Follow TV Tropes


Dueling Works / Film - Superhero

Go To

Main: Dueling Movies

Navigation: Animation | Comedy | Drama | Horror | Period Pieces | Sci-Fi | Spy Fiction | Superhero | War | Film Cross Genre

Initiators Followers Description Implementation Winner?
Spawn (1997) Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) Two dark fantasy hero action films from New Line Cinema that involve gods and Hell. Spawn is adapted from Todd McFarlane's comic book and follows the man, played by Michael Jai White, as he is killed, turned into Hellspawn, and sent back to Earth with the obese Violater, played by John Leguizamo. MKA is the sequel to the original 1995 movie and continues Earthrealm's struggle against Outworld, with Shao Kahn now leading the charge himself in the wake of Shang Tsung's death. A major connection in this duel is Michael Jai White was offered a chance to play Jackson "Jax" Briggs in MKA, which replaced virtually its entire crew, but turned it down for Spawn; he would go on to play Jax in several web videos in The New 10's. Both films were disemboweled by critics and did severe damage to the movie business; for MKA, it was K.O.ed by both Video Game Movies Suck and Sequelitis in addition to only performing less than half as well financially compared to the original and being practically disowned by series creator Ed Boon, spelling "Game Over" for the intended film series and virtually the entire cast and crew outside of a few survivors. Spawn also wrecked several careers such as the director's (who didn't direct any kind of movie again for 7 years and his movies since are family-friendly TV movies), made it clear that Michael Jai White would have suffered a setback to his career regardless of which film he picked to star in, and was one of three comic book films in 1997 (DC's Batman & Robin and Steel are the others) that nearly shut the cover on the comic book movie until Marvel began making their own movies in the genre; it would take until 2016's Deadpool for any ideas of super-bloody/R-rated superhero movies to come back from the NetherRealm. Spawn does win, however, on being a financial success, plus Roger Ebert gave it a high rating in his review.
Mystery Men (1999) The Specials (2000) Semi-deconstructive parodies about loser/inept/oddly-abled underdog superheroes.   Probably Mystery Men because it seems better-known and had that whole Smash Mouth tie-in; both movies have their moments, though.
Daredevil (2003) Hulk (2003) 2003 superhero films. The main contenders here are both origin stories for Marvel superheroes making their theatrical debut. While both films had started production by the time Sam Raimi's Spider-Man came out, its success and popularity is often attributed to having influenced how these films were perceived. Both were intended to be darker and more psychological films, though Daredevil wound up getting cut down and edited on the mandate of Avi Arad in order to try and make it feel more like Spider-Man which most will agree was to its detriment. Hulk was not altered in such a way, but many theorize that the general audience had a hard time gravitating to its darker tone and psychological approach because of it. Both films opened up well, but by the second weekend each of their box office intakes dropped staggeringly, and on the whole received mixed reviews. Both films, fairly or not, have often been given derision, sometimes showing up on "Worst Superhero Movies" lists, but they each do have staunch defenders. Daredevil especially got a better reputation after receiving a widely-considered-superior Director's Cut on home video. Financially speaking, Hulk made more at the box office, though it had a larger budget to begin with. Both were intended to start a franchise; however, their sequels were put into limbo and never really happened. The Incredible Hulk (2008) was originally intended to be a sequel of some kind, but was eventually rewritten by Edward Norton to disregard Ang Lee's film. Whilst Daredevil never got a true sequel, one of the film's major characters, Elektra, got a loose spin-off film, which was even less successful than Daredevil, bombing at the box office; this skewered the film series after just two films and eventually led to Fox failing to keep the Daredevil film rights from falling back into Disney and Marvel's clutches. Marvel then rebooted it without outside help. Ultimately, both films lost to X2: X-Men United, which made far more at the box office and was well-received across the board.
Sky High (2005) Zoom: Academy for Superheroes (2006) Kid superheroes learn to use their powers. While Sky High focuses on an entire school for superpowered teens, Zoom is simply about a former hero training four superpowered youths to defeat a great threat. Sky High made back over double its budget and earned favorable reviews, while Zoom flopped and earned Tim Allen a Razzie nom as well as being the final bomb that sent the career of director Peter Hewitt down in flames. In a way, it could also be considered a case of Taking You with Me; the failure of Zoom ended up killing the Superhero School genre in film, including any chance of Sky High getting its proposed sequels made.
