Rise of the Blood Queen

Hellboy (2019) is a major insult. Not just because it’s one of the worst superhero bombs in recent memory, but because it killed Hellboy III. Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman’s third installment that should’ve been made. Hellboy was already pretty niche as a Dark Horse Comics adaptation, so making a reboot was a baffling decision. Horror director Neil Marshall took over and the project became a gritty R rated reboot. Like Perlman, Stranger Things star David Harbour already had the Hellboy look. So I gave Hellboy (2019) a chance despite the overly comedic trailer looking kinda bad.

Hellboy (2019) is just as tryhard as it looks. With the Hellboy makeup trying too hard to be gritty and an entirely unwarranted R rating. It’s just characters dropping F bombs every few minutes and excessive gore that’s more disgusting than entertaining. The CGI blood squibs are pretty awful too. Harbour tries, but his unfunny agro Hellboy isn’t as charming. Other characters suffer for the sake of being different. Ian McShane’s Professor Broom is too rough, Liz is swapped for lesser known medium Alice, and Abe is swapped for unlikable werejaguar Ben Daimio. Ed Skrein dodged a bullet when Daniel Dae Kim was cast in his place.

The only Mike Mignola character done justice is Thomas Haden Church as vigilante Lobster Johnson. Unfortunately it’s in a seriously crappy recreation of Hellboy’s Nazi unleashed origin. The uninspired conflict follows the Arthurian legend with Milla Jovovich as the dismembered Blood Queen who seeks to rule. Hellboy works with a less interesting B.P.R.D. and confronts the disgusting Baba Yaga. Giants are fought, a nasty pig fairy rebuilds Nimue, demons wreak havoc, and Hellboy becomes Anung Un Rama. Too bad I nearly fell asleep in the theater several times. What’s really funny is an Abe Sapien cliffhanger that they seriously thought would spark a sequel. Hellboy (2019) should be sent below where it belongs.

3. Hellboy

Hellboy with B.R.P.D.

B.P.R.D.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army is an awesome display of Guillermo del Toro’s creativity. Before del Toro was simply bringing the Dark Horse Comics character to life. Now he’s free to create any imaginative creature he wants. It helps that Pan’s Labyrinth made him an even more respected filmmaker. Much like Blade II, Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a superhero sequel that improves on its predecessor in every way. Yet I still didn’t see the movie in theaters. Despite already being a fan of the first Hellboy. The Golden Army refers to an ancient mechanical army created for the elves. Although Mike Mignola characters are present, the dark fantasy angle is mostly del Toro. Only he could come up with stone elves, metal fisted trolls, an angel of death with eyes on its wings, and tooth hungry tooth fairies. Hellboy was always a hero who fought any magical creature thrown at him.

Ron Perlman is Hellboy at this point. With a lighter tone, he’s free to crack as many jokes as he wants. Even singing “Can’t Smile Without You” while drunk. Selma Blair is now even more confident as Liz Sherman. Her flames are red instead of blue, but she’s just as formidable. Liz & Hellboy’s relationship is shown in greater detail with the added revelation of her pregnancy. Abe Sapien is similarly given better development with Doug Jones actually providing the voice this time. Abe has more comradery with Hellboy, Liz, and the rest of the B.P.R.D. John Myers is ditched since he’s no longer required. The organization faces a major headache when Hellboy reveals himself to the world. Giving Jeffrey Tambor a lot more to do. The most prominent new Mignola character is Johann Krauss. A fascinating containment suit wearing medium made of ectoplasm and voiced by Seth MacFarlane.

All the villains are original. Prince Nuada is a formidable elf with the intent to control the Golden Army. The problem is his physical link to his sister Princess Nuala. Made more complicated by Abe falling for her. The action is even more entertaining with fights at a Troll Market, baby juggling, big gun toting confrontations with a giant Forrest god, and a final battle with the indestructible army. Nuada’s martial arts skills make him a vastly different enemy for the more brute strength Hellboy. Even with the fun tone, Hellboy still faces difficult questions like if he really belongs among the humans? Too bad we may never know the answer. Hellboy II: The Golden Army brings light into the dark.

2. Hellboy II The Golden Army

Hellboy and the rest of B.P.R.D.

