We are currently in the midst of a sort of Golden Age when it comes to superhero movies. 2017 was already a pretty big year for superhero movies, and this year might be even bigger. Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, Ant-Man and The Wasp, Aquaman, Deadpool 2, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and even The Incredibles 2 are all due out this year. Not to mention that this year at the Oscars, Logan has been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, making it the first modern superhero movie to be nominated for one of the Big Five Oscar categories.
It goes without saying that there is a lot of good in superhero movies nowadays. There is so much good in superhero movies that it is easy to forget that there is also a lot of bad in these movies, especially when it comes to performances. Even then, there is some joy to be had with certain bad superhero movie performances. A performance can be so bad that it turns out being good in that it is so enjoyable that it's funny, or so over the top that it's entertaining. Here are some examples we have seen in superhero moves over the years.
15 MICKEY ROURKE AS WHIPLASH
Mickey Rourke's performance as Whiplash in Iron Man 2 is an interesting beast. His performance is as awful as his Russian accent in the movie, but when we know why his performance is so bad, it puts things into perspective. During the film's pre-production, Rourke asked the shot callers at Marvel if he could make some creative decisions to add some layers to his character.
They agreed, but when it came time to actually film the thing, they reneged on their promise. In fact, they even pulled back on his character to make Whiplash a straight up cliche of a villain, rather than one with legitimate motivations. Rourke has voiced his disdain for Marvel in interviews, and it's understandable. There's a good performance in that movie that was buried behind studio meddling.
14 BEN AFFLECK AS DAREDEVIL
We all remember Ben Affleck not being very good in the original Daredevil movie, but ever since Netflix dropped their own Daredevil series starring Charlie Cox as our titular blind crusader, Affleck looks even worse in retrospect. Compared to Cox, Affleck looks all the more consistently awkward and bland throughout the film. In every scene, Affleck just looks uncomfortable in Daredevil's shoes. Which makes sense considering that he was literally uncomfortable in costume throughout the duration of filming.
He's admitted before that he "hated" Daredevil and believed that "wearing a costume was a source of humiliation." His disdain for the role shows in his performance, and led him to give a lousy performance. The experience initially swore him off ever playing another superhero until he was cast as Batman.
13 JOHN LEGUIZAMO AS THE VIOLATOR
The Violator in the comic books is commonly revered as one of the most feared, memorable, and menacing villains in the Spawn franchise, or any comic book for that matter. Whether he was donning his human meat suit or his snarling true form, chaos was just moments away for anyone and anything in his path. In the movie, the fear was seriously missing from the character.
In fact, with John Leguizamo in the role, anything antagonistic and scary about The Violator was traded for fart jokes and toilet humor. He might be entertaining for those who haven't read the comics, but those who did were outraged when the film was released. So much so that there was allegedly (according to Nostalgia Critic) a petition from fans demanding that Leguizamo apologize for his performance.
12 SERINDA SWAN AS MEDUSA
Marvel never had a bigger blunder on their hands than when their Inhumans show flopped badly over at ABC. The series only ran for eight episodes before the network mercifully pulled the plug on it. This was due in part not only to the disappointing ratings, but the outright terrible reviews, and it's easy to see why the show received such poor reviews. The CGI was laughable, the plot was dull, and worst of all, the acting was horrendous.
Of all the actors in the cast, the main star Anson Mount (who played Black Bolt) tends to get the worst flack, but much of that flack also needs to fly in the direction of the show's Medusa, Serinda Swan. Her magnificently horrible CGI hair produced much of the scorn of the internet, but her performance itself is as wooden as a brand new log cabin.
11 TERRENCE HOWARD AS JAMES "RHODEY" RHODES
As the saying goes, one never knows how important something is to them until that something is gone. In the case of Terrence Howard's brief appearance and sudden departure from the Iron Man franchise, we never realized just how bad he was until he was gone. It came as a breath of fresh air when he was replaced by Don Cheadle in the next film. Howard basically sleep walks through the first film and turns in a lazy performance.
Although, we'd be lying if we said it didn't give us a chuckle to see him practice his unique mannerisms for another film. Howard has a knack for, essentially, playing the same character in every movie and saying "mayne" a lot. It even got him his own meme. Hearing him do the same for Iron Man is funny to watch, and the sole thing to enjoy about his performance.
10 JARED LETO AS THE JOKER
Jared Leto's performance in Suicide Squad as The Joker is one of a kind to say the least. It's not good in any sense of the word, but we can't say we have seen anybody give a similar portrayal of The Joker and hopefully, we never have to again. Leto turned the Clown Prince of Crime into a cringe inducing wannabe gangster stock character that is a far cry from the complex supervillain of old.
It is a performance that is laughable to witness for all the wrong reasons. The Joker is supposed to be funny, but we're laughing only because Leto's performance is so ridiculous. And to think, Leto committed so heavily to method acting to the point he was sending his co-stars inappropriate "gifts, all just to turn in a lackluster performance.
9 JESSE EISENBERG AS LEX LUTHOR
Imagine if Mark Zuckerberg decided to cosplay as The Joker for Halloween. We know, that sounds awful, but that is basically what we got when Jesse Eisenberg took on the mantle of Lex Luthor in Batman V Superman. Lex Luthor has a history with being domineering on the verge of being stoic. Eisenberg actually went for a more manic, hyperactive approach to the character and it often made Luthor come off as a weaselly character.
