Right away, let’s start by admitting that yes, there are even worse films that the ones we’re about to name, such as Catwoman, The Spirit, Elektra, Constantine, and Howard the Duck, to name a few. What unites this upcoming list is that each of these films is a franchise-killer; either there were more movies planned and those plans stopped after the release of the film in question, or said film was the third or fourth in a series, which then died an embarrassing death. But there is still some hope for these franchises. Some have already repaired the damage, and others have repairs in the works.
5. Green Lantern
The Green Lantern Corps are basically space cops who can create cool energy constructs from their power rings through sheer willpower. But you know, for a movie about space cops, there isn’t an awful lot of space in this film. Sure, we see Oa (the GL home world) and some training scenes, but most of this film seems to be about Ryan Reynolds being in awe of his own power. He wasn’t playing Hal Jordan, he was playing Ryan Reynolds with a power ring. Move it along. The movie also suffers from too many villains. You don’t need Parallax and Hector Hammond in the same movie; one Big Bad is enough (though Sinestro was cool). Lastly, there’s no romantic chemistry. Watching Reynolds and Blake Lively is like watching a reaction between water and other water.
Matt Murdock is a lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen, New York, who was blinded as a child in a chemical accident. But that accident also heightened his senses to superhuman levels, which he then uses to fight crime. There are lots of compelling elements in the Daredevil mythos, and this film misses the mark on many of them. The writing is often hokey, and most of the scenes between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are cringe-worthy. Bullseye is way over the top and for some reason, the costume designer chose to pluck his costume from The Matrix. And then there’s the infamous playground fight scene between Murdock and Elektra. Thankfully, the director’s cut is better; check that out before passing final judgement.
3. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
From the poor writing to the budget cuts to the awful effects and the over-ramped superpowers (e.g., reconstruction vision used to rebuild parts of the Great Wall of China), Superman IV is a mess. That said, it’s also a product of its time, in that it was done in the mid-80s during the height of Cold-War paranoia. In this film, Superman removes all the nuclear weapons from Earth and throws them into the sun. But Lex Luthor has stolen Superman’s DNA, created a genetic matrix and placed it aboard one of those rockets, which, upon meeting the sun, gives birth to Nuclear Man (seen below). Nuclear. Man. Because nothing says 80s super-villain like a big “N” on the chest, some glam-rock nails, and a mullet. He scratches Superman and poisons him with radiation sickness. They couldn’t be hitting you over the head with the message any harder if they tried.
2. Spider-Man 3
Oh, Spider-Man. When will you ever again reach the glory that was Spider-Man 2? In 2012, The Amazing Spider-Man came close, but perhaps it only looks good because Spider-Man 3 wasn’t. How awful was it? Let’s see: 1. Too many villains. This movie didn’t need Sandman, Green Goblin and Venom. Clutter it up with too many characters and you won’t have enough time to make the audience care about any of them. 2. Poor casting. Really, this is just about the dubious choice of Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom. He doesn’t have the physical presence to pull it off. 3. Emo Spidey. The less said about that, the better. 4. The dance scene. What in the name of Lee and Ditko was that all about? At least J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson still holds up among the best casting ever.
1. Batman Forever
After the great Tim Burton Batman films, Joel Schumacher comes in and ruins everything. He’s been raked over the coals a lot for both Batman Forever and Batman & Robin—and rightfully so. Apparently he figured removing all the darkness and moodiness from the first two very successful films and reviving the camp from the 60s TV show — something no one asked for — was a good idea. There was even a “Holy ____, Batman!” joke. And did we mention the nipples and thong on the Bat-suit? The film is ridiculous, full of plot holes, horribly over-acted by Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones, horribly under-acted by Val Kilmer, and features a useless Robin appendage. The last nail in the coffin would come two years later with Batman & Robin, and the franchise wouldn’t recover from its cinematic tomb until the arrival of Christopher Nolan with Batman Begins.