Before the launch of the critically acclaimed MCU, comic book movies were largely hit or miss. While certain directors like Tim Burton and Sam Raimi were able to walk the fine line between appealing to a larger audience while also honoring the iconic comic book characters, other filmmakers seemed to totally miss the mark. Not to mention that even Burton’s Batman franchise and Rami’s Spider-Man trilogy couldn’t maintain their quality beyond the first two films.
When a comic book movie is done right, it puts the original pages into motion and offers up a slightly different take on the story while always remaining true to the original characters. But when a comic book movie is done wrong, it can turn into a colossal train wreck.
With their over-the-top characters and special effects, bad comic book movies are often lambasted by critics, who can clearly become fed up with sitting through explosion after explosion during the dog days of blockbuster season. Now that the DCEU seems to have taken a turn for the better with the exceedingly well-crafted Wonder Woman, there may be fewer and fewer negative reviews for comic book movies in the near future. But there’s no need to fear! There’s still plenty of terrible adaptations out there that you may have missed during their first go around.
Here are the 15 Lowest Rated Comic Book Movies On Rotten Tomatoes.
15. R.I.P.D. — 13%
After Jeff Bridges starred in Iron Man and before Ryan Reynolds made Deadpool (two films that have way higher Rotten Tomatoes scores) the comedic duo teamed up for 2013’s R.I.P.D. The film was based on the 2001 comic by Peter M. Lenkov, which follows two undead police officers who must protect the world from otherworldly entities.
While most critics agreed that Jeff Bridges was a delight to watch (as he almost always is), his performance alone wasn’t enough to save this movie, which tries to stuff too many genres into its 90-minute runtime. R.I.P.D. was clearly trying to exist somewhere in the sphere of Ghostbusters and Men in Black, but the end result was far too cliched to be considered original — or even enjoyable, for that matter.
14. Alien vs. Predator: Requiem — 12%
Though the original Alien and Predator films were both produced from original scripts, the idea of crossing the two franchises existed in the pages of a comic book long before it was brought to the silver screen. In the 1980s, Dark House Comics introduced the first Alien vs. Predator comic, which are still being written today. But it wouldn’t be until 2004 that the concept would be made into a feature film.
Though the first AVP film received its fair share of backlash, it was the follow-up film, titled Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, where the critics had finally had enough. This sequel may have employed more gore under its R-rating as an attempt to appeal to fans of the original franchises, but beyond the bloody effects, Requiem failed to offer up anything new to audiences.
The film simply felt like another pandering attempt to make money, which also proved to be a failure when Requiem went on to become the lowest-grossing movie for both the Alien and Predator franchises.
13. Steel – 12%
Director Kenneth Johnson is known for writing and directing science fiction television, which helps to explain why the 1997 superhero film Steel feels like a low-budget TV show stretched into a 100-minute runtime.
This film is notoriously bad and extremely easy to insult since NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal fills in the title role. Steel was originally meant to be a spin-off film to a “Death of Superman” movie that never came to fruition, and the end result was an incarnation of the character that had little connection to the source material.
12. The Crow: City of Angels — 12%
The Crow: City of Angels is a sequel to 1994’s The Crow, which became infamous when leading actor Brandon Lee was killed on set when a stunt went horribly wrong. But since The Crow became a commercial and critical success, Miramax Films decided to push for a follow-up film despite the leading actor’s death.
David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) was brought in to write the script for City of Angels. Goyer, along with director Tim Pope, wanted the sequel to be drastically different than the original film by introducing a totally new set of characters– mostly out of respect for Brandon Lee. Unfortunately, Miramax drastically tampered with the final cut of the film against Goyer and Pope’s wishes, leading the writer and director to totally disown the final product.
The original film was based on the 1989 cult comic of the same name, which has spawned four feature films as well as a TV series, though none have every truly captured the essence of the original comic series.
11. Jonah Hex — 12%
Jonah Hex is one of a few movies on this list that actually has a pretty stellar cast. Josh Brolin fills in the title role, while John Malkovich and Micheal Fassbender play a couple of the film’s baddies. These three actors can all be truly captivating when they want to be, and all in drastically different ways. The always-funny Will Arnett and always-intense Michael Shannon even make brief appearances in the film as well. And then there’s Megan Fox, who is an underestimated performer miscast in a cliche role.
