FW Presents Contest – Marvel/DC Superhero Films Bracket

What is the best superhero movie from Marvel or DC? We've all wondered at one point or another, and we aim to find the answer!

Coming in June, it's the MARVEL/DC SUPERHERO FILM BRACKET (LIVE ACTION)! 64 films from the big two comic publishers go head-to-head in this bracket fight decided by four panelist and moderated by The Irredeemable Shag! And YOU can win FIRE & WATER merch if you guess the most match-up results correctly! Here are the opening bouts!

Marvel/DC Superhero Films Bracket

Grab a copy of this sheet, fill it out completely and send to The Irredeemable Shag before June 7, 2018 to enter. One point per match-up correctly entered. Ties broken by coin flip/dice throw. Identity of panelists secret until broadcast. Panelists film criteria entirely their own. Winner announced during the actual bracket podcast released in mid- to late-June.

We're confident some folks will take exception to the bracket above.  We all have our own favorite superhero films, and your favorite may not be represented as you'd prefer. And you folks love to debate and complain (it's one of the things we geeks do best). Therefore, here is an exhaustively detailed explanation for how this bracket was determined. Once you've read the bracket's complete history, feel free to complain in the comments like you were going to anyway.


The bracket was created by a committee of three individuals, none of which will be panelists on the actual episode where the films are ranked.  The only overlap is The Irredeemable Shag who served on the committee (but didn’t vote to rank the films) and will serve as the moderator on the actual bracket episode.  


First, we listed every Marvel and DC superhero movie.  From there we identified which really qualified as DC or Marvel universe comics and/or movies.  Those eliminated are listed at the bottom of this info.


Second, we created four quadrants for the bracket. Some of these were obvious, some were necessary due to the number of films (far more Marvel superhero films than DC superhero films).  Quadrants are:

  • Top Left - Marvel Cinematic Universe
  • Bottom Left – Mutant Spiders (other Marvel films, primarily Spider-Man & X-Men)
  • Top Right - DC Universe (primarily Superman and DC Cinematic Universe)
  • Bottom Right - Dark Knights (mix of DC & Marvel, primarily Batman, plus Punisher, Ghost Rider, Blade, etc)


Third, we researched several websites that ranked the top superhero movies of all time.  We settled on four websites that seemed to judge based upon reasonable criteria. Then pulled the ranking for each movie from the four websites (we eliminated all the non Marvel/DC movies, like “The Incredibles”, to establish consistent rankings to compare). The four scores for each film were averaged to establish one score for each movie.

Then the two committee members (not Shag) individually ranked each of the films in each quadrant.

The final seeds were calculated by averaging: the website scoring (weighted at 50%) and the individual rankings from the two committee members (weighted at 25% each).  The resulting scores were the seeds for each of the four quadrants.


Each quadrant had more than 16 films, therefore we had to eliminate some with the lowest scores.  We did make a few exceptions from the scoring to avoid eliminating the only entry for a particular character. For example, in the "Dark Knights" quadrant, we decided to keep "Catwoman", even though the film had the lowest score of that quadrant.  That film was the only standalone representation of the character on the list. Instead we removed the next lowest movie, "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" which already had another film representing that character ranked higher. The other exception was “Steel”, again the only representation of the character even though it had the lowest score of the “DCU” quadrant.  Therefore, we eliminated the next lowest film, “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” instead as there were already Superman films ranked higher.

Here are the films that were eliminated in the initial selection of movies:

  • Captain America (1944) – Too unlike contemporary superhero films
  • Superman and the Mole Men (1951) – Too unlike contemporary superhero films
  • (Serial Films of DC Comics in 1940s and 1950s) – Too unlike contemporary superhero films
  • Captain America (1990) – Never in theaters
  • Fantastic Four (1994 Corman) – Never in theaters
  • V for Vendetta – Not set in traditional DC superhero universe
  • The Losers – Not set in traditional DC superhero universe
  • Jonah Hex – Not set in traditional DC superhero universe
  • Howard the Duck - not a superhero movie
  • Watchmen – Not set in traditional DC superhero universe
  • The Spirit – Not set in traditional DC superhero universe
  • The Shadow – Not set in traditional DC superhero universe
  • The Phantom – Not set in traditional DC superhero universe
  • Kick-Ass – Not set in traditional Marvel superhero universe
  • Deadpool 2 – Too recent to include in rankings

Here are the films that were eliminated due to lowest ranking in the quadrants after establishing the seed scores:

  • Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance
  • Punisher (1989)
  • Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
  • Incredible Hulk
  • Iron Man 2
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • Fant4astic Four (2015)

Finally, the seeds within each quadrant were bracketed using traditional sports bracket match-ups (i.e. #1 vs #16, #2 vs #15, etc)

Good luck to those that enter, and may the best live action superhero movie win!

19 responses to “FW Presents Contest – Marvel/DC Superhero Films Bracket

  1. As someone who carries his March Madness bracket in his pocket at all times during the NCAA tournament, I approve of this as well.

  2. Also, as a NCAA basketball junkie, I can say there is always a 5-12 upset in the tournament. And Iron Man/Capt America First Avenger has upset written all over it.

    I’ll also add that Black Panther as a 6 seed has ‘Gonzaga is being disrespected because of its conference’ written all over it.

  3. Bracket: sent! I missed my chance (f there was one) to fill out the Star Trek bracket, but I’m in for this one! Daredevil all the waaaaaaay! Kidding….or am I?

      1. I assumed as much….or I read that in the post…or something. :). This laser-honed mental acuity was used to make all of my bracket (and, sadly, life) choices!

  4. Well, good luck with this! I asked several times when the Star Trek game was being pushed by no one would tell this poor non-sports-following Brit how the voting is actually done. Couldn’t find it on Google 🙁

    1. Martin – Did we answer your questions here for the Superhero bracket? I’m also a non-sports guy, so it took some research for me to figure out the bracket, seeds, etc.

  5. This bracket got me thinking, has there ever been a movie, documentary or podcast that discussed the evolution of super hero movies?

  6. So easy….wait, no Superman IV?! No Ghost Rider 2? No 1989 Punisher? NO ROGER CORMAN FF MOVIE?! Uh oh. I’m in trouble now.

  7. This is Awesome! I just sent you my filled out bracket, Shag. Look forward to the episode!

    (Would have been curious how Watchmen would have done – i always think that one gets a bad rap).

  8. I assumed this would be difficult and printed out the brackets, only to fill the entire thing out while out to dinner with Pakita between ordering my meal and having it arrive at the table. The breakdowns made it easy, since there are only a few good movies in each of the categories outside the MCU. Also, your committee had the unadventurous inclination to leave off Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, and especially the cult classic Howard the Duck. Plus there was all the pairings of weak flicks with strong ones, so there wasn’t much of an internal debate until the third round.

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