There have been so many movies based on comic book movies over the past ten years that it’s like a plague that has spread throughout Hollywood, but with every big fad, there’s always somebody trying to cash in on it. It just so happens that I’ve seen plenty of bad movies based on comic books, and this post is about the absolute worst of them all.
Before I start, let me clear up a few things. Firstly, this countdown has nothing to do with my new series of video game countdowns, which are exclusively about video games. Secondly, not all of the films listed here are based on American-made comic books. Some of them were based on foreign comic books, which I’ll mention as I go along. Thirdly, this list can only feature movies I’ve seen, so much as movies like Superman IV, Howard the Duck and Catwoman might deserve to be on this list, I can’t put them on this list. Finally, I’m not a comic book specialist, therefore I won’t be talking about the comics themselves. This is about bad movies, not whatever inspired them, so without further ado, let the countdown begin.
#5 – Priest
For those of you who aren’t aware, Priest was originally a Korean comic book (or manhwa) that was published between 1998 and 2007. It was notable for fusing the Western genre with horror and dark fantasy themes, but if you mention it today, there’s a good chance that, unless you live in South Korea, most people might think of the god-awful movie that came out in 2011.
Unlike all the other entries on this list (which you’ll see eventually), I actually think that this movie could have been good. There was plenty of potential in this movie, but the film-makers squandered it. Almost as soon as the movie starts, you’ll notice that it opens with an animated prologue. If the whole movie were animated, I’m sure it would have been better. Making a live-action movie out of this premise just seems pointless, especially since we already had the Underworld films milking the same style and premise.
With that in mind, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this movie was basically a rip-off of the Underworld films, and I’ve heard that the Underworld films weren’t exactly stellar either. That’s not the only reason why Priest made it on this list. It’s also plagued by clichéd characters, dull action, poor amount of lighting, and atrocious writing. Suffice it to say, it’s so bad that you wouldn’t wish this movie on your worst enemies.
#4 – Elektra
From the director of the soul-crushingly dreadful Reign of Fire, we have Elektra, who was based on a forgettable Marvel character. I swear this movie only exists because Ben Affleck’s sweetheart wanted a movie after he already made Daredevil, which somehow became a box office success. I’ve never seen Daredevil, but I can safely say that Elektra was just garbage.
The main reason I hated this movie was because it just felt like I was watching a cliché martial arts movie with low production values, and no charm whatsoever. Elektra herself is basically a stereotypical femme fatale, but believe it or not, she isn’t the most poorly written character in the entire film. Every other character is written and portrayed so poorly that you probably won’t even notice their existence.
To be fair, this movie isn’t nearly as bad as movies like Reign of Fire and Season of the Witch, but it still cements Rob Bowman as a hack director. Thankfully, this was the last movie he ever made, and at the very least this isn’t the worst comic book movie ever. Unfortunately, there are three more movies that are far more deserving of the title.
#3 – Dragonball Evolution
What happens when you take Dragon Ball, one of the most famous and beloved Japanese manga/anime of all time, and put it into a cliché story? You get one of the worst movies ever made. If you’re reading this, you probably know what I’m talking about.
Dragonball Evolution distorted the plot of the Dragon Ball series in so many ways, such as turning Goku into another cliché high school underdog, turning Bulma into a character I didn’t even care about, and making Piccolo look like the Green Goblin from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Looking back on it, it’s even worse than what Ninja Theory did in DmC: Devil May Cry, because nothing about Dragonball Evolution was enjoyable whatsoever.
If its blatant lack of respect for the Dragon Ball franchise wasn’t enough, this movie is also plagued by putrid writing that’s even worse than Priest and Blade: Trinity put together, and the acting was so incredibly hackneyed that it takes you right out of the film and makes it impossible to take the characters seriously.
For all the flaws I mentioned, the reason this movie is only #3 on this list is because I’ve seen movies that were far worse than this. I should also not that whenever I bring up this movie in conversation at home, my brother makes it plainly obvious that he hates this movie with a burning passion for the same reasons I put this movie on the list, but for him, it’s even worse.
#2 – Batman & Robin
By now, everybody knows about Batman & Robin, and pretty much everyone can agree that it sucks. With that in mind, you might be wondering why it’s only #2. I’ll give you three reasons why.
- There’s a movie that’s much worse than this.
- In a way, it’s become something of a punchline.
- Everyone says it’s the worst.
Those reasons aside, this movie stands out as the worst Batman movie ever made. At least Batman Forever was fun, but this movie took the camp atmosphere of Batman Forever to uncomfortable levels. The props were downright horrific, the costumes were so flashy it’s stupid, and acting was cheesy to the point of it being downright insulting to the ears. Honestly, I’m surprised that the whole script didn’t consist of lame ice puns from what is possibly the worst performance in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s entire career.
Let’s not forget about the script, which was so bad that it dragged down every character in it, and believe it or not, it’s even worse than any episode of the 60’s Batman TV show. Speaking of the show, it’s pretty clear that the film-makers tried as hard as possible to recreate the camp atmosphere of the 60’s Batman TV show, to the point that they actually added Batgirl to the cast. All Batgirl did was make the film longer in the most stupidly pointless way.
Perhaps the real reason why Batman & Robin sucked is because it ruined what could have been a classic anthology of films. The first Batman movie starring Michael Keaton was great, Batman Returns was better, and although Batman Forever wasn’t as good, I enjoyed it. Batman & Robin, however, was a stain on the Batman franchise. Let’s hope I never have to talk about this movie again.
#1 – The Spirit
If you thought Batman & Robin was horrible, you’d be right, but that’s nothing compared to The Spirit, one of the worst movies ever made. It tried to simultaneously revive an dated DC superhero and copy Sin City’s style and atmosphere, but unlike Sin City, The Spirit failed miserably.
The film’s style is a bastardized version of Sin City’s unique visuals, but apparently they didn’t shell out the cash for good special effects, and so they apparently made this film look even worse. It looks like an even campier version of Sin City if the whole film revolved around one unlikable lead character who pretentiously monologues about “the city needing him”. There’s so much melodrama that it’s almost tongue-in-cheek, and that’s not a very good sign.
Everything about this movie was horrendous. The story made absolutely no sense whatsoever, the characters were stereotypical and hackneyed beyond belief (the result of which is Samuel L. Jackson’s worst performance yet). The special effects are terrible, and the action scenes were choreographed so badly, that they’re viewed from the most ridiculous angles just to hide how much of a terrible job they did.
Say what you will about movies like Batman and Robin, Superman IV, Spider-Man 3, and Ang Lee’s Hulk. As bad as those movies are, The Spirit sets the bar so much lower than all of them put together. Without a shred of doubt, I can say that The Spirit is the worst comic book movie you could possibly find.