Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” is on the horizon and the anticipation for the most ambitious crossover event in history is sky-high.
But not all superhero movies are preceded by so much excitement and many are followed by extreme disappointment.
Business Insider compiled a list of the most infamous superhero movies that have the unfortunate distinction of being the worst in the genre (which has also generated a lot of great movies, including this year’s “Black Panther”).
Many of these movies are remembered not for how they elevated the form, but for how they practically destroyed their respective franchises (“Batman & Robin” ring any bells?).
Below are the 25 worst superhero movies of all time, ranked by how awful they are:
25. “Spider-Man 3” (2007)
Directed by Sam Raimi
Raimi’s first two “Spider-Man” movies are two of the best superhero movies ever made. So what happened? Well, Raimi didn’t get to make the movie he wanted to. As with so many superhero movies, the studio inserted itself into the film’s making a little too much, insisting that the villain Venom be in the movie, which already had two villains that Raimi wanted to work with – the Sandman and Harry Osborn (who becomes the second Green Goblin after his father’s death in the first film). Raimi’s trilogy had been working toward Harry’s eventual transformation, and Sandman played to Raimi’s interests and strengths as a horror filmmaker. Venom being shoehorned into the film was a recipe for disaster, and resulted in a cluttered plot including one of the worst scenes in superhero movie history, in which Peter Parker dances in a jazz club to make Mary Jane jealous and creeps out everyone in the process.
24. “Justice League” (2017)
Directed by Zack Snyder
OK, I probably enjoyed “Justice League” more than most, but in the grand scheme of things, it is not a good movie, and will be remembered as an utter failure. It ended its entire domestic theatrical box-office run with just under $US230 million. By comparison, “Black Panther” made over that in its opening weekend. Box office isn’t everything, but for a movie that was supposed to be DC and WB’s answer to Marvel’s “The Avengers,” it is a devastating disappointment, and just goes to show that audiences are not attracted to the DC Extended Universe’s “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” way of making movies.
23. “The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012)
Directed by Marc Webb
As pun-inspired as hiring Webb to direct a Spider-Man movie was, the fact that Sony rebooted the character just five years after “Spider-Man 3” was no laughing matter. It proved to be a major waste of time, basically re-telling the hero’s origin story that we had already seen done better. This time, Andrew Garfield was cast in the title role, and his chemistry with Emma Stone is the best part of the film. But “The Amazing Spider-Man” felt like the wrong reboot at the wrong time.
22. “Hulk” (2003)
Directed by Ang Lee
Props to Ang Lee for attempting something different and compelling with the superhero genre, but the emphasis is on “attempting” here. The Hulk is just the wrong character for Lee’s more artistic talents, and instead of an enjoyable action flick, the movie is a huge bore.
21. “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” (2007)
Directed by Tim Story
2005’s “Fantastic Four” really wasn’t good enough to warrant a sequel, and while “Rise of the Silver Surfer” was a tad better than that movie, it still wasn’t good. The Surfer was actually executed well, with Doug Jones providing motion capture and Laurence Fishburne voicing the character (a rather brilliant match for such a bad movie). But everything else was a dud, especially Galactus, one of the most powerful villains in Marvel Comics history reduced to a … cloud of dust?
20. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2014)
Directed by Marc Webb
It seems as though Sony didn’t learn its lesson from “Spider-Man 3.” “ASM2” packs too much into one movie – three villains in Electro (a terribly miscast Jamie Foxx), Goblin (who we had seen enough of in Raimi’s trilogy), and Rhino; along with a conspiracy subplot involving Spider-Man’s parents. Not to mention, Sony was trying to set up its own “cinematic universe” focusing on Spider-Man characters, such as the Sinister Six. Fortunately, everyone involved realised this wasn’t going to work, and a deal with Marvel was made. We now have a fun Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where he belongs.
19. “Daredevil” (2003)
Directed by Mark Steven Johnson
Ben Affleck has not had a great career in superhero films. He’s now Batman in the critically panned DC Extended Universe, but over a decade ago, he was Daredevil – awful leather suit and all. It’s worth mentioning that the Director’s Cut is considered infinitely better than the theatrical version, but still, the movie does not have a great reputation, and features Colin Farrell really over-doing it as the villain Bullseye.
18. “Fantastic Four” (2005)
Directed by Tim Story
Before Chris Evans was Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he was Human Torch in the “Fantastic Four,” a truly cartoonish version of Marvel’s “First Family.” Whereas Marvel Studios has now perfected a mixture of family-friendly fun with dramatic superheroics, Tim Story crashed and burned in that regard way back in 2005. The characters have not been able to recover on the screen since (more on that later).
17. “Green Lantern” (2011)
Directed by Martin Campbell
Campbell was responsible for reviving the James Bond franchise with “Casino Royale” (Daniel Craig’s first Bond movie), which makes the fact that his “Green Lantern” film is so bad all the more disappointing. Distracting CGI costumes and Ryan Reynolds in the wrong superhero role are partly responsible.
16. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016)
Directed by Zack Snyder
Maybe we should have known just how bad this movie would be from the title, which is as messy as the movie itself. But I still held out hope for “Dawn of Justice.” I actually liked Snyder’s “Man of Steel,” and the prospect of seeing two of the most well-known superheroes on the big screen together was tempting. But the movie’s storyline is a complete mess: What is Lex Luthor’s motivation again, why does the Flash suddenly show up, what’s up with the nightmare evil-Superman sequence? And Jesse Eisenberg is a huge miscasting for Luthor. Then there’s the actual fight between Superman and Batman, which is resolved in probably the most absurd way imaginable. Both of their mums have the same name! So they stop fighting! If only every conflict was resolved this conveniently and forgotten about minutes later.
