Comic book movies have become a cinema staple, cash machines with a built in audience and ready-made storylines. But sometimes these cash machines malfunction. The truth is, is that the built in audience is actually a bunch of fickle nerds, prone to bitching about anything and everything and the ready-made storylines are often ridiculous and campy. Indeed, making a good comic book movie is not as easy as it looks. There’s a fine line between success and embarrassing failure, between finding the genuine pathos in a fight involving dudes in tights and the ridiculous cheesiness of, well, a fight involving dudes in tights. These eight comic book movies drive that point home perfectly.
A couple of quick caveats before we move on: I’m not really a comic book guy, so unlike most lists like this, this is coming from the perspective of someone who is just a lover of movies in general, so there won’t be a lot of bitching about not being true to the source material or anything like that. Honestly, I don’t give a shit about the source material. (Commence swallowing your tongues and insulting me in the comment section, my beloved nerdlings.) Second, I’m really only focusing on the big budget adaptations, so if some obscure straight to video version of the Fantastic Four from the early ‘90s that cost eleven dollars to make isn’t on here, that’s why. I just don’t think it’s fair to compare that to a billion dollar Joel Schumacher piece of shit, you know? Okay, now that we’ve got all that cleared up, let’s just get to the list. Without further ado, here are the eight worst comic book movies of all time.
Photo credit: YouTube/Warner Bros.
Superman Returns isn’t really a horrible movie. It’s just an incredibly boring one, which for a comic book movie is kind of a problem, you know? It’s basically two and a half hours of Superman moping around like some sad sack emo kid and stalking Lois Lane while Kevin Spacey hams it up and berates the dude who played Kumar. This would be fine if it culminated in anything worthwhile or, you know, even mildly interesting, but instead it just ends up being a bunch of tedious nonsense that no one really cares about and that no one even really remembers. I’m pretty sure there were icebergs involved, but beyond that, I don’t really remember much about the movie’s climax and really, that kind of says it all right there, doesn’t it? No, you want more? Okay, fine. Considering that we live in a world in which every single comic book movie has to have a sequel, the fact that the studio quietly scrapped even the idea of a sequel to Superman Returns speaks volumes, especially when you consider that Superman is probably the most marketable of all superheroes. Oh well, I guess this is what you get when you cast Superman based solely on the fact the he kinda, sorta looks like Christopher Reeve (pre-Stephen Hawking era Reeve, naturally.)
I swear I’m not picking on Superman here, it’s just that, well... Superman has inspired a lot of shitty movies. He’s the OG of shitty comic book movies, and Superman III wasn’t just one of the worst of them, it was also probably the weirdest. For starters, just look at the picture there. The movie is sold on the premise that Superman and Richard Pryor – Richard Pryor! – get into hijinks together. And that set the tone for the whole stupid movie, which is more of a crappy comedy than it is a comic book movie. It’s so bad, and so ridiculous, that “Cocaine” should have gotten third billing under Reeve and Pryor. Even Margot Kidder didn’t want anything to do with this turd and she probably spends most nights making movies with the pinecones and sticks she finds in her backyard. Honestly, the plot should have just been Superman beating the shit out of Richard Pryor’s crack dealer. At least that would have done some good.
Daredevil was so bad that my sister actually was annoyed because someone gave it to her as a gift one Christmas. You know a movie is a piece of shit when people actually get annoyed when they are given it for free. Daredevil is one of those movies that tries to ride the line between campy and entertaining and fails miserably. The dialogue is laughably bad, no one bothers to explain Ben Affleck’s powers (Oh, did I mention that Ben Affleck plays a superhero here? Yeah.) beyond “Oh, he’s blind so his other senses are heightened”, which, hey, come on, I don’t see Stevie Wonder in tights, fighting crime, although I would probably laugh if I saw Stevie Wonder try to fight Jennifer Garner. But that’s because I’m a bad person. Anyway, those are just a couple of reasons why Daredevil is a big fat failure. Colin Farrell and the big, vaguely retarded sounding dude from Armageddon and The Green Mile as laughably shitty bad guys don’t exactly help. Extra crap points because this movie managed to spawn Elektra, which honestly probably belongs somewhere on this list but I’m just going to do the merciful thing and roll both movies up into one big ball of suck. Now let us never speak of it ever again.
