Audiences have loved seeing superheroes on screen for decades, popularized by 1978’s Superman which saw Christopher Reeve in the titular role. Superheroes have always provided inspiration for storytelling. With multiple super-films now being released in theatres on a regular basis, they’re a staple part of our culture. They show no sign of slowing down, either: Captain Marvel recently passed $1 billion at the global box office, Shazam! has been released to glowing reviews, and Avengers: Endgame is one of the most hotly anticipated movies of 2019, wrapping up a franchise that has been central to superhero cinema-goers for over ten years.
But they can’t all be winners. Review-aggregation website, Rotten Tomatoes, can be really helpful when deciding which movies to watch — and which ones to avoid. We’ve scoured the pages of listed superhero movies with a ranking on their Tomatometer and compiled a list of the 10 most rotten superhero movies featured on their site. Here are the ten worst superhero movies ever, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
10 Jonah Hex (2010) – 12%
It’s surprising that Josh Brolin, a core player in two of the most highly rated superhero films (Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War) helmed this adaptation of a classic comic book hero. It’s unsurprising that he was the best thing about it, highlighting what was to come for his career in super-films.
With years of rich history and story arcs to draw upon, Jonah Hex could be a brilliant addition to the big screen. But this supernatural western rushes through the disfigured gunslinger’s backstory and the film’s flimsy plot, cramming far too much into the films slim 81-minute run-time. At least it’s short…
9 Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987) – 12%
The original Superman boasts one of the highest ratings for any superhero film on Rotten Tomatoes, sitting comfortably at 94%. It’s no secret that the original Superman film series waned after the second installment, but it came to an earth-shattering halt with this fourth film.
While Christopher Reeve still delivers an excellent portrayal of the man of steel, the film completely lacks any kind of plot, making his efforts worthless. A box office flop, it would be nineteen years before the Son of Krypton would return to helm a live-action adaptation. Superman himself couldn’t even save us from this disaster.
8 Steel (1997) – 12%
Shaquille O’Neal is no stranger to the big screen, and with his incredible height, it’s no surprise he would be cast as a superhero. Unfortunately, his super-debut would be in this straight-to-VHS adventure, where he plays John Henry Irons, a weapons designer for the military who creates munitions that stun instead of kill.
With his peace-making inventions being rejected, he resigns in frustration, only to discover criminal gangs are using the weapons he helped create, leading him to forge his own suit and fight the war against crime himself. While it flirts with being so-bad-it’s-good, it often finds itself being so-bad-it’s-embarrassing. We’d recommend jumping straight to Iron Man instead.
7 Elektra (2005) – 10%
Elektra Natchios was the first Marvel heroine to get her own solo adventure on the big screen after the relative success of 2003’s Daredevil. Frank Miller’s deadly assassin has a huge number of exciting stories from the comic pages to provide inspiration, but Elektra proved to be a lackluster effort stunted by a poor script.
In fact, it has been argued that the film ruined Jennifer Garner’s then-growing career, despite her best efforts to elevate the script, with critic Scott Mendelson holding the spin-off responsible for killing off big studio confidence in female-fronted superhero movies for more than a decade.
6 Batman & Robin (1997) – 10%
Bat-credit cards, countless ice puns, Poison Ivy doing a strip-tease in a gorilla suit, and bat-nips. Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin introduced a lot of things we didn’t expect — or necessarily need — but here we are. While the World’s Greatest Detective doesn’t always have to be all doom and gloom, this farcical outing repeatedly pushes the boundaries of cringe-worthy fun throughout its two-hour runtime.
Between the neon colors and awkward catchphrases being yelled at each other, the film ventures into scenes so over the top and ridiculous that it’s no surprise Christopher Nolan delved into the darkest side of Gotham for Batman’s big screen revival.
5 Supergirl (1984) – 10%
Following the success of Christopher Reeve’s outing as Superman, his younger cousin received her own big-budget spin-off. Kara Zor-El finds herself on earth while trying to find a missing Kryptonian power source, which leads to her enrolling in high school under the human alias Linda Lee, culminating in a battle against an evil witch.
Supergirl is just as strong as her Super-relative, but her powers are wasted in this outing, with attempts at fluffy, light-hearted humor falling flat. The cast at least appear to be having fun with the premise, but Supergirl and her capabilities are far better presented in the CW’s recent TV adaptation.
4 Fantastic Four (2015) – 9%
Marvel’s original super-team haven’t fared well on their silver screen adaptations. Both 2005’s Fantastic Four and the 2007 follow up, Rise of the Silver Surfer, were commercial successes but critical failures. It was ten years before anyone would try their origin story again. That outing would suffer on both fronts, dampening any hopes of a full franchise reboot.
In theory, Josh Trank’s body-horror take on the classic characters could have delivered an interesting take on the heroes’ mutations. Unfortunately, the execution was bland and laughable, filled with continuity and costume errors, and one really terrible moving wig. While the MCU may give us a better depiction of the heroes, the original Fantastic Four is at least slightly entertaining to tide us over.
3 Catwoman (2004) – 9%
2004’s Catwoman is one of the worst portrayals of DC’s antihero. It’s by no means Halle Berry’s fault, who throws all of her effort into playing Patience Phillips — who was, unfortunately, a very flat character with little more to her than her sex appeal.
Berry at least acknowledged that the movie could have been better, showing up at the 2005 Golden Raspberry “Razzie” Awards with her Best Actress Oscar from 2001 in tow. The perplexing plot, messy edits, and terrible CGI all combine to make one of Warner Brother’s biggest stinkers. It’s the kitty litter version of Michelle Pfeiffer’s premier Catwoman in Batman Returns.
2 Captain America (1990) – 7%
You’d be forgiven for forgetting that this low-budget adaptation of Captain America even existed — or at least for blocking it from memory. This Paramount studios picture didn’t even make it to the cinemas, instead of being released straight to VHS.
This version of Steve Rodgers couldn’t be further from the star-spangled-man-with-a-plan we’ve come to know and love in the comics and the MCU. Instead, he’s an inexperienced, hapless soldier who retreats, hides, lies, and even steals. Bursting at the seams with cheesy dialogue, stiff acting, and ridiculous action sequences, this corny ‘90s outing is best left in the VHS bargain bin.
1 Zoom (2006) – 3%
A ragtag group of kids train to become a superhero team at a private academy. A familiar premise, but this teen-hero escapade led by Tim Allen massively missed the mark when trying to assemble a heroic team of misfits into a family-friendly movie.
A slow-paced comedy with very few laughs, a muddled plot, and cheap-looking CGI, it was clearly trying to tap into the rising superhero trend, but to such a poor standard that it became the lowest ranked superhero movie on all of Rotten Tomatoes. Do you agree with Rotten Tomatoes’ rankings? Let us know in the comments!