Brandon: Summer is here! Along with the long lines at the tollbooths and gas stations, you can certainly expect the sweltering and sweaty season to bring long lines at the box office as well. Who doesn’t love a good summer blockbuster? Complete with popcorn, sticky floors, air-conditioning, special effects, and explosions; that’s what it’s all about. In the past decade, no genre has been more of a staple to the summer blockbuster than the super-hero or comic book adaptation. Well, we here at Eat Your Serial love us some comic books—nobody more so than President Shawn Abraham, Executive Senior Editor Nick Newert, and Media Director Brandon Melendez. Occasionally, or quarterly, the triumvirate of trivial trappings will join forces to bring you the “BS’N” blog. In the spirit of the summer blockbuster, these seasoned sultans of snark have prepared their personal lists of the WORST comic book movies ever, which are presented to you in a non-ranked order. Fanboys Assemble!
Shawn: A caveat before I get into my list, I know full well that this isn’t a totally fair representation of the biggest turds of the genre, but I unfortunately (or fortunately as it may be) have never seen gems like Catwoman, Steel, Elektra and Jonah Hex. But I sure have seen some lemons in my day, so lets get to it, to it, to it.
It’s a well-known fact that I’m the resident Superman fan around these parts. I hold the character to be the absolute pinnacle of what the genre of superhero comics should be. Unfortunately, all too often the character is mishandled, mistreated, or simply misused. It’s a pretty easy mistake to make for sure. Superman is so damn powerful that it’s hard to challenge him. As such, I’m going to go rather long on this one…
Following the amazingly well done Superman: The Movie and its sequel Superman II, DC seemed to have quite the franchise on their hands. Superman had battled Luthor, Three Kryptonians, and of course, love. Each time coming out on top [rimshot].
So how do you top that? Well, you can’t, but some asshole behind a desk thought it might be a good idea to make another Superman movie and put Richard Pryor in it. Both Superman and Pryor were hot commodities in the 1980s, but what sense did this really make? Let’s take perhaps the biggest boy scout of any character all time and put him together with an edgy, foul-mouthed comic. Oh, and lets give that comic computer skills—that’ll explain everything. This movie really makes no sense whatsoever and is not even so memorable for having Richard Pryor, who at one point skis off the top of a building with a towel wrapped around his neck as a cape, and lands on the street without so much as pissing his pants. And to top it off, let’s just throw in a robot villain/cyborg/bratty sister at the end for one stupefying scene. This is also the film where after being exposed to flawed synthetic kryptonite, Superman fucks bitches, stops shaving, gets drunk, splits into two people (Clark and Evil Superman), and has a throw-down in a junkyard. It’s pretty hilarious, and it was endlessly confusing to me as a child.
If you haven’t seen it, then you’re probably better off. If you’re a die-hard Superman fan you’ll be glad to see Lana Lang in it, but honestly, this movie is really bad. It’s so bad that Margot Kidder didn’t even want to be in it, and I don’t think she’s even done other movies since.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
Brandon might think that Superman III is the worst of the franchise, but I beg to differ. While it is most definitely a bad movie, it’s still better than Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
Superman III was generally panned by critics, and managed far fewer ticket sales than its predecessors, leading Alexander and Ilya Salkind, the producers of the first three installments, as well as Christopher Reeve to conclude that the franchise had run its course. Four years later, the Salkinds sold the rights for Superman to Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus.
Reeve has said that when approached by Golan & Globus about a fourth installment, they did so without a script or story in mind, just the intentions of getting Reeve to sign on to play Superman again. Initially reluctant, Reeve eventually signed on after the promise of producing any project of his choosing, as well as the possibility of directing a fifth Superman movie if the fourth should prove successful.
Once the ludicrous plot of “Lex Luthor and his nephew Lenny make an evil clone of Superman called Nuclear Man and wacky hijinks ensue” was put into script format, the production had to deal with a budget that was greatly reduced from the previous movies. Superman: The Movie has a budget of $55 million (and remember, this was a movie that came out in 1978, making that a substantial amount), Superman II had $54 million, and the third movie had a budget of $39 million. Superman IV, on the other hand, had a budget of $17 million to work with. So, y’know, less. A LOT less.
