Comic book fans are a fickle bunch. They often can’t wait to see their favorite characters come to life on the big screen, celebrating the announcement of an adaptation with much glee and anticipation. However, if things aren’t exactly the way they should be, things could get ugly quick. Everything from the casting choices to the costume design to the handling of the source material are under intense scrutiny – with one minor misstep causing an uproar.
The genre has no shortage of excellent offerings, especially as they’ve become more prevalent in the new millennium. But to balance it all out, there are plenty of superhero films that split opinions right down the middle. Controversial projects abound in Screen Rant’s 10 Comic Book Movies That Enraged Fans.
Man of Steel
Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot is the foundation on which the DC Extended Universe is built, but there are many who aren’t thrilled with that idea. The film was extremely polarizing upon release, and its reputation has not improved in the three years since. Its dark tone and grounded sense of reality came under fire, with many feeling that contrasted the typical hope and optimism the character is associated with. Not to mention, the Battle of Metropolis finale is still something that can cause an impassioned debate.
At the same time, there are many who appreciated Snyder’s updated take on the mythos, putting a modern spin on the material to make Superman more human and relatable than ever. He became a symbol for disenfranchised individuals everywhere, and a face for people that are “different.” Snyder has tried to justify and explain his decisions, but he hasn’t won everyone over yet. Most importantly, he’s impressed Warner Bros. with his vision, but it remains to be seen how successful Batman V Superman can be.
Snyder’s made a career out of dividing opinions. When he brought Alan Moore’s classic graphic novel Watchmen to the big screen, the results were decidedly a mixed bag. Many praised the film’s stunning visuals and loyalty to the source material, saying that the movie fully engrossed the viewer in the world of the Watchmen and brought the panels of the comic to life. It was also a different kind of superhero film, which helped it stand out from the crowd and seem unique.
On the flip side, several moviegoers felt that the movie couldn’t hold a candle to its source material; many considered the comic un-filmable to begin with, and this was just proof. And while Snyder did stay true to the graphic novel to a certain point (admitting that he took the job so another director couldn’t destroy the inevitable adaptation), he did change certain aspects – most notably the ending. This rubbed some longtime fans the wrong way, leading to Watchmen struggling at the box office.
The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight redefined comic book movies to the point that it forced the Academy to amend how they voted on Best Picture nominees. Everyone could not wait to see what the director had planned for a sequel, which promised to end the legend of Bruce Wayne. While it got plenty of strong reviews (and was even recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the best movies of 2012), The Dark Knight Rises was not as acclaimed as its predecessor. Many pointed out plot holes and gaps of logic, which created a messy story – a stark contrast from the tight execution of the first two installments in the trilogy. The lack of actual Batman action in a Batman movie was also criticized; the Caped Crusader rarely seen.
However, some fans were able to look past the flaws and appreciate the series finale as a rousing, emotional cap to one of the finest film franchises of the 21st century. No matter what Nolan did, the chances of him actually topping The Dark Knight were low. As long as he didn’t completely drop the ball, viewers would be satisfied. As par for the course in the trilogy, the performances were great and the overall film was exciting and captivating. Warts and all, The Dark Knight Rises ended Nolan’s time as best as it could.
Iron Man 3
Shane Black took over for Jon Favreau for Iron Man 3, looking to bring the series back to the limelight after 2010’s Iron Man 2 disappointed fans. Unfortunately, Black couldn’t fully recapture the magic of the 2008 original. The twist involving the Mandarin infuriated longtime readers of the comic, since it was seen as a complete mishandling of Iron Man’s greatest foe. Also, many were not fans of unveiling an entire Iron Legion only to have the suits explode at the end, and removing the shrapnel from Tony’s chest was seen as a big no-no.
Still, Iron Man 3 was nonetheless an entertaining Marvel film, with Robert Downey, Jr. in top form playing the snarky billionaire, genius, playboy philanthropist. Some viewers lovingly refer to this movie as Kiss Kiss, Clank Clank, a reference to Black’s own Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang to describe its tone and feel. Even though he was working in the Marvel machine, Black was able to deliver something with his own personal stamp, and it was fun to watch it unfold.
The Amazing Spider-Man
Rebooting the franchise a mere five years after Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 was a daunting task, but Marc Webb’s film promised to differentiate from what came before by telling fans the “untold story” of Peter Parker. What moviegoers got was more or less a remake of Sam Raimi’s original 2002 movie, copying many of the same story beats as the young Peter became the iconic wall-crawler. That didn’t sit well with many, and The Amazing Spider-Man got blasted for being a cheap cash grab so Sony could maintain the film rights to the character.
