The X-Men films have consistently had a love/hate relationship with fans. Successful outings (First Class, Days of Future Past) are praised for their ambitious action, while less liked installments (The Last Stand, X-Men Origins) get knocked around for being overstuffed and stale. There’s also the whole issue of living up to the comic books, a source that filmmakers have constantly undermined at every turn. And based on early response to X-Men: Apocalypse, it seems as though the issues have only worsened with time (travel).
Luckily, the studio’s reliance on acting has proven their saving grace. James Marsden and Halle Berry notwithstanding, Fox has been pretty solid in selecting people to play ostracized mutants, whether they be surprise newcomers, established vets, or mid-tier stars. Unfortunately, even good performers can fall victim to a terrible movie, and the embarrassments that comes with it. These fifteen men and women may be badass X-Men, but superpowers are to no avail when sized up against these critical duds.
Here are 15 X-Men Actors’ Worst Movies.
15. Anna Paquin – Darkness (2004)
As Rogue, Anna Paquin was the first face fans saw in the original X-Men (2000). Quivering, tortured, and empathy fueled, it was a performance that maximized the talents of the True Blood actress. Sadly, after killing it in consecutive X-Men movies, Paquin made the torturous decision to star in Darkness (2004), a limp dud from director Jaume Balagueró. As the daughter of an American family who moves to Spain and begins battling a countryside cult, Paquin sinks into a performance as stale as the stumbling plot.
For starters, the movie can’t seem to figure out what it wants to be. Caught between Children of the Corn and The Devil’s Backbone, Balagueró’s attempts to be sinister instead wind up hilariously inferior. So much is made of the titular “darkness” that by the time the resolution arrives, lapses in logic render this thing pointless to the point of pain. Paquin, the appointed ingenue, is forced to recite insipid dialogue while fixed with a constant face of fear. Given that this was the final product, that face probably wasn’t too hard to maintain.
14. Evan Peters – Safelight (2015)
Safelight sucks. An interconnected narrative, it follows high schooler Charles (Evan Peters), runaway hooker Vickie (Juno Temple), and wacko pimp Skid (Kevin Alejandro) as they mope their way through every twenty-something cliché imaginable. Each come up against their own personal struggles, and the film’s copy-and-paste coherency plays like a poor man’s version of Garden State (2004). First time director Tony Aloupis tries to evoke the navel gazing of his musical group (Shadows of Dreams), but things fall way short in the entertainment department — which seems…kind of important.
As the physically challenged senior, Evan Peters punches his ticket to Gooberville in record time. Completely flying past the ticks that make his Quicksilver such a quirky delight, the actor plays a mop-topped dope with little in the way of depth or intrigue. Acting opposite the equally underused Temple, Peters just doesn’t show the chops to carry a character drive drama, and the film suffers accordingly. After this misfire, a spanking from Michael Scott seems especially deserved.
13. Famke Janssen – Circus (2000)
Arriving a few months after X-Men in 2000, Circus is what happens when an action/thriller lacks both action and thrills. John Hannah stars as Leo, a con man who tries to get out of the business, only to be pulled back by the psychotic wiles of gangster Bruno (Brian Conley). Forced to do a final job, Leo falls into a far reaching conspiracy that spans the entire mob, while discovering some shady secrets about his wife Lily (Famke Janssen) in the process. So much to cover, and yet none of it sticks out in in the slightest.
Rookie director Rob Walker paces this thing like he’s got somewhere to be, and David Logan’s messy script definitely doesn’t help. Attempts to appear stylish fall embarrassingly flat, while Hannah, great as the comedic relief in The Mummy (1999), is the furthest thing from an action star on this planet. Janssen keeps the succession of suckery going with her lame performance, a turn both boring and surprisingly forgettable. She may be Dark Phoenix, but Janssen does one hell of a job impersonating Invisible Girl in this film.
12. James Marsden – Accidental Love (2015)
David O. Russell is a filmmaker of the highest pedigree. His films have gathered an obscene amount of Academy Award nominations, with acclaim and financial success quickly following. Then, there’s Accidental Love (2015).
Directed under the pseudonym Stephen Greene, the film suffered numerous production setbacks before Russell eventually quit and disowned his involvement altogether. Nevertheless, this abomination lived on, and has since become the low point for every performer involved. Telling the story of a small town waitress who gets shot in the head with a nail gun and winds up in a Congress love triangle, Accidental is a film as stupid as it is star-studded.
