When it comes to superhero movies, the old phrase “suspension of disbelief” often comes to mind, as the audience needs to forget that real people don’t actually fly on their own power, shoot laser beams out of their eyes, or walk on walls and ceilings. Unless maybe you’ve slipped through an interdimensional portal to an alternate earth. Which, based on what goes on in superhero movies, could conceivably happen!
But until that portal appears, we get to enjoy these films’ fantasies exactly because they take us away from our mundane lives - until they don’t, with, say, some really poor choices. Bad costumes, terrible plot points, brutally misguided casting choices – we’ve all seen it happen before. We've all experience that moment when you forget the fantasy and face real-world bad movie scenes that make you laugh, cringe or just wish you could get your money back. Those scenes that force you out of your willing suspension of disbelief because they're just that awkward.
Many superhero movie fans would rather not think about these scenes, preferring to erase them from the movies in their minds, but we’re here to remind you – they happened!
Here are 15 Jarring Scenes That Take You Out of Superhero Movies.
15 Spider-Man: Ridiculous Green Goblin Mask
Let’s face it – when the first Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movie came along, it was every geek’s comic book dreams come true. Finally, CGI caught up strongly enough to see Spidey’s awesome wall-crawling, web-slinging superpowers come to life. Amazing! Yes, that’s a good word for it!
At first the movie delivered - until it came time to face the Green Goblin. Willem Dafoe was the perfect choice for the role of Norman Osborn, dark and brooding as only he can be. The build up of his psychosis prepared the audience for Green Goblin’s first appearance, an ominous flying figure approaching his victims first as a dot on the horizon.
It was pretty scary - until we saw his mask. It was a terrible, cheap-toy mask that said: don’t take me seriously. And it went downhill from there. Only at the end, in the final battle, when the mask is off, does Osborn look scary again, but it’s too late, you can’t put the Goblin back in the bottle.
14 Superman III: Richard Pryor’s Ridiculous Prat Fall
The '80s were a really weird time for movies. All sorts of really dumb ideas were getting greenlit, many of them probably with the assistance of certain powders and nose straws, as the decade was notoriously known for. After two wildly successful Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve, one would think studios would stick to the formula. A virtuous hero, a challenging villain, a little humor, and an existential risk to make us root for a win. But, no.
Somebody thought Superman III should be a comedy. They got the top comedian of the time, Richard Pryor, to play a feckless goofball working with a villain so cartoonish that '50s DC comics would be embarrassed. Early on, there’s a scene where Pryor accidentally skis off of a building – you read that right – and falls about 15 stories, only to land on a slanted roof and safely high-jump into traffic. And he wears a pink blanket as a cape. Really.
Is this still a superhero movie? Or did the audience run into a Krusty the Clown routine?
13 Batman and Robin: Nipples on the Suit
Batman is the billionaire warrior who can beat up twenty guys at once, strikes fear into the heart of the most hardened criminals, and dons the appearance of a flying predator which has haunted human nightmares since time immemorial. Only in Batman and Robin, this visage of terror and vengeance has a serious wardrobe malfunction that was totally done on purpose.
Some costume designer thought it would be a good idea to add prominent nipples on the Bat-suit and it must have gotten producer approval. When we finally see the Dark Knight show up to kick some serious criminal ass – how the hell can we take this guy seriously? He’s got nipples popping out in molded rubber straight at the audience!
Fortunately, the filmmakers didn’t similarly accentuate the Bat-junk. Thank you for sparing our eyeballs.
12 Man of Steel: Pa Kent’s Dumb and Pointless Sacrifice
Oh, what a troubled, troubled mess Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel was. Early on, it had some promise. The oil rig rescue scene was classic Superman, an epic tumble against gigantic infrastructure falling down around ant-like workers. But soon after, the story falls apart into a joyless, brutal sequence of WTF moments that strayed so far from the venerable character’s core, fans just felt let down
. One of the worst choices in the narrative was the “sacrifice” of Kal-El’s adoptive father, Jonathan Kent, known lovingly as “Pa.” During a tornado strike in their native Kansas, Pa convinces Clark to not save him from the twister, because there are witnesses, and if people know his secret identity, it will stop Superman from being humanity’s savior. Or something like that.
It’s some really terrible logic, nurtured by some really bad writing and some childish idea of symbolism. It makes so little sense that the idea that Clark would just sit there and literally watch his dad be sucked away in a vortex when he could easily save him is just outlandish. As the rest of the film confirms, this version of Supes is more zero than hero.
