Filmmakers, actors and writers usually do their best in Hollywood so that one day they can head over to the Academy to pick up an award. Sometimes, however, they don’t do so well. That’s where the Golden Raspberry Awards come in, to bequeath upon the very worst films of the year the lowest honors possible. This, of course, includes comic book film adaptations.
With the 37th Golden Raspberry Awards going down in February, and more than one comic book film on their shortlist of terrible movies, we at CBR decided it would be a perfect time to take a look back through the years at the 15 comic book films that were the biggest winners (by which mean losers) at the Razzie Awards!
If you think back to this film, you’re bound to remember the flaws. Maybe you didn’t like the gritty, latex costumes or maybe it just wasn’t as exciting as you wanted a Marvel-based film to be. You’d be right to feel that way, of course, as there were a lot of things wrong with it. Unfortunately for a lot of people, those flaws were the things that stood out the most. It’s no surprise then that “Daredevil,” starring Ben Affleck as the Man Without Fear and Jennifer Garner as his ninja love interest, ended up on this list. What is surprising is that for all its flaws, the film earned just one Razzie award.
Ben Affleck won the Razzie for Worst Actor in 2003, beating Cuba Gooding Jr., Justin Guarini, Ashton Kutcher and Mike Myers. If you’re wondering how his acting in “Daredevil” could have possibly been that bad, don’t. His other films that year — “Gigli” and “Paycheck” — were also taken into account for his “big win.” Thanks to those, “Daredevil,” which might have gotten away with just being a bad memory with mixed reviews, now has a shining Golden Raspberry award attached to it.
14. BATMAN BEGINS
Some fans may not have been expecting to see a Christopher Nolan film on the list and yet here it is. “Batman Begins,” starring Christian Bale, Katie Holmes, Liam Neeson and Michael Caine, was a brilliant origin story and a turning point for superhero films. It showed audiences that comic book heroes could absolutely be dark and serious without going overboard. It was filmed with the passion and care we’ve come to expect from Christopher Nolan, who also helped write the screenplay, while the actors were commended for what they brought to their characters… except for one.
Katie Holmes wasn’t as well-liked as Rachel Dawes, Bruce Wayne’s love interest. Critics noted that Christian Bale and Katie Holmes seemed to lack chemistry as a film couple in comparison with other superhero couples like Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in “Spider-Man.” That’s what earned her a Razzie award nomination for Worst Supporting Actress in 2005, though Paris Hilton ultimately won.
13. SUPERMAN RETURNS
This one probably won’t surprise anyone. After 19 years, Superman received another film in 2006 in the form of a loving (if flawed) homage by Bryan Singer. “Superman Returns” starred Brandon Routh as the titular DC character with Kate Bosworth playing his love interest, Lois Lane, and Kevin Spacey playing Lex Luthor. At a glance, the casting seemed pretty decent. It was clear they chose Brandon Routh because of his resemblance to the late Christopher Reeve and Kate Bosworth seemed like she’d go well with him. Unfortunately, it takes more than a superficially great looking cast to make a worthy superhero film.
Alongside the general mixed reviews, Kate Bosworth was nominated for a Razzie award for Worst Supporting Actress in 2006, though she lost (or won) to Carmen Electra in “Scary Movie 4.” When looking through the film, you’re able to see any number of possible reasons why she was nominated. It might have been because her portrayal just wasn’t as strong as it should have been or it could be because she was far too young to be playing Lois Lane. It could be both. Simply put, fans (and Razzie judges) just didn’t think she was right for the role.
Sometimes, athletes and singers try their hand at acting. Sometimes they get lucky, like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Other times… not so much. Shaquille O’Neal had a brief period in the ’90s when he seemed to want to break out in Hollywood. It resulted in a few terrible films, like “Steel.” Directed by Kenneth Johnson, “Steel” was a film based on the DC character of the same name who first appears in “The Adventures of Superman” #500.
It’s a loose adaptation, so there’s no real link to Superman or DC Comics. Johnson instead created protagonists and antagonists of his own. Ultimately, the film was a gigantic flop for many reasons. It had a really cheesy script, it was unexciting and maybe worst of all, the cast gave it nothing in terms of acting. Shaquille O’Neal in particular earned himself a Razzie nomination in 1997 for Worst Actor, but ultimately lost to Kevin Costner.
11. JUDGE DREDD
Created by John Wagner in 1977 as a symbol for tyranny posing as justice, Eagle Comics’ Judge Dredd has consistently been both a horrifying warning and a thrilling action hero. He gained fame after the 1980s which would inevitably lead to the character having his own film. That film, “Judge Dredd,” starring Sylvester Stallone and Diane Lane, was not popular. One of the first issues fans took with the film was the fact that the Judge takes off his helmet, something his comic counterpart never does. Ever. Another reason why the film failed to impress was that it flipped between drama and comedy, undercutting the biting social commentary intended by its creators.