Russell is either the world’s greatest salesman or the story was hopelessly neutered during shooting — either way, everyone in this bloated bomb in explosively bad. Jake Gyllenhaal is a bungling fool, Jessica Biel an air-headed archetype, and Cyclops himself, James Marsden, is an idiotic cop. Sporting a ’70s ‘stache and a goofy grin, the former model takes the prize for the film’s worst performance, reaching a new level of onscreen ignorance. That it falls in line with the rest of Accidental Love only speaks to the film’s impressively low quality.
11. Rose Byrne – Annie (2014)
Another Annie movie? Really? The 1982 version is more than serviceable as a Broadway adaptation, leaving this recent reboot as nothing more than an exercise in Hollywood’s hollow industry. Not to imply there isn’t heart behind this one, as adorable Quvenzhané Wallis certainly delivers in the title role, yet it’s impossible to shake the feeling that this was a tired rehash. So much of Annie has a plastic coating around it, almost as if wrapped furniture that’s neither pleasant nor comfortable to sit in.
Granted, musicals have been known to suspend reality, but the efforts of director Will Gluck push it to a point where it’s not even fun to watch. Such a sentiment seems to rub off on the cast, as Jamie Foxx, Bobby Cannavale, and Cameron Diaz all show up to glaze through a performance that could’ve been nabbed in a single take. Ditto for Rose Byrne, who ‘mother hens’ her way into playing Foxx’s personal assistant. Admirable job, but even Moira MacTaggert can’t salvage a movie this underwhelming.
10. James McAvoy – Victor Frankenstein (2015)
This one could’ve been avoided altogether. Moviegoers have seen Frankenstein on the big screen for decades, yet filmmakers always feels compelled to “reinvent” the legend in their own articulate manner. More often than not, it doesn’t turn out too well (i.e. I, Frankenstein), as evidenced by this 2015 bummer that focuses upon the good doctor’s origin story. Mixing in elements of romance, horror, and adventure, Victor Frankenstein manages to bring nothing unique or exciting to the table, while setting it’s sights on the weakest aspects of Mary Shelley’s famous tale. Director Paul McGuigan, who’s proven himself adept at directing television (Sherlock, Scandal), should consider sticking to the small screen after this.
Acting wise, Victor is just plain awkward. Daniel Radcliffe is a WTF choice to play Igor, trying so hard to undo his onscreen image that it falls far below other post-Potter work. James McAvoy, who seemed a solid choice to play the title role, isn’t far behind. Channeling every cornball tendency one could possibly evoke as an actor, the young Professor X is exceptional in making viewers cringe at every corner. Whether discussing a scene, a performance, or anything related to Victor Frankenstein, it’s best to just look away and keep moving.
9. Patrick Stewart – Masterminds (1997)
Patrick Stewart, a man who could outclass most performers in his sleep, apparently wished to test the boundaries of such an ability after Star Trek: First Contact (1996). As such, he took upon the role of Rafe Bentley in the teen thriller Masterminds, and showed everyone he could indeed be as amateurish as the rest of us. It is not a pretty sight. Playing Bentley, the chief of security, Stewart bon mots his way through a barrage of unfunny jokes and a mustache that suggests some sort of Pink Panther homage. The levels of camp are simply off the charts, whether they involve the script or the supporting cast of Vincent Kartheiser, Brenda Fricker, and Bradley Whitford.
What’s it about? Well, to compress this bore of a script into a bearable pitch, it’s about a teen whiz kid (Kartheiser) forced out of the prestigious Shady Glen school, only to save the day when shyster Bentley holds ten students for ransom. More blasé content and kitsch follows, almost as if director Roger Christian is trying his hardest to make the least enticing movie imaginable. If that somehow was the case, he most certainly lives up to the title of “mastermind.” Beat that, Professor X.
