Worst movie based on comic book characters
by Gary Watkins
The dawn of CGI in films has been a godsend for comic book fans. We've witnessed Superman turn time back around, literally, to save his beloved Lois Lane.
We laughed as we watched Tony Stark attempt to fly in an uncooperative metal suit for the first time as Iron Man.
We even saw Jessica Alba turn invisible, much like her acting career of late, in the Fantastic Four.
Unfortunately, the dawn of the production of comic book movies has also had its fair share of bombs. Here are the five worst movie based on comic book characters of all time.
ADJUSTED BOX OFFICE REVENUE: $179,179,718
Not even the combined star power of Ben Afflect, who portrayed the masked vigilante Daredevil, Jennifer Garner as Elektra, and Colin Farrell as Bullseye could rescue this box office snoozer.
It was directed by Mark Steven Johnson, the same writer and director as Ghost Rider, another movie that managed to find its way onto this list.
Though fairly true to the comic origin of the Daredevil, whose alter ego Matt Murdock was blinded as a child by a toxic waste spill that fortunately left him with heightened senses, the movie's poorly-written script seemingly contributed to its lackluster reviews.
Many critics praised Michael Clarke Duncan for his role as the menacing Kingpin (although some fans complained that Kingpin was not African-American in the comic book).
But they also noted that the plot — Daredevil essentially takes down a notorious mobster and a few of his cronies — lacked originality, and simply didn't do the comic book legend justice.
Though the movie was profitable and spawned a spin-off, Elektra, a sequel never materialized.
20th Century Fox, which had owned the film rights to the Daredevil character, was rumored to be considering a reboot of the franchise with Jason Statham in the lead role.
However, they eventually gave up on the project, and the film rights have now officially returned to Marvel Studios, which means we could soon see the character popping up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let's hope a proper reboot of this franchise is in order.
ADJUSTED BOX OFFICE REVENUE: $228,738,393
This movie movie based on comic books from the 1970s (Ghost Rider first appeared in Marvel Spotlight) had all of the hallmarks of a bad movie.
Over-the-top, unbelievable drama? Check. Cheesy dialogue? Yep. Satanic references? Of course.
The big budget debut of the Ghost Rider, starring Nicholas Cage as the motorcycle-riding, chain-wielding Johnny Blaze who makes a deal with the devil to try spare his father from death, fared well at the box office.
But it was widely panned by critics for its melodramatic interpretation of the skull-and-fire hero.
Unintentionally funny at times, the film script managed to insert every comic book cliché possible, i.e. good guy makes a deal with the bad guy only to be deceived, bad guy tells the good guy the "master plan", etc.
In addition, there were several scenes that required much explanation, but none was provided. For instance, in an early scene we see a 20-something Johnny Blaze, played by Matt Long.
In the following scene, we flash-forward one year — yes, only a year — and see a 40-something Nicholas Cage now as Johnny Blaze. How did Blaze age so fast in one year? I guess we'll never know.
The film was ultimately nominated for a Razzie Award, the antithesis of the Oscars, for which Nicholas Cage won for Worst Actor.
Editor's note: Surely Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was an even worse movie based on comic books?
ADJUSTED BOX OFFICE REVENUE: $238,207,122
Joel Schumacher, acclaimed director of such films as St. Elmo's Fire, The Lost Boys, and Flatliners, probably should have stopped with the first film he directed in this trilogy.
Though he has admitted that Batman and Robin was a major disappointment for fans of the darker Dark Knight of the comic books, Shumacher said the film's cheesy dialogue and controversial costumes changes (Batman and Robin both had nipples built into their costumes) were intended to make the film more marketable.
Unfortunately, Schumacher's vision never panned out, as the film was widely criticized for its stale acting, clumsy script, and lousy renditions of iconic Batman characters. It's definitely among the worst movies based on comic book characters.
Despite a stellar cast that included George Clooney as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, and Alicia Silverstone as Barbara Wilson/Batgirl, the film simply couldn't rise above Shumacher's flawed vision.
Nor could it survive a script that was wrought with slapstick humor, corny dialogue, and action scenes that were more suited to the campy Batman television show of the 1960s than a blockbuster film worthy of a $140 million budget.
Ultimately the film was considered to be one of the worst Batman films ever made, and a planned sequel, titled Batman Triumphant and set to feature the Scarecrow as the primary villain, was scratched.
Christopher Nolan would subsequently replace Schumacher years later in a wildly successful reboot of the Batman film franchise.
ADJUSTED BOX OFFICE REVENUE: $459,359,555
Not only did director Brett Ratner — who replaced Bryan Singer, the previous director of the X-Men films — butcher the Dark Phoenix saga, but he managed to do so in a lackluster and completely forgettable manner that puts this film at the top of the worst movies based on comic books of Marvel Comics characters.
A returning all-star cast included Halle Berry as Storm, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, and Anna Paquin as Rogue, and the storyline was based on one of the most popular and memorable story arcs in comic book history.
But the film's plot — which saw Jean Grey return from the dead as Phoenix, supposedly kill Cyclops off-screen (his body was never recovered, only his iconic glasses), kill Professor Xavier on-screen (in such an odd and confusing manner that's quite difficult to describe), and ultimately die at the hands of Wolverine — was often cited by critics as too weak and unemotional to carry the movie and its large cast of characters.
Though the film went on to gross more than double the amount of its budget, it didn't sit well with die-hard comic fans, who complained that the plot veered far from the Dark Phoenix saga of the comic books.
The X-Men franchise was eventually re-booted with the release of X-Men: The First Class, which was well received at the box office and by critics.
Dark Phoenix saga fans can perhaps rejoice as a stand-alone sequel to The Last Stand, titled Wolverine, will hit movie theatres this summer.
It will include cameos by Jean Grey, though there's no mention yet if she is still consumed by the Phoenix force.
ADJUSTED BOX OFFICE REVENUE: $82,102,379
Poor Halle Berry. Not only is she featured in two of the worst movies based on comic book characters of all time, but she followed her Oscar-winning performance in the film Monster with the absolutely atrocious Catwoman.
Playing Patience Phillips (mistake #1 — no Selina Kyle), a graphic designer for a corrupt cosmetic company (mistake #2 — she has a day job) who is murdered by evil corporate goons (mistake #3 — where's Batman?) and saved by a mysterious Egyptian cat (mistake #4 — well… let's just stop counting) who grants her with like cat-like abilities and reflexes, so that she can take down the evil Sharon Stone, who plays the company's CEO.
Unintentionally hilarious (one scene features Berry rubbing catnip on her face), the movie's campy and silly portrayal of Catwoman, as well as its embarrassing plotline — which ultimately centers on toxic facial cream (after all, that's how Sharon Stone gets her marble-faced superpowers) — was widely viewed as a slap in the face to fans of the racy version of the DC Comics character.
For many fans and critics, the only similarity between the comic book character and movie was the name.
Oddly enough, it's the only film on this list to lose money, which if anything proves that comic book fans love to see a movie based on comic books, even if they stink.
Here's one "race" in which DC comics would not want to beat Marvel: it wins the worst movie based on comic book characters ever.
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