Top 10 Worst Superhero Movies

Sir Isaac Newton once said that: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” But what did he know? He probably had concussion from sitting under apple trees, the silly sod.

Basically what I’m trying to say is, last week I did the Top 10 Best Superhero Movies, so naturally I’m following it up with the yin to that lists yang. To remind everyone of the rules:

  • This is a list of my own personal opinion. If you like the movies I don’t, that’s cool.
  • A Films appearance here is a reflection of how I didn’t enjoy the film, not any preconceived bias towards any studio.

Before I go into some dishonourable mentions, there’s a particular movie I’d like to address on its own, as it feels like an albatross hanging over these lists, so here I present my opinions on…

Special Mention: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Right, I touched on this film very briefly in the last list, and truth be told, it was on the shortlist, for BOTH the best, and worst lists. Why is this? Well, I think there are genuine bright spots that stand out as positives, but each one is balanced by the films flaws.

Ben Affleck is great, but there isn’t enough narrative reason for Batman and Superman to hate each other. Superman feels like he’s been listening to a lot of Linkin Park, and Jesse Eisenberg seems to think he’s in a Social Network sequel.

All this being said, I still think BvS is enjoyable enough, the extended cut even more so, and yes I enjoy poking fun at it for its numerous flaws, but I really don’t think it’s that bad to belong on this list, neither do I love it enough to place it on my best list.

So with that being addressed, it’s time for some (dis)honourable mentions!

Dishonourable Mentions:

Superman III (1983) – Directed by Richard Lester

So, no Superman movie made it into my Top 10, and that might shock a few, but there are reasons. The first two, while undoubtedly classics, are products of their time and haven’t particularly aged well, Superman Returns is so mediocre its memory becomes white noise the minute it finishes and Man of Steel is good, but not good enough to break into ‘favourite’ territory.

Then there are the 1980’s sequels, boy oh boy. Their reputation, or should I say infamy, is fearsome, and of the two, Superman is the least horrible, which is a bit like being the smartest Kardashian.

Richard Pryor is enjoyable, but not in a particularly good way, and Superman is already feeling played out and tired, if you’re feeling nostalgic, best to stick to the first two.

Batman Forever (1995) – Directed by Joel Schumacher

Fun fact: this film was released the day I was born, and this we learn that my birth was cursed from the start.

On a serious not, going from the Tim Burton Batman films to the Schumacher ones is like going from driving a Ferrari to a Robin Reliant. Gone is the series gothic charm, in its place are Bat-nipples and acting so hammy it could be sold at a butchers shop.

In my younger days, I had a soft spot for this. Jim Carrey was my favourite actor, and this was at his peak, of fame and silliness, now however I can only watch through my hands as he parades around in a deeply unflattering costume in the cinematic equivalent of a late-night kebab, in that it has no value and you’ll probably regret it the next day.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) – Directed by Marc Webb

One of the main lessons that should have been learnt from the fiasco of Spider-Man 3 is that too many villains spoil the broth, to paraphrase a popular proverb.

After the reboot of the series was basically okay, they duly ignored history, and were thus doomed to repeat it. Too many villains and not enough plot do not a good movie make, and the series was rebooted again two years later.

If past history is anything to go by, Tom Holland shouldn’t get too comfortable in those tights.

That’s the honourable Mentions over-with, now let’s dive head first into the slurry and hope we come up with the will to live by the end.

10. Spider-Man 3 (2007) – Directed by Sam Raimi

Oh hello again, Spider-Man. I didn’t recognise you with that emo fringe.

Spider-Man 3 is an odd duck really. The first two films in Sam Raimi’s trilogy are now considered classic, and those who read my previous list know that Spider-Man 2 in particular made it very high in my list, so what went wrong? Everything, everything went wrong.

First of all, and perhaps worst of all, was its balancing issues. With a two hour run-time to play with and THREE villains to establish, as well as cramming in an amnesia story-line for Harry Osbourne, the film was spreading its butter on an extremely large slice of bread so to speak.

