We are in the midst of something of a golden age for comic book movies. For decades, comic books have been either ignored outright, or botched horribly as source material for films. Prior to the new millennium, there were basically four or five decent comic book movies to come out: Superman and Superman II, the two Tim Burton-directed Batman films (all four of which hold up with varying success), The Crow, and Blade. I suppose one could throw The Rocketeer in there for kicks, but that’s such an uneven movie that I don’t count it. Regardless, that was basically it for the 22 years between the release of Superman and the year 2000.
In truth, the majority of the truly great comic book movies happened after 2000. Interestingly, the same could be said of the truly awful ones. Mainly because, somewhere in the late 1990s, studios and producers realized that adapting comic book movies was actually a viable moneymaking option, and it didn’t need to only be the big name ones like Superman and Batman. Additionally, with the increase in usage of CGI and advancements in special effects, the prohibitive financial and technological barriers surrounding superhero movies were lessened. As a result, the turn of the century saw a massive increase in the number of comic book movies being produced, and simple mathematics dictates that, well, we ended up with a lot more shitty ones.
And some were really, really shitty. Punch-a-baby shitty.
So, with that bit of unasked-for exposition behind us, let’s get to why we’re here. Given the excitement over the coming of The Avengers and all of the films leading up to it, as well as DC finally getting its act together with the Nolan-directed Batman franchise and our hopes for Green Lantern and now The Flash, I figured we’d take a look back and examine some of the very worst comic book movies of all time.
Important note: This is theatrical releases only, which is why you won’t find The Justice League of America, Return of the Swamp Thing or any of the Bixby/Ferrigno Incredible Hulk movies here. The list is based on a combination of ruined expectations, miscasting, quality vs. budget (which is why Barb Wire isn’t rated lower), and just general overall shittiness.
Final note: Prisco informed me that Jonah Hex belongs on this list. I don’t doubt it, but since I haven’t seen it, I couldn’t decide where to put it. Also, I don’t like to include movies I haven’t seen. That said, Priscuits claims that it was “about Ghost Rider” bad. Yikes. So it gets a (dis)honorable mention.
Here we go:
15. Barb Wire (1996)
A post-apocalyptic Casablanca rip-off starring Pam Anderson. I think that says it all.
14. The Spirit (2008)
Despite an impressive cast, Frank Miller somehow managed to make this one staggeringly boring.
13. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Oh, nuclear power. The old faithful enemy of the 80’s. This movie was horrible. Just horrible.
12. Elektra (2005)
Elektra: Assassin is one of the greatest graphic novels of all time. Instead of building off of that, Rob Bowman directed a muddled, PG-13 mess that (based on a script by Mark Steven Johnson, another asshole) focused on some lame-assed Chosen One bullshit and the most boring villains ever. Also, he fucked up the character of Typhoid Mary beyond recognition.
11. Batman Forever (1995)
Chris O’Donnell. Worst casting ever. This one is almost saved by a delightfully manic Riddler, portrayed by Jim Carrey, but in the end, it was destroyed by director Joel Schumacher’s penchant for bright lights and that asshat Akiva Goldmsman’s cluttered, derivative, idiotic script.
10. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Too many characters. Emo Spidey. The Green Goblin skateboard-thing. A defanged Venom. I never thought I’d be so happy to see Sam Raimi abandon a series.
9. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Galactus, devourer of worlds, was a big… cloud. Fuck you, Tim Story. This film has literally zero redeeming value.
8. Bulletproof Monk (2003)
More evidence that Chow Yun Fat’s American film career was doomed. Also? Seann William Scott has rarely helped anything. Boring, boring, boring.
7. The Punisher (2004)
You know you’ve made a shit movie when the version starring Dolph Lundgren is superior. Also? This film suffered from a remarkable lack of punishing. Instead, it was filled with high school pranks. The Aggravator would have worked better.
6. Batman and Robin (1997)
Nipples. On the Batsuit. Schumacher, you fucking goon. Eat shit in hell.
5. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Fantastic cast that was completely wasted on an epically mishandled film. Made me want to bury the Fox executives in lampreys.
4. Ghost Rider (2007) / Daredevil (2003) (Tie)
Nicolas Cage stuttered his way through Johnny Blaze. Eva Mendes was pretty and dull. Wes Bentley as Emo-Blackheart continued to prove that his performance in American Beauty was a fluke. Mark Steven Johnson continues to make me want to go on a stabbing spree.
More Mark Steven Johnson rapeage. Colin Farrell was mildly amusing as Bullseye, Michael Clark Duncan was decent as Kingpin. The rest of the film was unutterable trash. They should show this film to terrorists to get them to talk.
3. X-Men : The Last Stand (2006)
The crime: Pernicious, relentless and excessive Ratnerfucking. The verdict: Guilty.
2. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
One of the most exciting, exquisite graphic novels ever written. Made into a hamfisted, overblown, bloated, awful, nightmarishly disasterous vomit-bucket of a movie. A film so bad, it motivated Sean Connery to retire from acting.
1. Catwoman (2004)
I honestly think this was simply a fever dream of some sort. No one could deliberately make a movie this bad. The only good thing to come out of this was Halle Berry’s gracious Razzie acceptance. Actual dialogue from this film: As Sharon Stone’s character is about to kill Catwoman: “Game over!” Then Catwoman gets back in the fight, crying, “IT’S OVERTIME!”