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Who are the best superheroes by their movie ratings?

Who is the best superhero in live-action movies? Will Superman take the prize for being in film the longest? Or perhaps the Batman with his record seven movies will take top honor.

To figure who is the best superhero in film, let’s make a list of superhero movies. Then average out all the movies scores for each superhero. Rotten Tomatoes is a good place to start, because each Rotten Tomato score is already the average of all the major critic’s reviews. If we average the Rotten Tomato score for all these movies, we’ll get one master score for each superhero!

If you’d like to see the raw data, here’s a link to my original Google spreadsheet. Otherwise, enjoy the stats below.

1st place: Captain America (84%)

0441-webcomic-superhero_movies-20160229e-72dpi_graph-01-captain_america
Captain America 2: Winter Solider poster 2014The top superhero is not Batman, nor Superman, not even Iron Man, but Captain America! His two movies Captain America: First Avenger (2011) and Winter Solider (2014) got a 79% and 89% rating, thus creating a 84% total score.

Good ol’ America. I’m rather surprised that Captain would rank at the top. He certainly doesn’t seem like the most popular superhero. But with movie critics, he is.

  • 79%:Captain America: First Avenger — 2011
  • 89%: Captain America 2: Winter Solider– 2014

2nd place: Hellboy (83%)

Average ratings of all Hellboy movies: Rotten Tomato scores
Hellboy comes in second with his 2004 flick getting 81% and 2008 getting 85%, creating a master 83%. Who knew that Ron Perlman of all people would be such a popular superhero!?

3rd place: The Avengers (83%)

Average ratings of all Avenger movies: Rotten Tomato scores
Marvel’s The Avengers poster 2012If we take the two Avengers movies by name only, we get an 83% total score, tying them for second place.

  • 92%: Marvel’s The Avengers — 2012
  • 74%: Avengers: Age of Ultron — 2015

But that’s just for the two major Avengers movies. For the tie-breaker if we take ALL 13 of movies that the Avengers appeared in, that drops them to a 74% rating. Thus, the Avengers get third place.

Besides, the two Avengers movies are really a collection of many superheroes together. Hulk, Ironman, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow. You can’t quite say the there is one best superhero with this movie.

4th place: Iron Man (81.67%)

Average ratings of all Iron Man movies: Rotten Tomato scores
The snarky egotistical Tony Stark has a very strong showing with this first film getting 94%. The two following dragged it down a bit.

  • 94%: Iron Man — 2008
  • 72%: Iron Man 2 — 2010
  • 79%: Iron Man 3 — 2013

5th place: Spider-Man (74%)

Average ratings of all Spider-Man movies: Rotten Tomato scores
With Spider-Man, we enter the second tier of Superhero movies with an overall average rating well below 80%.

  • 89%: Spider-Man — 2002
  • 93%: Spider-Man 2 — 2004
  • 63%: Spider-Man 3 — 2007
  • 72%: The Amazing Spider-Man — 2012
  • 53%: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — 2014

6th place: X-Men (73.5%)

Average ratings of all X-men movies: Rotten Tomato scores
Wolverine X-Men posterIt’s too bad that the 38% Wolverine flick had “X-Men” in its title. Take that 38% out of the mix, and the X-Men movie collection jumps up into the first tier with 81%). But there’s a reason why I take the average of the scores, and not the median. Really bad films should ding a superhero brand, and ding it hard. We’ll see that happen with Batman and Superman further down the list.

  • 81%: X-Men — 2000
  • 86%: X2: X-Men United — 2003
  • 58%: X-Men: The Last Stand — 2006
  • 38%: X-Men Origins – Wolverine — 2009
  • 87%: X-Men: First Class — 2011
  • 91%: X-Men: Days of Future Past — 2014

7th place: Thor (71.5%)

Average ratings of all Thor movies: Rotten Tomato scores
Thor’s two movies were probably a bit too confusing for people as it mixed superheroes with Norse mythologyBut hey, at 7th out of 16, Thor still is in the top half of superheroes. If they ever come out with a third Thor movie, I have a feeling it would tank hard.

