For better or worse, the world of cinema is caught in the superhero hype of comic book movies. While horror is still alive and kicking, there is no doubt that superheroes and villain rule the roost at the box office, but what makes these movies so popular?
A mix of action, emotion, and good a story arc are all the key ingredients of your comic book caper, but it also seems that audiences love a puzzler that even the likes of Riddler couldn’t deliver.While the average comic book movie isn’t packed with the twists and turns of a Saw film or some gritty Scorsese gangster flick, there are still a fair few surprises to keep viewers on their toes. Some of the very best (and worst) comic book movies have had some pretty memorable shockers in their runtime.
From Michael Keaton’s extended Vulture family in Spider-Man: Homecoming to Joker’s cell phone bomb in The Dark Knight, the comic book movie obsession has always kept moviegoers entertained. However, for every reveal of the Vulture's family life, we have had a blundering Batgirl, a lame Logan, and an evil Ego.
With that in mind, light up the Bat-Signal, because here are the 15 Worst Comic Book Movie Twists.
15 X-24 Is Hugh Jackman
It might be a struggle to find many flaws with this year’s Logan, but among stellar performances, a noir tale, and a moving finale for Hugh Jackman, there were a few ball drops - in particular, that annoying X-24 reveal. Logan already showcased Laura Kinney's skills as X-23, but what on Earth was coming with X-24 - another scrappy little offspring, or something much worse?
It was one of those rare moments that comic books were no use, and even Jackman was rightly skeptical about the X-24 twist. There were high hopes for some hidden cameo of an A-list celebrity or even chances that Mister Sinister would be making his big screen debut, but alas, Logan gave us Hugh Jackman... again.
X-24 was a souped-up version of the character that had been a part of 17 years of X-Men movies; basically all James Mangold did was shave Hugh Jackman’s head. Admittedly, it did give the great payoff of Charles Xavier’s harrowing last scene, but die-hard Marvel fans were expecting something new.
14 Loki Is Odin
As the lowest-rated MCU film, things were already on the ropes for 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, but 115 minutes in, director Alan Taylor delivered one of the worst twists to grace comic book movies. As Thor turns down his claim to the realms of Asgard, Anthony Hopkins resumes his seat as Odin on the throne - or so we thought.
With a change to the music, hearts leaped, and it was revealed that the eye-patched ruler was actually Loki in disguise. None of that would be particularly infuriating if Taylor hadn’t just killed Loki off in a dramatic battle scene, as he sacrificed himself to help Thor defeat Malekith. The "Loki is Odin" twist may have worked a little better if it wasn’t a rehash of what the trickster did to Selvig in the first film.
While it still means that Loki is alive and well to give us appearances in Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War, it also robbed Tom Hiddleston of his noble death. Questions of how Loki faked his death and Odin’s disappearance will certainly be addressed in Ragnarok, but there is no denying that we were... low-key... annoyed with this little twist.
13 Obadiah Stane Is The Villain
Jeff Bridges may have brought his booming bravado to the start of the MCU in Iron Man all those years ago, but was anyone really surprised to learn that Obadiah Stane was the bad guy?
The unscrupulous Stane had been selling Stark tech to the terrorists and conveniently orchestrated an attack on Tony. Little did Stane know, the technological whizz-kid would save his own life and create the Iron Man suit. It didn’t take long for Stane’s true colors to show and him to take on the Iron Monger persona.
You didn’t need to read the Marvel comic books to realize that the brooding close-ups and tense music were queuing Stane up to be this movie’s big bald bad guy. It was the classic trope of vengeful businessman annoyed by young upstart taking what he is owed. It has been done before with the likes of Batman, and why would Iron Man be any different?
Alongside Blofeld, Dr. Evil, and Lex Luthor, most would agree that the villainous bald head was what gave it away here.
12 Silverfox Works for Stryker
Giving us the “origins” of James Howlett’s Logan, Gavin Hood's Wolverine film was largely held up by Hugh Jackman once against grunting and slashing his way through a whole host of dead-wood performances.
Kayla Silverfox’s power was tactical hypnosis to convince Wolverine that she had been slaughtered by Sabretooth - enter sibling rivalry once more. The truth was unfortunately even worse, and Silverfox was later revealed to be working under the eye of William Stryker. Claiming that she really did love Logan, Kayla was blackmailed into being a mole because Stryker had her sister at his mutant-packed facility on Three Mile Island.
All of this set up Kayla’s ultimate redemption, and viewers watched her sacrifice to save Wolverine in a story arc that was almost as signposted as her happy homemaker facade. The Stryker twist tried to add more depth to Lynn Collins’ forgettable love interest, but fans were more interested in the possible inclusion of Emma Frost as Kayla's sister - it wasn’t her, by the way.
11 Dorian Gray Is Evil
Sadly, there wasn’t much “extraordinary” about the big screen adaptation of Alan Moore’s acclaimed The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel series. A huge budget, an aged Sean Connery, and less-than-favorable reviews sank what was supposed to be an expanded horror universe long before Universal made its own attempt.
