Superheros, supervillains, special powers, action, adventure… the comic universe is anything but boring. Whoever says they never ran around as kids pretending to have superpowers is lying. And it’s because of this simple fact that Hollywood has been on a superhero overdose throughout the last few years. Most of the movies that were released based on comic books have been huge successes; anyone would love to see their childhood comic world come to life.
Unfortunately, there have also been some that did not do the comics justice. Maybe their vision was different than yours, maybe they had a low budget, maybe it was poor casting, bad storyline, bad comic turned to bad movie; whatever the case, some of these movies were just plain comic fails. Here is a compilation of terrible movie adaptations based on Marvel comics - if not for the fun of sharing bad movie moments, then to spare you hours of your precious life being wasted by watching them.
P.S. spoiler alerts a-plenty!
14 Daredevil (2003)
Who remembers that first line from the trailer: “He can hear it, before it makes a sound”. That’s your first clue that this movie was going to be another Marvel flop. Instantly, it invokes that famous, disapproving eye-roll. Now, everyone likes a little cheese, but not in their comic movies, not from Marvel. This may have been an excellent concept in comic form; the movie version, however, didn’t fare so well. It had potential, it just didn’t quite make it to the big leagues. Sorry Marvel, better luck next time.
13 Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Everyone knows Peter Parker’s story, and everyone loves Spider-Man, but a good concept doesn’t always mean a good movie. The third Spider-Man movie was seriously lacking. Among many things wrong with this movie were the annoying clichés. Why is Mary-Jane always the victim at all the right moments? Who else noticed all of the convenient plot twists? Here are just two examples: 1) Harry Osborne conveniently loses his memory so Peter and he can be friends again 2) Uncle Ben’s death was completely rewritten so that the storyline around Sandman could make sense.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that there were just too many villains in this movie. First, there was Harry Osborne until he loses his memory, and then again when he and Peter are fighting for Mary-Jane. Then there’s Sandman, who was basically just an excuse for some special effects. Finally, there was Brock as Venom. The one villain everyone was actually excited to see. Oh wait, there was also Peter himself when the space goo had infected him. Whatever, enough is enough with the bad guys.
12 Generation X (1996)
For those of you who haven’t seen this, spare yourselves the agony. Wondering what it is? Well, it’s pretty much The Breakfast Club meets X-Men meets 90210. Someone, somewhere had some money to throw away, was a fan of Marvel’s X-Men and decided to make a movie, but (probably at the request of their teenage children) turned it into a teen drama superhero atrocity… and Marvel approved it. Ugh. The combination of themes is so bad that there doesn’t even need an explanation as to why this movie was such a Marvel fail.
11 Ghost Rider (2007 & 2011)
Turning this Marvel comic into a movie was never a good idea. Everyone knows the comic world is booming and everyone loves superhero movies, but that doesn’t mean every single hero that Marvel came up with deserves some screen time. It just seems like Ghost Rider was an excuse for special effects and action. Starting with the concept, some guy sells his soul to the devil, and becomes this self-proclaimed night-watcher, catching bad guys while his skull is engulfed in flames. There are so many things wrong with this storyline. First, in what world would the devil approve of Johnny Blaze using his new ‘powers’ to do good deeds? Second, the devil just doesn’t belong in superhero movies. While the supernatural can be accepted, anything remotely related to religion should be far, far away from the comic universe. Ghost Rider may have had a chance if Marvel hadn’t come up with it. Sadly, this is not the case. Both 2007 and 2011 releases were fails.
10 Blade Trinity (2004)
This is another bad choice on Marvel’s part. Superheroes are their thing, not vampires. Why vampires? There may have been a vampire craze recently, where the world became obsessed with them, but that doesn’t mean Marvel had to go and jump on the bandwagon also. Though the character was created before this vampire craze, they didn’t have to go and make a movie. Maybe it’s the casting choices or the poor acting, but there’s something super cheesy about them. For some reason, they’re just not threatening. Who would take them seriously? Ok, Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds were good casting calls, but only because they’re pleasing to the eye. Which made the movie a tad more bearable. Come on, Marvel, you can do better!
9 Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1998)
Although this was a made-for-TV movie, it’s out there, it’s terribly cheesy, and Marvel should be a tad ashamed. So Nick Fury is the guy with the eye-patch (remember him from The Avengers?) and this movie is basically all about him as an agent in this special, secret spy agency called S.H.I.E.L.D. In short, the main thing wrong with this film is all the cheese! It’s filled with cheap one-liners, poor effects (fine, let’s excuse this due to the film’s low budget), cheesy character names, cheesy actors (David Hasselhoff, really? He was your best choice?), and more cheap one-liners.
8 Howard the Duck (1986)
Yes, this is Marvel’s creation. To be specific, he is a duck from another world, sent to Earth to save it from an alien invader. The 1986 film was a flop, and it’s no wonder why. First of all, who, besides a five year-old, thinks of a duck to save the world? Second, whoever has lost precious moments of their life to watch this movie, will know that many scenes are absolutely ridiculous (who remembers that crazy looking alien tongue in the truck). Third, was this movie supposed to be for kids? You would think so when the hero is a duck… except, the duck is perverted. How could a duck be perverted? There is actually a scene of him looking through the duck version of Playboy - seriously? At most, any entertainment this movie provided was a laugh, and not the good kind.
