Despite the recent success of a lot of superhero movies that has led to a golden age for superheroes on screen with massive budgets and billion dollar returns, that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been a lot of stinkers that have come out as well over the course of many years. And it is not because there heroes aren’t particularly interesting or don’t have any decent comic book stories to back them up. On the contrary, the characters on this list deserve a second chance on screen because they are really nuanced and interesting, yet for some reason all the moving parts didn’t fall into the proper place for them to become household names.
For that reason, fans want to forget these abominations and start over from scratch. It might have been a sign of the times, or just a case of a studio and everyone involved with a certain character not knowing anything about the source material. Whatever the case, there have been some prominent characters that deserve a second crack at becoming a big screen star. Let’s look at a list of 18 superheroes who got the short end of the stick on film, but deserve a second (and sometimes third or fourth…) chance to be a star.
Daredevil was such a huge catastrophe and such a low in Ben Affleck’s career, that he still hadn’t recovered from it when he was cast as Batman. In fact, Affleck has even admitted that it is the one role he regrets taking in his career. The film made a decent amount of money at the box office ($179 million on a $75 million budget), but it was a critical bomb.
However, the Netflix show has proven that there is definitely an audience for the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, which means they can absolutely make a movie about him. They just need to find the right story that will do the character justice. Many would argue that there is no need for a film given the quality of the series, but no one would deny that a huge film budget could potentially make for infinite story possibilities.
The 2003 Hulk film did quite well at the box office, but wasn’t well received by fans. The Incredible Hulk in 2008 fared about the same as it’s predecessor but there were rumors of issues behind the scenes between Edward Norton and creative team which led to the casting of Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers.
Ruffalo has been doing an incredible job as the character, and we would really love to see a Hulk solo film starring Ruffalo. We understand that due to contractual issues where Universal studios has the sole rights to Hulk solo movies, this will most likely never happen because they (for whatever reason) don’t want to make a deal with Marvel, but that doesn’t stop us from hoping it’ll happen anyways.
16. GREEN LANTERN
Green Lantern was a part of Ryan Reynolds’ losing streak in Hollywood when it came to superhero movies. Luckily he found success with Deadpool, but Green Lantern remains a sour stain on his resume. We all wanted it to work, but between the poor writing and the hammy villain, these was no saving the film. The film barely broke even on its whopping $200 million dollar budget, and it was a critical disaster.
Luckily, Green Lantern will get a second shot at the big screen as part of the DCEU in Green Lantern Corps. The film, which is being written by David S. Goyer and Justin Rhodes, has been described as Lethal Weapon in space. Goyer doesn’t exactly have the best track record, but hopefully this film will hit all the right notes.
15. FANTASTIC FOUR
The Fantastic Four haven’t had much luck at the movies. Their first outing in 1994 was a low budget campy film with a lot of obscure actors that certainly has a cult following, but it’s pretty horrible. Next, in 2005 they had another chance with a fresh-faced Chris Evans starring as Johnny Storm. The film was successful enough to get a sequel, but neither film was particularly good. Finally, the FF were rebooted in 2015, and received the harshest reviews of the bunch.
We believe the main problem with these films is that Doctor Doom has not been utilized properly. He is an incredibly complex, troubled character and if they are able to nail him on screen, then the rest of the characters will fall into place. Here’s hoping that happens and we get the FF film we deserve.
14. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
The Ninja Turtles had two shots at the big screen. First, they appeared in the 1990 series of films with horrendous turtle costumes. At that point, we just weren’t there technology-wise to create an aesthetically pleasing live-action version of everybody’s favorite group of turtles that are ninjas. Next, Michael Bay produced the equally bad CGI turtles in 2014 and its 2016 sequel Out of the Shadows.
These monstrosities lead many to believe that perhaps the Turtles simply don’t work well in live-action movies. We believe the problem lies in the fact that they have yet to achieve the right tone or the people in charge don’t know the source material well enough. Michael Bay’s aesthetically dark looking films didn’t fit with the infantile humor, while the 1990 series just doesn’t hold up very well.
