It’s fair to say that we are in the new golden age of the comic book and superhero entertainment. Whether that’s in the movies, on the small screen, or in the pages of the comic books they first came form, superheroes are everywhere. It’s hard now to imagine a time before this but a few years ago, before the intricate MCU took over the big screen and the small, and DC tried to follow suit with the DCEU and the Arrowverse on the small screen, the superhero genre was a bit of a dud.
While the big superheroes such as Batman and Superman have enjoyed decades of success in both the movies and TV, many other characters have tried, and failed, to have the same impact. With this list we look at 15 comic book characters that have had an outing on the big screen, but for whatever reason that outing was bad so these characters desperately need another chance to prove to the world what great characters they truly are.
15. The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
We start our list with a group made up of a collection of the most prominent and famous literary figures in history, coming together to save the world. It’s fair to say that the movie version of the very popular comic book was not well liked. In fact, both fans and critics slammed this movie so hard that the comic book creator, Alan Moore, refused to have anything to do with Hollywood for a good few years. Going even further than that, the lead in this movie was Sean Connery and he actually quit acting as a result of this movie. The original, and best, James Bond turned his back on his career because this movie was so bad.
With the great storytelling and vast characters that the comic book has, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen is begging to be set free on the big screen once again. If this project, and the characters, were done right then this could be a huge smash hit.
14. Ghost Rider
Ok, so we know that recently Marvel has tried to rectify their mistake with this character by including him in their TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, which many fans still don’t think is a great portrayal of the character, but for this entry we want to focus on his big screen outings. Having two movies to his name, Ghost Rider should have been the first Marvel character to really hit the big time and even become a franchise.
As the movies didn’t do well with fans or critics, Ghost Rider is a perfect character that Marvel could bring into the MCU. As Ghost Rider isn’t a typical superhero or superhero tale, as he crosses the line into horror, this could be a perfect step forward for the MCU, especially since they’ve recently introduced magic into their universe. We’re not sure how easy this could be regarding rights to the character on the big screen, but Ghost Rider needs a second chance to redeem himself for the sake of his fans.
13. Fantastic Four
This is a group of comic book characters that the movie producers and writers just can’t seem to get right. Whether we count the unofficial 1990s movie, which was never officially released anywhere, or the 2005 Fantastic Four movie and it’s sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, or more recently the rebooted and reimagining 2015 movie, it’s fair to say that over the last few decades, movie studios have really tried to get the Fantastic Four on the big screen.
However, they can’t seem to get this superhero team right. Considering that the Fantastic Four have been one of the most popular superhero teams in comic books since the 1960s, there is obviously a big fanbase out there for them. So we feel that if a true Fantastic Four fan could take ahold of them, they might be able to come up with a great movie and franchise, which is what this superhero team deserves.
12. The Spirit
In recent years, the neo-noir comic book genre has been given the movie treatment with the likes of Sin City and even Watchmen to some degree, but a lot of people out there may have missed The Spirit, which hit our screens in 2008. We can’t blame you if this one slipped passed you, as not many people saw it and the reason for that is that this movie is a classic example of style over substance. Trying hard to be Sin City, The Spirit movie concentrated too much on the look of the movie and forgot to put story, emotion, or anything from the comic book into the production.
We feel that The Spirit was given a poor deal in the movie and a lot of people will be put off from reading the comic books because of this movie. The fact is that The Spirit is a great take on the vigilante/crime fighting hero and if it’s handled correctly and by someone who actually loves the character and doesn’t just want to make a movie that looks good, then The Spirit could be such a great hero to have in the movie world.
11. Jonah Hex
It can be difficult when a comic book movie hits our screens and it bombs. Many people try to find the reason why this happened, after all, the comic book is popular so why wasn’t the movie? Was it the writing? Acting? Production? This is what happened when Jonah Hex burst onto our screens. The comic book story of a supernatural anti-hero set to the backdrop of a western is borderline genius in the world of comic books and has the fanbase to match it. So why did the movie version fail?
