GREEN LANTERN And 9 Other Disliked Superhero Films That Aren't Actually That Bad
There have been a lot of unpopular superhero films over the years, but are all of them all that bad? Here, we list 10 disliked comic-book films that may warrant a second viewing from fans.
The comic book movie genre is thriving. We are getting more superhero films than ever before, and at times, it feels like almost anything with a comic-book branding is a shoo-in for success. With so many superhero movies out there, however, there are bound to be some projects that either don’t live up to expectations (be it critically or commercially) or outright fail in the eyes of audiences.
Over the past two decades, there have been quite a few films that have unfortunately fallen into the latter category. The thing is, not all superhero films that have disappointed critically to that extent are actually that bad. In fact, a fair amount of them are quite good. So, we thought it appropriate to look at 10 unpopular superhero movies that may not be as bad as we remember them being.
Does Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” also take you back to Venom’s closing scene whenever you listen to it? No? Okay. Venom had been in development for years until it finally materialized in 2018 with Tom Hardy in the title role. The film was a financial juggernaut, but it disappointed critically, and audiences were let down by its tone, plot and action. Here’s the thing, though: Venom was quite enjoyable.
Perhaps one of the biggest complaints about the film was its comedic tone. However, it was that relatively lighthearted approach that made Eddie Brock’s big-screen adventure stand out. By now, we’ve seen plenty of dark superhero stories, both in animation and live-action. We know Venom is a dark character, but the film boldly used the anti-hero’s somberness to imbue comedy into the story, resulting in a pleasant action-comedy hybrid that featured the excitement we’ve come to expect from comic-book films while paying homage to the body-horror elements that have become synonymous with Venom.
Yes, the film had plenty of moments that could be considered off-kilter (such as Eddie jumping into a lobster tank), but they perfectly meshed with Venom’s twisted nature.
9. Green Lantern
The funny thing about this movie is, it’s so infamous that even its star, Ryan Reynolds, has taken every chance to criticize it. Now, we are not ones to disagree with Mr. Reynolds, but to be frank, Green Lantern was actually a pleasant superhero film. Introducing something as massive as the Green Lantern Corps to general audiences is no easy task.
The film did that in a smart way by establishing the grand concept on its own at the very beginning of the story. After that, it showed Oa and its inhabitants once again from the perspective of Hal Jordan, whose sarcasm and screwed-up life made for a relatable point of entry into the outlandish world. The story was also interesting, as we got to see Hal become a better person and embrace the hero us comic-book readers knew he was destined to be.
Now, we are aware that this was one of the most controversial aspects of the film, but Hal’s superhero suit was also a great take on his comic-book garb. It felt like what a real-life Green Lantern ring would create for its wearer, and the fact that the uniform’s design was based on the wearer’s musculature was a nice touch.
8. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
When it was announced that Wolverine would be getting his own film after starring in three X-Men movies, fans were excited. Unfortunately, when the film arrived, it disappointed audiences, and it went down in history as one of the most disliked superhero adaptations ever.
The criticisms directed at the film were understandable, but there was a lot to love about it. For starters, it had a memorable opening sequence, which went over Wolverine’s younger years. Logan’s traumatic past is a staple of the character, and the depiction of a young Wolverine killing his biological father properly captured the character’s darkness. Then, there was the opening-credits montage, which showed Logan and Victor Creed fighting in various conflicts throughout history. This successfully established the two brothers as wandering souls looking for something to do as essentially immortal beings. Speaking of brothers, it was also smart to make Wolverine and Victor related, as it made their rivalry all the more engaging.
As mentioned, the complaints audiences had about the movie were fair, but X-Men Origins: Wolverine still worked as an interesting “What if?” story for the mutant anti-hero.
7. Daredevil (2003)
Right around the time that superhero films were taking off thanks to Spider-Man and X-Men, Mark Steven Johnson brought Matt Murdock to the big screen with Daredevil. There are two cuts of the film: the theatrical and the director’s cut. While it’s been argued that the latter is a better version of the film, both cuts are special on their own. There’s no denying that the extra material in the director’s version made the story more well-rounded, but both versions are enjoyable adaptations of Daredevil’s mythos.
Daredevil is gritty, but not unrealistically so. The movie’s version of Hell’s Kitchen feels real, which is a hard thing to accomplish when adapting famously gritty comic books like “Daredevil.” Ben Affleck successfully portrayed Matt Murdock as a man who, while damaged, was inherently good. Jennifer Garner also gave a compelling performance as Elektra, establishing her as a good-natured person who would still be willing to kill you if you crossed her. Colin Farrell’s Bullseye was another highlight of the film. Yes, he was a heightened version of the assassin from the comics, but his interpretation was both scary (never eat peanuts around this man) and hilarious.
To top things off, Daredevil also gave us arguably one of the best casting choices of the 2000s in Michael Clarke Duncan’s Kingpin. His charm and imposing presence made us believe that he was, in fact, a powerful crime boss who was able to go toe-to-toe with the Man Without Fear.
6. Fantastic Four (2005)
Fans are excited to see Marvel’s First Family return to the big screen under the watchful eye of Marvel Studios. Fortunately, while we wait for that to arrive, we have this 2005 classic revisit. The movie had its issues, but it also had a lot of good in it that made it a genuinely enjoyable watch.