Jonah Hex was first published by DC back in the 1970s, and the comic provided a grittier alternative to the campy Western TV shows (Bonanza, Gunsmoke, etc.) that plagued television during the same decade. But unfortunately, the 2010 film adaptation was nowhere near the quality of the original comics, and Jonah Hex grossed just $10 million at the box office against a near $50 million budget — which makes it easy to forget that this film was ever released in the first place.
10. Superman IV: The Quest For Peace — 12%
After the terribly misguided Superman III, Christopher Reeves and Warner Bros. studios should have just cut their losses. But unfortunately, they pushed forward and made the fourth film in the franchise, titled The Quest For Peace, which may not have been as unbearably campy as the third film, but that didn’t mean it was any easier to sit through.
Superman IV: The Quest For Peace has problems across the board, including a number of plot holes and an uninspired performance by Reeves, who had been consistently good during the first three films, even when the story fell out from underneath his feet (he can fly after all).
The one thing that’s hard to get past is how horribly cheap this film looks. Indeed, the budget of Superman IV was over a third less than it had been for Superman II, meaning the studio clearly knew that Superman IV had a high chance of being a flop. Which begs the question: if you’re not even going to try to make a Superman movie the right way, why even make it at all?
9. Batman & Robin — 11%
Unlike many dated movies that acquire a certain nostalgic charm as time goes by, Batman & Robin remains just as cringe-worthy today as it was at the time of its release, if not more so. In fact, it’s utterly amazing how so many talented individuals could work together to make such a talentless film.
A follow-up film, titled Batman Unchained, was already in the works at Warner Bros. But after the poor critical reviews and a mediocre box office (Batman & Robin is still the lowest-grossing live action Batman movie of all time), the sequel was ultimately cancelled. Thus, audiences would have to wait almost an entire decade before the Caped Crusader would make his return to the silver screen in an immeasurably better film.
8. Elektra — 10%
After starring in 2003’s Daredevil alongside Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner reprised her role as Elektra in the 2005 film of the same name. Unfortunately, the filmmakers failed to learn any lessons from the previous film. Instead, they actually doubled down on everything that made Daredevil bad, including a thin story, unintelligent dialogue, and totally flat characters.
On top of being a critical failure, Elektra also bombed at the box office, recouping just $10 million more than its initial budget. The film also had a massive drop in box office sales during its second weekend in theaters, meaning that word of mouth was quickly spreading that this superhero flick was not worth venturing to the theater for.
7. Heavy Metal 2000 — 10%
Heavy Metal 2000 is a sequel to the 1981 animated cult classic Heavy Metal. While the original film borrowed stories from the Heavy Metal magazine, the follow-up film took its plot from The Melting Pot, a graphic novel created by Eric Talbot, Kevin Eastman, and Simon Bisley. The direct-to-video release didn’t share the same success as its predecessor and was overflowing with gratuitous sex and violence displayed with sub-par animation.
While Heavy Metal was an anthology film, borrowing multiple stories from the comic magazine, Heavy Metal 2000 tells a single story that is far too thin to keep the audiences engaged during its short runtime of 87-minutes. Pretty much everyone agrees that Heavy Metal 2000 is loud, cheap, and simple-minded. If you want a guilty pleasure, you’re better off rewatching the 1981 film.
6. Fantastic Four — 9%
Dipping into the single digits with only 19 “Fresh” rating out of over 200 reviews is 2015’s Fantastic Four. Though the film was meant to be a reboot for the franchise, it received far worse rating than 2005’s Fantastic Four and its 2007 sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer, which received 27% and 37% on the Tomatometer, respectively.
The film had a promising cast, headed up by Michael B. Jordan (Creed), Kate Mara (The Martian), Miles Teller (Whiplash), and Jamie Bell (Snowpiercer). But the latest adaptation proved to suck out all the charm that made the comic so great in exchange for a grittier incarnation of the franchise. The end result was a rather gloomy affair, and the Fantastic Four went on to gross only $168 million at the box office — still well below the budget and cost of marketing for the film.
