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The WORST Comic Franchise Movies

Posted on 10/6/14 by Pete

Excelsior, True Believers! Look at the calendar - summer is here! Summer is also known as "Hell Season" on the movie blog circuit, because the summer blockbuster season never fails to lay its share of turds. And past years have seen most of those turds land in the yard of comic book fans.

So here we are, right at the beginning of Hell, to warn you that the releases you're about to see over the next three months carry a high risk of a case of "I want my two hours back." And just to make sure that warning is baked into your brain and set in etched porcelain, we will show you the bones of these comic book franchise turkeys. Relive them with us and despair!

We're also going to do away with the whole sorting-them-by-number thing. Might save us some arguments.

Catwoman

We thought we'd save you the trouble of scrolling down to check. There's nothing we can say about this movie that hasn't been said already. It's at the top of every "worst comic book translation to film" list. Ask any comic fan you know. Hell, it's in the top ten of most "worst movie ever, period" lists.

The peg that we have to hang this movie's badness on is "bad judgment." Let's convey her as a cat-person: Oh, eat a dozen cans of tuna. Let's give her a back-story: CGI cat possession. She needs a villain: Surprise (not!) her former boss. Hey, we need to appeal to the kids: Throw in a funky basketball game that turns into a hip-hop freaky dance. Appeal to the guys: Dominitrix suit. Appeal to the gals: Half-assed feminist empowerment moral. And yes, those last two were only a couple scenes apart.

But here's one good thing about this movie: The Nostalgia Critic reviewed it. And that is all you need to know.

Batman & Robin

Of course you named this one second. It goes without saying. It isn't even a bad Batman movie; it's about five kinds of bad Batman movies thrown into a blender and shoveled onto the screen like Puppy Chow. Bad at camp, bad at taking itself seriously, bad at over-the-top visuals between the neon clown circus villains and the Nipples of Doom, bad casting (no offense to George Clooney, who is great at everything else but just happens to not be a good Batman), and horrible train wreck of writing. This was at a time when the Batman franchise was such a cash cow that all you'd have to do is sit back and milk.

What could be to blame for how bad this movie is? I mean, all it did was have Joel Schumacher direct it; is that so wrong? In his defense, the costumes are modeled after Greek naked-guy statues which just happen to be anatomically correct. Ahnuld at this time was more a walking robot programmed with throw-away one-liners than an actor, and he was more interested in being governor of California than an actor anyway. And we got Uma Thurman as a villain - she's a good actress, so she can make a menacing villain too, right? I mean come on, Schumacher can provide good, sound, logical reasons for every decision he made. No need to crucify him, is there? Anybody? Hello?

Howard the Duck

Everybody forgets about this one, because it is so old. But just for that, it stands as an icon, being the very first comic book translated to film that was a notorious enough disaster to make the top of many worst-movie-ever lists.

The only problem with it is the big obvious elephant-size one: It suffers from Underground Comic To Film Syndrome. Just as with Fritz the Cat and Tank Girl, whenever you have an underground comic character conceived as a Picaresque piss-take against its own medium with a lot of witty social satire, it's going to die on screen. Especially when it snorts the '80s like rails of cheap coke. It just doesn't translate well, for the same reason that we'll never see a good film adaptation of A Confederacy of Dunces. If they ever adapt Cerebus the Aardvark into film (please God no!), expect the same result.

But God loves you, because now you've found another Nostalgia Critic review. In fact, linking to the Nostalgia Critic was half the motive for writing this article.

Ghost Rider

Nicholas The Bees Cage. Plus the same writer behind the film adaptations of Daredevil and Electra, two other films that we can now say we mentioned in this list without having to post them separately. Plus an agonizingly long, looooooong time taken to get to the point of the story, with a payoff that wastes some of the coolest special effects ever.

On top of all the blatantly wrong things, we have a pile of completely random decisions that were apparently made by shaking one of those Magic 8-Balls from the '80s. We need a narrator-cum-supporting-character: Sam Elliot! We need a devil: Peter Fonda! And a villain ("Wait boss, we already have the Devil..."): Wes Bentley! We need a prop: Magic 8-Ball from the '80s! Take it away, Nostalgia Critic!

Green Lantern

This is leading up to our next and final choice, but the Green Lantern is a tragic squandered opportunity. For being one of the few surviving golden-age comic heroes to make it to the present day, for having fans with long gray beards by the time the time the film came out, for having an adaptation history dawning all the way back to radio drama and 1940s serial films, and for having such a unique story among comic heroes - they just didn't give a damn.

They just threw together mediocre actor, mediocre costume, random villain, random story, and tossed it all out there like they were microwaving a burrito for breakfast. If they gave this treatment to something like Ghost Rider - who has his fans, but nowhere near as popular as Batman or Spiderman - we could understand. But dammit, for the time we had to wait, this should have been epic. And by virtue of being tepid, it became terrible for being such a letdown.

Jonah Hex

While we could argue a lot for what film to stick in this slot, we're going to champion this underdog just for the heart-wrenching tragedy of the blown opportunity this movie was. We have a deep, complex, Western Gothic hero that brilliantly subverts every Western cliche there is, set during the Civil War so there's gobs of historical commentary available about the forging of America's modern shape and the battle for America's soul, and starring Josh Brolin! This requires no effort to be brilliant; the work is already done for you. Just sit back and let the source material and the lead do all the work, right?

Oh, no, instead let's throw away everything from the comic but the name and make a dopey Wild Wild West style action flick while our hero becomes an Arnold Schwarzenegger clone blowing everything up and mouthing one-liners like he was trying to shoot for a Terminator sequel. "Butchered" is the only word to describe it. Jonah Hex is clawing at the lid of his coffin every day, demanding a second chance. How long can we deny him?


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