Out of all the villains though, it was Venom who came out looking the worst. Played by Topher Grace as an absolute goofball, and the entire arc is rushed, with Spider-Man going through an infamous emo phase in the movie that included a cringe-worthy dance sequence and the worst fringe since cousin It.

What really makes this bad is the missed opportunity the film represents, there was real promise there that was squandered by including too many villains in a short space of time, maybe a more focused movie that included just one of the villains could have been enjoyable, as it stands, it’s a complete mess, made worse by the fact that no-one at Sony learned a bloody thing.

9. Suicide Squad (2016) – Directed by David Ayer

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How do you go about re-introducing an iconic character such as the Joker, not long after Heath Ledger’s iconic interpretation? I don’t know, but I’ll tell you what you shouldn’t do: plaster the Joker in ‘edgy’ tattoos, and give the actor playing him a script that could have been put to better use as toilet roll.

Another day, another film with incredible balance issue, but somehow made even worse by the inclusion of the Joker, who spends most of the film locked in a cupboard somewhere. It felt like the writer’s maybe had enough ability to write one good character, but had to share it among seven different people, and arguably just gave it all to Harley Quinn.

This film offends me, not just because of how they used The Joker, but because it doesn’t know what it wants to be, is it dark and gritty? Or is it light and goofy? Be either one or the other, Suicide Squad, or even better, don’t be anything at all.

All in all, this asinine film did its franchise no favours by being released so close to Batman v Superman; given all the uproar that caused, it meant an even bigger microscope was placed on this, you could practically feel the panic from DC as they churned out a new trailer each week, each with its own different tone and feel, its almost as if they didn’t have any faith in the property, and I can hardly blame them.

8. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) – Directed by Gavin Hood

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After the stumble that was X Men: The Last Stand, it can be understood why Fox chose their most marketable character to front his own film to revitalise the franchise. However, if The Last Stand was a stumble, then this was a fall off a bridge in comparison.

The usual thing at the top of the list of the worryingly large list of problems with this film is the portrayal of Deadpool, a particular mouthful of sand in the sandwiches of comic-book fans, whereas we now know that Deadpool works as a loudmouth, who turns most goons into a pile if chunky beef. However, in this film, he starts as a loudmouth, then gets his mouth sewn shut, which is a bit like telling Clint Eastwood he can’t squint.

It’s also fails at bringing Wolverine’s relationship with his half-brother Sabretooth to the screen, as that aspect is thrown away to make way for more God-awful Deadpool scenes, also, and this is a bit nit-picky for me, Wolverine’s claws looked bloody awful, I don’t see how CGI claws can look worse in sequels than they do in the originals, shouldn’t technology be moving forward, not backwards.

All that being said, X Men Origins: Wolverine can claim the award for ‘Worst X-Men Film’. Which I’m sure will sit alongside the Golden Globe on Hugh Jackman’s award shelf.

7. Thor: The Dark World (2013) – Directed by Alan Taylor

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For me, the worst thing a movie can be is boring. A good film is great because it affects you in a positive way. A bad film may have things to laugh at and enjoy in a way which probably wasn’t intended. Whenever I have a bout of insomnia, I watch Thor: The Dark World. It’s that boring.

Granted, the first one wasn’t a Criterion Collection classic to begin with, but it was a two-hour thrill ride compared to this. It’s amazing that it took Marvel so long to finally get Thor right, Ragnarok was a blast, and that potential has always been there, it’s just been buried under the rubble of pseudo-fantasy blubber that was unnecessary but the filmmakers seem to think we wanted from Thor.

Not only is this comfortably the worst Marvel Cinematic Universe film, it also has comfortably the worst villain in franchise history. It really hurts to slate Christopher Ecclestone in this way, being the massive Doctor Who fan that I am, but it barely feels like he’s there, he’d checked out long before the film wrapped and given the dross he had to work with, there’s no wonder he lost faith in big movies.

