Given the recent mega-flop of 2015’s Fantastic Four movie, below I present the OTHER Top-10 worst comic book based films ever produced. It was a difficult list to whittle down, but I think you’ll agree that everything on this list deserves to be here. There are other awful comic films, but generally when people hate certain based comic book movies they’re really just mediocre films that didn’t capture the spirit of the comics. While these below absolutely did not capture the essence of the comics, they’re also just lousy movies.
SO LET’S GET TO IT, SHALL WE?
10: The Fantastic Four (1994)
DID YOU KNOW: there were actually three terrible Fantastic Four movies? Obviously, the aforementioned 2015 disaster, and the 2005 that wasn’t much better (and just barely escaped this list), but 1994 also saw one. This one may not completely deserve to be on this list because it was doomed from the very beginning. The entire reason this film was produced was so that the studio which owned the rights could hold onto them for a bit longer. The studio gave Roger Corman 1.5 million dollars to make this film knowing it would be shelved as soon as it was completed. Now, 1.5 million dollars sounds like a lot if you don’t know much about the movie industry, but in comparison almost a decade earlier Howard the Duck had a budget of 35 million dollars and Batman Returns from two years prior had a budget of 80 million dollars. When you look at this movie from that perspective, maybe it isn’t that bad, but it’s still bad enough to be on this list.
9: Generation X (1996)
In the 90s, Fox owned a substantial amount of Marvel Comics characters’ film rights. That why we were also treated with the David Hasselhoff Nick Fury movie several years later, which almost made this list as well. But both were made-for-TV movies which underwhelmed their audiences with slow, boring action and lack luster special effects. The only worthwhile feature of this film was Matt Frewer (best known for his role as Max Headroom and The Trashcan Man in The Stand). Why this film in my opinion truly deserves to be on this list is because the greatest character from the Generation X comic series, Jonothon Starsmore A.K.A. Chamber, was left out of this movie. Yes, I’m that petty.
8: The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005)
I am probably too big of a fan of The Crow movie series. So much so that I’ll defend The Crow: City of Angels and even The Crow: Salvation as more than just watchable films. Seriously, Eric Mabius wasn’t that awful as The Crow and City of Angels had Iggy Pop so shut up. I love The Crow movies. But Wicked Prayer is an abysmal film. First, Edward Furlong (remember the kid who almost made Terminator 2 unwatchable?) stars as The Crow and confirms in case we had all forgotten why he hadn’t been in any memorable films since Pet Semetary Two and American History X. He was surrounded by the worst villains ever cast in a movie (apart from possibly Stephen Dorff in Blade) David Boreanaz and Tara Reid (yes, seriously.) And virtually all the images of crows in this film were stock footage from the previous Crow movies. How expensive is it to get a crow wrangler? This movie lasted for one week on one screen in one theater. Literally. I am not being facetious.
Let’s start with one of the greatest horror stories ever written. Cool. Let’s add four great actors: Aaron Eckhart, Miranda Otto, Bill Nighy, and Yvonne Strahovski. Sweet. And it is going to be written by guy who did the Underworld series and directed by the writer of Pirates of the Caribbean. Hey, those were fun movies. But with all of those things going for it, this film somehow is one of the most boring films of 2013 (the same year the Lone Ranger came out, people). I feel like the people involved in this film forgot that movies are a visual medium and created a flat and unexciting cinematic experience. Most people don’t even know this is based on a comic, so there wasn’t a huge bias which would’ve restricted creative freedom when creating this movie. But it feels like there was. It is on Netflix for free and I don’t even recommend you watch it there.
6: The Spirit (2008)
Unlike I, Frankenstein, the people involved with The Spirit tried to create an engaging and unique visual experience, but forgot they had already done the same thing in Sin City. Frank Miller has created some of the greatest comics to come out of the 1980s. There is no argument because he was that important. I’ll go as far as to say he was the most pioneering and influential creator to come out of that period and comics wouldn’t be the way they are today if it wasn’t for him. With that said, he is a horrible director. He tried to take Will Eisner’s classic vigilante series and make the next blockbuster series out of it. Instead he somehow managed to get the most boring and uninspired performances from Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson, Sarah Paulson, and Samuel L. Jackson. Seriously, Mr. Miller, how the hell do you get a bland performance from Samuel L Jackson? Of all the movies on this list, I have to be honest and say that this movie was so terrible I couldn’t even finish it. I didn’t care about the ending. I hoped Major “King” Kong would come riding down on his atomic bomb and kill everyone, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen. So I stopped watching.
