For nearly a decade, we’ve been living in what many consider to be the definitive Golden Age of superhero movies. In fact, one could argue this Golden Age officially began on May 2, 2008, when Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures released Iron Man.
That’s not to say everything prior to Iron Man was subpar, though. There were certainly outliers, such as the first two Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies. Also, who could forget Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman?
Likewise, not everything that’s come since 08 has been a winner. Although there’s less of a disparity, there’s still no shortage of superhero movies over the last decade that have crashed and burned.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at 11 of the worst superhero movies of all time:
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
What makes X-Men Origins: Wolverine sting so badly is that it had so much going for it. I mean, this was a movie that was going to explore the back story of the undisputed face of the X-Men franchise. In addition to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, the all-star cast also included the likes of Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds, and Dominic Monaghan. Even the opening scene of X-Men Origins: Wolverine remains one of the greatest opening sequences of any X-Men film to date, rivaled only by Deadpool.
Unfortunately, what we got was a convoluted hodgepodge of genres and X-Men stories that retroactively creates a series of plot holes within the original trilogy (think Star Wars prequels). Let’s not forget what this movie did to Deadpool, either, with the Merc with the Mouth quite literally getting his mouth sewn shut.
It’s the damage X-Men Origins: Wolverine did to the entire X-Men franchise, though, that truly hurts the most. After X-Men: The Last Stand, 20th Century Fox needed a strong rebound. Instead, X-Men Origins: Wolverine essentially forced the company to do a soft reboot of the entire film universe just to keep the X-ship afloat.Advertisement
Dear God, what happened to this franchise? The first Spider-Man movie transcended audiences, showing them that a live-action film featuring their favorite wall-crawler could actually work. Then, the sequel went on to take the franchise to new, unthinkable heights.
Sadly, though, Sony eventually flew too close to the sun. By the time their wax wings melted, it was too late to turn back, and fans were left with the unfortunate flop that was Spider-Man 3.
Sony pushed hard for director Sam Raimi to include fan-favorite Venom, despite Sandman, and Harry Osborn’s New Goblin already jockeying for position. Furthermore, Raimi’s apparent inability to direct a maturing Peter Parker resulted in Toby Maguire’s third stint as the web-head to run completely off the rails.
Thankfully, after one failed reboot attempt, things are finally being made right, with Spider-Man back in the hands of Marvel Studios. Here’s to hoping Spider-Man: Homecoming hits the ground running.
In all seriousness, Batman Forever is one of my guilty pleasure movies. It’s so over-the-top and comic-booky that it can actually be fun in small doses. Is it a good Batman movie, though? Not at all.
Batman Forever served as somewhat of a passing of the torch from Tim Burton to newcomer Joel Schumacher. However, even though Burton still served as a Producer, the aesthetics make it abundantly clear that the changing of the guard was in full swing. Even Michael Keaton refused to reprise his role as the Caped Crusader when he found out what direction the franchise was headed.
Basically, Batman Forever feels entirely like a toy commercial. The star, himself, Val Kilmer, referred to the film as, “an absurdly commercial cartoon.” It’s a shame when you think about it, but ultimately, this Batman film will forever be known as the beginning of the end of the Burton/Schumacher franchise.
Until Deadpool, it really felt like Ryan Reynolds was a curse to comic book movies. There was the aforementioned X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and prior to that, Blade Trinity. However, Reynolds wasn’t playing the lead role in either of those films, which is what makes Green Lantern stand out as his biggest superhero flop.
When trying to think of anything positive that actually came out of Green Lantern, one could argue that Reynolds met his current wife, Blake Lively, on the film’s set… and that’s about it. Reynolds and director Martin Campbell butted heads constantly during filming, with Campbell excessively scrutinizing Reynolds on every take. Even Reynolds was relieved when the film failed, stating that he dreaded the idea of ever reprising the role again.
Green Lantern was originally supposed to be the film that kick-started DC’s Cinematic Universe, but the company got cold feet after the movie was rejected by fans and critics alike. Perhaps that explains why DC seems to be in no rush when it comes to introducing any Lanterns to the DCEU.
DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. sure seem to have trouble getting modern Superman movies right. To be fair, I’m a fan of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but I know I’m in the minority.
