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Some superhero movies soar to cinematic heights; others bellyflop

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a superhero movie!

Hollywood seems to be generating superhero movies at an alarming rate nowadays. Opening this Friday is "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," the latest Marvel concoction to bring a tried-in-tights super-dude to the big screen.

While that film is getting solid reviews for its spy-thriller plot and special effects, it bears recalling that for every superhero movie worth spending a few bucks to see there are plenty of would-be blockbusters that are best forgotten.

Here's our list of four of the best and four of the worst superhero movies.

Worst #1: "Superman IV"

This sucky sequel subtitled

This sucky sequel subtitled "The Quest for Peace" can be summed up with the name of one of the movie’s main villain: Nuclear Man. A reviewer described him as looking like “a refugee from the Chippendales.” Oh, and Superman tries to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Or something.

Worst #2: "Catwoman"

This picture nearly mauled Halle Barry’s career to
Photo Credit: Doane Gregory

This picture nearly mauled Halle Barry’s career to death. An incomprehensible mess of a movie, “Catwoman” starred Barry as the titular character alongside Sharon Stone. It was nominated for seven “razzies” — Golden Raspberry awards — as one of the worst movies of 2004. “Catwoman is the cinematic equivalent of a clump in the cat-litter box. Kind of a sad little thing laying there stinking up the place," said Razzie founder John Wilson.

Worst #3: "Green Lantern"

Maybe it’s not as bad as “Catwoman,” but
Photo Credit: DC Comics

Maybe it’s not as bad as “Catwoman,” but “Green Lantern” still certainly counts as a massive dud. The $200 million film flopped, and not least probably because it was a bloated, CGI-heavy headache just waiting to drill through the minds of unsuspecting moviegoers. You want to know the plot? No, you don’t.

Worst #4: "Batman & Robin"

George Clooney as Batman. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a
Photo Credit: Warner Bros., Christine Loss

George Clooney as Batman. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a walking, villainous refrigerator with some venting issues. Cartoonish production design that made this 1997 pic look less realistic than the 1960s television show. What could go wrong? How about everything? Please, don’t make us watch this again.

Best #1: "Spider-Man"

The first two Spider-Man movies starring Tobey Maguire
Photo Credit: Melissa Moseley

The first two Spider-Man movies starring Tobey Maguire are tied. Both had unforgettable villains (The Green Goblin in the first and Doctor Octopus in the second), as well as the pitch-perfect performance by Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. And both had uncanny director Sam Raimi orchestrating both as human stories with superhero twists.

Best #2: "The Dark Knight"

Who can forget Heath Ledger’s frightening turn as
Photo Credit: Stephen Vaughan

Who can forget Heath Ledger’s frightening turn as the Joker? Even without the late actor’s turn as everyone’s favorite mad clown, Christopher Nolan’s epic take on Batman would still be considered one of the best superhero films of all time.

Best #3: "Superman II"

Some people consider the original Superman film with

Some people consider the original Superman film with Christopher Reeves the best in the series. But our money is on the sequel, which supersedes the original in many ways. According to one Reeves’ biographer, the late actor also considered Superman 2 the best in the series.

Best #4: "Unbreakable"

We may catch some flak for including M.
Photo Credit: Touchstone Pictures Photo/Frank Masi

We may catch some flak for including M. Night Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable,” but at its core this urban-set film is a superhero movie. Without relying on an overload of CGI — and instead on storytelling — the movie plays out like a freakish noir.

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