20 Fan Films That Are Better Than Most Hollywood Productions The Talks Today
Hollywood is good and all, but even the best pros in the biz can’t always match the imaginations of fans who have almost no budget to work with, but twice as much passion. They are able to find the small stories that Hollywood misses and bring them to life, often with more style than the best filmmakers working today would be able to handle. Though sometimes they are held back by pesky things like copyright, intellectual property law, and what’s expected from modern film.
So the only place fans can watch Batman take on Darth Vader, the marauders fight a young Snape, Darth Maul’s origin, or a giant galactic battle including every single science fiction franchise out there, is YouTube. Then there are the fan films that are almost too good. The Star Trek fan films that were sued due to their professional quality. The Uncharted film that managed to snag Nathan Fillion. Here are some of the greatest fan films ever made, ones that truly rival what Hollywood can manage.
20 Darth Maul: Apprentice (T7 Pro)
Darth Maul was the most popular new character to step into the spotlight when Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace premiered. Unfortunately, he was cut in half by the film’s end, cutting him out of the other two prequel films, literally. While he was brought back from the grave in Star Wars: Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, and a brief cameo in Solo: A Star Wars Story, there’s still a sense of disappointment that we never got to see more of The Phantom Menace version of the character.
Darth Maul: Apprenticeis a fan film that shows how Darth Maul truly became the deadly assassin that took out Qui-Gon Jinn. The fan film sees him complete his Sith training by taking on an entire squad of Jedi. What follows is one of the best lightsaber duels ever put to film as Maul takes on an entire crowd of Jedi, dispatching them one at a time. What truly makes this film sing though is the performance from Ben Schamma as Darth Maul. Not to mention the incredible makeup. The actor infuses Maul with not only with the fury of a true sith assassin, but some pathos as he seems to have some second thoughts before slaying a young Padawan woman. Not that it stops him.
19 Batman: Broken Promise (Stephen Trumble Animation)
Fan films are most often focused on Star Trek, Star Wars, or Batman. The legendary superhero has more fan films regarding him and his mythology than all other superheroes combined. While many of these attempts are far too amateur to suggest, Batman: Broken Promise has a story worthy of a big budget film and an animation style worthy of its own series on HBO Max.
We see Batman investigate a series of crimes that are affecting the richest and poorest in Gotham City. At the center of this crime is Two Face who is clearly still traumatized over his failed attempt to become the mayor of Gotham. The fan film not only features an engaging red and blue color palette that is unique for Batman films, but it also features incredible voice acting performances and fight scenes. It shows that Stephen Trumble Animation is a success story in the making.
18 Dragon Ball Z: The Light of Hope (RobotUnderdog2)
Hollywood has no idea how to adapt an anime. There have been many attempts to make movies and television shows based on Japanese animation, but few have been successful at all. Perhaps the worst attempt has been Dragonball: Evolution. It seems as if the Dragon Ball franchise is impossible to adapt into a live action feature.
Enter Dragon Ball Z: The Light of Hope, a fan film that shows just how a Dragon Ball Z film should be made. It adapts a pivotal moment in the Future Trunks story where the alternate future version of Gohan take on both of the evil androids who have obliterated the Earth. It features all the action, the color, and the intense performances that the cartoon is known for. When Hollywood inevitably attempts to adapt this franchise to the big screen again, they should watch this fan film and take notes. The Light of Hope knows how to do it right.
17 Batman Vs. Darth Vader (Bat in the Sun)
Bat in the Sun is one of the best channels making fan-made content today. They are well known for their Super Power Beat Down series that pits characters from different fandoms against one another in an epic, and often fatally wounding, competition of fighting skill and willpower. The best of this series is Batman Vs. Darth Vader. It sees Batman journey to the Death Star to rescue Superman who has been captured by the Empire. Naturally, he comes across Darth Vader who immediately overpowers him. This is Batman though, and obviously he had enough prep time to figure out how to even things between them. He even pulls out a lightsaber and has a duel with Vader.
The best thing about this video is that there are two different versions where each win. If you are more of a Batman fan or a Vader fan, then they have the perfect video for you. If this video works for you, director Aaron Schoenke and the internet’s best Batman, Kevin Porter both have several other collaborations that are worth your time.