Whoever thought that making the Big Blue Boy Scout out to essentially be a dead-beat-dad was a good idea clearly needed to spend a bit more time with the source material. However, being oblivious seemed to be a trend with Superman Returns, as Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, and Kevin Spacey all signed onto the film without having read the script.
Perhaps if they did, they would have seen what we all see now: a dull film with minimal action, a poor plot, and an overall underwhelming “return” for the Man of Steel.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
There’s a reason Superman IV: The Quest for Peace resulted in over a decade without a live-action portrayal of the Man of Steel. Largely regarded as the worst of the four Christopher Reeve Superman movies, even the man behind the Man of Steel, himself, publicly regretted his involvement in the film, stating that the project was, “a catastrophe from start to finish,” as well as a huge blow to his career.
Superman may save the world on a regular basis, but art doesn’t always mirror life. In fact, the failure of Superman IV ultimately led to the downfall of the production company, The Cannon Group Inc. Financial troubles plagued this film from the start, though, with the original production budget of $36 million being slashed down to $17 million just before filming began. This led to the reuse of special effects, and overall poor visuals that will forever haunt the Man of Tomorrow.
Batman & Robin
Although Batman Forever is one of my guilty pleasures, there’s hardly any pleasure to be found in Batman & Robin. It’s even been reported that Bruce Wayne, himself, George Clooney, has been known to offer refunds to people who saw the film.
Like its predecessor, Batman & Robin was a massive toy commercial of a film, which director Joel Schumacher has attested to, based on studio pressure. And just in case there’s any doubt that this movie was designed to cater to children, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze says no less than 27 ice-related puns throughout the entire film.
When filming wrapped up on Batman & Robin, it’s been said that Clooney stated, “I think we just killed the franchise.” If only he’d have put money on that!
There’s never been a truly great film featuring the Hulk, has there? I mean, 2008’s The Incredible Hulk has some merit, but it’s nothing to write home about. However, it’s still miles above its predecessor, Hulk.
The story is convoluted and boring, and there’s no discernible villain unless you want to count the hulked-out poodle. Even Thunderbolt Ross feels too sympathetic to really be classified as an antagonist.
Essentially, this film plays too much on emotions. What fans were hoping for was an action-packed Hulk smash-fest. What they ended up with, though, was a melodramatic think piece featuring excessive CGI and a massive, green giant.
Fantastic Four (All of Them)
That’s right – all of them! 1994, 2005, 2007, and 2015. It’s quite sad that Marvel’s first family has never had a successful big-screen adaptation, and as long as the property remains with 20th Century Fox, they probably never will.
I’m not going to get into all the nitty-gritty details about why each film failed, respectively. Just trust me when I say, this property is a vast wasteland of missed opportunities and untapped potential.
If you had any doubts that Steel was made during the beginning of Shaquille O’Neal’s acting days, watch it again. If you had any doubts that Shaq had to do his own stunts because the producers were unable to find a 7’1” stunt double for him, watch it again. If you had any doubts that Shaq was cast because the director thought it would help sell more toys and merchandise, watch it again.
Are you starting to see a trend, here?
The point is, Shaquille O’Neal was absolutely the wrong man to try and bring DC’s African-American Superman analog into the mainstream. What’s more, the visual effects left much to be desired, though they ultimately pair well with the overall one-dimensional hero we were presented with.
In all fairness, a solo film featuring a mainstream female comic book character in 2004 is admirable. In fact, it won’t be until later this year that we see it again, as Wonder Woman hits theaters in June.
The biggest problem with Catwoman, though, is that it’s a film that’s seemingly afraid of its comic book roots. It doesn’t take place in Gotham City – at least not blatantly, as the setting is left ambiguous. There are no references to Batman, or any other DC characters, for that matter. Even the main character, Halle Berry’s Catwoman, isn’t Selina Kyle from the comics. Instead, she plays a character named Patience Phillips.
Were the filmmakers embarrassed that they were making a comic book movie? Not likely, considering this was hardly Warner Bros. first stab at the genre. It’s really unclear what the endgame was with Catwoman, and perhaps that’s what’s most frustrating.
In any case, Catwoman certainly stands out amongst a crowded sea of bad superhero movies as the worst of the worst.Is there a god-awful superhero flick you think should have made the list? Let us know in the comments section!