One of the film’s best aspects is its cast. Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis and Chris Evans embodied their respective heroes, remaining faithful to the personalities that had been established in the comics while still adding their own spin to them. In fact, Chris Evans gave such a convincing performance as the reckless and immature Johnny Storm, that many comic-book fans had trouble picturing the actor as Captain America when he was cast in the role.
Of course, we can’t forget about Julian McMahon’s Doctor Doom. The man was menacing and unstable, and felt like a threat to our group of crime-fighters. Granted, the movie’s plot may be considered “silly” by some nowadays, but Fantastic Four is still a fun comic-book adventure.
5. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Rise of the Silver Surfer is similar in tone to its predecessor, and generally wasn’t afraid to embrace its comic-book roots. Much has been criticized about the film, including its use of Doom and Galactus’ infamous appearance. While it was admittedly disappointing to see one of Marvel Comics’ most recognizable villains portrayed as a space cloud, Rise of the Silver Surfer was still, overall, an enjoyable live-action take on the Fantastic Four.
The story was entertaining, the drama among the team was engaging, and the Silver Surfer was a compelling character with franchise potential. Just like in 2005’s Fantastic Four, Alba, Gruffudd, Chiklis and Evans gave great performances as Marvel’s First Family, and it was easy to buy them as a dysfunctional team of superheroes who loved each other despite their differences. Plus, the hero’s costumes were, once again, on-point.
4. The Punisher (2004)
“This is not vengeance. Revenge is not a valid motive, it’s an emotional response. No, not vengeance. Punishment.”
Did you hear that? That was the sound of a million fist bumps happening at once. With that awesome piece of dialogue, we trust we don't need to explain this entry. All kidding aside, The Punisher is a true superhero-movie gem. While it isn’t necessarily as disliked as other entries on this list, the film has unfortunately not gotten much recognition since its release.
Somber, tense and exciting, The Punisher did what most successful superhero movies do: Took a character and their lore, improved upon it, and delivered a film that honored its source material while at the same time adding new layers of complexity and excitement to it.
The entire cast delivered remarkable performances to bring Frank Castle’s twisted world to life.Thomas Jane and John Travolta were particular standouts. Jane oozed charisma as The Punisher, creating a character that was tortured and twisted, yet still had something in him that audiences could connect with emotionally. John Travolta, meanwhile, delivered an engaging performance as Howard Saint, a mobster with a soft voice and an unsettling penchant for violence.
The film never got a sequel, but going by what was established in this movie, a franchise based around its version of Frank Castle could have been unique.
3. Spider-Man 3
The struggles that Spider-Man 3 faced during its development have been well-documented by this point. Sam Raimi and the rest of the people involved in the film dealt with an incredible amount of pressure to deliver one of the most anticipated superhero films of its era. And while the finished product was not embraced by audiences, what the movie ended up being was still impressive.
Much like every other film on this list, we can’t deny that Spider-Man 3 had its weaknesses — many of which were significant. However, it still delivered a comic-book adventure that was engaging, fun and, at times, heartbreaking (Flint Marko visiting his daughter after breaking out of prison, anyone?).
Plus, we can’t omit the fact that Spider-Man 3 gave us sequences that, at the time of the film’s release, seemed far-away dreams for comic-book fans, such as Spidey fighting Venom and Sandman alongside Harry Osborn’s Green Goblin.
2. Ghost Rider (2007)
Another Mark Steven Johnson comic-book adventure, Ghost Rider brought everyone’s favorite, perpetually on-fire superhero to the big screen for the first time. While not entirely faithful to its comic book lore, the film delivered a dynamic origin story for its titular character.
Nicolas Cage was a standout as Johnny Blaze. Even though his take on the character was, admittedly, a significant departure from the hero’s characterization on the page, his performance was, for lack of a better word, mesmerizing. What made his performance so unique was the different facets he gave to Jonny’s personality. He could act unstable and reckless one moment, and be courageous and trustworthy the next.
As for the film itself, the plot has a good balance of comedy, action and horror. Some of the movie’s gags are genuinely funny (such as Johnny Blaze’s candy addiction), but such levity rarely overshadows the exciting action and frightening moments. Such a balance is hard to accomplish, but Mark Steven Johnson pulled it off in this film.
Look… We know, we know. We ask for forgiveness in advance from the comic-book movie gods. Catwoman is perhaps one of the most disliked superhero films in existence, and it’s understandable why. However, upon watching it again… well, it’s not that terrible. Please don’t get us wrong. The movie is not a masterpiece by any means, nor is it a shining example of what superhero movies can be. In fact, it’s not even what we could call “good.” Having said that, it does have a few redeeming qualities.
As puzzling as it can sometimes be, for example, the plot is entertaining, and it’s so “out-there” that it keeps you wanting to know how things are going to unfold for Catwoman. Now, whether the entertainment value of the film comes from it being so bad it’s good, or because it’s genuinely engaging, we’ll leave it up to you, dear readers, to decide.
Aside from the odd catnip-smelling and basketball sequences, Halle Berry also delivered a good performance as Catwoman (by “good,” we mean that it fit this movie’s tone and plot), having created a clear separation between Patience Phillips and her vigilante persona.