Everyone out there seems to lay the blame at Megan Fox’s door, but in truth, everything was bad about this movie: the tone, the treatment of its characters, the action sequences and the toning down of the violence. In truth, Jonah Hex deserves another shot at big screen stardom and if DC really wanted to out do the MCU justice and go in a different direction, then a better Jonah Hex movie could do that for them.
If there’s one thing that has put us off a lot of movies over the last decade or so then it’s the line “he will be played by Vinnie Jones.” That’s not us disrespecting the former soccer player, after all, when paired with Guy Ritchie in a British gangster movie, Jones is great and in his element. But playing one of the biggest mutant characters in the Marvel universe, absolutely no.
X-Men: Last Stand didn’t do well as a movie and is often considered the worst movie in the X-Men franchise, but it’s portrayal of Juggernaut is unforgivable. Within the comic books, Juggernaut is not only one of the most important mutants but his history has shaped a lot of the mutant world. If Wolverine and Deadpool can get their own movie outings then surely Juggernaut can too. Or at the very least have some decent screen time to give the character some justice. It’s the least he deserves.
9. The Phantom
Many casual viewers and readers out there may not be aware that The Phantom is actually one of the oldest comic book superheroes around. Making his debut in 1939 as a newspaper comic strip, The Phantom was actually more popular and got more viewers than Superman or Batman. Obviously these days, The Phantom isn’t as popular as it once was but it’s still being printed and it also still has quite a big fanbase.
So in the 1990s, a movie version of The Phantom hit our screens and as comic book movies go, The Phantom wasn’t actually that bad. Compared to today’s standards of superhero movies, The Phantom doesn’t look impressive but at the time it hit the right spot. If movie producers and executives are looking for heroes outside the mainstream MCU and DCEU then The Phantom could really work as a traditional hero story. After all, the Phantom was one of the first spandex wearing heroes and he definitely deserves an up to date movie telling his tale.
There are some characters that, for some reason, just don’t do well on the big screen. Before the MCU, Marvel had tried to bring some of its lesser known characters to the big screen and to be honest, they failed miserably! We’ve only just managed to get Ben Affleck’s Daredevil out of our minds, and most of that is down to the brilliant portrayal in the Netflix show. While Daredevil himself may deserve another chance at big screen glory, we actually think that his character and stories are more suited to the smaller screen.
However, we do feel that Daredevil’s sometime girlfriend and fellow vigilante does deserve a second chance on the big screen. Admittedly, the character of Elektra is a very difficult character to get right; she’s an assassin, vigilante, sometimes good and sometimes bad, but one thing she always is, is compelling. Not being a traditional hero is just what the MCU needs and having such a strong female in the role of anti-hero could take the MCU in a great direction, if it’s done right that is.
We know that our next entry divides a lot of people out there. There are some comic book fans that love Robin, in all his incarnations, and find him an important part of Batman’s universe. We are also aware that there are even more people out there that think that Robin is a pointless superhero and although he fits in to the comic book world, he has no place on the movie screen. To be fair, the latter has been reflected in movies as Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, given the title of the worst comic book movies ever made and a lot of people blame Robin’s inclusion as the reason.
However, we think that The Boy Wonder hasn’t really been given a fair chance at movie stardom. In the comic books, the story of Robin, all Robins, have been important to the story of Batman and the DC universe as a whole, and let’s be honest, Batman and Robin are probably the most famous duo across any medium. We’re not sure if a Robin solo movie could ever work, but he should definitely be given another chance. If not as Robin then surely as the fan favorite Nightwing.
6. Howard The Duck
Way back in the 1970s and 1980s, if there was one man that could sell a movie just by having his name attached then it was the Star Wars master himself, George Lucas. So when Mr. Lucas decided to tackle Marvel’s alien duck, we all thought it was going to be movie gold. It could have been Star Wars meets Marvel, but what we got instead was a diabolical movie that tried to be too silly, and of course a scene in which a human woman has sex with the duck. No one wants to see that!
