Lantern is pretty okay, even if Rotten Tomatoes says it's lame

Okay, yes, Ryan Reynolds feels strongly enough about Green Lantern to metatextually murder himself for agreeing to the film in the first place. He comes from an understandable enough spot, as the movie really isn't great. Somehow, in fact, Green Lantern managed to combine every common flaw of superhero films: overly complicated costumes, boring interpretations of classic characters, and uninspired performances. It's not even an entertaining disaster, really. It's just a thoroughly mediocre movie that didn't care about being much else, which is why it has a 26 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

But the thing about mediocrity is that it's not actually that bad. Green Lantern doesn't fall from the toppling heights of ambition, as with other films on this list, because it didn't really aspire to much in the first place. So no, you won't find any hugely wrong choices or maudlin messaging here. Instead, you'll just find an okay cape flick. And there's still a lot to enjoy in that kind of movie, chiefly Reynolds' performance and some genuinely neat design choices. It's worth getting together with friends to enjoy, knowing that some of the story might be lost in conversation and bathroom breaks. You'll still be able to follow along, and you'll still have a good enough time. And in the increasingly complicated world of spin-offs, continuity recaps, and shifting fictional universes, that counts for something.

The Spirit has got a lot of spirit, despite those Rotten Tomatoes reviews

The Spirit is overblown twaddle, the kind of movie an auteur, flying high on the winds of praise, makes when there isn't anyone to stop him. Sin City was groundbreaking, everyone was acknowledging Frank Miller's comic work as modern classics of the form, so why not hire him to direct one of the original comic heroes? It could've been great. Even now, the logic behind the film is coherent and comprehensible. Yet what ended up on film was a stinker with just a 14 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

But here's the thing: The Spirit is still one of the most honest superhero movies around. The character's pulp roots are on full display, and its bold visuals — that flat red tie, those spectral lighting effects — are more faithful to Will Eisner's vision than much of superhero moviedom. Like the genre in its earliest days, so much of what makes up The Spirit is lousy, but when it shines, it dazzles. Even today, there's so much to enjoy in its costuming, its over-the-top dialogue, and its borderline psychedelic effects. It all comes together into a movie that is less than the sum of its parts, but oh, how lovely are some of those parts.

Despite the Rotten Tomatoes score, Batman & Robin is campy fun

Say the name "Schumacher" and Bat-fans everywhere shudder, remembering the horror of the anatomically correct rubber suits, the terror of Arnold Schwarzenegger's ice-themed puns, and the inanity of Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy, somewhere between a saloon girl and an eco-terrorist with a megaphone. Batman & Robin is an unabashed cartoon of a movie that never met a color it couldn't saturate or a wig it didn't spike, gel, or mousse into feathered oblivion. Poison Ivy enchants our heroes with hot pink love dust and purringly whispers garden-themed double entendres. Plus, Batman has a bat-themed credit card. It's loud, silly, and utterly uncool, and that's probably why it has an 11 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

But guess what? Being loud, silly, and utterly uncool are as much a part of Batman as the brooding and detective work. Yeah, you've got your gritty Frank Miller stories, the Nolan trilogy, and the sheer Gothic menace of the original Batman comics. But he's also always been the Batman of the rainbow suit and the Batusi. Schumacher's movies landed at the worst possible time, when comic fans were obsessed with being taken seriously, and nobody wanted anything that didn't remind them of Watchmen. But today, in the age of the MCU, when everyone takes superheroes seriously and even your mom knows who Gwen Stacy is? It's time to let our guards down and enjoy some superheroic camp.

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace has its heart in the right place despite its Rotten Tomato score

The fact that Christopher Reeve's reputation survived Superman IV largely intact is a testament to the strength of the prior movies. Sure, people remark nowadays that the fourth one was awful, but who cares? It's an appendage easily shed, a growth on the canon everyone is comfortable excising. This enduring love for Reeve's Superman is so intense, in fact, that it also makes you forget how much people hate Superman IV. But boy, do they hate it. After all, everybody complains it's preachy, it's limp, and shoddily written. On Rotten Tomatoes, it's sitting with a measly 11 percent approval rating, and the critiques have not lessened in intensity over the decades since the film's debut.

No, it's not as grand and wondrous as its predecessors. Yes, the plot holes, lackluster special effects, and general decline in quality really are a problem. But there's a fundamental sweetness to the film's message that's as much a part of Superman as the red cape. Sure, it's easy to find Superman's proclamation that peace shall reign only when the people want it more than anything else cheesy and stilted, but Reeve is so earnest in his performance that you can't quite help but love him. As the Man of Steel himself often says in the pages of his comics, his superheroic mission is, above all, to help everyday people realize that they, too, can be supermen. Superman IV does right by that message with absolute enthusiasm.

Supergirl flies high above its Rotten Tomatoes rating

If Melissa Benoist's delightful take on the girl of steel has taught us anything, it's that a Supergirl adaptation lives and dies by the performance of its titular heroine. The character doesn't have a legendary rogues' gallery, a la Batman, nor a cast of colorful team members to fall back on if necessary. It's all her, all the time, and by that metric, the infamous 1984 Supergirl succeeds.

By other metrics? Well, that's another story. It's a plodding, messy hairball of a movie, full of cheesy lines, dumb plot contrivances, and shoddy effects. No wonder it only has a 10 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But darn it if you don't still root for Helen Slater regardless. She's a grinning dynamo of a girl, a good-hearted idealist who honors her duties without letting herself be laid low by them. True, everything and everyone around her is almost aggressively bad, but she never fails to light up the screen when she's in frame. When you've got that essential ingredient, the rest doesn't matter so much. Slater's Supergirl might be besieged by her own movie, but she's still worth getting to know.

Catwoman charms us even though Rotten Tomatoes says it's terrible

To understand everything wrong with Catwoman — and there is so very, very much wrong with Catwoman — you only really need to watch one scene, in which our heroine flirts via basketball. First off, anyone who knows literally anything about basketball immediately grasps that nothing resembling the game is being played. The flirtation is awkward, going for a sensuality that doesn't manifest, and is made uncomfortable by the fact that a group of kids are present. The scene is so chopped and diced by edits and cuts that it's hard to tell where anyone is in relation to anyone else. This superhero flick definitely earns that nine percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And above all else, it is nakedly desperate to be cool, down, and sexy, while failing to be anything but profoundly embarrassing.

But god, is it going all-in on being exactly what it is. Catwoman has a certain manic energy that charms even the most incredulous audience, a je na sais quoi that says, sure, Halle Berry runs around in purposefully ripped leather pants and was brought back to life by an immortal cat goddess. It's ridiculous in the manner of Golden Age comics — not always well-made, often schlocky, yet still getting at something vital, weird, and somehow undeniably real. It makes no sense, but man, haven't we all wanted to take revenge on our dastardly employers and charm a hottie on the blacktop with our sick b-ball moves?