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When comic book movies go bad: Ten of the worst page-to-screen characters

February 13th, 2016 by Matt Gault Comments

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Since the release of Iron Man in 2008, Marvel Studios has handled some of the comic book empire’s greatest characters in a thrilling and respectable manner. DC have done the same and we’re hoping that the likes of Wonder Woman, Aquaman and The Flash are skilfully brought to life by Zack Snyder but they have also destroyed some of the most memorable comic book characters. It’s a regular pitfall of the movies.

Sometimes, it’s just difficult to translate the nuances of the character from the page to the screen. Here’s 10 Marvel and DC characters that have been completely ruined by the movies.

10. Ronan the Accuser

Ronan the Accuser

Marvel has a villain problem. They need to accept that. In fact, they have – that’s why they’re having Captain America fight Iron Man instead of placing a definitive villain in the film. Ronan the Accuser was an enormous blunder in the otherwise excellent Guardians of the Galaxy. In the comics through the years, Ronan has had serious emotional depth and complexity. He had both good and bad in him. The film? Oh, he’s just a cold-blooded cosmic psychopath who wants to kill everyone and everything. Ronan gave the Guardians something to go up against and that’s it, his purpose was thin on the ground and he is as forgettable as they come.

9. Whiplash

Whiplash

Mickey Rourke has never shied away from garbaging the films he’s in and Iron Man was no different. Rourke appeared as Whiplash and he was terribly written. Rourke ended up saying that some of his ideas for the character were rejected and he ended up starring in a ‘mindless comic book movie with a one-dimensional villain.’ Whiplash had been a recurring powerful foe for Tony Stark in the Iron Man comics since the late 60s but Anton Vanko, the Marvel Cinematic Universe version, was just poorly written and, to quote Rourke, somewhat mindless. It was probably the biggest misstep in the Iron Man trilogy.

8. Mr. Freeze

Mr Freeze

Mr Freeze is an excellent supervillain in the DC comics and is one of Batman’s most enduring enemies. However, Joel Schumacher signed off on casting Arnold Schwarzenegger in the disastrous Batman & Robin in 1997 and he actually used cringeworthy puns like ‘ice to see you.’ Who thought that was a good idea!? Now, twenty years later, the character has been given a new lease of life and is part of the villain-tacular Gotham season 2. Even if they don’t make him great there’s no chance of screwing it up quite like Arnie.

7. Robin

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 15.04.10

Oh look, another character from DC Batman & Robin managed to shoehorn into George Clooney’s nipple-popping adventure. This was just bad. Lacking pretty much everything that made Dick Grayson a memorable sidekick in the comics, Chris O’Donnell’s movie version was corny, depthless and wooden. He rebelled against Batman like he was just some wayward kid. There are rumours that Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Justice League will introduce Nightwing in some shape or form and we can only hope for a more faithful, nuanced portrayal.

6. Green Lantern

Green Lantern

Ryan Reynolds wants to play Deadpool for the rest of his life, but he wants everyone to forget about Green Lantern. Reynolds himself was actually decent as Green Lantern, but the movie was an utter car crash. Green Lantern, in taking Hal Jordan, inducting him into the Green Lantern Corps and somehow managing to wipe out a powerful villain with relative ease, completely squandered years of comic book mythology and sabotaged any chances of a potential franchise. There is still hope for Green Lantern in the DC Extended Universe, but they will have to contend with making everyone forget about this film while creating their own credible character.

5. Constantine

Constantine

Keanu Reeves played Constantine as a bland and forgettable character. Well, it is Reeves after all. Perhaps Keanu can be held accountable for the Constantine series’ poor ratings and subsequent cancellation. Undoubtedly, the movie’s version of John Constantine blew. There were rumblings that DC were eyeing up Colin Farrell to play the character for Justice League Dark so there is considerable potential for a revival.

4. Catwoman

Catwoman

Female-led superhero movies haven’t had the easiest of histories and, for the last 10 years, Halle Berry’s Catwoman goes a long way in explaining why Marvel and DC Studios have been highly reluctant to greenlight. We’ve seen two different iterations of Selina Kyle in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, but Warner Bros. decided to discard that character and create Patience Phillips. Their bizarre and massively misguided diversion from an established and respected character was an enormous error. Berry credits it to almost ruining her career and it’s hard to argue with her.

3. Jonah Hex

Jonah Hex

As recently as this week, Josh Brolin admitted that he hated the Jonah Hex film that featured him in the titular role. The experience of making it — that would have been a better movie based on what we did. As opposed to what ended up happening to it, which is going back and reshooting 66 pages in 12 days”, he told Nerdist. It’s clear that everyone involved with that film wants to extinguish it from their memory. At 81 minutes long, Jonah Hex did not do the character justice, coming off as something incredibly rushed and unfocused. Luckily, a new Hex has been cast for The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow so there is a chance we can all soon forget about Brolin trying to do the best with some seriously flimsy material.

2. Venom

Venom

Let’s get this straight; Venom is the most popular and terrifying Spider-Man villain of all time. When Sam Raimi confirmed he was bringing the popular character to the screen for Spider-Man 3, there was an incredible amount of excitement. However, Topher Grace’s casting as Eddie Brock was a mistake – despite him being a damn fine actor – and Venom came off as something of a plot distraction stuffed into all the other head-spinning arcs in Spider-Man 3. Venom is a character the demands and deserves perhaps his own movie, or at least an arc spread over a period of time. In Spider-Man 3, it was rushed and then ruined and a huge opportunity missed.

1. Doctor Doom

Doctor Doom

Both attempts at bringing Fantastic Four to the screen failed and both attempts to portray Doctor Doom as the iconic and ingenious bad guy he was in the comics also fell short. In either movie, Doom’s plans are never that clear or distinctive and both Julian McMahon and Toby Kebbell failed to effectively portray the megalomaniac behind the mask. Doom is the king of Latveria, as well as a powerful sorcerer and regularly ranks near the very top in lists of greatest comic book characters and villains, whereas he’s condemned to the bottom for cinema.

If you liked this, check out Squareeyed for similar lists

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Matt Gault is a sports writer and film fanatic. He is a fully-qualified journalist and has worked for BBCNI, Sunday Life and has been published on The Guardian's website. He interns at REDNI, sub-editing for the Belfast Telegraph. He studied at Queen's University pretending to like history and literature and then University of Ulster Coleraine, where he slacked off enormously for a year and somehow got away with it. He also enjoys Captain Morgans, The Sopranos, Led Zeppelin and Hunter S. Thompson which makes him a remarkably uninteresting person.

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