After experiments backfire, a scientist develops vampiric abilities. Ho-hum second-tier Marvel adaptation, halfway between Blade and Venom, and much less fun than either. A decent cast struggles to make much of the material, which is standard antihero origin story stuff.
Thor and Jane Foster reunite: a god-killing nemesis must be stopped. Self-indulgent fourth Thor flick (with added Guardians of the Galaxy): there’s some funny stuff, but way too much padding, and not a scintilla of drama or jeopardy. Still, Russell Crowe has fun as Zeus.
A reclusive vigilante meets his nemesis. Skilful if lengthy revisiting of the caped crusader, here early in his career and focused at least in part on actual detective work. Impressive and never less than proficient throughout in a Seven-ish kinda way, if not exactly necessary. A confident walk down a well-worn path.
Strange and America Chavez travel the multiverse, trying to stop Scarlet Witch attaining a grimoire. Raimi brings superheroic and horror-comedy skillsets to bear on a confident slice of Marvel shenanigans: the format and aesthetics are as restricting as ever, but there’s gleeful moments nevertheless.
Eddie Brock unwittingly infects a condemned killer with a symbiote. Shouty sequel which is at least brief, splashy, and has a committed central performance. Plus, it feels like a comic. Unfortunately, it’s also unfunny, nigh plotless, and wastes some considerable onscreen (mostly Brit) talent.
The son of an immortal warlord must face his father. Patchy and nigh-plotless superhero action-adventure origin story, drawing on allsorts. Incidental pleasures aplenty (a poster for Walter Hill’s The Warriors) but this is for fans of the character and Marvel completists only. Still, some fun details are to be found, and there’s one gleeful supporting performance.
Natasha Romanoff reunites with her estranged fake family to disrupt a post-Soviet Russian agent programme. Patchy Marvel SF/spy adventure (the first Phase 4 movie) awkwardly balancing dysfunctional familial bickering and action set-pieces. A strong cast helps, as does a relatively low-stakes approach and some attempts at character.
A young woman finds herself in a secure institution with four other teens, each with mutant powers. Horror-infused X-Men spinoff with a young adult spin: OK as far as it goes, though it’s talky, unfocused, and doesn’t really have a plot. Feels more like a TV series pilot than a self-contained movie (two sequels were planned).
An origin story for The Joker, filtered through his attempts to show anyone can become like him if they have a single day traumatic enough. Okay expansion of the iconic Moore/Bolland graphic novel. Doesn’t add much except running time; for completists only, perhaps, though those unfamiliar with the book may appreciate it more.
Batman encounters Catwoman and The Penguin, who is being manipulated to become mayor of Gotham City. Darker, confident sequel, with a pervy streak a mile wide running right through it. Pushing the limits of weirdness for a tentpole release, Batman Returns is both a franchise and genre high point.