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Underrated Marvel Movies You Need To Watch

As long as there have been Marvel films, there have been people arguing about them. That one that everyone hates — is it secretly great? Is that one that everyone loves actually terrible? It's a topic that's been discussed for so long and by so many people that by now, the collective intelligence of film nerds has more or less figured it out. Generally, the popular ones are the good ones, and the forgotten ones are the bad ones, so there aren't a ton of hidden gems left to discover.

But there are a few, and they are fascinating — interesting Marvel films that genuinely aren't getting enough love. Some of these movies are full-on failures, but they're unique and spectacular failures, ones still worth seeing and talking about. Others are films that we consider to be true masterpieces, but most fans regard as merely "good." This is, admittedly, somewhat tricky territory, so there's going to be a fair amount of subjectivity going on here and maybe even a few hot takes. On a different day, we might pick different films, but for now, here are some underappreciated Marvel films that we think are worth a watch.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

The 2018 film "Venom" is trying to be two films at once. Sometimes, it wants to be a totally straightforward superhero origin story. Other times, it wants to be an unapologetically zany romcom about a weirdo named Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and his alien slime boyfriend Venom (also Tom Hardy). It's always clear that the second option is where the real gold lies, both comedically and dramatically, but the film seems unsure of itself. It still wants to be "a real superhero movie," so it never fully embraces its own strangeness, as if it's afraid to freak you out too much. The end result is a film with a tone and quality that are both wildly inconsistent.

For that reason, you might not have bothered to check out the 2021 follow-up, "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," and if so, that's a real shame. This sequel has now fully abandoned all pretense of respectability and accepted itself for what it is: a sleazy romance about a man and some goop. Although the film still has its flaws, it's thoroughly entertaining, and at least now it feels like a labor of love, in the way that a stoned college student loves a gas station burrito.

It only has a 58% on Rotten Tomatoes, so clearly it isn't for everyone, but by not striving to be a film that everyone will like, "Let There Be Carnage" is definitely a film that the right weirdo just might love.

The Incredible Hulk

Perhaps more so than any other entry in its canon, "The Incredible Hulk" feels like the film that Marvel itself is the most ashamed of. It's clear that it was originally intended to be the first in a series of films, packed with tantalizing plot threads that future installments could build upon, but as we all know, that never happened. Instead, Bruce Banner was demoted to supporting character in his next appearance, and the actor playing him, Edward Norton, was replaced with Mark Ruffalo.

Because of how swiftly and unceremoniously this particular corner of the MCU was forgotten, it's tempting to assume that the film itself is trash, but nothing could be further from the truth. The reasons why we haven't gotten more Hulk films are complicated and largely due to behind-the-scenes drama and rights issues rather than the actual quality of the film. "The Incredible Hulk" is a perfectly competent movie, borderline great in a few places. Norton is immediately compelling as our intelligent and compassionate antihero, Tim Roth and William Hurt are a great one-two punch as the villains, and the chemistry between Norton's Bruce Banner and Liv Tyler's Betty Ross is downright electric.

Sure, there are problems, but overall, "The Incredible Hulk" is every bit as good as the first "Iron Man," "Thor," and "Captain America" films — a bit rocky in places but overflowing with potential.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

The 2007 film "Ghost Rider" is perhaps one of the most egregious examples of the lifeless and perfunctory superhero origin film. There was some hope that the 2011 follow-up, "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance," would turn things around, but conventional wisdom at the time of release was that it was even worse, dropping from a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes down to an 18%. And, sure, by traditional metrics of evaluating film quality, there's probably an argument to be made that the original "Ghost Rider" is the more competently assembled film, but there's no doubt that the sequel is the far more singular ride.

With a slower, more patient rhythm, less dialogue, weirder acting choices, and more over-the-top production design, at times, it feels like "Spirit of Vengeance" is striving for a gonzo "Mad Max: Fury Road" vibe, albeit 4 years before that film came out. It doesn't quite get there, but it gets awfully close. All in all, it's probably not a film for people who like superhero movies, but it's definitely one for people who like surreal Nicolas Cage movies. Also, Idris Elba is here, and he's riding a motorcycle and kind of doing a French accent! What else do you need?

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

When "Guardians of the Galaxy" first premiered back in 2014, it was unlike the relatively colorless and serious superhero movies before it: a story full of color, humor, and humanity. Because of this, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" had some big shoes to fill, and although it was still well-received, the general consensus was that it was a noticeable step down in quality from the original. But as time has gone on, it's becoming clearer that, even though "Vol. 2" was not as nearly groundbreaking for 2017 as the original was for 2014, it's still probably overall a stronger film, one that's far more worthy of rewatching and analyzing.

