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Every ’90s Comic Book Movie Ranked by How Completely Made Up It Sounds

While comic book adaptations have been the top drawing movies for a over a decade now, the medium had a turbulent path to consistent bankability, though not for a lack of effort. They took a lot of shots in the ‘90s. A lot. And while we didn’t get a cohesive universe, or very many franchises, we did get an awful lot of movies you might think I was making up if you’d never heard of them. Weird, weird shit, man. I ranked them for you. Check it out. 

22. Captain America (1990) 

In the broadest of strokes this one makes the most sense, but when you watch it, it’s absolutely the one that should most be wiped from the Earth.  Look at this prick. 

21. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

They turned the best Batman shit of the ’90s into a movie. This isn’t weird and shouldn’t surprise you at all. 

20. Blade (1998)

Blade is dope as hell, nothing strange about this one. In fact, we’ve been clamoring for a new Blade for years now. I don’t give a shit about the MCU stuff anymore, but wake me up when the new Blade comes out. I’ll be there in the front row, swinging wrapping paper tubes in the air along with my man Blade. 

19. Men in Black (1997)

Men in Black rules, and it made perfect sense to adapt it into a blockbuster film. The most dubious thing associated with MiB might actually be just how many comic book movies Tommy Lee Jones has been in. The guy looks like he’d just as soon stare out a window all day than ever touch a comic book, yet before he got mixed up with Captain America he was Two-Face and Agent Kay. Well sumbitch.  

18. Batman Forever (1995)

After the creative core of the previous installments departed, the franchise kept on trucking to the surprise of no one. From the thinly drawn characters to the fact that there’s way too many subplots, Batman Forever all just feels par for the blockbuster course. As the fourth of thirteen Batman movies, its title is spot-on, too. 

17. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

Despite an inherently ridiculous title, there is nothing shocking about a Ninja Turtles movie coming out at the high of their popularity. There’s been a new one every five or ten years of my life ever since, and there’s no slowing down now. Makes total sense. If I told you how many times the Ninja Turtles cried in this movie, however, you’d probably think I was bullshitting you. Go back and watch it though. It’s like, way too many times.

16. Spawn (1997)

Spawn is kind of anomaly with all these superhero movies. It came out, was pretty okay, did fairly well, and that was that. This is no one’s favorite or least favorite comic book movie, it’s just kind of there. An example of this is the fact that everyone has seemed to agree on the film needing a sequel since 1998, but no one ever quite pulled the trigger on it, some 25 years later. We all like Spawn. We like it just fine. 

15. Batman Returns (1992)

It’s not weird at all that they were cranking out Batman movies even when the comic book movie at large was pretty meh, but this one has some weirdness to it that might sound pretty bizarre today. Mainly that it was just too sexy and weird for the good people at McDonald’s to make Happy Meals they felt good about, so they griped, and Tim Burton left the franchise as a result. Man, I feel like Happy Meals don’t have the pull they used to in this town. 

14. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)

If you know a single thing about 1991, then it will surprise you in no way that the second Turtles movie is less inspired than the first one and features them falling through a wall and finding themselves in the middle of a Vanilla Ice concert. It made a generation of kids want to be rappers, ninjas, and/or turtles. 

13. The Mask (1994)

The Mask was a comic about a mask that turns a normal schlub into a cartoon character of a man. The Jim Carrey film is beloved now of course, but I do wonder if you’d be able to get a movie greenlit today about a hero whose superpower is they turn into a Looney Tunes character and get real horny. 

12. Batman & Robin (1997)

On paper this doesn’t sound so bizarre, but if you dive in a little deeper everything about this movie seems like they were trying to Producers it. It’s just so expensive and weird. Why did they think paying Arnold a million dollars per crappy pun would work? Why does Bane wear a fedora? Why so many nipples? On second thought, actually, this all works just fine. 

