Marvel Studios is about to release Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania, which will be the 971st part of their massive mega saga. Meanwhile, DC is… doing stuff. They’re still going to release The Flash, despite its star being straight up coo-coo for coacoa puffs, Batgirl got cancelled, but Blue Beetle, Flash, Aquaman 2 and Shazam 2 are still coming to theaters despite the… reboot?… coming soon now that James Gunn and Peter Safran are running things in an attempt to duplicate what Kevin Feige has done at Marvel. While there’s no denying we have goten some quality out of DC’s attempt at the MCU, and may still with the remaining slate of films, they just have been completely unable to capture the “IT” factor that has defined Marvel Studios since “Iron Man”.
In fact, even though DC/Warner Bros has been at this whole ‘making studio films out of our comic book properties’ game than Marvel has, all that has really amounted to is a handful of really good movies, a couple of great ones, and a long, long list of terrible movies going back decades that shows that maybe, just maybe, they’ve NEVER known how to really do this whole thing right. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me 59 times, shame on me.
For every Batman, Superman: The Movie, or Dark Knight there are… these. The worst of the worst.
What could have- should have- been an excellent movie is really just a mess of a script somewhat buoyed by its cast, but not nearly enough. A special ops team is working for the CIA and is betrayed and believed dead, leaving them to mount an offensive against their former superiors. Some fun sequences and a couple of witty lines are not nearly enough to save this predictable, boring action schlock. It’s watchable, but immediately forgettable.
14. Wonder Woman ’84 (2020)
Directed By: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen
Man, what a mess. Pretty much nothing here works for me at all. Why was her armor even used? She had her powers already, it served no purpose. Just like setting it in the 1980’s served no purpose other than to cynically cash in on the already fading at the time 80’s nostalgia kick and marketing it like Thor: Ragnarok served no purpose but to make people THINK that’s the kind of movie they were in for.
The plot, script, acting and tone are each all over the place and rarely do the mesh with any kind of cohesion. Kind of glad they aren’t making a third one after this one.
13. Green Lantern (2011)
Directed By: Martin Campbell
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins, Taika Waititi, Angela Bassett, Temuera Morrison
Unless you’re a fan of Green Lantern going into this one, it’s not OFFENSIVELY bad, but it’s that awful kind of bad that’s not so bad that it’s fun, it’s just boring and forgettable. A really likeable cast and a very talented director can’t save this piece of trash. It’s conceptually flawed from the ground up story-wise and is just packed with far, far too much so that nothing gets any space to breathe, and it’s all just muddled. They tried to fit Hal getting the ring and the death of Abin Sur, going to Oa and meeting the entire corps, training with the likes of Kilowog and Sinestro, introducing so damn many lanterns AND the concepts of the emotional spectrum, the uses/strengths/weaknesses of the rings, introducing the Guardians, Parallax, Hector Hammond, Ferris Air and Carol Ferris, Hector Hammond getting infected and turning into the giant headed telepath, fighting Parallax, Sinestro turning on the corps and ending with his own, yellow, ring.
ALL IN ONE MOVIE!! Oh, and they also squeeze in bits about Hal’s past and his family. And both the main villain and the hero’s costume are all entirely made of even shitty at the time CGI effects.
Hard pass one this one.
12. Superman Returns (2006)
Directed By: Bryan Singer
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Parker Posey, Sam Huntington, Frank Langella, Kal Penn
I don’t even know where to start with this one. How do you make SO MANY wrong decisions in a row? It’s almost like they were trying to make this really, really hard to sit through. The only points I will give it are the set design; everything else is just… off. The casting would probably have been much more forgivable had the story not been completely ridiculous. Working as a sequel to Superman 2, it forgoes Superman 3 and 4 as if they didn’t happen. No problems there, that’s for sure. But then it just… fails. Even as a sequel to the goofy Richard Lester Superman 2 it fails. This Superman a) has been away for 5 years after he memory wiped Lois with a kiss, b) has a weird bastard son that Lois can’t quite figure out is Superman’s because HE MADE HER FORGET WITH A KISS, and c) doesn’t do anything in the entire movie but lift things and stalk Lois.
