13 Dark Superhero Movies Like Watchmen

Zack Snyder’s Watchmen came out in 2009 and helped to define a new generation of antihero superhero movies whose characters are dark, violent, and flawed. The film was an adaptation of the 1986 comic book of the same name, written and illustrated by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. 

It is set during the 80’s cold war. An ex-Superhero, Edward Blake is known as “The Comedian”, is murdered in his apartment. His colleague and superhero friend, Rorschach decides to investigate the comedian’s unsolved murder. He discovers that the comedian worked for the United States government as a spy. Rorschach believes there is a conspiracy against all superheroes and decides to warn his friends. Rorschach and his superheroes friends team up and investigate the conspiracy. 

Movies Like Watchmen

This list explores 15 similar movies to Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. They touch on similar dark, vigilante, detective stories, antiheroes, noir, and realistic themes. Incidentally, these movies are also deep with characters, conflict, and setting. 

movies like watchmen

1. The Equalizer (2014)

The movie chronicles the experiences of a former commando agent who staged his death to start a new and simple life as an employee at one of the do-it-yourself stores. Everything goes according to plan until a horrifying event takes him out of his composure: he meets a girl named Terry who is forced into prostitution and after her boss beats her, and she is hospitalized, McCall goes out in her defense. When he fails to buy her freedom, corpses begin to pile up and he gets entangled with the Russian mafia seeking to take revenge. 

This is, in fact, a superhero comic book movie. The plot train quickly deteriorates from the tracks of reality. The leading character played by Denzel Washington, is actually the classic masked vigilante character like Watchmen’s Nite Owl, without the mask. His senses are sharp and his muscles tense. There is nothing that his enemies will not do that he did not expect before, there is no bullet that they will not shoot at him, or that he won’t know how to dodge.

movies like watchmen

2. Chronicle (2012)

The plot follows 17-year-old Andrew Detmer, who shoots every moment of his life. Mostly dark and unpleasant moments. His mother is dying, his father is an alcoholic who beats him, and at school, he is mocked and harassed. The only person who treats him somehow fairly is his cousin, Matt. One night Matt convinces him to come to a party, but after a number of unpleasant incidents, he finds himself in the yard crying. To his surprise, Steve, the most popular high school student, asks him to join him and document a pit that makes noises.

Matt, Steve, and Andrew descend into the pit and discover an obscure alien object that gives them special powers. Suddenly they can move objects with the power of telekinesis. At first, they think it’s amusing and they mostly use their powers to prank those around them, whether by scaring kids in a toy store or moving a car in the parking lot. But Andrew, who is consistently suffering from his violent father and fears for his mother’s impending death, begins to use the new forces in an aggressive manner that could get out of control and hurt those around him.

In total “Chronicle” is surprisingly a good movie in every possible way that manages to stretch and hold the audience on the edge of the chair.

Director Josh Trank manages to create a dark superhero film far from a comic book, likewise, it has a realistic look since the youngsters are obsessed with everything related to documentation. He managed to mold credibility into the characters. The film deals with contemporary issues that teens all over the world experience like school violence, first-time sex, social classes, and of course the internet world where everything gets to YouTube.

movies like Watchmen

3.  Mystery Men (1999)

Roy is a junkyard worker with a rude boss who still lives at his moms’ house. Eddie is a wielding shovel expert – although they are losers at day – at night they are three superheroes trying to defend the city streets from villains. But the city already has a local superhero, Captain Amazing, who is actually bored, because the city is pretty clean from crime over the last years, but things are going to change. Desperate for a gig, Captain Amazing has arranged a release from the hospital for evil madman Casanova Frankenstein, his great nemesis.

Cassanova, with renewed strength, captures Captain Amazing right away and aims to destroy the city. Now is the time for three wannabe superheroes, to prove their superpowers and save the city. 

The dark comedy is a metaphor for what superheroes like Batman and NIte Owl went through in successive generations of comic books – going from a family-friendly, goofy, themed vigilante who fights bank robbers to a tortured, alcoholic, gritty, jaded, and violent near-psychopath.

