There have been a LOT of terrible comic book movies over the years, but when one is compiling a list of the very worst there are a few things you have to take into consideration. The first is that any "all-time" list shouldn't include anything before 1978. While this might seem counterintuitive, it wasn't until Superman mad a huge splash at the box office that the studios realized that comic books weren't just for kids anymore. Pick on Batman: The Movie (1966) all you want with its big plastic hollow shark (that BONGS when Batman hits it) and Bat-Killer Whale Repellent all you want -- they were doing the best they could with what they had and what they thought kids wanted. Television was filled with a wasteland of bad made-for-TV movies like Doctor Strange and Captain America. At the time, they didn't know better.
The second thing to take into consideration is the handful of truly terrible movies that were made for the silver screen but were such spectacular failures that they never quite made it. These must absolutely be put into play. After all, how fair is it to criticize Fox's mediocre Fantastic Four series without considering the Roger Corman version that came before it a decade prior? If it was made after 1978 by a reputable or successful company, it is fair game. Oftentimes when people make "worst of" lists, they neglect the forgotten, terrible movies of the past for those that stick out in their minds as failures. As a result, these more mainstream movies end up picked on for merely sucking, whilst the truly craptacular dung heaps are completely ignored.
How the hell do you make a movie filled with ninjas BORING? No. Seriously. How in the name of all that is holy do you make a boring ninja movie??? While I don't know how, Fox managed to make the world's most boring ninja movie and one of its worst superhero movies simultaneously. If only they could have found a way to throw in pirates, this could have been a triple threat. Instead, this sad, pathetic Daredevil spin-off is just another in a long series of misguided 20th Century Fox comic book movies. It also happens to be their very worst.
Fantastic Four (Roger Corman)
There's one thing I like about this film, one thing it got right that the recent Fox-produced adaptations did not: the relationship between Reed Richards and Sue Storm. It was adorable, heartfelt, and syrupy without remorse. But everything else in this movie? Total crap. Rushed through production in order to meet a contract deadline and keep the rights to the property, Corman actually dropped the ball and made it too late. He lost the rights AFTER making the film and then couldn't release it. Since then, this terrible, almost unwatchable film has been a pirated favorite, sold at comic book conventions and illegally downloaded since there is no legal way to obtain it ... as God intended.
Remember when someone thought it was a good idea to make Shaquille O'Neal a superhero? Remember when someone thought it was a good idea for him to act? Remember when someone thought it was a good idea for him to rap? Remember when someone thought it was a good idea for him to shoot free throws? We were so young and innocent then. So young. So stupid. $16 million to make, it brought in $1.6 million at the box office. I'm guessing you don't actually remember this movie.
Early this decade, after X-Men and Spider-Man made huge bank at the box office, every studio started going through old boxes of files to see what superhero properties they owned and could throw into production. Lionsgate owned a handful of second-tier Marvel superheroes and began to mine them for box office gold. Their highest profile hero, the dark anti-hero the Punisher, was a logical first choice. Sadly, they made a movie so bad it made me pine for the terrible 1980s Dolph Lundgren version, which at least had style and camp value. This one had a cackling John Travolta in his worst film in recent memory, and Thomas Jane, glowering a lot while looking like a 35-year-old guy who lives in his parents' basement and DRESSES like the Punisher.
Sound familiar? No? Lionsgate's follow-up to The Punisher turned out so awful that theatrical plans were scrapped and it was dumped direct to cable with a DVD follow-up. Considering some of the films Lionsgate has given theatrical releases to, that's really saying something.
A sad relic from the late '80s, this film had production problems and reshoots that stretched it out until its weak foreign release and domestic dump on DVD. The film opens strongly with a great opening scene, then appears as if it has spent all of its money and becomes so ridiculous that one cannot watch it with a straight face. This pretty much requires copious amounts of beer to get all the way through.
Oh. Please don't make me think about this again. Please? Just think of Halle Berry BEFORE the Oscar. Before. Hot. Talented. Only a little crazy. Whatever you do, Cargill, don't think about Sharon Stone in this ... AW CRAP. There goes a couple hundred brain cells I'll never get back.
Oops, the first great George Lucas misstep. After a nasty divorce granted his wife a large portion of the Star Wars money, George decided to stick it to her by not making another Star Wars film until after 1996. He was gonna go off and make his own projects: new, brilliant, successful ventures like Willow and Howard the Duck. It's a movie about a talking duck from another planet with one of the creepiest love scenes in modern history. No, I'm not kidding. And yes, it was a superhero comic book.
Long notorious for being one of the very worst movies of all time, this misguided, ham-fisted sequel almost killed the series for good and for all. It was a film so bad it took two decades for them to make another. Movies like this serve to remind us that sometimes even Pauley Shore movies can have merit, because at least they aren't The Quest for Peace.
Easily the worst big budget failure of the bunch, never before has a comic book movie done so little with so much. Written (or shall we say re-written) by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, this film sports George Clooney, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman, and then hot commodities Alicia Silverstone and Chris O'Donnell. The result is actually one of the worst big budget movies ever made. Almost completely unwatchable, this frightening turd even got a mention during a recent Oscar speech. If you need a reminder of just how awful it is, run a YouTube search -- there are dozens of videos encapsulating the very worst moments into one mind-numbing segment.