With the recent success of Marvel’s MCU on both the big screen and the small, as well as the DCEU starting to follow suit, comic book movies and characters have never been so popular. The hugely successful, and financially groundbreaking, movie universes have changed the way we watch and experience movie franchises.
However, it must be said that the world of movies hasn’t always gotten the comic book characters right or done them justice in the fan’s eyes. Before the comic book explosion that is upon us in today’s movies, Hollywood often struggled to get comic book movies and their characters right. Even with the big hitters such as Batman and Superman, Hollywood has been known to change the characters and give us below par adaptations. Batman and Robin and Superman Returns instantly spring to mind! Because of this, a lot of comic book characters have had a terrible time on the big screen, and while sometimes they get lucky with a reboot, other times they are swept away under the carpet and never heard of again. Here is our list of 15 comic book characters that the movie business has truly screwed up.
15. Howard The Duck
The first entry on our list is a slightly strange and quirky comic book character but an important one in the world of Marvel nonetheless. Howard The Duck was abducted from his home planet and brought to Earth, where he befriends an artist and starts to battle the bad guys. Although Howard the Duck is more of a comical and satirical comic book, he has still been involved with several big heroes.
He’s teamed up with Spider-Man, The Defenders, and was even involved in the Civil War story arch. Given his presence in the Marvel universe it was only a matter of time before Howard got his movie big break. That came in the form of the 1986 George Lucas-produced movie. The entire movie was a disastrous stain on Howard’s reputation and the character became a joke. Luckily for us fans, Howard has made the odd cameo in the MCU, in particular in Guardians of the Galaxy (and Vol. 2) so there is hope for the alien duck in future movies.
14. Judge Dredd
Being part of the 2000 AD comic book universe, Judge Dredd has been cleaning up the streets of Mega City One as a “Street Judge” since 1977. Set in a dystopian future in which Street Judges roam the streets and have the power to arrest, convict, sentence and even execute criminals at will, the famous of all the Street judges is Judge Dredd. Unlike many other comic book characters, Judge Dredd is set in real time, in other words every year that a comic book is released, a year has gone by in Mega City One which means that Dredd ages and shows the signs of ageing both physically and mentally.
The popularity of Judge Dredd has been high for many decades and because of this, two attempts have been tried to get this imposing character on the big screen and two times Hollywood has failed. Hollywood seems to forget about the Dredd mythology and the ironic humor that is abundant in the comic books and this is one of the many reasons it, and the character, became so popular.
As we see from this list, the movie business has sometimes struggled to treat the villains and antiheroes with any real respect and more often than not, they completely mess up the character. One such character was Venom. One of Spider-Man’s biggest nemeses and would-be antihero, Venom has been causing chaos in the pages of the comic books for years.
Back before the MCU started taking over the world, Spider-Man, with Sony, had its own trilogy that paved the way for the MCU and set the standards for comic book movies. In Spider-Man 3 they introduced the fan favorite character Venom. However, the handling of this character was a joke and he was more of a villainous lackey then the character we know and love. There are reports out there that this will soon be rectified as both the MCU and Sony are looking to do Venom movies. Hopefully they can finally do this character justice.
Batman is probably one of the most famous and most adapted comic book characters of all time. Whether it’s in the movies, on TV, or in animated form, The Dark Knight is always a crowd pleaser. However, the rest of the Bat family has been a bit more difficult to get right. In the late 80s and early 90s Batman franchise, movie studios were hesitant to pair Batman up with any sidekick because they wanted a darker, lone wolf kind of movie and we can see why. When Robin, and then later Batgirl, did finally show up in Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, it was a complete let down to the fans of these characters.
What we basically got were generic sidekicks that just tagged along with Batman, probably the studio’s way to sell more merchandise! The comic book versions of these characters have so much more depth and story behind them that the movie just decided to ignore everything. We don’t know if any of the Bat family will show up on screen anytime soon, but if they do then the studios would benefit from picking up a comic book.
Ever since the X-Men universe burst onto the big screen with the first X-Men movie, it has had a lot of questions that need to be answered and addresses. The first one is the crazy, confusing and sometimes ridiculous timelines that the movies set up, with each movie seemingly restarting or completely changing the last one.