11 Justice League: Superman’s CGI-Erased Mustache
Speaking of Zack Snyder, boy did his Justice League effort suffer from even more misfortune than Man of Steel. Needing to exit the project due to a terrible family tragedy, the studio was left to complete a film which was already being viewed as a bit of a mess, and now a wholly unfinished one. In steps Joss Whedon to do massive reshoots and try to salvage the cursed production. And that included bringing back Henry Cavill as Superman.
Just one problem: Cavill was in the middle of shooting another movie, one in which he needed to keep a big, bushy mustache fully grown in. Whedon dealt with this by digitally erasing the offending lip hair. Unfortunately, anyone paying attention can see a sort of CGI afternoon shadow left behind, as the process left uneven skin tones behind.
Maybe they should have kept the super-stache? It’s not like the rest of the movie did much for audiences anyway.
10 Daredevil: Playground Fight
Wait – can we even call this a “first date?” Here’s what actually happens in this scene of the 2003 feature film version of Daredevil. The blind Matt Murdock creepy-stalks Elektra Natchios. She calls him out on it, he restrains her physically. And then guess what? They start fighting. Not just fighting, but a full-on martial arts battle, on a playground filled with kids, which concludes with the two heroes being attracted to each other.
That’s bad enough. But the choreography of this fight scene between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner is laughably bad. Seriously, guys, stunt doubles are a thing, and you should’ve used more of them. The whole affair is clumsy on the physical, emotional and believable levels. It’s no longer Daredevil, it’s a farce that makes us all wish we could have gone blind for those two minutes ourselves.
9 The Incredible Hulk: That Awful Abomination Design
Will they ever get Marvel’s jolly green giant right in a standalone feature? So far, Bruce Banner and his angry alter ego has fared best as a sidekick or as part of a team. But for a moment, 2008’s The Incredible Hulk gave us hope. Far improved over its messy predecessor, The Hulk, replacing Eric Bana with the more dynamic Edward Norton seemed like a good move. And Tim Roth brought a lot of anticipation as the movie’s supervillain, the dreaded Abomination.
In the comics, this gamma-beast is stronger than the Hulk and is a truly scary-looking monster. But once we see the terrible CGI design for this version of Abomination, the audience is taken out of the theater, and into some sloppy video game design of a boss battle. It’s like a tiny deformed human head stuck onto a bigger version of Hulk, with some sort-of lizard-like tropes.
The look might have been good for an RPG on the original PlayStation console, not so much for a studio film in the 21st century.
8 The Dark Knight: Batman and Rachel Survive a 10-Story Fall Unhurt
What can the audience learn from the Christian Bale Batman movie The Dark Knight? Obviously, that Heath Ledger delivered an unforgettable performance as The Joker, and that Batman was officially a cinematic tough guy as never before.
We also learned that his bat-suit has some glaring inconsistencies. In one scene, the suit is easily penetrated by a knife. In another scene, dogs can bite through the fabric. But if Batman uses the suit to cushion a 10-story fall with Rachel in tow? Then, no problem! It not only absorbs the crushing force of gravity’s pull, it lets both characters walk away without a scratch. It seems to us that this could have been easily fixed, and even improved.
How about Bats using his grapple hook to swing the two to safety, complete with a dramatic shot of them soaring on a line and a prayer? How about at least falling into a pool? Nope. We are expected to believe that this outfit is somehow high-impact proof while being easily torn open by canine jaws. Is the Joker back on screen yet? Take us away, Heath!
7 Hellboy: Filing Down His Devil Horns
It’s not often that superhero movies give audience a look into the personal hygiene habits of the leading protagonists, but Hellboy managed to offer a glimpse of “big red’s” grooming routine in the 2004 film of the same name.
Being a demon born from the fiery inferno, it’s only natural that Hellboy has devil horns, and we don’t mean the heavy metal hand signal. In a lifelong quest to deny his devilish DNA, our hero tries to be as “human” as he can possibly be. One way he does this is to keep his horns manicured and short, as in, filed right down to the skull.
The film makes sure to allow us to see him performing the function – as if we were all asking “how does he keep those horns looking so trim?” Memo to studio executives: nobody needs to see superhero beauty secrets exposed. We also don’t need to see them going to the bathroom either, OK?
6 Logan: Child Mutants Waiting to Use Their Powers
Nothing gets as annoying in a movie as when the audience is compelled to just scream at the characters on screen to just do the obvious thing they should be doing, but they don’t. And in this case, it’s a shame.