  • 77%: Thor — 2011
  • 66%: Thor: The Dark World — 2013

Thank you, SirYak of reddit for correcting me when I called it Greek mythology.
Also, thanks to BearsAreSquares of reddit for pointing out that Thor III might be really awesome with the Hulk in it. You have given me new hope for the third Thor movie. 

8th place: Batman (68.75%)

List of Batman movies and their ratings
Batman & Robin movie poster 1997Oooooh. Batman & Robin. OUCH. 11%. Take that one movie out, and Batman’s score jumps ten percentage points to 77%. But we gotta include the really bad movies. Batman & Robin is part of Batman lore.

  • 80%: Batman The Movie — 1966
  • 72%: Batman — 1989
  • 80%: Batman Returns — 1992
  • 41%: Batman Forever — 1995
  • 11%: Batman & Robin — 1997
  • 85%: Batman Begins — 2005
  • 94%: The Dark Knight — 2008
  • 87%: The Dark Knight Rises — 2012

9th place: Hulk (64%)

Average ratings of all Hulk movies: Rotten Tomato scores
HULK MEDICORE. HULK ANGRY. HULK SMASH TOMATOES.

  • 61%: Hulk — 2003
  • 67%: The Incredible Hulk — 2008

10th place: Superman (58.6%)

Average ratings of all Superman movies: Rotten Tomato scores
Superman IV flying with American flagOhhh Superman. You are so generic. Sorry. If you could only be more like Captain America. But wait, you tried that in 1987 where you flied around with an American flag and that got you 12%.

  • 93%: Superman — 1978
  • 89%: Superman II — 1981
  • 26%: Superman III — 1983
  • 12%: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace — 1987
  • 76%: Superman Returns — 2006
  • 56%: Man of Steel — 2013

11th place: Judge Dredd (48%)

Average ratings of all Judge Dredd movies: Rotten Tomato scores
Judge Dredd having TWO movies cracks me up. But hey, it gets him onto this list. Any superhero with just one movie has nothing to average, so that superhero doesn’t make it onto the list. But Judge Dredd got a remake in 2012. It baffles the mind that anyone would want to take the

  • 18% bomb in 1995 and redo it. These two movies are the largest difference between the first and second movies.
  • 18%: Judge Dredd — 1995
  • 78%: Dredd 3D — 2012

12th place: Transformers (32.25%)

Average ratings of all Transformer movies: Rotten Tomato scores
Yes, Transformers are superheros. They are aliens from another planet. Superman, Thor, Hellboy—all are from other worlds and have superpowers. However, Michael Bay cannot get good movie ratings, so Transformers sits in 12th place.

Including the original animated Transformers movie of 1986 was tempting, but that opens pandora’s box for all the plethora of other animated versions of superhero movies. Besides, the 1986 movie only got a 53% (and that is my favorite movie of all time). One of these days, I should take the “audience score” from rotten tomatoes and see how the movies do. 1986 Transformers got 88%.

  • 57%: Transformers — 2007
  • 19%: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen — 2009
  • 35%: Transformers: Dark of the Moon — 2011
  • 18%: Transformers: Age of Extinction — 2014

13th place: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (28.75%)

Average ratings of all TMNT movies: Rotten Tomato scores
You know we are getting to the bottom of the barrel when we hit Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If someone can’t take Transformers seriously, I don’t know how we can do that with TMNT. I love the cartoon series—but putting these guys into real-life form—ick.

  • 40%: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — 1990
  • 33%: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze — 1991
  • 21%: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III — 1993
  • 21%: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — 2014

3rd to last place (#14): The Punisher (28%)

List of Punisher movies
There are two Punisher movies? I missed out on these.

  • 29%: The Punisher — 2004
  • 27%: Punisher: War Zone — 2008

(The 1989 Punisher movie was originally included, but I have removed it. Thank you to HotBigBagofWTF of reddit for pointing out that it was never released theatrically in the US)

2nd to last place (#15): Fantastic Four (24.33%)

Average ratings of all Fantastic Four movies: Rotten Tomato scores
In the second to last place, it’s nice to see that we don’t just have movies that are 20 years old.

