Top 5: Worst Marvel Movies Ever

As most of us sit in the afterglow of watching Marvel’s The Avengers, take a little of that edge off with this list of movies that proves that while Marvel’s been knocking home runs recently, they’re far from perfect.

5. Howard The Duck (1986)

You could argue that Howard The Duck is as hard to film as it is to make a good comic judging by the comics that come out since Steve Gerber left his co-creation, but Howard The Duck failed in almost an unprecedented level. With George Lucas’ name attached in the heyday of Star Wars fandom, it instead became the writer/director’s first taste of failure. From the special effects for the duck costume itself to the droll plot and the uninspired acting, it racked up multiple Razzie nominations and torpedoed Howard The Duck comics for many.

 

4. The Punisher (1989)

Marvel have unsuccessfully attempted to mount a successful Punisher movie on four occasions, but the biggest misfire of them all was the first. In the trailing end of the 80s, Dolph Lundgren was a promising star after his role in Rocky IV but he was far from ideal to take on the role of Frank Castle, even in the heyday of 80s action star movies. The film was so bad that the studio at the time pulled the film from a theatrical release in the  U.S. at the last minute, shuffling it off to the VHS market.

 

3. Captain America (1990)

20+ years before Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel pulled together B-movie director Albert Pyun (Cyborg) and the son of reclusive author J.D. Salinger (The Catcher In The Rye) to make a Captain America movie. Quite a pairing. What came out was a disjointed jingoistic Captain America film that the studio actively buried for years before leaking it out in order to make some of the $10 million dollars they spent on it.

 

2. The Fantastic Four (1994)

This movie was doomed from the start for one of the most zany reasons ever, worthy of a movie of its own. Back in the 80s, a film company named Constantin Film bought the movie rights to the FF with a option that they lose them if they didn’t make a movie. Time flew, and well, no movie was made and in the last months of their contract the studio did a lowest-of-the-low-budget rendition of the FF not for release, but just to keep their movie rights ownership alive. Enlisting campy b-movie maven Roger Corman, they enlisted a lackluster staff both in front of the camera and behind it. Finished just before Constantin’s rights were to expire, they sat on the film and never “officially” released it. Imagine you and your friends filming a fan version of Fantastic Four, and well, I’d rather watch your movie than this.

 

1. Dr. Strange (1978)

Proving that it’s easy for a mustache to go from cool to creepy, this late 70s starred bit-TV actor Peter Hooten and his bushy mustache against some ill-advised special effects monstrosities.  This is like a Will Ferrell movie played seriously, but not in a good way. It was intended to be the pilot for a television series, but thankfully they pulled the plug on that quick.

 

Comments

  1. I loved when John Holmes played Dr. Strange! It molded my early teen years.

    the Tiki

  2. Punisher not that bad

  3. The Dolph-Punisher movie, while not a very good movie (comic book or otherwise), is still a lot of fun. Punisher: War Zone, though…

    • War Zone is the second worst movie I’ve ever seen and deserves to be on this list

    • Agreed. The Dolph-Punisher flick was not too terrible for that time…I felt it was at least enjoyable. I absolutely LOVED the Thomas Jane Punisher…but War Zone??? Come on…that needs to be on this list.

  4. All I remember from the Dolph Lundgren Punisher were those little throwing knives with the skulls on the grommet. I was about ten when I watched it still thought it was lame then.

  5. I enjoy 1989’s The Punisher but only because it’s so bad it’s good.

  6. howard the duck is a classic and was very popular at the time of it’s release.
    one of the worst marvel movies? are you crazy?
    where the hell is elektra?

    • Chris Arrant Chris Arrant (@chrisarrant) says:

      “Very popular”? It bombed at the box office, and the actors reportedly had a hard time finding work after the movie (see RELEASING THE DUCK documentary).

    • @Chris That’s the kind of documentary I enjoy! Thanks for the heads up!

    • cult classic all the same and still popular among many people. like army of darkness.
      but still, elektra?

    • @sitara119 I kinda liked the villains in Elektra – seemed like they stepped right out of Ninja Scroll. The movie was pretty poor, though.

    • I agree with @mickmac, the villains helped to make Elektra watchable. Daredevil however…that could be on this list. And honestly I might replace Howard the Duck with Spiderman 3. @sitara is right, even though The Duck bombed mightily and ruined careers, it has attained cult status. Spiderman 3 however is just bad. I have tried on at least 3 occasions to sit down and watch that movie and I have not once been able to make it through. At least Howard the Duck is good for a few laughs after you’ve had too many beers…

    • @mickmac
      love ninja scroll(weird and excessive rape aside).
      but, yeah. elektra is the worst movie ever. pick any genre.

