59. Elektra/Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner, Daredevil, 2003; and Elektra, 2005)
Elektra is another character given a spinoff theatrically-released film that absolutely did not deserve it. However, I will give this entry some degree of credit, as the character did not initially appear in her own spin-off film. The spin-off film itself is horrendous, but Garner’s portrayal of the character was at least tolerable in 2003’s Daredevil, thus giving her a higher spot on the list than others. In Daredevil, she’s a pretty standard “love interest who can also kick ass” – it didn’t make sense how she obtained elite combat skills (she’s a standard businessman’s daughter one moment, then we cut to a scene of her cutting up some sandbags with her sais and she’s suddenly in ninja mode) but other than that the portrayal is fine. Not great or memorable, but fine.
The spinoff film itself, however (Elektra, 2005) was pretty much as low as you can go on the totem pole of comic book movies The acting wooden, the plot nonsensical (she fights a bunch of people who have living tattoos on them…wait, what?)
Elektra, with its horrendous acting and plot, rightfully deserves its place among the worst comic book superhero movies of all time. However, this list takes into account all appearances of the character if they are played by the same actor within the same continuity, so some points are gained based on her performance in “Daredevil,” which, while bad, is not entirely objectionable, making her the “best” spot among the putrid tier.
I have a friend who was a huge Alias fan and considers Jennifer Garner one of the sexiest women on Earth, and is more or less obsessed with her. That was part of the reason some of us saw this. After the movie ended, I asked the friend in love with Garner what he thought of it.
His reponse? “She could have been not wearing any clothes the entire time and it still would have been one of the worst films I’ve ever seen.” I think that settles the issue.
The "Not quite putrid, but still pretty dang bad" tier.
58. Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds, Blade Trinity, 2004)
The Jar Jar Binks of the Blade movies. First of all, Reynolds is just playing Ryan Reynolds here. His character has absolutely nothing to do with Hannibal King in the comics in the slightest besides the fact that he’s a former vampire that fights vampires (King in the comics is an older stoic man, Ryan Reynolds is Ryan Reynolds). He is supposed to be the comic relief, but his jokes are absolutely terrible, usually revolving around genitalia. His brand of humor is only funny to elementary school children, and I don’t think elementary school children were allowed to watch this movie, so why include it? He gets kidnapped by vampires and somehow shoehorns in a joke about the fact that he has a Hello Kitty tattoo on his ass. What?
The funny thing is, Blade himself seems to have the same opinion of him that the audience does. You would think in a movie called “Trinity” that the natural story arc would be for Blade to learn to work as a team, to understand and come to accept working with the others. But no, even at the very end he never softens his stance towards Reynolds and still barely tolerates him. But probably the most baffling element is that Reynolds is then given the task of being the ending narrator, the one who says “Blade must continue his journey blah blah…” Wait, what? Biel’s character was flat but at least she was taken seriously and had some sort of connection with Blade. Why on earth wasn’t she the ending narrator? If the guy who just clowns around making dick jokes the whole movie is the one delivering the "serious" ending narration, you know your movie has problems.
57. Gambit/Remy LeBeau (Taylor Kitsch, X:Men Origins: Wolverine, 2009)
“Hey, so you guys want Gambit to be in the movies, huh? Well, here he is!”
Gambit is a character who was more or less popularized by being a staple of the 1990’s X-Men cartoon series. The producers of the X-Men films 1-3 were criticized by not including him. Therefore, when deciding to create the film “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” the Ragin’ Cajun was included in the movies as more or less a throw-in. His role in the film could have been fulfilled by pretty much any other character, but Gambit was included as pure fan-service.
I suppose that Kitsch’s acting was okay given what he was given, but the character was such an obvious shoe-horned in wink to fans that it really made no sense for him to be included plot-wise. Kitsch shows very little of Gambit’s trademark charm, and doesn’t even have a Cajun accent.
One of the most baffling scenes in the movie occurs halfway through. After Logan first meets Gambit and confronts him about his identity in some sort of card club, Logan walks outside and sees Sabretooth. As Logan and Sabretooth have a longstanding feud, Logan is entirely fixated on him. Logan prepares to engage in a battle with Sabretooth, and as this happens, Gambit walks up behind Wolverine to confront him. Wolverine pays no attention to Gambit, and uses a backhand fist to knock him out cold.
This is a moment that is actually kind of funny and effective. However, after a few more moments, we are treated to a montage of Gambit suddenly appearing a few rooftops behind Wolverine and using his kinetic powers to hop across rooftops and then confront him. Wait, wasn’t he just nonchalantly knocked unconscious by Logan a few minutes ago? How did he appear on these rooftops to confront him during the battle with Sabretooth? One of several examples of the movie being extremely poorly edited and bafling.
