The superhero business is booming when it comes to movies, and for good reason. With huge recent blockbusters such as The Avengers, The Dark Knight and X-Men: First Class making a killing in the box office, it seems that our favorite spandex-sporting friends are finally getting the recognition they deserve.
But for every shiny example of hero worship, there are those we wish had stayed trapped within the pages of their respective comic. Prepare to weep as your childhood memories come to life—and take a turn for the terrible.
11. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Oh, Spidey, where do we even begin? Tobey Maguire’s horrible emo hairswoop and mortifying dance number? The casting of Topher Grace as one of the best villains in the series? Even more Kirsten Dunst? It’s so hard to choose. Instead let’s go with the utter disregard of one of the most important facts of the series and pin the murder of Peter Parker’s uncle on this movie’s villain. That makes sense. But hey, don’t let us ruin the movie for you. Let this guy.
10. Elektra (2005)
We thought there could be nothing worse than Ben Afleck starring in a super role—until it spawned spin-off Elektra. Jennifer Garner returns as Elektra Natchios, a femme fatale recently returned from the dead to kick ass in, what else, tight costumes. Armed with ninja swords and daddy issues, Elektra slashes her way through underwhelming fight scenes and a plot that tips its hat to the Star Wars series far too many times. Elektra’s enemies may poof away in a cloud of yellow dust, but sadly for Garner’s career, this movie never will.
9. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Wolverine has great muttonchops and deadly knife-claws that are literally part of his bone structure. How could things have possibly gone wrong? The movie does okay filling in Wolverine’s backstory, but it’s difficult to feel involved in the story or the characters. Origins offers up a film that’s formulaic and tired. Oh, you made a movie with really expensive action scenes? Yeah, thanks. And we won’t even talk about what happened to Deadpool.
8. Jonah Hex (2010)
Based off the cult classic comic, Jonah Hex is the western-style tale of a disfigured gunslinger. But really, it’s more like 82 minutes of poor dialogue, poor scenes and poor acting. There are a number of puzzling choices that went into the making of this movie, from Josh Brolin’s leading role to a director who’s perhaps most famous for making “Horton Hears a Who!” But hey, any movie featuring Megan Fox as a Western-era prostitute (or Megan Fox at all) has to be good, right? …Guys?
7. Ghost Rider (2004)
Nicolas Cage is Ghost Rider.
6. The Punisher (2004)
It was difficult to choose exactly which Punisher film to highlight here, but we’ll blame the original for spawning this whole mess. And although the 2004 version is a mercy killing in comparison to the Dolph Lundgren version of old, it still plays off of a typical tale of revenge and brain-dead action scenes. The one-liners are almost as cringe-worthy as the violence in the movie, which far overshoots gory and traipses gleefully into ridiculous. The only people being punished here are the ones that paid for movie tickets.
5. The Spirit (2008)
The success of Sin City prompted even more hype for Frank Miller’s work. As a result we got The Spirit, the story of a resurrected cop who fights Samuel L. Jackson to save his city or whatever. Despite its striking visual style, The Spirit is overflowing with the corniest of lines and questionable plot points. Based on its performance in the box office, it’s easy to see that this is one film that won’t be getting another life.
4. Hulk (2003)
We understand that it can be hard to make the Hulk cool. After all, he’s a Jolly Green Giant look-a-like wearing purple pants. Still, there’s something to be said for a scientist-turned-ragemonster and the power of his meaty ogre fists. Eric Bana starred as a hunky hulk in a film that’s far too long with far too many animated (and completely unbelievable!) action scenes. The Hulk spends most of his time fighting the army and generally making audiences weep with boredom. Ultimately, Hulk will live in the shadow of its far better reboot, The Incredible Hulk, until the end of time. Sorry, Bana. Doesn’t look like you’re ready to join The Avengers just yet.
3. Green Lantern (2011)
In the comics, the Green Lanterns are intergalactic police who can create anything they can imagine with their magical space rings—in short, they’re awesome. In Martin Campbell’s version, Green Lanterns are Ryan Reynolds. Reynolds is joined by co-star Blake Lively, who seems to think with her face most of the time, and the villainy Peter Sarsgaard for an adventure that’s predictable, stale and unforgivably lame.
2. Catwoman (2004)
In theory, it’s great for Catwoman to finally get her own movie. She’s a staple of the Batman universe, a strong female role and an overall badass. Catwoman, everybody. She’s cool. Unfortunately, Catwoman does this leading lady no favors. Halle Berry plays Patience Phillips, a shy-to-a-fault graphic designer whose jerk boss kills her. With the help of a local kitty and a little (no, seriously, where are her clothes?) leather, she’s resurrected as the awkward embarrassment we know today: S&M Woman. But at least the movie was a success for some—after all, Benjamin Bratt did get the chance to make out with Halle Berry.
1. Fantastic Four (2005)
Critics had a field day with how “fantastically bad” this movie was, and sadly they’re spot on. Cheesy special effects and dialogue that lumbers along as awkwardly as the Thing himself shuttle this movie to the shame corner. Fantastic Four is to too eager to join the comic-book craze, and it shows. The only salvageable thing about the entire venture is Chris Evans, who resurrected himself as Captain America. And we will never, ever talk about his involvement in this movie hereafter.