>Today I took in a matinee of the movie “Watchmen”, based upon a graphic novel I read when I was still in high school. “Watchmen” has been touted as the most-acclaimed graphic novel of all time, and the inspiration for countless comic books and comic book movies. Having seen a well-made (if imperfect) comic book movie, I’m left reminiscing over comic book movies gone by that failed to live up to expectations. In fact, the movies listed below just plain suck. If the road to Hell is, indeed, paved with good intentions, then the road to the Bargain Bin at Blockbuster is paved with copies of these disasters.
- Batman and Robin. This is too easy, and this movie is typically at the top of the list of bad comic book movies. This movie gave fans everywhere the now-classic mantra, “Nipples on the Batsuit“! Yes, there were nipples on the costume, but that was hardly the problem with this movie. Frankly, those nipples are are almost impossible to see most of the time, much like the point of this awful flick. Imagine if a child consumed a Batman comic book and then puked it onto a cineplex screen for ninety minutes. Bad casting all around make this fourth entry in the Batman series an eye-rolling debacle. The fact that director Joel Schumaker tried to pay homage to the campy 60s series is absurd, given the fact that the movie franchise was started to help people forget it in the first place.
- Captain America. There was a bad 1979 TV movie about Captain America (followed by an also forgettable TV sequel), but it can be completely forgiven since it was a low-budget backdoor pilot that was a product of it’s time. In 1990, a theatrical version of ol‘ Cap was publicized during the boom following Tim Burton’s Batman the year before. It was featured on Entertainment Tonight, and posters were plastered in theaters everywhere. But it never was released in cineplexes and, two years later, was quietly put on video shelves until it eventually went out of print. Why? The movie sucks balls. First of all, Captain America’s costume is a very dull and bland, complete with rubber ears sewn onto the head. No matter, the character himself is made into a complete and utter pussy, getting his ass repeatedly handed to him throughout the film. The movie even has the audacity to give the audience Cap’s arch-nemesis, The Red Skull, and take away that character’s–you know–red skull. The movie contains almost zero action until the last ten minutes or so, when Captain America suddenly grows a pair and finally throws his mighty shield. By the time that happens, the audience wishes that shield were being thrown at them.
- Catwoman. Several months before this movie was released, the studio gave the press photos of Halle Berry in her Catsuit. The idea was to show the public how sexy she was dressed as the famous Batman villain/love interest. Instead, the public laughed and started talking about how much that movie was going to chug donkey piss. And, boy, did it. Halle Berry is normally sexy but, in this film, completely laughable. The film, much like the title character’s costume, looks as if it were put together by a high school drama club. Everything about the movie is a joke, including the main villain, played by Sharon Stone. The best part of the movie is that you’ll think you’re just watching Sharon Stone acting like herself for a couple of hours. Aw, did I just say that? You bet! Meow!
- The Punisher. I know what you’re thinking. There have been three different Punisher movies based on the Marvel comic book character. All three movies have starred different actors, and all three have been completely different in tone, plot, and overall composition. You are correct. Know what else? All three of them have blown. Each movie has managed to get the title character wrong in one way or another, making him everything from a sweaty naked yoga dude to a drunken crybaby who befriends lonely fat guys. If you take all three actors and roll them into one, you might get a decent Punisher. That’s not the worst part, however, when it comes to this Trilogy of Suck. The plots in all three movies are stupid, even by comic book standards, and the villains are absolutely laughable. The secret to making a good comic book villain into a movie villain is to make certain you don’t make him into a cartoon. All three Punisher movies fail when it comes to this.
- Ghost Rider. People beat up Nicholas Cage too much, and often for things that simply aren’t his fault. Ghost Rider is one of those movies people toss out as a way to smack Cage around a bit, but the movies sucktitude is not because he fails to deliver. He plays the title character just fine, especially since said character is mostly just a CGI effect when onscreen. The problem with this movie is that, first of all, the character himself was never that great an idea to begin with and, secondly, the film itself is nothing but a video game. Seriously, you can take the actual plot and put it into any scrolling game you ever played on your old Sega Genesis. The main character fights a bunch of low lives, beats them, and then has to take on the “Big Boss” at the end of the game–er, movie. The effects aren’t that good to begin with, adding to that video game vibe. The worst effect of all? Trying to convince the audience that actor Wes Bentley is a scary villain. Were you scared of the goth kid who was president of the Chess Club? Didn’t think so.
