Warner Bros’ new Fantastic Four got a good kicking last summer when it hit cinemas, with some critics claiming it could be the worst superhero movie ever made. It’s bad, but is it that bad? NME checks out the competition by looking back at some of the most woeful superhero movies of the past two decades.
Catwoman: With Halle Berry in the title role and Sharon Stone as an equally glamorous baddie, 2004’s Catwoman could have been a blast. Sadly, the film’s makers seem so obsessed with Berry’s S&M-style costume that they fail to give this usually impressive actress anything resembling character development or a coherent plot. Total big screen kitty litter.
Green Lantern: This DC Comics adaptation was an incredibly costly flop for Warner Bros in 2011. Industry insiders reckoned the Ryan Reynolds-led film needed to make $500 million to turn a profit, but sunk by its thin script and over-reliance on CGI, Green Lantern managed to gross just $220 million. Thankfully, Reynolds’ new superhero movie Deadpool looks loads better.
Elektra: Did 2003’s Daredevil really need – or deserve – this 2005 spin-off? Though Jennifer Garner brings some stylish swagger to the title role, Elektra is let down by its predictable storytelling, dingy visuals and dodgy dialogue, and became the worst-performing movie featuring a Marvel Comics character since 1986’s Howard The Duck. Ouch.
5Batman & Robin
Batman & Robin: Nearly two decades on from its 1997 release, George Clooney is still getting ribbed for this over-jokey, codpiece-packed catastrophe. “I always apologise for Batman & Robin,” he admitted earlier this year. “I thought I’d actually destroyed the franchise until somebody else brought it back years later and changed it.”
Steel: Wait, Shaquille O’Neal made a superhero movie? Yup, it really happened. Steel saw the basketball star play DC Comics’ John Henry Irons, a self-made hero who uses technology to mimic Superman’s natural abilities. Meryl Streep would have struggled to breathe life into the film’s cheese-laden dialogue, and Shaq, bless him, is no Meryl Streep.
Spawn: Alongside Batman & Robin and Steel, this boring 1997 gore-fest featuring a popular Image Comics anti-hero completed a real annus horribilis for the superhero movie. The excessively violent visuals were probably impressive at the time but they’ve since aged about as well as the MiniDisc player. Unsurprisingly, a sequel’s been stuck in development hell since 1998.
Jonah Hex: This 2010 also-ran was a weird hybrid of sci-fi and western featuring a potentially interesting DC Comics anti-hero. Though Jonah Hex attracted a classy cast led by Josh Brolin and Michael Fassbender, its hodgepodge plot failed to gel so spectacularly that director Jimmy Hayward rightly decides to end the film after just 81 minutes – including the credits.
9Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance
Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance: The first Ghost Rider film was hardly a masterpiece, but this 2012 sequel is so shoddy even its CGI effects look phoned-in. Nicolas Cage later won a Razzie for his frankly bonkers performance in the role of the movie’s flaming skeleton motorbike vigilante and has since said of the franchise: “Personally, I’m done.” Good call, Nic.
Fantastic Four: That’s right, Marvel’s Fantastic Four superhero crew have been embarrassed on the big screen before, in this needlessly fluffy 2005 blockbuster starring a pre-Captain America Chris Evans. We’re already looking forward to Warner Bros’ third attempt to make a Fantastic Four movie work, which will presumably happen in 2025.