Why the hell would they do this? If you want to go with the following Richard Donner’s legacy, you should have ignored part 2, as well. Also, you should have completely abandoned the idea of them having a son and given Lex Luthor something to do that wasn’t real estate related yet AGAIN. Also, the costume. It’s not good. It’s really, really not good. The Reeves one would have worked better in the context of the misguided movie they were trying to make.
It’s not the worst Superman movie ever made, which is shocking, frankly, but it very well may be the most boring.
11. Jonah Hex (2010)
Directed By: Jimmy Hayward
Starring: Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich, Michael Fassbender, Will Arnett, Michael Shannon, Wes Bentley
This is absolutely one of those straight to the garbage bin movies that is so much worse- offensive, even- when compared to the source material, which this largely outright ignores completely. It utterly wastes a pretty solid cast with a really horrible story and script and eschews old school western movie-style violence, or competently shot violence of any kind, for overly stylized actions scenes with completely nonsense just flying all over the place.
It’s directed by a former Pixar animator who had previously only directed the Horton Hears a Who! adaptation. This is his first foray into making a live action film and it may very well be his last.
10. Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
Directed By: Sam Liu
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Tara Strong, Ray Wise, John DiMaggio
I always wanted to see an adaptation of the classic Alan Moore/Brian Bolland graphic novel, but after seeing this, I wanted to not have seen an adaptation of the classic Alan Moore/Brian Bolland graphic novel.
Holy ten bags of ass in a one pound bag, Batman!
Moore’s original story might not have been long enough for an animated feature, but why in the world they decided to pad the runtime with Batman and Barbara Gordon hooking up is BEYOND me. The story did not need it, the characters did not need it, and the fans certainly did not need it. It’s so very creepy; it’s like a dad hooking up with his son’s girlfriend. Just- just no. No.
9. Batman Forever (1995)
Directed By: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Val Kilmer, Chris O’Donnell, Jim Carrey, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Gough, Nicole Kidman
I’ve made my position on this movie very clear in a number of places, both in writing and on podcasts, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but I will say that this movie is terrible. I can recognize and respect that for those that were young enough when this came out, or for those that really just prefer the Adam West version of Batman, there may be something here for you to enjoy. For me, it’s just nearly impossible for me to get through. It came out at a time that comic books were very popular but the speculator market was about to burst and it just reeked of the ‘comics are stupid and are for kids and stupid adults’ attitude a lot of adaptations at the time had.
Really, it was just WB wanting to get as far away from the doom and gloom of Batman Returns as possible, but they really only needed to back up a few paces, not start the whole damn race over but facing backwards this time. And, of course, it started the slippery slope that led to The Movie That We Don’t Talk About.
8. Suicide Squad (2016)
Directed By: David Ayer (sort of)
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne
Ooooh, boy. If BvS is where the DCEU went off the rails, this is where the train rolled through a town and blew up a pre-school. It’s hard to judge, because it’s just pieces of Ayer’s movie, re-edited to get a close to the tone of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy as they could. The problem was the movie was not made with that tone whatsoever, so the end result is incredibly disjointed, and without the (apparently quite a lot of) missing footage it does not flow well, narratively.
Apparently, Leto’s Joker was edited out very significantly as he was originally the main villain but was replaced with Delevingne’s Enchantress, a CGI brother, and a sky beam.
Ironically, WB would turn to the director of those Guardians of the Galaxy movies when they wanted to reboot the series only 3-4 years later (THE Suicide Squad was released in 2021), and again when they wanted to just start this whole mess over.
7. Joss Whedon’s Justice League (2017)
Directed By: Joss Whedon (sort of)
Starring: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Mamoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Ciaran Hinds
Following up BvS and Suicide Squad with this Frankenstein’s monster of a movie was a bold, bold move. (Yes, I know Wonder Woman came out in between but come on, 3 out of your first 5 films were BvS, Suicide Squad, and THIS? They should have blown it up then) It didn’t work, like at all, but it was bold.