15. “Suicide Squad” (2016)
Directed by David Ayer
“Suicide Squad” should not be as bad as it is. A movie about a group of supervillains who are forced to work for the government should have been loads of fun. But the movie suffers from an identity crisis. It has no idea whether it wants to be a “Guardians of the Galaxy” knock-off or a “Dark Knight”-esque crime movie. Both could have worked if it settled on one or the other, but it ends up failing to execute either one very well. The main villain is a horribly CGI-ed monstrosity as we see in so many superhero movies, we care nothing about the characters, and Jared Leto’s Joker is totally misused.
14. “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” (2011)
Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
I guess nobody got the memo that Nicolas Cage is not appropriate for this character, because a sequel was made. To be fair, it’s an improvement (from the directors of the “Crank” movies), but not by much.
13. “Ghost Rider” (2007)
Directed by Mark Steven Johnson
Johnson is an expert in bad superhero movies with this and “Daredevil” on his resume. Nicolas Cage as a superhero? Sign me up. Nicolas Cage as this superhero? No thanks.
12. “Kick-Arse 2” (2013)
Directed by Jeff Wadlow
The first “Kick-Arse” is an entertaining and hilarious movie that I absolutely love. So imagine my surprise when I found the sequel to be the exact opposite. The best part of the film is Jim Carrey, but he’s in it for maybe three minutes.
11. “The Spirit” (2008)
Directed by Frank Miller
Frank Miller is a respected comic book creator, who has written some of the best of all time, including “The Dark Knight Returns.” But you wouldn’t know that from watching this movie, which sits at 14% on Rotten Tomatoes and made under $US40 million worldwide.
10. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (2009)
Directed by Gavin Hood
Remember those “Origins” movies Fox had planned for other X-Men characters like Magneto? Well, the atrocity that is “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” ensured that wouldn’t happen. This is the movie with will.i.am trying to act and Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool (before it was cool) – the Merc with a Mouth doesn’t even have a mouth in this movie!
9. “Superman III” (1983)
Directed by Richard Lester
After two of the best superhero movies of all time, Christopher Reeve continued being Superman – to unimpressive results. “Superman III” features Richard Pryor and a plot where Superman and Clark Kent get split from one another, and that’s about all you need to know to understand how bad this movie is.
8. “Batman & Robin” (1997)
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Bat-nipples. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze. Some of the worst dialogue in superhero movie history. There are plenty of reasons why “Batman & Robin” is one of the worst superhero movies of all time, but one scene in particular just about sums it up: Batman and Robin play hockey with a bunch of Mr. Freeze’s henchmen, because they apparently have ice skates built into their boots.
7. “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” (1987)
Directed by Sidney J. Furie
It would take nearly 20 years for Superman to appear on the big screen again in “Superman Returns” after this misfire that pits Superman against someone named Nuclear Man. Reeve really deserved better.
6. “Elektra” (2005)
Directed by Rob Bowman
“Wonder Woman” finally proved that a female-led superhero movie could be both critically acclaimed and financially successful. But prior to that, female superheroes had not been given their fair shot at the big screen. It’s quite surprising that “Elektra” was even made, since it is a spin-off of “Daredevil,” which wasn’t exactly a success.
5. “Steel” (1997)
Directed by Kenneth Johnson
Shaq as an Iron Man knockoff. Enough said.
4. “Fantastic Four” (2015)
Directed by Josh Trank
A movie so bad it ruined any chance of director Josh Trank making a “Star Wars” movie, Fox’s reboot of “Fantastic Four” attempted to take the team in a more edgy direction than the 2005 movie. It seemed like a recipe for success – Trank had just made the critically acclaimed “Chronicle,” and the movie stars Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan were the next big things. But nothing could have saved this disaster of a film from its horrible special effects and storyline. It currently has 9% on Rotten Tomatoes and perhaps that’s even being gentle. Will a good Fantastic Four movie ever get made? With Disney (which owns Marvel) buying many of Fox’s assets, it’s not impossible for the team to show up in the MCU. But after so many failed attempts, it might not be a chance worth taking.
3. “Supergirl” (1984)
Directed by Jeannot Szwarc
After “Superman III” was released, you’d think no one would be crazy enough to invest in a spin-off. Well, “Supergirl” was made nonetheless, in which Superman’s cousin Kara comes to Earth to track down a Kryptonian power source and ends up fighting … a witch? It’s not quite clear. The character’s on-screen prospects weren’t totally destroyed, though. She currently stars in a CW TV series.
2. “The Lone Ranger” (2013)
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Some probably wouldn’t count the Lone Ranger as a superhero, but I think the term is flexible. He’s basically the Batman of the Old West. He vows to fight crime after those he loves are killed, but by a strict moral code. However, the character is reduced to a laughable mess in this movie, and Johnny Depp as the loyal Native American sidekick Tonto is an utter disgrace. But if Batman can bounce back from “Batman & Robin,” I still believe the Lone Ranger could be revived.
1. “Catwoman” (2004)
Directed by Pitof
Pitof hasn’t directed a feature film since “Catwoman” and that makes sense if you waste your time on this atrocious movie. Halle Berry recently said that “Catwoman” “deserves another chance” because “behind every ‘Black Panther’ is a great black Catwoman.” But this movie is hardly a Catwoman movie. Her real name in the movie isn’t even Selina Kyle (Catwoman’s real name in the comic books). That’s not me being a comic book geek. This movie’s faults go way beyond any comic nitpicking. The effects, the acting, the dialogue, the plot (which involves poison skincare and make-up products for some reason). It’s all just so bad.
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