Preceded by: Hellboy

The Right Hand of Doom

Hellboy is one of many lesser known comic book adaptations to become a big success. Although Dark Horse Comics mostly sticks to licensed properties, Hellboy is one of their few original superheroes. Created by unique artist Mike Mignola, Hellboy was about as different as they come. A half demon misfit raised with a strong catholic upbringing who files his horns and works for a secret paranormal government agency. He was perfect for Guillermo del Toro. Who only increased his mainstream recognition after Blade II. Admittedly, the title did throw me off, but I became an instant fan of Hellboy after seeing the movie on FX. Like all great del Toro projects, Hellboy brings humanity to a monster. The movie follows the Seed of Destruction storyline. Closely recreating Hellboy’s origin as a baby demon let in by a portal opened by Nazi forces including occultist Grigori Rasputin, his right hand woman Ilsa, and deadly undead mechanical swordsman Kroenen.

Hellboy is raised by government scientist Professor Broom who forms the B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense). In secret, Hellboy becomes an urban legend with his own comic books. He’s ancient, but mentally a young adult with a love for candy and cats. Really there’s no one better to play him than Ron Perlman. He already has makeup experience and his wise cracking makes Hellboy all the more lovable. Hellboy leaps off the page with his red skin, tail, muscles, and trenchcoat, but his hooves aren’t really prominent. What is prominent is his trademark Right Hand of Doom. A giant stone hand used for smashing and something far worse. John Hurt brings a very caring relationship to his adopted son as Professor Broom. While Jeffrey Tambor’s frustration as government cover up agent Manning is mostly played for laughs.

Joining the outcast is psychic humanoid fish Abe Sabian. The first amphibious man played by creature expert Doug Jones. Selma Blair effectively plays misunderstood firestarter Liz Sherman as well. Although she’s just a friend in the comics, her romantic relationship with Hellboy is the heart of the story. Original character John Myers is newly recruited just to deliver exposition. Since Hellboy’s world is too complex for mainstream audiences. When Rasputin is revived, Hellboy locks & loads with a giant “Good Samaritan” gun to battle resurrecting Sammael hellhounds, face his world ending destiny as Anung Un Rama, and fight a giant Lovecraftian behemoth. Del Toro never disappoints with creature effects. While the action is even more fun with Hellboy’s sense of humor. Hellboy is how you tell an obscure superhero story right.

1. Hellboy

Hellboy breaks out the big gun

Followed by: Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Sleeker and Weaker

RoboCop (2014) is the soulless remake to an 80’s juggernaut no one needed. Paul Verhoeven is no stranger to people who don’t understand his work. So it was only a matter of time before RoboCop was rebooted. He’s practically a superhero anyway. As if they didn’t learn their lesson, RoboCop is gutted once again for a blockbuster friendly PG-13 rating. Missing the point of the brutal hard R satire all over again. Only now so much could have been done with the gritty approach they went with. Like everyone else, I didn’t see RoboCop (2014) in theaters, but I’ll admit it looked cool.

Until you realize how lifeless and robotic RoboCop is… before becoming a cyborg. With stars as big as Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, and Samuel L. Jackson, they seriously went with someone as bland as Joel Kinnaman to play Alex Murphy. One interesting difference is having his wife & son play an active role in his story, but no emotion comes out of it. Rather than sadistic creeps taking down Murphy, a boring car bomb nearly kills him. The newly named OmniCorp rebuilds him with all his memories left in tact.

Until he’s randomly stripped of emotion like the original only to regain them again. His now black male partner Lewis doesn’t play a role in any of it. Instead it’s just emotionless family turmoil with a little action thrown in. Although unforgivably bloodless, the motorcycle riding shoot em’ up Detroit action is about all they get right. His trademark bulky grey armor is just ditched for a generic sleek black design with a single human hand for some reason. Commentary is present, but it’s just Jackson screaming with bleeped out swears. RoboCop (2014) is proof nothing can ever touch the original.

4. Robocop

RoboCop takes aim

Remake of: RoboCop (1987)

I Wouldn’t Buy this for a $

RoboCop 3 is the exact opposite of RoboCop 2, yet it’s somehow just as bad. 3% on Rotten Tomatoes bad. If RoboCop 2 stripped the heroic officers exploits of their humanity, then RoboCop 3 strips them of over-the-top mayhem. After RoboCop became an icon beloved by the children who shouldn’t be able to see his movies, they made the ridiculous decision to make it PG-13. Removing the well executed gore, harsh language, drug use, and even satire that Paul Verhoeven pioneered.

