Before Fox took a gamble on the X-Men and Sam Raimi's Spider-Man proved a hit with audiences and critics, there were superhero movies, though they weren't guaranteed box office gold like they are today. Sure, there were smash hits like Tim Burton's Batman and Superman's big-screen debut, but at this point in the genre's gestation, fan-pleasing adaptations of this quality were a rare breed.
These days, Marvel Studios has a winning formula for hitting that sweet spot between critical acclaim and commercial success every time, and directors like Christopher Nolan, James Mangold and Patty Jenkins have proven that comic book movies can offer much more than just cheap, spandex-clad thrills.
The superhero bubble is yet to burst in Hollywood and the genre is still in the midst of a great renaissance, but around two decades ago, these films were often eye-rolling affairs and a huge risk for studios. From Catwoman to Stallone's Judge Dredd, many of them succeeded only in dragging iconic characters' reputations through the mud.
That said, even the worst superhero movies have redeeming features, positives the fans are only too happy to overlook because they're still incensed the film was made in the first place, and here are some you may not have picked up on.
10. Spawn Championed Diversity Long Before Black Panther
The roaring success of Black Panther has been hailed as a big win for diversity in Hollywood. A superhero movie with a predominantly-black cast playing articulate, strong and well-rounded characters is a breath of fresh air for the genre, though it wasn't the first film which attempted to broaden the horizons.
When Todd McFarlane and New Line Cinema brought Spawn to the big screen, they did so with the best intentions. Efforts were made to adapt the Image Comics smash as it should be adapted: with a hard R rating and an African-American in the lead role.
Michael Jai White was cast as hellspawn Al Simmons, marking the first time an actor of colour had headed up a blockbuster comic adaptation. Granted, there were African-American-led superhero movies before Spawn. The Meteor Man came out in 1993 and Steel arrived the same year, but this was the first time it felt like a big deal.
Spawn's creative team started out on the right foot, but the end result was a far cry from what it should have been. Special effects were prioritised over story and at no point does it feel like there's any substance to accompany the extreme violence.
Critics at the time agreed that it added little to the superhero genre, but in retrospect, it should be viewed as one of the films which paved the way for Black Panther.