6. Fantastic Four (2015) – Directed by Josh TrankĀ 

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The early-2000’s Fantastic Four films weren’t great to begin with, so think about how bad this film has to be to get the backlash it did. The tragic thing is, there was promise here, it had a promising new director, looked to distance itself from the cartoonish earlier films, so how did it end up being this much of a mess?

It’s easy to blame studio interference, but the cracks were there. From reports of Trank’s on-set behaviour, to the terrible re-imagining of Doctor Doom, it must have been in a state before it was released in the mess it was.

The failure of this film led to Josh Trank to be fired from his directors position in a Star Wars spin-off movie, and he hasn’t been heard from since. This film was so bad that it ruined a career, or maybe he ruined his own career if you believe the stories, whatever you choose to believe.

It’s biggest crime is taking a talented cast and making them all look terrible. This film had Miles Teller, fresh off his career-high performance in Whiplash, it had Michael B. Jordan who would win hearts in Creed later in the same year as this films release. It had all the tools to be special, and it takes a perfect storm of idiocy to mess that set-up off.

5. Justice League (2017) – Directed by Zack Snyder

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Speaking of having all the potential in the world, here’s Justice League, a fantastic idea on paper, screwed up by too many cooks and that old favourite: ‘studio interference’.

I believe that this was a completely different movie when Snyder left the project (for very understandable reasons I must add). It’s not for me to say whether this hypothetical version would be better than the theatrical cut, but I will say that re-shooting an entire movie with a completely different director, who has a completely different style couldn’t have helped the final product.

The film suffers from feeling like two different drivers are in charge, Snyder feels like he’s favouring the darker side of film-making (like Batman v Superman) and Joss Whedon is… well, Joss Whedon. Inserting humour where it isn’t needed and lightening the tone when it feels disingenuous. You ca tell when Whedon has taken over, because it feels like a B-grade Marvel film, it doesn’t feel like its own product, it’s a knock-off, trying to win a race that ended five year ago. It was afraid of its own identity so it stole what was popular. All of this makes for a complete mess of a film, one that isn’t even enjoyable for being ‘so bad its good’ it’s just sad, really, really sad.

4. Green Lantern (2011) – Directed by Martin Campbell

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If you want a perfect example of CGI becoming a problem, here it is: Green Lantern.

Hated by everyone who’s seen it, including the actors involved, especially Ryan Reynolds, judging by his jibes in the Deadpool movies. Every aspect of this film has something to hate; the story, the effects, the characters, the acting and so on and so on.

This film has devolved so much in recent years that it’s no longer a film, it’s a joke, to be looked back on and laughed at, maybe mentioned in the next Deadpool movie in the same breath as a dog shit, because that’s how fondly it’s remembered.

To get back to that CGI again, I refuse to believe that suit was looked on by human eyes and passed as anything close to passable. The point of CGI is to create something that isn’t currently possible, it can be used to create alien worlds and whatever the mind can dream up, a superhero suit is something that can be tangibly created in real-life, so why wasn’t a real suit commissioned? CGI is really out of its depth when creating something that already be realistically made, as it will always look worse than the real thing. Surely someone must have seen that? Or is no-one allowed to talk up at Warner Brothers or else be fed to the company crocodile?

3. Elektra (2005) – Directed by Rob Bowman

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Remember when Ben Affleck played Daredevil? Remember how utterly putrid it was? Well they made a sequel/spin-off. Thanks Hollywood, that’s everything I ever wanted.

As you can expect from someone who was as wooden as a picket fence in the first film, a Jennifer Garner led Elektra movie is as welcome as a fart in a lift, in particular, a lift you’re stuck on for 10 more floors, and you’re dying of Ebola. That’s the level we’re working at here.

As if expecting us to sit through Daredevil was bad enough, having the gall to release this, in the same year Batman Begins hit cinema no less, shows a massive pair of brass balls that are beyond the remit of any regular polish.

