Where to watch Doctor Strange 2, Brightburn and other spooky superhero movies
Comics hold a unique place in American media. They started with comics primarily focused on horror and entertainment, but quickly transitioned to superheroes due to conflicts with the Comics Code Authority. For this reason, many comics transferred horror elements into superheroes, even if they were cloaked in a thin veneer to stay under the CCA’s radar. However, over time, superheroes such as Batman and Constantine have become closely associated with horror and thus linked Halloween and the comics.
However, it took some time for comic book movies to catch up. Most comic book movies, while sometimes incorporating horror elements, actually focused on relatively light and airy narratives, with all the punches simply crushing the bad guys in a bloodless stupor. By the 1980s, however, some films fully embraced the crossovers of horror and superheroes, with more horror seeping into the genre as the new millennium approached. This despite a certain timidity of the superheroes on the market. In the nearly 40 years of horror-influenced superheroism, many beautifully scary films have been made. As Halloween approaches and people dress up as horrors and heroes around the world, here are some of the greatest horror superhero movies of all time and where to find them.
Brightburn is a James Gunn horror in the United States
Possibly the truest horror superhero movie on this list, Brightburn started as a Superman story before producer James Gunn decided to go the full horror route. It’s disturbing, dark and subversive, with Gunn’s typical comedic sensibilities twisted in disturbing ways. Just like the story of Superman, a child crashes in rural America. However, after gaining his powers, he discovers a propensity for violence and destruction. The enormous amount of power Brandon displays contrasts with the childish silliness he exhibits at the start of the film, and his malevolence beyond the influence of those he loves proves detrimental to the entire world. It’s creepy, scary and disgusting. The movie has plenty of issues, as its 57% score on Rotten Tomatoes proves, but it’s by far the truest marriage of horror and superhero movies to date. It’s not on the major streaming services, but it has a low price on digital storefronts like Vudu and Amazon Prime Video, as well as a presence on USA, Sling and FuboTV.
Batman is one of the best horror-influenced superhero movies on HBO Max
Batman (1989), starring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader, brought Batman into modern times and introduced a much more serious version than that of Adam West nearly a quarter of a century earlier. Jack Nicholson’s Joker has claimed the pedigree of the man who starred as Jack Torrance in the brilliant, and Tim Burton’s Gothic Gotham revolutionized the way the relatively normal metropolis was portrayed in comics and media from then on, with Gotham becoming a much darker, creepier, and horror-influenced place. He also set up Return of Batmanwhich also established a principle of horror in Batmanvillains and citizens. It currently resides at a comfortable 73% on Rotten Tomatoes and is available to stream on HBO Max alongside a mountain of others. Batman shows and movies, all of which share his affinity for Halloween superheroics. As Keaton’s Batman is set to return the flashit would be worth streaming if only to familiarize yourself with the lore.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is Heroic Horror on Disney+
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness isn’t Sam Raimi’s last place on this list, and it’s certainly not the only Marvel superhero film worth watching as part of the horror pantheon. That said, it was the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to officially be part of the horror genre. It’s a fun jump across the multiverse that expands the MCU’s canon and offers a ton of fan service, paving the way for future MCU horror. It’s also a love letter to all things horror. Featuring demons, zombies and everything in between, the fourth reality-breaking movie is a masterful one, even if some parts of the narrative leave a bit to be desired. It still sits at 74% on Rotten Tomatoes, though, and streams on Disney+.
Blade II Is Good Scary, Gory, Nerdy Vampire Horror On Hulu
the original Blade is a good movie, of course, even if the MCU’s attempted remake ran into several mid-production issues. He doesn’t hold a candle for Blade II, though some of his character motivations are more complex. The creature’s design by director Guillermo Del Toro is unsurprisingly bloody, scary, and fun to behold. Wesley Snipes manages to chew the landscape with aplomb, playing with Ron Perlman doing the same. It’s a great vampire movie, an amazing superhero movie, and a beautiful marriage of the two. It’s streaming on Hulu, and while the reviews weren’t kind (its Rotten Tomatoes score is at a baffling 57%), it’s well worth watching for the encore/horror/comic book mashup Blaxploitation that manages to work. even though it apparently shouldn’t.
Spider-Man 2 is one of the best superhero movies ever made on Hulu
Sam Raimi’s love of horror came to light as he made the Spider Man movies, and the fingerprints of classic horror are all over the movies. the original Spider Man definitely had more of a Halloween feeling (a goblin throwing pumpkin bombs will), but Spiderman 2 is essential to watch. It’s smart and respectful of the source material while making character changes that are welcome, humane, and respectable. See Otto Octavius after his ride No coming home further adds to the genuine sadness of his character. Feel like both evil Dead and Frankenstein wrapped in a kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde package, Spiderman 2 may not be a true horror film, but the effect of the genre on the film is more present than perhaps it normally would be. The modern classic is streaming on Hulu and Netflix, and with a Rotten Tomatoes Certified Fresh 93%, fans should catch it if possible.
Donnie Darko is Indie Perfection on HBO Max, Kanopy and AMC+
Donnie Darko slips into the list in the same way as Spiderman 2 did. It’s about as much a superhero movie as Spiderman 2 is a horror movie. There are sequences that make it count, and the influence is obvious. It’s pretty darn good horror, too, and with Halloween’s prominence to the plot, it’s hard to avoid the fact that it should be on the list. Donnie Darko is heady and difficult, but it’s also ultimately simple and funny. It’s a confusing set of themes, as any superhero horror movie should be. With an 87% Certified Fresh rating, it’s worth switching to HBO Max, Kanopy, or AMC+ and giving it a watch.
Hellboy (2004) Does demonic horror meet gross superhero comedy on HBO Max
Ron Perlman and Guillermo Del Toro both get second place with Hellboy, an action/adventure classic plagued by demons and darkness on HBO Max. Equal parts superhero and horror movie, Hellboy isn’t so much scary as it is downright horrifying in its premise. Nazis with demonic powers are hardly for anyone, and the heavy themes of good and evil and their innateness play on the mind of the viewer and the creature wearing a trench coat with the right hand of justice. The film is big, muscular and explosive but also incredibly subtle and sweet. With an 81% Certified Fresh percentage on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s also worth watching.
Many other films could very well be on this list. dark man and Spawnfor example, are brilliant horror and superhero movies, but they are not available for streaming. ghost rider would count, but it was reviled by audiences and critics alike. Same Constantine should probably be on the list. Ever since horror began with superhero movies, filmmakers have been more than happy to dish out movie after movie that blends the two massive genres. As the two become more experimental, it will be interesting to see how far they go. For the Halloween season of 2022, however, these movies should get horror and superhero fans off on the right foot.