5: The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)
Grossing a mere $192,000 dollars at the box office, this movie may not only be the worst comic based spoof movie of all time, but also the lowest earning comic based movie of all time. Set as a “humorous” sequel to Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing, this insultingly bad film should only be noted for granting Heather Locklear’s singular award win: Razzie Award for Worst Actress. This movie is not funny and is not scary. It is unclear what the point of this movie was at all and who thought it would be a good idea to make. Somehow though, this movie led to the creation of the Swamp Thing television series, which isn’t that bad at all.
4: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)
What a disaster of a movie. This is what happens when you give Nicholas Cage and the guys who made Crank way too much money and require none of them to read a single comic. You might as well give someone meth, a lighter, and a fireworks store. This movie should have come with an epileptic warning and Advil. It was nonsensical visuals with zero plot or character development. I know sometimes those types movies are fun, but is that what the film makers think comics are about? Even Edris Elba couldn’t save this massive of a disaster. And was it even a sequel? Because it carried none of the spirit or personality of the first film (not a great film by ANY stretch, but not nearly as awful as this one)? It took me three viewings to even finish this garbage.
3: Catwoman (2004)
Surprisingly this isn’t even Halle Berry’s worst comic book character performance (see Storm’s unsure accent in any X-Men film), but by far and away this is the worst comic book movie she is in which includes X-Men: The Last Stand. The real problem with this film is not just the costume or Halle Berry’s overindulged, overrated acting career, but just how sadistically boring the entire movie is. This film was being produced at the same time as Batman Begins by the same studio (WB owns DC Comics and DC Comics film rights if you didn’t know), and there were rumors even that this movie was going to be scrapped in the midst of production. Also, and this may be the worst crime this movie offers, the director is known simply as “Pitof.” As if the movie itself wasn’t enough of a complete joke.
2: Batman & Robin (1997)
Do I really even need to say that much about this film? We all know it is awful. Not only is it a complete abandonment of what made the first two Batman films (and it could be argued even the third) watchable, but it was a complete abandonment of what had been occurring in the comics for over two decades. Instead it tries to go back and recapture the spirit of the 60s television series, but even fails at bringing that level of fun. This movie is legitimately so bad George Clooney has apologized for making it. And isn’t it just a little sexist that Batgirl doesn’t have nipples on her suit, but Batman and Robin have big ol’ plastic areolas on their suits? And did you forget about Bane? I bet you tried! People love to mock the marbled-mouth Nolan version of Bane, but that’s light years better than The Ultimate Solution’s version of Bane (a sad note, the Ultimate Solution aka Jeep Swenson died about 2 months after this movie’s release). Really though, this movie is just an example of why costume designers should not be allowed to become directors.
1: Howard the Duck (1986)
Hot off the heels of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, George Lucas apparently wanted to make a non-child-friendly kids film called Howard the Duck. In this film a duck from an alternate dimension (“Duckworld”) gets transported to Detroit, Michigan and befriends Lea Thompson who even when she is seducing a duck is still the only almost-decent thing in this entire film. And yeah, she seduces a duck in a scene which confused every pubescent boy who watched this film at the time and I’m confident started the furry movement. This should have been an advance warning about George Lucas, and could have possibly saved us from that horrible Star Wars prequel trilogy. Why this gets the #1 spot instead of Batman and Robin (and it was a VERY close race) is because of something now called the “Howard the Duck Effect” – where a comic book based movie is so bad it actually causes the comic book itself to tank. Seriously, this movie made the comic it was based on tank. How horrible is that?
So that’s the list!
Agree? Disagree? Did I leave off what you think is the worst comic based movie ever? Did I put one of your favorite movies of all time on this list? Let me know unless you answered “yes” to that last question because I honestly believe you have no taste and I do not want to hear your opinion. Just kidding! ALL opinions are welcome here at Nerd Nation, bring them on!!
Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine
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