But not everyone was against it. Some moviegoers gravitated towards Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Spider-Man, believing that he was a better fit for the role than predecessor Tobey Maguire. This version’s fast quips and mechanical web shoots were seen as more loyal to the source material, and Garfield’s strong performance seemed to set him as a web head for a new generation. Whatever intrigue the franchise had was killed with its underwhelming sequel, and the studio has now gone in a different direction, bringing the world of Spider-Man into the MCU.
Following 2009’s abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it would have been difficult for 2013’s The Wolverine to be any worse. Fortunately for fans, Logan’s second solo outing was far more competent than the first one. Many viewers praised the first two acts of the Japan-set story, and saw Hugh Jackman deliver one of his better performances as the titular mutant. It’s always fun to watch the actor in his iconic part, and director James Mangold provided an engaging narrative. The fact that it was shot for a possible R-rating was also cause for excitement; even though the theatrical cut was PG-13, there was still hard-hitting action.
However, how one enjoys the final film depends on how they perceive the third act. The final set piece of Wolverine taking on a version of the Silver Samurai, and it came off more as goofy then compelling. Some viewed it as a generic comic book finale and felt it threatened to derail the whole movie. It wasn’t that bad in the end, but it certainly wasn’t a strong ending. Hopefully, Wolverine’s third (and final?) standalone adventure can be more consistent.
The Incredible Hulk
As fans of the green giant have disappointingly learned, solo Hulk movies are hard to do. After Ang Lee’s 2003 attempt failed to generate much interest, the character was rebooted to fit within the new MCU continuity. Released in 2008, The Incredible Hulk was seen as a marginal improvement at best. In terms of positives, star Edward Norton delivered a typically wonderful performance as Bruce Banner, and it was great to watch Hulk smash stuff on screen. Still, it wasn’t a complete win for Marvel.
Some criticized the reboot for relying too much on action set pieces and felt it didn’t dive into substance enough. That was possibly a means of trying to avoid the complaints of the 2003 film, but it did make The Incredible Hulk feel more like a basic superhero film instead of something special. As a result, word-of-mouth was mixed throughout its theatrical run, and it only made just a little more than the first Hulk film. At the same time, this film didn’t completely fail, since the character and the mythos were incorporated into the MCU.
Tim Burton and Michael Keaton helped introduce comic book films to a new generation with Batman in 1989, showing that they could be done seriously. Fans were hyped for the sequel, which doubled down on Burton’s trademark dark and weird sensibilities. Coming at the source material from that angle, many were impressed by its sophistication and performances of the leads. In particular, Michelle Pfeiffer electrified audiences as Catwoman, and Keaton solidified his standing as the definitive Dark Knight.
But DC was causing controversy with dark movies well before Zack Snyder entered the fray. Parents were put off by the levels of violence and sexual references, feeling that the content was not appropriate for youngsters. This caused McDonald’s to stop their Happy Meal toy promotion, and Batman Returns made less than the original at the box office. As a means of course correction, WB tried to make the Caped Crusader more family friendly, sending the character down a terrifying path it took years to recover from.
A solid, if unremarkable, entry into the MCU, Ant-Man was seen by many as an entertaining heist film propelled by a standout performance from Paul Rudd. Many also appreciated the smaller stakes, after the last handful of Marvel movies put the entire planet at stake; Ant-Man was a great palate cleanser and a chance to scale down. It was seen as something of a gamble, but the film proved to be successful enough to make over $500 million at the worldwide box office and warrant a sequel, which will be part of Marvel’s Phase 3.
However, the movie will never be able to escape the lingering question of how it would have turned out if Edgar Wright stayed on the direct. Developing the project for years, Wright left after creative disagreements with the studio. Peyton Reed did an admirable job in his stead (especially since he came on board late in the game), but there are those who would have liked to see what the Cornetto trilogy helmsman would have come up with, working with such a quirky and strange premise. It may have been something more unique and creative, but at least the final product was far from a disaster.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
We’ll admit that there aren’t many fans of this movie, and for good reason. The 2005 Fantastic Four film was extremely disappointing, and this one is possibly even worse. In an age where Bryan Singer and Sam Raimi were showcasing what was possible when superheroes were handled with love and care, these flicks embraced the Joel Schumacher camp to levels unseen. Rise of the Silver Surfer was critically panned and underperformed at the box office, killing the franchise in one swift stroke. Nobody wanted to see these heroes again.
But the same can’t be said for the antagonist. The portrayal of Silver Surfer was seen as one of the movie’s positives, and there were those hoping that he could be spun off into his own film, fleshing him out further. Unfortunately, Rise of the Silver Surfer‘s tepid response killed any hopes of that. And since the 2015 relaunch was just as successful as the initial attempts of launching a franchise, it’ll probably be a while before the Silver Surfer gets a shot at cinematic redemption.
Those are our picks for the most divisive comic book movies. Are there any we missed? Which ones cause the strongest debates with your friends? Sound off in the comments below and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos like this one!