The Worst DC/Marvel Film Adaptations

A look at some of the worst comic book adaptations.

To mark the release of The Amazing Spider-Man (and hope that it does not disappoint) let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the Marvel and DC film adaptations that should have stayed in development hell.

In order of release date:

Batman and Robin (1997)

Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring: George Clooney, ArnoldSchwarzenegger, Chris O’Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone

Without doubt the worst Batman movie in the entire franchise and that’s including the (oddly) much loved 1966 feature-length film Batman, which famously pitched Adam West’s Batman against a shark and a well-timed spray of shark repellent.

The villains are integral to any Batman story arc, but they were simply pathetic Batman and Robin. Arnie played Dr Freeze and will forever be remembered for uttering “you’re not taking me to the cooler”. Then there was Uma Thurman as deranged doc Poison Ivy, who suffered from an uncomfortable obsession with plants.

George Clooney’s was bland as both billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne and Batman. And just for good-measure they threw in a weak romance between Batgirl (Silverstone) and Robin (O’Donnell).

By the end of the film you wished Gotham had been incinerated into oblivion, hoping it may erase any memory of ever having watched it!

Catwoman (2004)

Director: Pitof
Starring: Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, Benjamin Bratt, Lambert Wilson

Lacking anything resembling a storyline, the film ignored any trace of Selena Kyle and instead created a new alter ego for Catwoman called Patience Phillips and subsequently failed to develop her character.

Catwoman was so dreadful that not even Berry’s pert derriere could stop it from winning four out of the seven Razzie nominations it received. But not content with being little less than glorified kitty litter, Catwoman tried to take a moral stance against the cosmetic industry, resulting in alabaster skinned villainess Laurel Hedare (Stone) facing off against Catwoman, in a ridiculously long and boring girl-fight finale.

Kudos to Halle Berry who graciously accepted her Razzie saying “First of all, I want to thank Warner Brothers. Thank you for putting me in a piece of shit, god-awful movie.”

Fantastic Four (2005)

Director: Tim Story
Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon

In retrospect, when compared to other offerings from the Marvel camp, Fantastic Four could have been a lot worse. Nevertheless, it was corny, poorly scripted and relied too heavily on The Thing and Human’s Torch’s constant bickering for comic relief.

Gruffudd was an unconvincing Reed Richards and Alba was miscast as Susan Storm and was potentially one of the most annoying female superheroes on the silver screen. Fantastic Four was just another dud to chalk up on the board of Marvel’s cinematic failures.

Superman Returns (2006)

Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden, Frank Langella

Despite an entertaining performance from Kevin Spacey as a particularly malignant Lex Luthor, this film was pure pants (pun wholly intended). Kate Bosworth was woefully miscast as the original feisty but foxy journalist Lois Lane and the plot was merely a basis to introduce the son of superman.

Brandon Routh, then an unknown entity, may have looked the part, but the padded suit was a fashion faux pas, even for a superhero famed for wearing red leather, knee-highs and blue tights!

Do I need to mention the bullet in the eyeball scene? No? Good!

Superman used to be cool, but after Superman Returns, he was just an alien with a penchant for big red knickers. Let’s hope Henry Cavill does a better job in Man of Steel due for 2013.

Ghost Rider (2007)

Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Sam Elliot, Peter Fonda

I have a really good idea why this film bombed… and his name is Nicolas Cage.

Rather than channelling any kind of character into Johnny Blaze, Cage decided to play himself, playing Elvis, with a different accent. Eva Mendes was cast purely as eye-candy and had no on-screen chemistry with Cage. Plus, Wes Bently’s Blackheart was second-rate. The acting was annoying and only served to highlight the weak plot and shoddy script.

Another Marvel mishap but with one cool twist in Sam Elliot as the original Ghost Rider. Considering Cage is such a huge comic fan, I expected more from everyone involved in this film.

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

Director: Tim Story
Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, & Laurence Fishburne

When will movie executives learn that after the age of three, people will (generally) not be distracted by something shiny? Even if it is a silver, surfing alien. Clearly that memo was never sent and we got saddled with Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

Characters were just as annoying as always – so no change there then. Except incredibly, Sue Storm’s eyes were an even brighter shade of blue for no apparent reason.

Luckily for the film, Laurence Fishburne did a great job voicing a well rendered Silver Surfer. Galactus was also an interesting change, with the director steering away from the pink helmeted Transformer look and going with a darker, more abstract concept. It is a shame they didn’t use that foresight to make a film about the Silver Surfer and perhaps create a half-decent film.

Jonah Hex (2010)

Director: Jimmy Hayward
Starring: Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich and Michael Fassbender

Jonah Hex was best-described as lazy, unimaginative and nonsensical.

The film ignored the wealth of source material available and basically made a western with supernatural elements thrown in for fun.

Turnball (Malkovich) is suitably crazy and evil, but nearly every other character was superfluous to the story and Megan Fox wasn’t chosen for her consummate acting skills. Josh Brolin was okay as scarred bounty hunter Jonah Hex and his prosthetics were cool, but that’s about as far as this film can be praised.

The story did not make much sense and it felt like a very confused film, but at 81 minutes long, it was mercifully short

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)

Directors: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Idris Elba, Ciaran Hinds

If the first film wasn’t proof enough that this Marvel franchise was universally panned, they made a second to make sure you knew for sure!

The cast list may have had more weight behind it, but that only made Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance sink even faster.

The Devil’s trying to come back to earth in human form and there’s this kid who’s the devil’s son who happens to be really similar to Johnny Blaze. And so ensues moments of paternal bonding over the perils of fraternising with the demonic hoard. Blah, blah, blah… I’m bored already!

And what was going on with Idris Elba’s accent? Really Idris? REALLY!!

The Green Lantern (2011)

Director: Martin Campbell
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong and Peter Sarsgaard

The Green Lantern was a curious choice for a movie franchise and may have never been a great choice for a really great film but regrettably we will never know. Instead Hollywood decided to go in for an overblown, expensive film that failed to impress anyone.

The film was boring, predictable and everyone knew it would need a sequel to continue the story.

Mark Strong and Sarsgaard were the only actors worth watching, but delivered nothing extraordinary which was testament to the unimaginative writing and prosaic directing.

Ryan Reynolds’ sense of humour may have made him perfect for Deadpool (before they screwed that up with that monstrous, mute X-Men hybrid!), but as The Green Lantern, he was just Ryan Reynolds in a green CGI suit.

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