7 Captain America (1944 & 1990)
When you think of Captain America, you think of a superhero, an altruistic gentleman. However, throughout his time in Hollywood, he wasn’t always portrayed justly. Take the 1944 film, for example. Although, credit must be given for having made such a film this early on in movie history, most would think it’s best to wait until you’re properly equipped before releasing something at half its potential. Even if we were to ignore the film’s tacky fight scenes and poor quality and costume, nothing excuses the poor storyline. A good storyline is completely independent of time; hence, it’s on the Marvel flop list.
Fast-forward to 1990, the next Captain America movie attempt. It’s the 90s, and technology has greatly advanced - this version must be better. Well, think again. Get ready for equally tacky fight scenes, equally poor quality and costume design, and equally poor storyline.
6 Punisher (1989 & 2004)
Here is the classic story of a man on a rampage after criminals wiped out his family. Self-proclaimed vigilante, Frank Castle goes on a killing spree, reigning his own kind of justice on evildoers. While the idea is there, it’s been overdone. On another note, the vendetta could be overlooked, if it wasn’t for the never-ending, one-man army feel of the film. Action is great, but too much of anything isn’t good… and there was just too much action. This could also have been overlooked, if the fight scenes were worth watching. Unfortunately for Marvel, the 2004 version of the Punisher was not any better.
5 Elektra (2005)
Yes, Jennifer Garner makes for a great Elektra. However, viewers need a little more than something nice to look at. The film is all over the place. Elektra has a near-death experience, decides to become a hired assassin (who randomly decides to live in the woods), and out of nowhere comes this little girl (who turns out to be her neighbor in the woods), who invites Elektra over for supper (after having known her for all of 2 minutes) where she is introduced to the little girl’s father. The plot thickens when Elektra’s next targets turn out to be her new neighbours. The rest of the movie just circles around Elektra fighting some supernatural ninja assassins to protect the little girl and her dad. Amidst this jumbled up storyline is a whole slew of tacky and disappointing fight scenes. “Don’t worry about it! Elektra is hot, the film will sell itself!” Yeah, not so much…
4 Fantastic Four (1994, 2005, 2007, 2015)
Ever met someone who enjoys watching bad movies? Well, that’s what the 1994 Fantastic Four film was; a movie you love to hate, at best. Not many people are familiar with it, mainly because it was never released. It basically falls in the same category as the 1944 Captain America, with poor story and tacky fighting. Unfortunately, the next movies weren’t any better. While the fight scenes and graphics (obviously) got better, the storyline somehow got worse. The next few Fantastic Four movies were filled with lame jokes, poor script, bad attempts at getting the audience to connect with the characters, and an overall childish feel to it. It seems Fantastic Four was meant for young viewers, or those who are just looking for something superficial to watch while passing the time.
3 X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Alone, this X-Men movie wasn’t too bad. It had good special effects, and it’s always fun seeing new mutants and what they can do. However, the main issue with X-Men: The Last Stand was that there was no continuity between the previous X-Men films. For example, everyone starts talking about mutant grading systems as if it’s common knowledge. Throwing around a mutant class might have passed, but there were just too many questions left unanswered. What is a ‘class 5’ mutant exactly? How are they classified? Didn’t everyone think Xavier and Magneto were the ‘strongest’ mutants? How about how Magneto reacts to Xavier’s death? Maybe Cyclops’ death made more sense… nope, where did that even come from? Finally, how about that Easter egg at the end, hinting at Xavier’s return? Here’s another movie with a lot of potential that failed because of seemingly lazy script writing.
2 Man-Thing (2005)
Here, we have a horror movie featuring an adaptation of one of Marvel’s creatures. It’s… Man-Thing! Super scary, right? It’s time that horror movies based on swamp monsters were laid to rest, especially ones based on Marvel comic characters. This is pretty much one cliché after another. Innocent people start disappearing while working in a sketchy environment. Then some big time investigator starts looking into all the disappearances and is determined to solve the mystery. Finally, we find that the cause of the disappearances is a monster in said sketchy environment. Then, the characters are not developed enough for the audience to sympathize with any of them. Apparently, the Man-Thing is not really supposed to be the villain, since it’s just defending its territory. Yet it kills a bunch of innocent people. Few would find this movie even remotely scary, let alone entertaining. Overall, this is another Marvel fail.
1 Hulk (2003)
The style of movie 2003's Hulk turned into is probably not ideal for the big green behemoth. The main issue with this film is all the talk of Bruce’s psychological problems. It’s the Hulk; does anyone really care about his daddy issues? Maybe the background story would have been appreciated in a more serious character, but again, this is the Hulk. He runs around smashing things in an angry fit. This movie probably would have done a lot better if it focused more on the nature of the character and showed more action packed angry tantrums by the big green guy. A few more things to mention, although minor: Hulk dogs (special effects team was clearly trigger happy), a ton of annoying flashbacks (we get it, he has repressed memories), countless split screens (why?), and the famous shorts that stay on despite the size difference between Hulk and Bruce Banner.