75 Best Superhero Movies of All Time

Friends of the super variety, we’ve collected every Fresh and Certified Fresh superhero movie with at least 20 reviews to assemble our guide to the 75 best superhero movies ever, ranked by Tomatometer!

It’s been a decades-long battle towards the top in pop culture for superhero movies, and we’re featuring here all the goods, the greats, and the masterpieces made along the way. Everything from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Iron Man, Avengers) to DCEU (Aquaman, Wonder Woman), animated fare (The Incredibles, Megamind) to live-action spoofs (The Toxic Avenger, Mystery Men), comedies (Deadpool) and the super serious (The Dark Knight), and then throwing in some originals made just for the big screen (The Rocketeer, Darkman, Unbreakable).

Great leaping buggaboos! This introduction is now over! Throw up the cape, slip on that cowl (but leave the whip at home, unless you’re looking for the erotic films list…), and hop into the Tomatomobile: We ride for to the 75 best superhero movies of all time!

#75
#75
Adjusted Score: 64865%
Critics Consensus: It plays like an extended episode, but The Powerpuff Girls Movie is still lots of fun.
Synopsis: Based on the hit animated television series, this feature film adaptation tells the story of how Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup... [More]
Directed By: Craig McCracken

#74

Spider-Man 3 (2007)
63%

#74
Adjusted Score: 73523%
Critics Consensus: Though there are more characters and plotlines, and the action sequences still dazzle, Spider-Man 3 nonetheless isn't quite as refined as the first two.
Synopsis: Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and M.J. (Kirsten Dunst) seem to finally be on the right track in their complicated relationship,... [More]
Directed By: Sam Raimi

#73

Watchmen (2009)
65%

#73
Adjusted Score: 77173%
Critics Consensus: Gritty and visually striking, Watchmen is a faithful adaptation of Alan Moore's graphic novel, but its complex narrative structure may make it difficult for it to appeal to viewers not already familiar with the source material.
Synopsis: In an alternate 1985 America, costumed superheroes are part of everyday life. When one of his former comrades is murdered,... [More]
Directed By: Zack Snyder

#72

Aquaman (2018)
65%

#72
Adjusted Score: 90296%
Critics Consensus: Aquaman swims with its entertainingly ludicrous tide, offering up CGI superhero spectacle that delivers energetic action with an emphasis on good old-fashioned fun.
Synopsis: Once home to the most advanced civilization on Earth, the city of Atlantis is now an underwater kingdom ruled by... [More]
Directed By: James Wan

#71

The Rocketeer (1991)
66%

#71
Adjusted Score: 70776%
Critics Consensus: An action-packed, if anachronistic, look back at pulp matinee serials, The Rocketeer may ring hollow with viewers expecting more than simple fun and gee-whiz special effects.
Synopsis: Cliff Secord (Bill Campbell) is a cocky stunt pilot in love with a beautiful actress, Jenny Blake (Jennifer Connelly). When... [More]
Directed By: Joe Johnston

#70
#70
Adjusted Score: 77740%
Critics Consensus: It may not be the finest film to come from the Marvel Universe, but Thor: The Dark World still offers plenty of the humor and high-stakes action that fans have come to expect.
Synopsis: In ancient times, the gods of Asgard fought and won a war against an evil race known as the Dark... [More]
Directed By: Alan Taylor

#69
Adjusted Score: 26296%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The mutant superhero (David Mattey) rises from the sludge to save a group of students held hostage in Tromaville.... [More]
Directed By: Lloyd Kaufman

#68
#68
Adjusted Score: 75647%
Critics Consensus: The Incredible Hulk may not be quite the smashing success that fans of Marvel's raging behemoth might hope for, but it offers more than enough big green action to make up for its occasionally puny narrative.
Synopsis: Scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) desperately seeks a cure for the gamma radiation that contaminated his cells and turned him... [More]
Directed By: Louis Leterrier

#67
#67
Adjusted Score: 70958%
Critics Consensus: A silly and ribald superhero spoof, Toxic Avenger uninhibited humor hits more than it misses.
Synopsis: A 98-pound nerd (Mark Torgl) from New Jersey lands in a vat of toxic waste and becomes a benevolent monster... [More]
Directed By: Michael Herz, Samuel Weil

#66

Unbreakable (2000)
70%

#66
Adjusted Score: 76698%
Critics Consensus: With a weaker ending, Unbreakable is not as a good as The Sixth Sense. However, it is a quietly suspenseful film that intrigues and engages, taking the audience through unpredictable twists and turns along the way.
Synopsis: David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is the sole survivor of a devastating train wreck. Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) is a... [More]
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan

#65

Batman (1989)
71%

#65
Adjusted Score: 77474%
Critics Consensus: An eerie, haunting spectacle, Batman succeeds as dark entertainment, even if Jack Nicholson's Joker too often overshadows the title character.
Synopsis: Having witnessed his parents' brutal murder as a child, millionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) fights crime in Gotham City... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#64

The Wolverine (2013)
71%

#64
Adjusted Score: 81579%
Critics Consensus: Although its final act succumbs to the usual cartoonish antics, The Wolverine is one superhero movie that manages to stay true to the comics while keeping casual viewers entertained.
Synopsis: Lured to a Japan he hasn't seen since World War II, century-old mutant Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) finds himself in a... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#63
Adjusted Score: 87493%
Critics Consensus: Zack Snyder's Justice League lives up to its title with a sprawling cut that expands to fit the director's vision -- and should satisfy the fans who willed it into existence.
Synopsis: In ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE, determined to ensure Superman's (Henry Cavill) ultimate sacrifice was not in vain, Bruce Wayne (Ben... [More]
Directed By: Zack Snyder

#62

Iron Man 2 (2010)
72%

#62
Adjusted Score: 83874%
Critics Consensus: It isn't quite the breath of fresh air that Iron Man was, but this sequel comes close with solid performances and an action-packed plot.
Synopsis: With the world now aware that he is Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces pressure from... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

#61
#61
Adjusted Score: 85749%
Critics Consensus: A well-chosen cast and sure-handed direction allow The Amazing Spider-Man to thrill, despite revisiting many of the same plot points from 2002's Spider-Man.
Synopsis: Abandoned by his parents and raised by an aunt and uncle, teenager Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), AKA Spider-Man, is trying... [More]
Directed By: Marc Webb

#60

Megamind (2010)
72%

#60
Adjusted Score: 78750%
Critics Consensus: It regurgitates plot points from earlier animated efforts, and isn't quite as funny as it should be, but a top-shelf voice cast and strong visuals help make Megamind a pleasant, if unspectacular, diversion.
Synopsis: Though he is the most-brilliant supervillain the world has known, Megamind (Will Ferrell) is the least-successful. Thwarted time and again... [More]
Directed By: Tom McGrath

#59

Sky High (2005)
73%

#59
Adjusted Score: 77845%
Critics Consensus: This highly derivative superhero coming-of-age flick is moderately entertaining, family-friendly fluff.
Synopsis: At a school in the sky where teens learn how to be superheroes, Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) lands in a... [More]
Directed By: Mike Mitchell

#58

V for Vendetta (2006)
73%

#58
Adjusted Score: 84144%
Critics Consensus: Visually stunning and thought-provoking, V For Vendetta's political pronouncements may rile some, but its story and impressive set pieces will nevertheless entertain.
Synopsis: Following world war, London is a police state occupied by a fascist government, and a vigilante known only as V... [More]
Directed By: James McTeigue

#57

Defendor (2009)
74%

#57
Adjusted Score: 73045%
Critics Consensus: Defendor's reach occasionally exceeds its grasp, but this unique take on the superhero genre is held together by Woody Harrelson's solid performance.
Synopsis: An everyday guy (Woody Harrelson) believes he is a superhero and befriends a teenager while seeing a psychiatrist.... [More]
Directed By: Peter Stebbings

#56

Superman Returns (2006)
75%

#56
Adjusted Score: 85678%
Critics Consensus: Bryan Singer's reverent and visually decadent adaptation gives the Man of Steel welcome emotional complexity. The result: a satisfying stick-to-your-ribs adaptation.
Synopsis: While Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) plots to destroy him once and for all, the Man of Steel (Brandon Routh) returns... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#55

Kick-Ass (2010)
76%

#55
Adjusted Score: 86350%
Critics Consensus: Not for the faint of heart, Kick-Ass takes the comic adaptation genre to new levels of visual style, bloody violence, and gleeful profanity.
Synopsis: Using his love for comics as inspiration, teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) decides to reinvent himself as a superhero --... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

#54
#54
Adjusted Score: 90767%
Critics Consensus: Exuberant and eye-popping, Avengers: Age of Ultron serves as an overstuffed but mostly satisfying sequel, reuniting its predecessor's unwieldy cast with a few new additions and a worthy foe.
Synopsis: When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) jump-starts a dormant peacekeeping program, things go terribly awry, forcing him, Thor (Chris Hemsworth),... [More]
Directed By: Joss Whedon

#53

Thor (2011)
77%

#53
Adjusted Score: 87522%
Critics Consensus: A dazzling blockbuster that tempers its sweeping scope with wit, humor, and human drama, Thor is mighty Marvel entertainment.
Synopsis: As the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of the Norse gods, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) will soon inherit the throne... [More]
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

#52

The Mask (1994)
79%

#52
Adjusted Score: 82234%
Critics Consensus: It misses perhaps as often as it hits, but Jim Carrey's manic bombast, Cameron Diaz' blowsy appeal, and the film's overall cartoony bombast keep The Mask afloat.
Synopsis: When timid bank clerk Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) discovers a magical mask containing the spirit of the Norse god Loki,... [More]
Directed By: Charles Russell

#51

Batman (1966)
79%

#51
Adjusted Score: 81653%
Critics Consensus: Batman: The Movie elevates camp to an art form -- and has a blast doing it, every gloriously tongue-in-cheek inch of the way.
Synopsis: Kaaapowie! Holy feature film, Batman ... one based on the tongue-in-cheek, campy 1960's television series. Watch Batman (Adam West) and... [More]
Directed By: Leslie H. Martinson

#50

Iron Man 3 (2013)
79%

#50
Adjusted Score: 92708%
Critics Consensus: With the help of its charismatic lead, some impressive action sequences, and even a few surprises, Iron Man 3 is a witty, entertaining adventure and a strong addition to the Marvel canon.
Synopsis: Plagued with worry and insomnia since saving New York from destruction, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), now, is more dependent... [More]
Directed By: Shane Black

#49
Adjusted Score: 108793%
Critics Consensus: With a fresh perspective, some new friends, and loads of fast-paced action, Birds of Prey captures the colorfully anarchic spirit of Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn.
Synopsis: It's open season on Harley Quinn when her explosive breakup with the Joker puts a big fat target on her... [More]
Directed By: Cathy Yan

#48

Captain Marvel (2019)
79%

#48
Adjusted Score: 113584%
Critics Consensus: Packed with action, humor, and visual thrills, Captain Marvel introduces the MCU's latest hero with an origin story that makes effective use of the franchise's signature formula.
Synopsis: Captain Marvel is an extraterrestrial Kree warrior who finds herself caught in the middle of an intergalactic battle between her... [More]
Directed By: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

#47

Batman Returns (1992)
80%

#47
Adjusted Score: 86111%
Critics Consensus: Director Tim Burton's dark, brooding atmosphere, Michael Keaton's work as the tormented hero, and the flawless casting of Danny DeVito as The Penguin and Christopher Walken as, well, Christopher Walken make the sequel better than the first.
Synopsis: The monstrous Penguin (Danny DeVito), who lives in the sewers beneath Gotham, joins up with wicked shock-headed businessman Max Shreck... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#46
Adjusted Score: 89790%
Critics Consensus: With plenty of pulpy action, a pleasantly retro vibe, and a handful of fine performances, Captain America is solidly old-fashioned blockbuster entertainment.
Synopsis: It is 1941 and the world is in the throes of war. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants to do his... [More]
Directed By: Joe Johnston

#45

Hellboy (2004)
81%

#45
Adjusted Score: 88441%
Critics Consensus: With wit, humor and Guillermo del Toro's fantastic visuals, the entertaining Hellboy transcends the derivative nature of the genre.
Synopsis: At the end of World War II, the Nazis attempt to open a portal to a paranormal dimension in order... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#44

Black Widow (2021)
79%

#44
Adjusted Score: 104826%
Critics Consensus: Black Widow's deeper themes are drowned out in all the action, but it remains a solidly entertaining standalone adventure that's rounded out by a stellar supporting cast.
Synopsis: Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her... [More]
Directed By: Cate Shortland

#43

X-Men (2000)
82%

#43
Adjusted Score: 87742%
Critics Consensus: Faithful to the comics and filled with action, X-Men brings a crowded slate of classic Marvel characters to the screen with a talented ensemble cast and surprisingly sharp narrative focus.
Synopsis: They are children of the atom, homo superior, the next link in the chain of evolution. Each was born with... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#42

Darkman (1990)
83%

#42
Adjusted Score: 87212%
Critics Consensus: Gruesome and deliciously broad, Sam Raimi's Darkman bears the haunted soulfulness of gothic tragedy while packing the stylistic verve of onomatopoeia springing off a comic strip page.
Synopsis: When thugs employed by a crime boss lead a vicious assault on Dr. Peyton Wilder (Liam Neeson), leaving him literally... [More]
Directed By: Sam Raimi

#41

The Crow (1994)
83%

#41
Adjusted Score: 86793%
Critics Consensus: Filled with style and dark, lurid energy, The Crow is an action-packed visual feast that also has a soul in the performance of the late Brandon Lee.
Synopsis: The night before his wedding, musician Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his fiancée are brutally murdered by members of a... [More]
Directed By: Alex Proyas

#40

Ant-Man (2015)
83%

#40
Adjusted Score: 96040%
Critics Consensus: Led by a charming performance from Paul Rudd, Ant-Man offers Marvel thrills on an appropriately smaller scale -- albeit not as smoothly as its most successful predecessors.
Synopsis: Forced out of his own company by former protégé Darren Cross, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) recruits the talents of... [More]
Directed By: Peyton Reed

#39
Adjusted Score: 86103%
Critics Consensus: Stylish and admirably respectful of the source material, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm succeeds where many of the live-action Batman adaptations have failed.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Eric Radomski

#38

Batman Begins (2005)
84%

#38
Adjusted Score: 95890%
Critics Consensus: Brooding and dark, but also exciting and smart, Batman Begins is a film that understands the essence of one of the definitive superheroes.
Synopsis: A young Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) travels to the Far East, where he's trained in the martial arts by Henri... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#37

Deadpool 2 (2018)
84%

#37
Adjusted Score: 108936%
Critics Consensus: Though it threatens to buckle under the weight of its meta gags, Deadpool 2 is a gory, gleeful lampoon of the superhero genre buoyed by Ryan Reynolds' undeniable charm.
Synopsis: Wisecracking mercenary Deadpool meets Russell, an angry teenage mutant who lives at an orphanage. When Russell becomes the target of... [More]
Directed By: David Leitch

#36

X2 (2003)
85%

#36
Adjusted Score: 92704%
Critics Consensus: Tightly scripted, solidly acted, and impressively ambitious, X2: X-Men United is bigger and better than its predecessor -- and a benchmark for comic sequels in general.
Synopsis: Stryker (Brian Cox), a villianous former Army commander, holds the key to Wolverine's (Hugh Jackman) past and the future of... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#35

Deadpool (2016)
85%

#35
Adjusted Score: 106175%
Critics Consensus: Fast, funny, and gleefully profane, the fourth-wall-busting Deadpool subverts superhero film formula with wildly entertaining -- and decidedly non-family-friendly -- results.
Synopsis: Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a former Special Forces operative who now works as a mercenary. His world comes crashing... [More]
Directed By: Tim Miller

#34
Adjusted Score: 116055%
Critics Consensus: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's action-packed plot, dazzling visuals, and irreverent humor add up to a sequel that's almost as fun -- if not quite as thrillingly fresh -- as its predecessor.
Synopsis: Peter Quill and his fellow Guardians are hired by a powerful alien race, the Sovereign, to protect their precious batteries... [More]
Directed By: James Gunn

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 114104%
Critics Consensus: Avengers: Infinity War ably juggles a dizzying array of MCU heroes in the fight against their gravest threat yet, and the result is a thrilling, emotionally resonant blockbuster that (mostly) realizes its gargantuan ambitions.
Synopsis: Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet --... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

#32

Superman II (1980)
86%

#32
Adjusted Score: 90449%
Critics Consensus: The humor occasionally stumbles into slapstick territory, and the special effects are dated, but Superman II meets, if not exceeds, the standard set by its predecessor.
Synopsis: Superman (Christopher Reeve) foils the plot of terrorists by hurtling their nuclear device into outer space, but the bomb's shock... [More]
Directed By: Richard Lester

#31
Adjusted Score: 96225%
Critics Consensus: Guillermo del Toro crafts a stellar comic book sequel, boasting visuals that are as imaginative as the characters are endearing.
Synopsis: Hellboy (Ron Perlman), his pyrokinetic girlfriend, Liz (Selma Blair), and aquatic empath, Abe Sapien (Doug Jones), face their biggest battle... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 96821%
Critics Consensus: With a strong script, stylish direction, and powerful performances from its well-rounded cast, X-Men: First Class is a welcome return to form for the franchise.
Synopsis: In the early 1960s, during the height of the Cold War, a mutant named Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets a... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

#29
Adjusted Score: 95653%
Critics Consensus: With a tidy plot, clean animation, and humor that fits its source material snugly, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is entertainment that won't drive a wedge between family members.
Synopsis: George Beard and Harold Hutchins are two overly imaginative pranksters who spend hours in a treehouse creating comic books. When... [More]
Directed By: David Soren

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 105651%
Critics Consensus: A lighter, brighter superhero movie powered by the effortless charisma of Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, Ant-Man and The Wasp offers a much-needed MCU palate cleanser.
Synopsis: Scott Lang is grappling with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father. Approached by Hope... [More]
Directed By: Peyton Reed

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 103479%
Critics Consensus: The Dark Knight Rises is an ambitious, thoughtful, and potent action film that concludes Christopher Nolan's franchise in spectacular fashion.
Synopsis: It has been eight years since Batman (Christian Bale), in collusion with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), vanished into the night.... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#26

Doctor Strange (2016)
89%

#26
Adjusted Score: 112566%
Critics Consensus: Doctor Strange artfully balances its outré source material against the blockbuster constraints of the MCU, delivering a thoroughly entertaining superhero origin story in the bargain.
Synopsis: Dr. Stephen Strange's (Benedict Cumberbatch) life changes after a car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When... [More]
Directed By: Scott Derrickson

#25

Spider-Man (2002)
90%

#25
Adjusted Score: 97244%
Critics Consensus: Not only does Spider-Man provide a good dose of web-swinging fun, it also has a heart, thanks to the combined charms of director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire.
Synopsis: "Spider-Man" centers on student Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) who, after being bitten by a genetically-altered spider, gains superhuman strength and... [More]
Directed By: Sam Raimi

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 112507%
Critics Consensus: The Lego Batman Movie continues its block-buster franchise's winning streak with another round of dizzyingly funny -- and beautifully animated -- family-friendly mayhem.
Synopsis: There are big changes brewing in Gotham, but if Batman (Will Arnett) wants to save the city from the Joker's... [More]
Directed By: Chris McKay

#23
Adjusted Score: 102357%
Critics Consensus: Suspenseful and politically astute, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a superior entry in the Avengers canon and is sure to thrill Marvel diehards.
Synopsis: After the cataclysmic events in New York with his fellow Avengers, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Chris Evans), lives in... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

#22

Big Hero 6 (2014)
90%

#22
Adjusted Score: 98650%
Critics Consensus: Agreeably entertaining and brilliantly animated, Big Hero 6 is briskly-paced, action-packed, and often touching.
Synopsis: Robotics prodigy Hiro (Ryan Potter) lives in the city of San Fransokyo. Next to his older brother, Tadashi, Hiro's closest... [More]
Directed By: Don Hall, Chris Williams

#21
Adjusted Score: 104483%
Critics Consensus: X-Men: Days of Future Past combines the best elements of the series to produce a satisfyingly fast-paced outing that ranks among the franchise's finest installments.
Synopsis: Convinced that mutants pose a threat to humanity, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) develops the Sentinels, enormous robotic weapons that... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Singer

#20

Shazam! (2019)
90%

#20
Adjusted Score: 115061%
Critics Consensus: An effortlessly entertaining blend of humor and heart, Shazam! is a superhero movie that never forgets the genre's real power: joyous wish fulfillment.
Synopsis: We all have a superhero inside of us -- it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out.... [More]
Directed By: David F. Sandberg

#19
Adjusted Score: 117287%
Critics Consensus: Captain America: Civil War begins the next wave of Marvel movies with an action-packed superhero blockbuster boasting a decidedly non-cartoonish plot and the courage to explore thought-provoking themes.
Synopsis: Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 118557%
Critics Consensus: A breezily unpredictable blend of teen romance and superhero action, Spider-Man: Far from Home stylishly sets the stage for the next era of the MCU.
Synopsis: Peter Parker's relaxing European vacation takes an unexpected turn when Nick Fury shows up in his hotel room to recruit... [More]
Directed By: Jon Watts

#17
Adjusted Score: 97530%
Critics Consensus: Teen Titans Go! To the Movies distills the enduring appeal of its colorful characters into a charmingly light-hearted adventure whose wacky humor fuels its infectious fun -- and belies a surprising level of intelligence.
Synopsis: It seems that all the major superheroes out there are starring in their own movies -- all but the Teen... [More]

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 110028%
Critics Consensus: Enlivened by writer-director James Gunn's singularly skewed vision, The Suicide Squad marks a funny, fast-paced rebound that plays to the source material's violent, anarchic strengths.
Synopsis: Welcome to hell--a.k.a. Belle Reve, the prison with the highest mortality rate in the US of A. Where the worst... [More]
Directed By: James Gunn

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 106018%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a script that emphasizes its heroes' humanity and a wealth of superpowered set pieces, The Avengers lives up to its hype and raises the bar for Marvel at the movies.
Synopsis: When Thor's evil brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), gains access to the unlimited power of the energy cube called the Tesseract,... [More]
Directed By: Joss Whedon

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 105667%
Critics Consensus: Guardians of the Galaxy is just as irreverent as fans of the frequently zany Marvel comic would expect -- as well as funny, thrilling, full of heart, and packed with visual splendor.
Synopsis: Brash space adventurer Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finds himself the quarry of relentless bounty hunters after he steals an orb... [More]
Directed By: James Gunn

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 120853%
Critics Consensus: Spider-Man: Homecoming does whatever a second reboot can, delivering a colorful, fun adventure that fits snugly in the sprawling MCU without getting bogged down in franchise-building.
Synopsis: Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, young Peter Parker returns home to live with his Aunt May. Under the... [More]
Directed By: Jon Watts

#12

Spider-Man 2 (2004)
93%

#12
Adjusted Score: 103359%
Critics Consensus: Boasting an entertaining villain and deeper emotional focus, this is a nimble sequel that improves upon the original.
Synopsis: When a failed nuclear fusion experiment results in an explosion that kills his wife, Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) is... [More]
Directed By: Sam Raimi

#11

Incredibles 2 (2018)
93%

#11
Adjusted Score: 116812%
Critics Consensus: Incredibles 2 reunites Pixar's family crimefighting team for a long-awaited follow-up that may not quite live up to the original, but comes close enough to earn its name.
Synopsis: Telecommunications guru Winston Deavor enlists Elastigirl to fight crime and make the public fall in love with superheroes once again.... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird

#10

Logan (2017)
94%

#10
Adjusted Score: 125124%
Critics Consensus: Hugh Jackman makes the most of his final outing as Wolverine with a gritty, nuanced performance in a violent but surprisingly thoughtful superhero action film that defies genre conventions.
Synopsis: In the near future, a weary Logan (Hugh Jackman) cares for an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) at a remote... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#9

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
93%

#9
Adjusted Score: 126220%
Critics Consensus: Exciting, funny, and above all fun, Thor: Ragnarok is a colorful cosmic adventure that sets a new standard for its franchise -- and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Synopsis: Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits... [More]
Directed By: Taika Waititi

#8

Wonder Woman (2017)
93%

#8
Adjusted Score: 127889%
Critics Consensus: Thrilling, earnest, and buoyed by Gal Gadot's charismatic performance, Wonder Woman succeeds in spectacular fashion.
Synopsis: Before she was Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior.... [More]
Directed By: Patty Jenkins

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 101267%
Critics Consensus: Superman deftly blends humor and gravitas, taking advantage of the perfectly cast Christopher Reeve to craft a loving, nostalgic tribute to an American pop culture icon.
Synopsis: Just before the destruction of the planet Krypton, scientist Jor-El (Marlon Brando) sends his infant son Kal-El on a spaceship... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#6

Iron Man (2008)
94%

#6
Adjusted Score: 104571%
Critics Consensus: Powered by Robert Downey Jr.'s vibrant charm, Iron Man turbo-charges the superhero genre with a deft intelligence and infectious sense of fun.
Synopsis: A billionaire industrialist and genius inventor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), is conducting weapons tests overseas, but terrorists kidnap him... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

#5

The Dark Knight (2008)
94%

#5
Adjusted Score: 107434%
Critics Consensus: Dark, complex, and unforgettable, The Dark Knight succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling crime saga.
Synopsis: With the help of allies Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman (Christian Bale) has... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 127849%
Critics Consensus: Exciting, entertaining, and emotionally impactful, Avengers: Endgame does whatever it takes to deliver a satisfying finale to Marvel's epic Infinity Saga.
Synopsis: Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

#3

Black Panther (2018)
96%

#3
Adjusted Score: 128672%
Critics Consensus: Black Panther elevates superhero cinema to thrilling new heights while telling one of the MCU's most absorbing stories -- and introducing some of its most fully realized characters.
Synopsis: After the death of his father, T'Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place... [More]
Directed By: Ryan Coogler

#2

The Incredibles (2004)
97%

#2
Adjusted Score: 106261%
Critics Consensus: Bringing loads of wit and tons of fun to the animated superhero genre, The Incredibles easily lives up to its name.
Synopsis: In this lauded Pixar animated film, married superheroes Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) are forced to... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird

#1
Adjusted Score: 121140%
Critics Consensus: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse matches bold storytelling with striking animation for a purely enjoyable adventure with heart, humor, and plenty of superhero action.
Synopsis: Bitten by a radioactive spider in the subway, Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales suddenly develops mysterious powers that transform him into... [More]

It’s been five years since moviegoers were gifted – and utterly befuddled by – a new Charlie Kaufman movie. In September, the mind behind Being John Malkovich, Anomalisa, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind releases his newest film as director and writer, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, on Netflix. The adaptation of Iain Reed’s celebrated novel stars Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons as a young couple driving through a snowstorm to meet Plemons’ character’s parents, and Toni Collette and David Thewlis as the bizarre mom and dad they eventually encounter. As usual, nothing – time, space, memory, even the rooms – is what it seems. Ahead of the movie’s release, Rotten Tomatoes Editor-in-Chief Joel Meares jumped on a Zoom call with Kaufman, Buckley, Plemons, and Collette to talk through the challenge of bringing this dense, smart, and very Kaufman project to the screen.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things premieres on Netflix on September 4

#1
Adjusted Score: 99382%
Critics Consensus: Aided by stellar performances from Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons, I'm Thinking of Ending Things finds writer-director Charlie Kaufman grappling with the human condition as only he can.
Synopsis: Full of misgivings, a young woman travels with her new boyfriend to his parents' secluded farm.... [More]
Directed By: Charlie Kaufman

After delays following the shutdown of theaters in the wake of COVID-19, Disney’s live-action take on Mulan is finally being released – on the Mouse House’s streaming service, Disney+. Earlier this year, Rotten Tomatoes Editor Jacqueline Coley sat down with director Niki Caro, and stars Yifei Liu, Jet Li, and Donnie Yen, to talk about the importance of the Mulan story in Chinese culture, the task of adapting the beloved Disney cartoon to a live-action format, and how Li and Yen’s daughters played a big part in convincing them to join the film.

Mulan will be available on Disney+ for $29.99 on September 4

#1

Mulan (2020)
73%

#1
Adjusted Score: 94413%
Critics Consensus: It could have told its classic story with greater depth, but the live-action Mulan is a visual marvel that serves as a stirring update to its animated predecessor.
Synopsis: To save her ailing father from serving in the Imperial Army, a fearless young woman disguises herself as a man... [More]
Directed By: Niki Caro

The long-delayed and still highly anticipated New Mutants may have just won Comic-Con@Home 2020 with some massive reveals – including the first two minutes of the movie! – and the cast and director chased their mic-drop panel with an exclusive and extended chat about the movie with Rotten Tomatoes. Stars Charlie Heaton, Blu Hunt, Alice Braga, Henry Zaga, and director Josh Boone spoke with RT correspondent Karama Horne about the unique superhero movie’s genre-bending influences – A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors looms large, as does Buffy – as well as their personal connections to their characters, their love of the Marvel comics on which the film is based, and why they had to tell the terrifying Demon Bear saga.

The New Mutants is scheduled for release in theaters August 28, 2020. 

#1

The New Mutants (2020)
36%

#1
Adjusted Score: 44611%
Critics Consensus: Rendering a list of potentially explosive ingredients mostly inert, The New Mutants is a franchise spinoff that's less than the sum of its super-powered parts.
Synopsis: Five teenage mutants -- Mirage, Wolfsbane, Cannonball, Sunspot and Magik -- undergo treatments at a secret institution that will cure... [More]
Directed By: Josh Boone
Legion season 3 keyart (FX)

(Photo by FX)

Since its debut three years ago, FX’s Legion has been one of the most compelling, mind-bending, and uniquely heartfelt series to spin out of a comic book. That it focused on a relatively minor character from the X-Men lore is even more remarkable. But by lifting David Haller from the pages of various X-Men titles into a weird and timeless television reality, show creator Noah Hawley was able to examine topics like mental illness, sexual assault, and the end of the world in a unique way.

Often, it chose not to connect the dots, leaving that mutant ability for the viewer to use. In its place, it offered musical numbers, a couple of fantastic dance numbers, and David – as played by Dan Stevens – unraveling at least some of the secrets buried in his head. And it all led to a pivotal figure in X-Men history, Charles Xavier (Harry Lloyd), and a somewhat obscure, but vitally important background character, Amahl Farouk (Navid Negahban).


Spoiler alert: This article includes plot details from the series finale of Legion. Stop here if you have not watched the final episode.


Considering Charles and Amahl’s fight in the comics led to the formation of the X-Men, it would seem the end of Legion contains a beginning — or maybe it really ended with David destroying the world. Let’s take a look at what the ending has to offer. Negahban was kind enough to talk to Rotten Tomatoes about one of the ways the future could change — well, provided there is a future, of course.


Why did Everyone Think David Would Destroy the World?

LEGION -- Pictured: Dan Stevens as David Haller. CR: Pari Dukovic/FX

(Photo by Pari Dukovic/FX)

He’s done it before.

There is a certain ambiguity in the show’s final shot — or limitless potential as it is a baby’s smiling face. But David’s role in bringing about an apocalypse is probably the third line on his Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe page after “Professor X’s son” and “Suffers from a mental illness.” Despite being a presence in the comic books for a number of years, Legion’s big moment came in 1995’s “Legion Quest” story line. The character – waking from a long coma – made a key decision: he was going to travel back to the 1960s and kill Magneto before he formed his Brotherhood. If successful, then only his father’s non-violent philosophy would hold sway and prevent much of the strife done by Erik Magnus Lehnsherr and his followers.

Unfortunately, it all went badly and Legion ended up killing Charles Xavier instead of Magneto, unleashing a reality in which the world learned about Mutants decades too soon and Apocalypse, a powerful, ancient, and immortal mutant took control of the planet. Eventually, a team of familiar faces (led by the time-lost mutant Bishop) managed to travel back in time to prevent David’s error.

Curiously enough, Bishop was able to show David the damage he caused. The troubled mutant apologized and apparently died.

The Age of Apocalypse was undone and things went back to normal. Well, mostly, anyway. Blink, a fan favorite from the AoA timeline, eventually found herself crossing the multiverse with a group known as “The Exiles,” while Dark Beast, a mad-scientist version of founding X-Man Hank McCoy, and a few other characters found their way to the familiar Earth-616.


LEGION -- "Chapter 23" - Season 3, Episode 4 (Airs Mon, July 15, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Dan Stevens as David Haller. CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX

(Photo by Suzanne Tenner/FX)

Legion eventually reappeared (as no one stays dead in comics), but his most famous misadventure was always in Hawley’s mind, and a version of “Legion Quest” was the direction of the series from the first moment David flashed his wicked smile into camera.

As Stevens put it when we talked to him on the set back in March, the show is not “directly adapting frame by frame any particular Legion story line. But I hope what we’re retaining is the playfulness.”

Changing reality, if not destroying it, is always an aspect of the playfulness.


Did David End the World?

In a manner of speaking, yes. As his addition to Lessons in Time Travel indicated, the traveler is annihilated in the attempt to change his or her past. The David, Syd (Rachel Keller), Cary and Kerry Loudermilk (Bill Irwin and Amber Midthunder), and Amahl Farouk of the program’s “present” timeline all ceased to exist, as did anyone left there while the Time Eaters munched away. From their perspectives, David ended the world by traveling 33 years into the past — à la “Legion Quest.”

Now, had a fourth season occurred, it is entirely possible we would’ve seen new versions of these characters grappling with echoes from the world before. Much like the way the omnipresent baseline at David’s cult compound invaded the minds of his parents, an image or song (likely from The Who) might have offered Syd or David some clue to the old timeline – much as Bishop survived in the Age of Apocalypse to form his own strike team. Maybe this is why the mainframe version of Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris) remained in stasis back in the present.

But with Chapter 27 serving as the conclusion, we’re left with a blank slate. It is easy to consider what it might look like. We will even be charitable and assume the timeline we witnessed on Legion was a darker world where mutants mostly ran scared and had no unifying groups to help them with their powers.


Will Charles Form the X-Men?

Almost certainly. Upon his return from Morocco, Charles tells Gabrielle (Stephanie Corneliussen) that he always wanted to be a teacher. The implication is clear. Even their home has a certain X-Mansion flare to it. And that change is key in appreciating the series’ end-state. In the personal sense, Charles and Stephanie will be there to raise David — and help him cope with the mental health issues he inherited from Gabrielle. But in the larger sense, Charles came away from his journey with a new perspective. As Lloyd noted when we talked to him in March, “[Charles] is actually quite lost” when he arrives at the Shadow King’s palace. But having returned from a trip that saw him disappear entirely in the old timeline, he is now free to fulfill a destiny he never knew he had.

Back in the comics, Professor X’s battle with the Shadow King led him to found the X-Men as a safe-guard against mutants who use their abilities for evil. But in Legion‘s history, the battle seemingly left Charles dead or utterly incapacitated. Altering this outcome may be more significant than David could imagine. Besides giving Charles the opportunity to be part of the a family unit with Gabrielle and David, he will also be able to teach others how to harness their gifts — no doubt after training David — leading to a very different world.


LEGION -- "Chapter 26" - Season 3, Episode 7 (Airs Mon, August 5, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Harry Lloyd as Charles, Dan Stevens as David Haller. CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX

(Photo by Suzanne Tenner/FX)

We’re also going to note the total absence of Magneto from Legion’s structure as it means TV show David achieved what comic book Legion sought to accomplish: a world in which Charles made things better.

Sure, Division 3 will likely observe the Xavier school, perhaps even come into conflict with a group of X-Men, just as they hunted people at Summerland. Nonetheless, Charles will offer something better than the Birds sought to create. Although, if you’ve read an X-Men comic or seen one of the movies, you know the tension between mutant and humans will always lead to fighting and giant robots. But at least Charles’s attempts with the school and the X-Men offer people like Syd and the Loudermilks something they may not have otherwise: family from an early age.


Who Will the Shadow King Be in the New Future?

When we spoke with Negahban recently, his thoughts turned toward the key moment in the finale: a handshake between David and the Shadow King. It evolved on set, but reflected the overall tone of the final moments. That is to say, a non-violent resolution after all the pain and trauma.

“[Noah] was addressing how people are struggling to see each other, to understand each other, to find themselves,” Negahban explained, adding that some of Amahl’s apparent villainy in Chapter 26 may have been an expression of an extreme loneliness. “Even in his most evil moments, he is feeling very lonely being the most evil person.”

But as Negahban saw it, the Shadow King’s future self gave him something key — an external awareness of his actions.

“The way that I looked at it is that we can change the future by paying attention to our present or paying attention to what we are doing, how we are responding to other people,” the actor said.


LEGION - season 2 Navid Negahban (Matthias Clamer/FX)

(Photo by Matthias Clamer/FX)

For Amahl, that change came courtesy of the future Shadow King’s stylish glasses and the history they contained: “When [he] hands the glasses to Amahl — just by seeing what kind of impact we have on our future, we might change our behavior today.”

Negahban imagines the Amahl who emerges in the new reality will be less lonely and offer his powers to a life of service.

“Sometimes we are becoming so full of ourselves, we are becoming so arrogant that we think that we are controlling everything, that we are controlling the situation,” he said of Amahl up until the events of Chapter 27. “I think Amahl sees the effect that he’s going to have on the future. And at the end when he is thanking [David, Charles, and his future self] for allowing him to see the outcome of his actions, he is getting a second chance to change.”

That apology echoes David’s back in “Age of Apocalypse.” And while it is easy to imagine a kinder Amahl Farouk finding peace in a new future, did David also earn a second chance?


Was David Deserving of His Redemption?

When we visited the set, we asked the cast if David deserved redemption. Midthunder, on the eve of shooting the final episode, still felt conflicted about David.

“Everybody has a story and everybody has a side,” she said. “Everybody has reasons for doing what they do, but then everybody has the way that it affects them.”

Meanwhile, she thought Kerry had a clearer point of view on the matter: he deserved to pay for his actions.

Irwin, on the other hand, thought “that his service to the world — keeping the world going — is something we can all be grateful to him for” even if his actions left him as a dubious sort of hero.

Lauren Tsai, whose character, Switch, allowed David the opportunity to change his past, thought the overall story of season 3 created enough ambiguity for viewers to question his redemption long after the finale.

“I think that throughout the story you can believe that David is redeemable,” she said. “David deserves love and a normal life. But at the same time you can also feel like, Well, he did these horrible things.


LEGION -- Pictured: Lauren Tsai as Switch. CR: Pari Dukovic/FX

(Photo by Pari Dukovic/FX)

In Switch’s case, David’s exploitation of her powers led to a beneficial transformation. But David’s violation of Syd may be the greatest reason to deny him redemption. Even before he erased her memories of his darkest actions, he was causing her psychic damage.

“So much of her life since she’s met this man has been in service to him,” Keller said during our set visit. “So many young women go through taking on egotistical and stupid and sick men, trying to right their wrongs or fix them.”

This seemed to be an involuntary course of action for Syd up until the end. In March, Keller expressed a hope that Syd would be able to leave him in peace. But it seems time travel allowed her something better: the chance to protect a David brimming with potential. The David she knew deserved only oblivion, even if he did fix the world. That baby, though, definitely deserved better.

And, hopefully, the end of the world (as Legion viewers knew it) will give him that chance.



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Dark Phoenix is finally out in theaters and, well, it isn’t the greatest X-Men movie ever released. It’s currently Rotten at 23% on the Tomatometer  — although audiences seemed to appreciate it more than the critics – and a strange epitaph to 20th Century Fox’s 20-year relationship with Marvel’s Merry Mutants.

But considering the film is Fox’s second attempt to adapt the landmark Dark Phoenix Saga, we can’t help but wonder if the story is just too big to be contained in one film. As with X-Men: The Last Stand, it feels like vital pieces were lost and, while the casts of X-Men films are always sprawling, this one was missing a number of key characters. Does the story require a trilogy of its own? The Marvel Cinematic Universe proves audiences will wait a long time for payoffs, but building these ideas and characters in a way that resonates like the comic book series may be asking too much of the X-Men movies. Perhaps television is the best place to tell this story — we previously got versions of it on two different X-Men animated series —  and considering the way HBO and streaming services have pushed TV into feature quality, here are five reasons why Dark Phoenix is better suited for that format.


It Can Build To Proper Payoffs And Endings

Dark Phoenix trailer (@ Twentieth Century Fox)

(Photo by @ Twentieth Century Fox)

Despite marketing the film as the end of the series, Dark Phoenix can’t help but feel like connective tissue to another chapter. Of course, the same could be said for just about any X-Men project. It’s baked into the concept, thanks to writer Chris Claremont, who made ­Uncanny X-Men the most important Marvel title in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Planning to stay on the book for a very long time, he seeded ideas he wouldn’t pay off for years. One could call it soap opera plotting, as he provided enough hooks and payoffs to keep readers engaged while telling the ongoing tales of the X-Men as a whole.

But in the case of the overall Phoenix Saga – a story comprising Jean Grey’s death, resurrection, and transformation into the Dark Phoenix – Claremont had an ending in mind. It was ultimately changed for reasons we will discuss later, but in its finished form, it offered a clear endpoint for a story told across nearly four years of comics.

Tentpole filmmaking used to be comfortable with definitive endings. The first Matrix, for example, ends at a place that would have served as a satisfying conclusion had the film proven to be unsuccessful at the box office. And though we were promised a Star Wars Sequel Trilogy since 1980, Return of the Jedi is certainly an ending to the story begun in 1976. Nowadays, big movies more closely resemble the Claremont style than ever before, with endings teasing a subsequent hook for another story.

In the case of Dark Phoenix, a prestige series would have the time to properly seed ideas like Xavier’s apparent mistake with Jean, the X-Men as celebrities — a concept criminally underutilized in the film — and one key idea not in the movie we’ll discuss in a moment. With room to breathe, these concepts would have greater weight and emotional resonance than a single two-hour film affords them. And as Claremont proved in the comics, the pace is essential.


The Characters Can Be Characters

Sophie Turner in Dark Phoenix (© Marvel / © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

(Photo by © Marvel / © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Despite Jean Grey appearing in films since 2000, what do we know about her? She was Xavier’s star pupil, she has extraordinary telekinetic abilities (with telepathy added at some point), and she has the hots for Wolverine despite dating Cyclops. It’s thin characterization when an entire movie rests on her shoulders. And while Sophie Turner does a lot with that rough sketch, it’s no accident Dark Phoenix re-frames her story in the context of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) apparently making a mistake. He is, after all, the character all the films have invested in since X-Men: First Class. That’s not a bad thing, as someone has to anchor these films besides Wolverine. But once you come back to the Dark Phoenix Saga, you need more of an emotional investment in Jean (and Cyclops, for that matter) than X-Men: Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix afforded her (or Scott).

A prestige X-Men series focusing on the Dark Phoenix Saga can actually frame the story around Jean and who she is besides Xavier’s greatest student and Cyclops’ girlfriend. Her struggle with the Phoenix Force would mean something, as viewers would know what would be lost if she let the Phoenix have complete control. In the film, these ideas are there, but rushed or inferred for the most part.

And since we’re talking characters, a series also means we get to know Cyclops – a character the films have always shortchanged because he’s not as romantic as Wolverine – Storm, and Nightcrawler beyond their powers. As a result, deaths would also carry more weight, because the characters would genuinely matter to viewers.


The Hellfire Club Could Be Utilized

Murray Close/20th Century Fox

Kevin Bacon and January Jones as Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class (2011) (Photo by Murray Close/20th Century Fox)

One set of characters criminally absent from both cinematic versions of the Dark Phoenix story is the Hellfire Club. Created by Claremont and artist John Byrne – though apparently inspired by a 1966 episode of the British spy series The Avengers – they debuted as a social club whose inner circle was made of mutants attempting to control the course of world events. Characters like Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost (played by Kevin Bacon and January Jones, respectively, in First Class) first appeared as members of the inner circle, who try to take control of a Phoenix-addled Jean Grey.

Jean’s flirtation with domination and control is a key element of the story and something definitely missing from Dark Phoenix. Jessica Chastain’s Vuk tries to fill the role of the Hellfire Club, but the change lacks the power it should have because Vuk is more of a cipher than an actual character. Consider the satisfying biblical allusions when Jean is presented with classic, decadent temptations in the Hellfire Club. And while we’re at it, Emma Frost could offer Cyclops a temptation of his own, considering their eventual relationship during one of Jean’s many dormant periods in the comics.

Incorporating the Hellfire Club also offers the story a true, seductive evil compared to the poorly realized, grubby D’Bari of Dark Phoenix. It would also give Jean, as a character, the moment to revel in her power that she never really gets in the film, and that key pivot in Jean and the Phoenix’s time together is crucial to setting up the story’s conclusion.


Mutants In Space!

Dark Phoenix (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. / ©Marvel / Everett Collection)

(Photo by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. / ©Marvel / Everett Collection)

Because Marvel Comics featured alien species from nearly the beginning of its superhero universe, the Phoenix Force’s origin as an alien entity needed very little scaffolding. And when she left Earth following her time with the Hellfire Club, her feasting on the D’Bari star also needed little set-up; the alien race was established years earlier in an issue of The Avengers. But because neither of the Fox film cycles set up aliens, the culmination of the Dark Phoenix storyline could not be used.

In the comics, the Dark Phoenix returns to Earth after destroying the D’Bari home world, and a council made up of the Kree, the Skrulls, and the Shi’ar Empire determine the Phoenix is too dangerous. The Shi’ar arrive on Earth and pronounce a death sentence on Jean, but Xavier convinces the Shi’ar Empress to allow the X-Men to duel her Imperial Guard in an attempt to save Jean, whom Xavier has de-powered back to her original abilities. When Jean and Cyclops prove to be the last X-Men standing, she uses a Kree device to disintegrate her body and, seemingly, disperse the Phoenix Force.

It’s a big ending. But without the time to establish the Shi’ar, both Dark Phoenix and The Last Stand eschew that development in favor of smaller ideas. A television show, on the other hand, would have that time. In fact, the scenario becomes more intense if the X-Men are confronted with the reality of what Jean could do as the Phoenix and try to find an ethical outcome with the Shi’ar. It’s a moral dilemma completely absent from Dark Phoenix, as the D’Bari survivors led by Vuk never seem too broken up about the billions of dead brethren they left behind on the smoldering wreck of their world.

Dark Phoenix (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. / ©Marvel / Everett Collection)

(Photo by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. / ©Marvel / Everett Collection)

And, really, that moral dilemma is part of what makes the Dark Phoenix Saga so compelling. Its ending was changed when Marvel’s then Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter learned Jean and the Phoenix would face no real punishment for the D’Bari genocide. The Phoenix Force – meant to be a recurring X-Men villain in the story’s aftermath – was shelved for a time, and Jean was barred from returning until a writer could give Shooter a satisfactory way to absolve her of the crime. It eventually happened, as no one stays dead in the comics, but the implications gave the story a lasting importance across decades of subsequent X-Men comic book storylines.

This is the weight Dark Phoenix should have. But without the careful planning of a Marvel Cinematic Universe or the build-up of a television series, the impact will always be lost. At this point, we would favor a television show, as it could give these ideas the chance to grow and give us a live-action X-Men team we genuinely care about as they face their greatest ethical conflict. Until that happens, if it ever should, we still have the comics, which offer the story in its grandest scale.


Dark Phoenix is in theaters now.


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Dark Phoenix brings the current X-Men saga to a close, but according to critics, the film ends the franchise with more of a whimper than a bang. Despite its stellar cast, the involvement of longtime franchise writer/producer Simon Kinberg (who makes his directorial debut here), and an iconic storyline taken straight from the comics, the would-be blockbuster only managed a 23% on the Tomatometer and failed to win its opening weekend at the box office, falling second to the animated sequel The Secret Life of Pets 2 by almost $14 million.

But what did average moviegoers think of the movie? Dark Phoenix currently sports an Audience Score of 64% — that’s more than 40 points higher than the Tomatometer score — so we decided to comb through the user reviews to get a sense of why the film resonated more with regular moviegoers than the critics. As we’ve found with other films, it really came down to audiences being more forgiving of some of the film’s flaws. Were there those who outright loved the movie? Absolutely, but there was a wide range of opinions offered, and we’ve collected some of them below. Check out the user reviews of Dark Phoenix and let us know what you thought of the film, and these reviews, in the comments. (Note, some of the reviews have been slightly edited for length and grammar/spelling.)


Doane Gregory/20th Century Fox

(Photo by Doane Gregory/20th Century Fox)

How is the writing?

Horrible writing… It felt like the writers of this movie knew nothing about the characters besides maybe what had come before from the Fox X-Men universe.
– Nate 4, 0.5 stars

Not as bad as people are making it out to be. It is watchable. It is, however, very cheesy, and there is not really a solid plot/storyline to drive the movie forward. It was kind of sloppily done.
– Bianca F., 2.5 stars

Have always been a huge fan of the X-Men. However, this felt rushed, like trying to tie up ends. The premise was great and the material was there, but the delivery was all over the place.
– Michelle, 3 stars

Liked the effects. Disliked the departure from the original storyline. No character development.
– Al-kareem T., 3 Stars

Not too complicated of a story.
– R, 4 stars


What about the acting?

People keep saying this movie is unwatchable and terrible. IDK what those people are watching, but I was glued to the screen the whole time. Yes it has its problems like any movie but I enjoyed it. Sophie did a good job!
– Carlos, 3 stars

It’s just not the same since Wolverine is not in it any more, and I wasn’t really crazy about what happened to Raven. I’m still a big fan of Michael Fassbender, who played Magneto. If it weren’t for him, the X-Men would just completely suck.
– Northside Movie Critic, 3 stars

The movie wasn’t perfect, but it isn’t entirely bad. Sophie Turner, Michael Fassbender, and James McAvoy lift this movie, which suffers from very minimal action sequences.
– Uma M., 3.5 stars

Sophie Turner dazzled as both hero and villain in this powerful finale to the X-men series. This movie had the best character development, and Jessica Chastain was very well played as a mysterious villain.
– Jaylon, 4.5 stars

I have no clue what all the hate is about. I loved this film. The tone, the VFX, and the score were all breathtaking. McAvoy and Turner stoke the show with astounding performances. 10/10 would watch again.
– Rodger C., 5 stars


20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

How is it as an adaptation of the Dark Phoenix Saga?

Somehow Fox managed to make a worse Phoenix movie than X-Men: The Last Stand.
– Nate 4, 0.5 stars

Was hoping this movie would stay more true to the comic. Well, sort of?
– Charles, 2 stars

I just don’t think anyone has figured out how to tell the Dark Phoenix story adequately yet.
– Adam E., 3.5 stars

It’s not ANYWHERE NEAR as bad as I was afraid it would be or the critic reviews are saying it is. That doesn’t mean it’s amazing, though. It does have its problems if it’s trying to be THE Dark Phoenix Movie, but it never could have been with the underdeveloped characters they were working with. At least I didn’t walk out saying, “I can’t believe The Last Stand was the GOOD Phoenix movie.” It’s missing some very crucial aspects of the Phoenix Saga that made it great — that significantly disappoints, particularly in the third act. Very sad it’s not the Phoenix movie I’ve desperately wanted since I was a kid.
– Darknight Crawler, 4.5 stars


How are the visuals and action sequences?

The makeup work on mystique looked even worse than in Apocalypse. The CGI looked like something that would have impressed if this came out in the early 2000s.
– Nate 4, 0.5 stars

Loved the fight scenes. It needed more refinement and lacked the finesse of The Avengers. Loved the traditional power hand gestures. Very indicative of mutant powers.
– Xavier, 2.5 stars

Casual moviegoers or those with extra cash will enjoy this. A very decent film with great visuals and special effects.
– Rohit S., 3 stars

How can you have an X-Men movie and not put the mind-blowing mutant powers on display? That was my only concern. Thanks to the extensive re-shoots, the train sequence has become the best battle in the entire X-Men film series.
– Uma M., 3.5 stars


20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

How does it compare to the other X-Men movies?

X-Men: Apocalypse wasn’t very good. This one was worse. So many deviations, it was ridiculous.
– James R., 2 stars

It’s better than The Last Stand and Apocalypse.
– Carlos, 3 stars

Not a bad film, but not a good one either. If you were expecting it to be like Avengers, Venom, or like even previous X-Men films, it’s not the same. But it’s not a bad X-Men film, and if you really wanted to see it, or you’re a big X-Men fan, I think you’ll like it.
– Rohit S., 3 stars

It’s not the best X-Men movie, but I think it’s a step up from the previous one, and it was enjoyable, even though it felt a bit rushed towards the end.
– Daniel M., 4 stars

Best of X-Men series in a while. Great story and action.
– Phoenix Rises, 4 stars

The reviews are totally wrong about this one. This was a massive improvement compared to The Last Stand.
– Jaylon, 4.5 stars


Is it a fitting end to the franchise?

Sad ending to this franchise. Maybe Disney will do better.
– Charles, 2 stars

Fox had an opportunity to let us say goodbye to these characters before the Disney/Fox merger. Instead of a Logan-type ending, we were left with nothing really changing in this world, just like a typical superhero movie.
– Ryan K., 2.5 stars

Not the worst X-Men movie, but not the best way to end the first true superhero movie franchise.
– Erick, 3.5 stars

I do recommend seeing this in theaters, if only because it’s a decent enough goodbye to the X-Men franchise we’ve known for 19 years and a glimpse of what Marvel will be doing again in, say, 12 years? See you then…
– Darknight Crawler, 4.5 stars


Check out all of the user reviews for Dark Phoenix so far


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Going on nearly 20 years, the X-Men movie franchise has had many ups and downs. Now, with the release of Dark Phoenix, critics are declaring it the lowest of the low, and the Tomatometer score certainly affirms the dishonor. While some reviews claim it’s not really the worst X-Men sequel yet, even the most positive takes are far from excited. If this is the conclusion of what began back in 2000, it’s possibly a more disappointing series finale than anything on TV. Still, there’s reportedly some decent action, if that’s enough for you to finish out its run.

Here’s what critics are saying about Dark Phoenix:


Is this really the worst X-Men movie?

The worst chapter of its long-running main series.
– Eric Eisenberg, CinemaBlend

It may very well be the worst X-Men movie ever made.
– Jordan Ruimy, World of Reel

It’s more focused and less bloated than Apocalypse.
– Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

A tiny bit better than the worst X-Men films!
– Todd Gilchrist, Birth.Movies.Death.

Dark Phoenix IS GOOD!… It’s more distinguishable and bares the identity of an X-Men movie that plays like a long episode of the animated series.
– Rendy Jones, Rendy Reviews


20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Is it at least better than The Last Stand?

The film is marginally better than the previous telling of the Phoenix saga.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN

[Kinberg] makes up for the single worst X-Men film… Chris Claremont and John Byrne would be proud.
Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

[Simon Kinberg] is a more sensual and intuitive filmmaker than Brett Ratner.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

While Dark Phoenix may have fewer embarrassing missteps than Ratner’s 2006 disaster, it replaces that embarrassment with something that feels devoid of personality.
– Kambole Campbell, Little White Lies

Maybe X-Men: The Last Stand wasn’t an accurate adaptation of the Dark Phoenix comics, but at least it was a fun celebration of an ensemble of characters.
– Fred Topel, We Live Entertainment


Will die-hard X-Men fans enjoy it?

Dark Phoenix is not the movie for fans of the comic book series. It’s arguable if Dark Phoenix is the film for hardcore fans of the franchise that’s existed in one form or another since 2000.
Jeffrey Lyles, Lyles’ Movie Files

It’s as though the audience is expected to be grateful that they are seeing most of the classic line-up of characters, without exploring what makes them interesting.
Kambole Campbell, Little White Lies

This final Fox X-Men film also has a number of Easter eggs for comic fans… there’s also a cameo by writer Chris Claremont.
– Scott Chitwood, ComingSoon.net


20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Is it a satisfying franchise finale, at least?

Compared with the conclusions of other major franchises — the most recent being Avengers: Endgame — this one seems distinctly minor league.
Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

This X-Men outing feels more like an afterthought than a climax.
Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro

With this final installment, the franchise goes out with a resounding thud.
Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

Dark Phoenix makes for a satisfying conclusion to the X-Men series.
Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

Ultimately a movie that understands its status as a farewell to characters who have thrilled audiences for two decades… It’s a fitting final chapter.
Tom Beasley, Flickering Myth


How is Sophie Turner?

For Game of Thrones fans, it is tempting to imagine Turner as the all-powerful being she deserves to be…Dark Phoenix just doesn’t do [her] justice.
Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

If she deserved better than Game of Thrones finally gave her, she deserves even better here.
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

Turner puts in the work, but the writing and sloppy direction does little to underpin the performance.
Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Toronto

The pleasure of Dark Phoenix is watching her emerge from the wreckage.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety


20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Is there a strong feminist message?

It’s the women in this one who do most of the heavy lifting, and the film rises to another level because of it.
Lisa Johnson Mandell, AtHomeInHollywood.com

Dark Phoenix takes blockbuster gender politics a step further… to forge an allegory of the rise of women that’s sharply compelling in its renegade/victim edge.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

If Dark Phoenix was intended as a feminist statement, it plays out more like a male fear at women seizing power and wreaking havoc.
Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro


How is the rest of the cast?

The excellent acting… is better than the Disney-run Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post

James McAvoy is probably the standout… Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender, meanwhile, are practically checking their watches.
Eric Eisenberg, CinemaBlend

Perhaps the most affecting work is by Hoult as Hank, who etches a journey from loss to rage as the effects of Jean’s unravelling hit hard.
Ian Freer, Empire Magazine


Does it have a villain problem?

It’s a character so immensely boring that it doesn’t really deserve mention in the basic plot description of the film.
Eric Eisenberg, CinemaBlend

Chastain is excellent as always, but her character is so underwritten that you’d be hard-pressed to remember its name.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Chastain puts on an icy performance as the baddie… but the movie doesn’t seem to know what to do with her.
Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Toronto

One of the film’s biggest missed opportunities is its handling of the villains… with Chastain delivering a flat performance as a one-dimensional super-powered baddie.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN


20th Century Fox

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

What about the good parts?

Kinberg actually puts together some very well done fight scenes. The film’s signature sequence on a train showcases the X-Men’s powers in a way we haven’t seen on the big screen in a long time.
Jeffrey Lyles, Lyles’ Movie Files

One diverting action sequence, set aboard a fast-moving train and goosed by an enjoyably bombastic Hans Zimmer score.
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

[It has] what may very well be the best on-screen train fight since Captain America: The First Avenger.
Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

There aren’t many action scenes in Dark Phoenix, but the few that there are end up being somewhat entertaining.
Scott Chitwood, ComingSoon.net

The light-show effects have a mid-’90s fanciful cheesiness, and I dug them for that reason.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

There’s a refreshing simplicity to Dark Phoenix at a time when superhero movies are becoming increasingly complex.
Tom Beasley, Flickering Myth


Are we just ready for the X-Men to join the MCU?

Now the legacy of the X-Men will pass into a new set of hands, and hopefully it will rise, like a certain mythological bird, again.
Don Kaye, Den of Geek

As Disney and Marvel Studios take the reins, I hope they embrace the stakes, humanity and scrappiness of these special characters.
Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post

While the MCU may prove better… the property itself deservedly needs a good long rest before the X-Men return to the screen.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN


Dark Phoenix opens in theaters June 7, 2019. 

#1

Dark Phoenix (2019)
22%

#1
Adjusted Score: 44970%
Critics Consensus: Dark Phoenix ends an era of the X-Men franchise by taking a second stab at adapting a classic comics arc -- with deeply disappointing results.
Synopsis: The X-Men face their most formidable and powerful foe when one of their own, Jean Grey, starts to spiral out... [More]
Directed By: Simon Kinberg

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© Marvel / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by © Marvel / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection)

After the nearly two years of corporate courtship, a rival suitor in the form of Comcast, and a long stroll through regulatory scrutiny, The Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of nearly all of 21st Century Fox’s media holdings closed at 12:02am EDT Wednesday night. The roughly $70 billion deal changes the landscape of media in several drastic ways. For starters, there are now only five major movie studios, with analysts predicting there will be five to seven fewer major releases in a given year from now on. Additionally, Disney now own tons more popular intellectual property, including Star Wars, Alien, The X-Files, Avatar, and, of course, the Marvel Comics characters.

Until Wednesday, that last asset existed in a split state. Two of Marvel’s high-profile properties — the X-Men and the Fantastic Four — have been under Fox’s control since the mid-1990s. According to the terms of the deal Marvel Comics made during a particularly bad financial time, Fox would control the media destinies of both properties in perpetuity as long as it continued to make and develop films based on the characters. From the moment Disney’s acquisition of Fox was announced, fans assumed those properties would end up part of Marvel Studios’ wide range of characters, which appears to be the correct assumption; Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed that the company will now have access to the characters previously held by Fox.

Now that Disney’s Marvel and Fox’s Marvel are one entity, what will that joined vision of the Marvel Cinematic Universe look like and how soon will it happen? Here are six answers to questions you may be asking about Marvel’s role in Disney’s Fox acquisition.


RELATED: 


1. How soon will Wolverine show up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Throughout 2018, people including Feige insisted Marvel could not even begin to cook up ideas for the X-Men or Fantastic Four until the deal for the merger officially closed. There was also some talk about keeping the Fox-controlled Marvel assets separate, but that notion was later dismissed by Disney CEO Bob Iger.

“There shouldn’t be two Marvels,” he said back in September.

Since we previously assumed a lingering Fox contingent might delay Marvel Studios’ control of the characters, we counted out an X-Men stinger in Avengers: Endgame. Instead, we predicted Logan’s adamantium claws might appear in a 2021 mid-credits stinger scene. Now, we think it is possible — though still highly unlikely — the characters might be referenced in a singular image or a word. (It would have to be something easily shot in the next week or two as the studio could not use any of the characters or iconography until now.)

But even if Marvel manages to add a Fantastic Four or X-Men tease to Endgame, that stinger moment is all we will see of the characters for some time. Marvel Studios’ 2020 output inches closer to production even if the company declines to reveal their schedule until after Endgame’s release. At this point, we know The Eternals, Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and sequels for Doctor Strange and Black Panther are in the pipeline. Presumably, three of those projects will fill the 2020 release dates. Of course, the studio has altered its plan before, bumping Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and a proposed Inhumans film to secure a place for Spider-Man: Homecoming. With that in mind, it is possible the first Marvel Studios X-Men or Fantastic Four film could happen in 2021, particularly if Feige ever gets back to Legion’s Noah Hawley about his Doctor Doom script.


2. Will Dark Phoenix and New Mutants Still Be Released?

While Dark Phoenix will hit theaters this June, the fate of New Mutants is more tenuous. Though still slated for an August 2 release, the film’s planned 2018 reshoots (that would change more than 50 percent of the film and introduce a new character to the story) reportedly never took place and are no longer scheduled to occur.

Until the deal closed, Fox had to abide by its original agreement with Marvel Entertainment and release X-Men films at regular intervals. It also had to plan for a future in which it and Disney remained separate entities just in case the deal fell through or was delayed beyond the summer. Around this time last year, both films were pushed back to accommodate reshoots. But considering New Mutants’ additional photography never took place, it is fair to wonder if Fox delayed both films to save on development costs for other X-Men projects Marvel may eventually cancel. There is plenty to suggest this was the case and it may lead to New Mutants losing its theatrical release.


3. What Other Marvel Films Did Fox Have In Development?

Ellen Page in X-Men: The Last Stand (Mary Evans/Twentieth Century Fox / Marvel Comics/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection)

(Photo by Mary Evans/Twentieth Century Fox / Marvel Comics/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection)

Under the spirit of “business as usual” in the event the deal fell through, Fox planned to expand its output of Marvel-based films to three projects per year. The plan included more X-Men sequels while branching out with lesser known characters.

One project centering on fan-favorite mutant Kitty Pryde was announced and would see Deadpool director Tim Miller returning to the X-fold. Said to be based on Uncanny X-Men #143, the film would focus on Kitty’s struggle against a N’Garai demon while spending a lonely Christmas night in the X-Mansion. Comic-book writer Brian Michael Bendis was said to be adapting the issue into a feature script for Miller. Neither has commented on the project’s prospects.

Though little has been said since word first broke about the project, James Franco was set to star in a film focusing on X-Factor favorite Jamie Madrox, a.k.a. The Multiple Man. Franco’s real-life troubles may have sent this one to the back-burner, but considering X-Men characters must now compete with Shang-Chi and The Eternals for one of Marvel Studios’ coveted release dates, expect any solo X-Men outings to be a late 2020s development. Channing Tatum’s long-delayed Gambit film is also more than likely kaput.

As we mentioned above, Noah Hawley signed on to develop a feature film for the greatest of Marvel villains, Doctor Doom. Recently, the Legion FX series executive producer revealed Feige asked about the draft he completed some time ago. Unfortunately, Hawley has not heard from the Marvel Studios boss since. But since we all want Doom to face off against the heroes, we hope this one works out.
Finally, X-Force, the Deadpool 2 spin-off, was expected to begin shooting in late 2018 under the direction of Bad Times at the El Royales Drew Goddard. With cast members like Josh Brolin, Zazie Beetz, and Ryan Reynolds reprising their Deadpool 2 roles, it seemed set to become the last Fox-produced X-Men film. Sadly, Goddard refused to comment on the project following news of the acquisition’s imminent closure. And with X-Force co-creator Rob Liefeld openly discussing the film’s demise on Twitter, we’re going to assume this one is also toast.


4. What About Deadpool 3?

As Reynolds once joked, they may skip the third film entirely and go straight to Deadpool 4 or 5. The actor, who co-wrote the sequel with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, also said the narrative weight of taking everything away from the character in order to build him up again will only lead to diminishing returns. In light of that, he offered the possibility of playing Deadpool as a supporting character in films like X-Force. Reese and Wernick, meanwhile, have said they’d love to team Deadpool up with Spider-Man — a pairing so popular it had its own comic book.

It is possible Reynolds was just cushioning himself should Marvel Studios choose not to continue with his vision of Deadpool — it is a PG-13 production house, after all — but it may also be a savvy ploy to negotiate with the company for a sweet multi-picture contract in which Deadpool shows up, does something wacky, and disappears again. It is certainly possible to tone down some of Wade Wilson’s antics for the MCU, which is what the Christmas release of a PG-13 Deadpool 2 called Once Upon a Deadpool proved.

Meanwhile, Iger once told investors it is possible to carve out an R-rated niche for Marvel to allow for more Deadpool movies. On Tuesday, Reynolds posted a photo of Deadpool wearing Mickey ears and riding a school bus to celebrate the acquisition. What it means for the future is anyone’s guess.


