Multiple sequels, too many prequels, gritty reboots, body armor, tangled storylines, entire worlds tinted blue and orange or garish, muddy gray, and endless CGI fights bookending three lines of dialogue meant to replace character development — it's enough to make even the biggest comic book film fans exhausted. If you find you're suffering from Superhero Movie Fatigue Syndrome™, it's time to try something different — and no, that doesn't mean giving the genre up, just trying out some new options. Here are
15 underrated superhero movies streaming right now, flicks you probably missed while watching Avengers: Infinity War on repeat.
Before Marvel's Cinematic Universe started taking over screens a decade ago, superhero movies were far more hit-and-miss. Exceptions usually included directors' passion projects, or indie films with distinct stylization and unique visual flair. These movies were very into individually adapting the "comic book" style to the big screen, before the current standardized look became the norm. In the decades between 1978's
Superman and the recent gritty versions of that hero's story, plenty of films took potshots at the idealism and heroics of straightforward superheroes. Many of the films below did just that, and are absolutely worth checking out next time you need a new movie to watch. 1 'Darna Vs. The Planet Women'
Calling Darna the Filipinio Wonder Woman belies her incredible popularity in her home country. In this ninth film, meek Narda turns into super-powerful Darna by swallowing a magic stone, and with the help of her kid brother rescues Earth's scientists from the clutches of vicious aliens who want to use them for their own ends.
Available on Amazon Prime. 2 'Mystery Science Theater 3000: Puma Man'
The best way to watch this schlocky '70s Italian superhero film, where a whiny professor discovers he's descended from a long line of Puma Men and must stop Donald Pleasence from using an evil mask to rule the world, is with Mike and the 'bots pointing out its obvious foibles.
Available on Hulu and TubiTV. 3 'The Toxic Avenger Part II'
New Jersey's homebrew superhero heads to Tokyo to clean up some evil. For those unfamiliar with Troma films, there's a lot of high cheese and sleaze on a low, low budget.
Available on Amazon Prime. 4 'Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World'
If Scott Pilgrim wants to date the girl of his dreams, he first has to defeat her seven evil exes in this comic book adaptation from the director of
Shaun of the Dead. Available on HBOGo. 5 'Darkman'
Evil Dead director Sam Raimi couldn't get the rights to The Shadow, he just made his own anti-hero tale. A scientist deformed in a lab accident uses his research in synthetic skin to take on different identities, fight crime, and get revenge on those who wronged him. Available on MaxGo 6 'Mr. Freedom'
This brutal satire of jingoism and superhero idealism has ultimate all-American hero Mr. Freedom head to France to fight an anti-freedom league, defeat Communism and eradicate any non-patriotic sentiment by any means necessary.
Available on FilmStruck. 7 'Unbreakable'
M. Night Shyamalan deconstructs superhero mythology and origins in this story of a seemingly ordinary man realizing his extraordinary powers.
Available on Showtime. 8 'Hellboy'
Spawned by Nazis as an ultimate weapon but raised as a son by a caring professor, the demon Hellboy fights supernatural forces bent on destroying the world (despite him being one of them).
Available on Hulu. 9 'Hellboy II: The Golden Army'
Where the first movie was two-fisted action,
Hellboy's sequel takes a deeper dive into lore and mythology, with a love story to boot. Available on Netflix. 10 'The Shadow' "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows...." Based on the popular radio serial, Alec Baldwin's pet project was ahead of the curve on superhero and anti-hero movies by a country mile. Available on Starz. 11 'Five Elements Ninjas'
If Batman can be a superhero by buying a lot of expensive gear and doing pull-ups, these martial art students out for revenge and the thematic ninja they're fighting have him beat by a country mile.
Available on Amazon Prime. 12 'The Phantom'
Another early entry in superhero rebooting. The world wasn't ready for a direct big-screen translation of the popular 1930s comic strip, purple tights in the jungle and all.
Available on Amazon Prime and Epix. 13 'Tank Girl'
The goofy, off-the-wall comic got an equally weird big-budget movie adaptation that has to be seen to be believed. Ice-T plays a genetically modified supersoldier half-kangaroo, for example.
Available on Vudu. 14 'The Bat'
This Vincent Price film is based on the even-earlier
The Bat Whispers, the film Batman creator Bob Kane said directly inspired the caped crusader. Available on Amazon Prime. 15 'Barb Wire'
Not really leading the path to strong female leads, the Pamela Anderson-starring
Barb Wire at least accurately reflected most comic books of the time's visual sensibilities when it came to women. Available on Starz. 16 'Spawn'
Coming full-circle, the big-screen adaptation of Todd McFarlane's popular comic is getting a reboot in 2019, and will probably Spawn an entire franchise of even grittier superhero reboots.
Available on Hulu.
There are plenty of other non-streaming superhero alternatives available, including films like
Mystery Men, The Meteor Man, and The Last Dragon, but for now hopefully these will cleanse your mind of the usual tights-and-angst melodramas.