However, some may find The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen a vastly underrated piece of cinema, and while some performances were a little schlocky, it was a jolly good romp through the Victorian era. A brave move away from the graphic novel series saw the character of Dorian Gray promoted from side character to full-blown rapscallion. After much teasing that Jason Statham's Invisible Man was the mole within the ranks of the League, Dorian was exposed as a villain.
When you have to reveal the twist through a variety of chopped together cut scenes, is it really that good of a twist? Perhaps audiences would’ve been more surprised if Stuart Townsend hadn’t played Dorian to within an inch of his life. As soon as Townsend raised so much as an eyebrow during his introduction, most were probably shouting, “He’s a mole” at the screen.
10 Harry Osborn Becomes Green Goblin (Again)
There is no denying that Sam Raimi certainly put his own stamp on Marvel’s Spider-Man. Across three films, the Raimiverse gave comic book fans (probably) the most memorable outings ever for Peter Parker. However, even Raimi couldn’t resist a lame duck of a twist.
While Willem Dafoe was incredible as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin - apart from that stolen Power Rangers villain suit - James Franco’s tenure as the Goblin wasn’t quite as memorable. When realizing that the Green Goblin was actually the main villain across the entire Raimiverse, it isn’t really fair on the rest of the rogues. Yes, he is probably the most memorable Spider-Man foe, but talk about overkill.
However, Harry being the Goblin was bad enough without his own convoluted origin story (twice). After that head-spinning glider chase in Spider-Man 3 and Harry “losing” his memory, even a deceased Uncle Ben was able to figure out that Harry’s amnesia would only be temporary. After some brief bliss, Harry then regained his memories and went to continue his father’s legacy.
It could always be worse, though; it could’ve been the Dane DeHann version of the character.
9 Barbara Wilson Is Batgirl
Watch Alicia Silverstone stick on some spandex and ruin one of the best female comic book characters in history.
Joel Schumacher may have driven the Batman franchise into hibernation, but it is hard to deny that the director had big plans for a continuing Batverse. With rumors of Coolio playing Scarecrow and even the return of Jack Nicholson as Joker, Schumacher had no desire to stop after 1997’s diabolical Batman & Robin.
Away from rubber nipples and ice puns, one of the film’s biggest criticisms was Alicia Silverstone’s performance as Barbara Wilson. The newly-invented niece of Alfred, Wilson took on all the characteristics of Batgirl and earned the affectionate name of “Buttgirl” from disgruntled fans.
Given that Pat Hingle had appeared as Commissioner Gordon in all the films, it made perfect sense for Schumacher to introduce Barbara Gordon as his daughter and follow the Batgirl origins from the comics. However, just to annoy moviegoers more than he was already going to, Schumacher invented Wilson as a “twist” on the Batgirl lore.
8 Ego Is A Bad Dad
One flick through the pages of a comic, or even a quick Google of the character Ego, and fans would know what to expect when they sat down for James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Admittedly, Gunn did a great job of adapting an actual living planet into the “Who’s your daddy?” saga of Star-Lord, but the reveal that Ego might not win "Father of the Year" was hardly a shocker.
Ego was already a deadbeat dad for abandoning a junior Star-Lord on Earth, but Gunn had to elevate him to being a big rocky badass, complete with his own plans for galactic domination. In case anyone needed steering to the conclusion before Nebula and Gamora discovered that cave of mangled offspring, Pom Klementieff’s Mantis refused to discuss her shady past with Ego.
Russell's performance was up there with some of the best MCU villains, but who didn’t hope for a happy ending for Star-Lord that would see Peter Quill put his daddy issues behind him? Bad Ego did give us that great Yondu pay-off but we still had to sit through two hours of poorly executed plot devices to get there.
7 Emma Frost Is Dead
It is hard to know where to start with January Jones playing Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class. As a reboot (of sorts) for the mutantverse which began in 2000, Matthew Vaughn’s film is remembered for great performances from Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, but sadly, Jones isn't quite so loved.
She may have been a diamond-skinned siren, but Jones’ performance was as frosty as her character’s surname. Fans were on the fence on whether they wanted her to return for Days of Future Past, but there wasn’t an option and killing the Queen of the Hellfire Club between movies was pure laziness.
To add salt to the wound, Frost wasn’t the only one to wave goodbye after First Class. The likes of Banshee, Azazel, and Angel all met their maker thanks to Bolivar Trask, leaving only a quick Easter egg and a single tear from Jennifer Lawrence.
Perhaps Logan’s meddling in 1973 changed their fates, but don’t expect Jones and co. to be signing up for Dark Phoenix. As one of the best antiheroes to join the X-Men, Emma Frost has to return at some point. In the meantime, though, Fox screwed up a fan-favorite mutant.