Elektra Natchios was first created by Frank Miller during his fantastic run on the Daredevil comic book series and she has played a prominent role in comics ever since then, even having a huge role in the second season of the Netflix show as well as The Defenders. Before all that happened, she made her big screen debut in Ben Affleck’s Daredevil and was played by Jennifer Garner. She then got her own film in 2005.
We will never know how producers felt justified in making a spinoff to Affleck’s horrible movie, but they must have been crazy to think this movie would do any better. We’re a little apprehensive about giving her her own film but we would definitely want to her see her in a Daredevil movie.
12. GREEN HORNET
The Green Hornet starring Seth Rogan made a decent amount of money at the box office in 2011 but was a critical misfire. Reflecting on the movie after its release, Rogan has stated that there were two big issues that led to the film’s failure. The first was that he had never worked on a big-budged action movie and neither had indie director Michel Gondry. They had a hard time writing and orchestrating large action sequences.
The second problem with the film was that producers would not leave them be. They scrutinized every little thing, from plot points to lines of dialogue. In capable hands, the Green Hornet would make for a great movie that effectively mixes action and humor. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case with the 2011 film, but that shouldn’t prevent studios from trying again with a different creative team.
11. JONAH HEX
The film, starring Josh Brolin, was a critical and commercial bomb. Despite its great cast including Michael Fassbender, Michael Shannon and John Malkovich, it currently has a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and lost $36 million at the box office. Ouch. If Jonah Hex and Cowboys and Aliens are any indication, people aren’t interested in westerns these days, even if they are based on popular comic books.
Perhaps it was also a mistake to hire Jimmy Hayward as the director, since his previous film experience was only on animated projects. Created by John Albano and artist Tony DeZuniga for DC Comics, the antihero that looks like a cowboy version of Two-Face makes for a compelling protagonist. In any case, if westerns ever make a comeback, Jonah Hex would be the perfect product of western and comic book lovers.
10. GHOST RIDER
The first Ghost Rider film starring Nicholas Cage wasn’t exactly a showstopper. In fact, it was criticized for its dull story and corny dialogue. Yet for some reason that is beyond our comprehension, they decided to make a sequel, which, believe it or not, got even more flack than the first film.
Now that the rights have gone back to Marvel, the studio has stated that it has no plans to produce anything more with the character for the moment. Should that change, all we ask is that they don’t cast Nicholas Cage again when the time does come to reboot the series. Many have been pushing for a Ghost Rider Netflix series rather than another film but we would be content with either one if it is done correctly.
Kara’s film outing was made solely because Christopher Reeves wanted to move on from his Superman image to pursue other work, however the result was a complete and total mess. The studio was able to make up less than half of its $35 million budget at the box office and the reviews were particularly brutal: Supergirl currently holds a 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The specially effects are extremely cheesy and dated, and Helen Slater’s wooden acting simply cannot hold up to Reeves’ irresistible charm.
Now that there is the successful Supergirl television show starring Melissa Benoist, we believe enough time has passed that people have forgotten the horrible film and it’s time to give Kara another chance in theatres, especially since the show has been renewed for another season.
Although Catwoman has had her share of portrayals on film, her solo outing was a travesty. Michelle Pfeiffer ramped up the steamy factor in her stitched-up latex suit in Batman Returns. Anne Hathaway was probably the best part of The Dark Knight Rises, which takes us to Halle Berry’s Catwoman film, which was nominated for seven Golden Raspberry awards.
Berry famously accepted her Razzie in person, stating: “First of all, I want to thank Warner Brothers. “Thank you for putting me in a piece of s***, god-awful movie… It was just what my career needed.” Luckily Hathaway was able to get the bad taste of that movie out of our mouths with her portrayal, and it has hopefully renewed interest enough in the character to get a great portrayal in Gotham City Sirens.
7. HOWARD THE DUCK
To give you an idea of just how completely off base the Howard the Duck film was, one of the creators of the character, Steve Gerber and screenwriter Gloria Katz have entirely opposing views on the nature of the character. Gerber believes it’s an existential comic book: “life’s most serious moments and most incredibly dumb moments are often distinguishable only by a momentary point of view.” Katz stated that the film is “about a duck from outer space… It’s not supposed to be an existential experience.” Obviously, these clashing ideas meant that the film reflected quite poorly on the comic.