  • 27%: Fantastic Four — 2005
  • 37%: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer — 2007
  • 9%: Fantastic Four — 2015

Last place (#16): Ghost Rider (21.5%)

Average ratings of all Ghost Rider movies: Rotten Tomato scores
Ghost Rider. Seems like it’s a cool comic book. But for a movie? I haven’t seen it, but I get the impression that this is the quality of a bad 80s gang movie. Movies like Ghost Rider makes me wish there were more superhero movies in the 80s—just so we can see how bad they could be.

  • 26%: Ghost Rider — 2007
  • 17%: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance — 2012

Drawing style

This week I’m trying a new drawing style. My previous style would have me tracing the pencil sketches in Illustrator. Each shape would be hand-drawn using the pen tool. It offers me great flexibility, because every part is adjustable. If i want to turn a character’s arm, I just select the arm shape and rotate it. Since the drawings are vector shapes, they are scalable to any size.

STAR WARS 80s High School - Luke Binary SunsetHowever, they end up looking rather flat. At some point, I would like to try the gradient mesh tool a bit more to add advanced shading. But right now I’m just trying to produce a webcomic and get it out in a reasonable amount of time.

While doing research for superhero artwork, I came across some artwork on deviantart by DenisM79. I love seeing the loose pencil lines, along with the loose color behind the pencils.

Using this as inspiration, I tried a new illustration technique in Photoshop where I color behind the pencil sketch lines. The pencil sketch is the top layer with its ink set to multiply.

Not only was I hoping to capture the same feeling of DenisM79’s work, but I was also hoping this might be a faster technique of coloring the artwork. It was pretty good.

Ugly white glow, yuck

But there’s one trick… I do my layouts in illustrator for the webcomic. These psd files don’t work very well in Illustrator. When it came time to place each character into my Illustrator layout, the pencil sketch’s ink doesn’t set to multiply in Illustrator. Instead I get an ugly white glow around each character. Bleh.

Captain America and EtymThe trick is to import the layered PSD file with the colors turned on, and the pencil sketch layer turned off. Then I import the pencil sketch as another piece of artwork. That enables me to set the pencil sketch artwork to multiple, whereas the color artwork remains normal.

Etym in the batman outfit was really cute. I tried putting him as Captain America, but that just didn’t work. The Worm as Superman might actually be my favorite over Etym as Batman. The Worm is pretty tricky, because he has no arms or legs. But Superman’s outfit is iconic enough where it can work without arms or legs. The Superman S seal carries the outfit, along with the Superman cape.

WWII comic book characters

original-yankee-doodle-jonesFor the end of the strip, I needed some other World War II comic book characters. There are a plenty! Uncle Sam, Captain Victory, the Flag, Yankee Doodle Jones, Yankee Eagle, the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy, Super-American, Captain Courageous, the American Eagle, the Spirit of 76, American Crusader, Captain Fearless, Flag-Man, Minute-Man, the Liberator, and Mr. America. And those are just the good guys.

Yankee Doodle Jones’ outfit is just something to behold! His star-covered shirt reminds me of a wonderful shirt I owned during high school in the early 90s. Random white stars covering n extra-large shirt with a slight blueish-purple tinge.

For the World War II villains, Captain Nazi, the Red Skull, Baron Gestapo, Captain Nippon, Captain Swastika, the Claw, and Adolf Hitler. Baron Gestapo is an over-the-top villain. Not only does he have a huge swastika on his chest, but that swastika is on fire! It looks like the flames might be part of the design. But who knows, maybe those are actual flames coming out of the swastika! As if that wasn’t enough, the Baron also has a monocle. Monocles were very popular for German generals. Dietrich von Saucken, Walter Model, Von Saucken, Von Seeckt, Von Frisch, Hugo Sperrle, and Von Reichenau.

Baron Gestapo, original and cartoonThe monocle wasn’t enough for Baron Gestapo, let’s also give him some vampire teeth. And his weapon of choice? A huge freakin axe. I was really quite scared to draw Baron Gestapo.

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Adrian D.
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Why no Blade?

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[…] a similar rankings note, Matt Maldre of Spudart has a blog post where he ranks various superhero/adventure comic book character film franchises by their Rotten […]

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