June 18, 2011

COUNTING TO 10: Bad Superhero Movies


To commemorate Green Lantern‘s arrival, 10 superhero movies that couldn’t fly:
10. WATCHMAN (2009):  Not a total disaster, but Zack Snyder’s failed epic earns its place by providing definitive proof that monk-like faithfulness in adapting a comic to the screen is doomed to failure:  endlessly long (more than 3 hours on DVD!), impenetrably plotted, and neither viscerally nor intellectually exciting.
9.   THE GREEN HORNET (2011): Seth Rogen as an idiot fratboy schooled by Asian sidekick Kato into becoming an idiot superhero.  The last movie on earth Rogen should have made, and so badly directed it seemed like Michel Gondry’s name in the credits had to be a typo.
8.   DAREDEVIL (2003):  Ben Affleck as a blind lawyer who moonlights as a crimefighter.  Luckily for Affleck, he can direct.  (There are people who claim that Mark Steven Johnson’s  “Director’s Cut” available on DVD is actually good, but it’s just slightly less bad.  Johnson, by the way, has a special place in Bad Superhero Movie history since he also directed Ghost Rider, which just narrowly missed this list.)
7.   CATWOMAN (2004):  Halle Berry won the Oscar for Monster’s Ball and jumped into this; her career never really recovered.  Sharon Stone, as a supervillainess cosmetics executive, set new standards for campiness.
6.   MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND (2006):  The only movie here not based on a preexisting comic:  Ivan Reitman’s supposed comedy about a bitchy crimefighter embarrassed Uma Thurman, Luke Wilson, Anna Faris, and self-respecting superwomen everywhere.

5.   BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997):  Joel Schumacher’s garish exercise in superhero fabulousness killed off the franchise for 8 years (Christopher Nolan practically had to perform an exorcism to bring it back), and almost took George Clooney down with it.  And let’s not forget Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl.
4.    THE PHANTOM (1996):  If Billy Zane’s turn as a masked avenger is released in theaters and no one goes to see it, does it make a sound?
3.   .THE SPIRIT (2008):  Frank Miller’s adaptation of the Will Eisner comic was an utter mess of stylized visuals, arch dialogue and clunky action.  With Samuel L. Jackson as the Nazi villain (his character needed to catch up on world history).

2.   THE SHADOW (1994):  Would you believe… Alec Baldwin as a superhero?  No one else did, either.
1.   SUPERMAN IV:  THE QUEST FOR PEACE (1987):  A sad end to the franchise that began the whole genre 9 years earlier, with Christopher Reeve (who also took a story credit) battling dirt-cheap special effects when he wasn’t making windy speeches about World Peace.  The franchise hasn’t yet managed to come back:  Bryan Singer’s attempted reboot with Superman Returns was a pompous bore, and next year The Man of Steel will try once again… directed, as we come full circle, by Zack Snyder.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."