Sure it’s less depraved than the first sequel, but they just can’t seem to get this franchise right. At this point, my parents didn’t even bother watching it. You’d barely be able to tell this is RoboCop 3 since the titular cyborg barely appears in it. A full 16 minutes goes by before we even see a glimpse of RoboCop. Though that might be because Peter Weller left the role. Instead a distracting Robert Burke takes his place. You may not be able to tell by his mouth, but you’ll know by the voice and crude looking face. The budget was cut and the only reason the armor looks good is because it was made for RoboCop 2.

The dull plot is a band of rebels trying to keep OCP from tearing down Detroit to build Delta City. A kid is still involved, but now she’s a genius who can reprogram an ED-209. Nancy Allen seems to finally get more attention, until Officer Lewis is carelessly killed off. Leaving RoboCop to turn on OCP, team up with his doctor, and incite an uprising amongst the police. When he does appear, it’s obviously just to sell toys. RoboCop has an arm cannon, a jetpack, and fights silly robotic ninjas. It may not be graphic, but it’s just as obvious that Frank Miller wrote this. RoboCop 3 sanitizes its legacy beyond recognition.

3. Robocop 3

RoboCop locks on

Preceded by: RoboCop 2

The Latest Model

RoboCop 2 is a mean spirited sequel that couldn’t possibly live up to the original. Paul Verhoeven knows how to tow that fine line of excessive violence and wit. Legendary Episode V director Irvin Kershner just can’t recreate it. It was enough to end his career for good, but the blame isn’t entirely on him. After RoboCop became an immediate success, it spawned superhero style comic books, toys, and an animated series for kids. Only in the 80’s. So it wasn’t surprising to discover Frank Miller was behind RoboCop 2. The 90’s sequel had a reputation long before I watched it. Since my parents absolutely hate it and it’s one of a few movies my mom considered walking out of.

So I avoided RoboCop 2 for a long time. Now I know what the problem is. RoboCop 2 is more evil than clever. They can’t even get the satirical ads right. RoboCop and his partner Anne Lewis are the only cops patrolling a bankrupt Detroit. Criminal drug lord Cain is selling a new drug called Nuke. His gang is way too sadistic, especially Hob. A kid who kills, swears, and sells drugs crosses the line with me. Made worse when even more kids commit despicable crimes. It’s the main reason the sequel lost its humanity, but the rest of the story is just as bad. Several ideas are tossed around with little pay off.

Alex Murphy’s identity is ditched in favor of RoboCop, nothing comes out of seeing his wife, he’s destroyed for a little while, he’s briefly reprogrammed to be friendly until he isn’t, and lengthy scenes go by without him. Omni Consumer Products is still the main threat, but the old man is suddenly villainous. The only persistent idea is building a giant mechanical RoboCop 2. A replacement cybernetic cop that’s stupidly given the mind of a criminal. The entire climax is just the blue plated RoboCop fighting that thing. The effects may look good, but nothing backs it up. Peter Weller and Nancy Allen have no clear direction, so they can’t save the doomed sequel. With nothing but uncomfortable violence to offer, RoboCop 2 misses the mark.

2. Robocop 2

RoboCop pulls out Cain’s brain

Preceded by: RoboCop & Followed by: RoboCop 3

Dead or Alive, Youโ€™re Coming with Me

RoboCop is the sci-fi smash hit that launched Paul Verhoeven’s career into the mainstream. Although not his first American project, RoboCop set the pace for Verhoeven’s excessively bloody violence, hard hitting commentary, and even some nudity sneaks its way in. The kind of stuff I always ended up seeing a lot younger than I should’ve. As a major staple of hard R 80’s action, my parents were big fans of RoboCop. So they didn’t deter my brother and I from watching it multiple times. It’s just the beginning I thankfully avoiding seeing. When police officer Alex Murphy is brutally murdered by sadistic criminals, Omni Consumer Products steps in. A megacorporation that owns the police department in an uncomfortably familiar run-down crime ridden drug filled dystopian Detroit.

With police overwhelmed, Murphy becomes RoboCop. An awesome half human/half machine cyborg with bulky armor, visor, and gun twirling efficiency. The perfect cop with the directives to: “Serve the public trust,” “Protect the innocent,” and “Uphold the law.” Only Murphy’s mind can’t be fully eradicated. Pushing him to investigate his murder, track down his family, and confront the ones responsible. RoboCop is one of the greatest original superhero movies ever made. RoboCop is a cross between Marvel comics ROM and Judge Dredd. Except much more blood spattered. The violence is so over-the-top, yet comedic at the same time. Just like the intermittent news segments that satirize our possible future. Nothing but anarchy and indulgent consumer ads. “I’d buy that for a $!”