16 Pokémon – Dark Edition
Pokémon is the single most successful media franchise of all time. So there should be at least fifteen live action films for the series by now, right? Wrong! So far there’s only the surprisingly decent, yet forgettable, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu. That film tried to bring the series into the real world but didn’t quite hit the mark as hard as it could. Pokémon – Dark Edition offers a different take. It’s a gritty adaptation that shows illegal fighting rings, realistic versions of famous Pokémon, and a deep conspiracy looks much more interesting than the one in Detective Pikachu.
There are a ton of great Pokémon fan films out there, but few offer quite as original of a concept as this one does. After watching this short film, don’t be surprised if you become eager to purchase the full movie…even though it doesn’t exist.
15 Power/Rangers (Joseph Kahn)
Joseph Kahn is a well-known director in the music video world, having worked with Taylor Swift frequently. His real passion has always been to break into a fandom franchise like Power Rangers or Justice League Dark. He managed to team with Adi Shankar, a producer famous for making unauthorized fan films like Punisher: Dirty Laundry in his “Bootleg Universe”. The two put together Power/Rangers, a gritty reboot of the Power Rangers series that acts as basically the Watchmen of the kid-friendly franchise. It’s an incredibly well-made film that shows us the horrifying reality that would await if the Rangers ever lost everything. Most notably, it casts Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff as the Pink Ranger and James Van Der Beek from Dawson’s Creek as the second Red Ranger, Rocky DeSantos.
Shortly after this film, an official Power Rangers film hit the big screen. While it was more family friendly than Power/Rangers,it’s clear to most everyone which was the better film. Regardless of how anyone feels about Joseph Kahn or Adi Shankar, this was a true fan film masterpiece.
14 Star Wars SC 38 Reimagined (FXitinPost)
Most fan films seek to create an original story set in a fandom’s universe. This is often a sequel, prequel, or origin story for a beloved character. Few seek to actually fix a scene in a beloved film that simply has not aged well. In the original Star Wars film, Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi’s very first lightsaber duel is supposed to be an epic rematch between the former master and apprentice. Instead, it’s an awkward exchange of slow movements that lacks all of the edge-of-your-seat action that the franchise mastered over decades of making lightsaber duels.
FXitinPost fixes this problem by showing Vader and Obi-Wan fight in a duel that’s just as good as the one they had in Revenge of the Sith. It even includes Sir Alec Guinness with some well done special effects. Obi-Wan and Vader had a similar rematch in the Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ series, but SC 38 Reimagined may actually be the better fight. Vader just goes completely unhinged in this fan film and it’s a joy to watch.
13 Uncharted – Live Action Fan Film (Allan Ungar)
TBA Sometimes Hollywood just doesn’t understand what fans want even though fans are pretty clear about it. Pretty much all Uncharted fans agreed that Nathan Fillion was the PERFECT actor to embody Nathan Drake. Hollywood instead cast Mark Wahlberg as Drake, but then had to cast Tom Holland in the role because the film was in development for so long that Wahlberg aged out of it and had to play Sully instead. Well, fans got a slice of the perfect Uncharted film when the fan version was released online, complete with Nathan Fillion himself.
Anyone who has watched both the official movie and the fan film can see that fans were 100% right about this one. Tom Holland is great and all but Nathan Fillion is genuinely perfect for the role. This not getting adapted into a big screen film is a true tragedy.
12 Batman: Puppet Master (Bryan Nest)
Younger fans don’t know the pain of waiting for Christopher Nolan to make his sequel to The Dark Knight after it dropped in 2008. The movie ended on a cliffhanger that saw Batman on the run after taking the blame for Harvey Dent’s crimes. Batman: Puppet Master provides itself as an alternate sequel to The Dark Knight Rises. This version sees Gotham on the edge of a new gang war while Batman is hunted by a creepy new investigator who is obviously an interesting play on The Riddler. It perfectly recreates Nolan’s Gotham and teases a grittier sequel than the over-the-top action of The Dark Knight Rises. Puppet Master may not be a complete sequel, but it acts as the inciting incident to a fascinating alternate timeline set in Nolan’s universe.
Even if the use of Scarface is…perhaps a bit questionable. There’s a reason he’s never made it to the big screen.
11 Prelude to Axanar (Axanar)
Ah, Prelude to Axanar. The Star Trek fan film that was so good that it almost ruined Star Trek fan films forever. The fan film acts as a historical documentary recounting the days of the Federation-Klingon War that occurred right before Star Trek: The Original Series. It’s a true vision from controversial producer Alec Peters. The film features real Trek actors like General Martok actor J.G. Hertzler and Kurn himself Tony Todd. Both actors are in no roles alongside Peters himself and several stars from Battlestar Galactica.
The film’s quality did not make the studio behind the real Star Trek franchise happy, which adapted a similar storyline only a few years later in Star Trek: Discovery. There was a massive lawsuit that put heavy constraints around fan films of the franchise. The actual Axanar film that this was the prelude to has yet to come out, but there is still hope that a version of it may one day appear.
10 TIE Fighter (Paul Johnson)
There are A LOT of fan films that focus on the star fighter action from Star Wars. There’s Star Wars: X-Wing, The Lost Starfighter, The Chase and so many more that are worth checking out. The one that shows the most original take on the franchise’s star fighter action is undoubtedly TIE Fighter. This fan film provides a glimpse into an old school anime series focusing on Imperial pilots taking on the Rebels.
Disney+ officially launched their own anime series, Star Wars: Visions. While that anthology series had plenty of cool concepts, none quite hit as hard as TIE Fighter did. Disney should’ve made that into a series immediately. It is a guaranteed hit.
9 Severus Snape and the Marauders (Broad Strokes)
Harry Potter fans are OBSESSED with the Marauders-era of Hogwarts history. That’s the era in which Harry’s father James was palling around with Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, and the treacherous Peter Pettigrew. It’s also the era in which Severus Snape was friends with Harry’s mother, Lily. There is a ton of story here that hasn’t been told and fans have been all-too-eager to explore in fan fics and fan films.
SeverusSnapeandtheMaraudersmay be the best fan film out there. It explores a fateful night where the Marauders challenge Snape to a duel. What we see is a massive battle between Snape and the four friends that ends with all of them being changed forever. There are many other great Harry Potter fan films to check out such as Lily Evans and the Eleventh Hour, Dumbledore and Grindelwald: The Greater Good, The Day Muggles Found Out, Voldemort: Origins of the Heir, and, of course, Potter: Puppet Pals, but Severus Snape and the Marauders seems to be the one that lands with fans who are craving more of their favorite character, Snape himself.
8 Star Trek Continues (Star Trek Continues)
In many ways, Star Trek Continues is the most impressive fan series ever created. With a miniscule budget, it perfectly recreates the style and 60s effects of Star Trek: The Original Series. While the acting may be hit or miss at times, which isn’t necessarily inaccurate, the storytelling and the overall spirit of the project is hard to not enjoy. It basically acts as the final season of the infamously canceled series. The final episodes “To Boldly Go” parts one and two even provide a perfect series finale for the series. It bridges the gap between the series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, showing why Captain Kirk accepts his hated promotion to admiral, why Spock returns to Vulcan, and why the Enterprise needed a refit after a brutal battle with the Romulan Star Empire and more Harry Mitchell style Espers.
The only thing holding this series back is its association with Vic Mignogna, who stars as Captain Kirk. He has faced multiple allegations from fans and co-workers in the voice acting industry. Regardless of his involvement, the series itself stands as possibly the greatest achievement in the history of fan productions.
7 Han Solo: A Smuggler’s Trade (Jamie Costa)
Actor Jamie Costa became internet famous, or infamous, based on his impression of Robin Williams in Robin Williams: Test Footage. What people who were amazed by his impression of Williams may not know is that he’s worked on multiple Star Wars fan films that deliver similar performances that are truly incredible. While his take on Obi-Wan Kenobi was good, he somehow managed to perfectly capture Harrison Ford’s swagger for Han Solo: A Smuggler’s Trade.
Solo: A Star Wars Story famously tried to recapture that very same magic with Alden Ehrenreich in Ford’s dusty boots. An argument could be made that Costa actually comes closer that Alden Ehrenreich does to finding his inner Han Solo. Though neither really look like a young Harrison Ford unless you squint really hard.