Iron Man (2008) The Dark Knight (2008) Two movies that came out the same summer in which, after traumatic events, wealthy sons become masked super heroes with pimped-out mechanical aids; they also have butlers and a really Cool/Weaponized Car. The heroes pose as apathetic playboys who own their own corporations and have a close friend/business partner who is also a minority. Not only were Iron Man and The Dark Knight dueling movies, but they were also dueling between Marvel and DC respectively during their release in 2008. Both Iron Man and Dark Knight received huge critical acclaim and did great at the box office, but The Dark Knight wins on a slight edge. Iron Man got a sequel sooner, but The Dark Knight did better critically and financially. And that's not to mention The Dark Knight winning the first ever acting Oscar for a Comic Book movie with Heath Ledger winning posthumously for his portrayal of The Joker. However, Iron Man launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has made over $22 billion. With a "B."
Defendor (2009) Kick-Ass (2010)

Super (2010)
Three indie superhero movies about average people trying to become gadget-based, low-budget vigilantes and end up having brushes with local organized crime. The major difference definitely falls in the personalities of the superheroes. Kick-Ass is an average nerdy teen, while Defendor is a mentally-disturbed homeless man that has delusions of certain supervillains. Supers Crimson Bolt suffers similar deranged illusions, but is slightly more stable. Kick-Ass becomes more stylized as it goes along, while the other two have a more realistic look to them. This could be chalked up to budget differences, as Kick-Ass (while low budget by Hollywood standards) cost over ten times as much as either of the other two. Super received mixed reviews and was released only on select arthouse theater screens, limiting its mainstream marketability, but it was a success on VOD where it made a profit, eventually becoming a minor cult classic after its director made Guardians of the Galaxy. Defendor had a limited release and received positive reviews for the most part (more so than Super), but was kind of forgotten a bit after release except for major Woody Harrelson fans. Kick-Ass was the big winner, a commercial success that received mostly positive reviews (Roger Ebert didn't like it at all, but most others were kinder) and made stars out of Aaron Johnson and Chloë Grace Moretz.
The Green Hornet (2011) Green Lantern (2011) (2011) Green-themed superheroes.

There would have been a third contender, Green Arrow: Escape From Super Max, but it got stuck in Development Hell.
One is based on a long-running second-tier (perhaps) DC icon, one is based on a cult TV show. Both had to correct for silly weaknesses (yellow and reliance on Bruce Lee, respectively). Cracked made a chart pointing out how similar the two movies were. In the end, Lantern got thrashed by critics and proved to be a total disaster at the box office for Warner Bros., who had banked on it being their big movie for the summer of 2011. It became an Old Shame for lead Ryan Reynolds, who, despite meeting his wife on-set, otherwise hated the production and made a pair of Take Thats to it in his next superhero adventure, Deadpool. It also subsequently zapped director Martin Campbell's career for 5 years before getting tapped for a Jackie Chan film that will reunite him with fellow Goldeneye alumni Pierce Brosnan. By contrast, Hornet got mixed reviews but made back its budget nearly twice over, so it looks to be the winner.
Thor (2011) Green Lantern (2011) (2011) Superhero movies with the involvement of forces from beyond our world, whether alien or divine. Another Marvel vs. DC duel. Thor got much better reviews, and performed better at the box office. Green Lantern became a stillborn attempt to launch the DC Extended Universe when it flopped critically and commercially. The star of that film, Ryan Reynolds, had already been a part of Marvel in a cameo as Deadpool, and when he returned to that role 5 years after this, he made an in-film Take That! to Green Lantern as part of his character's shtick (on the plus side, he did meet his future wife while filming Green Lantern, which he otherwise does not particularly care for). Martin Campbell of Goldeneye and Casino Royale (2006) didn't direct another cinematic film until working on another Pierce Brosnan film with Jackie Chan.
