Comic Movies that Sailed the Failboat

brandon-routh-superman-returnsIt’s hard to imagine after the Dark Knight trilogy, the wild growth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and singular success like Man of Steel and The Watchmen, that once upon time all comic movies were crap.  Or if they weren’t all crap, enough of them were that sometimes you could feel that sickening embarrassment in your flesh as you thought, “How the hell are they going to screw it up this time?  I hope nobody sees me paying actual money for a ticket…”  Those were not the good old days… And frankly, they aren’t long gone.

Now, I could pick on low hanging fruit like Captain America.  No, not that one.  This one–1990’s rendition of the All-American Hero’s struggle against the depredations of the Red Skull.  Even as a kid, I knew that what I was watching was bona fide badness.  But picking on cheeseball films like that is just too easy.  It was a gentler, simpler time.  Sensibilities were different.

First up on the block is Fantastic Four.  No, not 1994’s abysmal cluster screw2005’s abysmal cluster screw.  You’d think with actors like Chris Evans as Johnny Storm (not quite the brand he is now thanks to Cap, but still a prize) and Jessica Alba as Sue Storm, you’d wind up with something decently tolerable (how’s that for a selling point?  “Decently tolerable…”).  Instead, we got a very literal (read: cornball) onscreen interpretation of what is already one of the corniest of Marvel’s mainline titles.  In other words, 120 minutes of pure agony.  That said, credit where credit is due:  the sequel had awesome Human Torch versus Silver Surfer flying sequences that were worth the price of admission on their own.  It’s just too bad the rest of it sucked (including a not-literal-enough rendition of Galactus.  If you’re gonna go weird, commit to it)…

Next up is a movie I know a lot of people took issue with:  X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  Besides a level of general cheesiness that made it a weak follow-up to an extremely disappointing X-Men: The Last Stand, they straight ruined “Deadpool” (in quotations because I dunno what that was, but it wasn’t Deadpool).  Listen to my words Fox: Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson? Good!  Deadpool as zombie-frankenstein-whatever-that-was?  Baaaad! Very baaaad!  So cut it out.  You owe us a Deadpool and Cable movie to make up for it.  So, get cracking.

Now, I suspect my least favorite comic book adaptation might raise some brows.  When you have as many truly awful movies to pick from, it’s easy to look at someone’s choices and ask, “Huh, why that one when there are so many worse movies to choose from?”  But my least favorite comic book movie of all time is hands down Superman Returns.  Everything about it was wretched (except, possibly, maybe Kevin Spacey, but his Lex Luther was still too much Gene Hackman and not enough House Majority Whip Francis Underwood), from the overuse of Kryptonite, to Brandon Routh.  Especially Brandon Routh, the man who single handedly ruined ‘Chuck’ for me (besides all that repetitive will-they-won’t-they sameiness that show fell into).  I dunno why someone might cast Brandon Routh for a role, when they could save money carving an actor out of driftwood.  Thank god that Man of Steel came along to scrub Supe’s good name clean.

So those are my least favorite comic book adaptations, but I am very eager to hear about yours (and to be told how very wrong I am, and that, “Im’a let you finish, but Brandon Routh’s Superman was the greatest Superman of all time!  All time!”)  So hit the comments and tell me what tops your list of badness!

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This entry was posted by Chris Avery.

8 thoughts on “Comic Movies that Sailed the Failboat

  1. The worst part about comic book movies is when the movie suddenly causes changes to the books. Like when suddenly the Xmen are all wearing black leather jumpsuits. Or Nick Fury turns into Samuel L. Jackson.

  2. I concur… but to be fair, the Ultimate Nick Fury was Sam Jackson before the films came out… There is even a shout out to it in the first series of the Ultimates. Definite a case of art imitating life imitating art imitating Hollywood, though.

  3. I like Routh as Superman. But as with Kevin Spacey, it was more good actors stuck in a crap movie. My biggest qualm was the people making it did not know when it took place. The film filter and the wardrobes made it seem like we were back in the 1950’s or 60’s, yet there were cellphones that place it in the modern age. And the entirety of Luthor’s crew were straight from the 30’s. So, again, horrid movie trapping good actors.

    • I dunno why I dislike Routh so much, besides his wooden performances. He just always seems to have the same look on his face, starring half-menacingly into the middle distance, like a cyborg Manchurian candidate awaiting his activation code… It’s scary.

      But I agree with you on the point about Spacey being stuck in a bad role, and on the funky out-of-timeness of the costuming and the like. I imagine it was partly an homage to Superman’s roots in the late thirties, and partly out of laziness, which is a common enough problem in these movies…

      • I think the anachronisms were a result of the director trying to pick up right where the Christopher Reeves movies left off. The first of those set a definite timeline; we know when Krypton exploded, when Supes landed in Kansas, when he left Smallville, and when he arrived in Metropolis… 1978. The movies spanned a few years, then Big Blue went walkabout. But he had to come back to Lois without her ending up an aged spinster. So Singer bent the spacetime continuum by modifying the forward Superdeflector.

  4. Hi Chris!
    One thing to add – how could you do a list of bad comic movies and not mention – wait… CATWOMAN! Or does that not even count as a proper movie?
    I mean, the main plot being a villainious businesswoman who’s selling beauty products that make you… ugly!! OH NOES!!!
    But I suppose that’s how they planned the movie: The male audience gets leather catwoman’s photoshopped butt to glare at, and the female audience gets… beauty products!
    Don’t get me wrong – the movie is hilarious! Wonderful for drinking games (e.g.: Have one shot for every time someone says “Catwoman”, you won’t believe the amount of namedropping!) or just annoying friends, but seriously, if there hadn’t been a Razzy* award before, they would have it invented just for this film!
    Did I mention that the villain (who is played by Sharon Stone) can turn into *Stone*? Yes? It’s a real pleasure. Really 😀

    *The only thing that kind of saved Halle Berry’s honour was that she collected the Razzy herself, but I suppose that’s how you redeem yourself after being… Catwoman! Shot for me 🙂 I still don’t like her that much in X III, though…

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