DC are on the verge of massive cinematic greatness. They’ve had some amazing success over the years with the first few Christopher Reeve Superman movies, the Dark Knight Trilogy and the Tim Burton Batman series, but this year’s Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad promise to kick-start the beginning of a cinematic era to rival the success seen at Marvel over the last few years. Given their upcoming slate, including The Flash, Aquaman, and a rebooted Green Lantern, things are looking up.
But before they got to this point, they made some less-than-stellar movies over the years. With this list, we take a look at the 10 Movies DC Wants You To Forget.
Note: we are not saying these movies are necessarily BAD, they just didn’t work for a variety of reasons.
10 Batman & Robin (1997)
Batman & Robin failed to engage with its audience for a number of reasons. Heavily influenced by the Adam West TV series from the ‘60s, it was bold and camp. In a different era, this might have been great, but this was the grim and gritty ‘90s where comic book characters were gun-toting anti-heroes. It was out of place with an ever-more sophisticated fan base.
Also, the movie cast George Clooney as Bruce Wayne/Batman. The relative newcomer to the big-screen was ill at ease in the bat suit and didn’t convince as Bruce Wayne either. Studio faith in their leading man wasn’t strong, as Arnold Schwarzenegger was given top billing for playing villain Mr. Freeze. Unlike 1989’s Batman, starring Michael Keaton, where Jack Nicholson’s Joker took top billing, Schwarzenegger wasn’t at the height of his career and couldn’t carry the movie. In Keaton’s case, he owned the role anyway. Clooney didn’t and the rest of the cast couldn’t save the movie.
Huge amounts of criticism were also leveled at the costumes. The inclusion of the now-infamous "bat-nipples" was a huge mistake and is often considered a massive reason for the series jumping the shark. When Batman was rebooted in the Dark Knight Trilogy, the emphasis on a real-world setting, far-removed from the neon-soaked Joel Schumacher series, was seen as a massive shift in the right direction.
While Batman and Robin is most certainly a movie DC would rather we forget, it is a firm favorite among under-10s to this day. If it serves to introduce younger audiences to characters and settings from the DC universe, it might not deserve all the hate it gets.
9 Green Lantern (2011)
Grossing $219 million against a $200 million budget, this movie barely made its money back. Also, it holds a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Green Lantern was a critical and commercial failure. Heavily criticized for an over-reliance on CGI and a lack of plot, the movie mainly fails due to its uneven tone. It feels like there’s an action comedy and a sci-fi horror movie being played at the same time, neither of which connect with each other in any meaningful way.
While the plot borrows heavily from Geoff Johns’ Secret Origin, it fails to capture Hal Jordan’s story arc from the source material. His initial meeting with Sinestro fails to set the scene for their intense rivalry later on. Hector Hammond is seen as less of a true antagonist and more of an unnecessary side plot.
Parallax should have been saved for a sequel, with just hints as to what he was. By putting the biggest bad guy front and center, it left the series with nowhere to turn. The post credits scene featuring Sinestro using a yellow ring was not only a break from the comic book canon, it was a sense of too little, too late in terms of character development.
With so much disdain for the movie, it’s now being rebooted as Green Lantern Corps, following a new continuity, so it’s clearly a movie DC wants us to forget ever happened. While not a good movie by most standards, Green Lantern isn’t so bad as to be unwatchable.
8 Catwoman (2004)
One of the truly bad movies on this list. It’s very hard to find anything to praise about this movie at all. Which, given the confidence DC had in the movie, is surprising.
On paper, Catwoman should have been a success. Comic book movies were doing well, Halle Berry was HUGE, and a $100 million production budget should have been enough to make a decent movie. For a multitude of reasons though, Catwoman flopped and flopped hard. It only took $82 million at the box office, not enough to make its money back. It also holds a 9% score on rotten tomatoes, proving that it didn’t connect with the audience either.
While just about every aspect of the movie faced criticism, it is often singled out for its lack of character development, weak supporting cast and lack of engaging action sequences.
7 Superman Returns (2006)
Despite not having much love from modern audiences, Superman Returns was actually a critical and commercial success. It holds a solid 76% on Rotten Tomatoes and earned $391 million against a $200 million budget.
The problem was a lack of vision on the part of director Bryan Singer. Whereas Zack Snyder's Man of Steel (for all its faults) went to the comic book universe for inspiration, Superman Returns was intended as a sequel to the Christopher Reeves’ movies from the ‘70s and ‘80s (ignoring Superman 3 and 4 however). While using footage of Marlon Brando as Jor El, and casting an impressive line up of big names as well as indie stars and unknowns worked well, nothing in the movie added to the mythos. The plot was essentially a rehash of the original’s. Despite being faithful to the original movies, and garnering a healthy return at the box-office, there was little appetite for a sequel and the proposed Superman: Flyby was canceled.