It’s surprising that, with so many problems, the film was nominated for just one Razzie, an honor bestowed on Sylvester Stallone for Worst Actor, despite Wagner himself saying that Stallone was perfect for the part (though he did say that the film character wasn’t really Judge Dredd). Can we really blame Stallone for the mess “Judge Dredd” was? Well, possibly, at least in part.
10. THE MASK
Jim Carrey has a certain comedic style that some people might not love; in fact, during his heyday, he was quite the divisive figure (though one that was always a box office draw). His over-the-top antics on screen are an acquired taste, though some would argue that they made him the perfect actor to play Dark Horse’s ridiculous character, Stanley Ipkiss, at least when he’s sporting the titular mask, which bestowed upon its wearer dark cartoonish powers. He fit in perfectly with the world depicted in the 1994 film, even if it was a more family-friendly version of the hyper-violent comic.
“The Mask” is on the list because Carrey was nominated for a Razzie for Worst New Star. A few of his other films, “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and “Dumb and Dumber” were also taken into consideration for the nomination, so you can be certain that maybe there were just some people (keeping in mind that these might be people who work in the industry) who didn’t like him as an actor. The film itself earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects and Carrey would (oddly enough) also earn a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in “The Mask.”
9. JONAH HEX
After 45 years, the popular DC anti-hero Jonah Hex was due for a film adaptation; after all, who doesn’t love a badass within a quasi-western story. Unfortunately, that $47 million dollar endeavor resulted in one of the worst films of 2010. “Jonah Hex” starred Michael Fassbender, Megan Fox and Josh Brolin, the last as the titular scarred bounty hunter; unfortunately, even his acting talents couldn’t save the film from its many flaws. A Razzie or two was expected, and two is exactly what it received in its nomination count.
Megan Fox, as Tallulah Black, earned a Razzie nomination for Worst Actress, which, if you listen to whatever her accent is in the film, you might agree is fairly well deserved. The second nomination was for Worst Screen Couple, going to both Fox and Brolin for that accent and Hex’s face. They lost in both categories to the entire cast of “Sex and the City 2,” which was probably the right call.
8. FANTASTIC 4 (2005)
After one low-budget attempt back in 1994 failed, it was time to try to create a “Fantastic Four” movie property once again. Eleven years after that hilariously bad film, 20th Century Fox’s “Fantastic Four” was released in 2005, this time with arguably better actors and a considerably larger budget. We’re including both this and its sequel “Rise of the Silver Surfer” — both of which starred Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, pre-super soldier Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis as Marvel’s Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and the Thing, respectively.
Together, the films earned themselves three nominations for Worst Actress (which Jessica Alba earned twice, for this and the sequel, losing to Jenny McCarthy for “Dirty Love” then Lindsay Lohan in “I Know Who Killed Me”) and Worst Screen Couple for Alba and Gruffudd, losing to Lindsay Lohan and… Lindsay Lohan in “I Know Who Killed Me.” Anyone who’s watched those “Fantastic Four” films would agree, they were fun in their own special way, but they definitely deserved those Razzies nominations.
7. GHOST RIDER
While we’re on the subject of unfortunate casting choices, we can’t forget Nicolas Cage as the quirky, shockingly uncharismatic daredevil, Johnny Blaze in the 2007 film “Ghost Rider,” based on Marvel’s supernatural bounty hunter. It was slightly memorable for all the wrong reasons; and yet, despite stinging reviews, a sequel was released in 2012 to worse reviews than the first (despite doing significantly better at the box office than its predecessor).
Nicolas Cage unsurprisingly earned two nominations collectively for Worst Actor, losing to Eddie Murphy in “Norbit” in 2007, then to Adam Sandler for “That’s My Boy” in 2012. The sequel, “Spirit of Vengeance,” was nominated for Worst Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel, though it lost to “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.” Luckily for fans of Ghost Rider, the character was introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe through “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” in 2016, this time as Robbie Reyes, portrayed by Gabriel Luna.
6. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2014)
Mirage Studio’s Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo are, as their comic’s name suggests, teenage mutant turtles trained in the ways of the ninja, which is just as awesome, violent and silly as it sounds. For a lot of people, the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” comics and animated series were part of their fondest childhood memories. Several attempts at making a decent TMNT film have been made, but few could compare with Nickelodeon’s 2014 film, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”
The film starred Johnny Knoxville as Leonardo, Alan Ritchson as Raphael, Noel Fisher as Michelangelo, Jeremy Howard as Donatello and Megan Fox as April O’Neill. There were a lot of things wrong with this film, which is why it was nominated for five Razzie awards in several categories, ranging from Worst Picture, Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel, Worst Director for Jonathan Liebesman, Worst Screenplay and Worst Supporting Actress for Megan Fox, who won in her category. Still, a sequel was released in 2016, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” receiving a slightly better critical response than its predecessor.