    • It’s definitely a cult classic now, as is Lundgren’s Punisher, but it certainly wasn’t anything near being “very popular at the time of its release.” It didn’t even do well on the video market, unlike Army of Darkness, because it didn’t get to a sell-thru price until years later and didn’t even come out on DVD until a couple of years ago. It made what it made based off of rentals, and gained its notoriety as a cable re-run staple.

      Although I have to disagree with Chris’ commentary on the Duck outfit’s special effects. They were quite advanced for its time. In fact, everyone raved about pretty much the same use of animatronics in the live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film made a few years later.

      The real problem with the Howard the Duck film is the script and pacing. The first and third acts actually move, and the entire middle section drags on with sequences that have boring (and unfunny) dialogue. Lots of films have that pacing problem, but in HtD’s case, The well paced two-thirds of the acts actually take up less than half of the running time, so the slower scenes move all that much slower.

    • Yeah, I feel like a lot of the more modern movies (your Elektra, Spidey 3) get eliminated from the Top 5 for at the very least being technically competent. At least they look like anybody tried at all, at any point in the production. No so for these stinkers (Lea Thompson notwithstanding. She can do no wrong).

    • I guess I see your point about production value but I don’t really agree with it. In both Elektra and Spidey 3 the acting, dialogue, and plot are terrible. I’m not giving them a pass just because special effects technology has come a long way since the late 80’s.

    • @Sitara119 Whoa Whoa Whoa! Elektra? Worst Movie Ever? In any Genre? I don’t even need to stray from Comic Movies to debunk that.

      Batman And Robin. Never Forget.

    • @
      you can’t debunk my subjective opinion. knock yourself out, though.
      elektra is a piece of dog shit. Worst Movie Ever.
      batman and robin is also a piece of shit. not as bad as elektra.

      and howard the duck isn’t star wars and it’s not winning any oscars, but i remember a lot of people liking and still liking howard the duck. special effects were awesome, especially for that time. there was almost a sex scene between the duck and the chick(haha). it was funny and damn near everyone has heard of the howard the duck movie, even my 13 yr old nieces have heard of it despite never having watched it. because it’s a popular film. then and now. well liked OR well-known = popular. just ask webster.

    • *@cam*

    • @sitara119; ‘Well known’ also=’notorious’. Which would be the opposite of popular. In this case it is clear that popular must mean both well known and well liked. Howard the Duck succeeds at the first criteria, but fails the second. Just ask logic.

    • but i didn’t say notorious. i said popular. no one likes notorious by definition.
      notorious = unfavorably known. a lot of people like howard the duck. to be honest, i’ve never heard so many people bash it before today. but that’s only a hand full. but there’s also a lot of favorable opinions of the movie on this page, too.
      logic said they’re a lil’ unclear on what you’re trying to say exactly.
      i’m sure you mean well, i just don’t really understand what your point is. are you saying you don’t like howard the duck? are you saying not enough people like it to be considered “popular”?
      i find it to be a noteworthy piece of “pop” culture.
      i don’t really understand why we’re debating what I meant in MY post.
      i don’t think howard the duck should be on this list. but it’s not MY list, so ya know,,, fuck me.

    • I’m with you on this one sitara119. Howard the Duck was great fun for it’s time and I still laugh at the movie till this day. Also I still love the Lea Thompson in bed scene. You know what I’m taking about… lol. I would so put the new Ghost Rider on the list. Wow that movie is awful.

    • Okay if we’re throwing in DC movies then I’m saying both Batman & Robin and Green Lantern are worse than Elektra.

    • well, i know i’m going to catch a lil’ shit for this one, but fuck it(HA! I said butfuckit), i like green lantern. it’s not fucking fantastic like avengers or dark knight, but i’d give it 3 outa 5stars. it’s definitely not worse than the fantastic 4 movies, which were…ok. almost good. 2stars. very average.

    • I think my thing with both FF and Green Lantern is I wanted so much more from them. They are probably the two heaviest sci fi mainstream comics and in FF there is almost no sci fi. Even in the sequel it was pretty light. And I thought Green Lantern just fell flat in the action sequences. I liked Ryan Reynolds as Hal but overall I thought the movie was just boring.

  7. I haven’t seen Howard the Duck in a long time, but I thought it was fun in a cheesy way. Definitely not as bad as, say, the Reb Brown Captain America movies, or The Incredible Hulk Returns.

    • Also: Has anyone here seen that direct-to-DVD Man-Thing movie from 2005? Is it as horrible as I think it is?

    • Not only have I seen the direct-to-DVD Man-Thing movie, I OWN a copy! Hehe…found it at a grocery store for like 5 bucks and picked it up. And for the money, it was pretty enjoyable.

  8. That Dr Strange movie still haunts me, & not in a good way. Brrrrr.

  9. i remember seeing stills from that Fantastic Four movie in Wizard back in the 90s and thinking, oh man that looks like a poop sandwich. It wasn’t until later that i read that licensing story that it all made sense.

