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Top 10 Underrated Franchise Films!

These are the movies that flew under the radar.

By Jonathan SimPublished 3 years ago 7 min read

The last twenty articles I’ve published have all been reviews of new movies. As much as I love being a film critic and all of the privileges that have come with this wonderful job, I want to step away from a standard movie review for a bit and write something I’m genuinely passionate about.

In this day and age, Hollywood has become saturated with franchise films. While we were getting tons of original films years ago, it seems now that every major movie that comes out is either a sequel, a remake, a reboot, or a superhero movie that’s part of an existing franchise.

Audiences eat these franchises up, which is why we all have a movie we say is “the best Marvel movie” or “the best Star Wars movie” but that’s not what this article will be about. Every once in a while, we get a franchise film that flies under the radar, so I will share with you some of the most underrated gems from the most popular movie series ever.

Iron Man 3

I have seen people put Iron Man 3 up there with Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 2 as the worst Marvel movies ever made. I have never been one of those people. This is the movie that humanized Tony Stark beyond his smug facade as a “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.”

Rarely do we get to see mental health struggles depicted in franchise films, but this movie takes away Iron Man’s home and suits, sending him to the middle of nowhere as he’s dealing with PTSD and anxiety attacks. Watching Tony Stark rebuild his life from the ground up during the Christmas season leads to a movie with one of the most satisfying payoffs and final battles in MCU history.

Read more: ‘Iron Man 3’: Marvel’s Underrated Christmas Gem

Iron Man 3 is now streaming on Disney+.

Terminator: Salvation

Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Terminator franchise has been all over the place. We all love James Cameron’s work with the original two films, with Terminator 2: Judgment Day serving as one of the best movies ever made. But nothing else in the franchise has come close to that level of quality.

However, I’d say the film that comes the closest is Terminator: Salvation, the fourth entry in the series. This is the film that takes the most risks without being embarrassing *cough*Genisys*cough*. We have Christian Bale doing an excellent job as John Connor as we see him secure his fate by saving Kyle Reese.

There are excellent ideas sprinkled all throughout the film, and it pays homage to the other films really well. It’s not the most memorable film in the series, and it’s the only one to not feature Arnold as a central character, but it’s a very watchable Terminator sequel that works.

Terminator: Salvation is now streaming on HBO Max.

The Wolverine

When we think of the best X-Men movies, we think of films like Logan and X-Men: Days of Future Past. But this standalone film centered on Wolverine has always stood out to me as an enjoyable entry in the series. This is a fun, exciting movie that delivers on the action, especially during the bullet train sequence.

I love the way the film explores the characters, and while the film obviously doesn’t hold a candle to Logan, this is a really well-paced superhero movie with Wolverine kicking a lot of ass.

New Police Story

Easily the most obscure film on this list, New Police Story has always been an underrated installment in both the Police Story films and Jackie Chan’s filmography. The original Police Story is one of Chan’s finest works, but few have seen the fifth film in the series.

This served as a reboot to the franchise, removing the lighthearted comedic tone of the series and giving us one of Chan’s greatest dramatic performances of his career. He portrays a broken alcoholic dealing with the trauma of his past, and the writing is on point with the setups, payoffs, characters, and genuinely terrifying presence of the villains.

New Police Story is now streaming on Pluto TV.


The DC Extended Universe just got a new installment with the critically acclaimed The Suicide Squad. But one DC movie received a lukewarm response from critics and fans, and I don’t understand why. I adore Aquaman with all my heart, as it’s a movie that completely works on my radar.

James Wan directs this film with color and energy, with Jason Momoa’s charming one-liners and action sequences that pop off the screen with long takes and explosions. I have so much fun with this movie every time I watch it, as there are too many crowd-pleasing moments to count.

Aquaman is now streaming on HBO Max.

Die Hard 2: Die Harder

When people think about the two best Die Hard movies, they think of the two films John McTiernan directed: Die Hard and Die Hard with a Vengeance. But for me, Die Hard 2 has always been the underrated gem of the series. This is coming from a guy who adores the PG-13 Live Free or Die Hard, so either film works for this list.

But Die Hard 2 is actually my favorite Die Hard sequel. Renny Harlin’s airport thriller has John McClane once again as the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. The film is truly thrilling from start to finish, always putting McClane at a disadvantage and racing to keep up with the bad guys.

And honestly, the final act of this film kicks so much ass. We have McClane fighting bad guys on the wing of a plane and the most epic “yippee-ki-yay, motherf*cker” moment of the entire series. This is a fun, exciting movie that nobody appreciates as much as I do.

Die Hard 2 is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Men In Black 3

Ten years after the mediocre sequel of Men In Black II, this movie brought the series back on track. It is not as good as the first film, but it has a wonderful quality to it with the film introducing time travel into the mix. Josh Brolin is doing a spot-on Tommy Lee Jones impression as a younger Agent K.

Will Smith brings his typical charm to the table, and the action sequences are entertaining as hell. The time travel may not hold up to much logic in the final act, but it’s really fun to watch the chemistry between the characters.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

This was the first Star Wars movie to be considered a box office bomb, and that is insane to me. Look, this movie isn’t on the level of the original trilogy, or even the sequel trilogy for that matter. It has nothing to do with the Jedi or the overarching story, serving as an origin story for Han Solo.

But this is an action-packed adventure that feels like Indiana Jones in space. It has excellent performances from Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover, and while there are a couple of issues here and there, this movie is exciting, fun, and offers explanations for a lot of Han Solo’s backstory.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is now streaming on Disney+.

Rocky Balboa

After the terrible Rocky V killed the franchise and Stallone’s career faded away in the early 2000s, this movie was a return to form for the series and for the aging action hero. Stallone wrote, directed, and starred in a Rocky sequel for the ages, giving us another chance to see the Italian Stallion put his dukes up.

This movie successfully gives us a father-son dynamic that we care about, with Milo Ventimiglia perfectly cast as Robert Balboa Jr. It’s an inspiring movie that pulls the right heartstrings, and while the film may be overshadowed by the spectacular Creed films, this movie holds a special place in my heart.

Rocky Balboa is now streaming on HBO Max.

Mission: Impossible III

Typically, the third film in a series is the worst one. However, I think JJ Abrams’s Mission: Impossible III was the best film out of the first three movies. We all love Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation, and Fallout (one of my favorite movies ever made), but the success of this threequel is a big part of what led to the most recent sequels.

I love the non-stop, kinetic energy of this movie and how there’s always either action, suspense, or character moments. Philip Seymour Hoffman portrays Owen Davian to perfection, and he is easily the best villain of the series. This movie is exciting from start to finish, and I love it so much.

Mission: Impossible III is now streaming on Paramount+.

Thank you for reading!


About the Creator

Jonathan Sim

Film critic. Lover of Pixar, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Back to the Future, and Lord of the Rings.

For business inquiries: [email protected]

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