8. Ellen Page – Touchy Feely (2013)
Ellen Page has always been an actress who thrives on quirky connection. Her ability to weave outlandish content with an earnest approach has made movies like Juno (2007) and Whip It (2009) into modern gems. It’s also benefitted mainstream stuff like X-Men, where the Oscar nominated actress nailed fan favorite Kitty Pryde (a rare highlight from The Last Stand) with pinpoint precision. But as the flip side to this beneficial coin, there are times when Page can get a little too indulgent in her indie stew, as evidenced by the 2013 clunker, Touchy Feely. Aptly titled, it’s a project that wears its emotions on it’s sleeve, and forces that emotion-covered sleeve down the viewer’s throat whether they enjoy it or not.
It’s not very enjoyable. Centered around a dysfunctional family and all the shenanigans that come with, Touchy is a bad case of gesturing “towards depth without truly plumbing them,” in the words of critic Sheri Linden. That’s really all this film has to offer, whether tossing off New Age vibes or placing too much upon the shoulders of Page as the underdog daughter. The whole thing is about as hollow as Kitty Pryde shimmying through the walls.
7. Michael Fassbender – Jonah Hex (2010)
Choosing where to start with Jonah Hex (2010) is a challenge. The movie has a treasure trove of flaws worth getting into, from the gawky pacing to the poor adaptation skills of this comic book cowboy. At an incredibly brisk 81 minutes, Hex still manages to overstay its welcome, even with the inspired efforts of Josh Brolin leading the way. So much effort is put in to create some sort of interest that when he actually succeeds, it only highlights what an unholy hunk of crap the rest of the movie really is. And that’s with the gung-ho efforts of John Malkovich, Michael Shannon, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Wes Bentley attempting to stoke the fire.
No luck. Jonah Hex is a flame that gets smothered over before we even see a spark. Worst of all is the wasted performance of Michael Fassbender; thespian extraordinaire and dude who otherwise had a terrific resume on his hands. Hex quickly puts the kibosh on that, however, with the actor’s psychotic turn as Irishman Burke, sporting a bowling hat, a bevy of tattoos, and absolutely nothing in the way of interest for the audience. Nothing, at all.
Luckily for Fassbender, he eventually got another shot at playing a comic book villain, one that was a bit better-suited to him.
6. Ian McKellen – Neverwas (2005)
Simply put, Neverwas should’ve never been. The line between quality and camp is unrecognizable, leaving behind a project that prides itself on being loony for reasons unknown. It tells the tale of Zack (Aaron Eckhart), a psychiatrist living in the shadow of his father T.L. (Nick Nolte), who wrote the famed novel Neverwas. The doctor blames himself for T.L.’s suicide, though he gets a chance at redemption when an elderly patient (Ian McKellen) begins believing he is the captive king from his dad’s story. Fantasy becomes reality, and vice versa. Unfortunately, Murphy’s Law strikes with a vengeance upon this star-studded project, morphing the talents of William Hurt, Brittany Murphy, and Jessica Lange into an amorphous blob of bleh.
As the spirited schizophrenic, Magneto McKellen tries his hardest to dodge Joshua Michael Stern’s soul-sucking script; and it’s most certainly his performance that outshines everyone else on screen. Nevertheless, the lack of quality that surrounds Sir Ian begins to wear on his charm, and the unstable schtick starts to feel disingenuous by story’s end. All in all, Neverwas is nothing more than a clinic in how to waste excellent actors. Just look at that mortified face.
5. Halle Berry – Catwoman (2004)
Catwoman (2004) puts most of these entries to shame. Whichever angle one approaches it, the film manages to be an awe-inspiring display of just how bad a big budget movie can be. For starters, director Pitof (a.k.a. Jean-Christophe Comar) seems as though he designed the movie to be his own personal portfolio. Night time moods, rich colors, and moody architecture all come into play, though it’s at the cost of poor performances and a plot so dumbfounding it quickly cancels out all positives. Characters make no sense at all, and serve only to spout off hodgepodge content consisting of witchcraft, Egyptian lore, and a dash of S&M for good measure.
At the center of it all is Halle Berry, an actress who won the Academy Award only three years prior. Her performance, if it can be called such a thing, is frickin’ horrendous. Critics had a ball bashing the flat dialogue delivery and complete lack of conviction, to the point where some suggested she return her well-deserved Oscar. That might’ve been a little drastic, but after watching this waste of a $100 million, it’s easy to see where they were coming from.
