The Definitive Ranking of All Superman Movies

superman flying GIF

by Brandon Matzke

So, we’re getting a new Superman-based show (Krypton), and the much hyped Action Comics #1000 is coming out, so it would make sense to give the man of steel some attention in the spotlight. True, I do prefer his caped rival, but that doesn’t mean I hate Superman (at all). For 80 years, he’s been a symbol of hope, inspiration, and the American way. And now, we’re looking at all of his films, ranked worst to best. Let’s get this started.

WORST: Superman IV, The Quest For Peace (1987)

Man is this one a stinker. This confused attempt at protesting Nuclear warfare is more of a mess than anything, and one that even the former kings of cheese Cannon Films couldn’t save. The acting? Atrocious. The writing? ….Was there even a script? That’s not sarcasm; that’s a legitimate question I have. It’s one of those films that feels like it was just made up as they went along, mostly because of how jumbled and confused it all feels. Not to mention, the laughably bad quality of almost every scene, the terrible attempts at making new characters (Nuclear Man, anyone?), and it’s overall preachiness just makes this one hurt. 0/10.

Superman III (1983)

Despite Superman IV being way worse, that doesn’t save this unfunny attempt at making Superman a slapstick comedy. From the very opening, it’s very clear that there’s a major disconnect with everything. The previous two Superman films did have some comedy, but it had an innocent charm that almost made it feel like a classic comic book. Here? It’s a cartoon, and a very bad one at that. Plus, nobody wants to see a drunk Superman lumbering around Metropolis… that’s just depressing to watch. 1/10

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016)

I saw this in theaters, and regretted it for years. This film should’ve just been what we were promised; Batman fighting Superman. Instead, we got a bloated and convoluted mess trying to set up a franchise, rather than just focusing on being good. It’s painfully dull, bringing boring “seriousness” into a film that has some ridiculously bad moments (MARTHA!). Everyone feels bored here, but the worst performance in this entire film is Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. Look, Eisenberg can act (watch The Social Network for proof), but this was just terrible! He felt like he had two settings; really bad Joker impersonator, or painfully unconvincing Jolly Rancher-loving psycho “genius”. Overall, this is another Zack Snyder mope-fest trying to convince itself that it’s great. At least Gal Gadot was in this. 1/10

Man of Steel (2013)

I know this movie has its fans, but I never bought into it. I’m up for different interpretations of Superman, but this was not the way to do it. This film had one job; show how Clark Kent became Superman, develop his character so that by the end, we have an idea that we’re watching Superman. Well, he technically wears the suit, but he’s not even close to what I consider Superman. He’s winey, mopey, and just unlikable. And the rest of his world is too; it really doesn’t help when his so-called “mentor” of a father tells him “basically, let people die.” And all the pointless destruction really doesn’t help anything either… this really is a Zack Snyder movie! 2/10

Justice League (2017)

I already covered this one, so I’ll just give it the grade of a 5/10. Feels too much like it’s trying to copy Marvel’s Avengers, and falls apart by the very opening. Not horrible, but not memorable either.

Superman Returns (2006)

It’s actually pretty sad that this film is on here, because it does try to capture what made Superman special. However, despite it’s attempt to honor the beloved man of steel, it doesn’t quite understand what people love about him. True, they did find a pretty good actor to play Superman, but he can’t save what sadly comes off as a boring attempt at making something great again. It’s heart is in the right place, but it doesn’t translate well in the long run. 4/10

Superman II (1980)

Ok, so I haven’t seen the Richard Donner cut (which many say is the definitive version of this film), but for what we got, it’s not so bad. It definitely feels like a Superman movie, never feeling mean-spirited or dull. That doesn’t mean it’s a masterpiece, but it still has good qualities. I did enjoy watching Terence Stamp’s General Zod (who really does feel like a match for Reeve’s Superman), but it still is a very flawed movie all around (memory-erasing kisses?!). Overall; 6/10.

BEST: Superman (1978)

This film does have some flaws, but it’s got so much innocent charm, imagination, and overall quality that you can easily forgive them. Christopher Reeves, for me at least, is Superman; he looks like him, acts like him, and has every mannerism and charm in full effect. Everything in this film feels like a definitive Superman comic brought to film, and it manages to be timeless 40 years later. So, I have to give it an 11/10.

Well, this was a fun list to make! I hope to do more things like this, and I plan on seeing Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs sometime this next week, and I hope to review that soon. Until then, you guys are the best, and I hope you see more of the talented people in this blog.

One thought on “The Definitive Ranking of All Superman Movies

  1. Well, it turns out that Isle of Dogshas a really weird release schedule, so I won’t be seeing it this weekend. But I do hope to see it, and review it too.

    Liked by 1 person

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