5. Catwoman — 9%
Ideally, comic book movies shouldn’t be made for the critics, but instead for the fans of the original source material. And in that regard, 2002’s Catwoman is an abysmal failure.
Halle Berry plays Patience Phillips, a character who has zero similarities to Selina Kyle/Catwoman — aside from the fact that she’s a woman who happens to dress up like a cat. At least Michelle Pfeiffer’s incarnation of Catwoman in Batman Returns was in the same ballpark as the comic book character. But with over 60 years of comic books to draw from, the filmmakers decided to take this Catwoman story into totally uncharted waters. The end result was a movie that was far too dumb to achieve the type of campiness it was going for.
It was as if they thought putting Berry into a skimpy, super-tight costume would be enough to distract audiences from the ludicrous plotline. But the film’s poor box office performance seemed to prove that sex doesn’t always sell.
4. Virus — 9%
Before it was a comic book, Virus was actually conceived as a screenplay, but when author Chuck Pfarrer deemed the special effects undoable he sold the idea to Dark Horse Comics instead. Then came along Oscar-winning visual effects artist John Bruno, who wanted to adapt the comic into a movie and serve as its director. Sounds like a pretty solid plan, right? Unfortunately, Virus is one of those movies that would be better enjoyed with the sound off.
The special effects in this comic book adaptation are indeed impressively done, but the story is anything but. The critic consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reads “Despite its great special effects, this movie’s predictability greatly undermines its intensity.” Many critics also called the movie a retread of Deep Rising, which was released the year before. Virus even ended up making a number of critics’ worst of the year lists in 1999.
3. Supergirl — 7%
Elektra, Catwoman, and now Supergirl. It’s fair to say that female-led superhero movies don’t have the best track record, which sadly all began with this 1984 film.
Supergirl served as a spinoff to the successful Christopher Reeves Superman franchise, which found Helen Slater in the lead role of Supergirl, AKA Kara Zor-El, AKA Linda Lee. Reeves was originally going to reprise his role for the film, which would likely have made it a bigger hit at the box office, but the actor ultimately decided to back out of the project. Supergirl had weak reviews and an even weaker box office performance, bringing in just $14 million on a $35 million budget.
At least we now have Wonder Woman — a superbly made film that will hopefully pave way for more female-lead superhero movies in the future. It’s just unfortunate that we had to wait over 30 years until someone got this formula right.
2. I, Frankenstein — 3%
After starring as Harvey Dent/ Two-Face in 2008’s The Dark Knight (arguably the greatest comic book movie ever made) you would think that actor Aaron Eckhart would know a good comic book adaptation from a bad one. And I, Frankenstein is a bad one. A really bad one. In fact, this movie is so bad it’s a wonder that it got any “Fresh” reviews at all.
This 2014 film was based on the Darkstorm Studio graphic novel of the same name, which was written by Kevin Grevioux, co-creator of the Underworld series. While the graphic novel is nothing you need to add to your must-read list, it’s still far better from the big screen adaptation. This film takes itself far too seriously, which sucks out any sense of fun or self-awareness that this type of story desperately needs.
1. The Crow: Wicked Prayer — 0%
Though The Crow series is often hailed as one of the greatest dark comics of all time, the live-action adaptations have been far less than stellar. To date, four feature-length Crow films have been made. We certainly won’t blame you if you’ve never heard of any of them outside of the original film — which is far and away the only one that’s worth watching.
With a rating of 0%, you can safely assume that everything in this film is bad, from the storyline all the way to the editing. What makes it even worse, is that Wicked Prayer feels downright hateful, making no attempt to morally redeem itself by the film’s end.
There have long been talks of rebooting The Crow series into a more faithful adaptation of the comic book. If that ever happens, we can safely assume that it will be better than Wicked Prayer, which is so bad you might laugh at it… if only you could stop yourself from groaning.
So what do you think is the worst comic book movie ever made? Sound off in the comments!
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