    Howard the Duck has its moments, but yeah it was a pretty awful movie.

    Everything about that Dr. Strange cover…..including that typography is just so wonderfully awful. Will Ferrell as Dr. Strange (or any superhero) would be incredibly awesome for purely ridiculous reasons.

  10. Fantastic Four?? Really? I rather enjoyed it.

  11. I had a small connection to that FF movie. (which paid off in actually getting to see it at a private screening. The joy.) a couple of interesting facts (from my fuzzy memory)

    Director Chris Columbus and Fox were interested in making an FF movie, and paid (the ransom) Constantin to not release it at the last minute. Constantin took the bluff as far as scheduling a world premiere at the Mall Of America. I don’t think the actors were in on it, because they did pre-release comic shop appearances and acted enthusiastic about the movie.

    Also, approximately half of the $5 mil budget was spent on one single special effect shot. The Human Torch ignition and flight scene.

  12. I always thought that The Phantom was cool, but everyone else I mention the movie to cringes. So The Phantom might be a candidate.

  13. Re: Fantastic Four – enjoy!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_X5C6e3ZeY

  14. …..& if you’re feeling really brave:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RS9wi0xdd0

    You’re welcome.

  15. I have to disagree with #1. It was actually a great movie for its time. Take it off and replace it with Nick Fury – Agent of Shield .

  16. Mickey Mickey (@GeeksOfChrist) says:

    Fantastic Four 1994 is good! It’s not Batman 89 good, but for pre X-men superhero movies? It’s pretty stinking good.

    The cast is much better suited to the characters than any of the bi-budget cast. And their treatment of Doctor Doom is also much cooler.

    The effects are reasonably crummy – but still, I’d rather have practical effects from 94 done with heart than cgi crud from 04 done for a massive toy commercial.

  17. Great list, but how ’bout another?
    Top 5 Worst Marvel Movies That We Secretly Kinda Like?

    5: The Punisher (Tom Jane flavor)
    4: Wolverine: The Search for the Jacket
    3: Daredevil
    2: Ghost Rider (So bad it’s genius)
    1: Both Fantastic Four movies (Tim Story style, obviously)

  18. The Generation X movie was pretty horrid, too.

    The thing that always makes me sad about that old FF movie was that I distinctly remember Stan Lee gushing about it in one of his Bullpen Bulletins, during production. I’m guessing Marvel didn’t know what was going on with that thing either until it was too late.

    • THANK you! I was starting to think I was the only one who remembered that Gen X movie! I made a point of watching it as I was a fan of the comic. There were some, shall we say, slight deviations from the comic. For example, the comic was enjoyable.

  19. Howard the Duck!?!? As a 4 year old I freakin’ loved Howard the Duck!

  20. 1. Howard The Duck. Saw it for the first time since…it was released on VHS? After sitting through many crappy low budget made-for-kids films (not by choice) Howard the Duck is fresh air. It’s context, people. Plus, Jeffery Jones steals the show.

    2. Captain America. The best thing about the film is the sound effect the shield makes slamming into the head of the Red Skull’s daughter. KLANG!

    3. The Punisher. The best of the three existing films. Why? It knows what it wants to be — a B-level shoot ’em up while the Thomas Jane film flip-flops tone jumping between near slapstick comedy to grim violence. And War Zone…. ugh… doing the same thing. At least Thomas Jane’s Punisher was a fun shoot ‘en up.

    As far as story goes, the 80s film explores what the two modern films don’t — why does Frank Castle continue killing — which is far more interesting subject matter than revenge.

  21. Only thing I got out the Captain America movie was a love to Captain America. Thank God they finally did him justice.

  22. How is the Nick Fury movie with David Hasselhoff not on this list, Also Ghost Rider, and Spiderman 3 for having the worse Venom and casting the worse possible actor to play Eddy Brock

  23. I saw Captain America last summer….i think Sci Fi or somebody was airing it around the time the new Cap came out. Man that movie was pure cheese..but Cap did have a nifty motorbike!

  24. I’m guessing 3 Dev Adam doesn’t qualify as it wasn’t an official Marvel movie?

  25. I’m guessing the people saying ‘Spider-Man 3’, ‘Ghost Rider’, and the like, haven’t really seen the horrid films on this list. They also aren’t aware how bad we children of the 70’s had it when it came to Marvel films. Having said that, the Reb Brown Captain America films deserve a mention. I remember being so disappointed with them. ‘Spider-Man 3’ or ‘Ghost Rider’ would have been seen as masterpieces simply for the fact they were remotely like the comics I read. Marvel movies and TV in the 70’s shared a name and that was about it…

  26. I kind of have a problem with putting direct to video movies in the same category as those that were theatrically released.

