With summer coming up, we’re about to see an influx of superhero movies, as the likes of Captain America and Spider-Man have become the biggest box office draws among summer blockbusters these days. Of course, that wasn’t always the case. In fact it wasn’t all that long ago when comic book movies were box office poison, with a rare exception like Tim Burton’s Batman back in 1989. But just because people haven’t been very good at making superhero movies doesn’t mean they haven’t been trying. They’d just like us to forget about their horrible attempts. 8.
The Punisher (1989)
For as great a character as Frank Castle, better known as The Punisher is, it’s kind of amazing that there’s never been a halfway decent version of the film. We could pretty much put any of the multiple attempts to bring Punisher to the big screen on this list, but we’ll focus on the 1989 adaptation starring the one and only Dolph Lundgren as the eponymous character. It was filmed in Australia on a budget of $9 million, and the reviews reflect how terrible it was, with just a 24% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. The one thing we can say about it is that, as far as the movies on this list go, it’s the least offensive of the bunch in terms of quality.
The Fantastic Four (1994)
One of the most notoriously awful superhero movies of all-time is the 1994 version of Fantastic Four, which was so horrendous that the people involved have legitimately tried getting rid of evidence they ever actually made it. It was made by the legendary B-movie director Roger Corman, and it’s become something of an underground, cult classic for anyone lucky enough to get their hands on it. It’s campy, super low budget, and horribly acted and directed, which means it’s one of those movies that’s absolutely perfect to watch late at night on a Saturday with some buddies and a few beers when you just want to sit back and make fun of something that looks like a community theater production.
There’s low budget, and then there’s Condorman. This 1981 movie was actually a Disney creation, and deals with the Cold War in the most peculiar way imaginable, with a comic book artist dressing up like a giant condor and helping a KGB agent defect. Yeah, that’s the plot. We wish we were making it up, too, but it’s utter nerd fantasy mixed with American patriotism, and was so bad that Siskel and Ebert named it among the absolute worst movies to come out in 1981. Amazingly, Disney has been mulling giving Condorman another shot on the big screen, and in 2012 there were rumors of Robert Pattinson being interested in taking on the title role, because apparently he wants to destroy his career even further.
Captain America (1990)
First things first, Captain America is a great character, and the version starring Chris Evans was, flat out, awesome. But what you may not have realized is that it wasn’t the first attempt to bring Captain America to the big screen. Instead, that took place in 1990 and featured the Captain fighting Red Skull, and later being revived in modern times in order to, and we’re not making this up here, save the President from a group of mobsters who are anti-environment. The horrible, cheap, just laughably bad movie starred Reb Brown as Steve Rogers. The name Reb Brown may not sound familiar, but if you’re a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, you may remember him as Dave “Big McLargehuge” Ryder in the classic episode, Space Mutiny. So that’s a pretty good indicator of how awful the movie’s quality is.