It's easy to miss on a first viewing because there's no single reason why this is the case. It's just that everything the first film does, the second one does a tiny bit better. Every returning character gains a noticeable amount of additional depth and complexity, especially former antagonists Nebula and Yondu. Ronan is a perfectly serviceable baddie in the first film, but he doesn't hold a candle to Ego, a wonderfully complex and twisted villain. "Vol. 2" also learns a bit from the mistakes of the first installment in that the amount of genuinely offensive humor in it has noticeably decreased.

Sure, "Vol. 1" is still great, but if you only have time to rewatch one "Guardians" film on a particular night, the sequel's where it's at.

Blade 2

Though many have since forgotten, the first Marvel comic to hit the mainstream was not 2000's "X-Men" or 2002's "Spider-Man," but 1998's "Blade." It was a trilogy that was ahead of its time in countless ways, and all three "Blade" movies are tons of fun, but the overall best of the bunch is probably "Blade 2," directed by the one and only Guillermo del Toro.

In this stylish sequel, Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson are back as the dynamic duo of Blade and Whistler, and this time they've found themselves in Europe, fighting against a new breed of super-vampires called "Reapers." Also joining the cast are Ron Perlman and Norman Reedus, and even Donnie Yen shows up for a bit. It's not a deep or important film, but it's packed with awesome martial arts fight scenes and absolutely killer creature effects.

The film sports an unimpressive 58% on Rotten Tomatoes, but don't let that dissuade you — "Blade 2" is one heck of a motion picture, every bit as good as del Toro's later action-packed creature features like "Hellboy" and "Pacific Rim."

Iron Man 3

Though "Iron Man 3" was well-received upon its initial release, it was also the subject of a fair amount of debate and controversy, especially in regards to its unexpected take on the classic villain, the Mandarin. But now that we're in a post-"Shang-Chi" world and a proper big-screen version of the Mandarin now exists, the unusual interpretation of the character in "Iron Man 3" doesn't sting quite as bad anymore. In fact, it might just be the best "Iron Man" of all.

Coming just after the world-shaking events of "The Avengers," Tony Stark is trying to return to the life he had before with the new knowledge that in a world of gods and aliens, he's not nearly as powerful as he thought he was (he also definitely has post-traumatic stress disorder). If that's not enough, a new villain has shown up, a shadow from Tony's past. It's dark, funny, beautifully shot, and it's the last deep dive we get into the character of Tony Stark before he's fully absorbed into the ensemble cast of the Avengers.

The film is co-written and directed by the darkly hilarious Shane Black. Black and Robert Downey Jr. had worked together once before on the wonderful "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," the film which allegedly got Downey the role of Iron Man in the first place (via Decider). It only makes sense that Black got a chance to make his own Iron Man film at some point. 

Howard the Duck

It's certainly not the best theatrically released Marvel movie, but it's undeniably the first. Originally hitting theaters all the way back in 1986, "Howard the Duck" is widely considered one of the worst movies ever made, and that's a totally reasonable position. The many critics who loathe this film are mostly right about it. Rarely has their been a piece of art that is this densely packed with bafflingly bad decisions. But at the end of the day, it's still a fascinating watch, almost hypnotic at times.

The film follows the misadventures of Howard, an anthropomorphic duck from the planet "Duckworld." He winds up on Earth in Cleveland, Ohio because ... y'know what, it doesn't really matter. Nothing about the plot of this film matters. Here's what's important: Everything is very '80s, Lea Thompson and Tim Robbins both deliver surprisingly solid performances, and there is a horrifying animatronic duck costume in basically every scene. And because George Lucas directed, the special effects are truly groundbreaking, if at times a bit over-ambitious.

That being said, there is some genuine wonder and some genuine laughs to be had in watching this film. It's never boring, just confusing, so try giving it a watch if you're feeling intrigued. When a film is this universally despised, it's kind of hard for it to not be at least a little bit underrated, right? And even if you regret the decision, at least now you can be better informed when you're ridiculing it.


Right now, you're probably thinking one of two things: a) "They made a movie about Man-Thing?" or b) "Who the hell is Man-Thing?" For those not in the know, Man-Thing is one of Marvel's more obscure creations. This vengeful and empathic swamp monster first debuted back in 1971, but he's never really risen above the level of a D-lister. Yet somehow, against all odds, Man-Thing got his own film in 2005. Though it was originally intended for theaters, the film ended up getting dumped to the Sci Fi channel instead, and to be honest, that's a perfectly appropriate home for "Man-Thing," ideally in a programming block right alongside "Sharknado" and "Zoombies."