The Avengers (2012) The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Superhero films released in 2012 and showcasing some of the biggest characters in Comic Books. The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises are the culmination of their respective franchises spanning over several years. The Avengers is the climax of phase one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (phase two launched with Iron Man 3, with more films to come), while The Dark Knight Rises is the definite end of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy. The Amazing Spider-Man, meanwhile, is a reboot of the Spider-Man film series, and is part of a separate continuity from the MCU, what with it still being owned by Sony. The Avengers made $1.5 billion at the box office (it's the fifth-highest-grossing movie of all time) and a higher rating on Rotten Tomatoes, giving it the win. Rises is a close second, with $1.1B (17th-highest by gross), a higher rating on Metacritic, and a higher IMDB score. The Amazing Spider-Man was a clear third-place finisher, though it still did well with both critics and audiences, but its first sequel prematurely short-circuited the series and led to Spider-Man getting absorbed into the MCU.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
It's 2012 all over again as Marvel Comics movies by three different studios (Disney, Sony and Fox respectively) compete for the 2014 summer box-office crown. Winter Soldier is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and follows Captain America and his allies after the events of 2012's The Avengers. ASM2, meanwhile, is a direct sequel to 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man. DOFP follows from 2011's X-Men: First Class, which was praised for putting the franchise back on track, and follows characters from the original trilogy (including main character Wolverine) in a time-travel plot. Notably, the character Quicksilver appears both in DOFP and in The Stinger of Winter Soldier, in two separate incarnations. Both Winter Soldier and DOFP have received excellent reviews, while ASM2 got mixed reviews. In terms of box office, while it's a close race for all three, DOFP ranks first and Winter Soldier is a close second, with ASM2 as a slightly more distant third. Sony dropped out of the Marvel race after ASM2, instead joining Disney in the MCU. Fox would later quite literally join Disney after being bought-out by them.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) 2014, Round Two. Also, both movies revolve around some rather weird concepts (one has a trigger-happy talking space raccoon and a sort-of-talking tree; the other is about ninja mutant turtle teenagers). Turtles is the big-screen reboot of a franchise that's been around for thirty years, while Guardians is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but otherwise relative newcomers, with their comic book barely older than the MCU itself.note  Both took turns being the highest-grossing movie and both immediately on release got green-lit for sequels in a few years. However, Guardians got much better reviews and a larger gross overall, becoming the third-biggest movie of the year, even beating out the bigger names from earlier in the summer.
Ant-Man (2015) Fantastic Four (2015) 2015 Marvel Comics-based superhero movies with Troubled Productions Both movies had a lot riding on them. For Ant-Man, it was another untested Marvel franchise like Guardians of the Galaxy, and if it failed it would be the first major stumbling point for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For Fantastic Four, it was more or less an attempt to keep the rights away from Marvel; failure could lead to Fox losing one of their two remaining comic franchises. Ant-Man by a long shot. While Ant-Man didn't have the same underdog power that Guardians did, it was still a money-maker for Marvel and it won over audiences that they hadn't expected — it actually did better than both Captain America's and Thor's first outings. Fantastic Four, however, crashed and burned at the box office in its opening weekend, losing to holdover Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation and Ant-Man, and even more disconcertingly, the reviews for the movie placed its popularity in the same low category as earlier films Batman & Robin, Catwoman, Howard The Duck, and Superman IV: The Quest For Peace. As a result, Josh Trank, who had earned abysmal press with his Jerkass behavior during a very-badly done production schedule, may never direct another major film (the multiple Razzies Fant4stic "won" included Worst Picture, the second for a comic-book superhero film after Catwoman, and Worst Director for Trank). Ant-Man soon had a sequel announced, while the FF sequel plans were crushed when the original movie mutated Fox's quarterly results into a nightmare.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) Captain America: Civil War (2016) Installments to popular superhero franchises that feature a pair of their company's most well known characters, one who is a patriotic tried and true Boy Scout type and the other a wealthy man without superpowers but has his wits and technology, who are going head to head against each other. Both released in 2016. Each also introduced a prominent minority hero onto the big screen for the first time, who acted as a third party to the two established heroes (Wonder Woman for Dawn of Justice and Black Panther for Civil War). Once more, a lot of things are riding on these films. Dawn of Justice is Warner Bros.' first superheroes crossover and a huge step to further cement the DC Extended Universe after launching it in Man of Steel, and Civil War is the first Marvel Cinematic Universe installment to include Loads and Loads of Characters of the magnitude it's going for. Originally the films were going to open against each other directly, but DC lost their nerve and moved the release date of BvS up by a month. Civil War emerged as a clear winner. While Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had a one month lead on Civil War, the movie was thrashed by critics and proved divisive with audiences, and while it ultimately grossed over $870 million dollars, it was seen as a disappointment. Civil War received a much more positive critic reception (90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and outgrossed Batman v Superman in less than three weeks, making over $1 billion in the end.