Gambit plays a minor role throughout the rest of the film, but is still not given nearly enough justice to the popularity of the comic book character. As the “X-Men: First Class” creators have rightfully decided to completely ignore X3 and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” within t heir own continuity, one would hope that eventually another Gambit will appear that will do justice to the comic book character.
56. Invisible Woman/Susan Storm (Jessica Alba, Fantastic Four, 2005, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, 2007)
“Oh no! Somehow, my powers have backfired and left me standing here NAKED without my clothes! I’m so embarrassed, I can’t believe this happened AGAIN!”
…and that’s pretty much everything you need to know about this character. In the comics, Susan Storm is a strong-willed leader who is often considered the most powerful member of the Fantastic Four. In the Fantastic Four movies, Susan pretty much just exists to find a convenient excuse to appear naked in public…Tee hee! Casting Jessica Alba as Susan more or less made no sense besides the fact that they wanted to add sex appeal to the movie. She looks ridiculous in a blonde wig, and the fact that she has been cast as the sister of Chris Evans (despite the fact that the two of them are obviously different ethnicities) is also ridiculous. God forbid that strong females characters exist in comic book movies as anything other than sex appeal.
55. The Hulk/Bruce Banner (Eric Bana, Hulk, 2003)
The first part of this movie, I didn’t have too much of a problem with. Bana’s acting seemed okay at first, I didn’t mind the plot or pacing, and could ignore the “comic book panel” shifts.
About halfway through, however, this movie goes completely bonkers. The Hulk bounds through the desert with giant leaps – a move taken from the comics, but it looks completely ridiculous with the poor CGI they were using, and elicited many laughs in the theater. He fights giant “Hulk dogs” – not a horrible idea in theory, but the bad CGI of both the Hulk and the dogs makes it looks ridiculous as well.
The Hulk fights lots of fighter planes and military equipment, and hilariously, each and every time he crashes a plane or tank you see the people inside get out unharmed (via parachute, crawling out of the tank, etc) even if the damage Hulk did to the vehicle would clearly be enough to kill anyone inside.
The most ridiculous scene in the movie, and honestly one of the most ridiculous scenes I remember seeing, ever, was at the end. Banner is imprisoned, and the military is fully aware that his condition means that huge flares of emotion cause his transformation into the Hulk. But for some bizarre reason, they allow his estranged psychotic father to come in and speak with him. What? That’s only the beginning, though. His father has given himself the powers of the Absorbing Man from the comics by injecting himself with gamma-starfish DNA, resulting in a wacky blur of a fight scene. His father bites a wire and turns himself into an electricity monster and juggles the Hulk through the air with lightning, then they go into a ditch and he turns into a rock monster, and then something explodes so he turns into a giant cloud, and then a jet comes by and a single rocket kills him.
The movie also ruined the character by making him be predestined to be the Hulk – his father was obsessed with power and genetics so he gives himself mutant DNA, which is passed on to Bruce when he’s born and is what causes the reaction with the gamma. This is a bad twist, as a lot of the appeal of Bruce Banner is the fact that he was a regular guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The movie also wastes a good deal of time in having him try to figure out what happened in his tragic past instead of focusing on the fact that he now turns into a giant green monster.
54. Storm/Ororo Monroe (X:Men, 2000, X2, 2003, X-Men: The Last Stand, 2006)
Ok, this one is going to be a long one…
Congratulations to Halle Berry for being the first person to appear on this list twice in two different roles.
This might seem like a bit too low considering that two of the three films this character appears in are pretty good, with only one stinker, and the character for the most part doesn’t do anything that is too outwardly horrendous (Other than “What happens to a Toad when it gets hit by lightning?”)
Still, I have major, major issues with this character, and I think Berry is the main reason why X3 falls so flat.
First off, she is acceptable in X1 and X2 as a minor character despite not having a personality. The hair looks ridiculous, but I suppose that was inevitable. They also don’t really explain the range of her powers very well – there are several instances where she could have helped out their situations with weather control but didn’t do anything. Berry’s acting isn’t horrendous but it isn’t very good either, and all in all the character serves her purpose as an uninteresting supporting character and doesn’t necessarily detract from the first two movies but also doesn’t really add anything.
In X3, however? A different story entirely. This story was harmed by her character. Berry was considering leaving the film, but they wanted her back so they caved in to her demands to give her a more central role. Thus, Storm was made into the main character other than Wolverine, but they forgot to give her anything resembling personality, conflict, character development, or chemistry. She just sort of exists and does her thing.
