Iron Man 3 swoops into UK cinemas next week and the long awaited Superman re-reboot Man of Steel arrives in June but not every superhero character is destined for box office greatness. Sometimes the end results are less than heroic.
Fantastic Four (2005) & Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007): Technically both films were a modest success but neither were well received, the lightweight antics of this quintet of Marvel characters boasted the tagline “Prepare for the fantastic”, a tagline both entries failed to live up to.
Future Captain America Chris Evans got his first taste of the Marvel world playing Johnny Storm but a lack of action, fun and casting hiccups galore with Ioan Gruffud and Jessica Alba playing the least convincing couple in recent memory make both movies enjoyable but instantly forgettable. Add to that Nip/Tuck’s Julian McMahon as Dr Doom and you have all the makings of a serious misfire. Matthew Vaughn (X-Men First Class, Kick Ass) is producing a reboot which starts filming later this year.
The Phantom (1996): Billy Zane squeezes his bulking frame into the famous purple Lycra to play ‘the ghost who walks’, even a script from the late Jeffery Boam who penned a string of hits including Lost Boys, Lethal Weapon 1-3 and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade couldn’t save this from becoming a box office dud.
What could have been a light hearted adventure wound up a humourless and daft big budget screen outing for Lee Falk’s comic book creation. Perhaps the only thing this movie is remembered for is being Catherine Zeta-Jone’s first Hollywood role
Elektra (2005): A director’s cut might have improved Daredevil just enough to avoid showing up on this this list but the spin-off movie Elektra is beyond redemption. There might be a shortage of female superheroes but surely that should inspire the filmmakers to try extra hard when attempting to kick start a franchise. Jennifer Garner reprised her role as the fearless assassin but Ben Affleck’s cameo as Daredevil was cut from the film and washed up on the DVD extras.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) The original Richard Donner directed 1978 film is a classic in every sense of the word and Christopher Reeve will always hold a special place in the hearts of movie lovers as the definitive man of steel. For this environmentally focused sequel Superman takes on the shockingly 80s villain Nuclear Man, although made almost a decade on from the first one you wouldn’t think it to look at it, dodgy special effects and a script void of anything resembling charm lead to a bargain basement sequel.
This marked the final time Reeve would don the cape and Superman would be absent from our cinema screens for almost twenty years.
Supergirl (1984) The curse of the spin off strikes again, Helen Slater stars as Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-El who must journey to Earth to bring back a lost Kryptonian weapon the Omegahedrom.
Like Superman the producers of this were able to attract a credible cast including Peter Cook, Faye Dunaway, Mia Farrow, Marc McClure reprised his role as Jimmy Olsen and the legendary Peter O’Toole slums it as Kara’s mentor Zaltar. That’s about where the comparisons end as Supergirl isn’t even so bad it’s good, it’s so bad its almost unwatchable. Costing over $35 million the movie only managed to recoup $14 million and all chances of a spin-off franchise died with it at the box office.
Steel (1997) Basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal starring as a weapons maker who is forced to forge his own metal suit to fight crime and stop his latest invention falling into the wrong hands, sound familiar? There’s more than a passing resemblance to Iron Man although this was a DC Comics creation, featuring Judd Nelson as the resident bad guy and some of the worst special effects ever committed to film. If Steel was developed as a comedy or parody of superhero films it might have masked it’s sheer awfulness, there’s a good reason you’ve likely never heard of this before.
Batman & Robin (1997): Where do we start with this one, Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever started undoing the dark gothic tapestry Tim Burton worked so hard to weave in the first two movies but it was Batman and Robin that caused the franchise to completely unravel. . George Clooney might have the chin for Batman but when that’s the best thing you can say about the movie then something is a miss. Laced with cringe worthy performances from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman and a camp style closer to the 60s TV series this spelled the death of the Dark Knight until Christopher Nolan brought him back to life.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003): Based on Watchmen creator Alan Moore’s comic book series and directed by Blade’s Stephen Norrington this had everything going for it. Sean Connery headlines a super group of iconic characters including Dorian Grey, Jekyll and Hyde, Tom Sawyer, Mina Harker and Captain Nemo to stop the forces of darkness. A troubled production and a serious deviation from the source material the film angered fans of Moore’s work.
This also served as Sean Connery’s swan-song from acting as he retired shortly after, in a career filled with iconic roles from James Bond to Jim Malone from The Untouchables this was a real low point to bow out on.
Catwoman (2004) Just a year before Nolan’s Batman reboot this terrible spin off arrived with Halle Berry staring as the feline infused superhero taking on Sharon Stone’s evil cosmetic company CEO. Although only loosely based on the comic book character this thrown together attempt to cash in on the batman brand is widely regarded as one of the worst films ever made.
Even Halle Berry disliked the finished film so much that she actually turned up to claim her Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress and in her acceptance speech she said; “First of all, I want to thank Warner Brothers. Thank you for putting me in a piece of sh*t, god-awful movie… It was just what my career needed.”.
Green Lantern (2011) : Ace test pilot Hal Jordan stumbles upon a crashed alien space craft and is given a powerful ring to become the first human to join the intergalactic police force known as Green Lanterns. Although not the most popular character in the DC universe, on paper this had all the key ingredients to be a success. Director Martin Campbell had previously rebooted the James Bond Franchise twice with Goldeneye and Casino Royale and Ryan Reynolds is a likable actor who was breaking out as a bankable leading man.
The fully CG suit was always going to be a tough sell but that was the least of its problems as a confused tone it regrettably missed the mark entirely and it’s difficult to believe where over $200 million was spent. Ryan Reynolds has stated he has very little interest in reprising the role for the planned Justice League movie, although Warner Bros are waiting on Man of Steel to be released before they officially give the project the green light.
Iron Man 3 is in UK cinemas April 26 and The Man of Steel arrives June 14.