4. Nicholas Hoult – Dark Places (2015)
Dark Places, the moody 2015 thriller from director Gilles Paquet-Brenner, showcases another important movie skill: how to ruin a perfectly good mystery. Based on a novel by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, the film has an eerie set-up to run with, following Libby Day (Charlize Theron) and the massacre that claimed her family as a child. Arriving back in town thirty years later, Libby begins unearthing more about the details of this life-altering event. Sounds good, right? And Theron seemed more than capable of delivering a good performance opposite Christina Hendricks, Corey Stoll, and Chloe Grace Moretz.
But execution makes all the difference in the world, and Dark Places proves no exception. As both stylist and screenwriter, Paquet-Brenner simply isn’t up to the task of tackling such a morose tale, leaving the film undercooked and overstuffed as a result. The acting aligns neatly with this subpar standard, leaving Stoll, Nicholas Hoult, and new Cyclops Tye Sheridan to simply flail and look sad for two hours. Consequently, watching the film is a bum out experience, fueled by anything but quality filmmaking. Here’s hoping this remains the bottom of the barrel for both X-Men, fans don’t need (or deserve) anything worse.
3. Jennifer Lawrence – The House At The End of The Street (2012)
The House At The End of the Street arrived in theaters right after the first Hunger Games, and a month before Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar-winning turn in Silver Linings Playbook. As such, it was a hopping time for the versatile actress, and a horror movie seemed like a fun challenge to take on. Nope, turns out it was not. End of the Street is a movie with old fashioned intentions, but it can’t seem to evoke any of them in a way that feels fresh or original.
Lawrence plays Elissa, a songwriting teen fresh to the neighborhood and the mysterious house at the end of the street. Come to find out, it was the sight of a brutal double murder, one that current inhabitant Lucas (Max Theriot) seems to know a little too much about (gasp). Sadly, that’s about as exciting as it gets. Theriot is a tortured soul the likes of which we’ve all seen before, while Lawrence isn’t given much besides a guitar and a bunch of tank tops to wear. Somehow, End of the Street was a box office hit, proving once more that ticket sales don’t always reward the right projects.
2. Ryan Reynolds – R.I.P.D. (2013)
Remember when Ryan Reynolds couldn’t catch a break? He had a string of movies that really went over poorly with critics for a while, from Green Lantern (2011) and The Change-Up (2011) to Safe House (2012) and Self/less (2015). But the mack daddy of all flops, and the one that surely made Reynolds reassess his career, was the 2013 abomination that was R.I.P.D. Boy oh boy, this thing was doomed from the start, with bad CGI and a rambling Jeff Bridges raising red flags left and right. It wasn’t that the script was riddled with every cliche known to man, or the fact that it was a poor man’s Men In Black (1997) — it was that R.I.P.D. didn’t even try to make it’s sugar coated slop entertaining for the fans.
Instead, each actor offers up an unhealthy serving of boredom. Bridges loses his accented mind, while Reynolds looks as though he wants to exit the theater more than anyone else in the audience. Sarcasm is the Canadian actor’s stock-in-trade, so stripping that away and enforcing the straight man role didn’t do good things for his performance or the film as a whole. But, to be fair, R.I.P.D. starts so far down the hill it really can’t be heaped upon the Deadpool star’s muddled acting. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but let this one rest in peace.
1. Hugh Jackman – Movie 43 (2013)
It’s kind of funny how easy it is to pick out Hugh Jackman’s lowest movie moment. He’s had a spotty career, but it’s fair to say he’s also struck with his fair share of quality films. Thing is, Movie 43 (2013) almost eradicates that in the span of a single stupid sketch. Dubbed “The Catch,” this quick sequence follows a blind date between Beth (Kate Winslet) and Davis (Jackman), the city’s most eligible bachelor. Initially enticed by his hunky appearance, Beth is shocked when Davis removes his scarf to reveal a pair of testicals dangling from his neck. That’s right, testicals.
Naturally, no one else in the restaurant bats an eye, leaving Beth to be the weirdo who finds his neck balls repulsive.
It’s awful. Like the rest of Movie 43, it tries so hard for the surface level joke that it winds up coming off stupid and, even worse, unfunny. Jackman gives his ridiculous character some zip, but the sheer audacity of such a lackluster idea condemns this thing to cinematic shame. Drink up pal, Wolverine would be disappointed.
Did we miss your favorite Fox Marvel actor’s worst cinematic outing? Let us know in the comments.