We all know the MCU these days. With recent releases coming out to critical acclaim and trailers for future projects generating tons of hype, Marvel has created a train that will take a Hulk to stop. However, they didn't just happen to hit the mark both critically and commercially over night. As a matter of fact, it took them years to get this right, as they've experimented in the past with numerous characters to less than favorable reviews. Granted, not all of the films were directly created by Marvel, but their name is still attached and they have to transitively deal with the fallout.
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Like any self-respecting film company, they've tried to erase the memory of many of these movies by either rebooting the characters or disregarding their existence. Unfortunately, wiping away history is a difficult task, and we still remember these terrible projects and everyone who was involved with them. Maybe some aren't as bad as we remember, but in comparison to the Marvel Studios films that are have hit it big, these are a black mark on their exceptional record. Join CBR as we go through our picks for 15 awful movies that Marvel wants you to forget.
There will be spoilers for all the Marvel movies listed below.
15 IRON MAN 2
The only MCU entry on this list is the second Iron Man film. After the first movie in 2008 was released to critical acclaim, Marvel still had to keep audiences on board with their cinematic universe. They did this by continuing Tony Stark's story a few years later. Needless to say, the movie wasn't received all that well and is often cited as the worst of the MCU.
Since then, you never hear anything about the days of Iron Man 2. Whiplash? Never heard of him. Justin Hammer and Hammertech? All we know of is Stark Industries. The film was overall more concerned with setting up future projects rather than dealing with the engaging story at hand. The one thing we'll give it credit for is introducing War Machine to the MCU.
14 SPIDER-MAN 3
Another obvious contender for this list is the third and final entry in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy. The film showcases Peter Parker as everything in his life goes down the drain. At the same time, he is exposed to an alien symbiote that transforms his suit. Then he also learns something new about his uncle's death and his relationship with MJ is tested.
If this sounds like a lot to put in a film, that's because it is. After the first two movies were done so well, audiences were shocked to see the franchise fall like this. A lot of this can be chalked up to Sony meddling with the project (as they demanded that Venom was put in the film). The sad part about it was that it killed all plans to continue the franchise, and all audiences will remember is Peter Parker doing the Saturday Night Fever strut.
13 NICK FURY: AGENT OF SHIELD
Take an action thriller, cast David Hasselhoff as the leading man, add in a classic Marvel character and you think that with these pieces, it'd make for an extremely entertaining if not campy film. If you think that, then you'd be dead wrong. Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD is a film that few people know about, and that's for good reason.
Part of the problem was that FOX was headlining this project and released it as a TV film, which severely cut a number of resources that could go into it. All of the money was likely spent on getting Hasselhoff to appear. In the end of it all, the movie suffered from poor dialogue, an unoriginal plot and ridiculous acting. It's not hard to imagine why nobody talked about this film. It's probably best if we forgot it existed.
It seems that movies based around swamp monsters from comic books don't turn out very good. DC's Swamp Thing movie was less than watchable, but Marvel's version, Man-Thing ended up even worse. The big problem with this film is the title. Despite being called Man-Thing, there is hardly any Man-Thing in it. For the majority of the film, we forget that he's the "title" character.
Instead, we follow a cop who has to travel around town and discover the cause of mysterious murders. As if that wasn't bad enough, Man-Thing also features many unknown actors that are unknown for a reason. None of them act well, and the movie tries so hard to get us to care about them. When initially created, the film was set to release in theaters in the West but was just put over to DVD.
11 GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE
Ghost Rider is one of the most brutal characters in the Marvel Universe. Essentially being a herald of hell himself, he rides a haunting motorcycle and attacks criminals with extreme prejudice. When crafting a movie around this character, why then, would anybody cast Nicholas Cage as the Spirit of Vengeance?
The first Ghost Rider film was already divisive to begin with but as is the case with most sequels, all of the problems were heightened the second time around. Cage doesn't fit the character, the movie focuses on humor more than the grit that made the character so popular, and the effects are less than impressive. The film seems like it's trying to appeal to the young boy demographic with edgy motorcycles and even the devil himself.
10 X-MEN: THE LAST STAND
When Bryan Singer originally created the X-Men films, they were released to critical acclaim. However, by the time the third entry in the series came out, Brett Ratner was chosen to head the project, and let's just say that it didn't go over very well. X-Men: The Last Stand attempts to adapts one of the greatest comic book stories of all time: "The Dark Phoenix Saga". However, this adaptation has none of the poignancy or development that its paper counterpart does.
Everyone gets mindlessly killed off, there are numerous plot points thrown in without any real purpose, and the acting for some of the villains is inexcusable. This movie was so poorly received that when Bryan Singer returned to direct Days of Future Past, he used the opportunity to change the timeline and erase this film from ever existing.
9 THE PUNISHER
When done properly, action movies can be ridiculous and over the top, but fun and engaging enough that we can turn off our brains and enjoy it for a while. When done poorly, we get a few hours that are so boring, you'd be better off watching paint dry. We bet you know where the 1989 version of The Punisher lands.
Despite starring the powerhouse of Dolph Lundgren, the film never succeeds in what it tries to do. It's non-stop action, but not in a good thing. It barely gives the audience room to breath and makes each fight scene more boring as the movie trudges along. However, you might be thankful that there isn't a lot of dialogue because the acting is so unforgivably bad that many people disregard it entirely. Just watch season 2 of Daredevil if you want a good Punisher story.