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016) Another action team v. action team matchup, and the second one in a brutal slate for 2016. Apocalypse brings the cast of First Class and Days of Future Past back for a third outing and pits them against the titular Apocalypse. TMNT: Out of the Shadows is the sequel to the reboot from 2014, and has The Shredder escape jail and return. Casey Jones makes his debut in this Turtle continuity with this film. For Fox, this X-Men movie is coming off the heels of both Fant4stic and Deadpool (2016); the latter takes place in their cinematic X-Men universe and gave them a boost, but Fant4stic became one of the most notorious cinematic creations in history; if this film fails, it could put their entire separate Marvel universe in jeopardy. Apocalypse won the critical game, with a higher rating on Rotten Tomatoes (48%) than TMNT (36%) and had a good opening weekend, but neither film has really been all that well received by movie critics up to this point. As for box office, TMNT could not pull off any tricks thanks to being in the midst of one of the most competitive summer seasons in movie history, and it got overshadowed by X-Men and at least 3 other major blockbusters, including Legendary's Warcraft and Disney/Pixar's Finding Dory. It subsequently ended the rebooted film series after two movies (the violent executive shakeup at maker Viacom, which ended CEO Phillipe Dauman's career with the firm on acrimonious terms, didn't help).
Power Rangers (2017) Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) 2017 superhero films that feature teen heroes and channel the spirit of other teen flicks like The Breakfast Club. Also, both are Continuity Reboots after having prior films. Power Rangers went through an Adaptational Angst Upgrade compared to the original TV show, but ultimately didn't sacrifice the franchise's signature cheesy Camp. In contrast, Spider-Man's previous films already had their Angst Upgrade, and Homecoming pulls back from that angst to focus more on the Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World aspect. Spider-Man wins, being critically-acclaimed and grossing $250 million worldwide in its opening week and has since grossed $880 million worldwide. Power Rangers received only mixed reviews from critics (though audience reception is a bit better), and its financial gross is a respectable-but-not-great $140 million, low enough to put sequel plans in doubt.
Wonder Woman (2017) Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) 2017 summer films centered on new incarnations of iconic superheroes that were introduced in ensemble movies (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for Wonder Woman and Captain America: Civil War for Spider-Man) in their respective movie universe in 2016. Plus, it's a Marvel vs DC match. Wonder Woman had to break the curse of financial and critical failure of female-led superhero films, and had to be less critically divisive than previous DCEU entries. Spider-Man Homecoming had to live up to the ground laid by the Sam Raimi films, be less divisive than the previous reboot, smoothly integrate Spidey in the MCU and overall defy reboot fatigue. Both films got rave reviews and were box office hits. On the box office side, Wonder Woman is the leggiest superhero film in years (much leggier than Homecoming), grossing over $412 million domestically and $820 million worldwide, while Homecoming's domestic gross was $330 million. However, Homecoming managed to outgross both Amazing Spider-Man films domestically and globally, cementing its successful reboot status, and outgrossed Wonder Woman globally with $875+ million.note 
Venom (2018) Upgrade (2018) The films (both released in the fall of 2018) center on protagonists who share their body with an outsider conscience that gives them superpowers — at the price of making them lose control. The movies star similar-looking actors: Tom Hardy in Venom, and his Identical Stranger Logan Marshall-Green in Upgrade. Debatable. Both films made decent box office (in proportion to their budgets). Venom is more well-known, but Upgrade is critically acclaimed (whereas Venom received mostly negative reviews and is considered So Bad, It's Good).