5. Will Galactus Be the Phase 4 Big Bad?

(Photo by Marvel)

After Thanos presumably gets his comeuppance in Avengers: Endgame, will Marvel Studios sow the seeds of another intergalactic Big Bad? If they attempt such a thing, Fantastic Four antagonist Galactus would be of a size and shape worthy to follow Thanos — even his headgear is more thrilling! But that is assuming Phase 4 will have a Big Bad. And come to think of it, the term “Phase 4” rarely comes up in Feige’s comments these days.

It took three phases and 22 films — now known as The Infinity Saga — to get to Thanos, even if he was introduced in the first Avengers film. So Phase 4, if we’re still using that term, may just see the regrouping of the heroes who survive Endgame and the introduction of the Eternals and Shang-Chi. If that is the case, the new big bad would be introduced in a potential fifth Avengers film in, say, 2022 or wherever Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ends up on the schedule. It would also provide ample time for Feige to plan the integration of the X-Men and the Fantastic Four into the MCU. And what better way to introduce Marvel’s first family than by the Avengers searching for them ahead of Galactus’s arrival? (We’re maybe getting carried away here, but we’re damn excited.)

Of course, we are assuming the next few years of MCU storytelling will use the same momentum as Phases 1-3. But considering Marvel Comics has been using the same narrative conventions in its event crossover comics for the last few decades — to say nothing of the financial rewards the studio established by using the technique — it seems a safe bet that Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, the Guardians, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four will unite to face some universe-shattering threat 22 films from now, if not sooner.


6. What of the Defenders and The Gifted?

Marvel's The Defenders (Sarah Shatz/Netflix)

(Photo by Sarah Shatz/Netflix)

Turning our attention to television, the Fox acquisition comes at an odd time for Marvel’s live-action initiatives. On ABC, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was renewed for a seventh season well ahead of its season 6 debut this summer. Cloak & Dagger returns to Freeform in a few weeks, and reports indicate Runaways second season was successful enough at Hulu for a third year to be all but a certainty. But over on Netflix, all of the Marvel shows were quickly cancelled following the debuts of their most recent seasons (except for Jessica Jones, which was cancelled ahead of its still-unscheduled season 3 debut). And from the way Netflix structures its deals, it will be some time before any of those characters can resurface on Disney platforms like Hulu (which the company now has a 60 percent stake in) or Disney+.

Meanwhile, the new Disney streaming platform indicates Iger’s desire for a single Marvel may not be in the cards just yet. Disney+’s Marvel television series will be produced by Marvel Studios, while all the television efforts to date are works of Marvel Entertainment. Yes, there is a difference, as the former is a division of The Walt Disney Studio, while the latter is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. In short: Disney operates two Marvel companies and, sometimes, their interests do not align. This is ultimately why the Defenders did not make cameos in Avengers: Infinity War and why the final seasons of their shows saw no one turning to dust.

From the Fox standpoint, the acquisition offered an incentive to end Legion after three seasons on FX. While Hawley recently said he always saw the program as a three-year story, the changing nature of Marvel TV no doubt helped the executives OK the idea of ending it now. Meanwhile, The Gifteds future on the Fox broadcast network remains up in the air. The network — which was retained by newly minted Fox Corp. — plans to hold onto several popular series now owned by Disney (which acquired Fox’s TV studio branch as well), including The Simpsons. But The Gifted is not exactly popular. Also, there is no telling how it may interfere with Marvel Entertainment’s plans going forward or Marvel Studios’ long-term goals.

Fox later answered the media attention around the completion of the acquistion with a trailer:

In the meantime, Hulu and Marvel Entertainment announced an initiative to create four animated series for the platform, potentially leading to a stronger relationship between the two branches of the Disney empire. As it happens, Disney wants Marvel content to stay in house, so Disney brands like ABC, Disney+, Freeform, and Hulu are the places you will see future Marvel TV shows. Additionally, the newly acquired FX networks may prove a good outlet as well for projects more in the vein of Legion. Maybe the long-lost New Warriors will find a home on one of those channels.


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DEADPOOL, US advance poster, Ryan Reynolds, as Deadpool, 2016. TM & ©Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection; ROBIN HOOD, Robin Hood, 1973, Everett Collection

(Photo by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; ©Walt Disney/Everett Collection)

The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox stockholders voted at the end of July to approve Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox. For Disney’s movies, this means they now have access to Fox’s Marvel properties like X-Men and Fantastic Four. Disney will now be the home to the Avatar franchise and classic Fox titles.

For television, Disney gets 20th Century Fox studio, FX Networks, National Geographic, and more. The actual Fox network is not part of the deal. Fox splits off and becomes “New Fox,” which includes Fox Broadcasting Co. and the Fox TV station group, Fox Sports and Fox News.

What this means for movie fans is more clear: for one, Marvel fans hope Wolverine can finally join The Avengers, and now that Disney owns the studio that released Star Wars: A New Hope and its 1997 special edition, maybe they can restore the unaltered theatrical edition.

To find out what this means for TV fans, Rotten Tomatoes interviewed current Fox Television CEO Dana Walden, FX CEO John Landgraf, and prolific creator on both networks Ryan Murphy, and found 7 big ways TV fans win in this Disney–Fox deal.


1. NEW FOX WILL KEEP THE SHOWS THAT SCREAM FOX, EVEN IF IT COSTS THEM.

The Simpsons (Fox)

(Photo by Fox)

Television production arm 20th Century Fox Television produces shows on all networks, like This Is Us on NBC, so they’re not going to pull Fox Television shows off of New Fox just because they’re splitting from the network.

Fox Television currently produces Fox’s The Simpsons, 9-1-1, The Resident, The Gifted, The Orville, and this season’s The Cool Kids, Rel, The Passage, and Proven Innocent. And New Fox will fight to keep the shows that define the Fox network.

The Simpsons is so much a part of the brand,” Walden said. “There are no plans for them to go anywhere other than Fox. We have a couple years of episodes already in progress on The Simpsons.”

That’s also good news for anyone pitching animated shows to Fox. Look how The Simpsons has anchored Sunday night animation on Fox.

“There’s been such an incredible halo effect of that show and the other animated series that are on our Sunday night,” Walden acknowledged. “Keeping quality shows that help define a network’s brand — there are reasons aside from financial you keep producing shows.”


2. NEW FOX WANTS TO BE HOME TO THE BEST THE STUDIOS HAVE TO OFFER.

Big Bang Theory (Monty Brinton/CBS)

(Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS)

New Fox may be losing 20th Century Fox Television as an in-house creator of shows, but the split frees them to select from the best new shows all the TV production studios offer. That can still include Fox Television, but also the television arms of Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., MGM, Lionsgate, and more.

“What makes New Fox new: It will be the only network to operate with complete independence,” Walden said. “It will have the ability to pick up the best shows from any production company with no studio agenda. We see this as an opportunity to get vibrant, independent studios back on broadcast.”

Sony and Warner Brothers aren’t hurting — Sony produces NBC’s The Blacklist, ABC’s The Good Doctor, Netflix’s The Crown, and YouTube Premium’s Karate Kid sequel Cobra Kai, while WB produces CBS’s The Big Bang Theory and all The CW’s Arrowverse shows. Walden just wants first dibs.

“We want to be their first choice among the big four networks,” Walden said. “Last season 90 percent of our development came from our own studio. This year we’ll reduce it to 50 percent, with the other half coming from outside.”


3. ROBUST STREAMING.

(Photo by Buena Vista)

Disney is planning to launch its own streaming service next year, which will include a new live-action Star Wars series as well as catalogs of Disney-owned series and movies. The New York Times reports that National Geographic programming is likely to be added to Disney streaming, though it is still unknown whether Fox’s catalog will be combined. If it were, that would include movies like Avatar, Die Hard, Planet of the Apes, and other major franchises and TV classics (M*A*S*H, L.A. Law, and The X-Files, to name a few), and you get a robust streaming environment with familiar titles that appeals to a broad base

And if Fox content doesn’t appear on Disney streaming, Hulu is still available. When Fox’s share of Hulu is added to Disney, Disney will own two-thirds of Hulu. Analysts predict Disney can beef up Hulu with Fox shows that are maybe too edgy and adult for its family friendly Disney service. Empire, 24The Orville, and others may go better with The Handmaid’s Tale and Castle Rock than animated movies.

Disney also owns ESPN and their ESPN+ app, and FX+ is available for $5.99 a month for more options.


4. RYAN MURPHY FANS GET THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS.

American Horror Story: Apocalypse keyart (FX)

(Photo by FX)

Even before the Disney–Fox merger was appoved, Ryan Murphy signed a new deal to develop shows for Netflix, where he’s doing Ratched, a show based on the Nurse Ratched character from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

He’s still got four shows on Fox and FX: American Horror Story, American Crime StoryPose, and 9-1-1. He’s going to keep those going for Fox and FX, while still creating more shows for Netflix.

“Every show that I have established that is running that’s on FOX or FX, my intent is to move forward with them and to keep going with them and to be actively involved with them,” Murphy said while on a panel for Pose.

There won’t be any new Ryan Murphy shows on Fox or FX. Netflix snagged the future of Ryan Murphy, but as long as New Fox and Disney play ball, he’ll keep giving them the good stuff they inherited with the purchase.

“It’s been an interesting transition for me, because in many ways it feels the same,” Murphy said. “I’m still close to everybody at FX and FOX and speak to them almost every day while I’m pursuing my new development. So I’m really excited about the things that I’m developing for Netflix, and I’m also very excited about continuing the properties I have for FOX.”


5. THE FOX CATALOG IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PILOT SEASON.

Alien Covenant (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

(Photo by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Disney is already developing a live-action Star Wars series, thus making its streaming service a must have for Star Wars fans. Via ABC, they’ve also done Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter based on characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Observer suggests that Disney could turn the Alien franchise into a streaming series too. Think of all the Fox franchises that could open up as series: Planet of the Apes was already a short-lived series, but with today’s technology they can do it right. Or how about the weekly adventures of John McClane? (Our own Comics on TV columnist has been rooting for a Fantastic Four or Silver Surfer series.)


6. FX COULD DO A GROWN-UP STAR WARS SHOW.

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Walt Disney Pictures)

(Photo by Walt Disney Pictures)

FX CEO John Landgraf hopes his network can contribute to the synergy of the Disney-Fox deal. FX is home to edgy adult shows like The Americans, Atlanta, American Horror Story, American Crime StoryThe Shield, and so on.

“I think you could make a case Disney does G and PG and PG-13 better than any other company in the history of the world, but they don’t do much R,” Landgraf said. “We do that pretty well. So I think there’s a lot of the properties that don’t readily translate themselves into truly adult stuff, but if you’re asking me if there’s IP locked in there that I’d love to get my hands on, yeah.”

Star Wars has never had a problem entertaining fans of all ages, but surely there are some grown-up fans who would appreciate a more adult and mature take on the galaxy far, far away. If Disney would ever allow such an approach, Landgraf is ready.

“I won’t be the keeper of that flame,” Landgraf said. “If somebody gives us an opportunity to do something with it, I’ll be thrilled, but we’ll see.”


7. SHAKING UP THE COMPETITION LANDSCAPE.

GLOW (Netflix)

(Photo by Netflix)

Competition is good and a major concern about Disney acquiring Fox is the idea that it’s inching ever closer to an entertainment monopoly. The competitive landscape remains intact even with this merger — it just looks different.

Disney gets more shows for their streaming services, and Netflix will lose all its Disney content by the end of 2019 and will have to come up with even more originals to keep subscribers interested.

Netflix has shown how good they are at creating compelling water-cooler television: Stranger Things, Mindhunter, and GLOW are three examples. The remaining question is: Can they create the next Bambi or Little Mermaid?

Titans - Robin (DC Universe)

(Photo by DC Universe)

The Comic-Con International: San Diego programming schedule is a mammoth list of competing ideas and events for fans of movies, television, animation, games, cosplay, and, yes, comic books. It is also an exciting look at the sort of experiences con-goers will find themselves lining up for next week. For those at home, it also offers a glimpse at some of the videos they might be watching on Twitter and YouTube soon after. And as the convention becomes more and more focused on television – and TV based on comic books – learning about all of those events could be a troublesome task. But we’ve sifted through the schedule to give you this round-up of the panels, presentations, and Q&As about your favorite comic book shows taking place across the week.


Thursday, July 19

Marvel Animation: Marvel Rising

Marvel Rising comic book (Marvel)

(Photo by Marvel)

Click to view full image.

The upcoming series of animated shorts brings together Quake (voiced by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Chloe Bennet), Squirrel Girl (Milana Vayntrub), Ms. Marvel (Kathreen Khavari), and Patriot (Kamil McFadden) to form a new supergroup for a new generation. The session will feature the voice cast and Marvel’s Cort Lane, Marsha Griffin, and Sana Amanat as they offer a sneak peek at the series and, quite possibly, make a special announcement.

Time & Location: 3:15 p.m. in Room 6DE

For Those At Home: If the sneak peek includes one of the first Marvel Rising shorts, it may end up online shortly after the panel.


Netflix: Marvel’s Iron Fist

Iron Fist season 1 keyart (Netflix)

(Photo by Netflix)

Jeph Loeb, head of Marvel’s TV division, and “surprise guests” will offer the first inside look at the second season of Iron Fist. Considering the thoroughly rebooted Danny Rand (Finn Jones) seen in the second season of Luke Cage, it will be interesting to see if the new year – and new showrunner Raven Metzner – will follow through on that promise as both he and Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) take to defending downtown.

Time & Location: 6 p.m. in Ballroom 20

For Those At Home: A trailer almost seems like a given, as well as a release date announcement.


Friday

Fear the Walking Dead/The Walking Dead Panels

The Walking Dead season 9 SDCC panel poster (AMC)

(Photo by AMC)

Click to view full image.

It is now a Comic-Con tradition for the two shows to do back-to-back panels and 2018 will be no exception. During Fear’s hour, members of the cast like Alycia Debnam-Carey, Colman Domingo, Lennie James, and Danay Garcia – alongside FX wizard Greg Nicotero, showrunners Andrew Chambliss, and Ian Goldberg and executive producers Scott M. Gimple, Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, and Dave Alpert – will discuss the road so far and what to expect when the show returns in August. In the second hour, Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang and stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan will offer their insights into the upcoming ninth season of the long-running zombie series. Both sessions will include fan Q&As in which cast and crew will deftly avoid spoilers.

Time & Location: 11:15 a.m. in Hall H

For Those At Home: Another Walking Dead tradition is the intense season previews, which generally appear on AMC’s YouTube page before the panel ends.


DC Superhero Girls Video Presentation

DC Super Hero Girls logo (Warner Bros. Animation)

(Photo by Warner Bros. Animation)

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic’s Lauren Faust brings the DC Super Hero Girls brand to Cartoon Network in a new animated series focused on teenage versions of Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Batgirl. Faust and other members of the creative team will offer a first look at the new show.

Time & Location: 12:20 p.m. in Room 6DE

For Those At Home: It would be quite surprising if a clip from the show did not surface after the presentation.


Wynonna Earp Premiere Screening

WYNONNA EARP -- Season:2 -- Pictured: Melanie Scrofano as Wynonna Earp -- (Photo by: Michelle Faye/Wynonna Earp Season 2, Inc./Syfy)

(Photo by Michelle Faye/Wynonna Earp Season 2, Inc./Syfy)

As the series’ third season debuts on the same day, the stars of Wynonna Earp, showrunner Emily Andras and creator Beau Smith will present a special screening of the premiere, “Blood Red and Going Down.”

Time & Location: 5 p.m. at the Horton Grand Theater

For Those At Home: Sadly, this one sounds like a genuine Comic-Con exclusive. But as the episode airs the same night – and, in fact, also airs during a special preview on Monday, July 16 – Earpers will be in the know and ready to discuss the episode on Twitter.


Marvel Televsion: Cloak & Dagger

Marvel's Cloak and Dagger stars Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt (Freeform/Alfonso Bresciani)

(Photo by Freeform/Alfonso Bresciani)

Stars Olivia Holt, Aubrey Joseph, Emma Lahana, Ally Maki, and showrunner Joe Pokaski will present “never-before-seen footage” and take audience questions. Since it is the show’s first convention panel following its debut in June, you can bet fans of the show will be ready to ask about the changes to the traditional Cloak & Dagger.

Time & Location: 5:45 p.m. in Ballroom 20

For Those At Home: That never-before-seen footage may make its way to Freeform’s YouTube channel, but it will be surprising if it is anything different from the episode preview seen during the show’s regular timeslot.


AMC’s Preacher Panel

Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy, Ruth Negga as Tulip O'Hare, Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer - Preacher _ Season 3, Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

(Photo by Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC/Sony Pictures Television)

Stars Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, and Joseph Gilgun join executive producers Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and showrunner Sam Catlin for a talk about the current state of play going into season 3’s halfway point. Expect to hear about the Tombs, the Allfather, and maybe even some of God’s plan for Jesse. Or maybe the cast will talk about what they had for dinner.

