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Link to us!
by Jay "Me So" Hornsby
I'll start off by saying that I'm a comic book geek. Comics have been a part of my life since I can remember. I have way too many long boxes, I wear my Flash t-shirt all the time, I paid to go to Dragon-con, I've had letters printed in comics, I spend $20 a week on new comics, and I have more than my fair share of useless knowledge about comic book history and continuity. Could I name all the members of the Warsaw Pact? No. Could I name 30 members of the Avengers in 30 seconds? Absolutely. Having said that, I, along with legions of geeks, have wanted to see these great, imaginative, brilliant, breath taking stories take life in movies. Because of this want, I've subjected myself to watching any and every movie even remotely based-on a comic book. There have been dark days for comic book movie fans before the recent big-budgeted success of Spiderman and X-men. Sure you had Superman and maybe Superman II, but you also had Superman III and IV. What follows is the worst of the worst. Be forewarned dear reader, as the horror represented below is unparalleled. Read on at your own risk. Excelsior!
10. BATMAN: THE MOVIE (1966, Leslie H. Martinson)
This movie by itself isn't too bad. Sure it's campy and stupid but it was relatively true to the comics of that time. The main problem is the damage to the public's perception of comics. This is the impression people had of comics and comic book movies for years (until recently). Joel Schumacher must have worn his copy out as he steered the Batman franchise into the ground.
9. SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE (1987, Sidney J. Furie)
Recipe for failure: As a shell for your movie use a whiney 'nuclear bombs = bad' message with flimsy "plot" involving Superman destroying all the nuclear bombs in the world in response to a letter by annoying kid. Have the main bad guy wear a terrible gold costume and name him (imaginatively enough) Nuke. Throw in some sappy dialogue ("from up here there are no borders"). Add in the worst John Cryer performance ever as Lex Luthor's comic relief of a nephew, and serve steaming. The only positive is that if the new Superman script floating around the internet (see aint-it-cool.com) gets made, this will be the 2nd worst Superman movie ever.
8. VAMPIRELLA (1996, Jim Wynorski)
Soft core movie based on the soft core comic. It clocks in at about 80 minutes and still 30 minutes too long. More comic book dorks have watched this in fast forward than not.
Dolph 'motha-fuckin' Lundgren. Dolph was on fire in the 80s. Rocky, Masters of the Universe, I Come In Peace, Red Scorpion, and the Punisher. Okay not so much the last few. The Punisher was an alright C action flick, but fails miserably as a comic book movie. You think of the Punisher and think of the big white skull on his chest, right? Well apparently the people making this movie didn't. Instead his 'costume' consists of black jeans and shirt. Not only did they get rid of his most recognizable symbol, they stuck him in the sewer fighting ninjas. Co-starring Lou 'I still have another Iron Eagle in me' Gosset Jr.
6. RETURN OF SWAMP THING (1989, Jim Wynorski)
So you have this popular comic book. It's a dark, well written, supernatural story about revenge, the environment, and humanity. It gets the go ahead to be made into a movie. So naturally the movie's a slapstick comedy with big over the top monsters and obligatory funny fat kid. Obviously. Extra special bonus points for raping the source material like a new inmate in Oz. Schumacher would be proud.
5. CAPTAIN AMERICA (1991, Albert Pyun)
Good ole aryan Cap. Did anyone else find it weird that although Cap was fighting nazis, he himself was the white, blond-haired, blue-eyed aryan wet dream? But wait, this Cap is dark hair and dark eyes. And he can't act. And he's the producer's nephew. This was directed by Albert Pyun of Van Damme's Cyborg fame. Bad acting, a horrible script, and terrible logic make up this train wreck. Cap gets strapped to rocket by the Red Skull, and shot across the Atlantic to blow up Washington DC. Cap, being the brilliant military strategist he is, takes the entire flight to come up with his "plan". He waits until he gets within sight of the White House and then kicks the rocket real hard. Good to see the USofA military training really paying off. And quick side note to any producers out there, when Ned Beatty is the star thespian of your 'film', you gots problems.
4. NICK FURY: AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (1998, Rod Hardy)
Starring David Hasslehoff. 'nuff said.
Not looking so fantastic. You can find this one at any of the bootleg video tables at any con. This was even too bad for 'straight to video'. Apparently Marvel used to sell licenses to their properties for booze and stripper money. Mr Fantastic's power seems to be putting broom handles in his gloves and reaching for things. The Human Torch never really torches, and the Invisible Girl's power looks about as good a dad and his kid doing the disappear/reappear trick with the family camcorder. And the Thing. He looks, he looks bad. More rubbery that rocky. But wait, you have Dr. Doom ("Curse you Richards!!") as the big bad villain. Unfortunately, Dr. Doom from Twisted Mego Theater is more menacing. I heard once that Roger Corman made this movie because the license was running out and he had no intention of it actually being released. After actually sitting through the entire 90 minutes, I believe it.
2. JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA (1997, Félix Enríquez Alcalá & Lewis Teague)
You have, arguably, the most recognizable team of super heroes in the world. So you make it a tv movie. Great start. JLA. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman kicking more Legion of Doom ass since Super Friends. Nope. Not here. Instead they have such heavy hitters as Atom, Martian Manhunter, Fire, and Ice fighting a tv weather guy (seriously). But at least you have Green Lantern and the Flash. Okay but the Green Lantern is the Guy Gardener version (one of the most annoying characters in comics) and his ring looks like he's using the schwartz from 'Spaceballs'. And the Flash doesn't really run fast as much as he 'disappears' on one side of the room only to 'reappear' on the other. It's physically painful to watch the "plot" unfold and told as a documentary. A movie about super heroes should not have 15 minutes dedicated to Fire auditioning for a part as a banana. It just shouldn't. Mark Waid, longtime comic book writer, said it best, "That was 2 hours of my life I will never get back".
1. BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997, Joel Schumacher)
Good ole Joel Schumacher. He knows how to make a bad movie. I first smelled the stench of this movie when I heard the George Clooney quote, "I don't know why Batman's pissed off all the time." It's so hard to choose what's the worst part of this movie. Let's see: the acting, too many characters, Arnold as Mr. Freeze, the costumes, George Clooney making Val Kilmer look like a brilliant casting decision, the subtle performance of the doctor, Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl (hell, it killed her career, I mean what's the last thing you saw her in?), or the scene of Batman and Robin 'surfing' the doors down from the exploding rocket. The list goes on and on. It's so bad, I honestly can't think of anything funny to say about it. This is the number 1 crime because Schumacher took the budget of all these other comic book movies combined and made the worst, god-awful, pandering piece of shit ever to see the screen of a movie theater. This wasn't just a crime against comic book fans, it was a crime against the entire movie-going public.
Well, that's it. Unfortunately there's more movies that could of made it on this list. And with the success of Spiderman and X-men, studios are rushing any comic book property to the screen. Look for Daredevil (with Ben Affleck "was the bomb in Phantoms, yo"), Ang Lee's Hulk, and Iron Fist (with Ray "Darth Maul" Park) coming to a theater near you. After that, I'm sure I'll have to revise this list and make room for at least a couple more. Until then.
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