6 Predator: Dark Ages (The FILMMAKERS Guide to the Galaxy)
The surprise Predator prequel Prey was a runaway success. It showed that the Predators have been hunting humans since long before they were hunting Dutch in the first film. Any fan of this film should know that this prequel premise is pretty common when it comes to Predator fan films. (Or Predator comics for that matter.) There are several fan films set in the Predator universe that feature the hunter going up against humans from all eras of history. Untitled Predator Fan Film, Warrior: Predator, and The Creature from the Big Mountain all have a lot of fun showing the Predator throughout Earth’s timeline.
The one that is practically a full-fledged film itself is Predator:DarkAges. The film is close to half an hour and has an engaging story that shows knights in full suits of armor get into a brutal conflict with the Predator. This film kind of sells itself to be honest. Knights vs Predator? That’s just cool.
5 Portal: No Escape (Dan Tractenberg)
There are some games, such as Valve’s Half-Life, that are practically begging to be video game films. Then there’s Valve’s other masterpiece Portal that does not quite fit the Hollywood mold. A physics-defying puzzle game that uses a portal gun does not exactly sound like a blockbuster, right? Well, according to Portal: No Escape, this game franchise is PERFECT for Hollywood.
The short film dives into the Portal world with a great protagonist, an excellent story, and some astounding visual effects for a fan production. This is one of those films that will have you scratching your head because it’s CLEARLY a blockbuster film waiting to be adapted that Hollywood has overlooked for no good reason.
4 Malak: An Old Republic Story (Unreal Cinema)
For many Star Wars fans out there, the greatest story in the franchise has nothing to do with Luke, Rey, Anakin, or anyone else named “Skywalker”. No, for many the game series Knights of the Old Republic is the best that Star Wars has ever been. So naturally fans of the series have been eager to see the game adapted in either live action or in animation. While there have rumors many times over the years that Disney was going to make their dreams come true, no production has ever begun on a KOTOR series or film.
Luckily, Unreal Cinema is looking to make our dreams come true. The short film Malak:AnOldRepublicStoryshows Darth Malak’s origin and teases a complete KOTOR animated series that is in the works right now. So at some point in the near future, there may actually be a KOTOR series fans of the game can watch with ease. Hey, Disney could’ve had it if they wanted it!
3 Dragon Age Redemption (Machinima)
Few creators have pioneered the digital space more than Felicia Day. When Hollywood wasn’t really calling her with offers, she created her own series, The Guild. She’s also well known for starring in what’s essentially a pilot episode for an adaptation of the Dragon Age video game franchise. This series would be perfect to pick up fans of Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, or The Witcher. Dragon Age Redemption shows just how much promise this franchise has. While its production values are definitely on the cheap side, its spirit is hard to ignore.
While this series may not be as good as the surprisingly good Netflix animated series, Dragon Age: Absolution, it is definitely better than any other attempt to make Dragon Age into a live action classic.
2 Galactic Battles (Calvin Romeyn)
Have you ever wanted to watch a movie where The Enterprise from Star Trek went up against the Galactic Empire from Star Wars? What about watching Master Chief from Halo pal around with the crew of the Normandy from Mass Effect? Well all of those dreams come true and more as we see several different worlds collide in a giant galactic showdown of epic proportions. Galactic Battles may have some questionable acting and a few not-so-great makeup jobs, but the special effects for the titular battles are no joke. They have just as much flair as a Hollywood film, even if the budget is obviously much smaller.
Multiverse battles are all the rage right now but there’s NO WAY Paramount and Disney would ever agree to something this awesome! Not to mention Bioware and Microsoft!
1 Troops (Alex Derevin)
There would be no fan film movement without Troops. The 1997 film showed just how much could be done with a great idea, a razor-thin budget, and a lot of heart. Basically, Troops is a hilarious parody that sees an Imperial version of the television series Cops, complete with the iconic theme song. Anyone who is a fan of the series Reno 911! and Star Wars should watch this immediately.
While some of its effects don’t hold up, and some of the jokes go on a little long, this film was a benchmark in fan filmmaking. The fact that George Lucas didn’t sue the production led other creators to try the same. Now we have a whole host of Star Wars fan films to enjoy in between seasons of The Mandalorian and Andor.