It broke even at the box office and it got some pretty terrible reviews, but if Guardians of the Galaxy has taught us anything, it’s that even a talking racoon can win the hearts of millions with the right writer behind them, so why not give the duck another chance?
Although we really love Wesley Snipes as the titular hero, because he portrayed Blade perfectly, we never got a quality film that reflected the amount of effort he put in the role. A lot of people would argue that Blade already had three shots at the big screen, none of which did particularly well, so why would they bother to try again, especially since those films didn’t do very well at the box office?
We would argue that the character deserves a reboot (although we wouldn’t mind Snipes playing him again), because the creative team that worked on the trilogy wasn’t up for the task. It may be a while before this happens, as we are sure that people are completely over their vampire phase thanks to the Twilight series.
5. THE PUNISHER
Jon Bernthal’s Punisher got so much praise on the Daredevil Netflix series that he got his own spinoff show. The character is doing very well on television, but unfortunately his film history is less than stellar. Dolph Lundgren first starred as the character in 1989, but the film wasn’t really true to the character and was a bomb at the box office.
Next, Thomas Jane tried his luck with the character but didn’t fair much better. Finally, Ray Stevenson took a stab at the big screen adaptation which resulted in an over-the-top gory movie that was also a huge bomb. There have been a lot of fans who would love for the Netflix shows and the MCU to come together on screen at one point. Although we think that it would never work tonally, we do think Bernthal’s Punisher would make for a great movie.
By everyone’s account, Steel was a complete mess. If you don’t remember hearing about it, that’s because no one actually saw this movie. The film lost millions at the box office and critics didn’t pull any punches. They said that it had the production value of a TV-movie of the week or a Saturday morning cartoon. Shaquille O’Neal who played John Henry Irons/Steel got some brutal backlash for his terrible performance.
At this point, even if they give John Henry Irons a brief cameo appearance, it would still be infinitely better than what we have seen of him on screen. His costume was so idiotic that it looked embarrassing to wear. With his helmet on, he looked more like a bulldog than the comic book character he was supposed to be playing.
3. THE SPIRIT
Many feared that Frank Miller had lost his creative touch when The Dark Knight Strikes Again came out. After he co-directed Sin City with Robert Rodriguez, which turned out to be a fantastic film, many hoped that he would continue on that winning streak when it was announced that he would direct The Spirit, an adaptation of Will Eisner’s newspaper comic.
Eisner was a huge influence on Miller as well as his mentor, so many believed that Miller would fittingly pay homage to his hero. Unfortunately, that was not the case at all. The film was melodramatic, nonsensical and completely different from the source material. It was also a box office nightmare. Here’s hoping we will one day see fitting adaptation of Eisner’s comic book. We’re just disappointed Miller wasn’t up to the task.
Sure, Hugh Jackman has played the character for the last 17 years and he has done a fantastic job with the role, but that doesn’t mean all the X-Men movies he has been in were been great. While he has been most recently in the meditative and masterful Logan, they weren’t all gems. Some of them have been pretty awful (we’re looking at you X-Men Origins: Wolverine).
Now that Jackman has retired the character, we would like some fresh blood to take his place that could bring more of the brutality of the character to life. A fan favorite is Tom Hardy, and we couldn’t agree more. Just watch his performance in Warrior to see just how he can transfix his audience with his intensity and unpredictability.
Anyone who has read the comic books or seen the animated HBO show know that Spawn is really interesting. The show received great reviews for its dark, violent story and beautiful visuals. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the 1997 Spawn film. The movie had a lot of negative reviews and despite the efforts of Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, a sequel was never made. Which actually could be for the better after seeing what the first iteration brought to the table.
McFarlane announced in July 2017 that a reboot was in production at Blumhouse Productions with him at the helm. Let’s hope that under McFarlane’s control, the film will be everything we hope it could be. Given the technological advancements, we think this one will look stunning.