    The fact that they didn’t make it to the box office automatically tells you that there’s something wrong with the product. The fish are in the barrel.

    Howard the Duck is the only Marvel property to ever win a Razzie for worst picture. It’s also the only Marvel film property to be nominated.

    Sadly DC film properties have not been as lucky with Batman & Robin and Catwoman (winner) both getting nomination for worst picture of their respective years.

    Other comic book movies nominated for worst picture Razzies – Son of the Mask and Barb Wire.

  27. That Fantastic Four poster, minus the awful tagline, is great.

    • I totally agree. The logo is awful too, all the text is, but the image is pretty badass. Like they’re coming to fuck shit up.

  28. While it certainly wasn’t a very good movie, I don’t think the Lundgren Punisher was as bad as the 4th worst Marvel movie ever.

  29. You remember when Conor gave us the entire JLA pilot on the site one day? Well how about we find that Doctor Strange movie as well….Cause I wanna see it with my friends and laugh at it.

    If I had to make a top 5 I would put:

    5) Nick Fury (I know it’s The Hoff but….god it’s a piece of shit)
    4) X-Men: Wolverine Origins
    3) Spider-Man 3
    2) Elektra
    1) Howard the Duck

  30. Malory Archer (actress Jessica Walters ) was in the Doctor Strange movie/TV pilot? I’m sure that’s not on her resume. Maybe she could petition IMDB to pull it off of her filmography.

    Certainly an amusing list. The Justice League of America TV pilot could be heaped in with these, although I think the focus is on movies.

  31. Two words: duck boobs

  32. I don’t know about worst film but worst ever casting of a character has to be Hasselhoff as Nick Fury. It made me angry and sad in equal measure. Dolph Punisher disappointed even in the 80s and we were used to these films being jokes, the look promised a lot but then the film, as he mumbled his way through it and no skull, what were they thinking. War Zone is saved as they cast the best Punisher and the rocket launcher getting the free runner guy. Other than that, terrible. the 70s see through shield captain america was awful too. It’s why the current era of these films feels like a dream, oh how we have suffered.

  33. See, children? You don’t even know how bad bad can be. Hug that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

  34. Corman’s Fantastic Four was better than the shitty Fox movie.

  35. Spider-Man 3 was the worst when you think about how much money went into it. It was such a big let down too, the trailer was good and Venom was in it, should of been awesome but it put me to sleep in the theater.

    I remember Howard the Duck getting laughs when I watched it with my buddie’s family back in the 6th grade and Dolph’s Punisher kept me entertaind when I watch it on HBO back in the 80’s but the other movies on iFanboy’s top five look bad, but almost should not count as movies, they were never really released so I call bullshit on the list, sorry.

    Elektra, Nick Fury, DareDevil, War Zone, Fantastic Four, Spirit of Vengeance, Rise of the Silver Surfer, X men Last Stand & HULK, now those are what comes to mind when I hear worst Marvel movies.

  36. dr. strange just looks like a freaky porn movie cover

  37. What about Mutant X? There was a Marvel comic book by that name starring Alex Summers. Does the name connection make it count? Or does it not count cuz it’s a TV show.

  38. Loved the ’89 Punisher, best Punisher movie I have seen…

  39. is there a link for worst comic book movies or worst dc movie? what about the superman movie where superman stalks his baby mama with xray vision. that would be in my top ten worst dc movies.

  40. Daredevil would be #1 on this list for me, especially since Daredevil is so near and dear to my heart. For all the flack the Joel Schumakerrr (I can’t spell that) Batman movies get, DD is a much bigger travesty, and it’s the only shot he’s gotten.

    And, well, Dolph’s Punisher sits proudly on my DVD shelf.

  41. I have heard, potentially from Bendis in an interview, that the Director’s Cut of Daredevil is significantly better. Can anyone clarify whether that is true?

  42. I didn’t even know about that Dr Strange thing, but now I have a burning desire to see it! (I happen to like bad movies, I was a Mistie before they were even doing it!)
    But a couple of these feel like cheats since they were not even made to be seen (the Corman FF4 for instance)
    I would have liked to see some of the other more recent terribad marvel films up there, like say Elecktra, or Daredevil, or Ang Lee’s Hulk, or even Rise of the Silver Surfer. I mean… Galactus is a big cloud? Can you say “we ran out of money?”
    And where the hell is Wolverine: Origins? That was a train wreck!
    Movies can be so bad they are good (like Batman and Robin and Howard the Duck fall into this category, also known as camp) and then there’s Wolverine: Origins. Trying really hard to be good, but failing hard.

  43. Dr. Strange was actually really good for the time and was a TV movie to boot. Saw it recently and it was fun – great score, and MUCH better than the Captain America TV movies that came out around the same time, if you want to get technical about it