Given the 2013 reboot and the upcoming clash with a certain caped crusader, DC is ignoring this movie. While not a bad movie in many regards, Superman Returns has been largely forgotten by both fans and DC.
6 Steel (1997)
In the early ‘90s, The Death of Superman was HUGE! As storylines go, few break into the public consciousness in any way close to this. It was even reported on TV across the world. Of course, Superman returned, but during the event there were a lot of interesting new characters introduced. One of the best of these was Steel, a.k.a John Henry Irons.
Despite a $17 million budget, Steel, the movie, only returned $1.7 million. The flaws were many, but the obvious problem was in casting NBA star Shaquille O’Neal as the titular hero. Shaq had only been in one movie previously, and had been terrible in that as well.
The plot was cliché, with Steel going up against a former employer that planned to sell weapons to criminals. The script was lazy, the acting dull, and hopes for a sequel were dashed. Given that nobody has ever talked openly about a sequel or reboot, it’s probably safe to say this is one movie DC would rather we ALL forgot ever happened.
5 Jonah Hex (2010)
Jonah Hex is a great comic book series and should have provided more than enough inspiration for a successful movie franchise. It features a scarred bounty hunter that is surprisingly likable and has a strict code of honor. The movie strayed far too far from the source material and the resulting movie tanked at the box office. $11 million was made against a $47 million budget, grossing less than $500,000 overseas.
The 12% rotten score ON Rotten Tomatoes, and a wealth of bad reviews show that Jonah Hex didn’t connect with audiences either. While Josh Brolin is a talented actor, he couldn’t do more than the meagre script allowed. The resulting movie is one that both he, DC, and the fans would rather forget.
4 The Losers (2010)
While in no way terrible, The Losers is a little too easily forgettable. It would almost be better if it was in “so bad, it’s good” territory. Instead, it’s just forgettable action fare. Casting an all-star cast, based on a Vertigo comic book series, should have provided a solid success at the box office. Instead it barely made back its $25 million budget. The Losers needed “edge.” Instead, it was compared with The A-Team as a simple action movie that was, as Quentin Tarantino said, “Big dumb fun.”
As action movies go, it’s not bad at all, and director Sylvian White manages to squeeze some impressive set pieces out of the small budget. It’s not a case of a movie DC actively wants us to forget, but it’s unlikely they want anyone to actively remember it either.
3 Justice League of America (1997)
Intended to be a pilot for an on-going TV series, Justice League of America was eventually released as a TV movie, hence its place on this list. Less of a serious comic book adaptation, more of a Friends-style sitcom featuring superheroes, the film is cut with mock-interviews with members of the Justice League, speaking about life as a superhero. Most of the characters deviate heavily from their comic book counterparts and the costumes look like cheap, off-the-shelf cosplay.
Not even close to “so bad, it’s good,” this movie is just bad. JLA writer Mark Waid even said the film was "80 minutes of my life I'll never get back."
2 Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Widely considered one of the worst films ever made, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace actually did make a profit at the box office, albeit a modest one. Most of the criticism of the movie focused on the cheap special effects, with the noticeably diminished budget compared to previous entries being evident. Also, the movie was criticized for lacking in plot, with audiences citing a sluggish storyline that never went anywhere as a key failure. While Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane did receive some praise, the rest of the cast fared poorly in reviews. Christopher Reeve would later state that the movie drastically hurt his later career.
Despite several attempts to revitalize the series in the ‘90s, the franchise lay dormant for almost 20 years. The poor reception for this movie often given as a reason for studios being less than keen to greenlight comic book movies, with a few exceptions, for many years.
1 Supergirl (1984)
Supergirl was a massive flop upon release in 1984, making just $14.3 million from a $35 million budget. It fared extremely poorly with critics and audiences alike, with much criticism being aimed at the poor script and cheesy dialogue.
The cast is surprisingly impressive, with actors such as Peter O’Toole, Faye Dunaway, Mia Farrow, and Peter Cook in supporting roles. Despite this, the movie fails to use any of them to full effect as it struggles to establish itself as more than a cheap knock-off of the ongoing Superman series. Helen Slater (Supergirl) received some praise and was nominated for a Saturn Award for best newcomer, but the stain of this movie hurt her career moving forward.
Given that it took so long to reboot Supergirl, this time as an ongoing TV series, it’s safe to say that DC doesn’t care much for it. That being said, casting Helen Slater in a recurring, supporting role as the new Supergirl's mother is a nice tip of the hat and does show a modicum of respect to what’s gone before.
Got some love or hate for some of the movies on this list? Or do you have a DC movie that you think should be forgotten that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments!