There have been some fantastic comic book movies over the years, but none of them are flawless – even the best ones have their faults; 2008’s The Dark Knight killed off Harvey Dent when he could have gone on to be a major villain in the franchise, 2011’s X-Men: First Class should have been called “X-Men Origins: Magneto”, 2013’s Iron Man 3 (which was a MUCH better movie than most casual fans gave it credit for – just look at its 79% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes) put a frustrating and anticlimactic twist on an iconic comic book villain, 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier didn’t have the balls to kill off any major existing characters, and 2016’s Captain America: Civil War was overstuffed to bursting.
But those things don’t change the fact that they’re all brilliant and highly entertaining movies.
The same goes for comic book movies that are merely let down by their poor endings – and there are plenty of those. If a movie is enjoyable throughout, but ultimately has a disappointing climax, that’s undoubtedly a shame – but it doesn’t change the fact that it was otherwise a good movie. It’s that kind of thing we’re going to be discussing here. Here are fifteen awesome comic book movies with poor endings.
15. The Mask (1994)
1994 was definitely Jim Carrey’s year. The hilarious actor starred in Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and The Mask that year – all of which were extremely funny and extremely successful. The Mask, of course, was the only comic book movie of the three – and it was a brilliantly funny adaptation of the source material. Supported by Cameron Diaz as Tina Carlyle, Carrey nailed the role of the timid Stanley Ipkiss and, even more so, the role of the crazy titular hero.
But the ending wasn’t great. Ipkiss threw the mask that transformed him into the cartoonish hero into the water. This ending essentially ruled out the likelihood of another Mask movie starring Carrey ever happening and, even more upsettingly, enabled the awful Son of the Mask sequel to happen in 2005.
14. Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016)
You’re probably thinking “wait, isn’t this article supposed to be about AWESOME comic book movies with poor endings?” And yet we’re including 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which wasn’t very good? But come on, man, it might have disappointed some people, but this movie saw BATMAN FIGHTING SUPERMAN IN LIVE ACTION! Regardless of what you think of the movie as a whole, that was enough to give it an element of awesomeness.
The ending, however, wasn’t great at all. Superman had been killed in the movie. Doomsday – or at least the DC Extended Universe’s version of him – had ended his life, shocking audiences around the world. But, much like Marvel Studios with their heroes, Warner Brothers just couldn’t let him stay dead – and nor could they wait for the imminent resurrection to occur in a future movie. With the camera focused on Superman’s coffin, after his funeral had already taken place, the dirt atop of it began to levitate, making it very obvious that the Man of Steel was, in fact, still very much alive.
13. Batman Returns (1992)
In hindsight, 1992’s Batman Returns probably wasn’t as good as people remember it to be. It was certainly inferior to 1989’s Batman, and it had some absolutely ridiculous plot points, but it definitely compares favourably to Joel Schumacher’s subsequent Batman movies – 1995’s Batman Forever and 1997’s Batman & Robin were horrendous – and it certainly wasn’t terrible overall. That being said, the ending was farcical.
Danny DeVito’s Penguin (who was actually completely butchered from the version of the character fans knew from the source material) had died, having fallen through a window in his lair into toxic water, and his faithful penguin servants responded… by giving him a makeshift Penguin funeral! Penguins. Conducting a funeral. Seriously though, seriously, what more really needs to be said about that? It’s absolutely and undeniably completely stupid.
12. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
2012’s The Dark Knight Rises was the third and final movie in Christopher Nolan’s iconic Dark Knight Trilogy. It saw Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne having become a recluse, having also retired from being Batman, but being forced to bring the hero back after the emergence of a powerful terrorist called Bane. It was an enjoyable movie for the most part, but the ending sucked.
The movie’s supporting star, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, might have described it as being the “perfect” climax to Nolan’s trilogy, but we beg to differ. It was rushed, sloppy and hackneyed. Batman dumped a bomb – which was set to detonate in Gotham City – over the bay on the horizon. Presumed dead, Batman disappeared, but was revealed to be alive and well in Florence, Italy, with Selina Kyle. John Blake (the aforementioned Gordon-Levitt) then resigns from the police force and, following Wayne’s instructions, discovers the Batcave and its contents. Not only was the reveal of Wayne being alive a less satisfying conclusion than not knowing his status (which would have left a potential sequel more open), the fact that Robin was teased, only for Robin to never appear, was just frustrating.
11. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Spider-Man 2 remains one of the greatest comic book movies ever made. The 2004 offering was the second instalment in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and featured Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus as the villain – Doc Oc being a key reason for the movie’s critical and commercial success. The ending, however, wasn’t so good.
The final scenes saw Harry Osborn being visited by a vision of his father, Norman, urging him to avenge his death by hunting down and killing Spider-Man – a supernatural occurrence that went against the deeply-rooted scientific nature of the franchise up to that point. Moreover, it was swiftly followed by the cheesiest scene in the franchise – Mary Jane Watson abandoning John James at the altar to run to Peter Parker’s apartment, reconciling their relationship going forward.
10. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was… disappointing. That’s not to say, however, that it wasn’t very good. The 2014 sequel to 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man just didn’t perform as well as expected at the box office – in spite of the fact that it still amassed a worldwide gross of more than $700 million – which resulted in potential sequels and spin-offs being abandoned.
The move featured no less than three iconic Spider-Man villains – Electro, the Green Goblin and Rhino – with Rhino not appearing properly until the very last scene. The wonderful Paul Giamatti played the character and the movie ended with Spider-Man in the middle of attacking him – and then the scene faded to black before first contact between the two. Not only was that an extremely frustrating thing for fans to experience, it also didn’t result in a sequel, meaning we never actually got to see Giamatti’s Rhino in all his true glory.
9. Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the best movies of 2014 – period – and it’s arguably the single most enjoyable comic book movie ever made (we did say “most enjoyable”, not “best”). The space opera saw a band of misfits – Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot and Drax – coming together to save the galaxy from the Kree warlord Ronan, who was in possession of the Infinity Stone known as the Orb.
The ending, however, was cheesy as hell! The scene in which the titular team obtained the Orb for themselves, and used it to collectively share and utilize its power against Ronan, really did smash the cheese-o-meter to pieces. And the “You said it yourself, bitch – we’re the Guardians of the Galaxy” line only made it cheesier still.
8. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger is a very underrated movie. It’s actually brilliant (and a superb period piece – but don’t tell Marvel Studios we said that; they really don’t like it), but it doesn’t get the credit it deserves, because of the fact that it’s very understated in comparison to most other comic book movies. It saw the timid and tiny Steve Rogers being subjected to the Super Soldier Serum treatment and subsequently becoming the titular hero, taking down the villainous Red Skull during World War II.
The ending, however, kind of sucked. The shift to the future just doesn’t belong in this movie – if it had just been a post-credits scene, that would have been better – and there’s no explanation regarding how exactly Steve Rogers survived. He was inside Red Skull’s aircraft when it crashed and was consequently preserved by being frozen in the Arctic – but surely the crash would have injured him severely? In a nutshell, the ending was both out of place and poorly explained.
7. Blade II (2002)
Wesley Snipes‘ tenure as the vampire-hunting half-vampire Blade was undoubtedly a good one. Although the final movie in the trilogy wasn’t great, the first two ensured it was remembered fondly as a whole – and 2002’s Blade II was one of those two movies.
It saw Blade being forced to team up with a group of elite vampires called the Bloodpack to combat a new threat – a new breed of vampire called Reapers (the main one, Jared Nomak, being played by Luke Goss). Throughout the course of the movie, Blade becomes attracted to one of the Bloodpack – Nyssa Damaskinos – and this contributes massively to the poor ending. Nyssa is bitten by Nomak, so Blade takes her outside to watch the sun rise while she dies in his arms. He’s a hero, sure, but this made him look weak and seemed very out of character.
6. Blade (1998)
The best Blade film is undoubtedly the first one – 1998’s Blade. It was Wesley Snipes’ debut outing as the character and in it he faced off against Stephen Dorff’s Deacon Frost – who sought to become the vampire blood god La Magra, by performing the summoning ritual required to do so.
Frost did indeed succeed in becoming La Magra and fought Blade in the movie’s final battle, besting the hero for the most part. But Blade won in ridiculous fashion (bearing in mind the fight had already seen silly occurrences like Frost survive being cut in half). By sending numerous syringes full of the anticoagulant EDTA in to Frost – including one that he acrobatically kicked precisely into his forehead – Blade caused the villain to blow up like a fleshy balloon and explode. Not only was it a stupid ending, it was also made more disappointing when a deleted scene with Morbius was revealed to have not been included in the battle’s aftermath.
5. Iron Man 2 (2010)
Before you say 2010’s Iron Man 2 wasn’t very good, let us just say this; you’re wrong. The movie is certainly inferior to its 2008 predecessor, but the fact that it compares unfavourably to what is undoubtedly one of the best comic book movies of all time doesn’t make it a bad movie. It has a 72% approval rating on rotten tomatoes, and Robert Downey Jr. is as brilliant as ever in it, but the ending really didn’t make any sense – especially in hindsight.
At a debriefing, Nick Fury informed Tony Stark that, because of his difficult personality, S.H.I.E.L.D. intended to use him only as a consultant and wouldn’t be recruiting him into the Avengers. The scene was pointless, however – or it was at least rendered so two years later – because Downey Jr. would (obviously) go on to become a key member of the Avengers and the star of the team’s titular movie in 2012.
4. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Both of the Hellboy movies were fantastic. Ron Perlman was so great in the titular role that comic book movie fans have been crying out for him to return for a third outing as the hero – not least because of how good 2008’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army was. It saw Hellboy taking on Luke Goss’ Prince Nuada, who had waged war on humanity and intended to unleash the titular Golden Army to fight for him.
The movie was fantastic – arguably better than its predecessor – and was, in particular, a visual treat. However, the ending was, quite frankly, franchise-destroying. It saw Selma Blair’s Liz Sherman revealing that she was pregnant with Hellboy’s twins. How exactly can they possibly go forward with that? A movie with two Hell-babies would be pretty ridiculous! No wonder there’s been no third instalment!
3. Superman II (1980)
1980’s Superman 2 was the last of the three Christopher Reeve Superman movies to be any good – it all went downhill from here. The movie saw Supes going up against Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor for a second time – but he also had a trio of rogue Kryptonians to deal with in the form of Terence Stamp’s General Zod and his henchman, Ursa and Non.
It was a fantastic movie, with the Kryptonian hero coming out on top as usual – but Lois Lane found out his secret identity, which resulted in an utterly farcical ending. To wipe Lois’ memory, in order to make her forget his secret, Clark Kent gave her a memory-wiping kiss – a power he plucked out of absolutely nowhere. Then, he goes completely out of character to beat up a man who had earlier beat him up when he had lost his powers. It was just a silly climax in every respect.
2. Superman (1978)
1978’s Superman was the movie that undoubtedly spawned the trend of what we now know as the modern comic book movie genre – even if it did take a while to get to the stage it’s at these days. It was the aforementioned Christopher Reeve’s first outing as the Man of Steel – and it saw him facing Lex Luthor for the first time, as the villainous scientific genius and businessman sought to bring the Kryptonian hero down.
When Lois Lane is killed following an earthquake caused by Luthor’s plan to sink California, the movie ends in ridiculous fashion, as Supes resurrects her – by reversing time! That’s right, Superman miraculously pulls another superpower out of his ass by flying around the world so fast that time reverses, allowing him to prevent Lois’ death – because that makes total sense, right?
1. The Avengers (2012)
2012’s The Avengers is, without any shadow of a doubt, one of the greatest comic book movies ever made. It was the culmination of Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it spectacularly brought together a group of Marvel superheroes for the first time on the big screen. It provided us with one of the best cinematic villains in recent memory in Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and it impressed both audiences and critics alike – but the ending was garbage.
The manner in which the invading Chitauri army was killed en masse was cheap, convenient, underwhelming, required a contrived plot device in order for it to happen and, frankly, it was lazy. It made for a happy, but horribly wrapped up ending. The Chitauri obviously operated as one hive mind, but Tony Stark wasn’t to know that – the fact he simply “got lucky” in defeating every single Chitauri soldier by nuking their ship was very poor storytelling.