Not a character we could take seriously as an antagonist, but a character whose presence and shrill voice annoyed us during the film's entire runtime. The general audience displeasure with Eisenberg's performance probably had a hand in the decision to cut down Luthor's appearance in Justice League to an after credits scene. Unfortunately, we're still stuck with the guy for the entire DCEU.
8 VINNIE JONES AS JUGGERNAUT
Vinnie Jones has never been a great actor by any stretch of the imagination, but we'd be gosh darned if we didn't admit he was always entertaining for what he was. That's why we can't completely hate his performance in X-Men: The Last Stand. Sure, fanboys may have not taken too kindly to the fact that Professor Xavier's comic book brother was reduced to a supporting player with no relation to Xavier whatsover, or that Juggernaut's character was nothing like that of the comics.
Mostly because his movie counterpart had no character to speak of. But anyone would be lying if they didn't crack up at hearing Vinnie Jones scream "I'm the Juggernaut, BLEEP!". This had to be the highlight of the movie, which honestly isn't saying much.
7 PAMELA ANDERSON AS BARB WIRE
It might be a little mean and non-PC on our behalf to ever insinuate that any actor in the business was only hired onto a job because of their physical "assets" rather than their acting ability, but the notion is more than true when attributed to Pamela Anderson's starring role in the film adaptation of the comic book series Barb Wire.
Watching Pamela Anderson's attempt at acting and emoting is by far the funniest part of a terrible movie. Her monotone line readings and blank contemplative staring into space earned Anderson a Razzie nomination for Worst Actress, and a Razzie win for Worst New Star. Anderson's performance is a big reason why the film feels more like an adult picture rather than a Hollywood production.
6 SYLVESTER STALLONE AS JUDGE DREDD
When Karl Urban tackled on the title role of Dredd in 2012, it was met with impressed reviews despite being a box office bomb. But over a decade earlier when Judge Dredd was adapted to film, the result was just the opposite. The 1995 film was a modest success at the box office, but received unfavorable reviews, mostly because of Stallone's bad performance.
As bad and clunky as Stallone is in the film -- honestly, it isn't any more clunky than any other Stallone performance that isn't Rocky Balboa -- it is still a hysterical one to witness. Maybe it's the accent, but just hearing Stallone utter over the top phrases like "I am the LAW!" is some of the finest comedy gold that any could find on the big screen.
5 DAVID HASSELHOFF AS NICK FURY
Before Samuel L. Jackson became the embodiment of perfect dream casting fulfilled, David Hasselhoff was the one actor who had the perfect look for Nick Fury; judging by the character's original comic book form. The only problem with this pitch perfect bit of casting is that at the end of the day, he's still just David Hasselhoff -- no one is going to get a great, or remotely good performance out of David Hasselhoff.
What they are going to get is a stereotypically macho and hyper-masculine, wooden performance. His unnatural gruffness makes his interpretation of Nick Fury feel more like a parody of Nick Fury rather than the real deal. If we weren't supposed to take it seriously, this would be hilariously enjoyable. It still kinda is.
4 SHAQ AS STEEL
In the comic books, Steel is praised as one of the better replacement Superman characters in the post-"Death of Superman" world; arguably even the best. When played by Shaq in the movie of the same name based on the same character, it was disastrous for the comic book movie industry. Disastrous to the point that some cite this box office bomb as the sole movie that killed the superhero movie sub-genre.
Between the cheesy story and the dull characters, Shaq gives a crappy performance in a league of its own. Although, as bad Shaq's performance is, there are enough minor moments in the movie that makes his performance bearable, like near the end when Shaq as Steel points out he can't throw a grenade out of a hole, referencing how bad Shaq is in real life at free throws. That was kinda funny.
3 NICOLAS CAGE AS GHOST RIDER
It should be common knowledge at this point that when Hollywood casts Nicolas Cage in anything, he is never there to give an actual performance. That may be his intention going into a role, but the finished product never amounts to an actual acting performance, or anything resembling such a thing. Nic Cage is there to be Nic Cage and to exercise his many eccentric Cage-isms.
His performance as the Ghost Rider is peak Nic Cage Cage-isms personified. Technically speaking, it is not a very good performance, but it is a hilarious performance to witness just for the fact it is Nic Cage being Nic Cage. Loud, rambunctious, over the top...we wouldn't expect anything more out of a Nic Cage, and it makes for a good time at the movies.
2 HALLE BERRY AS CATWOMAN
If there is anything -- just one singular thing -- intriguing about the Catwoman movie from 2004, it's trying to figure out how a film like this could even be made. Even by the standards of 2004, somebody behind the scenes had to realize what they had on their hands was a cinematic turd.
Somebody behind the scenes had to notice at some point during production just how bad this film is. Especially after taking a gander at Halle Berry's performance as the title hero. It is not like the script did Berry any favors -- in fact, we don't think the script sought to do anything other than insert as many bad cat puns as possible -- but there's a reason why Berry earned that Razzie for Worst Actress that year.
1 EVERY ACTOR IN BATMAN & ROBIN
It is common knowledge at this point that Batman & Robin is highly regarded as a cinematic abomination, and with good reason. The acting is bad, the directing is bad, the dialogue is bad, the story is bad...it's all bad, and even then, using the word bad is being generous. We only use it because just about everything about criticizing the movie has been said countless times in the past already.
So we'll say that one thing that rarely (if ever) gets said about this movie: it's really fun. Of course, it's still not very good, but it's a fun movie when sitting around watching it while drinking a couple cold ones with pals. The off the wall nature of the flick accompanied by the outlandish performances makes for an entertaining watch with friends.