Posted on May 4, 2007 @ 8:04 am
Following up on my earlier countdown of top ten superhero films of all time, here are my picks for the worst of the worst. Agree? Disagree? Feel free to let me know in the comments section.
10. Superman III
This is the one with Richard Pryor, for those keeping score at home. There’s nothing quite like watching Supes play second banana to Pryor’s character, a computer savant who creates unstable synthetic Kryptonite by substituting tar for an unknown component in its mineral composition. That being said, this stinker is somewhat redeemed by the Evil Superman versus Clark Kent fight and the fact that the film’s “steal the fractions of cents left over after financial transactions” idea reappears as a subplot in Office Space.
How do you screw up a Hulk movie? Apparently, you hire Ang Lee to direct it, cast Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, and make it as boring as possible. The only good things to come out of this snoozer were those foam “Hulk Hands” toys that were everywhere back in ‘03.
8. Captain America
A low-budget film from 1991, Captain America is just plain silly — right down to the rubber ears they glued to the side of Cap’s mask to create the illusion that his actual ears were sticking through. Stranger still is the fact that Cap’s archenemy, the Red Skull, is Italian instead of German. The Red Skull as a character essentially boils down to two defining traits: 1) he has a head that resembles a red skull and 2) he’s a frickin’ Nazi! Why make the guy Italian?
Shaquille O’Neal as Steel, a member of Superman’s supporting cast in the comics. Of course, the only connection between this film and Superman is the S-shield tattoo on Shaq’s arm. Honestly, Shaq is so bad here that he makes Michael Jordan’s performance in Space Jam look Oscar-worthy by comparison.
6. The Fantastic Four (1994)
The Fantastic Four movie released in 2005 wasn’t perfect, but it was leaps and bounds better than the version Roger Corman produced over a decade earlier. In fact, the 1994 version was never intended for release; it was made entirely so the studio could retain legal rights to the characters. Of course, The Fantastic Four eventually turned up at comic book conventions and on eBay, giving the world a peek at a literal joke of a superhero movie. Just check out the trailer if you don’t believe me. The special effects are a particular highlight, including a Human Torch that only “flames on” once in the entire movie and a Mr. Fantastic who stretches by means of a fake hand on a stick. Classy.
5. Batman & Robin
I suppose now is the time to insert the obligatory “nipples on the Batsuit” reference. Where should I begin with this one? Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl? Arnold Schwarzenegger’s awful ice puns? Gotham City’s Day-Glo street gangs? That scene where Batman produces a Bat Credit Card from his utility belt (expiration date: “Forever”)? The codpieces? Actually, what bugs me most about Batman & Robin is a scene early in the film in which Robin is being pulled underwater by Poison Ivy’s plants. At one point, he surfaces for air before being pulled back under. What makes the scene ridiculous, however, is that Joel Schumacher just reuses the same shot of Robin coming up for air in reverse to show him being dragged underwater again. That’s just plain lazy, Joel. As bad as Batman & Robin is, however, it’s somehow still not the worst movie in the Batman franchise.
Enough to make viewers long for the deep characterization and intricate storytelling of Daredevil. It’s like a bad episode of Alias, only Sydney gets to say “shit” at one point. Yay, PG-13!
3. Batman Returns
I know a lot of people love this film, but I’d rather sit through a dozen viewings of Batman & Robin than watch fifteen minutes of Batman Returns. Like Tim Burton’s first Batman film, Batman Returns is all doom and gloom, starring a Caped Crusader who doesn’t mind taking criminals’ lives. Meanwhile, the Penguin is no longer a high-society criminal, but rather a disgusting sewer mutant who, at one point, straps rockets onto the backs of penguins to bomb Gotham City. Worse still, the interplay between Batman and Catwoman is supposed to be sexy, but it instead comes off stilted and awkward in large part because: 1) Michelle Pfeiffer can’t act, and 2) Michael Keaton can barely move in the Batsuit. Not even Christopher Walken could save this one from Burton’s bizarre vision of the Batman mythos.
2. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
My favorite part of Superman IV is when Superman uses his heretofore unseen “Rebuilding the Great Wall of China Vision” after a portion of the monument is destroyed by Nuclear Man (groan). Low-budget and lame, I wondered what went wrong with this film even as a ten-year-old.
Film exec: “Hey, remember how Halle Berry almost ruined the X-Men movies with her awful performance as Storm? Well, how does this idea sound? We’ll cast her as Catwoman! Only it won’t be the Catwoman from the comic books or Batman Returns. It won’t even be set in Gotham City! This is an all-new Catwoman, a heroine with feline superpowers! Oh, and remember that shiny black costume Michelle Pfeiffer wore as Catwoman? We’ll replace it with something far skimpier, but decidedly less sexy. The audience will eat it up with a spoon!” Someone should revoke Halle Berry’s Oscar for this debacle.
That’s it for Apropos of Something’s countdown of the ten worst superhero movies of all time! As always, I look forward to hearing your feedback in the comments — especially if someone wants to mount a vigorous defense of Catwoman.