6 Miranda Tate Is Talia al Ghul
Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is not only one of the best comics book trilogies out there, but one of the best in cinema. Up there with the original Star Wars films and The Godfather, Nolan’s take on the Caped Crusader was truly brilliant.
That being said, critics are largely divided on the concluding chapter, The Dark Knight Rises. There were definitely more to poke holes than in the previous two entries. The biggest gripe, by far, is Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate. Even before the movie hit cinemas, fans weren’t convinced that the Wayne Enterprises board member was as wholesome as she made out.
Nolan did a good job of stringing us along that it was Bane who had escaped the “Lazarus Pit”, but a final-chapter twist revealed Miranda Tate as Talia al Ghul.
The problem is that the “Tate twist” robbed Tom Hardy’s Bane of all that character development. Bane from the comics may be a merc for hire, but he was reduced to nothing more than a disfigured grunt. Also, with Miranda now the villain of the piece, there was that godawful death scene as one of the worst in history!
5 Lois Gets Amnesia
Looking back at the Christopher Reeve era of playing Superman, there is slow decline in quality from the '70s original. However, 1980’s Superman II is still a damn good superhero movie. It starred Gene Hackman again as a brilliant Lex Luthor and the return pairing of Reeve and Margot Kidder.
With possibly one of the best secret identities in the comic books, we have seen Clark Kent remain incognito through thick and thin. However, Superman II saw Clark reveal his Superman persona to Lois Lane when fetching a comb from a lit fireplace - as you do.
Possibly one of the most frustrating plot points is Clark’s ability to make people forget who he is, a move that was annoyingly put into practice at the end of Superman II with that infamous “amnesia” kiss. Lois knowing the truth about Clark clearly wasn’t going to work for a continuing franchise, and the movie gave us the Superman equivalent of a dream sequence.
It may have been a power pulled directly from the comics, but this convenient move was (thankfully) never seen again. Director Richard Lester simply used it as a convenient maneuver to set up the dire Superman III.
4 Trevor Slattery is NOT The Mandarin
Bringing one of the most infamous Iron Man villains to life, and with Sir Ben Kingsley in the role, what could possibly go wrong? Well, if it is Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, a lot.
The twist saw Kingsley's Mandarin exposed as drunken Brit Trevor Slattery, while Slattery’s theatrical foil distracted the authorities and allowed Aldrich Killian to practice his Extremis serum in peace. Fans were outraged that they were robbed of the Mandarin and replaced with Kingsley’s dodgy American accent. Killian basically became Syndrome from The Incredibles and Mandarin became a deception pulled from a Nolanesque movie like The Prestige.
Robert Downey Jr. was great at injecting humor into the movies, but Kingsley’s performance felt out of place. Many saw the comic book Mandarin as a racial stereotype, so the blame can’t be put at Black’s door for reinventing him.
However, was the twist really worth the payoff that Stark’s fearsome rival was nothing but an out of work actor? No really, no.
3 Richard Parker Is Alive
There were many problems with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but there was nearly an ever bigger one thanks to an alternate ending. Rivaling Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 as the most-hated Spidey film to date, Marc Webb's sequel tried to set up that Sinister Six movie but something just didn’t work with this clumsy sequel.
One bit that never officially make the final cut - thank God - saw Richard Parker rise from the grave and screw with Peter’s life. It was a mind-boggling twist that didn’t even come from the pages of a Marvel comic. Unless the returning Parker’s were the Life Model Decoys created by Chameleon, it looks like Webb’s writing team plucked this idea from their own warped imagination. Imagine the outrage is Thomas and Martha Wayne popped up next to Ben Affleck at the end of Batman v Superman.
As for Richard Parker’s miraculous survival, fans will never get to know why or how it happened. Even though the scene wasn’t in the movie, it still technically counts because this is where Webb was clearly going to take us. Just like Uncle Ben and the Waynes, the Parkers need to stay deceased.
2 Mystique is Stryker
1 John Blake is Robin
Secret Catwoman, secret Talia, secret Robin? Was there anyone in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises who wasn’t revealed as a guise for a fan-favorite comic book character?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt was undoubtedly superb as Bruce’s second-in-command, but he may as well have run around with a Robin crest tattooed on his forehead. The “reveal” that he was actually Robin was obvious from the moment Gordon-Levitt was cast.
The signs were all there: John Blake was an orphan, Blake rhymes with Drake (Tim), and the timing was right to forget Chris O'Donnell and introduce Robin again to the world of Batman. However, Christopher Nolan left a sour taste in everyone's mouth with a last-minute reveal that John’s legal name was Robin. Hardly suiting up in spandex and taking over from the “deceased” Bruce Wayne, is it?
There was already the Miranda Tate clanger, but to uncover the underwhelming alias of John Blake left more questions than were needed for the concluding chapter of the trilogy. It was almost like Nolan wasn’t willing to fully commit - let's be honest, giving Blake the nickname Robin doesn’t actually confirm that he is the Boy Wonder.
Which do you think is the worst comic book movie twist? Sound off in the comments below.