Superhero movies have proven to be the current kings of the box office. From Marvel to DC, every few months a new superhero film is thrust onto the big screen for fans to enjoy, and more often than not, they make a lot of money. This of course leads to sequels, which leads to franchises, which leads to team-ups with other heroes: Marvel used this formula to become a multimedia juggernaut.
While most superhero movies get a sequel, not all are created equal. Some fail to find an audience, so plans for a franchise are quietly snuffed out. Others were planned to be a single film from the beginning and wrap their plot line up without the need for a sequel. Some just did not make enough money, so studios lose faith in a franchise despite a strong reception. Money talks, so not every movie gets the sequel it deserves.
‘Black Adam’ (2022)
The movie that felt like it was in production for a decade, Black Adam was a passion project for Dwayne Johnson. Johnson plays the titular character, an indestructible anti-hero who uses his powers to destroy his enemies before his run-ins with innocent civilians causes him to grapple with the idea of being a hero for justice.
While Black Adam is an entertaining watch for anyone looking for some dumb fun and over-the-top action, it failed to make the same splash at the box office most modern superhero movies do. Johnson confirmed that new DCEU boss James Gunn does not have any current plans for the character, meaning a sequel will probably not be arriving any time soon—if ever.
Black Adam is available to stream on HBO Max.
One of the better pre-MCU Marvel movies, Ben Affleck took a swing at playing The Man Without Fear. Matt Murdock (Affleck) is a lawyer who spends his days offering his services to those in need, while at night, he suits up as Daredevil and hunts down the criminals that have slipped through the legal system.
Daredevil has its moments, with Colin Farrell a highlight as Bullseye, but it has now been greatly overshadowed by the Netflix series. A spin-off movie, Elektra, with Jennifer Garner reprising her role from Daredevil, was produced, but it is removed from Daredevil and instead focuses solely on Elektra and her own journey.
Daredevil is available to stream on HBO Max.
‘The Punisher’ (2004)
While three movies about Frank Castle have been produced, none of them are connected. The Punisher was the most commercially successful of the lot and saw Thomas Jane playing the famous vigilante. After criminal Howard Saint (John Travolta) has Castle’s entire family killed, the former cop dons his skull-adorned vest and hunts down Saint and his crew.
A sequel was discussed for years, with Jane wanting to return. Creative differences ensued, however, and the delightfully gory Punisher: War Zone was made instead. When a sequel to that film also never materialized, the rights reverted to Marvel, and they rebooted the character with Jon Bernthal.
The Punisher is available to stream on Peacock.
‘Big Hero 6’ (2014)
An animated take on the Marvel universe, Big Hero 6 proved to be a massive success and even won an Academy Award. After his brother is killed in a lab explosion, teenage inventor Hiro befriends a robot his brother created named Baymax, and together they form a superhero team to investigate his brother’s suspicious death.
While Big Hero 6 was a big hit at the box office and one of Disney’s best emotional tales, the creators decided to continue the story on television instead. Several shows centered on the characters have been released on Disney+, but some fans are still yearning to see these likable heroes thrust back onto the big screen for another glorious adventure.
Big Hero 6 is available to stream on Disney+.
Spawn has always been a cult favorite in comic book circles, the story of a former assassin turned demonic anti-hero resonating with readers who craved something edgier than typical superheroes. The character seemed ripe for adaptation, so in 1997 Spawn was released, with Michael Jai White playing protagonist Al Simmons.
The movie has remained largely forgotten since its release, suffering from not fully embracing the darkness and violence present in the comics. A sequel has remained in development hell since 1998, with Spawn creator Todd McFarlane publicly trying to film a reboot for the past decade, with Jamie Foxx attached at one point.
‘Sky High’ (2005)
Released before the Marvel movie craze, Sky High is remembered fondly by those who were kids in the 2000s. Will, the son of two of the world’s most famous superheroes, is about to begin attending Sky High, an academy where superhero spawn can discover their true abilities. The problem is Will does not have any superpowers.
Sky High was a modest success at release but failed to generate the kind of hype that franchises are born from. The years have been kind to the movie though, and it has remained consistently popular while developing a cult following. It has aged well, as superheroes have exploded in popularity since its release.
Sky High is available to stream on Disney+.
‘The Green Hornet’ (2011)
The early 2010s saw comedy star Seth Rogen taking a stab at the superhero genre with The Green Hornet, a reboot of the popular character. Teamed up with Jay Chou as Kato, Rogen’s under-prepared Britt Reid fights crime under the titular alter ego, drawing the ire of the criminal underworld in the process.
The Green Hornet proved to be successful at the box office, but due to its large production budget, this financial success was not seen as positively as it should have been. Producers killed the prospect of a sequel due to this, though there is now talk of a reboot coming from Leigh Whannell, the director of The Invisible Man.
The Green Hornet is available to stream on Hulu.
‘Fantastic Four’ (2015)
Perhaps the most infamous superhero flop, Fantastic Four effectively ended director Josh Trank‘s career. A reboot of the popular superhero group, the film follows the characters as they first receive their powers during a failed lab experiment and their eventual battle with iconic super villain Doctor Doom.
Despite featuring a talented cast that includes Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan, Fantastic Four was a colossal failure. A sequel had already been announced ahead of time, aiming for a 2017 release, but the first film’s drubbing from critics and its status as a box-office bomb quickly killed those plans.
Fantastic Four is available to stream on Disney+.
‘The Incredible Hulk’ (2008)
Hulk has proven to be one of the MCU‘s most utilized characters, as Bruce Banner frequently appears in other projects outside the Avengers saga, starring in Thor: Ragnarök and She-Hulk. His last solo film was The Incredible Hulk, where Edward Norton played the mean, green, smashing machine.
Mark Ruffalo is yet to be given his own project within the MCU, despite being a highlight in the ones he features in. Perhaps this is because Kevin Feige and the rest of the Marvel creatives have realized that the character works best when he is paired with other heroes, allowing them to explore other sides of the character beyond just his penchant for destruction.
The Incredible Hulk is available to stream on HBO Max.
‘Green Lantern’ (2011)
Ryan Reynolds had a troubled history with comic book movies before he struck gold with Deadpool, and Green Lantern is perhaps his most notorious flop. Starring as test pilot Hal Jordan, Reynolds finds himself mixed up in a battle for the universe as a dying alien gifts him a ring that allows him to conjure anything he wishes.
Before the DCEU had been established, Green Lantern was planned to be the starting point for such a franchise. The studio had hoped that the film’s presumed success would allow them to release further films that introduce more beloved superheroes, but its negative reception and poor box office swiftly ended those plans.
Green Lantern is available to stream on HBO Max.