The first thing that’s really off about her is how she has literally no character flaws. We don’t see her ever have fear, doubt, or development. When the idea of a serum taking away mutant powers is introduced, she immediately and adamantly is opposed to it without even giving it a second thought. The scene where Beast tells her to consider that others may have use for it is the only hint of her not being basically a perfect person. Especially troubling is the early scene where Xavier wants to hand over the team to her instead of Scott because Scott is too overcome with grief regarding Jean (I’ll further get into my problems with the way the movie treated Cyclops in an entry coming up quite soon).
Another hugely troubling dynamic is you have a situation where the two leads of the film (Wolverine and Storm) have literally no chemistry or definable relationship. Most of the movie has them working together, but we have NO idea what opinion they have of each other. Wolverine has a clearly defined relationship with every other character – he is in love with Jean, a begrudging paternal appreciation for Xavier, a respectful but contentious rivalry with Cyclops, is protective of Rogue, makes quips to Beast since their personalities are polar opposites, and we even see him have an arc with Iceman where he sees that he’s a good kid and approves of him being romantic with his daughter figure and learns to trust Bobby in battle despite his youth. With Storm? We have no idea what he thinks of her. They just kind of go around together doing plot things. Having the relationship between your two leads be “co-workers who go around doing what is necessary together but are completely neutral about each other and don’t express any emotion towards each other, positive or negative” does not a compelling movie make.
Berry initially wanted the movie to introduce a romance between Wolverine and Storm – this would obviously be a terrible idea, especially since so much of the film is about him wanting to get Jean back to normal, so it’s good they vetoed that. Still, there are a million other routes they could have taken. Their personalities are different – she’s more straight-laced and by the books while he’s more of a bad boy loose cannon, but they don’t tap into that potential tension whatsoever. They could have had Storm initially not respect him since he’s a wild card who came to their organization and then gain a respect towards him. Even if that would have taken too much time, they could have hinted at it and just thrown in a few jokes between the two of them, maybe have Logan joke with her in a friendly manner about her being too straight laced or something. They could have had them be friends who have gained a respect and friendship towards going to war together, and maybe show some sort of friendly warmth or concern for the other, thrown in a scene where one is concerned and the other platonically comforts the other. We get none of that, and almost all the dialogue between the two of them is “Ok, here’s the situation, here’s what we’re going to do next…”
I’m going to go ahead and put nearly all the blame on this situation on the character of Storm, since Wolverine has chemistry with literally every other character. The movie would have been far better served if they had just let Berry walk away and said Storm was away in Africa doing something, and the movie would have had time to breathe and focus on characters who actually have personalities.
53. The Punisher/Frank Castle (Dolph Lundgren, The Punisher, 1989)
He doesn’t have a skull on his chest. Let’s get that out of the way first.
This movie is pretty much a standard, campy action vehicle for Lundgren, with very little trace of what comprises the character of the Punisher in the comics. The movie could have given the character a different name and never called him the “Punisher” at all and the movie could still be pretty much exactly the same. Lundgren is flat as a board in this, never really showing emotion. The character idiotically refuses to wear body armor for some perplexing reason, even though the character in the comic has no trouble with that. Not much of a personal arc from him, not too much time is spent on grief about his family, he just kinda goes “Gotta get the bad guy,” gets into some action scenes, and then kills the bad guy. Easily the most boring of the three Punisher movies, and Lundgren’s portrayal of the character easily falls below the other two.
52. Dick Grayson/Robin (Chris O’Donnell, Batman Forever, 1995; Batman & Robin, 1997)
This character was decently tolerable in Batman Forever, giving him a few notches above Clooney and Silverstone who only appeared in Batman and Robin.
I strongly dislike Batman Forever as a movie, mostly due to the villains and their plot. My dislike doesn’t really have much to do with Robin. Sure, O’Donnell’s acting in the movie isn’t fantastic, and it’s not entirely clear why or how Bruce plans to adopt a fully grown 24 year old man who is only ten years younger than him, but his interactions with Bruce have some semblance of emotion and character in them. He’s a little whiny and entitled, but in a way that made sense and seemed intentional. If this was the only movie the character appeared in, I’d probably put him in the neutral tier.
However, it’s not the only movie he’s in. I’ve already talked at length about the flaws on Batman and Robin in the previous two entries from it, so I’ll focus this one entirely on what’s wrong with Robin as a character specifically in this one. Any trace of warmth between him and Bruce from “Forever” is gone – in this movie, Robin completely acts like a petulant unappreciative brat in an over the top fashion. He whines about how he wants X or Y, how come he can’t do this, how come he can’t have this thing or that thing. Batman might as well have been partners with Veruca Salt. Dude, freaking BATMAN has invited you to go out and fight crime with him, why don’t you show some appreciation once in awhile? Needless to say, Robin also is involved in all the stupid action scenes and developments on top of that. And as a final point, how the hell is his small mask anything resembling a disguise?
Next up, the "Not Quite Putrid but Still Pretty Bad" tier continues.