The Spirit is on this list simply because it might be the most pointless comic book movie ever made. It was a blatant attempt to cash in on the look and feel of Sin City, which might have been fine except, uh, they forgot to make it interesting. Like, at all. This is one of those cases where they just tried to create and sell a film based entirely around its look and the fact that it had a cast of well-known actors. But not even Eva Mendes’ ass could save this movie, which is shocking because Eva Mendes’ ass has been responsible for everything from saving Christmas from the Grinch in a little know incident in 2004 to ending the first Gulf War. That’s how bad The Spirit is. Hell, maybe it would have been more successful if they just would have named it Eva Mendes’ Ass. Couldn’t hurt. I know, I know, it’s shocking that one of the big studios doesn’t just hire me to take care of these sorts of things. Also, one more time, just for fun: Eva Mendes’ ass.
Again, I’m not picking on Superman here, but... come on. First of all, this movie was made basically to serve as a glorified after school special on the dangers of nuclear weapons. Hey, thanks, Superman, without you to lead the way, I wouldn’t have known that a nuclear warhead is fucking gnarly as hell. Before watching this movie, I always thought that nuclear warfare was totally safe. All sarcastic bitchery aside, the simple fact is this: even if the plot to this movie would have been something better than the nauseating droppings from a retarded lemur, it still would have been doomed to failure because it looked like it was made for somewhere between the price of a ham sandwich and $50. I mean, the fight on the moon between Superman and the, uh, evil Nuclear Man – who incidentally looks more like an escapee from the set of a gay porn flick or the undercard of a WWE show than a terrifying supervillain – looks like something you’d see on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Don’t even ask me what the hell Gene Hackman was doing here. I assume he had gambling debts to pay off or something. Superman IV was so bad that it essentially torpedoed the whole Superman franchise. It would be more than a decade before anyone even tried to make another Superman movie. I’d say that’s good enough to merit it a spot on this list, wouldn’t you?
Here’s a summary of Ghost Rider: Nicolas Cage stars (as you can see, things have already taken a bad turn) as a thrill seeking stunt motorcyclist whose head occasionally turns into a flaming skull, causing him to become a vigilante from hell. Along the way he banters with Eva Mendes (but not her ass in what was no doubt a tragic flaw in the script) and fights a desperate battle against the emo kid who filmed the plastic bag in American Beauty. Do I need to say anything else? Didn’t think so.
I’m guessing the idea for Catwoman came about when some coked up executive at a party said something like “Hey, I’ve got a great idea, let’s get Halle Berry to play Catwoman,” and then all of his friends hi-fived and were all “Yeah, that’d be awesome!” And, hey, that’s not a bad idea, you know? Halle Berry in a skintight Catsuit – okay, you’ve got my attention. But apparently that was as far as they got in the development meetings because when it came time to actually shoot the movie, it seems like they had to drag in a fifth grader to write the script and then cut up a few wrinkly garbage bags in order to come up with a Catsuit. Also, a middle-aged Sharon Stone is running around in this for some reason, although I suppose we should all be grateful that she doesn’t spread her menopausal legs in this one. There is a joke to be made there about a shriveled up, old dying pussy... cat, but I am above such nonsense. Instead, I’d just like to take the high road and with all seriousness say that Catwoman was an enormous piece of shit. It’s important to remain dignified in times like these.
Batman and Robin was so bad that it completely killed the comic book movie genre for a few years and it managed to destroy the Batman franchise until it was resurrected almost a decade later by Christopher Nolan. This movie is where the line between comic cheesiness and entertainment became so completely obliterated that it changed the way that comic book movies had to be made in order to be successful. The nipples on the Batsuit were just a terrible, terrible start. There was also Arnold Schwarzenegger’s almost Tourette’s like inability to keep himself from spouting off horrible cheesy line after horrible cheesy line. There was Uma Thurman wandering around, spouting her own cheesy lines, like she and Arnold had some sort of bet behind the scenes to see who could get the most unintentional laughs. They even dragged poor Batgirl into the mix. It was horrible. By the time it was over, the comic book movie had been ruined and in the future, directors and actors had to go out of their way to make sure that their comic book movies had a minimum of cheese if they had any hope of being successful. For being so terrible that it not only ruined a whole genre of films but it actually changed the way that Hollywood goes about making those films when they finally tried again several years later, Batman and Robin deserves nothing less than to be number one on this terrible, terrible list. Congratulations?
(Previously published on November 10, 2011.)