Every Superman Movie, Ranked From Worst To Best

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Superman Christopher Reeve Brandon Routh Henry CavillSuperman stands for truth justice and the American way. After his introduction in the pages of Action Comics #1 in 1938, Superman quickly became a symbol for the American ideal. Over the years, he has evolved to take the shape of each generation’s idea of America. In 1938, Superman was pretty much the shinning pinnacle of what a superhero should be. Every kid looked up to Superman as their role model.

There have been many depictions of the character on the big screen. Actors have been playing the Man of Steel since the late ’40s and are still very much doing so today. Once he hit the big screen, audience members around the world loved Superman and instantly wanted to see more of him. Unfortunately, however, not all of his stories have resonated well with audiences. That’s why we decided to rank the character’s big screen outings.

Here’s every Superman movie, ranked from worst to best. Click Next to read more.

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  • Frank Pepito

    “After the success of Christopher Reeve’s first outing as the Man of Steel, Warner Bros. decided to give the film a sequel, titled Superman II.” This isn’t accurate. There’re all kinds of available material explaining that Mario Puzo’s original draft was long enough to fill two movies. And that was how Donner approached it after he was brought on, and filmed two movies at once while he was involved. The Salkinds’ previously did the same when producing their Musketeers movies.

    As for BvS:DoJ, I assume it’s the theatrical release that was judged here, which is fair. The Ultimate Edition released on home video filled several plot holes.

    Finally, I’m glad to see MoS rank so high on your list. Tone definitely shunned many non-comic book fans from enjoying it, but I ultimately enjoyed it for it’s “The Day the Earth Stood Still” take.

    • Christopher Rodriguez

      The bit about Superman II totally slipped my mind while I was writing this. Thanks for pointing it out! I’ve edited the article accordingly.

      -Christopher

  • Daniel

    Too often these lists are about nostalgia rather than evaluating the films objectively. I love the first two Superman films. I was a kid when I first saw them. They give me warm and fuzzy feelings. But they’re deeply, deeply flawed films.

    While BvS may have been “a disappointment to many critics and fans,” much of that disappointment was based on expectations, not on evaluating the film based on what it was (go back and read the reviews and reactions if you don’t believe me). That’s like calling “The Godfather Trilogy” a disappointment because it wasn’t funny enough. If you expected “The Godfather” to be a comedy, then, yes, I can understand how you might be disappointed that you didn’t laugh once. But if, like BvS, you accepted it for what it was and was trying to do (as opposed to what you *wanted* it to do), it’s actually quite brilliant.

    (As a test, show contentious films like BvS or the Star Wars prequels to an audience that isn’t familiar with them but also has no inherent animosity or bias toward the genre. I’ve done it multiple times. Their reactions, when removing all bias from the equation, tends to show that these films are viewed much more positively than by fans with a vested emotional or nostalgic interest.)

    That said, here is how I would rank the films:

    1. Batman v Superman
    2. Man of Steel
    3. Superman Returns
    4. Superman II
    5. Superman
    6. Superman III
    7. Supergirl
    8. Superman IV

    Haven’t seen any others.

  • Mario Daniel Rodas

    It’s crazy, seeing all films put together, how underserved the Supes franchise is, with the only two I’d consider creative winners being relics from the 70s and 80s, outdated cheese notwithstanding. But they have the credit of turning Superman into movie myth, a nice feat for a series that was a complete pioneer.

    Returns was as lacking in self-awareness as it gets, good ideas watered down to the extreme.

    Man of Steel was the borrowing of most marketable aspects of JJ Abrams’ 2002 script through a Batman Begins filter with: a purging of all charm inherent to the idea of the Superman childhood woes; a small crowd prompting an annoyingly indecisive Clark into doing the brave thing all throughout the film; and a re-do of the STM origin, with, ultimately, the Superman persona yet again owed to the wisdom of alien dad. Compare that to Waid’s Birthright, the story it’s partly based on, where Superman is Clark Kent’s very own creation from head to toe. What a cool, modern notion that was. 33-year-old MOS Clark is a frail lil’ weed surrounded by people of bigger, stronger convictions.

    BVS turns him into the most uninteresting character in the film he’s the main talking point of, and a passive, confused mute. The film as a whole is just immensely dumb. It’s legit discouraging how so much went through without being properly, discerningly questioned, even within the frame of the somber story they wanted to tell. It deserves the criticism.

    I like Cavill, and his potential for the role more than what he’s actually given to deliver. But the idea of a reboot down the line that’s just more vibrant, cleverer, brighter and younger-feeling is a nice thought at present.

  • ateofi

    Wait! Superman III is better that “Superman returns”? And Man of steel that has ridiculous plot, bad acting, bad pacing and idiotic villain, shows superman causing mass destruction and death, is second?

    Superman is no Batman which author of this ridiculous article seems to forget.