Time & Location: 7:30 p.m. in Hall H

For Those At Home: Since the season will be at the midway point, you might expect some sort of extended trailer for the latter half. Or an extended “next week on Preacher” promo.


Saturday

Black Lightning Special Video Presentation and Q&A

Cress Williams as Black Lightning (The CW)

(Photo by The CW)

The series makes its Comic-Con return for an “electrifying look” at the upcoming second season. Stars like Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, and Christine Adams are scheduled to appear alongside showrunner Salim Akil.

Time & Location: 11 a.m. in Ballroom 20

For Those At Home: As these panels often occur before production resumes on the show, it is possible the video presentation will not be available online later. But if they have begun shooting, you may find a season 2 sizzle reel online before too long. Meanwhile, more than few people are hoping an Arrowverse crossover announcement will emerge from the Q&A.


SYFY’s Krypton Panel

KRYPTON -- "The Phantom Zone" Episode 110 -- Pictured: (l-r) Wallis Day as Nyssa-Vex, Cameron Cuffe as Seg-El, Ian McElhinney as Val-El -- (Photo by: Steffan Hill/Syfy)

(Photo by Steffan Hill/Syfy)

Cast members Cameron Cuffe, Ann Ogbomo, Wallis Day, and Shaun Sipos alongside showrunner Cameron Welsh and DC Entertainment’s Dan Evans will take a look back at the surprising first season and tease what is to come in the program’s second year.

Time & Location: 12 p.m. in the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel

For Those At Home: Like Black Lightning, the chances of a trailer depend entirely on whether or not they resumed production in time. But there is a good chance a season 2 casting announcement may be made.


Big Hero 6: The Series: Heroes Return

The cast and crew of the new Big Hero 6 television series will discuss bringing the movie’s characters to television and offer some never-before-seen clips from the series. With Scott Adsit reprising his role as Baymax, you can expect a lot of his responses to have a certain gentle, robotic tone to them.

Time & Location: 12:30 p.m. in Room 6A.

For Those At Home: That never-before-seen footage might be available online at some point.


The Gifted Panel and First Look Video

THE GIFTED: L-R: Sean Teale, Jamie Chung, Blair Redford, Emma Dumont, Percy Hynes White, Amy Acker, Stephen Moyer, Natalie Alyn Lind and Coby Bell in THE GIFTED premiering premiering Monday, Oct. 2 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Miller Mobley/FOX

(Photo by Miller Mobley/FOX)

Executive producers Matt Nix and Jeph Loeb, and stars Stephen Moyer, Sean Teale, Jamie Chung, Emma Dumont, Blair Redford, Natalie Alyn Lind, and Skyler Samuels intend to offer an extended first look at the upcoming second season and, most likely, answer fan questions about certain characters’ choices in the season 1 finale.

Time & Location: 2:30 p.m. in Ballroom 20

For Those At Home: You can be sure that first-look video will be uploaded to YouTube before too long.


Supergirl/Arrow/DC’s Legends of Tomorrow/The Flash Special Video Presentations and Q&As

Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl and Grant Gustin as Barry/The Flash (Robert Voets/Warner Bros)

(Photo by Robert Voets/Warner Bros)

Another Comic-Con tradition is the Arrowverse’s absolute takeover of Ballroom 20 on Saturday afternoon. All four shows offer fans ample opportunities for questions and special sneak peeks of their upcoming seasons. Cast and producers will be on hand to tease future events and maybe even reveal more information on Batwoman, who will make her Arrowverse debut in this year’s crossover event.

Time & Location: 3:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. in Ballroom 20

For Those At Home: The CW is pretty good at getting their sizzle reels onto its YouTube page fairly quickly, but it remains to be seen how much new footage each show will have to share.


Deadly Class Sneak Peek

The upcoming SYFY series based on the comic book by Remender and Wes Craig will make its Comic-Con debut. Both will be on hand with castmembers like Benjamin Wadsworth and Benedict Wong and showrunners Miles Orion Feldsott and Mick Betancourt to offer a sneak peek of the series, due out in 2019.

Time & Location: 6 p.m. in the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel

For Those At Home: Unless the sneak peek ends up being the full pilot episode, expect to see the video sooner rather than later.


Wynonna Earp Panel

Wynonna Earp (Syfy)

(Photo by Syfy)

Stars Melanie Scrofano, Shamier Anderson, Tim Rozon, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Katherine Barrell, Varun Saranga, Chantel Riley, showrunner Emily Andras, and comic book creator Beau Smith return to Comic-Con for the third lovefest dedicated to everyone’s favorite Revenant hunter. While there is the promise of exclusive material, the panel usually becomes an opportunity for fans to offer their heartfelt praise to the cast and crew.

Time & Location: 6:45 p.m. in Room 6DE.

For Those At Home: Traditionally, the cast and crew have announced the show’s renewal at the Comic-Con panel. Fans are hoping it will be three-for-three and what better news can you give the Earpers at home?


Sunday

Riverdale Special Video Presentation and Q&A

Riverdale cast (Art Streiber/The CW)

Riverdale takes over Hall H for the first time as cast and crew convene to discuss the implications of Archie’s (KJ Apa) arrest at the end of the second season. The hour also promises to include a special video presentation and a fan Q&A in which some fans will attempt to learn star Cole Sprouse’s relationship status.

Time & Location: 11:45 a.m. in Hall H

For Those At Home: Should that video presentation offer a very early look at season 2, that footage will be repurposed and uploaded for all to see in the fullness of time.


Marvel Animation Presents

Time & Location: 1:30 p.m. in Room 6A

Marvel Senior Vice President for Animation and Family Entertainment Cort Lane will offer a preview of the upcoming seasons of Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest and Marvel’s Spider-Man. Sneak peeks and surprises are also promised.

For Those At Home: Marvel tends to be pretty good about getting clips and trailers up quickly.


Legion Discussion and Q&A

LEGION -- "Chapter 18" - Season 2, Episode 10 (Airs Tuesday, June 5, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Dan Stevens as David Haller. CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX

(Photo by Suzanne Tenner/FX)

Series creator Noah Hawley, executive producers John Cameron, Marvel Televison’s Jeph Loeb, and members of the cast will discuss season 2’s shocking revelations and tease things to come in season 3.

Time & Location: 2:15 p.m. in Hall H

For Those At Home: Considering Legion is in between production blocks, it seems unlikely any new footage will be available during the event or afterward.


DC Universe Experience

And outside the convention center, DC Universe will offer a larger-than-life installation to fans centered on the shows and other content the upcoming streaming service will offer later this fall. Guests of the DC Universe Experience will visit Dick Grayson’s loft from Titans, peruse the lab of Doom Patrol’s Dr. Niles Caulder, avoid the deadly virus of Swamp Thing, create some chaos with Harley Quinn, and examine some rare DC Comics artwork and memorabilia not usually available to the public. The experience will be open throughout the convention from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. (9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 22). Fans attending the con can pre-register at dcuniverse.com.

Location: Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter, 401 K Street, San Diego, CA 92101

For Those At Home: This one is a genuine Comic-Con exclusive.


Be sure to check out Rotten Tomatoes’ own live event during Comic-Con, Your Opinion Sucks! It’s the ultimate fans vs. critics face off, and you can watch it live in San Diego or on video at Rotten Tomatoes.

Kevin Costner and Dylan Sprayberry in Man of Steel (Warner Bros. Pictures)

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Just as Jonathan Kent’s surrogate fathering of Clark made Superman much of the man he is in the comics — or the more conflicted hero he becomes in Man of Steel (pictured) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – TV dads in the comic book realm have a special importance. While Jonathan Kent traditionally dies sometime before Clark becomes Superman, the 1990s series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman envisioned him very much alive and very much a part of his adopted son’s life. The show took its cues from the comics at the time, which also kept him around as an active, living character, and illustrated the importance of a father in a hero’s life. That notion continued into Smallville and many of the comic book–based television shows on the air today. But which of them best exemplify the gifts Jonathan offered to Clark? And which are notable for the absence of the qualities which make Jonathan Kent so exemplar? Let’s take a look at five of the best (and two of the worst) comic book fathers on television.


1. Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) | The Flash 89%

Supergirl -- "Crisis on Earth-X, Part 1" -- SPG308b_0246.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Grant Gustin as Barry Allen and Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

(Photo by Bettina Strauss/The CW)

Though mostly an invention of The Flash’s writers’ room, Joe West is possibly the best of the comic book fathers – well, once you excuse his enthusiasm for Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris (Candice Patton) getting together. Joe is all empathy and leads with his heart in all matters where his kids (including Barry) are concerned.

In Barry’s case, this is particularly true as Joe not only escorted the boy away from the most terrifying moment of his life, but offered him long-term sanctuary and a structure which no doubt led Barry toward a career in law enforcement as much as his desire to solve his mother’s murder. And the show often illustrates that their bond is an important element of Barry’s continued effectiveness as a hero.

Since Barry is the central character, their bond appears to be the most important among Joe’s three (now four) children, but Joe’s support of Iris during her long road to finding herself (though some would claim she still hasn’t) and the effort he made to forge a bond with Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale), despite not meeting him until he was 18, illustrates how much he cares about his natural born children. In fact, it could be said Joe, as a character, cares more about Iris and Wally than the show does.


2. Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) | Riverdale 84%

Riverdale - KJ Apa, Luke Perry (Diyah Pera/The CW)

(Photo by Diyah Pera/The CW)

If there’s one aspect of Fred which mirrors Jonathan Kent, it is dedication. Soft-spoken, but diligent, Fred works hard to support Archie (KJ Apa), even if his son cannot always see that and seeks out more exciting father figures.

Sure, it could be argued that Fred’s dedication to his job and his semi-regular financial difficulties leave Archie vulnerable to the manipulations of the Lodge patriarch, but Archie’s hard road this year finally put him in the direction of home and supporting Fred’s bid for mayor. Even Veronica (Camila Mendes) could see Fred’s quiet determination is a key quality passed down to Archie (even if his teen angst leads him to questionable choices) and something worth supporting.

And Archie’s going to need that support as he faces trial for murder in the upcoming season. No doubt Fred will be ready to sell his contracting business and the house to help with the legal fees.


3. Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) | Black Lightning 92%

Black Lightning -- "Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder" -- Image BLK106b_0344b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Cress Williams as Black Lightning and Nafessa Williams as Anissa Pierce -- Photo: Annette Brown/The CW -- © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

(Photo by Annette Brown/The CW)

As we’ve discussed before, Jefferson Pierce is a pretty rad dad. Like Jonathan Kent taking in an alien orphan without question, Jefferson abandoned what he thought life would be for his kids. Sure, it took some prompting, a near death experience and an absolute assurance that his nemesis was dead, but Jefferson became a very different person for Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Anne McClain).

That level of self-sacrifice continues even as both of his daughters exhibit superpowers. Becoming Black Lightning once more was motivated by securing their safety. Staying in the role was as much about securing a better world for them as it was stopping Green Light, Tobias Whale (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III) and the ASA. That Anissa and Jennifer are willing and able to be part of creating that security made him all the more eager to share his knowledge and build a team. Well, after some initial reservations because a father is still going to be protective of his kids.


4. Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer) | The Gifted 79%

THE GIFTED: L-R: Percy Hynes White, Stephen Moyer, Amy Acker and Natalie Alyn Lind in THE GIFTED premiering this fall on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Frank Ockenfels/FOX

(Photo by Frank Ockenfels/FOX)

That desire to protect his children is also something Reed has in common with Jefferson and Jonathan Kent. Both found themselves suddenly raising children with remarkable abilities. And both attempted to keep their lives in some state of normalcy until, quite suddenly, the issues could no longer be ignored. Jonathan — at least in the versions of Superman in which he is alive — quickly embraces Clark’s powers as part of his truth. Reed took a little bit longer to embrace his mutant children (if only by a few hours). But considering his status as a prosecutor engaged in putting mutant agitators behind bars, the relative slowness to embrace his children’s new situation sort of makes sense.

Of course, once he made peace with the fact his world was irrevocably altered, he wasted no time trying to get his kids to safety or getting involved with the Mutant Underground’s struggle. Sure, there were a few times he tried to get back the Struckers’ old way of life; but it always came from his desire to protect Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) and Andy (Percy Hynes White).

Although, it remains to be seen how that attempt to protect his kids will play out with Andy joining the Hellfire Club. Maybe he will need to trade in his protective zeal for a willingness to listen in order to pull Andy back from the brink.


5. J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood) | Supergirl 88%

Supergirl -- "Medusa" -- Image SPG208a_0082 -- Pictured(L-R): Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl, Helen Slater as Eliza Danvers, David Harewood as Hank Henshaw and Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

(Photo by Bettina Strauss/The CW)

In the comics of the 1990s, Lois & Clark, and Superman: The Animated Series, Jonathan was one of Clark’s most important sounding boards. Always connected via corded telephone, he was seemingly always ready to listen to his son’s latest problem: be they minor or Crisis-level events. And though expressly not their father, J’onn fills this role for Alex (Chyler Leigh) and Kara (Melissa Benoist) as the family on Supergirl becomes a mishmash of displaced people often sitting in a bar full of aliens.

Nonetheless, J’onn is the person both Danvers sisters go to because they know he will listen. Granted, he did not start as the listening type — maintaining a cover identity as gruff DEO director Hank Henshaw — but once he revealed himself as a Green Martian who saw his only family imprisoned and killed during a war of attrition, the familial bond began to form with the Danverses. He listened as Kara told him about her conflicted feelings about confronting her aunt Astra (Laura Benanti) and as Alex worked up her courage to come out to everyone around her. In recent episodes, his ability to listen has been tested by an unlikely person: his own father M’yrrn (Carl Lumbly), whose desire to pass on his knowledge before his eventual death was seemingly unheard by J’onn.

Which, of course, only makes sense as fathers – be they human, mutant or Martian – are still fallible creatures trying to find their own way. And maybe the ability to see that in themselves sets them apart from the worst of comic book TV fathers.


The Worst

Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) | Arrow 86%

Arrow -- "Dead To Rights" -- Image AR116b_3187b -- Pictured (L-R): John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn and Colin Donnell as Tommy Merlyn -- Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW -- © 2013 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved.

(Photo by Jack Rowand/The CW)

While Malcolm Merlyn saw himself as protective, approachable and dedicated, those qualities were always filtered through what was best for Malcolm Merlyn and his plans to control the Undertaking and, later, the League of Assassins itself. In his vision of himself, he was only ever doing the best for Tommy (Colin Donnell) and later Thea (Willa Holland) when she asked him to train her. Yet, all that really mattered was that is children acknowledged how well he built his legacy.

But to dismiss him as a one-note bad guy — like his Legion of Doom compatriot Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) — is to miss the occasional selflessness he was capable of exhibiting. Granted, those seemingly selfless acts often had an angle which would ultimately serve his own goals. An example: his apparent choice to die in order to save Thea came off as a final selfless act until she discovered he had set her up as an heir apparent to his own ersatz League and hid the location of the remaining Lazarus Pits behind a lock requiring her blood. His hope: she would be ready to lead the new organization in his name and bolster his legacy. Even in death, Malcolm Merlyn found a way to be a terrible father and make it all about himself.


Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) | Riverdale 84%

Riverdale Marison Nichols, Mark Consuelos (Bettina Strauss /The CW)

(Photo by Bettina Strauss /The CW)

But no TV father could be further from the Jonathan Kent ideal than Riverdale’s resident land baron and crime lord Hiram Lodge. Throughout the first season, both Veronica and her mother Hermione (Marisol Nichols) considered him a threat from behind bars. Their feelings changed following his release, but Veronica never completely trusted him again. She could see that his self-interest was the only thing that mattered and that he would sell her and her mother out if it proved advantageous. Unlike Malcolm Merlyn, who genuinely believed he was creating a legacy for his children, Hiram’s stated belief in family is just a lot of buzzwords he uses to justify his manipulations of those supposedly closest to him.

And, as it happens, Veronica has declared war on him. Without his unique form of protection, it will be interesting to see how the two relate to one another in the program’s third season. Will he be able to reel her back in? Offer Archie’s freedom as a carrot to get her back under his control? That these are the questions one asks about Hiram really illustrates what a cruel, vain, and selfish father he is; whether you compare him to Jonathan Kent or not.


GOTHAM: Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz, R) is comforted by Alfred (Sean Pertwee, L) after a treacherous hike in the "The Scarecrow" episode of GOTHAM airing Monday, Feb. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jessica Miglio/FOX

(Photo by Jessica Miglio/FOX)

Of course, your own list of the best comic book TV dads can vary based on the qualities you find most important. The Flash’s Henry Allen (John Wesley Shipp) could be considered one of the greats for his self-sacrifice and ever-caring appreciation of his son. Or for as strained as their relationship can get, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee, pictured) on Gotham may prove to be a better father than Thomas Wayne ever could have been. Like Jonathan Kent, they are inspirational in ways both obvious and sublime. And like all the best fathers, they point to way for the next generation to be exceptional people.