Although muscular heroes were big in the 80’s, only someone as thin as Peter Weller could fit the armor. Murphy’s former partner Anne Lewis played by Nancy Allen, teams up with him as they face the only antagonists you could face in the 80’s. Greedy corporate suits and psychotic criminals. Clarence Boddicker is at the top of Detroit crime. With a notably unhinged performance from Kurtwood Smith. While Ronny Cox pulls the strings as OCP’s senior president Dick Jones. Who’d rather have violent ED-209 robots roaming the streets. The iconic robot seems threatening, but they have a little trouble with stairs. Although some effects can be iffy, the stop-motion on ED-209 is still impressive. RoboCop remains an edgy sincere blast with a kick ass theme and fully efficient hero.

1. Robocop

RoboCop takes aim

Followed by: RoboCop 2

Behold the Underminer!

Incredibles 2 is the nearly incredible 14 year follow up to The Incredibles. If there’s any Pixar sequel I was most excited for, it was Incredibles 2. Unlike most of the other Pixar continuations, superheroes are made for multiple movies. So it was only a matter of time before it was greenlit. After directing Ratatouille, Brad Bird was questioned about the possibility of an Incredibles 2. He already had ideas for it, but he didn’t want to do it until it was perfect.ย Incredibles 2 asks questions about the superhero family that help their relatability. Rather than follow adult versions of the kids like I briefly assumed, Incredibles 2 takes place exactly 1 minute after the first movie.

Anticipation for the long awaited sequel was bigger than any Pixar sequel at the time. Since superheroes only grew in popularity since 2004. Thanks to Disney owning Marvel as well. My generation made it clear that the movie was made for us. Any child that saw Incredibles 2 wasn’t even born when The Incredibles came out. Going from 9 to 23 years old, superhero movies were such a big deal that my entire family went to the theater to see it. Something we hadn’t done since Toy Story 3. Sure originals like Coco were successful, but nothing beats name recognition. Making it the third Pixar movie to cross the billion dollar mark. Incredibles 2 was a fun experience, but the only thing strong enough to take its Best Animated Feature win was another superhero movie…

40. Incredibles 2

The Incredibles fight together

Incredibles 2 has its family theme represented in its Oscar winning short Boa. A sentimental Chinese allegory where a mother experiences motherhood all over again through a baozi bun. Incredibles 2 was far from the only sequel made in the time gap. Sequels were also made in the form of the video game The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer and comic books made by BOOM! Studios. I played and read both, but I had a feeling they wouldn’t use material from either. Since computer animation had advanced exponentially since 2004, Pixar no longer feared human focused stories. The only difference was the software that no longer contained the original character models. Like Toy Story 3, they had to be re-rendered from scratch. The Incredibles was still impressive, but it was a very early attempt at a human centered computer animated movie. So characters are now cleaner with slight improvements made to their stylized appearances. Along with the usual increase in locations.

All the primary respectable cast members return including Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, and of course Samuel L. Jackson. Which would be his 11th appearance in a superhero movie since the first Incredibles. Spencer Fox was understandably replaced by Huck Milner. Like the replacement voice for Nemo, Milner does a fine job recapturing the energetic voice. Since John Ratzenberger could only voice the Underminer at the end of the first movie, it only made sense to follow events immediately after he emerged from the ground with the Incredibles ready for action. A Pizza Planet truck was also included, but tear worthy moments are in short supply. Can’t say I was expecting to open on Tony Rydinger recapping events. Tony was Violet’s crush who asked her out at Dash’s track meet. He describes how he witnessed the Incredibles suited up and accidentally saw Violet without her mask to Rick Dicker. Since Bud Luckey retired, then passed away, Jonathan Banks replaces Dicker. He erases Tony’s memory the same way he did to Kari in the short Jack-Jack Attack.

The Incredibles are still learning to fight as a family. Mr. Incredible faces Underminer directly, Elastigirl stretches to help citizens avoid the drill, Dash runs to help, Violet shields people with her force fields, and Jack-Jack is passed around. Frozone arrives to use his ice on the drill and Mr. Incredible uses his super strength on it when Underminer escapes. The long awaited fight starts the sequel with a bang, but it’s a little underwhelming compared to the video game. Really the devastation is meant to highlight a bigger issue. Despite the Parr families very confident expressions while masking up, Elastigirl & Frozone bring up superheroes being illegal. The government shuts down the Superhero Relocation Program in response to City Hall’s destruction. Dicker says his goodbye’s, but Bob mentions Tony before he leaves. Bob & Helen disagree on the anti-supers law over dinner while the kids just want to be super. Lucius arrives at their motel and tells Bob & Helen all about a rich tycoon who wants to make supers legal again.

