We established in a previous article that comic book movies were: A) All the rage, B) Totally badass and C) Hiding a shameful, shameful past. And we’re not just talking about “Batman and Robin”.
The truth is that Hollywood’s haste to cash in on our beloved childhood memories of caped crusaders has, at times, exceeded their ability to deliver them to the medium of the silver screen. In short: they’ve been known to ride comic book crap-trains all the way to the bank. But in the past decade Industrial Light and Magic has brought computer generated graphics to new heights of near-realism just as screenwriters have uncovered that magic combination of tequila and blow that lets them crank out gritty reboot after gritty reboot.
All that’s left is for producers to make sure the public never remember films like...
The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989)
Once again, we defer our explanation of Dr. Bruce Banner and his powers to the 1960’s Marvel cartoon singers:
Daredevil, on the other hand, did not get a Saturday morning cartoon, though he did appear in the 1990’s Spiderman television show:
Born and raised in a neighborhood called Hell’s Kitchen in New York, Matt Murdoch was blinded by some of that errant industrial waste that’s just all over the place these days. Though he lacked sight his other senses were heightened to superhuman levels, even giving him a type of echolocation. Naturally he harnessed this bat-like power and became... the Daredevil. A lawyer by day and a crimefighter by night, he dedicates himself in both roles to taking down organized crime.
Seven years after the CBS television show “The Incredible Hulk” finished in 1982, yet another TV movie was made using many of the same actors. In “The Trial of Incredible Hulk”, Hulky is trying to keep a low profile but thanks to a sexual assault and some whacky misunderstandings, he’s on trial for a crime he didn’t commit! Naturally he’s assigned the only lawyer in the Marvel pantheon, Matt Murdoch. Of course, Murdoch has a secret of his own:
The two team up to take down the man responsible for Hulk’s arrest and Marvel once again desperately tries to find an appealing character to put on primetime television. They succeed in one of those goals. We’ll let you guess which one.
As embarrassing as the costume redesign, special effects and acting are in this movie, they don’t actually approach the shame that arose from the 2003 “Daredevil” movie that starred Ben Affleck. Producers are hoping the public has forgotten about both these movies, as a reboot has been announced, to be directed by David Slade. Luckily, Ben Affleck has more than distanced himself from the project already.
Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD (1998)
Nick Fury is a superspy and World War II hero that takes an age-suppressing formula because he just can’t stop kicking ass. He heads the organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D., which stands for something different depending on the day of the week or the medium he’s appearing in. S.H.I.E.L.D. acts as a counter-terrorism and law enforcement agency that frequently deals with individuals with super powers. The point is he’s a badass that fights for justice.
David Hasslehoff wearing an eyepatch. It’s about David Hasslehoff... wearing an eyepatch.
That’s right, back in 1998 The Hoff was dying his hair and chomping on a cigar in what have to admit was a fairly good likeness of the comics character:
A made-for-TV movie in every sense of the word, Fury had to take down the evil HYDRA before they could release a deadly virus in downtown Manhattan. Yeah, it’s cheesy. Yeah, Hasselhoff can’t really act for beans. But that shouldn’t stop you from watching the whole thing if you can find it.
What’s the opposite of a big, German cheeseball? If you said an average sized, angry black guy, then you’re absolutely right. Samuel L. Jackson is currently being paid handsomely to barely appear in up to 9 of Marvel’s big budget blockbusters. But if you have a thing for watching movies to the end of the credits, you already knew that.
Wonder Woman (1974)
You might not recall that much about the Wonder Woman as she was typically overshadowed by her externally genitalia-ed comic book brethren. First appearing All Star Comics in 1941, she is a princess of the Amazons (despite being white in pretty much every adaptation) and has access to a host of powers and items. She fights for justice and sexual equality with her super strength and speed, flight (which replaced that much less thought out “invisible airplane”), animal empathy, indestructible bracelets and Lasso of Truth, which prevents the bound from lying using a combination of magic and sexual arousal.
America is probably most familiar with Wonder Woman from the paradoxically named television program “The New Original Wonder Woman” which ran from 1975 to 1979 and starred Lynda Carter. But before it ever came to air, a 1974 made-for-TV movie was made in an effort to pitch a Wonder Woman show.
Yes, this version of Wonder Woman was blond, had a different costume and had no super powers or special abilities of any kind. Though made out as a sort of female Remington Steele (we refuse to compare this version to James Bond), she mostly just floundered around, doting on stronger men and betraying any and all feminist imagery, ideals and goodwill she ever had.
Should you be feeling particularly masochistic, you can watch the entire movie, in eight parts, on YouTube, starting here.
The new Wonder Woman movie has been bouncing around development hell for about the last decade. Joel Silver was hired as a director and Joss Whedon was hired to write the script, but continual delays and bickering reduced the plans to rubble. Currently, Warner Brothers is expected to produce a film for 2013, with the producer of the X-Men series and the scribe of “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” writing the screenplay.
The Fantastic Four (1994)
During a routine scientific investigation in outer space, the crew of a ship is pelted by cosmic rays. Instead of cancer they develop strange super powers, though all four are completely different for no stated reason. They form a team called the Fantastic Four consisting of Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic, who can stretch his body), Sue Storm (The Invisible Woman, who can become transparent and make force fields), Ben Grimm (The Thing, who looks like parched earth and can punch stuff really hard), and Johnny Storm (The Human Torch, who clearly got the best deal of the bunch). Together they fight for justice, blah blah blah, against the evil Doctor Doom and other baddies.
So here’s the thing about movie rights: they expire. If you can’t be bothered to make the film you said you would, someone else gets a shot. Constantin films was about to lose their claim on the comic book heroes in the early 1990’s, so they did the only logical thing: hire Roger Corman to make a super low budget movie as quickly as he could, never release the film and pretend it didn’t exist so they could eventually make a good version.
It took a mere month to film and was made for only one and a half million dollars. Only a few people who worked on the production actually knew that the film was never intended for release. The plot, acting and special effects are therefore exactly what you’d expect: bare bones.
While it isn’t available on DVD, leaked copies do exist online, including crudely transferred VHS editions uploaded to YouTube in their entirety for your viewing pleasure. We highly recommend making the most of that fact.
As you might know, Constantin did remake the Fantastic Four into a high-budget blockbuster in 2005, and made a sequel “Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer” a few years later. They also did their best to hide the original from the viewing public. Consider it your mission to sit through it.