No one could say that DC properties have maintained a hold on superhero movie dominance for the last 40 years, but some of the most important films in the genre have been inspired by the likes of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. 1978’s Superman: The Movie helped popularize the idea of treating seemingly silly and juvenile comic books seriously. More than a decade later, Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman helped create the summer movie season. 16 years would pass between that film and the next feather in DC’s cap with Batman Begins resurrecting Batman as a bankable (and laudable) on-screen character. In 2017, Wonder Woman burst onto screens, standing out as the biggest female-led superhero story of all-time. In between all of these standouts are a few hits and a lot of misses. With Aquaman less than two months away and following our ranking of MCU movies, we thought we’d take a look back, ranking the 25 best DC-inspired movies going all the way back to 1966’s Adam West starring Batman film.
25. Batman and Robin (Amazon)
Sometimes you have to hit bottom to go up. Joel Schumacher’s second and final Batman film so desecrated the Caped Crusader that the only direction the franchise could have gone was gritty (which it did, years later). One note: Four years after writing these anti-quotables, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman won an Oscar (for writing A Beautiful Mind).
24. The Return of Swamp Thing (Amazon)
Believe it or not, there was a time when major Hollywood studios didn’t much bother with comic book movies. That’s why there were so many cheapies, like the Dolph Lundgren in The Punisher, the Captain America starring J.D. Salinger’s son, and the Fantastic Four movie that Roger Corman made with no intention of ever releasing. So it went with Len Wein’s plant-dude. Wes Craven made his own low-ish-budget version in 1982 (see a couple notches below), but by 1989, the rights had fallen into Z-grade hell, yielding a bargain basement campfest that once haunted cable movie channels.