11. Barb Wire (1996)

Nothing screams ‘Obscure 1990’s comic book movie,’ like Baywatch star Pamela Anderson making her debut in a leading role as Barbera ‘Barb Wire’ Koteski and absolutely no one going to see it. It’s too bad, because it’s actually a halfway fun goof on Casablanca with a lot of guns. Kind of like that Romeo & Juliet that came out in ’96 that had guns in it. They were giving everyone a gun in ’96, man.  

10. The Shadow (1994)

‘We did it Lemon. We got the rights to The Shadow.’

Sometimes you listen to an old Foo Fighters or Green Day song and think, “Man, the ‘90s really weren’t that long ago, huh?” and then other times you’re scrolling Tubi for the weirdest movie you can find and you discover a time capsule from the era of Alec Baldwin, Comic Book Adaptation Star. It made sense if you were there, but it’s just really bizarre to think about now. 

9. The Phantom (1996)

Hollywood’s Billy Zane in head to toe bright purple playing a generic character you’ve never heard of because it’s from the late 1800s. The movie is actually more fun than you’d expect, but you’d never know, because The Phantom actually isn’t real. I just made it up. 

8. Richie Rich (1994)

Would you believe me if I told you that Macaulay Culkin, fresh off of Home Alone 1 & 2 didn’t quite connect with audiences when portraying a spoiled little kid who we’re supposed to feel bad for because some kids (rightfully) break his balls? I get that this was a classic comic, but still. I saw this movie as a kid when I knew like four things altogether, and still, one of them was “I do not like this rich kid.” 

7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993)

This movie sends the Ninja Turtles back to feudal Japan for some reason. Casey Jones returns to the series to babysit a man in the sewer. This was the first movie I ever walked out of as a kid. Everything just felt off; the plot, the costumes, the dialogue, the voices. I just couldn’t believe how nonsensical my favorite film franchise had become. I had nothing else going on, since I was a kid, but still, I walked right out of that fucker. 

6. The Rocketeer (1991)

How is it that they made all these movies from 1950’s radio broadcasts and comic strips before they ever took a serious whack at Wolverine or Spider-Man? It beats me, but The Rocketeer is cool as hell. However,  if someone’s never heard of him, it might take some convincing that they gave a movie to a guy whose power is merely ‘found a jetpack.’ 

5. Judge Dredd (1995)

This one is tricky because it’s not as good as the more recent Dredd movie, and it’s also a mid-90’s sci-fi action flick starring Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider with some undercooked satirical elements. If you’re not careful, people will just think you’re misremembering Demolition Man when you talk about this movie. 

4. Dick Tracy (1990)

This movie came out when I was a little kid, and it all felt like a fever dream. Someone I’d never heard of (Warren Beatty) was teaming up with someone I’d seen on SNL (Madonna) to make a crazy looking yellow movie about some comic strip I’d never heard of. It looked incredible and it bored me to death. It’s all still very inexplicable to me, to be honest. 

3. Steel (1997)

Did you know Shaquille O’Neal played Superman in a movie once and we never talk about it? Okay, he wasn’t Superman, he was like, this version of a version of Superman. There were four of them running around for a minute, because the actual Superman was dead. It was a whole thing. But also this movie has nothing to do with that stuff. This is actually all about Shaq trying to stop Judd Nelson from selling powerful weapons to criminal organizations. With steel! I am not making any of this up. 

2. Tank Girl (1995)

13 years before Iron Man, another bit of perfect comic book casting saw ‘90s scene stealer Lori Petty portray Tank Girl. This underrated post-apocalyptic movie feels like a comic book in all the best ways, and has more attitude than just about every other movie on this list or in general. Malcolm McDowell is a villain that wants to turn your blood into drinking water, Ice-T plays a dog man, and Iggy Pop shows up as a sicko named Rat Face. You gotta see this movie. 

1. Mystery Men (1999)

From the absurd pages of the impossible-to-film Flaming Carrot comes Mystery Men. This truly inexplicable movie, which featured such heroes as Mr. Furious and The Shoveler, was one of a kind, doomed to fail, decades ahead of its time, and thanks to the passing of Paul Reubens, is now required viewing for you today. Seriously. You need to call off work and watch Mystery Men

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