For the past two decades, Hollywood has convinced itself that the key to success is by dishing out superhero movies one after another. This certainly hasn’t been the worst strategy; indeed, of the top 100 box office earning movies of all time, around 25% are of the superhero genre. However, merely making a movie that features Batman, Superman or Spiderman doesn’t guarantee that the film will be a beloved blockbuster. In fact, here are 10 superhero movies that were huge disappointments both critically and at the box office. We’ve limited the list to those made since the 1990s so that we can avoid having to discuss Superman 3 and 4.
10. Iron Man 2
When I watched the first Iron Man movie, I was genuinely surprised at how good it was. I’m not a big fan of action/superhero movies, so I never go into any of them with the expectation that I’ll actually enjoy what I see. I liked the acting, the plot and characters. For this reason, I had high hopes for the sequel. But, meh. It was boring. I found myself spacing off and doing other things. The main antagonist Whiplash was a huge downgrade from Obidiah Stane and it was impossible to take Justin Hammer seriously. All of this is unfortunate given that Robert Downey Jr., remained flawless as the titular character.
9. Suicide Squad
This movie serves as yet another example of how Hollywood thinks if you throw a bunch of iconic characters onto the screen, the audiences will find that to be enough to entertain them. But as usual, when you forgo character development or provide any kind of background story, nobody is going to care who they are or what purpose they serve. Perhaps the biggest controversy revolved around Jared Leto’s Joker, although that was bound to be a no-win situation. It would have been difficult enough to follow in the footsteps of Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker, but given his untimely death, it made the situation even worse.
8. Spiderman 3
The first couple of Spiderman movies with Tobey McGuire had all of the ingredients of a great story: excellent character development, compelling villains, legitimately funny scenes. The sequel is one of my personal favorites because I found myself laughing during some of the clever moments. But there were a whole lot of things wrong about the final installment. The biggest problem was completely changing Peter Parker’s personality. Instead of being a nice guy, he turned all emo on us. The film also featured way too many villains, which led to some completely wasted opportunities, especially in regards to Venom, who dorks, dweebs and nerds had literally waited all their lives to finally see on the big screen.
7. Thor: The Dark World
There is an inherent problem with Thor-centered movies right off the bat: the dude is just straight-up boring and nothing is ever going to change that. The main baddie Malekith only made things worse. He was bland and a real drag to this franchise. Loki’s kind of cool, but even his inclusion couldn’t save this one.
6. The Incredible Hulk
If you’ve forgotten that this movie has any connection to the Marvel Extended Universe, we figure we can find it in our hearts to forgive you. Edward Norton did a decent job as David Banner, but he didn’t bring enough personality to keep the role, which has since gone to Mark Ruffalo. It seems that this movie got swept under the rug, especially when you consider that characters like the Abomination, Betty Ross and Samuel Sterns have never been seen or heard from again.
5. X-Men 3
The Original X-Men movie, released in 2000, really pioneered the comic book universe franchises that now dominate Hollywood filmmaking. The dialogue might not have been the greatest, and the movie version of some of the characters were nothing like their comic book counterparts, but the sequel fixed a lot of those issues. This is why it was so disappointing that the trilogy ended with such a whimper. X-Men 3 included way too many characters and the plot was pretty lame. The subsequent stand-alone movies – such as Wolverine – have fared better.
4. Justice League
This was intended to be DC’s answer to the Marvel Universe’s Avengers franchise, but there is really no comparison. Fans were already disappointed enough in Dawn of Justice, especially in the clumsy way in which it introduces Wonder Woman and the latest incarnation of Batman. This one introduces us to The Flash and Cyborg in the same, uninspired manner. It also features a boring villain who is easily dispatched once Superman makes his entrance.
3. Batman vs Superman
Full disclosure: I did not see this one and I never will. So you might be asking yourself, “How can you express an informed opinion about a movie you’ve never seen?” Well, you’d be amazed at what’s possible in this life. A movie with this much hype was bound to disappoint, with the trailer (which I did see) giving everything away. It was clear that this would be yet another movie about superheroes who were conflicted about who they were and what their role in society ought to be and blah blah blah. That’s all that needs to be said about this one.
2. Batman & Robin
Given that literally every action movie these days is connected to the Marvel or DC universes, we take the superhero genre for granted. But before the 1989 Batman, directed by the quirky Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton as the caped crusader, movie studios were hesitant to make films about comic book characters not named Superman. However, by the 4th Batman movie – featuring George Clooney wearing a batsuit with nipples – things had gotten pretty silly. Aside from the fact that Clooney just wasn’t a good fit, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s over-the-top performance as Mr. Freeze certainly didn’t help. Warner Brothers took a break after this one, waiting 8 years to finally reboot the franchise.
While there are a lot of terrible superhero-themed movies, Halle Berry as Catwoman might be the worst of them all. In fact, she even won the Golden Raspberry for worst actress. Ever the good sport, she actually attended the “awards” ceremony to collect the trophy and give a speech! The long and short of this film is that rather than portray the character as the cat burglar that everybody knows from the Batman comics, she was a woman who decided she’d act like a cat. Yep. That’s all it was.