Live-Action Superhero Misfires

No, I’m not talking about X-Men: The Last Stand, or Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. For better or worse, the 2000 era of comic book films are debatable in terms of quality.

What I’m referring to are the shameful misfires of the past – from the 60s through the mid 90s – when Hollywood made its initial attempts to translate the world of comic books to the big and small screens – and, for the most part, failed miserably.

There are many “almost happened” stories – James Cameron taking on Spider-Man or the many attempts to adapt Watchmen – however, many superheroes did in fact appear on the big and small screens, and, looking back from the now, the results were less than spectacular.

There was the 1994 unreleased Fantastic Four movie, which never saw the light of day for good reason. When Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer came out a few years back, it got a lot of fans thinking about a Silver Surfer movie – those fans would do well not to watch the 1994 Silver Surfer short film.

Before most of were sweating over who was going to play The First Avenger, Captain America actually had a feature film in 1990, with late author J.D. “Catcher in the Rye” Salinger’s son, Matt Salinger, playing the star-spangled avenger. Cap was also featured in two TV movies, one released in 1979, and a sequel released that same year. All of these abominations deserve to be forgotten.

Before The Hulk and Daredevil were feature films (and eventual reboot candidates), the pair teamed up on the small screen in the 1989 TV movie, “The Trial of The Incredible Hulk“, complete with a painted-green Lou Ferrigno and a ghastly black ninja costume for Daredevil. A year prior, The Hulk had teamed with Thor for a different TV movie, “The Incredible Hulk Returns” (which was equally as traumatizing).

Spider-Man had a live-action TV show back in the late 70s (not that I want to remember it), and long before people were debating Ray Stevenson vs. Thomas Jane, Expendables star Dolph Lundgren brought The Punisher to the big screen in 1989 (though a few geeks somehow still love that flick).

Update: I forgot to tear into the X-Men-inspired Generation XTV movie from 1996… but that’s what we have smart readers for!

The list of comic book movie/TV show misfires doesn’t end with Marvel, either:

1984 brought us the spin-off film Supergirl, with Helen Slater playing the titular cousin of Superman, who comes to Earth to find a “lost orb” and battle a “wicked witch” played by Faye Dunaway (what?).  And though many fanboys would rather forget it, the psycological damage from Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin is there – though the scars from Adam West’s camp-classic Batman TV show are finally starting to fade.

By the time the new Flash movie gets up and running over at Warner Bros., geeks will have scrubbed the 1990 Flash TV Series from their collective memory. Oh, and don’t think I’ve forgotten about that terrible 1997 Justice League of America TV movie – if you’re foggy on the details, have a look HERE.

Bottom Line: many geeks pretend that this ‘geeks have inherited the Earth’ trend is a sudden and sweeping victory. But in truth, geeks have been trying to break into the Hollywood mainstream for decades, typically with more error than trial. So debate Iron Man vs. Batman all you want, my young nerds – so long as we all remember just how far comic book movies and TV Shows have actually progressed. Let us all be a little more thankful for what we’ve got today.

Continue to ’80s  Cartoon comebacks…

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