Following the Marvel's Daredevil premier on Netflix this past Friday, we're reminded of that other attempt at Daredevil that starring Batman, oddly enough, that was made back in 2003. With film-making control firmly in Marvel's hands, they've strung together a series of successes with their films that would make any studio deeply jealous. Meanwhile, Hollywood itself seems to consistently get these sorts of films wrong.
Hell, for a long time, Daredevil was a go-to reference for "bad comic book movie" and now, a series on a streaming platform is poised to totally eclipse a "polished" big studio production. Geez, it's almost like Hollywood is totally out of touch with actually entertainment concepts. That couldn't be though, right? I mean, super heroes and other pop culture icons are so popular because they tap into universal concepts that can be embraced by the young and old alike so you would think the place where dreams come true and stars are born would be able to harness that. You would think that, wouldn't you?
Here's a list to show you why you'd be dumb to think that.
Let's start with the impetus for this article. Though a commercial success, Daredevil regularly fails to break even a 50% across most ratings and with good reason. Clunky, funny when it's supposed to be serious and serious when it's supposed to be funny, Daredevil has approximately one good thing in it: Colin Farrell's ludicrous "don't give a fuck" performance as Bullseye. In fact, the performances are one of the most out of touch things in the entire film. Sporting stars such as Ben "I'm Batman!" Affleck and Michael Clarke Duncan as well as future-wife of Ben "I'm married to Jennifer Garner!" Affleck, Jennifer Garner, many of the performances come off as too sincere. Instead of playing up the camp factor of the film or going with an over-the-top performance like the mugging Farrell, the cast plays it entirely straight and, in doing so, make the stupid scenes like Affleck's Matt Murdock (civilian persona of Daredevil) fight-flirting with Garner's Elektra (daddy complex) Natchios that much stupider looking by comparison.
Seriously, this is a movie where you rubber-band in tone from Daredevil cutting a man in half with a subway train to Ben Urich (played by the ever likeable Joe Pantoliano) uncovering the vigilantes calling card in the form of a gasoline trail in the shape of a double-d in a scene that is silly beyond words.
Oh and then Bullseye puts one of Daredevil's escrima sticks through Elektra's father's chest. Watch that one and try not to say "the f**k?", I dare you.
Still, at least Daredevil's costume looked pretty awesome and this movie is still considerably better than the Four Horsemen of the Fuckpocalypse that make up the rest of this list.
Aaaand that picture could just be the end of this section.
Unfortunately, I have a word count quota to fulfill and the humor all-but writes itself when Shaq is involved. Based on the comic book character of the same name, Steel was excreted into theaters in 1997 as a sequel to the phenomenally popular 1993 video game Shaq-Fu. Parts of that last sentence may be inaccurate because rewatching this movie seems to have caused some serious damage since all I can taste is copper at the moment.
Let's face it, when you have a movie hinging on the acting ability of the star of Kazaam, you're going to fail and, by all measures, Steel was a complete failure. Bombing in the box office and derided by critics and movie-goers alike, Steel was a bizarre mixture of terrible writing and cheesy presentation with no sophistication to it whatsoever. Ignoring the roots of the character of John Henry Irons (the real name of the hero Steel) and his strong ties to Superman and how that plays into the life of a mortal man inspired to do good, the movie instead focused entirely on John's background as a weapons inventor. Oh. Did I forget to mention that? Yeah, this movie also hinged on the star of Kazaam having to believably portray a brilliant inventor.
With as much imagination as a particularly bland episode of Blue Falcon, the movie plods along hitting every cliche it can in as uninspired a manner as possible while offering no charm, no wit and no care until the movie climaxes with the movie's villain killing himself by shooting at Steel. Wow. Riveting (yay! Steel pun!) stuff there.
Then again...this probably isn't Hollywood's fault. After all, how in the hell could you ever succesfully pull off a movie about a weapons designer trying to atone for his past by creating a suit of armor to become a superhero and combat those that would misuse his technology?
Oh. By making three of them.