One of the best superhero film sof 2017, Logan delivered action, tragedy, character and a decent storyline with some pretty despicable villains. But then, right at the end of the movie, there we all are, screaming at a bunch of super-powered mutant children. Stop running from your pursuers! You guys have superpowers! Use them! But no, they’re letting themselves get captured.
Yes, eventually, some of them do sort of use some of those powers, but not until well after they had a million chances to defend themselves all so that Logan could make the ultimate sacrifice. That’s what happens when you put forced plot points into an otherwise well-crafted film.
5 Justice League: Aquaman’s Magic Lasso
Do we really need to come back to Justice League? Sure we do. It’s not that it was a hopelessly flawed movie. The real disappointment here is that there were plenty of cool things about the movie. Good superhero fights, lots of potential for setting up future stories. But boy oh boy did the filmmakers drop the ball on character development. Wonder Woman went from an interesting and complex figure in her own movie to a throwaway character here.
Aquaman was different from what fans expected too. We see this best in the scene where Aquaman accidentally sits on Wonder Woman’s magic lasso, the one that compels people to tell the truth – and he comes across as such a grunting alpha male looking for a cool wave – well, that’s just not Arthur Curry.
4 Captain America: Cap’s Plastic Frisbee “Shield”
To be fair, 1979 wasn’t the best time to make superhero movies. Obviously, there was no real CGI yet and special effects were strictly reserved for the biggest studio movies that can handle the budget. On TV, this was doubly true. But come on! If you’re going to make a Captain America movie, splurge on a shield.
In the 1979 made-for-TV movie version of Cap, the formerly vibranium-forged disc has been denigrated into a cheap plastic prop that not only looks like an oversized Frisbee – it even gets thrown like one and sails through the air just like a 180-gram Wham-O.
Forget stopping bullets, this thing looks like it belongs on a college campus to throw around when the coeds get sick of playing hacky sack. Once you see Cap’s trademark weapon exposed as the flimsy toy it is, the superhero movie is over, and the bad toy commercial has begun.
3 Robocop: Murphy Reveals His Face
At its heart, 1987’s Robocop is a human tragedy. A good cop is betrayed and gets brutally attacked, dismembered, disfigured, and left for dead, only to be resurrected with a wiped memory as a cyborg super crime fighter who's more machine than man. Yes, of course – there’s also all sorts of cool action, gun play, stuff blowing up, and robot fights too.
In one scene, Robocop takes off his helmet, revealing Officer Murphy’s face as he tried to re-piece his past life. It’s a good idea, but it’s also visually jarring. Rather than add humanity, the flesh and blood face sticking out of the chrome-plated exoskeleton just looks distracting.
Was it a problem with the makeup? Was it a limitation of special effects at the time? We don’t know, just make Robocop put the helmet back on!
2 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - Galactus Is a Cloud?
There’s a lot of people who didn’t grow up with comics who might find the cosmic semi-god Galactus to be a little hard to take seriously. After all, he’s basically a giant in a purple suit with tuning forks sticking out the side of his helmet. But the genius of Galacuts is that he is a personification of a force of nature. This dude eats planets – and he’s a humanoid. It’s like an omnipotent zombie that can eat everybody in one bite.
The makers of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer didn't even try to pull off that image. Instead, Galactus is depicted as a kind of cloud storm with no personality and no dialogue; just a clump of gas storming around the earth like a giant space fart. When the Silver Surfer flies in to confront his former boss, there’s nothing much to it. It may have as well been that tornado that gobbled up Pa Kent.
Degrading such an epic character down to celestial hurricane makes this ultimate villain more of a passing shower than unstoppable consumer of worlds.
1 Fantastic Four: The Thing Has No Pants!
Let us once again rightfully trash the 2015 version of The Fantastic Four. As soon as we are introduced to The Thing in this film, all bets are off. Hello? This superhero has no pants! Were these filmmakers crazy? The Thing has no pants! Yes, he’s been transformed into a rocky-skinned giant, but seriously, he has no pants on!
There have been bad superhero costume designs, but nobody is going to take a basically naked guy seriously, no matter what sci-fi monster his body has been morphed into. We wish it was just one scene, but the de-panting of The Thing lasts the whole movie, so it’s not just jarring us out of a scene, it basically destroys any chance we ever had of keeping our heads within the world it wished to present.
Superhero movies need one of those signs you might see in a restaurant: “no shoes, no shirts, no service.” Just add "no pants" to the list.
What scenes jarred you out of superhero movies? Share yours in the comments!