- Steel. It’s hard to have a secret identity when you’re a superhero. It’s even harder to keep that secret when you’re the only eight-foot tall black guy in the city, and you’re just as much a pain in the ass to your nemesis out of costume as you are when you’re wearing the stupid thing. Shaquille O’Neil is amazing on the basketball court, but clumsy when it comes to crime fighting. Another example of making a comic book movie out of a character that no one gave a rat’s ass about in the first place. Remember that Steel comic book you so cherished as a child? Of course not. That comic never existed, and this movie never should have, either. The fact that it uses such a stupid and dated catchphrase as “It’s Hammer Time” alone is enough to burn every last copy. The idea of a hero’s catchphrase is that it has to be original, not stolen from another part of pop culture. Imagine if The Hulk said “Who let the dogs out?”
- Superman IV. This sucker killed the Superman movie franchise until an also-bad (but for different reasons) flick was released in 2006. After making boatloads of money from three other Superman movies, the producers decided that the best thing to do with this 1987 crapfest was to actually decrease the budget. The special effects are terrible, and can now be done with green bedsheets and a camcorder. In fact, they probably were done that way back then, too. Forget the effects, the movie is stupid, with Superman fighting off Nuclear Man, a villain that would normally be used as a filler in some “Don’t do Drugs” issue of a comic book you got for free in a box of cereal. The final nail in the coffin came before it even hit screens. The star of the movie, Christopher Reeve, said that the movie was going to suck before it was even done being made.
- Superman Returns. This movie is well-made, to be sure, and the effects are snappy to behold. But there are so many reasons to hate it. Brandon Routh is just fine as Superman, but Kate Bosworth is horribly miscast as Lois Lane. It’s rare that a veteran reporter (with a Pulitzer Prize, no less) and single mother of a five year-old looks to be about nineteen, but this movie actually wants us to believe it. On top of that, the usually stellar Kevin Spacey can’t decide whether or not to play Lex Luthor as a joke or completely straight. None of that matters, really, because the entire movie is old hat. Another movie with Luthor as the villain? Snore. Another subplot centering around Superman’s unrequited love for Lois? Snooze. And it’s one thing when no one notices that Clark Kent isn’t around when Superman is, but another to have us believe that no one noticed that they were both gone at the same time…for five years? Also, Superman doesn’t really do much of anything in this movie he hasn’t done before. By the time he wound up in a hospital bed (!) with his costume draped over a nearby chair, I was already done. And for crissakes, Superman, stop being surprised when people get their hands on some Kryptonite. If your one weakness is that stuff, and Lex Luthor shows up talking garbage, guess what? HE’S GOT SOME KRYPTONITE.
- Judge Dredd. What was a dark and nihilistic comic book was turned into a buddy cop film with Rob Schneider. Ugh. Many people blame Schneider for this film rating so high on the suckometer, but he simply did what he was paid to do, which was be the comic relief. He’s not necessary, really, because the film is already laughably bad. The first mistake was deciding that Judge Dredd needed to take off his helmet, which fans everywhere loved. Seriously, is Sly Stallone known for his dashing good looks in the first place? The second big mistake was thinking that silliness belonged where irony would’ve been just fine. Once again, a comic book movie is made that can’t decide whether or not to be taken seriously or be campy fun. Judge Dredd tries to be both and, as usual, winds up being neither.
- The Fantastic Four. It’s too easy to beat up on the 2005 film and it’s 2007 sequel. But those movies actually succeeded because they were–for right or wrong–made for families and not loyal comic book fans. Instead, I’m going after the never-released (but often talked-about) 1994 version of The FF that was made for less than 2 million dollars and was shelved for years. Available only a bootleg to collectors and curious fans with a little time on their hands, The Fantastic Four of ’94 was made by cheapo movie producer Roger Corman, and was only made as a sneaky plan to keep copyrights on behalf of the studio. No one involved in the movie, from the cast to the director, knew they were being scammed, and that the movie would never be released. You can’t tell that, however, because the movie looks like a dress rehearsal. The effects are awful, the writing is amateur, and the plot makes little sense. How bad are the effects? The Human Torch, in the final action scene, is completely animated. Not CGI, mind you. Animated. Imagine if, in the final scenes of The Dark Knight, if Batman suddenly morphed into the opening credits of the 60s series. Now you have an idea of what this movie looked like. It sucked ass.
There are plenty of horrible comic book movies that could’ve made this list, of course. Lucky for me, I only included awful movies I’ve actually seen. So, no Electra on this list, thank you very much. I also failed to mention the movies that I actually liked that everyone else seems to think are downright terrible. So, no Daredevil, either. At the very least, when the movies suck, we still have our comic books to enjoy forever. Until they make that Steel sequel, of course.