The three of them arrive at DevTech dressed in their classic costumes. Bob Odenkirk is the eccentric head of the company Winston Deaver. A man who loves superheroes so much he knows their theme songs. Catherine Keener is his unseen sister Evelyn Deaver. A laid back, behind the scenes part of the company who designs all their technology. They each disagree on the death of their parents who died waiting for supers after they’d been made illegal. Winston’s goal is to fix the public’s perception of supers with calculated heroic missions using a body cam. Some people read too much into it, but Brad Bird always intended Elastigirl to be the lead in Incredibles 2. She’s chosen by Deaver since her stretching powers cause less collateral damage. Since superhero movies & shows are all over the place, Elastigirl is the one given the most superhero action. Since Bird wanted to put more focus on the family dynamic.

I should be disappointed, but I love the characters too much not to appreciate anything they do. Having a mom with a new job gone while dad watches the kids was very relatable. It’s something my own mom and dad did once when I was younger. Helen gets a new dark grey costume from an alternative designer and a snappy new Elasticycle. Meanwhile, Bob becomes Mr. Supermom back at Deaver’s lavish house that he lends to them. Elastigirl is sent to a crime filled city to wait for crime. When a runaway train occurs, she stretches into action. Elastigirl’s stretching is easily the most creative use of those powers I’ve seen put to screen. The Elasticycle breaks apart for better elasticity and the rest of her stretching comes in handy to stop the train. Even though Bob would much rather be the one fighting crime, he begrudgingly accepts his new role.

All members of the Parr family have their own problems to deal with. Dash only has math homework to deal with and Violet has relationship problems with Tony. Bob is unable to comprehend new math and is accidentally responsible for Tony forgetting Violet. Staying up with Jack-Jack starts to drain him as well. After the end of The Incredibles and Jack-Jack Attack it was obvious that Jack-Jack would be the highlight of the sequel. Who doesn’t love a superbaby? Jack-Jack’s unexpected fight with a raccoon had the whole theater erupting with laughter. While every new power he exhibits is funnier than the last. Powers like fire, demon transformation, heat vision, floating, and phasing were seen in the movie/short, while new powers like multiplying, cross dimensional travel, blobbing, enlarging, and morphing are just as entertaining. Bob hides Jack-Jack’s powers from his wife and kids while Helen interviews for her train rescue. It’s then that she discovers the main villain Screenslaver. A villain capable of hypnotizing anyone with a screen, including the pilots of a foreign Ambassadors helicopter.

Elastigirl makes another daring rescue before anyone gets hurt. I continue to forget The Incredibles was set in the 60’s, but the sequel makes it even more obvious. Even though Evelyn’s technology mirrors our own. It’s just that the Screenslaver’s message of escaping into a TV screen would have made more sense in the modern world. Meanwhile, Violet renounces superheroes after Bob mentions Dicker erasing Tony’s memory. Bob also gets mad when he sees his old Incredi-bile being bid on live TV, but he decides to make the most of his time with the kids. Learning Dash’s new math and attempting to make it up to Violet by going to Tony’s parent’s restaurant. When the kids discover Jack-Jack’s powers, they call their Uncle Lucius. An exhausted Bob shows Jack-Jack’s powers to Lucius and he decides to take him to Edna Mode. Incredibles 2 does check off a few boxes, but at least Edna’s role is different. She instead helps Bob by studying Jack-Jack’s powers which can be seen in the short Auntie Edna. She reworks his super suit and builds a control panel to help keep his polymorph abilities under control.

After another successful save, Winston introduces Elastigirl to fellow aspiring heroes who just came out of hiding. Each one stranger and more stylized than the last. The main one is Elastigirl’s biggest fan Voyd, voiced by Sophia Bush, with the power to create portals. Other supers include strongwoman Brick, electrical conductor He-Lectrix, telekinetic crusher Krushauer, owlman Screech, and elderly lava vomiter Reflux. Helen and Evelyn have many mature conversations throughout, but one conversation gives them an idea to catch Screenslaver. She finds him in an apartment with seizure inducing hypnotizing screens. Screenslaver is unmasked, then locked up, but Helen can’t shake the feeling that something is off. Surprise, another twist Disney villain! SPOILER ALERT! It was Evelyn Deavor who had the evil endeavor all along. Her reason to hate supers makes sense, but she doesn’t hold a candle to Syndrome. Her evil plan is to hypnotize supers like Elastigirl after she’s made progress in gaining public trust, then having them attack at a televised summit meeting.

