The worst comic book movies of all time
Movies based off of comic books can be spectacular work of arts (The Dark Knight, Road to Perdition, A History of Violence). Sometimes they can be campy fun (Captain America TV movies, Batman the Movie, Blank Man). But occasionally these movies stink. You know, like a cat peeing on a wok that’s already burning dirty diapers. This is a handful of those movies. I don’t rank them out, because it was torture watching them once, and I’m not going to watch them again to figure out which smells worse.
The tagline for Superman III was, “This time is going to be the best time of them all.” In print, though, it should read like this, “This time is going to be the best time of them all.” It was so bad it killed the Superman franchise. Unfortunately, Warner Brothers wouldn’t realize this until after Superman Returns.
Richard Donner directed the first Superman movie, and most of the second one before being fired. Richard Lester was the scab who stepped in and added the corny scenes to Superman II (you know, like Lois Lane forgetting Clark Kent was Superman because she was injected with…something). But Lester wasn’t done. He was given Superman III, and complete control to do with it as he pleased.
The main character was played by Richard Pryor. Not Christopher Reeves, who played Superman. Pryor played a man who has never used a computer before. He sits down at one for the first time, and learns how to control the army’s missile system and the weather. Oh, and Superman gets drunk at a bar. And he tries to rape someone. Because Superman is all about truth justice and date rape.
How bad could a movie about Superman (that has him and Lois Lane as minor characters) be? There's a scene where Richard Pryor wears a table cloth and skis off a rooftop. A woman is sucked into a supercomputer and turned into a robot. Clark Kent battles Superman in a garbage dump. Worst of all, it lead to Superman IV.
Howard the Duck
The comic book for Howard the Duck was existential in nature. It often parodied other comics, as well as life itself. George Lucas harnessed his film making abilities he would later employ on The Phantom Menace into making Howard a benign walking muppet with no bite whatsoever. The tone of the comic was completely ignored.
The film, made for 36 million, only made half its money back at the box office. It netted four Razzies, including worst picture. And it’s been rumored to cause a fistfight between two Universal executives over who green lit the picture. It was also the first Marvel theatrical release, setting the bar about two inches below the floor.
Occasionally you can put your finger on exactly what went wrong with a movie. In the Green Lantern’s case I think it was the executives interfering. I can imagine the pitch for this movie at Warner Brothers.
“So we’ve got this popular superhero who we’ve never tapped on the big screen. It’s oozing with potential. This movie is franchise material.”
The suit leans in. “What’s it about?”
“This guy gets a ring from a dying alien and can make green constructs of anything he can imagine. He protects a sector of outer space.”
The suit looks excited. “Van Wilder. The kids love him. We’ve got to give Van Wilder a crack at this. And knock out that space crap. People want something they can relate to, so give them Earth.
The suit turns to his personal assistant. “What was that hero Fox picture I watched on FX last night?”
The personal assistant spits out, “Fantastic Four 2.”
The suit nods, “Yeah. That picture was wild. It's a space picture on Earth. And the bad guy was a cloud. We could save so much money with that.”
“Yeah but the fans…”
“Will love it. Green Lantern, green lit.”
What’s not to love about Spawn? How about his giant CGI cape? There’s the catch phrase, “You’ve been violated, girly man,” which ran its course on Hans and Franz SNL sketches eight years earlier. Don’t forget about John Leguizamo in a fat suit dressed up as a blue clown? Then there’s just John Leguizamo in general.
The movie was based off of Todd MacFarlane’s comic that ripped off Ghost Rider, but made it much more entertaining. It’s too bad that the film was worse than Nicholas Cage’s turn as Johnny Blaze several years later. I won’t go so far as to say any Nicholas Cage movie, however. Let’s keep this in perspective, people.
The producers wanted Tim Burton (post Batman and Batman Returns). Instead they got Mark A.Z. Dippe (Garfield ‘s Pet Force, Garfield Gets Real, Garfield’s Fun Fest). The casting to this film didn’t quite make sense, since they turned down Wesley Snipes (Blade) to cast Michael Jai White (Military policeman #2 in Saved by the Bell). Did I mention they actually casted John Leguizamo?