8 HOWARD THE DUCK
When you have a directing behemoth like George Lucas producing a comic book movie, there's a lot of reason to be excited, right? Well, after his foray into the genre with Howard the Duck, comic fans no longer want him to touch any properties other than Star Wars (and some might disagree with even that).
Howard the Duck is about as painful to watch as it is to pull out a splinter very slowly. Howard himself looks ugly, with none of the moving parts to his costume working well enough to be believable. Then, many of the people involved in the production had an identity crisis with Howard himself. They wanted him to be vulgar like in the comics but also wanted him to be nicer. The result is a terrible film with almost nothing redeemable behind it.
7 FANTASTIC FOUR (2015)
When Marvel didn't know how to make movies, they sold the film rights to a lot of their characters away to other studios. Spider-Man went to Sony, Hulk went to Universal, etc. However, perhaps the worst result of this was the fact that the Fantastic Four went over to Fox. While they have made some decent X-Men movies, their work with the Fantastic Four has been downright insulting.
After the first two films by them were less than enjoyable, they decided to reboot the franchise in 2015. However, there was so much poor production and meddling while this movie was being made that it ended up being one of the worst superhero films ever created. The costume design is poor, the effects are sloppy for a film made in 2015, and the climax involves a beam shooting into the sky. How original.
6 HULK (2003)
When the rights for the Hulk went over to Universal, they decided that technology had advanced well enough in 2003 to create a movie around the character. Bringing in Ang Lee to direct and Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, they had the potential to make a thought-provoking film with great effects and exciting action.
Unfortunately, Hulk is none of those things. Getting the obvious point of criticism out of the way, the Hulk himself looks like he belongs in a PS2 game rather than a massive film. Then the acting from just about everyone is weird, to say the least. The pacing itself is weird, having the Hulk go through multiple big events that never really lead anywhere. Undoubtedly, though, the most ridiculous part of the film is the transitions. Just watch a clip of the movie to know what we're talking about.
5 DAREDEVIL (2003)
Another property that Fox had back in 2003 was Marvel's Daredevil. Coming out around the same time as Ang Lee's Hulk film, Daredevil seemed to have a different direction but held many of the same problems as the film about the green goliath. For starters, Ben Affleck doesn't make for a very good Daredevil. He constantly keeps a dumb look on his face to oversell the fact that he's blind, and his delivery on many lines is a bit uninspired.
Then there's the fact the movie was clearly trying to emulate The Matrix in terms of its action, often slowing down the camera and spinning around the people fighting. Needless to say, it doesn't work in a story about a grounded superhero. There's also how poorly they handle Elektra and what they do to the classic villains. Just do yourself a favor and watch the Netflix series instead.
4 CAPTAIN AMERICA (1990)
When bringing a character like Captain America to the big screen, there are ways to do it right and ways to do it wrong. As you probably know, the Captain America movie from 1990 does it very wrong. Opening with a strange and out of place scene in Italy, it's clear that the people in charge of this project didn't know what they were doing.
At the time, superhero movies weren't all the rage, so there wasn't the budget or talent to back them up. Despite the poor acting and design of the lead character, they pressed on with the project to less than beneficial results. Everything about the film feels terribly off and is so universally panned that it holds a minuscule 8% on Rotten Tomatoes. At least we got that precious and unforgettable car theft scene.
3 BLADE: TRINITY
After the first two Blade movies were guilty pleasures at best, David Goyer brought the entire franchise to a screeching halt with Blade: Trinity. Gone was a lot of the action and nuance that made the first two somewhat enjoyable. In its place seemed to be a passing of the torch story that involved hip dialogue, strange acting, and over the top set pieces that didn't need to be there.
That's about all you can expect from Blade: Trinity. The film is clearly trying to set itself up for a fourth instalment, but it rarely ever gets off the ground. The main character is pushed to the side in favor of a younger cast who fit all kinds of stereotypes. Even the main villain is brought back but as a younger person. We're just glad that the franchise ended here.
Near the end of the 2003'S Daredevil movie, Elektra is killed by Bullseye, leaving old Matt Murdock broken hearted. When it was announced that a film starring Elektra would be released in 2005, then, many people wondered if it would be set in the past. Nope. Instead, Elektra begins with our main character resurrected from the dead and pretty much acting like nothing happened.
Instead of doing anything a normal person would do, she decides that the only course of action is to become an expensive assassin. While a lot of classic characters like Stick and the Hand appear, Elektra is bogged down by action film cliches and a villain who can't say anything other than cheesy dialogue. The worst part about it all is that Daredevil is nowhere to be seen in this movie.
1 X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
Wolverine is such an amazing character. Looking into his past is as entertaining as it is gut-wrenching. And because of how interesting the source material is in this regard, it's astounding that somebody could spit on all of it and make one of the worst movies ever created. For starters, let's address the fact that the effects look worse than the first X-Men movie, which came out years beforehand.
Then there's the issue that it places so much emphasis on Wolverine's love life that we never get the brutal Weapon X that we all wanted. The CGI effects are bizarre, and let's not even get started on what they did to Deadpool. Just be glad that it was all washed away and we had out beautiful Wolverine movie with Logan.
Did we miss out on any other Marvel movie embarrassments? Make sure to let us know in the comments!