Watchmen and Mystery Men are both a satire of the antihero superhero movies. The film never received the appreciation it deserves, and it’s a shame. A clever and cynical script that features potential superheroes, some pitiful, others on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and a plot that mocks modern myths; The diversity of this strange group, whose powers do not arouse empathy or receive heroic respect from society, but are received as exceptional and worthy of excommunicate. It’s funny and demonstratively cartoonish.

movies like watchmen

4. Sin City (2005)

Watchmen created a blend of detective and superhero movies. Sin City is another graphic movie that explores the mystery crime genre in a neo-noir superhero film. Director Robert Rodriguez’s world reflects a similar dark and grim mood. Likewise, there is a nihilism that recalls the same detective story of the 30’s and 40’s Hollywood cinema. 

The film captures three stories that take place in the same city: A former criminal wakes up and discovers that the girl he was sleeping with has been murdered. As police officers patrol the scene, he is running away from the scene, to find the man who indicted him. A photographer accidentally kills a police officer and tries to cover it up. A policeman who is one moment before retirement is charged with a crime he did not commit and goes on a journey to clear his name.

movies like watchmen

5. The punisher (2004)

​​Frank Castle, an ex-Special Delta forces and FBI agent, is about to switch standing in the fire line into regular office work and a normative life, much to the delight of his wife Maria and his young son. During his very last mission, the operation gets out of control, and a young criminal named Bobby Saint is accidentally killed. Bobby’s father Howard, a corrupted businessman, exploits his wife’s ties to the mob, and attempts a particularly murderous gang in Castle’s house, in order to avenge his son’s death. During the fire Castle’s wife and son are killed. Frank manages to overcome the sorrow and torments he is going through, and after he realizes that legal measures will not work this time, he gathers all his strength and embarks on personal revenge. 

Seeing the success of antihero characters, Marvel created a new breed of hero. Frank stands out from other superheroes in brutal use of violence.  

movies like watchmen

6. Constantine (2014)

Both movies are based on the DC Comics universe. Watchmen and Constantine take artistic freedom from their comic originals.

John Constantine is an antihero, a man who is not at all interested in the “gift” that the divine forces have given him, he can see the demons and angels disguised as humans roaming the earth and playing with people like ponds in a game of chess. The trouble begins when Constantine discovers that Satan’s son wants to escape hell in order to make the earth his own private kingdom. The suicide of a nun who suffers from the same unwanted “gift” just as Constantine, leads her sister, Angela Dodson, a policewoman, to the “Exorcism” in order to help her solve a mystery. Angela and the exorcist try to solve the mystery and get into a violent, scary, and spectacular confrontation between heaven and hell.

movies like watchmen

7. Donnie Darko (2001)

Director Richard Kelly’s first full-length film is one of the most frustrating but strangely also the most rewarding cinematic riddles ever created. Donny Darko, a strange boy with a mental disorder who does not get along with anyone, and his only friend Frank, is a huge rabbit (!) That only Donny sees. One day the engine of a plane crashed into his house, but he is saved. The event appears to have been influenced by an obscure time travel supernatural force. Hence, things only get even weirder.

Donnie Darko, like Watchmen, shares the same “characters who live through some intense eye-opening stuff” theme. Both movies will register with a more intellectual group of people that can appreciate all of the social references, and dark humor. 

movies like watchmen

8. The Crow (1994)

The Crow is another dark comic tale of revenge and sorrow On the night before Halloween, musician Eric Drav, and his fiancée Shelly are being brutally murdered by one of Detroits’ vicious gangs. One year later, a crow flies over the landscape of Detroit and lands on the headstone of Eric Draven. It taps at the stone with its beak, awakening Eric from the grave. Erics’ restless soul awakes in order to avenge the injustice events for himself and his devoted wife to be. With some confusion, Eric stands and walks with the crow to his abandoned apartment, finding it in shambles. Eric changes his clothes, and paints his face white, then draws black liner around his eyes, and down his cheeks like tears, and paints his lips black with lines reaching out from the corners. Guided by the crow and sharing the crow’s high perspective on the city, Eric sets out to avenge his and Shelly’s murders.

movies like watchmen
movies like watchmen: Logan

9. Logan (2017)

In a dystopian 2029, as his powers begin to diminish, Wolverine finds himself truly vulnerable for the first time. After a lifetime of pain and sorrow, he is lost in a world where X-Men is just a forgotten legend and the genetically engineered mutant gene no longer exists. Working as a taxi driver, Logan is guarding his mentor Charles Xavier best known as Professor X. His routine breaks, when a mysterious woman asks him to transport a mutant girl, Laura to the Canadian border, with Professor X’s encouragement, Wolverine accepts the request and protects the girl, who is the last chance for the mutant garden.