After an hour of mostly family drama, the superheroic climax was more than worth the wait. Mr. Incredible is hypnotized along with Elastigirl and the rest of the supers go after Dash, Violet, and Jack-Jack. Frozone arrives to help after a brief shout out to his wife. They do their best to fight the hypnotized heroes and Dash even signals for the Incredi-bile. Frozone is taken over, but the kids escape. Leaving them as the only ones who can save their parents. The climax on Deavor’s boat is another incredible blend of multiple powers that ends when everyone comes together to free the supers and stop the runaway boat. Evelyn is arrested, Violet gets a new date with Tony, and supers are made legal again. Ending in another call to action that hopefully won’t take another 14 years to see. Followed by the always epic Michael Giacchino score. Incredibles 2 did a serviceable job at standing out from other superhero blockbusters and was well worth the wait.

41. Incredibles 2

Elastigirl rides into action

Preceded by: The Incredibles

Leave those Kids Alone

The New Mutants is the cursed X-Men spin-off that took nearly 3 years to get released. I was almost convinced it would never be released. After 20 years of the X-Men franchise, The New Mutants was the final nail in the coffin. Fox just kept on dragging it out. Back when Fox was foolishly planning a bunch of spin-offs. Yet the only one that got made was The New Mutants. Created in 1982 by Chris Claremont & Bob McLeod, the New Mutants were one of the first secondary X-Men teams in comics. I knew very little about them, but I’ll see anything from Marvel. The New Mutants was a very specific passion project for The Fault in Our Stars director Josh Boone and his screenwriter friend. It was always their intention to make a more experimental horror movie themed superhero flick.

Although Fox held them back a bit, The New Mutants became just like Deadpool and Logan in how different the tone was compared to the rest of the X-Men films. The first trailer leaned heavily into horror and I was cautiously intrigued. Then the April 2018 release date was changed to February 2019 to avoid Deadpool 2. Then that was changed to August 2019 to avoid Dark Phoenix. Then Disney finally bought Fox and it was again changed to April 2020. Then the stupid virus moved it to its final resting place in August 2020. A full 2 years, 10 months, and 15 days after the October 2017 teaser trailer. The New Mutants is the first movie I’ve seen in theaters since quarantine started and it’s definitely not worth the wait…

25. The New Mutants

The New Mutants

The New Mutants fails as both a horror and superhero film. YA, romance, comedy, the movie fails all of it. Although The New Mutants is objectively worse than Dark Phoenix, I can’t say that I hated it more. The difference is personal attachment. Dark Phoenix and Fant4stic were significantly worse for me since they butchered the X-Men and Fantastic Four respectively. Two Marvel teams that I hold in high regard. I have no personal attachment to the New Mutants. So I didn’t really care how bad it ended up being. Any problem it had didn’t matter since Disney obviously wouldn’t allow the planned trilogy to happen. The New Mutants is technically a horror flick, but I didn’t flinch once. There was supposed to be major reshoots to make the movie scarier, but several complications meant that never happened. Instead we’re left with a haunted house style frightless fest that throws around creepy imagery with no sense of dread.

The New Mutants is entirely set in a church adjacent mutant hospital ran by the mysterious Dr. Cecilia Reyes. The small cast consists almost entirely of familiar young stars. When it was filmed in 2017, Maisie Williams was deep in Game of Thrones, Charlie Heaton was in the middle of Stranger Things, and Anya Taylor-Joy was fast becoming a “Scream Queen.” Blu Hunt and Henry Zaga were mostly unknowns who were cast to fit their characters ethnicities. Then Alice Braga rounded out the cast as the controlling doctor. The only thing The New Mutants has going for it is a lot of comic book accuracy. The team was always meant to be a diverse group from many different countries. While everyone’s Mutant powers are portrayed accurately. With the exception of Karma, having an X-Men team that actually used the original roster was also rare for Fox.