Jon Cryer, who was cast as Lenny Luthor, Lex Luthor’s idiot nephew, has said that prior to the release of the movie, Reeve pulled him aside and told him that the movie would be “terrible.” This was certainly a very safe prediction to make, as Cryer also states that the movie ran out of money five months ahead of time, and that the studio ultimately released a movie that wasn’t finished. (The second banana on Two and a Half Men dropping some knowledge on all of us.)
Say what you will about the other movies on my list, at least they were actually completed in the eyes of their casts and crews. Superman IV can’t even make that claim.
I think I can trace my lifelong hatred of Superman to this movie. Hell, you know it’s bad when you can remember seeing a movie as a five year old and recognize it as the superhero movie equivalent of a hate crime. (TRUE STORY: This movie turned me off to Superman and Superman movies that I had no clue which one it actually was… I was just ranting to Nick about how much I hated the Superman movie with the blond evil-electro-Superman and he was able to fill in the gaps that my mind worked so hard to bury deep into my scarred subconscious.)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Ever wonder what made Wolverine such a badass in the X-Men movies? Well, you won’t find the answers in this inept prequel. Hugh Jackman resumes the role he played so well in three previous films and just seems completely uninterested. But the worst parts are the supporting cast of mutants – especially Will.I.Am (??), and a complete bastardization of Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds. Who’s Deadpool you may ask? He’s only one of the most insanely entertaining comic characters of all time. But he’s not in the movie… no matter what the credits tell you.
I guess that this one shouldn’t have really been a surprise to me. While Sin City was a damn good movie, it was also a pretty good adaptation of standalone stories and had Robert Rodriguez as director. Yes, Frank Miller shared directing credits with Rodriguez on Sin City, but that was based mostly on the heavy use of recreating panels from the comic book, and directing is about far more than just setting up what the shot looks like.
This was Miller’s first solo job as a director. Actually, he was writer-director on this movie, and it shows. Miller took Will Eisner’s classic, iconic character and setting and all but tossed that aside to make something in the vein of Sin City, and that is not a good fit at all.
Any Punisher Movie Ever
Whether it’s The Punisher with Dolph Londron, or The Punisher with Thomas Jane, or Punisher War Journal, Hollywood just can’t seem to get this franchise right. The Punisher is a relatively easy character to make a movie with: gangsters kill his family and now he kills gangsters. The formula is so easy that I don’t know why it wasn’t a prime candidate for a series instead of Blade (shudder). Give it to Tarrentino, or give it to John Wu, hell, give it to Michael Bay and you’d have gotten a better movie than the drivel that has been put out. Whether it’s just fucking up the origin, or having no budget, or just having really bad directorial choices coupled with bad accents, it just seems like no one can ever get the damn thing going. I even asked at the Cup O’ Joe panel at the NY Comicon 2010 why they can’t get it right to all the Marvel bigwigs—they had no answer. The panel just hung their heads in shame while citing licensing agreements.
The only good thing any of these movies ever had to offer was in The Punisher with Thomas Jane. Instead of just killing Frank Castle’s wife and kids, his entire extended family was murdered at a reunion. Naturally, the reunion was held at a location where there just happened to be a cache of guns for the Castle men to fight back with. That scene was badass and it bumped all three of these movies up a rung on this list. Bah.
Fantastic Four is a tough enough concept to swallow in the wacky world of comic books, but when they get it right, it’s an amazing science fiction adventure with a lot of heart, and a great cast of characters with strong familial bonds.
The movie however, has none of that to show. Sure Jessica Alba is hot, and I’m pretty sure Chris Evans is good in everything he’s in, but the movie commits the biggest sin a big budget summer comic flick can commit: It’s painfully boring. The plot is entirely unmemorable (seriously, I don’t remember anything about it), the casting is just completely off (with the exception of the aforementioned Mr. Evans), and they managed to completely neuter one of the most complex and badass villains in comics with a completely lame Dr. Doom.
