10 Comic Book Movies We Could Have Done Without
Superhero fatigue in 2023 is real, people.
1. "The Fantastic Four" (2015)
Despite being one of Marvel's flagship superhero teams, the Fantastic Four has never quite found its footing in the cinematic world. The 2015 reboot was particularly egregious. Directed by Josh Trank, the film tried to ground the quartet's outlandish origins in reality, which translated into an hour of buildup for a lackluster 20-minute climax.
The film was a box office disappointment, grossing $167 million against a $120 million budget, and critics weren't any kinder, with Rotten Tomatoes rating it at a meager 9%. Trank disowned the film, stating on Twitter, "A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would've received great reviews. You'll probably never see it. That's reality though."
2. "X-Men: Dark Phoenix" (2019)
In an attempt to rectify the mistakes made in "X-Men: The Last Stand," "Dark Phoenix" attempted to give the epic "Dark Phoenix Saga" storyline its due. Unfortunately, it burned up on re-entry. The plot was too ambitious, the stakes felt artificially inflated, and Jessica Chastain's villain was forgettable. With a worldwide gross of only $252 million against a $200 million budget, it was a box office flop and earned a 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite the film's impressive cast, it couldn't save this Phoenix from self-destruction.
3. "Catwoman" (2004)
When your movie is considered a butchered version of an already minor DC character, you know you've missed the mark. Halle Berry's Catwoman bore no resemblance to the iconic character from the Batman universe. She played Patience Phillips, who gains cat powers after...being brought back to life by an Egyptian Mau cat. (No, seriously.)
The film was a financial and critical disaster, earning only $82 million against a $100 million budget, and scooping up Rotten Tomatoes' rating of 9%. Berry showed up to accept her Razzie award, Oscar in hand, quipping, "First of all, I want to thank Warner Bros. Thank you for putting me in a piece of shit, god-awful movie." Ouch.
4. "Batman & Robin" (1997)
The list of sins in this movie is almost ridiculously long. Ice puns from Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze? George Clooney's Bat-nipples? Or perhaps the all-too-familiar shot of Batman and Robin's rubber-clad buttocks? Directed by Joel Schumacher, this movie was more like a parody of the Dark Knight. Audiences worldwide cringed as Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy flirted with everything that moved.
Box office results weren't disastrous, grossing $238 million worldwide, but against a $125 million budget, it wasn't exactly a blockbuster. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a frosty 11%. Even George Clooney famously apologized for killing the Batman franchise. Repeatedly.
5. "Green Lantern" (2011)
Well, duh. Ryan Reynolds' turn as Green Lantern is one that he (and the audience) would rather forget. Despite his charisma, Reynolds couldn't save the convoluted script, hammy dialogue, and questionable special effects. The film was essentially a $200 million showcase of Reynolds in a computer-generated supersuit, battling a cloud. Yes, a cloud.
The movie only grossed $219 million worldwide, and was hit with a 26% Rotten Tomatoes rating. The film was so poorly received that Reynolds later roasted it in "Deadpool," his successful superhero redemption.
6. "Suicide Squad" (2016)
The concept was promising: a group of supervillains forced to save the world. However, the execution was... less so. "Suicide Squad" turned out to be a chaotic mess with a plot that was more jumbled than The Joker's thoughts. With too many characters vying for screen time, the storyline got lost in the mix, and Jared Leto's Joker was polarizing at best.
The film grossed $746 million worldwide, but critics were less impressed, giving it a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It's a prime example of when a studio seemingly interferes too much with a film's direction, resulting in a disjointed narrative.
7. "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" (1987)
Superman stands for truth, justice, and the American way. However, in "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace," he stood for a clunky anti-nuclear message and budget cuts. With a script as shaky as the special effects, the Man of Steel fights Nuclear Man, a villain made from Superman's hair and a nuclear missile (Yes, you read that right).
Despite Christopher Reeve's noble intentions, the film was a financial disaster, earning only $36.7 million against a $17 million budget. Rotten Tomatoes wasn't kind either, granting it a 12% rating. It was a super flop, indeed.
8. "Justice League" (2017)
Tagged as DC's answer to Marvel's "The Avengers," "Justice League" unfortunately didn't live up to the hype. Directed by Zack Snyder (and partially by Joss Whedon), the film was a tonal mishmash with an underwhelming villain in Steppenwolf. Despite boasting iconic characters like Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman, the film felt disjointed and hurried.
It grossed $657 million worldwide, which, while not a disaster, was lower than expected for such a high-profile film. The Rotten Tomatoes rating of 40% reflected the general audience's lukewarm reception. The film's controversial production process and extensive reshoots became such a topic of conversation that it eventually led to a completely reworked "Snyder Cut" being released on HBO Max in 2021.
9. "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" (2012)
When Nicolas Cage is the least over-the-top part of your movie, you've got problems. "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" saw Cage return as Johnny Blaze, the stunt motorcyclist turned flaming-skulled vigilante. It was a jumbled mess of frenzied visuals, a nonsensical plot, and underwhelming action sequences. The film grossed $132 million against a $57 million budget, but the critics were not kind, granting it a 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite Cage's eccentric charm, even he couldn't breathe life into this fiery flop.
10. "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" (2014)
This film was ambitious, to say the least, but it buckled under the weight of its own web. "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" juggled multiple villains, a romance subplot, and teased future films, all while dealing with the mystery of Peter Parker's parents. With all these threads, the film felt bloated and confused. It still managed to gross $709 million worldwide, but with a 52% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and mixed reviews, the film left audiences more exhausted than excited.
This led to a rethinking of Spider-Man's direction on screen, leading to his integration into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So, in a way, maybe we did need "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" after all?..