But the number one question they need to answer and the biggest crime they are guilty of is what they did to Juggernaut! Having such a major and important mutant sidelined to a comic villain in X-Men: Last Stand is an abomination and undermines the character, and his fans completely. Juggernaut, as well as being Charles Xavier’s half brother, is also one of the most important and powerful mutants in the X-Men universe. If the X-Men franchise goes forward and wants the fans to go forward with them then they need to change everything they’ve done so far with Juggernaut.
Our next entry is a character interpretation that still baffles and confuses us beyond belief. In the comic books, Galactus is the giant, planet-eating entity that has been roaming the universe since its creation and is considered one of the most powerful characters within the entire Marvel universe. For some reason the movie studios decided to depict this ancient being as a giant cloud of gas. Why?
We applaud the studios for trying to bring such a big character to the big screen but what they did to Galactus is just unforgivable. It also should be said that in the same movie they introduced The Silver Surfer, and again, they mishandled such a major character but at least they tried to stick closer to the comic books with him. Galactus, however, is just plain wrong and it could be a big reason why The Fantastic Four have always failed to make a big impact on the big screen because the movie studios can’t get even the most basic characters right.
Our next entry is following in the footsteps of other characters on our list and trying to rectify her big screen mistakes on the small screen. To some extent the Supergirl TV show is doing well for her character, although there are still some points in which they are failing her and her character. But for this entry we will focus on the Supergirl movie.
It has to be said first that the Supergirl movie was actually ahead of its time. Before the MCU and DCEU came up with interconnecting movies and a giant on screen universe, Supergirl was actually one of the first movies to try this as it not only planted itself within the Christopher Reeve‘s Superman movies but also used some of the same characters and actors such as Jimmy Olsen. Although that was a plus point, everything else was dreadful and even the camp/nostalgia factor in this movie can’t save it. We’re hoping that Supergirl can make a comeback on the big screen soon and fit nicely into the future DCEU but they’d need to avoid the mistakes they made with the original movie.
8. Green Lantern
We now turn to possibly one of the most famous comic book movie misfires in recent years. The Green Lantern movie left a lot of fans truly disappointed after its release, so much so that the movie studios have been hesitant to do anything with any Green Lantern since. Even having a DCEU on the big screen and a Justice League movie coming out, The Green Lantern is nowhere to be seen, yet.
The fact is that this movie, yes, we know that the story wasn’t great and the mythology and villains weren’t strong, but as a superhero movie it was ok. But what they are really guilty of is screwing up Hal Jordan. The most famous character to wear the Green Lantern Ring had no depth or any personal traits, he just became bland and predictable. If the DCEU do want to bring back the Green Lantern on the big screen then they have to make sure the character is given justice before the movie.
7. Doctor Doom
Our next entry is a character that is constantly misinterpreted on the big screen. To the casual superhero movie fan, Doctor Doom will seem like a generic and two-dimensional villain. But he is so much more than that. In the comic books, Doctor Doom is not only one of the most powerful characters but he is also one of the most interesting. Not only is he powerful, cunning, and has the intellect to rival Tony Stark and Mister Fantastic, but he’s also not an out and out villain. He often crosses the line between good and evil in order to get what he wants and to protect the people of his country.
However, in all movie interpretations of the character, Doctor Doom has just been there as a bad guy for the Fantastic Four to defeat. There’s been no depth to the character or no inward struggle that makes this character so complex and compelling. Out of all the comic book characters that the movies have tried to portray, Doctor Doom has to be one of the biggest failures.
Aww, poor Elektra. After the disaster that was Daredevil (more on that later on this list!) the movie geniuses tried to take Elektra on her own solo mission and have her own movie, much like DC did with Catwoman, which was an equally bad interpretation of the character and a terrible movie! So off Elektra went on her own. Firstly, Elektra wasn’t done any justice at all in the Daredevil movie but now she was set to have her own movie which could have gone a long way to restoring the character’s glory.