Captain Marvel (2019) SHAZAM! (2019) The Captain Marvel of Marvel Comics vs. the Captain Marvel of DC Comics in big-budget movies featuring Djimon Hounsou in the supporting cast set within their respective cinematic universes. Released within a month of each other, with Captain Marvel dropping first. SHAZAM! wins on the critical reception side, with 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, while Captain Marvel has 78%. Box office-wise, Captain Marvel wins as it manages to break a billion while SHAZAM! only topped out at around $362 million, though it's still a box office hit considering its lower budget. In terms of audience reception, SHAZAM! came out on top.
Captain Marvel (2019) Dark Phoenix (2019) Movies based on Marvel Comics characters released in the first half of 2019, both have space elements, powerful female protagonists, and a 90s setting. Dark Phoenix is coming off the heels of Disney's buyout of 20th Century Fox, who've owned the X-Men film rights for decades. As such, Dark Phoenix may become the grand finale of Fox's long-running X-Men series, before the characters are rebooted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Interestingly, the film's leading ladies were popularized in the comics by Chris Claremont, who gave them cosmic powers. Captain Marvel's heroine Carol Danvers also became an honorary X-Men in several of Claremont's runs. Captain Marvel by a landslide. The MCU movie ended up with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 78% while also grossing over $1 billion against a $152 million budget. In contrast, Dark Phoenix earned an underwhelming 23% Rotten Tomatoes score and lost anywhere from $100 million to $140 million for Fox, making it the least successful X-Men movie both critically and commercially. The failure of Dark Phoenix led Disney to cancel most of Fox's in-development films and the X-Men film series was put on ice, outside of spin-off The New Mutants.
SHAZAM! (2019) Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) A pair of movies starring the most kid-friendly superheroes of the DCEU and MCU, respectively. Both are absolute Nice Guys who can be quite goofy, and the youngest and most light-hearted hero of their respective universes.   Both movies received solid critical reviews with 90+% Rotten Tomatoes scores though SHAZAM! slightly edges out ahead. Far From Home however wins the box office with a global gross of over $1 billion whereas SHAZAM! only topped out at around $363 million, though it's still a decent box office hit considering its lower budget.
Secret Society of Second-Born Royals (2020) A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting (2020) In these direct-to-streaming kids' movies, a teenage girl discovers that her lineage/profession inducts her into a secret society of heroes engaged in defending the world from hidden unknown threats, quickly finding herself thrust into action. Secret Society of Second-Born Royals is a Disney Channel film released on Disney+, in which a rebellious second-born royal child learns she has a superpowered gene that helps her and others in her position to form a team of secret superheroes. Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting is a Netflix original is about a teen babysitter who learns that an organization of babysitters like her have long defended people from a hidden world of monsters. Unlike Secret Society, Babysitter's Guide is based on a book series. Babysitter's Guide by an inch. Both films debuted fairly high up on their respective services' "Trending" lists, but also dropped off them quickly. Secret Society scored 55% on Rotten Tomatoes and 34 on Metacritic, while Babysitter's Guide scored 64% and 31, respectively. Neither were well-received by audiences, but Babysitter's Guide scored slightly above Secret Society on both Rotten Tomatoes (55% to 43%) and IMDb (5.4 to 4.7). Note that Secret Society has more ratings on both sites, but not by a vast gulf.
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (2021) Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) Stories with male leads of Asian descent (Henry Golding & Simu Liu) primarily set in Asia, where they're forced to embrace their roots after spending large chunks of their life in the Western world. Both have plenty of action scenes with an emphasis on martial arts. Snake Eyes is a reboot of the G.I. Joe movie franchise, while Shang-Chi is another installment of the long-running Marvel Cinematic Universe. Shang-Chi emerged as the winner with much stronger, albeit COVID-stunted, box office returns ($417.6 million against a budget of $150 million), while Snake Eyes severely underperformed ($37 million on a budget upwards of $110 million).


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: