Superman made his first ever comic book appearance in 1938. Being the first superhero ever created (as we know them today), he launched what was to quickly become the superhero phenomenon.
From then, superheroes became a way to mentally escape the impact of the Great Depression and later on, tackle the prevailing issue that was World War II. Superheroes brought light at the end of the tunnel and gave people a sense of hope.
Superheroes were also given real problems that made them relatable to their fans. Superman isn’t just a paragon of justice, but an intergalactic immigrant from a different planet attempting to find acceptance in a world that doesn’t always accept him and Batman isn’t just a black suited guardian of the city, but a man haunted by a dark childhood memory.
As the comic book trend died down a little, the Superhero movie rose to take its place. From Superman released in 1978 to Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, superhero movies have been taking over the big screen for decades and will most like do so for years to come.
Sadly, unlike superheroes, these movies haven’t always been able to stand the test of time. Here are the 15 Superhero Movies That Have Aged Terribly.
15. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
These four reptilian heroes are only teens and oddly named after four famous Italian artists. The first film gained such a huge fanbase that it became a trilogy: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Oooze and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.
Although the TMNT movie series has not lost any of its charm, it does have its fair share of weird moments. If we take a look at the first movie, there are a number of things to choose from– even if we choose to ignore the remarkable amount of plot-holes.
For one, Shredder Bane is the least scariest villain known to turtle; the guy wears a cheap metallic outfit and doesn’t seem to have a clue about anything.
14. Batman and Robin (1997)
You can’t say this movie isn’t entertaining and much like the Batman TV series released in the 60s, this movie is all tongue in cheek. Nevertheless, Batman fans are a little weirded out by the film’s lighthearted portrayal of Batman and his sidekick Robin.
At the time, director Joel Schumacher blamed its poor reviews on Warner Bros. and the pressure they placed on him to make it more family-friendly.
However, what many fail to understand is why Mr Freeze has to sing songs about snow or why Batman is able to make bat shaped holes in the wall or why Batman and Robin’s shoes have ice skates in them.
13. Daredevil (2003)
Not everyone enjoys watching Ben Affleck as Batman, but before he took on the role of DC’s Bruce Wayne, he played Marvel’s Daredevil. At the time of its release, Daredevil was the second highest grossing film of the month and despite a rapid decline in viewings, it still managed to double its budget in grossings.
Today, looking back on the film, it seems a tad dated and cringey. For example, the scene in which Elektra and Daredevil battle it out on the playground is an extremely over the top, albeit hilarious, moment within the movie.
12. The Amazing Spiderman (2012)
Marvel’s Spiderman has almost surpassed Superman in popularity over the past decade or so and this has a lot to do with his relatibility and sense of humour. Spiderman is definitely a lighthearted superhero compared to most. Plus, teens just love watching someone their own age combat evil.
The Amazing Spiderman is only approximately half a decade old yet some of its scenes can be regarded as a little basic.
Many fans of the movie were left confused by the bizarre skateboarding scene, after Peter’s romantic encounter with Gwen, as it seemed like it came straight out of a ’90s flick. It’s possible this scene would have worked better if it didn’t have some dreary Coldplay music playing in the background.
11. The Punisher (2004)
This film didn’t gain much favour with critics, with most branding it far too depressing and sombre for a superhero movie. It did, however, gain some success at the box office and there were even talks of a sequel until ‘creative differences’ got in the way.
This was the first Marvel superhero movie in which the comic books company had direct involvement in production, but unfortunately, it’s now considered to be one of the worst Marvel movies ever made. Too many pointless things happen in this movie for it to be taken seriously.
The flashback of Frank’s family being murdered which already occurs at the start of the film and the weird movie references that don’t add anything to the story are just some of the unnecessary elements of the movie.
10. Fantastic Four (2005)
This movie was a commercial hit (there was even a sequel) but failed to gain much love from its critics. For starters, the villain Victor Von Doom is a total cliché, Jessica Albas’ character Susan Storm has zero depth (how many times can you make the same joke about Susan wearing nothing and being invisible?), and there are too many plot-holes to keep count.
It’s not surprising the script was blasted by Jessica Alba herself and as far as superhero movies go, this one will be forgotten very quickly.
The 2015 Fantastic Four reboot did little to improve the franchise’s reputation, despite having a big budget and a bunch of well-known actors– it was poorly received and a sequel was cancelled. Perhaps they should have given up hope after the 2005 movie.
9. Hulk (2003)
The ’00s gave us some great Superhero movies, but equally there were some really atrocious ones too. When esteemed director Ang Lee took on the role of directing Hulk, people were inclined to think that he would do a good job. However, many found that there was a distinct lack of action in the movie.
One such scene includes Betty Ross, played by Jennifer Connelly, being targeted by ferocious dogs. Of course Hulk is there to save the day but we can’t help but think they could have chosen something a little more menacing than some crazy looking mongrels (there’s even a poodle).
8. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Of course this movie is gonna seem dated. It was released thirty years ago. However, this one is famous for being both the last and worst film of the Christopher Reeve Superman legacy. In his autobiography Still Me, Reeve blames the lack of budget rather than the script itself.
This clearly took a huge toll on the special effects which look extremely cheap– even for an ’80s flick. What’s more, the fact that Lex Luther retrieves Superman’s hair by smashing the museum’s glass container to pieces (yeah, because that won’t get you caught) and is somehow able to create Nuclear Man using that one strand of hair just makes for one super low quality movie.
7. Catwoman (2004)
For some reason, the plot for this movie is very loosely based on the Catwoman comic character. There seems to be no real rationale behind this decision for it doesn’t improve the story in the slightest.
For one thing, Catwoman’s real name is Patience instead of Selina– because apparently that makes such a huge difference to the narrative– and she’s more of a heroine than an anti-heroine in the film. The changes made to Catwoman’s identity make this movie far less interesting than what it could have been.
By far the most amusing thing about the film is watching Patience do some kind of basketball dance with love interest Detective Tom Lone. Very cringe and very much what you don’t want from a superhero movie. Despite being the lead, Catwoman’s character development is minimal.
6. Spiderman 3 (2007)
Even though Spider-Man 3 is considered to be the worst of the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man film trilogy, it’s by no means a terrible movie. Critics of the film said that it was overflowing with villains and unnecessary sub-plots, however, partly due to the success of Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, the film was still a major box office success.
While some Spider-Man fans can appreciate the utter ridiculousness that is the ‘street dance’ scene (in which Peter Parker, possessed by a symbiote that unleashes his dark side, does a strange boogie-walk down the streets of New York), some view this moment as far too cringe and excessive for a modern-day superhero flick.
5. Judge Dredd (1995)
While the Judge Dredd story is undeniably interesting, the 1995 movie didn’t quite do it justice. Although it did well on an international level, the overall consesus was that Judge Dredd failed to deliver the goods.
Many have compared its visuals to those in Blade Runner, including the neon lights, grimy night-time streets and eccentrically clad civilians, but Mega-City One just isn’t as distinctive as it could have been.
Much of the blame has been put on Sylvester Stallone for failing to capture the true essence of the comic book character. For one thing, he takes off his helmet, something the original anti-hero would never ever do.
4. Batman Forever (1995)
Although this film was a bit hit at the box office and received some very favourable reviews, today it seems that much of its charm is lost on a modern day audience.
For one, Nicole Kidman’s character, Dr Chase Meridian, does little more than play Batman’s ‘damsel in distress’ love interest and while the special effects are rather pleasing, the cardboard looking high rises and cheap giant statues that form Gotham City are difficult to tolerate, even if you are a fan of vintage style scenery.
If you add this to the many plot-holes and Val Kilmer’s dull performance, you’ve got yourself one out-dated movie.
3. Ghost Rider (2007)
The 2007 release of this comic-book adaptation gained good numbers at the box-office and there was even a sequel (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance).
However, the story of Johnny Blaze (the first Ghost Rider) does not translate well in this movie. Directed by Mark Steven Johnson (who also directed Daredevil), it stars Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze and Eva Mendes as Roxanne Simpson.
While Cage is criticised for having gone overboard with his performance, Mendes didn’t have much of a script to work with in the first place. Had the dialogue and the visuals been more gritty and less Hollywood, it’s possible something more long-lasting would have been created.
2. Spawn (1997)
Superhero Spawn had a major following in the 90s. Spawn was created by Image Comic, the comic book company set up by Todd Mcfarlane (famous for his work on The Amazing Spiderman Marvel comics).
As the years have gone by, Spawn’s fame has dwindled a little, but in 2019 Mcfarlane himself will be releasing a new Spawn movie, so fans, get ready.
The 1997 adaptation of Spawn did rather well with kids and fans of the comic hero, however its reviews were mostly negative and today the film’s special effects are considered mediocre even for a ’90s movie, the Clown is only vaguely scary and Martin Sheen’s beard looks ridiculous.
1. Superman Returns (2006)
Superman Returns received some very favourable reviews at the time of release, but as time went on, people seemed to rapidly lose interest in this tame and forgettable superhero film.
What’s more, a planned sequel for 2009 was cancelled due to its average box office intake. Superman Returns was created as a sequel to the first two Christopher Reeve Superman films, as though the last two films (Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace) never happened.
However, the lack of action (which for some people is a good thing), Lex Luther’s bizarre real estate plan and Lois Lane’s lacklustre role within the movie fail to do the original Reeve films justice.
Despite the cancelled sequel, many fans still hoped Brandon Routh would return to his former role as Superman. This never happened but you can catch him in the DC series Legends of Tomorrow.
What do you think? Do you agree that these movies aged terribly? Are there any other movies you would like to add? Let us know in the comments!
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