Thursday, January 26, 2012

What are the worst comic book adaptations put to screen?

By their very nature, “worst of” lists are just more fun to write than “best of” lists.

It’s kind of fun to slap a movie (or television show) while it’s down.

When it comes to comic book movies, the “worst of” list really could be a “worst of” book when you think about it.

The sheer number of colossal failures in the genre is staggering. You could include any number of ‘Superman,’ ‘Batman,’ and green anything on the list.

Picking the movies wasn’t actually the hard part this time. Narrowing them down was.

So, without further ado, the worst comic book adaptations are:

10. Superman Returns – In the land of vapid leading men, Brandon Routh should be king. So much was riding on this ‘Superman’ reboot. You would think they’d at least make an attempt at casting a likeable, warm and engaging leading man. That piece of wood that ran around trying to ape Christopher Reeve is not a capable leading man. It was more like he was playing Reeve playing Superman than trying to put his own spin on Superman. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he hasn’t been heard from since. I hope he has fun with his new job as a gym trainer -- because that’s where his talents truly belong. That being said, Kate Bosworth was also the queen of suck. The only thing worth watching in this movie was Kevin Spacey and Parker Posey. They should have just cast the two of them in a sitcom and tossed the rest of the movie.

9. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – I actually don’t think this movie had a prayer of working from the beginning. It had a lot of strikes going against it – including a cast that had only one good actor. Yes, I’m talking about Sean Connery. Sure, Connery phoned it in, but even with half the effort of the rest of the cast, he blew them out of the water. Shane West is as vapid as a CW actor and Peta Wilson apparently only had one good performance in her – ‘La Femme Nikita.’ What’s funny about this film is that I think producers knew it was a dud. Very little marketing was done and it faded from theaters in about 15 minutes flat.

8. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer – Both ‘Fantastic Four’ films could have made the list. They’re both ridiculous. They both have plot holes you could ride a big silver surfboard through. They both have Jessica Alba – an actress that may be hot – but can’t act her way out a ‘Spy Kids’ movie. The only good thing about this franchise is that it appears to be over and done with. Not everything that’s good on a comic book page is good on the big screen – and this is a shining example of that.

7. X-Men 3: The Last Stand – There were two ‘X-Men’ movies that could have been relegated to the worst of list. This one, and ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine.’ You know why I picked ‘X-Men 3’? Because Hugh Jackman runs around in ‘Wolverine’ buck naked for a good 10 minutes. Yep, I’m just that shallow. Honestly, though, I think ‘X3’ is worse. Between the rancid Dark Phoenix tale, the ridiculous Rogue, Iceman and Kitty triangle to the wasteful deaths of Cyclops and Professor X – the entire tale, which actually doubled as a genocide warning -- was hackneyed and forced. Following the greatness that was the second movie in this franchise, I think fans were both stunned and disappointed at the same time. This could have been so much more.

6. The Green Lantern -- Will someone please stop casting Ryan Reynolds in stuff? I like him on a personal level. I was actually rooting for him to work things out with Sandra Bullock. Heck, I’ll even admit the dude is hot. He just can’t act. If I’m being honest, though, Reynolds isn’t the only problem with this stinking pile of excrement. Bad direction, bad costumes and bad writing also sunk this green ship. Please, don’t let there ever be a sequel to this. Not a reboot. Not a sequel. Nothing. Let the Green Lantern live free – off the big screen.

5. Batman and Robin -- George Clooney always jokes that he sank the ‘Batman’ franchise. To be fair, it really wasn’t his fault. His performance was fine. The story, however, could have been some of the most campy dreck to ever cross the big screen. As someone who is a fan of Clooney, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone and Chris O’Donnell, I don’t understand how things could go as poorly as they did. The only one who looks like they’re having any type of fun in the movie is Thurman – and even she can’t elevate the horrible script. We now know that Clooney only sunk that ‘Batman’ franchise. Thankfully, after a few years in Mr. Freeze’s vault, the franchise came back and re-launched with much better writing and acting. Holy big relief, Batman.

4. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace – Actually, two of the Christopher Reeve ‘Superman’ movies could have made this list. I went with the movie that had Nuclear Man as the big bad. Enough said. Really, it’s no surprise that this is the movie that sank the Reeve ‘Superman’ franchise. Gene Hackman was always kind of a ham in the Lex Luthor role – but he still managed to have substance early on in the franchise. All of the actors looked embarrassed to be involved with this bomb. They should have been.

3. The Spirit – I just recently caught this at the behest of my cousin – a big comic book fan. He told me it would make a lot of “worst of” lists but he thought it was really good. I gave it a shot. He was wrong. I have been a fan of Gabriel Macht since I saw him in ‘The Recruit’ and ‘American Outlaws’ – so I thought the movie couldn’t possibly be that bad. I was so very wrong. Macht is horrible, but everyone has a down movie at one time or another. It’s the always reliable Samuel L. Jackson who is the true travesty, though. Even he can’t elevate this bile.

2. Elektra – I know it seems like I’m being harsh on my own sex, but female comic book movies rarely work. This is no exception. Jennifer Garner kicked but on ‘Alias.’ She carried the show – even when the storylines were ridiculous. Now, the script in this movie was a big old pile of rotten sushi – but Garner was horrible in the role, too. I think the producers and director were trying to be stylistic. All that came across, though, was laughter – and not the good kind of laughter. Technically, ‘Daredevil’ could have had this slot, too, but at least Colin Farrell looks like he’s having fun in that movie. Everyone in ‘Elektra’ looks constipated.

1. Catwoman – Any of the top three could have easily fit into the number one slot. I opted for ‘Catwoman.’ Why you may ask? Between the dialogue, direction, acting, casting and wardrobe departments, everyone involved in this bomb deserved a Razzie. Halle Berry has proven herself to be a solid actress (if a bad judge of men, but I digress). This role, though? Just about anyone would have been better. When you add in the overacting Sharon Stone and the bland Benjamin Bratt, the whole endeavor is best left forgotten.

And, as usual, honorable mentions include, ‘Spawn,’ ‘Howard the Duck,’ ‘Jonah Hex’ (even though I love Josh Brolin), Dolph Lundgren’s ‘The Punisher,’ 'Watchmen, ‘Ghost Rider,’ Ang Lee’s ‘The Hulk,’ and ‘Daredevil.’

What do you think? What are the worst comic book adaptations ever?


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