This film is as enjoyable as sticking forks in your eyes, less so in fact, at least the spoons give you something to talk about afterwards.

2. Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987) – Directed by Sidney J. Furie

The 80s were a weird time. A time the rest of humanity has looked back on with great regret, mainly about the music and fashion, but just as the decade was nearing its conclusion, it deals this final kick in the testicles.

Superman had started out as a ground-breaking entity on the big screen, the first had people believing they could fly, the second had them believing they could be superheroes, the third introduced audiences to feelings of despair and finally, the fourth makes us think that Christmas at the in-laws isn’t so bad.

Pretty much everyone had checked out at this point, you can see Christopher Reeve’s spirit get crushed in every scene, the effects are deliberately re-used from earlier films (and some shots re-used entirely). For as bad as Superman III was, at least it had a somewhat interesting performance from Richard Pryor, the only enjoyment to have here is by sadists, that’s the only way I think you can actually enjoy this film, if you enjoy punishment, probably best to call a dominatrix services, after all, this movie is two hours long, and sex only takes about 12 seconds. 15 if you’re feeling frisky.

Superman IV euthanised it’s series so thoroughly it took nearly 20 years for Superman to appear on the big screen again, it took a further 6 to get a half-way decent Superman movie again (Superman Returns is the Tesco’s own brand of superhero films, bland and digestible but hardly the highlight of your week, Man of Steel was a good Superman movie soaked overnight in a grimy pond) this was the film that drove the stake through Superman’s heart, poor Chris Reeve’s career was in tatters and not long after, his life was destroyed, a true tragedy, and it’s all Superman IV’s fault.

I refuse to believe that anyone thought this was up to par, and my standards are pretty low, I sat through The Boss Baby for Christ’s sake (albeit only for the sake of my relationship, my partner is odd) but this… thing is a cinematic equivalent of a barbed-wire baseball bat colonoscopy.

1. Batman and Robin (1997) – Directed by Joel Schumacher

Batman and Robin. Batman and bloody Robin. Superman I can take or leave, but Batman? You’ve just made this personal, Schumacher.

I make no secret of the fact that Batman is the greatest superhero of all time, so think of how bad, how utterly appalling and creatively bankrupt a Batman movie must be, for me to declare it the worst superhero movie of all time.

Superman IV may have felt like a barbed-wire baseball bat up the backside, but this is like being beaten to death with a plank of wood, with all your life’s failures written on it, while Mother Theresa looks on cheering. This is not a film, this is desecration. It took Christopher Nolan (arguably one of the greatest filmmakers of our era) to resurrect the Batman character after he flounced around with protruding nipples and a bat cod-piece. Not only did he resurrect it, he made every effort to be everything this film WASN’T.

This is the blue-print, not just for bad superhero movies, but bad movies in general. It should be shown in film schools as a “how not to do it” guide, it’s awfulness decreed from the tallest rooftop and its director kicked off said building.

Batman & Robin is the closest I’ve ever been to hating movies, no sentient being involved in its creation could possibly be making it out of passion, a genuine love for the character and for film, no, they made it to be a 90 minutes toy commercial, and they were so god-damned blatant about it. The fact that Joel Schumacher can be allowed near a film camera after producing this shambles makes me despair for humanity, you see what you did to me Schumacher? You are responsible for me losing hope in humankind, I hope you and your bat-nipples are happy.

Conclusion

All in all, Superhero films are in a good place right now, apart from the odd mis+step we’re spoilt for choice for quality, so be grateful for the next marvel film, and think, it could be worse, we could be watching Batman and pissing Robin.

Post-Script

Hey! Hope you enjoyed this self-indulgent character assassination of several films, just thought I’d add this post script to say that as you read this, I’ve taken a well-deserved holiday so no reviews will be forthcoming for a few weeks. In the meantime, re-read some of my posts that you enjoy and share it if you wish, every view counts. Thanks!

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