Who is your favorite comic book dad? Is he on TV? Tell us in the comments. 

To go by his words and deeds, Avengers: Infinity War’s Thanos (Josh Brolin) may be the most consummate and powerful foe the Marvel Cinematic Universe has yet unleashed. To hear him tell it, his attempt to give the universe balance by obtaining the Infinity Stones is a merciful and humane action. Perhaps more than any other Marvel villain, he is a hero in his own mind with goals he perceives as altruistic.

But will his Infinity War appearance make him one of the great film supervillains of all time? And what makes for greatness when it comes to villainy? Is it a grand plan executed with aplomb? An iconic look or an immediately quotable motto? Or is it a knack for banter with the hero? As more and more people see Infinity War, Thanos’s merits as one of the great villains will be debated, but let’s take a look at 20 of the big screen’s greatest superhero foes he will have to contend with to get that honor.


20. The Joker (Cesar Romero)

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

The big screen’s first Joker was also television’s original Crown Prince of Crime. Romero memorably gave the character his psychotic laugh and off-kilter sense of humor. In the film, he also succeeds at being a cabin boy to a senile admiral. Armed with his repertoire and a “dehydration” gun, the Joker — along with the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) and the Riddler (Frank Gorshin) — creates plenty of trouble for the Dynamic Duo.

Film Appearances: Batman: The Movie (1966), though he previously appeared in the Batman TV series.

Tomatometer: 80%

North American Box Office: $1.7 million

Destruction Factor: Turns the “United World” Security Council to a fine powder.

Memorable Line: “I’m afraid they’ll find our humor very, very dry!”

Powers: Puns and gag weapons.

Cosplay Cred: Few are ever willing to grow a Romero mustache for the perfect Joker ’66 look.


19. Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton)

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

As a deep-cover spy, Neville Sinclair was the toast of Hollywood with the ability to bed any woman and earn the trust of any man. But his attempt to secure Howard Hughes’s (Terry O’Quinn) experimental rocket pack fills him with a particular mania that serves to be his undoing. Also: his sophisticated movie star image is the perfect counterpoint to the unkempt style of the Rocketeer (Billy Campbell).

Film Appearances: The Rocketeer (1991)

Tomatometer: 62%

US Box Office: $46.7 million

Destruction Factor: Assists in the destruction of a dirigible, the rocket pack itself, and a portion of the “Hollywoodland” sign.

Memorable Line: “It wasn’t lies, Jenny. It vas acting.”

Powers: A strong resemblance to Errol Flynn and Timothy Dalton.

Cosplay Cred: Sadly, none.


18. The Phantasm (Dana Delany)

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

The Phantasm is one of the most personal villains the animated Batman (Kevin Conroy) ever faced. In costume, the Phantasm speaks with the voice of Stacy Keach and strikes terror into Gotham’s organized crime families. But in reality, she is Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany), the only woman who could ever pull Bruce Wayne away from his life as a vigilante. Sadly, the dissolution of their relationship leads them both to don masks and face the City’s worst criminals.

Film Appearances: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

Tomatometer: 82%

US Box Office: $5.6 million

Destruction Factor: Batman’s heart.

Memorable Line: “Your Angel of Death awaits.”

Powers: Combat training and smoke bombs.

Cosplay Cred: Rare, but it’s memorable when you spot a Phantasm cosplay in the wild.


17. Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson)

Though he seems to be a mentor, Elijah Price is really the architect of all of David Dunn’s (Bruce Willis) problems. (Sorry: Spoiler.) Though he is the only person to recognize the presence of superpowers in the world, years of abuse and neglect — to say nothing of his brittle bones — lead him to one conclusion: be the supervillain the world needs to find the hero it requires.

Film Appearances: Unbreakable (2000), thought M. Night Shyamalan is currently working on a follow-up for 2019 called, appropriately, Glass.

Tomatometer: 68%

Worldwide Box Office: $248.1 million

Destruction Factor: Derails a train to prove David is indestructible, among other acts of terrorism.

Memorable Line: “They called me Mr. Glass!”

Powers: A terrifying intellect.

Cosplay Cred: A surprisingly rare occurrence at comic cons.


16. Mystique (Rebecca Romijn)

(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

As both spy and confidant to Magneto (Ian McKellen), Mystique relies on her top martial arts skills and mutant ability to blend into any environment. But she is also the most visible example of Magneto’s crusade. Though she can choose to appear as anyone she wishes, Mystique’s natural blue serpentine appearance inspires fear in the world. The character was so memorable in the initial X-Men film series that the current cycle revolves around her, now played by Jennifer Lawrence.

Film Appearances: The X-Men franchise.

Tomatometer: X-Men: 81% (Certified Fresh), X2: X-Men United: 85% (Certified Fresh), X-Men: The Last Stand: 58%

Worldwide Box Office: X-Men: $296.3 million, X2: X-Men United: $407.7 million, X-Men: The Last Stand: $459.3 million

Destruction Factor: Though she has been known to blow stuff up now and again, that isn’t really her style. Instead she sows confusion and wreaks havoc by manipulating her foes.

Memorable Line: “You know, people like you are the reason I was afraid to go to school as a child.”

Powers: Shape-shifting.

Cosplay Cred: An extremely tough look to pull off at comic cons.


15. “Bad” Superman (Christopher Reeve)

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

When Superman is overcome by the toxic effects of Gus Gorman’s (Richard Pryor) counterfeit Kryptonite, he turns into a self-centered jerk who would rather make time with a pretty lady than save a bunch of bus passengers on a disintegrating bridge. Reeve’s attempt to channel an all-id Superman does feel more “bad” than evil, but it provides a fun opportunity for Reeve to play against himself and presents the first on-screen exploration of an idea — “What if Superman were evil?” — that would become a major theme driving the narrative behind movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.

Film Appearances: Superman III (1983)

Tomatometer: 26%

US Box Office: $60 million

Destruction Factor: Straightening the Leaning Tower of Pisa ruined the Italian economy.

Memorable Line: “You always wanted to fly, Kent!”

Powers: All the powers of a Superman, but he’d rather drink Johnny Walker Red.

Cosplay Cred: Not nearly as common as it should be.


14. Joker (Jack Nicholson)

The merger of Nicholson’s persona with the Joker is one of Batman’s great strengths, but the performance is more nuanced than many gave it credit for at the time. Once he falls into the Axis Chemicals acid and adopts his clown persona, Nicholson loses some of his iconic cool to dig into the louder, broader aspects of Gotham’s #1 villain (e.g. the Smilex commercial). A consummate foe for the Batman of the late 1980s.

Film Appearances: Batman (1989)

Tomatometer: 72%

Worldwide Box Office: $411.3 million

Destruction Factor: Kills his boss, fries a business rival, and poisons Gotham City.

Memorable Line: “Ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?”

Powers: Knowledge of chemistry and a flair for the theatrical.

Cosplay Cred: A fairly rare sight as other takes on the Joker became more popular.


13. Syndrome (Jason Lee)

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

The ultimate sycophant, Syndrome (née Buddy Pine) was a precursor of the sort of fan culture that eats itself for some perceived lack of purity. His jealousy of the supers leads to a lot of strife for the Parr Family and an America burnt out on superheroes. Nonetheless, his actions also lead to a possible return of heroes, despite an attempt to even the playing field.

Film Appearances: The Incredibles (2004)

Tomatometer: 97% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office: $633 million

Destruction Factor: His robots leave a path of destruction through the metro area the Parrs call home.

Memorable Line: “And when everyone’s super, no one will be.”

Powers: Zero point energy manipulation via technology.

Cosplay Cred: Virtually nonexistent, though memorably spotted on occasion.


12. Ultron (James Spader)

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

As the personification of Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) id, Ultron’s attempts to secure the planet make clear Tony’s greatest failing: he cannot see the human cost in any of his endeavors. Powered by the Mind Stone, Ultron makes a final, ugly calculation in regards to humanity and sets out to destroy it. Also, since he’s based on Tony’s brain patterns, he quips. A lot.

Film Appearances: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Tomatometer: 75% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office: $1.41 billion

Destruction Factor: Raises – and razes – the entire nation of Sokovia; the ramifications of which are still being felt throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Memorable Line: “When the dust settles, the only thing living in this world will be metal.”

Powers: All the powers of an Iron Man, multiplied by the ability to self-replicate infinitely.

Cosplay Cred: Extremely rare, though a few Ultrons appeared at cons after the film’s release.


11. Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer)

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

While DC Comics’ favorite cat burglar skirts the line between villain and ne’er-do-well, Catwoman’s initial involvement in a plot to disgrace Batman (Michael Keaton) earns her a spot on the list. Pfeiffer’s performance defined the character for a long time – even if she was partly inspired by the TV Catwomen of the 1960s – as she fought Batman and her own turmoil. In the end, her Catwoman chose her own way and never appeared in a film again. Not that anyone has ever been able to forget her.

Film Appearances: Batman Returns (1992)

Tomatometer: 81% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office: $266.8 million

Destruction Factor: She blows up Schreck’s Department Store in an early show of strength.

Memorable Line: “Meow.”

Powers: Nine lives and a filing system that is unstoppable.

Cosplay Cred: Though the film is over 25 years old, this Catwoman costume is still popular.


10. The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)

(Photo by Zade Rosenthal/Walt Disney Studios)

Yes, yes, he isn’t a villain by choice, as he’s very much a weapon of Hydra in the film, but Bucky Barnes is very effective at playing the part. His Soviet brainwashing is so effective that, when activated, almost no emotional appeal will work on him. Well, at least until his old friend Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans), finally breaks through. And, really, Bucky’s relationship with Steve is part of what makes him so compelling.

Film Appearances: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and Captain America: Civil War (2016), though Sebastian Stan first played Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).

Tomatometer: Captain America: The Winter Soldier: 89% (Certified Fresh), Captain America: Civil War: 91% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office: Captain America: The Winter Soldier: $714.3 million, Captain America: Civil War: $1.15 billion

Destruction Factor: Assists in bringing down S.H.I.E.L.D. and its helicarrier fleet.

Memorable Line: “Who the hell is Bucky?”

Powers: Heightened strength and agility, a cybernetic vibranium arm.

Cosplay Cred: A beloved fixture of con-going cosplayers.


9. Vulture (Michael Keaton)

(Photo by Sony Pictures)

Despite a strong work ethic and good management skills, Adrian Toomes turned to crime when Tony Stark and government officials bulldozed over his contract to clean up Manhattan following the Battle of New York. Granted, the swiftness with which he became a black market weapons manufacturer suggests all he ever needed was a gentle shove to embrace villainy. But the opening scene of Spider-Man: Homecoming made him immediately understandable and compelling as a villain; and even sympathetic once his relationship to Spider-Man’s (Tom Holland) world is revealed.

Film Appearances: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Tomatometer: 92% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office: $880.1 million

Destruction Factor: Rips a ferry in half, crashes a Stark Industries jet, and blasts Logan Marshall-Green out of the MCU.

Memorable Line: “The rich, the powerful, like Stark, they don’t care about us! The world’s changed boys. Time we change too!”

Powers: A flying rig based on crashed Chitauri tech.

Cosplay Cred: Surprisingly rare costume in spite of a great adaptation of the comic book Vulture’s look.


8. Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman)

Excusing some of the camp value to Hackman’s Luthor – particularly in the sequel – he exudes the key quality of Superman’s archfoe: egotism. Luthor, a real estate swindler in these films, only decides to fight Superman because his ego dictates it. Consequently, Superman cannot really appeal to his emotions; none are present as he plans to remake the West Coast in his image.

Film Appearances: Superman (1978), Superman II (1981)

Tomatometer: Superman: 93%, Superman II: 87%

Worldwide Box Office: Superman: $300 million, Superman II: $156.9 million

Destruction Factor: Nearly sank California into the Pacific.

Memorable Line: “There’s a strong streak of good in you, Superman. But then, nobody’s perfect… almost nobody.”

Powers: He is the greatest criminal mind of his time. He also owns a hefty Kryptonite necklace that he uses to weaken Superman.

Cosplay Cred: Between Hackman’s refusal to go bald and the appalling 1970s fashions, he is a truly rare cosplay sight.


7. Zemo (Daniel Bruhl)

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

Currently, the Avengers’ greatest foe is not a flamboyant god or a maniacal robot, but a sad, quiet man with a detailed plan and working knowledge of governmental procedures. Zemo destabilizes the world for a very personal and, ultimately, small goal: hurt the Avengers the way they hurt him. He also succeeds, leaving Captain America a fugitive and Tony Stark so isolated that he has to pal around with a spider-themed teenager hero.

Film Appearances: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Tomatometer: 91% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office: $1.15 billion

Destruction Factor: With some smoke, a few explosions, and a very inconvenient truth, he brings down the Avengers. He also murders a few people along the way.

Memorable Line: “An empire toppled by its enemies can rise again, but one which crumbles from within? That’s dead… forever.”

Powers: Determination.

Cosplay Cred: Despite his comic book counterpart’s incredible fashion sense, the Marvel Cinematic Universe version inspires few to dress up.


6. Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina)

(Photo by Columbia Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

One of the most sympathetic villains on the list, Molina’s Doc Ock was as much a victim of his passions as he was a willing accomplice in a plan to destroy Spider-Man. The cruelty that emerges in him came from his cybernetic implants; a crucial detail that becomes clear when he finally reasserts control and realizes he was trying to kill his friend Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire). Also, the warmth with which he welcomes Peter — a guy in desperate need of a positive male role model — makes his turn all the more tragic.

Film Appearances: Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Tomatometer: 93% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office: $783.8 million

Destruction Factor: His lab is completely destroyed during an experiment. He also leaves his mark on New York skyscrapers and the subway lines.

Memorable Line: “I will not die a monster.”

Powers: Super-tough robotic appendages.

Cosplay Cred: Popular in the wake of the film’s release, but has since faded.


5. General Zod (Terence Stamp)

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

Thanks to Stamp, Zod is as much a staple in Superman’s rogues gallery as Lex Luthor. Seemingly reserved, Zod can lash out without hesitation. Despite the air of refinement Stamp gives the character, he is just another petty dictator — a point underscored when he takes control of the White House (and, by implication, the world) only to suffer from conqueror’s boredom. Superman’s return late in the film comes as a relief to Zod, as debasing the son of Jor-El gives him something to do.

Film Appearances: Superman (1978), Superman II (1981)

Tomatometer: 87%

Worldwide Box Office: Superman: $300 million, Superman II: $156.9 million

Destruction Factor: He and his cohorts reshape Mount Rushmore and pummel the West Wing. They also make insurance premiums rise in Metropolis again.

Memorable Line: “Come to me, son of Jor-El! Kneel before Zod!”

Powers: All the powers of a Superman plus advanced military training.

Cosplay Cred: Zod’s look is just a little too disco for most cosplayers.


4. Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan)

(Photo by © Marvel and © Walt Disney Pictures)

The secret shame of Wakanda, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) presents a legitimate concern to King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his subjects, even if his methods are woefully misguided: Should Wakanda reveal itself to the outside world and help those who live with the legacy of the African slave trade? The character’s heady subtext is backed by Jordan’s gifted abilities as a performer.

Film Appearances: Black Panther (2018)

Tomatometer: 96% (Certified Fresh)

Worldwide Box Office (To Date): $1.34 billion

Destruction Factor: Destroys all but one of the heart-shaped herbs, which is far more devastating than any property damage he caused in the film.

Memorable Line: “Nah, just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from ships. ‘Cause they knew death was better than bondage.”

Powers: Thanks to the heart-shaped herb, all the powers of Black Panther; Navy SEAL training.

Cosplay Cred: Few could wait for a comic convention to dress in Killmonger’s now-iconic London look. Cosplayers dressed in his subsequent battle suit, which looks suspiciously like Vegeta’s from Dragonball Z, shortly after.


3. Magneto (Ian McKellen)

(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)

Erik Magnus Lehnsherr is one of the most compelling antagonists in comics and film for one simple reason: he’s pretty much right. His methods may be unquestionably cruel to conventional humans, but he recognizes two sapient species cannot share the planet. Violence, subjugation, and pain are inevitable. And when his point of view is given McKellen’s voice, it becomes incredibly persuasive. The more optimistic philosophy of the X-Men looks naïve and childish in comparison.

Film Appearances: The X-Men Franchise

Tomatometer: X-Men: 81% (Certified Fresh), X2: X-Men United: 85% (Certified Fresh), X-Men: The Last Stand: 58%, X-Men: Days of Future Past: 90%

Worldwide Box Office: X-Men: $296.3 million, X2: X-Men United: $407.7 million, X-Men: The Last Stand: $459.4 million, X-Men: Days of Future Past: $747.9 million

Destruction Factor: He moves the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz, turns Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) into a water creature, and renders a sick burn unto Rogue (Anna Paquin) about the white stripe in her hair.

