DANDY HISTORY- The Curse of the Third Superhero Film
Is the curse over? Or does it live?!
Curse of the Third Superhero Movie- A History
There has long thought to be a curse upon the superhero genre—one that some may argue has yet to be broken! This article will cover the long history of the curse of the third superhero films and how it has plagued this genre in every step of the way from Superman 3 all the way to Iron Man 3.
Hold onto your seatbelts as we relive the stomach turning memories of some of the worst comic book films ever brought to the screen and why YOU should fear the Curse of the Third Superhero Film!
1983-1993 First Contact
Let’s get started with where it all began….the start of much pain and suffering that caused children all over the world to weep over the broken idols of their heroes. Or at least… that’s how I like to picture it. Coming off the box office hits and critically acclaimed Superman: The Movie & Superman 2, the 1983 Superman 3 was a train wreck in the making. Half the film turned into an extended Richard Prior skit, and the other half featured several half-baked original villains that were so incompetent that they hardly registered as a threat. Throw in an “evil” Superman who likes to drink and have sex (God forbid!) and this was an all time low for Supes.
And so the curse begins, and we can all thank Richard Lester for delivering as such a low bar threequel that it would forever inspire more mediocre third films and taint this genre forever.
The next batch of threequels were part of a group that (let’s be honest) none of us expected to be good. 1989 saw the Toxic Avenger Part III, another addition to a franchise that is only enjoyable when watching ironically or intoxicated. Then in 1993 we were “treated” to yet another live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, which saw the protagonists as Samurai…..now that I’m typing that……that actually seems pretty cool. Don’t be fooled though. The movie itself is so boring that I could use it to put a room of sugar high six-year-olds to sleep.
But together these three films showed us signs that something terrible was upon us…..and really, it was just getting started.
How has it come to this?! This is where we started to see a real nose dive from quality productions to cursed third films. And these weren’t franchises that sucked to begin with, these were from franchises we actually, legitimately liked! The first film hit by the curse was the Warner Brother’s Batman series. Coming off two critically acclaimed films from Tim Burton, the third film saw a departure of much of its crew and cast. This left the franchise in the hands of Joel Schumacher (shudder), a man who tirelessly drove the franchise head first into a dung heap. Getting rid of Tim Burton’s gothic undertones, 1995’s Batman Forever took everything good about the original films and twisted them into a cringe-inducing kiddie fare that only those under the age of ten could enjoy. Horribly campy dialog, badly written characters, bright colors, and an annoying musical theme diluted the Dark Knight into a bastardized version of its former self. But the worst part is….It’s one of the better threequels….
That’s right, I said it!
We’ll skip over the third Crow movie and Darkman III: Die Darkman Die—which needs no further words beyond the title to show how terrible it is.
Blade was a little bit of a rocky franchise to being with, but it got a legitimate boost from Guiremo Del Toro’s second outing, delivering a fun action thriller that wasn’t too taxing on the brain. Unfortunately, writer and director David S. Goyer followed it up with Blade Trinity- a soulless film filled with boring side characters, flat villains, and a story so stupidly simple that even a four-year-old could guess what would happen next. But the real draw for Blade was always the action scenes, and that is the real sin here. It seems absolutely no creativity went into the action sequences and as a result there is no reason anyone should ever have to watch this turd.
But here is where our hearts break. This is where two of the best superhero franchises of the 2000’s take a downward spiral. First up is the X-Men series where the first two films were brilliantly cast, conveniently topical, and helped re-launch the genre for a new decade. But with Brian Singer’s departure from the franchise, Brett Ratner took over and delivered us a film more interested in showing off visual effects and selling toys than it was in delivering a good story. Sure it was VFX were impressive and had some cool action scenes—but it the script was cluttered, and it seemed the writers tried to stuff as many iconic X-Men into each frame. The film threw in a half-assed “The Cure” and “Dark Phoenix” storyline and still managed to find time to piss off the fans by including awkward the deaths of a couple beloved characters.
On the topic of Brian Singer, this jerk decided to go off and make a little movie called Superman Returns, which would serve as a sudo-sequel to both Superman 1 & 2…..
Does that make this a third film too? It’s almost like it volunteered to be killed by the curse! Okay, so this isn’t as bad as a lot of the other ones we talked about but it was still fairly boring and worked better as a tribute to Richard Donner than an actual movie. Not a whole lot of thought went into the script on this one. It’s about Lex Luthor trying to create a continent so the other continents are flooded and have to pay him to live on his NEW continent……but he has no army to control the territory….and superman ends up throwing it into space anyways (despite it being made out of kryptonite)….don’t ask me how any of this works…..
But let’s get to the movie that had fanboys bawling as they left the theater (I know! I was one of them!). Of course, I’m talking about the 2007 Spider-Man 3. Coming off two of the most critically acclaimed superhero films of that time, Spider-Man 3 was one of the most anticipated movies of the year. And what did we get? We got Spider-Man doing a Saturday Night Fever strut down New York and power dancing in a jazz bar. It was at that moment that I realized….I may never be able to be a Spider-Man fan again. Furthermore, the movie had no real plot just a tangled web of subplots involving multiple side characters and an excess of villains. This is when we saw the curse claim perhaps it’s the greatest victim of all…
2012- Present- End of the Curse?
After that, it took the Superhero franchise quite a while to recover and we didn’t see a third Superhero film until 2012 with the release of The Dark Knight Rises followed in 2013 by Iron Man 3. But now we REALLY need to consider something. Is the curse broken? Or does it still continue?
Let’s think about this.
First off is the Dark Knight. There are very few people that would call this film an outright “bad” movie. However, a vast majority might agree that it is the weakest film out of Nolan trilogy. The script is filled with many many plotholes, it runs a little long, it has some repetitious parts, and it lacks the actual presence of Batman. So yes, it is easy to see it as the weakest film in the series….but at the same time the movie is still brilliantly acted, gorgeously shot, features creative action sequences, and a can be a lot of fun if you don’t think too hard. So has it broken the curse or by being the weakest in the series, has it still fallen prey?
Then there is Iron Man 3. It got on the bad side of the some of the fan community due to a certain twist that felt disloyal to a character. This divided a lot of the fans on the film. Yet, at the same time, Iron Man 3 has been largely embraced and enjoyed by the general audience (who doesn’t give a hoot about “source material”) and it even received solid critical feedback, many calling it one of the better movies in the MCU. So does THIS movie break the curse? Sure a small part of the fanbase felt betrayed by it, but the majority seems to enjoy it……
It’s hard to say.
But even if Iron Man 3 IS good, technically isn’t the third film in a series. That’s right! It’s the seventh film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So what’s the third film in the MCU?
Iron Man 2. Oh. No.
Maybe the curse DOES still live! Iron Man 2 is universally considered THE WORST film in the MCU series.
So does that mean that Captain America 3, Thor 3 and Avengers 3 are all safe or should we forever live in fear of the threequel?
And always remember to live in fear!
Leave a comment in the section below letting me know of your opinion and be sure to hit that like button if you enjoyed this editorial.
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