Away from that movie, the comic book version of Howard The Duck has a lot more to offer and could really work within the MCU. As Howard has shown up in a few post credits of recent Marvel movies, we’re hoping that this is the case and the true version of Howard The Duck makes his screen debut. Just before people start thinking that a talking duck would be a silly idea for the MCU, just remember that the recent success of Guardians of the Galaxy is down to a talking Raccoon and a Tree!
Long before Marvel started to even think about the MCU, it’s fair to say that they couldn’t produce a single good comic book movie. While DC had been having a lot of success with Batman and Superman over the years, Marvel couldn’t keep up. Then came the half-vampire killing machine that is Blade and suddenly Marvel had a huge hit on its hands. The Wesley Snipes led trilogy may have had its faults and ups and downs but the fact is that they were financially and commercially successful and could well be responsible for the set up to the MCU today.
Given the fact that the character of Blade has already been a success, there is no reason why Marvel couldn’t bring this character back to the big screen. Whether they try and include him in the MCU or give him his own movie, the time is right for Blade to kick his way back into our lives. As comic book movies have been given more freedom with an R-rating, a bloody and violent Blade movie could just be the thing we need to get away from the light hearted and family friendly Avengers.
4. John Constantine
Our next entry on our list is actually a bit of a difficult one. Unlike many other comic book characters and their movies that are on our list, Keanu Reeve‘s version of this character in the 2005 Constantine movie is actually quite good, although the character had changed from British to American. The movie is dark and tries to stay as close to the character’s comic book roots and overall, Constantine is an enjoyable movie.
So we’re actually going to leave that movie alone and focus on the character itself. Given the fact the DC and the DCEU are desperately trying to expand and beat their rivals the MCU, the time is right to bring in John Constantine. Not just because the character and world he inhabits are great for storytelling but John Constantine also became part of a bigger group of dark anti-heroes in the form of the Justice League Dark and that movie is just begging to be made.
Believe it or not, back in the 1990s, Spawn was one of the most popular comic book characters around. Often beating and outselling the heroes from Marvel and DC, Spawn became a huge fan favorite and the anti-hero for the next generation. So when word got out that a movie version of the character was coming out, understandably everyone went crazy and couldn’t wait for the dark world of Spawn to be on the big screen.
However, the movie didn’t do very well and many fans left the theater feeling let down and disappointed. The main reason for this is that at the time this movie was released, many people felt comic book movies were for kids and families and not solely for adults. Although the movie did try to keep some of its darker themes and tones, it didn’t fully go for it. But since the likes of Deadpool and Suicide Squad, now is the perfect time to have an R-rated Spawn movie.
2. The Riddler
For those of you out there that aren’t big comic book readers, then the only reference to The Riddler you will have is the version of him in Batman Forever. Although Jim Carrey‘s portrayal of the riddle-obsessed villain wasn’t the worst thing about that movie, it’s fair to say it wasn’t great either.
With Batman’s world being revamped and rebooted all the time, there are many bad guys that have gotten a darker and edgier makeover: the Joker, Two-Face, The Scarecrow, and of course, the members of the Suicide Squad. However, we really do feel that The Riddler is one of Batman’s greatest foes, after all, not many of the villains of Gotham City can match The Dark Knight on an intellectual scale, but The Riddler can. Because of that this character really does deserve another chance in the movies, especially as Batman could be going R-rated in the future. A darker and more grounded Riddler would fit perfectly.
1. Green Lantern
We all know that the MCU has helped Marvel become the kings of the comic book movies and an interconnecting universe that spans both the small and big screens. However, while the MCU was trying to find its feet, it was actually DC that wanted to kick start a movie universe and they tried it with The Green Lantern. This movie was supposed to kick start a DC movieverse but it did so badly that they had to go back to the drawing board and decided to use Superman in Man of Steel instead.
With the main DC superheroes all getting a revamp in the up and coming Justice League movie, we think it’s time for The Green Lantern to get another chance as well. After all, if Ryan Reynolds gets to have another chance as Deadpool, then The Green Lantern should have the same.
Some honorable mentions should go to The Silver surfer, the Punisher, Catwoman, and Supergirl, they all deserve some attention but didn’t quite make our list.