Hollywood has long mined the world of comic books for that zillion dollar blockbuster movie. This is not a list of those movies. Hollywood has also made terrible adaptations based on comics. Catwoman, Daredevil, the infamous Batman and Robin, vile unwatchable piles of dreck that offend all the senses. This isn’t a list of those movies either. The following 10 movies are bad, do not get me wrong, but they have redeeming qualities, they are so bad they are good, and they must been seen. We give you the best of the worst of comic to screen adaptations!
10: Wonder Woman, 2011 TV Pilot
The above 7 seconds is the most people will ever see of the David E. Kelley-written, NBC-forgotten Wonder Woman pilot. It has taken me a long time to source a decent copy of this movie, and for good reason. It’s bad, real bad. It makes this list to serve as a cautionary tale. If you are an aspiring writer, I want you to watch this movie. Twice. Take notes, and learn how not to make Wonder Woman TV friendly. She’s a damn Amazon, not Ally McBeal damn it. Oh yea, another redeeming quality is Adrianne Palicki. She actually does a good job as WW, the best she could do with what she was given, plus she doesn’t look half bad in the star spangled tights.
9: Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, 1975
The orginal pulp hero brought to life with the best 1975 had to offer! It’s also worth mentioning that 1975 didn’t offer much. I believe the script for this movie was written by someone in the throes of a fever dream. It’s clunky and akward, the dialogue is ham handed and simplistic. To call the movie campy is insulting to other campy things, this movie is beyond that. So, why is it worth a watch? LISTEN TO THAT DAMN THEME SONG! Next time you are walking down the street, hum it a little. In no time at all you’ll be high fiving strangers and making the sex with many beautiful ladies. Trust us, oh… and film it and send it to us, we won’t laugh. Promise.
8: Barb Wire
Based off the Dark Horse comic book, Barb Wire is suppose to be a post-Apocalyptic remake of “Casablanca” set in a strip club. Bet that was a tough movie to pitch. This movie is painfully bad, I’m not sure there was a script even. Luckily all the money that was saved on not writing anything down was used to make it look… like something. If you want to know what this movies redeaming qualities are, they are both in the clip. Getting sprayed with water. I am talking about the boobs. To bad they are attached to Pamela Anderson. Oh, btw. the above video might be NSFW due to nipples. Crap, should have told you that earlier.
7: Flash TV Series, 1990
So, Tim Burton’s Batman was a sucess, lets do something on TV just like it! Danny Elfman can do the theme, set it up to match Burton’s big screen style as much as possible. Use a character that is the furthest thing from Burtons Batman! How can it go wrong? Oh, thats how. Crippled with poor planning, the Flash managed a whole 22 episodes on CBS before getting turffed. Thing is, it was actually pretty well written (comic legend Howard Chaykin was a regular writer for the show) and Mark Hamil was in it! The pilot movie was rough, but the show needs a little love. Go down to your local video store, they are probably going out of business and you can pick this up cheap.
6: The Return of Swamp Thing, 1989
Nestled inbetween the first movie from 1982 (made by Wes Craven) and a TV series (made by people who have no write making TV shows), “The Return of the Swamp Thing” is a weird trip of a movie. It spends time trying to be ‘zany but also carry some kind of enviromental messages. If you are a fan of the comics, namely Alan Moores legendary run. Watch this movie, it is anything but what you are used to.
5: Nick Fury: Agent of Shield, 1998
David Hasselhof. Need I say more? How about Robot David Hasselhof! Hasselhof (once/if you can get past him in the role) is actually a pretty decent Nick Fury and the movie is actually a pretty faithful adapation, thats the problem. I don’t think they actually had a script, someone just ran out, grabbed some old Nick Fury comic books and they worked off that. Chances are you can catch this one late at night, give it a chance. It’s what robot David Hasselhof would have wanted.
4: It’s a Tie!
It’s a dead heat for the number 4 spot, for very diff rent reasons. Before you go into how this is technically a top 11, just relax and keep reading. first for number four it’s Doctor Strange, 1978:
Gah. Another TV pilot from the 70’s. This time its the sorceror supreme Dr. Strange (played by what I think is a 70’s porn star). Thing is, this would have actually been a great TV series. It was very occultish and captured the horror comic feel perfectly. That was the problem. Uppity right wing moral gaurdian Christian groups protested the movie because they felt it would turn children over to the dark arts. I just finished watching it for the forth time ever and totally disgree. I give this movie a heartfelt four goat skulls up. If you can find it, you should watch it.
Also tied for number 4? The movie Steel. 1997, with Shaquille O’Neal:
This is a bad movie. No one will ever say otherwise. It’s clear main detraction is the fact that it takes a character so steeped in the Superman mythos and tries to tell the tale without any reference to the last son of Krypton. It hits number four purely based on rumor. There is an urban legend of an unfilmed scene. Shaq’s character was in a hospital, lamenting the weight of being a hero. Tight shot on his Superman shield tattoo, off camera voice says something about the importance of heroes and the meaning of symbols. Pan over and it is Christopher mother loving Reeve. If this shot was ever anything more than a pipe dream, had it ever been filmed, if it was part of the final cut of the movie. Steel would not be on this list. It would be on the list of greatest things ever, period. That scene would have been pure nerd heart string water works, admit it.
3: Captain America, 1990
Oh Marvel in the 90’s, why did you try so hard to turn one of your properties into a big screen sucess yet fail so hard? When this movie finally saw release (if my fuzzy memory serves, it was delayed for a long long time) it was laughably bad. It was recently released on Blu-Ray, and yes it is still laughably bad. It ranks at number 3 for a few reasons. You can see they really honestly tried to make a good movie with this, it is not Batman and Robin terrible, it is just not very good. But they tried, and that takes moxy. True story, my wife was uninterested in seeing the recent and very well done “Captain America: The First Avenger”, I had her watch this movie before we went. Safe to say she was very impressed with the Captain’s recent on screen performance.
2: Justice League of America, 1997
Durning the hey day of the Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis “Justice League International” comic run, some thick headed TV exes from CBS thought it would make a great TV show. It was pitched as Superheroes meet TV’s “Friends”. It was all that and a whole lot worse. It’s forced characterizations are painful. The costumes are worse. It appears to be written by people who have never seen nor read the source material. Why does it rank so high? Simple, find a copy of this and any comic to screen adaption you see after will be much more enjoyable by comparison.
1: Fantastic Four
Not unlike Captain America, this too is just a bad bad adaption, faithful to a fault and just poorly made. Thing is, it never suppose to be good. No one was ever suppose to see it. The sole reason for the 1994 Fantastic Four movie being made was to retain the rights. Thats it. So, Roger Corman, on budget that must have solely relied on the cast and crew collecting empty bottles for the deposit while they bused it to the filming location, banged together this odd little movie that is actually better than the ‘real’ movie from 2005 and its 2007 sequel. This movie actually has heart, it’s even likable. It never makes you want to punch. It takes the top spot because it was honest.