Memorable Line: “Let’s just say God works too slowly.”

Powers: The ability to manipulate all metal.

Cosplay Cred: His initial low-key look is rarely imitated these days.


2. Loki (Tom Hiddleston)

(Photo by Zade Rosenthal/Walt Disney Studios)

The power of persuasion is also a major weapon in the arsenal of the God of Lies. Loki is charismatic, witty, exciting, and a sharp dresser. He’s that bad boy who looks redeemable even as he opens a wormhole to let the Chitauri invade Earth. But then he has a good explanation for his bad choices: he was raised by the god who kidnapped him from his real family. And he means to do good, so shouldn’t that be enough? It’s no wonder Loki returns to the MCU time and again; his brand of villainy looks like it can be reasoned with. Even if he betrays Thor again, again, and again.

Film Appearances: Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013), and Thor: Ragnarok (2017), though he’s less a villain than a trickster — and even a bit of a hero — in the latter two.

Tomatometer: Thor: 77%, The Avengers: 92%, Thor: The Dark World: 66%, Thor: Ragnarok: 92%

Worldwide Box Office: Thor: $449.3 million, The Avengers: 1.52 million, Thor: The Dark World: $644.6 million, Thor: Ragnarok: $853.5 million

Destruction Factor: He seizes the throne of Asgard and almost murders Thor, then later precipitates the Battle of New York, which alerts the world to the presence of superpowered beings.

Memorable Line: “You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.”

Powers: God-level abilities and a snake-oil salesman’s tongue.

Cosplay Cred: A perennial favorite, though his formal tux from Avengers was more popular in the wake of the film’s release.


1. Joker (Heath Ledger)

(Photo by )

In an age when origins are required, Ledger’s Joker arrived on the scene without a name, place of birth, or a particular ambition. As Alfred (Michael Caine) put it, he just wants to see the world burn, and he even tells Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) as much late in the film. His complete lack of backstory and motivation makes him the most unpredictable, dangerous supervillain on this list, and the purity of his cruelty makes him the most fascinating.

Film Appearances: The Dark Knight (2008)

Tomatometer: 94%

Worldwide Box Office: $1 billion

Destruction Factor: Took out most of Gotham’s entrenched mafia, destroyed Harvey Dent, and made the Batman Gotham’s Number One criminal.

Memorable Line:Why so serious?

Powers: None

Cosplay Cred: Thanks to the alterations to the classic Joker look, Ledger’s Joker costume remains popular at cons and at Halloween.

Viewers new to Legion aren’t at much of a disadvantage to fans who obsessed over the entire first season. Noah Hawley’s X-Men series is so trippy, often ambiguous, and focused on tone that you might still be unlocking its secrets after multiple viewings.

Legion is a sort of origin story of David Haller (Dan Stevens), who, in comic books, becomes a mutant with big hair named Legion. In season 1 of the show, David is in a psychiatric institution after a childhood of powers-related trauma. If one felt possessed by other consciousnesses, institutionalization would be the real-world treatment, but this is the world of Legion— absorbing consciousnesses is one of David’s mutant powers.

Just when things started to make sense — relative to Legion — David got sucked into an orb in the post-credits scene of the season finale. Season 2 finds David one year later in Division III custody, so David is back to piecing together his missing past again, at least for the last 362 days. The good news is, Hawley agrees this is the perfect time to jump into Legion.


“If you look at that first season, what actually happened, it’s not a lot of plot on a lot of levels,” Hawley said. “David was worried he was mentally ill and then it turned out he had this other consciousness inside of him. They got it out for him and now it’s out there on the loose, and they’ve got to go get it. You could know that and you would be just as oriented as someone who’s watched the first season.”

That demonic parasite was Amahl Farouk, the Shadow King. In season 1 Farouk appeared as the devil with the yellow eyes in David’s visions. In season 2, Navid Negahban plays Farouk’s true form.

“That’s not to say there aren’t masks from time to time, but now it’s time to invest in him as a character,” Hawley said. “No one should just be a villain. You have to be able to understand the world from his point of view as someone who was basically kicked out of his body, kicked out of his home by David’s dad and went into David’s body. From his point of view, he’s the good guy and that’s always more interesting.”


Legion could be a different show from week to week, so drastic changes between seasons aren’t totally out of character. Division III were villanous agents in season 1, trying to capture David for his powers. Now David’s friends — Syd (Rachel Keller), Melanie (Jean Smart), Cary (Bill Irwin), Kerry (Amber Midthunder) and Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris) — have teamed up with Division III to stop Farouk.

“I always feel like a new season of a show is an opportunity to reinvent the show on some level, which doesn’t work for every show,” Hawley said. “I think it works for this one. I don’t think you would want to watch Game of Thrones and have Game of Thrones be a different show. You want it to be what you want it to be. Breaking Bad’s hallmark [was] it’s in real time, and you’re going to pick up the moment you left off for the most part. This isn’t that show.”

Even upon reinvention, most of the things you loved about Legion are still there, and sometimes even more of them. Everyone loved the Bollywood dance number, so there’s more dancing in season 2. David was still tracking Oliver (Jemaine Clement) and Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) at the end of season 1, so when he finally finds them, it’s all expressed on the dance floor with no words. Episode two has a song Oliver and Lenny sing.


“I want to expand the definition of what an action scene is,” Hawley said. “Can an action scene be dialogue? Can an action scene be musical? That idea that David is confronting Oliver and Lenny for the first time, there is some fighting to it and some posturing to it and some courtship to it on some level. It’s really hard to do that with violence. It’s a lot easier to do that with dance which is an expressive medium. That’s just fun too, I think.”

In the X-Men movies, action is usually Wolverine going berserk or Magneto flying bridges or stadiums. That’s not how Legion will do action.

“On those moments where the characters crash against each other, and he crashes against his own inner demons, that feels like action to me,” Hawley said. “I feel like the season is building towards these moments where plot and character come together because the plot is basically which path is David going to take? Is he going to be a hero? Is he going to be a villain? Has the damage he suffered doomed him? Can he overcome those things?”


So can dialogue be action? When your main character is a mutant with multiple consciousnesses, yes.

“David can be in a dialogue scene with himself,” Hawley said. “Now suddenly that inner monologue becomes an outside conversation.”

The visual manifestations of David’s mind gave Legion some trippy visuals like a giant volume knob and entire episodes taking place within the span of a single gunshot. Tune in to season 2 for frozen people with chattering teeth, something you can never unsee or unhear.

“It’s a way to try to make stillness into something dynamic,” Hawley said. “Certainly a bunch of people standing around like statues can be scary if executed the right way, but the teeth adds a visceral and sonic quality to it. It’s unnerving because it’s not behavior that people are supposed to do. We know innately what’s natural and what’s unnatural. There’s something so unnatural about it that I think it has a visceral impact on the audience.”


LEGION -- Season 2, Episode 2 -- Dan Stevens (Suzanne Tenner/FX)

Other visuals are more pleasant, like boats carrying waffles in a restaurant. David wakes up asking for waffles, so you gotta get the man some waffles.

“When you’re thinking about sets, all right, Division III, they need a place where they can have a conversation,” Hawley said. “I start thinking about those Japanese sushi restaurants you’ll see with the boats. I thought that’s interesting because it has movement to it now. It’s dynamic and it was a great set that Michael Wylie built, really fun to film in.”

Legion asks philosophical questions, like is a man dreaming he’s a butterfly or is the butterfly dreaming it’s a man? Melanie suggests that the saddest words in the English language are “vacant lot.” Some would say “if only” are the saddest words, but Hawley makes the case for “vacant lot.”


“Sometimes you write the first half of a sentence and you gotta finish it,” Hawley said. “Those words, ‘vacant,’ which means empty, and ‘lot,’ which is often used to mean the opposite: to have a lot of something. I don’t know, ‘You have a whole lot of nothing.’ Her delivery was so great it made me feel smarter.”

Between Fargo and Legion, Hawley has been working nonstop. He hasn’t ruled out a fourth season of Fargo, but with shows like these he can only focus on one at a time.

“I feel like I have an idea, but it’s something I’m seeing mostly out of the corner of my eye at this moment,” Hawley said of Fargo. “I haven’t started to open it up and figure it out.”

Hawley is also embarking on a film career. He is set to direct Pale Blue Dot starring Natalie Portman and Jon Hamm.

“It’s a movie sort of based on a true story of a female astronaut who comes back to Earth and she melts down a bit,” Hawley said. “For me, it’s a great tableau to explore a lot of ideas about her character and that experience of going out into space. We don’t send poets into space. We send left-brain engineer types, and they have these celestial experiences that they don’t know how to articulate a lot of the time. You just learn that no matter how complicated the universe is, it’s still simpler than life on Earth.”

Legion returns Tuesday, April 3 at 10 p.m. on FX.


Some of 2017’s best new series are finally returning for round two this month, and we can’t wait to see what’s next. Catch up on those — plus a handful of favorite long-running offerings — below with our monthly roundup of what to binge.


The Good Fight 95% (CBS All Access)

What it is: Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) gets the leading lady treatment with CBS All Access’ hit spin-off of The Good Wife. Set one year after the events of that acclaimed series’ finale (and picking up on the morning of President Donald Trump’s storied inauguration), The Good Fight follows Lockhart after she’s forced out of her own firm with Maia Rindell (Game of ThronesRose Leslie) and joins up with Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo).

Why you should watch it: Sure, if you loved The Good Wife, you’ll love The Good Fight — but believe it or not, Baranski is better than ever here and finds exciting new shades to our beloved Lockhart. Season 2 premieres March 4.

Where to watch it: Amazon, CBS All AccessFandangoNowGoogle PlayMicrosoft, Vudu

Commitment: Approx. 8.5 hours


Marvel - Jessica Jones 83% (Netflix)

Krysten Ritter in Marvel's Jessica Jones season 2 (David Giesbrecht/Netflix)

What it is: If you’re up to no good, Jessica Jones is the last person you’d want to bump into in a dark alleyway. The super-strong P.I. has thrown in her towel as a superhero and instead taken to bringing justice to New York City’s most nefarious by more traditional means — until a super-villain from her past named Kilgrave comes back into her life, that is.

Why you should watch it: Even if you’ve already seen Season 1 of Jessica Jones, and even if you got a much-needed fix from Marvel’s The Defenders last year, Krysten Ritter alone is worthy of repeat viewing for a quick catch-up before season 2 on March 8. Daring, crass, and ball-busting, she and her Jones take on a whole new significance in the era of Times Up and #MeToo. But most importantly, she’s addictively watchable, now more than ever.

Where to watch it: AmazonFandangoNowGoogle PlayMicrosoft, NetflixVudu

Commitment: Approx. 12 hours


Love 94% (Netflix)

What it is: This half-hour comedy from Judd Apatow and Lesley Arfin charts the unlikely relationship of goofy everyman Gus (Paul Rust) and the beautiful-but-flawed Mickey (Gillian Jacobs), both of whom live and work in Hollywood.

Why you should watch it: They say don’t judge a book by its cover, and particularly with Love, it’s best to not judge a series by its title, either. More a darkly comic look at 20-30something aimlessness, addiction, and the things we do to make a connection in the modern world, Love likely won’t leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy. What is worth loving, though, are stop-you-in-your-tracks performances from Community vet Jacobs and Rust. Season 3 premieres March 9.

Where to watch it: FandangoNowGoogle PlayNetflix

Commitment: Approx. 11 hours


Sneaky Pete 96% (Amazon)

What it is: Longtime character actor and standout supporter Giovanni Ribisi gets top-billing as “titular” conman Marius who, once out of prison, takes on the identity of his cellmate, Pete. On the run from a coldblooded mobster, Marius holes up with Pete’s unsuspecting small-town family.

Why you should watch it: This Amazon original series from creators David Shore and Bryan Cranston (who also co-stars as mobster Vince) will sneak up and floor you — and we don’t say that simply as a play on words. Each ensemble member (but especially Ribisi and series breakout Marin Ireland) delivers lived-in and moving dramatic turns with fast-paced scripts that don’t skimp on nuance of character. Sneaky Pete doesn’t have to con its way onto your must-watch list; it deserves to be there. Season 2 premieres March 9.

Where to watch it: AmazonFandangoNowGoogle PlayMicrosoft, Vudu

Commitment: Approx. 7.5 hours


Timeless 91% (NBC)

What it is: This time-hopping, sci-fi adventure series from creators Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke stars Abigail Spencer, Malcolm Barrett, and Matt Lanter as a history professor, a scientist, and a soldier, respectively, who travel through time to stop another more sinister time traveler from altering the course of history.

Why you should watch it: Oftentimes, high-concept big swings from the networks take a little while to find their footing, but Timeless on NBC stormed out of the gate in fall 2016 as an admirably audacious drama with tricks up its sleeve to spare. Season 2 premieres March 11.

Where to watch it: AmazonFandangoNowGoogle Play, HuluMicrosoftVudu

Commitment: Approx. 12 hours


Billions 89% (Showtime)

What it is: Showtime’s Billions dramatizes the high-stakes world of Wall Street when Chuck Rhoades, a U.S. attorney, sets his sights on bringing down hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod for insider trading and other illegal proclivities.

Why you should watch it: Paul Giamatti has built a career on playing the everyman, and here, he’s fighting for him. Giamatti’s turn as the hard-hitting U.S. attorney Rhoades would be reason alone to watch (scenes of unexpected BDSM and all), but Billions also boasts a timely, engrossing premise and firecracker performances from Damian Lewis and Maggie Siff that meet Giamatti mark for mark. Season 3 premieres March 25.

Where to watch it: Amazon, FandangoNowGoogle Play, HuluVudu

Commitment: Approx. 24 hours


Silicon Valley 94% (HBO)

What it is: This decorated HBO comedy from creators John Altschuler, Mike Judge, and Dave Krinsky is the story of wunderkind coder Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) as he and partner Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller) struggle to  to get their startup off the ground during Northern California’s tech boom.

Why you should watch it: Few shows pack as many laughs-per-episode as Silicon Valley. Through its hilarious portrayal of a company on the rise, it also taps into the real-world “brotopia” of the West Coast’s tech industry in more than just name with an assortment of memorable (and in the case of Middleditch, Emmy-nominated) performances across the board.

Where to watch it: Amazon, FandangoNowGoogle Play, HBO NowMicrosoftVudu

Commitment: Approx. 19 hours


The Americans 96% (FX)

Holly Taylor, Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell in The Americans (Patrick Harbron/FX)

What it is: Now entering its sixth and final season, this slow-burning espionage series stars real-life couple Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as married KGB spies infiltrating the nation’s capital at the height of the Cold War.

Why you should watch it: We know, we know: You’ve heard enough about Russia in today’s headlines, so why should you want to watch a show about KGB spies infiltrating the States? Trust us: The Americans isn’t just any show. In Russell and Rhys, the FX critical darling boasts two of television’s finest performers matched with airtight scripts and sublime direction and cinematography well deserving of its slew of Emmy and Golden Globe nominations over its five-year run. Season 6 premieres March 28.

Where to watch it: Amazon, FandangoNowGoogle PlayMicrosoftVudu

Commitment: Approx. 48 hours


A Series of Unfortunate Events 96% (Netflix)

What it is: Those poor, poor Baudelaire orphans — always getting caught up in events that are, well, unfortunate. Netflix’s whimsically dark series follows Violet, Klaus, and Sunny who, after they’re parents’ death, are put in the care of an evil distant cousin, Count Olaf, who’s set on getting his hands on their sizable inheritance.

Why you should watch it: Here, Neil Patrick Harris is doing more than just stealing the show here, as he did on for nine seasons on How I Met Your Mother. He is the show, making each master-of-disguise get-up as the menacing Olaf more beguiling than the one before it. It’s just an added bonus that the sets, music, and just about everything else about this series is technically dazzling.

Where to watch it: Netflix

Commitment: Approx. 6 hours


Legion 91% (FX)

The cast of Legion (Michelle Faye/FX)

What it is: While Legion is among the most original — and, as a result, undefinable — series on TV today, in the simplest of terms, it’s the story of psych-ward patient David Haller (Dan Stevens) and his sidekick-turned-nemesis Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) as David more fully becomes what he’s always known himself to be: a mutant.

Why you should watch it: To anyone who says they’re tiring of the superhero genre overtaking film and TV, we say, “Have you seen Legion?” Noah Hawley’s absolutely singular X-Men–based vision is a mind-bending and engrossing head-scratcher that’s well worth committing to. And committing is exactly what Stevens and Plaza do with their no-holds-barred, fearless performances. Season 2 premieres April 3.

Where to watch it: Amazon, FandangoNowGoogle Play, HuluMicrosoftVudu

Commitment: Approx. 6 hours

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