Not going to lie, this is the entry that makes me angriest. Having gone to an advanced screening of this (let's be generous here...) movie, I left dejected, disappointed and furious. Featuring an unlikeable rendition of Hal Jordan's Green Lantern, the movie was a massive failure considering the hype, money and star power that went into it. Turning perrenial viewers favorite Ryan Reynolds into an unlikeable lead was just the first of this films considerable sins. Choosing to focus on Earth instead of the vast cosmic potential of the Green Lantern mythos, this movie could have set the stage for the DC cinematic universe and, instead, it squandered all of this by giving us a sad, 10-minute space training montage that didn't even have Eye Of
The Tiger playing over it.
Wasting not only Reynolds talents, but those of Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins, Blake Lively and a brilliantly cast but dismally utilized Mark Strong as Sinestro, the movie meanders for what feels like three hours before Reynolds finally becomes the eponymous Green Lantern, sporting a costume that looks like CGI body-paint/vomit. Oh and while this is going on a yellow poo-monster is threatening the universe and killing other Green Lanterns while Sarsgaard as OTHER villain Dr. Hector Hammond shows advanced symptoms of having watched Green Lantern.
Not sure if powered by Parallax-entity or suffering from taco shits...
Eventually Hal is able to overcome his vaguely defined fear through vaguely portrayed means to defeat the vaguely developed Parallax through vaguely stupid means. Tossing out so much that had revitalized the Green Lantern comics themselves, this movie instead chose to borrow plot points from every other boilerplate hero-rises-to-occassion film before it, offering nothing familiar to fans and nothing new to movie-goers.
The only thing ANYONE got from this movie was reynolds and Lively finding marrying afterwards. Which Affleck and Garner also did after Daredevil. Huh. Well...that's strange.
On brightest screen, in blackest theater,
F**k this movie, I'm not parodying the entire oath...
Maybe the crazy nature of Green Lantern with its alien races and psuedo-scientific quasi-magical item that gives super powers was just too over the top for a commercially viable film...
Nevermind. Hammer > Ring, apparently.
The Last Airbender
Having seen Green Lantern, I can imagine how Avatar: The Last Airbender fans felt after seeing this film. First, they had their title co-opted by an awful Cameron movie and then came the full-on death kneel for any film.
M. Night Shyamalan.
The guy who gets 90% of his Google searches solely from writers looking up how to properly spell his name before putting it as the punch line of a joke. Casting terrible child actors, making bizarre changes to the racially diverse characters of the series, and employing CGI that looked about as good as what you'd see on Mecha-Giga Snail vs. Omnicarp or some other SyFy channel special, basically EVERYTHING is wrong with this movie from top to bottom.
And the best part? If you can manage to get through an hour and a half of the worst dialogue reading of one of the most insipid, inconsistent plots ever written, you're rewarded with what is essentially a cliffhanger. Wow, Shyamalan. You REALLY had that much faith in your creation that it'd get a sequel after your job on The Happening? Or Lady in the Water? Or The Village?
Or...who keeps hiring this guy?!
Super Mario Bros.
I vividly remember going with my parents to see this movie with my parents for my 10th birthday and being utterly confused by it. In fact, you could say I was disturbed by it. Lost adrift, I was unmoored and had lost my hold on what was real and what was a lie.
This is King Koopa.
Except...this was King Koopa.
This is a Goomba.
Yet THIS was a Goomba.
This movie got everything wrong. Literally everything. Yes, Mario and Luigi are plumbers in the movie but that's never been relevant in the games so the only thing right doesn't even matter! A critical and financial disaster that made the Titanic look like a dinghy accident, the movie almost singlehandedly did to video game movies what Batman & Robin did to superhero movies. This movie was actually called "the worst thing I ever did" and "a nightmare" by the star of the movie, the late, awesome Bob Hoskins.
And 'nightmare' is right! Or, more accurately, a goddamned fever dream you might have if you passed out from pneumonia while watching Jurassic Park and eating three-week old pizza. Confused, borderline disturbing and absolutely stupid, Super Mario Bros the movie is all the justification a more advanced alien race would need to wipe us out on the basis that we're a threat to all intelligent life everywhere.
So, there they are, 5 movies that totally missed the mark with their properties, some going as far as to undermine their entire genre of film. Thankfully, comic books have bounced back from blunders like Green Lantern and Daredevil in a big way with movies like Iron Man, the Avengers and the Dark Knight trilogy while video game movies have recovered from Super Marios Bros with...
Damn. Good call, Bob Hoskins.