It’s also hard to judge this movie because, as we saw with the release of the Snyder cut, it is very much a mess of two different movies smashed together. The biggest sins of what has become called the Whedon cut are the reduced roles for the Flash and Cyborg, the horribly lame and forgettable Steppenwolf, a nonsense story, and Henry Cavill’s CGI mush mouth.
As strange as it is to say, the Zack Snyder version is much better.
Oh, Superman 4. What are we going to do with you?
In some ways I enjoy this more than the slog that is Superman 3. Cannon Films (the guys that made Death Wish and all of those 80’s Chuck Norris movies) wanted to make this cheap, and then they started hemorrhaging money as a studio and the budget for this got smaller and smaller, and we end up with the cheapest looking of all of the Superman movies.
Some of the ideas here are solid, but the execution is always, always, always way off.
I do love the idea of Superman going to the UN and being like “time to disarm your nuclear weapons, everyone” but from there it’s just… ugh.
5. Superman 3 (1983)
Directed By: Richard Lester
Starring: Christopher Reeve, Richard Pryor, Annette O’Toole, Robert Vaughn
Honestly, I kind of hate this movie. It’s insulting to fans of the Superman movies, to fans of the Superman comics, to Superman himself, to comic book fans, to movie fans, to fans of anything, really. To movies in general, even. How can you have a Superman movie and have Richard Pryor have more screen time than Superman? How can you have a villain plot that’s somehow even lamer than Luthor’s real estate scams? Let’s use computer hacking to control the world’s coffee supply! That’s a thing that computers do, right? <Snorts 10 inch line of cocaine> FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK YEAH, SUPERMAN!
Holy ass sandwich.
You thought Superman 3 was bad, 1984? Well, to paraphrase the Joker, “Just wait’ll you get a load of this”.
You ever wanted to see a disinterested Supergirl fight a witch? Superman who? We don’t talk about him! Brainiac what? Shut up, nerd, and watch us turn a slam dunk into a career ending injury!
There is very, very little redeeming about Supergirl’s first film outing, and if you’re wondering how in the living hell she hasn’t been on the big screen in 40 YEARS, I give you exhibit A.
There’s no way they could do anyone from the Superman comics dirtier than they did Supergirl.
Oh, shit, I forgot about Steel.
In what will likely be this character’s only appearance on a movie screen any time soon, what could have been a cool feature about a relatively new character (at the time) that could open doors for other minor DC characters and other minority comic book heroes to get a shot at a movie. Instead, it was one of the two death knells of the DC movies for the era (the other one is still to come on this list).
To call this an adaptation of the comics is a bit of a (HUGE) misnomer, as other than (dude makes a suit of armor and weapons he designed are being used on the street) the basic plot everything else is jettisoned in favor of your typical late 90’s bad movie tropes.
At least Shaq didn’t rap for it.
2. Catwoman (2004)
Directed By: Pitof
Starring: Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, Benjamin Bratt
Wow. I don’t even know where to begin. Easily the worst movie of Halle Berry’s career, and she was in both X3 and Die Another Day. More of a script written in crayon on a used napkin and directed as a series of truly terrible music videos than a movie, there is honestly not one minute of it that is enjoyable.
Like some of the other entries on this list of movie executive suicide notes, this has nothing to do with the source material other than ‘lady has a whip and dresses like a cat’. And, like those other entries, it’s an absolute shitshow from conception to final production. It’s a miracle this movie didn’t somehow jumpstart the apocalypse, and it’s really incredible that it’s not bottom (top?) of the barrel.
I mean, get fucked, WB and DC. Come on. This 90 minute long wink at the audience toy commercial is unforgivably terrible and is the poster child for fucking up a franchise beyond repair (but not beyond reboot!), as is Superman 4, Jaws 4, the Karate Kid 4… hmm.
When your director and most every star involved in the film is still apologizing for it over a decade later you know you’ve hit the bottom. There are worse movies, yes, but this is the example people go to when they talk about shitty comic book movies, when they talk about sinking a franchise, when they talk about talking down to your audience, and when they talk about cynical quick cash-in film making.