2023 Superhero Movies Ranked

8. The Flash

The Flash Review

The (admittedly fun) flop of a lifetime.

The Flash may be the unluckiest major movie property in a generation – being forced to re-tool what it was supposed to be in response to industry changes multiple times over a decade, production stopping and starting time and time again, and of course the elephant in the room that is its lead performer – it just couldn’t catch a break.

When this film did eventually did come out to an inevitably mixed reception, it more-or-less told the iconic comic book story “Flashpoint” where speedster hero Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller) travels back in time to prevent his mother’s (Maribel Verdú) murder and in doing so splinters reality, resulting in other versions of himself, a new/old Batman (Michael Keaton), Supergirl (Sasha Calle), and the return of some old threats to planet Earth. 

The nuts and bolts of the movie are fine – the cast are charismatic, the action is fun, and they really swing for the fences in some of the concepts. The problems arise when you realise the two strongest performers in the film (Keaton and Calle) probably only have ten minutes of screentime between them and so mostly you’re left with Ezra Miller doing a decent job of playing a slightly weary Barry opposite themself as a much more annoying, hyperactive younger Barry. Director Andy Muschietti somehow stuck with the project for three years through the Coronavirus Pandemic and brings a nice mix of darkness and humour, but the inconsistent execution of the bizarre unstable reality/broken timelines visuals breaks your suspension of disbelief and the already infamous would-be-fan-service multiverse set piece in the final act leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

7. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

The one that tried to take the DCEU out on a high.

In the time it took for the second and final Aquaman film to come out, Warner Brothers announced the ending of their DCEU franchise for James Gunn and Peter Safran to reboot in 2025. This left what is another fun, colourful slice of sub-aquatic action unable to fulfil expectations no matter how well it achieved its own aims.

Five years on from Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) embracing his Atlantean heritage and taking the throne of his underwater kingdom, now having to balance fatherhood with being a hero and a monarch, he must make a reluctant alliance with former foe and half-brother Orm/Ocean Master (Patrick Wilson) to stop Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) from resurrecting an ancient evil.

The plot of this is absolute hokum, mixing any number of fantasy and superhero sequel tropes together into a not particularly appetising stew. But returning director James Wan still has a very distinct, visually-dazzling vision, and the action involving any number of sea creatures and fish-people is nothing if not audaciously memorable, plus he still indulges in his mischievous side by inserting horrifying monsters straight out of his horror movies. As the silliest member of the Justice League, Aquaman has always been a tough sell, but Momoa’s affable surfer dude persona has helped to keep him likeable and his bizarre universe prominently featuring an octopus percussionist-turned-spy and John Rhys-Davies voicing a crab-man may well cause people to look back on these movies with a certain amount of fondness in the future.

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6. Blue Beetle

The well-intentioned, back-to-basics misfire.

There’s very little actually wrong with Blue Beetle in concept, and it was aiming to make a really strong connection with the Latino communities it aims to honestly depict, but it came out too late to capitalise on what it does right. This a breezy, warm and funny mid-budget blockbuster that is only dragged down by an unimaginative story structure and forgettable villains. 

Family was a big theme in 2023 superhero movies and Blue Beetle is the biggest proponent of this dominant theme. We follow Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña), a working-class law student who becomes Blue Beetle after encountering an alien bio-technological scarab who symbiotically bonds with him and brings him and his family into conflict with power-hungry industrialists led by Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon).

It’s good to see DC finally towards the end of its DCEU run try out a more modest Deadpool-level superhero movie. This one didn’t need to make a billion dollars to be profitable, but it might have been nice for it to make more than one-and-a-half times its budget. For whatever reason – maybe because it was caught between universe reboots or it was simply because Blue Beetle isn’t that well known a character outside of fans of the more recent “Teen Titans” comics – it didn’t make the impact it should have. It’s a pretty standard superhero origin story with zippy action and some neat sci-fi visuals, plus the ensemble playing Jaime’s squabbling but affectionate family (particularly Belissa Escobedo and George Lopez) are hilarious and a pleasure to spend a couple of hours with.

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