All the accuracy doesn’t matter much when the New Mutants don’t wear their costumes or meet Professor X. Instead The New Mutants is just about the young group of misfits dealing with trauma in the caged facility. Like the comics, Dr. Reyes is a Mutant who creates force fields. Danielle Moonstar/Mirage is a Native American who creates psychic illusions. Rahne Sinclair/Wolfsbane is Scottish with the werewolf-like ability to become a wolf. Illyana Rasputin/Magik is Russian with sorcery, metallic armor, Limbo teleportation, and a Soulsword. Sam Guthrie/Cannonball is from Kentucky with the ability to fly at invincible jet speed. And Roberto da Costa/Sunspot is Brazilian with fiery solar energy. The second Sunspot after Days of Future Past since Fox doesn’t care. Each member has a tragic backstory of how their Mutations manifested.

Although they’re a lot like their comic counterparts, changes are still made. Like having Dani & Rahne be more than just close friends. They become the same lesbian couple that we’ve seen a million times before. Rahne being sheltered by her strong religious upbringing and Dani being an outsider who needs a connection. Sam and Roberto have their friendly moments, while the unhinged sister of Colossus Illyana is mostly antagonistic to Dani. Illyana is the closest to being halfaway compelling, but it’s Dani who’s mostly the main character. She unknowingly projects the fears of each Mutant in a variety of non-scary ways. The Smiley Men are the biggest head scratcher. When the Mutants do bond, it’s nothing you haven’t seen in much better teen movies. With intermittent humor and an overall uncomfortable tone.

The New Mutants also squeezed out the last remaining drops of the X-Men franchise. With a namedrop for the X-Men, a reveal that Essex is behind everything (only Mister Sinister has still yet to actually appear), Logan footage of the other institutionalized Mutants, and the first onscreen appearance of purple alien dragon Lockheed. Who’s a puppet used by Illyana that becomes real in Limbo. The only remotely superhero thing is a final fight with the Demon Bear at the end. A comic accurate villain that’s lost in the tonally confused film. The New Mutants was the final death for the long-running Fox owned X-Men. Hopefully they’re in better hands with Marvel Studios moving forward.

26. The New Mutants

Magik vs. the Demon Bear

Preceded by: Dark Phoenix

From Out of the Ashes

Dark Phoenix did the impossible by somehow botching the Marvel comic storyline Dark Phoenix Saga for the second time in a row. Yet somehow making an adaptation that was 10 times worse. Dark Phoenix is the biggest box-office bomb, lowest rated (23% on Rotten Tomatoes), and most unwatchable X-Men movie I’ve ever seen. Sure movies like X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and X-Men: Apocalypse weren’t great, but I still found them enjoyable. Dark Phoenix is a somber joyless mess that’s so boring I nearly fell asleep in the theater. A lot of the problems stem from The Last Stand co-writer Simon Kinberg directing for the first time.

Kinberg clearly has no idea what he’s doing, none of the actors look like they want to be there, and Disney was already close to securing the rights to 20th Century Fox. I honestly stopped caring about anything Fox wanted to do at this point. And they seriously thought they’d keep making X-Men movies for years to come. Intending Dark Phoenix to be a 2 parter, wanting to make a Gambit movie for several years, an X-Force movie, and at least 2 more movies after this one. Fox was clearly trying to extend the franchise as long as they could. Pushing Dark Phoenix back several times until Disney finally sealed the deal. Something that seriously backfired on them since Disney didn’t even bother marketing the movie well…

23. Dark Phoenix

Jean Grey unleashes the power of the Phoenix

Dark Phoenix is the clearest sign yet that Fox should have given up the X-Men a long time ago. There’s no denying we have 2000’s X-Men to thank for Marvel’s success moving forward, but the franchise long overstayed its welcome. Ignoring continuity, subtly rebooting, and exhausting so much material that they just did the Dark Phoenix Saga again. It’s widely known amongst Marvel fans that X-Men: The Last Stand did a disservice to the storyline. So I wasn’t overly surprised when Dark Phoenix was announced. The only surprise was them making yet another X-Men movie after already completing the prequel trilogy. Fox thought being experimental like Deadpool or Logan would automatically make Dark Phoenix better, so they didn’t even use X-Men in the title. I absolutely hate Dark Phoenix. Not as much as Fant4stic, but I really do struggle to find any redeeming qualities in it.

Since Hugh Jackman is no longer obligated to appear as Wolverine, Dark Phoenix actually stars Jean Grey this time. Unfortunately, Sophie Turner is awful in the part and should never be the lead in any movie. She barely convinced me in X-Men: Apocalypse, but here she can’t even maintain an American accent. Jean’s telekinetic power manifestation is drastically changed to her inadvertently causing the death of her mother. Then Charles Xavier comes to see her alone and offers her a place in the X-Mansion. It’s great to finally see a bald James McAvoy play Professor X, but it’s not fun when he’s blamed for pretty much everything. I don’t care that Professor X’s mistakes or misjudgements are comic accurate, his fellow Mutants would never just turn on him. The X-Men have also become more like superheroes who go on missions and have a line to the President.

