The much-hyped film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is scoring big at the box office, despite generally unfavorable reviews. It’s not the first time a seemingly can’t-miss superhero film has fizzled with critics. While many superhero movies have soared at the box office in recent years, even a mega-budget, all-star cast and great special effects don’t guarantee a film will be great. Remember Catwoman? Batman & Robin? We used critics’ and audience ratings from RottenTomatoes.com to compile the five worst superhero movies. We’ll date this from the 1989 Batman film starring Michael Keaton; that’s universally regarded as the forerunner to the superhero movie franchises we know today. We also stuck to major studio releases of mainstream superheroes, avoiding direct-to-video movies and obvious low-budget productions.
5. Fantastic Four (2005)
Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: Critics 27%; Audience 45%
Why it Bombed: Frankly, we were very surprised to see this film had done this poorly in critic and audience reviews; we remembered it as a fun, family friendly flick. Critics ripped it for a slow pace, poor acting and a bad script. The target audience, young males, surely loved watching Jessica Alba as Sue Storm; but there has to be more to a movie than that.
4. Green Lantern (2011)
Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: Critics 26%; Audience 45%
Why it Bombed: One of the more forgotten characters in the DC Comics universe, the Green Lantern finally hit the big screen with Ryan Reynolds in the title role. We’ll let the Rotten Tomatoes summary speak for itself: “Noisy, overproduced, and thinly written, Green Lantern squanders an impressive budget and decades of comics mythology.” Not what a studio expects from a big-budget ($200 million) film that barely breaks even at the box office. Warner Bros. is trying a reboot of the character in 2020 with the film Green Lantern Corps.
3. Batman & Robin (1997)
Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: Critics 11%; Audience 16%
Why it Bombed: Critics blasted the film for its campy tone and excessive reliance on special effects. Director Joel Schumacher blamed Warner Bros. for rushing the film and for suggesting he make it lighter and more family friendly. The movie has been mentioned by some critics as one of the worst films of all time.
2. Fantastic Four (2015)
Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: Critics 9%; Audience 19%
Why it Bombed: Critics savaged this film mercilessly, citing ridiculous dialogue, a bizarre plot and superficial characters. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone referred to it as, “the cinematic equivalent of malware.” It cleaned up at the Golden Raspberries that year, winning or sharing honors for worst director, worst picture and worst remake, among other categories. It’s not the first Fantastic Four film to bomb with critics (see No. 5 above). As Alex Leadbeater of WhatCulture.com writes, “Maybe it’s time to just accept that these characters will simply never work on film.”
1. Catwoman (2004)
Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: Critics 9% Audience 18%
Why it Bombed: Poor script, poor characterization, ridiculous scenes and a boring pace — this film had it all. Halle Berry won a Golden Raspberry award for worst actress, but most critics didn’t blame her for this mess. Berry actually accepted her award in person, telling the audience, “First of all, I want to thank Warner Brothers. Thank you for putting me in a piece of shit, God-awful movie … It was just what my career needed.”