With films like The Avengers and the Dark Knight trilogy we're living in a bit of a golden age for comic book films. However it's important not to forget the bad times. Hell, even as recently as a decade ago superhero films pretty much sucked, bad plots, worse dialogue and a reliance on special effects in place of actual acting meant that these films were gimmicky and lifeless and an insult to the source material. Worse yet it's almost like they really don't give a damn about the part and you're left with a film in which you're left uncomfortably aware that they're just a bunch of actors milling about in superhero costumes.
Here’s a list of some of the big screen disasters that made my ‘worst of’ list.
So, which films do you think are the worst offenders?
Superman IV: The Quest For Peace
Superman was the first big film franchise to try and take a comic book character halfway seriously, which is why Superman IV is doubly bad in my opinion. Not only did it suffer from terrible writing, a slashed budget and some of the hammiest, preachiest dialogue of almost any superhero film ever, it also let down the series (well, Superman III sort of did that but really, this is much worse).
This film goes a little over the top with it’s anti nuclear proliferation message, which was a big deal at the time, but still handled atrociously. It even features a Superman clone (who looks nothing like Superman) called Nuclear Man. This is basically the film that killed the franchise for 20 years. Even Doomsday couldn’t keep him dead for that long!
Supergirl is genuinely terrible. So bad in fact that Christopher Reeve declined a cameo because of the bad writing. So what makes this film worse than Superman III & IV combined? It takes the usual stance that most of the really bad female superhero films adopt. They make it all about a man.
While Superman is trying to stop world domination at the hands of baldilocks, Supergirl is left fighting to gain control over a magical space doodad, with a suitably ridiculous name, against a witch over the affections of some random groundskeeper.
What is it about female superhero films that mean that it’s about playing dress-up and having nonsensical catfights when their male counterparts get to actually do stuff that matters?
Catwoman is another big offender on the list of awful superhero films and an uncomfortably recent one too. While even at his worst Batman got to fight against people who would destroy entire cities Catwoman in this film is left dressed in the skimpiest outfit for the character to date, against a cosmetics company.
So that’s her and every other women who’ve still got crows-feet after the anti ageing miracle cream turned out to be rubbish.
It’s a film with a dumb plot, a betrayal of a great character and it relies way too much on you caring how hot Halle Berry is.
Batman & Robin
If you thought the main villains were Poison Ivy and Mr Freeze you were wrong. The one trying his hardest to kill Batman off here is Joel Schumacher!
Featuring the notorious nipple-suits, dialogue worse than anything out of an Adam West era Batman show and some of the worst casting ever, Batman & Robin will be reviled for a long time to come. Everything from the ridiculous re-envisioning of bane to having Arnie spouting awful one-liners was just wrong. It’s not just a bad Batman film, it’s a bad film in it’s own right.
It had a great cast, a great director and the success of it’s two predecessors behind it… so why was this Spider-Man film so damn awful?
Well, for a start there were too many villains, it spread the story really thin. Then there was the ridiculous symbiote Peter Parker montage, in a good film this would be welcome comic relief in a bad one it just ups the campiness to an unbearable level. When story ends up thin there’s comes an over reliance on special effects to bulk everything out. There was more random CGI in Spider-Man 3 than in the previous films, it was padding out the action to make up screen time for the weak story and after a while it stops being a spectacle and becomes a chore to watch. We get it, you really worked hard on Sand-Man’s particle effects, can you show us some more story now?
ok, this clip has been edited a little, but it works with the music...
Fantastic Four, (Both Of Them)
It’s not to say that they didn’t try but it came out a lot campier than intended, with dodgy dialogue clichéd character arcs and a terrible, terrible Doctor Doom. This film also suffers from having too many characters, or rather a director and writing team that can’t handle a project with that much going on. Remember it too the 2012 Avengers film to successfully have a big screen superhero ensemble.
The Rise of the Silver Surfer, compounds the problem with even more going on in the background and an even goofier story, not only do you have an unconvincing Doctor Doom inexplicably returning but the Silver Surfer (who is far too overpowered for this film) and Galacticus, who for some reason is portrayed as space-weather who can only eat planets if they have holes in them (he’s a fussy eater apparently).
Daredevil is a tragic and flawed hero, one that could have been great. Unfortunately he was played by Ben Afleck, who rather expertly managed to play Ben Afleck being uncomfortable in a costume rather than Daredevil, Matt Murdock. The film suffered more from it’s bad casting than anything else, with better acting it could have been halfway salvageable, Michael Clarke Duncan as Fisk for instance was one of the best thing in the film… ok it was the only good thing in the film. This was a film that needed to be darker and more serious to really work, the general tone of the film is a bit of a let down and the plot is tired and utterly predictable. Worse though is that it spawned the spinoff Elektra film.
The closest thing to an interesting scene in the film.