But fear not true believers, rumor has it that a Fantastic Four reboot is on the horizon, being helmed by the director behind the ahhem… fantastic film Chronicle, which is one of the best and most creative “super hero” movies to come along in a damn long time.
I’m not referring to the 2005 Fantastic Four, I’m referring to the 1994 one. Yeah, you’re not alone, almost no one has heard of it.
This was a movie with a $1.5 million budget that was made solely to retain the Fantastic Four movie rights, and the producers never intended to release, which is something that the cast and crew was never informed of. I’ve seen it, and it’s awful. I don’t really know what more I can say about it that wouldn’t be beating a dead horse.
Slow down, before you get your panties all in a bunch let me be clear, I am not talking about Captain America: The First Avenger. What I am talking about is the absolutely terrible movie Captain America from the early 90s. From the costumes, to the writing, to the cheesey effects, this movie was terrible with a capitol “T.” I don’t even know where to begin with this one really—is it with the President of the United States who ended up being Captain America’s side kick? Was it the downright awful acting? No. I know where to start.
The Red Skull was Italian.
DID YOU READ THAT? I SAID HE WAS ITALIAN!
There is no godly reason to every make the Red Skull into an Italian. Even in the recent movie, when they kind of white-washed the fact that he was a Nazi with all the Hydra bullsheeeeeeeeeeeet, he was still German, still implied as a Nazi, and still answered to Da Furor. I mean, it’s not even like the 90s film changed him to be some non-axis power, it’s not like they changed him to be a more updated kind of American enemy. No. They made him Italian…FOR NO REASON. Honestly, that’s why I chose this movie over Steel or Supergirl…HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THOSE MOVIES? Well, this is worse.
The movie actually has a piano that shoots missiles off of a cliff. Which is awesome for a joke, but this was serious. I just…it’s just…I can’t with this. Red Skull is Italian, might as well make Baron Zemo a Cajun. Sheesh.
One of the nice advantages that Warner Brothers has when it comes to making movie adaptations of comic book characters is that they own DC Comics, and thus the rights to make movies based on DC characters. You want to make a movie about Batman? You go right ahead, and feel free to use any characters associated with Batman while you’re at it.
I don’t know why no one bothered to tell the people behind Catwoman that they could use Selina Kyle, her character history, and even connect her to Batman in some way, because this movie has absolutely nothing to do with the comic book character of Catwoman other than, y’know, being called Catwoman.
Instead of Selina Kyle, expert cat burglar, we get Patience Phillips, cosmetic company graphic designer. We also get cat-based superpowers that are gifted to Patience by an Egyptian goddess Bast, as well as a thirst for justice. It’s exactly like the comic book version of Catwoman, except not at all like her in the least.
Add to the awful concept a incredibly stupid script that makes little to no sense, and you have an awful, awful comic book movie.
The movie adaptation of Ghost Rider is awful, but the character is the shit. He’s a man possessed by a demon who rides a motorcycle for justice. Oh yeah, and his head is a goddamned flaming skull that talks. How do you fuck this up? Well, first off, you get Nick Cage involved. It’s a well-known fact that Nick Cage has been trying to get into comic book movies his whole career. The “Cage” in his name was taken from Power Man’s Luke Cage, and honestly, having Nick starting in a movie as Luke Cage, who happens to be a very, very black character, would probably have been better than Ghost Rider. I’m actually a little horrified to even talk about it, and it’s almost painful to bring up the repressed memories. In the film, the big bad guy, Blackheart, who just happens to be the son of the damn devil, is an emo interpretation of the character by the same actor who played the weirdo who loved the bag in American Beauty. To help top it off, the flaming skull routine apparently translates to heat as Johnny Blaze (Nicholas Cage), drinks a pot of coffee out of the carafe. By the time Donald Sutherland shows up as the cowboy Ghost Rider of the Wild West, I had checked out so far that I have yet to come back.