5. FANTASTIC FOUR (2015)
Most of our readers were probably on the verge of completely forgetting about this catastrophe of a superhero film, while the rest are probably still trying their hardest to forget it. This time around, the film we sat through tried to give us a more epic and much darker depiction of Marvel’s Fantastic Four. This cinematic version of “Fantastic Four” was directed by Josh Trank and starred Miles Teller as Mister Fantastic, Kate Mara as Sue Storm, Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm and Jamie Bell as the ever lovin’ blue eyed Thing. From conception to release, the film failed to win fans over, which was reflected in its critical failure and the five Razzie award nominations it received.
The four main cast members were nominated for Worst Screen Combo. Meanwhile, Trank, Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg were nominated for Worst Screenplay, and all the producers were nominated for Worst Picture and Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel. Trank was singled out and nominated for Worst Director. The film won in the latter three categories, and rightly so.
4. HOWARD THE DUCK
Before his cameo at the very end of Marvel’s highly successful “Guardians of the Galaxy,” wherein he had two lines and was voiced by Seth Green, Howard had his own film back in 1986, directed by Willard Huyck and starring Lea Thompson, Tim Robbins and Chip Zien as the titular character. It was released despite numerous issues during development, ranging from the decision to make it live-action as opposed to animated, to its focus on special effects and an almost complete change in Howard’s personality. All of this added up and resulted in a considerable flop, both critically and commercially.
It’s no wonder then that it earned three Razzie nominations — Tim Robbins for Worst Supporting Actor, Zuyck for Worst Director and “Howard the Duck” for Worst Original Song. But it didn’t end there. “Howard” went on to win Worst Screenplay, Worst New Star (for all six performers in the duck suit), Worst Picture, and finally, Worst Visual Effects. Yes, it definitely wasn’t one of Industrial Light and Magic’s best works… or anyone else’s for that matter. With any luck, we can look forward to Howard getting a more worthy portrayal in the MCU.
Even though it’s a weak excuse, when people talk about why we don’t see many super heroines starring in their own epic films, they usually cite films like “Aeon Flux,” “Elektra” and of course, the “Catwoman” flop of 2004. The last character in that list differed in quite a few ways from her DC comic book counterpart. For example, her name was changed from Selina Kyle to Patience Phillips. Also, instead of training and practicing, she gains her cat-like agility and other feline powers because a cat stood on her corpse for minute. Finally, instead of being a sleek and slinking burglar, she was now a graphics designer-turned-vigilante.
From its $100 million dollar budget, the film grossed just $82 million and earned seven Razzie nominations for its troubles. Sharon Stone was nominated for Worst Supporting Actress, Lambert Wilson for Worst Supporting Actor and Halle Berry, Wilson and/or Stone for Worst Screen Couple. The film won Worst Screenplay, Director Jean-Christophe “Pitof” Comar won Worst Director and Halle Berry won Worst Actress, an award she actually went to collect, with her award for “Monster’s Ball” from the Academy in hand.
2. BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE
There was a lot of hype preceding “Batman v Superman” and a lot of disappointment following its release. Zack Snyder’s expansion of the DC Extended Universe, beginning with “Man of Steel,” promised a fight of epic proportions: the god-like Kryptonian against the indomitable Dark Knight. What we got was a lot of talk, a strange dream-sequence and a five minute battle concluding in the discovery that sometimes two people can have the same name. Okay, that’s a bit of an over-simplification. The film wasn’t bad if you don’t go in purely because you want to see a giant action sequence. That didn’t stop it from recently being shortlisted for more than a few Razzie awards.
While the official nominations will be announced on January 23rd, we know that it’s a strong contender for Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel, Worst Screenplay, Worst Supporting Actor for Jeremy Irons and Jesse Eisenberg, Worst Director for Zack Snyder, Worst Actor for Ben Affleck and Worst Picture, adding up to seven possible nominations.
1. BATMAN & ROBIN
Last but not least, with a whopping 11 Razzie nominations, we have Joel Schumacher’s infamous 1997 film, “Batman & Robin.” It starred George Clooney as Bruce Wayne, Chris O’Donnell as Robin, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. Every single one of them did their best to keep a straight face while reciting just… the worst puns. Those, atop everything else about that movie — like the fact that Batman had nipples on his suit — are just a few reasons why Clooney still apologizes for the film and why it’s here at first place on our little list.
Chris O’Donnell and Arnold Schwarzenegger were both nominated for Worst Supporting Actor, while Uma Thurman and Alicia Silverstone were both nominated for Worst Supporting Actress, with Silverstone winning in that category. George Clooney and O’Donnell were nominated for Worst Screen Couple, Schumacher was nominated for Worst Director and the song “The End is the Beginning” was nominated for Worst Original Song. Shockingly, the film also earned a nomination for Worst Reckless Disregard For Human Life and Public Property, along with Worst Picture, Worst Remake or Sequel and finally, of course, Worst Screenplay, which it definitely had.
Do you secretly (or not so secretly) love these Razzie-nominated comic book movies? Fess up in the comments!
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