Director James Mangold spoke in an interview with Fandango on the film and mentioned how the DC Comics influenced him with his film. It shows that superheroes are flawed and dark. Likewise, Snyder directed his characters as a sort of anti-superhero tale, similar to Mangold’s Logan. However, Watchmen was more one-dimensional and its heroes are a commentary on human nature.

movies like watchmen

10. Dredd (2012)

UK’s Judge Dred stands shoulder to shoulder with post-apocalypse movies like Watchmen, Batman vs Superman, and Man Of Steel

In a violent and futuristic city, in which police officers have the authority to act as both judges, grand jury, and executors, Dredd is the ultimate judge. While he deals with a new drug spreading all over town, he is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson, a rookie with superpowers due to a genetic mutation she has. During Andersons’ training, they find themselves on the fire line on a crime scene, at a neighborhood, other judges avoid dealing with a 200 story vertical slum, controlled by a prostitute turned into drug lord named Ma-Ma and her ruthless gang. When Dredd and his trainee capture one of the gangs’ influential members, Ma-Ma declares war against judges and she doesn’t take prisoners. Dredd and Andersson are forced to engage in vicious battles, and do anything in order to survive. 

movies like watchmen

 11. V For Vendetta (2005)

During a dystopian future, the United Kingdom is under a fascist regime – political opponents, immigrants, and different minorities are imprisoned and executed. A freedom fighter operating secretly under the name V uses terrorist acts in order to fight the fascist leadership that controls the masses through force and violence. When he rescues a girl named Evey Hammond, an employee of state British Television Network, from members of the “Fingerman” – the secret police, he hides her at his home. V soon will find, for the first time, the possibility that he could have a secret partner for his actions.

These are very different movie adaptations of Alan Moore’s comics. Watchmen is a sci-fi-style superhero movie. V for vendetta is a more realistic dystopian comic that isn’t your typical DC superhero movie. Both movies tackle philosophical and political allegories like the dangers of unchecked authority.

movies like watchmen

12. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

There is a new threat to the existence of humankind, in the form of “Doomsday”  – a monster created by Lex Luthor, and While they have to cooperate against the new stunt, Batman does not believe that Superman’s intentions are completely pure. Soon a bitter conflict develops between the two. At the same time, the world is grappling with the question of whether to continue to believe a blind belief in superheroes with unlimited powers or perhaps it is time and better to find a way to curb them, for the benefit of humanity. Now it’s all up to Superman and Batman, to settle the conflict between them, and join forces with Wonder Woman to stop Lex Luthor and Doomsday from destroying the world.

Watchmen is the ‘evolved’ version of comic books. In Zack Snyder’s own words Batman vs Superman was supposed to be the “impossible Watchmen. Like It’s the intellectual who likes comic books, you’ve finished the movie and there’s no hope. Is it okay to love this?” Watchmen and BvS dive into the shallow superhero stereotype and apply critical thinking which makes its characters more realistic. That makes the movies more interesting. 

movies like watchmen

13. Man of Steel (2013)

A cinematic adaptation of the story of Superman Kal-El who was sent as a child to earth by his parents Or-El, and Lara because his planet Krypton leads to complete incineration. When he discovers his true persona to become Superman, he uses his rare powers to protect people. Meanwhile, General Zod a citizen of Krypton and its military leader looks at Earth’s fate differently and decides to sacrifice all humankind. Superman, with the help of his friend and news reporter colleague, Lois Lane, makes an alliance to stop Zod from obliterating human existence.

Man of Steel is dark and complex. It’s Snyder’s take on how the blue superhero character would be like if he actually existed in the real world. 

Movies Like Watchmen – Trailers

More Movies Like The Watchmen

14. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

15. Bloodshot (2020)

16. Terminator 2 (1991)

17. Matrix Film Series

18. District 9 (2009)

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