It’s a rare feat for a movie to be so bad that it just completely ruins the rest of the series by association. The Matrix sequels did it, the Star Wars prequels did it, and then there was this abomination. Spider-Man 3. A movie that managed to not only undermine every success of Sam Raimi’s previous two films, but also squander the potential of every character contained within. From Sandman being revealed as the guy who killed Uncle Ben (DUMB!) to the misuse of Harry Osborn’s entire character arc (DUMB!), to the way they handled any potential coolness of Venom (DUMB!), and not to mention the abomination that was singing-dancing-emo Peter Parker (BEYOND DUMB!).
When I first saw this movie, I was dumbfounded that THAT was how they decided to portray an alien parasite turning Peter Parker evil. Dancing? Emo-hair? What? But I guess looking back at it, it succeeded at making me hate. It made me loathe this movie with the power of a thousand burning fan boys.
It hurts just THINKING about this movie. It makes me wonder how I ever enjoyed Spider-Man 1 and 2, both of which I find unwatchable now because it just brings up memories of the Osborn’s loyal butler Expositionsworth’s appearance from out of nowhere to explain to Harry Osborn… well… everything… because the writers couldn’t be bothered to try even a little bit.
I’m going to stop now before I put my fist through my laptop screen. Let’s see if there’s any redemption in store for big screen Spidey when Amazing Spider-Man drops next month. I know I hope so, but I’m not sure I’m emotionally ready to open my heart to it.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen takes one of my favorite high concepts, a group of 19th century literary characters made into what is essentially a superhero team, and turns it into a rather generic action movie.
The comic series’ creator, Alan Moore, brings together an almost incalculable number of characters and settings from hundreds of different pieces of literature. While a person can read the series without knowing any of the material that it draws on, those that do know their British literature are greatly rewarded. For them, the series will seem all the richer and spellbinding during moments like the reveal that the man in charge of MI5 is none other than Professor James Moriarty, nemesis of Sherlock Holmes, who is ultimately succeeded by Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft.
The movie just shoves characters that happen to have the same names as literary characters used in the comic book, add Secret Service agent Tom Sawyer, and proceeds to be a somewhat uninteresting action film with hints of steampunk.
Want further proof it was a bad movie? In interviews, Sean Connery has alluded to the difficult production of the film and constant fighting with the director as being the event that ultimately led him to retiring from film. What I’m saying is, THIS MOVIE KILLED JAMES BOND! Even Blofeld couldn’t pull that off!
Batman and Robin
In this superhero crapsterpeice, by Joel Shitmaker, George f’in Clooney is Batman (equipped with silver nipples, no jaw, and a grin). He spends the movie fighting Arnold Schwarzenegger, as a Mr. Freeze who constantly makes ice puns, and Uma Thurman, who is the worst possible interpretation of Poison Ivy, ever. Rounding out the cast are Chris O’Donnell, as the way-to-old-to-be-a-boy Robin, and Alicia Silverstone, as an eight-pounds-too-much Batgirl.
The plot of this movie, which I won’t bore you with, is actually the least of my problems with this awful, awful movie. What really bothers me are the directorial choices; such as the neon lighting, the sliver nipples (OR ANY NIPPLES AT ALL!) on the Bat-suit, the horrible off-off-off Broadway middle school line delivery, and the casting. None of these characters make any sense for any of these roles. Except, perhaps, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, but only because she was quite the hot commodity at the time (although, she never really did it for me). This movie ruined an otherwise passable franchise that lasted almost 10 years. Personally, I feel like it set Batman back worse than Adam West. At least Adam West had the 60s as an excuse.
Now for a change, I’m going to sing the praises of a movie. See, Batman and Robin generally catches a lot of flack for being the worst superhero movie of all time, and well… that’s pretty well deserved (caughcaughrubbernipplescaughcaughgeorgeclooneycaughcaughALICIASILVERSTONE)… but there’s a reason it doesn’t make number one. (Heh…)
And that reason is Arnold Fucking Schwartzenegger. Seriously, just watch this clip of his one-liners from the movie. Yeah, you’re welcome.