While at the same time continuing the decade hoping gimmick for absolutely no reason. Despite taking place in the 90’s, none of the characters have aged since the 60’s. They don’t even include any 90’s nostalgia. I don’t care that their costumes are yellow & blue, the matching X-Men uniforms they chose are terrible. I should have known the Apocalypse tease was too good to be true. Jennifer Lawrence clearly feels like she’s too good to keep playing Mystique. Not even having a lame excuse for why she’s not blue all the time. She also throws in an extremely forced line about renaming the team X-Women. Nicholas Hoult has also stopped caring by continuing to change into Beast whenever. Tye Sheridan is at least around for the entire movie as Cyclops, but he has no chemistry with Sophie Turner. Cyclops & Jean’s relationship was constantly shortchanged by Fox and they couldn’t even get me to care about the two of them.

Alexandra Shipp has literally nothing to do as Storm. Outside of making ice and having an out of nowhere moment with Xavier. Kodi Smit-McPhee is only there for Nightcrawler’s teleportation and Evan Peters for Quicksilver’s speed. Which is the only thing worth using in the X-Men’s mission to space. Jean is struck by the Phoenix Force similar to the more cosmic comic storyline. Despite it already seeming like Jean had it at the end of Apocalypse. Jean’s power surges and mood swings never feel natural when she wakes up. Only coming out when they attend a Mutant party. A musical light show from Halston Sage as Dazzler may be the only thing I liked in the movie. Just because Dazzler was a long time coming in an X-Men movie. Jean leaves to see her father at her childhood home where she causes mild chaos. The X-Men arrive to help her, but the brief fight results in Mystique’s already spoiled death. I honestly felt nothing. I was more angered by the fact that Quicksilver’s injuries leave him out of the entire movie! Kiss a fun 90’s running monstage goodbye.

Just as frustrating is Beast being so furious at Mystique’s death that he practically becomes a villain. Speaking of villain, they’re just coming up with any excuse to keep Michael Fassbender in the movie as Magneto. The U.S. Government has given Erik Lehnsherr his own island for whatever reason. In the comics, Genosha is a gleaming safe haven for Mutants lead by Magneto. Here it’s just a generic farming community. Jean goes to Erik for help in controlling her power, but he turns her away when she nearly kills military forces that arrive. While doing the dumbest telekinetic performances you’ve ever seen. Returning actors are trying to a degree, but the same can’t be said for Jessica Chastain. After being hinted at playing anyone from a Hellfire Club member to Lilandra of the Shi’ar Empire, they finally settled on Vuk. An alien from the insanely obscure D’Bari alien race. Rather than plant aliens, the D’Bari are just bland shapeshifting Skrull knock offs.

Chastain is really going for that Razzie with a lifeless monotone performance. Vuk is an awful forgettable antagonist with a generic plan to gain Jean’s Phoenix Force. Erik wears his helmet and Beast joins him in his mission to kill Jean. As does an insulting psychic version of Selene and a Mutant with deadly dreadlocks. Remaining X-Men Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, and Professor X teleport to Jean’s location where they confront Magneto. Followed by the most forced, out of nowhere PG-13 F bomb dropped by Cyclops of all people. Then to add insult to injury, no one where’s a costume in the movie’s climax! Something no superhero movie should do in this day in age. The fight is full of Mutant powers, but it’s average at best. Magneto tries to kill Jean, but she breaks his helmet and throws him out.

Then Charles attempts to reason with her, but she makes him walk in an unintentionally laughable way. He reaches Jean, only to end up arrested by the Mutant Containment Unit (MCU, get it?!). What could have been a unique climax in outer space ended up a generic climax on a boring train. All the Mutants ban together to fight the D’Bari and Nightcrawler has an out of nowhere killing spree. Jean is freed just in time to face off against Vuk. Exploding into Phoenix energy and leaving me feeling absolutely nothing. Apart from confusion at the choice to rename Xavier’s school after the person who killed Mystique. Ending the entire Fox X-Men series on another game of chess and me begging the MCU to give us the X-Men we deserve. My response to Dark Phoenix is simply, to quote Magento, “Nobody cares anymore.”

24. Dark Phoenix

The X-Men confront Jean

Followed by: Deadpool 2 & The New Mutants