Rather than being what you might expect from Marvel — a tragic origin story told from the perspective of the titular "Thing" — this is a full-on horror film, with Man-Thing as the murderous monster du jour. Yes, it's trash, but it's delicious trash. The CGI is laughably bad, there's gratuitous nudity and violence, and since it's a B-movie set in Louisiana, it's overflowing with deliciously terrible fake accents. Also, Rachael Taylor is there — the actor would go on to portray Trish Walker in "Jessica Jones" — and you know what, she's doing her best.

Look, if you want an actually good film, stay clear of this one, but if bad movies are your thing, it's a surprisingly fun watch. Gather all your least respectable friends together, pop open an age-appropriate beverage, and dive into this radioactive swamp of a film.


With a paltry 47% critical approval, "Eternals" is the lowest-ranked MCU film on Rotten Tomatoes by a wide margin, the only one with a full-on "rotten" rating. However, if this one number is all you know about it, you're going to get the wrong idea about what kind of film it is, because even though "Eternals" isn't always great, it's still a profound experience.

Rather than being a story about superheroes, "Eternals" tells the millennia-spanning tale of a group of godlike aliens who have lived among humans since our earliest days. For a time, they were hunting a race of alien predators known as Deviants, but now they have all gone their separate ways and are trying to find their place in the modern world. Then, a new threat arises, which brings the group together once more and forces them to face some dark secrets in their own past.

But honestly, all that stuff — you know, the actual plot — is clearly the worst part of the film. What's good about "Eternals" is everything that's unimportant: Kingo's film career, Sprite's painful yearning for love, the unbreakable bond between Gilgamesh and Thena. Yes, the primary story is somewhat perfunctory and predictable, and yes, it's an overambitious mess, but it's also, at times, raw and beautiful, perhaps the most interesting mess that Marvel has ever produced.


Currently, the 2022 film "Morbius" has a mere 16% on Rotten Tomatoes, and that's honestly a bit harsh. It's at least worthy of a 30%, for this film may indeed be an inexplicable parade of nonsense, but it's delightful nonsense.

Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) is a world-renown doctor and scientist, in part due to his invention of a highly successful type of synthetic blood. However, despite all his research, Morbius still hasn't been able to cure his own affliction, a blood disease that requires him to receive regular transfusions. One fateful night, the doctor performs an experiment that he hopes will finally cure him for good by synthesizing his own DNA with that of a vampire bat, but whoops, wouldn't you know it, he turns himself into a goshdarned vampire.

"Morbius" is a film that's sometimes almost good, but that's not the reason to watch it. The reason to watch it is because of the countless moments throughout it that are so inexplicable that they border on the sublime. How does Morbius feed and care for the hundreds of bats that he keeps in a shockingly small glass case? Why does Morbius, as a child, rename another child? Why does a detective try to summon a reclusive cat by shaking the cat's litter box like a bowl of food? Nothing makes any sense at all, but who cares — it's wild, stylish, and so much fun. And is any of it really any more nonsensical than the weirder parts of the "Underworld" or "Blade" movies?

Captain America: Civil War

We know what you're thinking: How could "Captain America: Civil War" be underrated? Yes, it is a beloved movie, but now that we've had a few years of hindsight, we think it's worth taking a moment to really appreciate just how important it was in laying the groundwork for all that followed and how many of the screenwriting feats that it performed quite easily proved difficult to replicate in later installments.

"Civil War" introduced Spider-Man and Black Panther, two of the MCU's most beloved characters, who would go on to helm their own solo series. It also continued the arcs of Iron Man and Captain America, at times feeling like an Iron Man, Captain America, and Avengers film all at once without breaking a sweat. Compare this to a film like "Avengers: Infinity War." It's a great movie, but it's clearly weighed down by all that it's trying to accomplish, often feeling both rushed and overstuffed. Now that we've seen how other films fare when trying to be this ambitious, it's really amazing how focused "Civil War" always feels and how effortlessly it integrates characters inherited from other franchises into the world of Captain America, arguably writing them better than they were written in the films that introduced them.

"Endgame" gets a ton of love nowadays (and rightfully so) as a big blow-out party to cap off the Infinity Saga, but now that the saga has concluded, we can say that "Civil War" is perhaps its most subtly masterful chapter.