The Punisher (2004)

We continue our list with The Punisher. Yeah, you heard us right. The Punisher. The 2004 vigilante movie – based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name – starred Thomas Jane as anti-hero Frank Castle and John Travolta as villain Howard Saint – who orders the death of Castle’s entire family.

The Punisher was generally considered a misfire, both critically and commercially, though it’s worth remembering that production wasn’t easy for director Jonathan Hensleigh who was not given the budget he wanted and needed. Most action pictures at the time were getting budgets of $65 million though Hensleigh was given only $33 million ($15.5 million towards shooting and post-production) and just 52 days to shoot.

Most of the original script was spliced and rendered unrecognizable. The planned first scene set in Kuwait during the Gulf War was cut. It seems Hensleigh was forced to rely on far too much violence and, as such, a strong cast and excellent character was wasted.

It made just $33.7 million at the box-office. “There's something to be said for letting a comic book adaptation operate at the level of a comic book, dispensing cheap laughs and ice-cold sadism,” said J.R Jones of the Chicago Reader in one of few positive reviews.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

A real underrated movie from the Marvel canon – Captain America: The First Avenger. The 2011 superhero film starred Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, a regular guy from Brooklyn who is transformed into a super-soldier to aid in the war effort. Another impeccably cast movie – starring Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell and Stanley Tucci – the film was a critical and commercial success, grossing $368.6 million worldwide and green-lighting a sequel.

Captain PhillipsChris Evans will return as Captain America in The Winter Soldier

“It doesn't try too hard for irony or style; the comic-book sensibility remains pure, square, and happily stupid,” said David Denby of the New Yorker. A $140 million budget appeared to be risky, but Marvel needn’t have doubted director Joe Johnston. Read our Captain America review here.