However, what we got were two movies that didn’t really know who or what Elektra was supposed to be and gave us a generic female “hero.” It has to be said that the MCU is trying hard to restore some of Elektra’s good qualities by having her involved in the Netflix MCU, but so far the memory of the movie Elektra is still on our minds, but in time hopefully that will be forgotten.
Our next entry is a character that has come a long way in recent years. Daredevil has done well on the small screen recently, so much so that it is actually managing to erase any memory of the Ben Affleck lead movie that came out in 2003. It has been one of the MCU’s strengths since it teamed up with Netflix, and that’s to take some of its lesser known heroes, or heroes that have failed before liked Daredevil, and give them a new start and a new lease on life.
So far it has to be said that this has worked exceptionally well and the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen has probably benefited the most from this. But it must also be stated that it took the character of Daredevil years to find his way back on the screen and most of that was down to how the character was handled, and pretty much destroyed, in his big screen outing.
4. Fantastic Four
Probably more famous than the massive bomb that was The Green Lantern are the several attempts at getting a Fantastic Four franchise going. Every few years it seems that the movie studios look at Marvel’s first family of heroes and they try hard to get them on the big screen and to get people to like them. But it doesn’t matter how they tell their story, which origin they use or in fact who is in the movie, for some reason the fans just won’t take to a Fantastic Four movie.
It must be said that there isn’t anything wrong with any of the Fantastic Four movies as such, they’re ok as superhero movies, and yes, even the recent reboot one! But they all lack what makes the Fantastic Four so, well, fantastic. We can only see one way that The Fantastic Four will make anything good on the big screen and that’s the MCU needs to get these characters back and have them in their universe, then they might finally find a home on the big screen.
Ok, so a lot of fans out there have been very vocal about both Batman and Superman since the DCEU kick started its movie universe with The Man of Steel. While Batman has his problems in his new incarnation, it’s Superman himself that we have the biggest problem with. Firstly, as many people have said, when Superman snapped the neck of Zod it completely ruined everything that makes Superman what he is. We know that the movie set things up in a way that Superman didn’t have a choice, but he did. He always has a choice and he always chooses to save not kill. That’s what makes Superman a hero.
The other point is the origin story in the rebooted Man of Steel movie and the fact that Clark Kent spent most of his time hiding from people and the world. Superman is raised by his real parents and his adoptive parents to be more than a man and to be the hero the world needs, not to run away and hide and not to be told by Mr. Kent that he should have let a bus full of kids die! Everything about the new Superman feels and looks wrong and we didn’t even mention Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice! Hopefully some of these problems can be addressed and changed in future DC movies.
2. Any Batman Villain Who Isn’t The Joker
In the comic book world of DC, and of course in Batman’s personal universe, The Joker is possibly the most famous, and some would say best, villain there is. Because of this the movies always go to The Joker when they want a bad guy for their movies. After all, The Joker has probably been portrayed on the big screen and by more different actors than Batman himself has. Some have been great, some have been good, and some have been terrible but the Crown Prince of Crime always gets the audiences into the theaters.
But what about the other villains in the DC universe? Well that’s something that the movies can never seem to get right. Although the Dark Knight trilogy went a long way to restore the characters of Bane, Scarecrow and Two Face, the rest of DC’s baddest aren’t looking so good. Whether it’s Lex Luthor, The Riddler, Poison Ivy, or Mr Freeze, the movies have yet to recreate the greatness of DC’s worst villains. And yes, we’re including all the members of The Suicide Squad too.
1. Almost Deadpool
The number one entry on comic book characters that movies messed up is none other than Deadpool. This entry is more of a “thank God for second chances!” That applies to both Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool. There’s no doubt that the Deadpool movie was a brilliant stroke of genius by the movie studios. It not only went a long way to restoring Deadpool’s character but it also paved the way for future comic book movies to push the boundaries in adult comic book movies
Before that though, we got a glimpse at Reynolds and Deadpool in the Wolverine Origins movie and every single thing about that story and the character was not only wrong, but went against everything the comic books had been writing for years and years. In one swift moment, Deadpool could have been the worst character to ever grace the big screen. The lesson here is that it is possible to take a disaster and turn it into comic book movie gold.