Top 10 Comic Book Characters that Films Ruined
VOICE OVER: MW
WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
Written by Garrett Alden
These films got it all wrong. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Comic Book Characters that Movies Ruined.
For this list, we're examining the comic book characters that movies managed to botch, butcher, and make nearly unrecognizable – at least according to many critics and fans. Some spoilers are inbound, so duck and cover.
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These films got it all wrong. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Comic Book Characters that Movies Ruined.
For this list, we’re examining the comic book characters that movies managed to botch, butcher, and make nearly unrecognizable – at least according to many critics and fans. Some spoilers are inbound, so duck and cover.
#10: Lex Luthor
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016)
Lex Luthor is Superman’s cunning archenemy, a brilliant businessman, and a charismatic leader. The version in “Batman v Superman” is none of those things. While his plans are complex, they rely on plot convenience instead of explicit intelligence or planning. In addition, Jesse Eisenberg’s performance is eccentric and quirky, to put it mildly, and the actor, while undeniably talented, had many thinking he didn’t have the gravitas to carry the role. It’s not even that he’s a young actor; “Smallville” had an excellent young Luthor, played by Michael Rosenbaum, so it can be done. Eisenberg’s Luthor was found to be so bad by the general public that we wouldn’t be surprised that many wished he’d gotten the same treatment as Jimmy Olsen did in the film.
#9: Ghost Rider
“Ghost Rider” franchise (2007-11)
Ghost Rider is a demonically-powered, flaming-skulled, leather clad badass, whose motorcycling, flame-chain wielding, and general grittiness have made him a popular character for decades. Several characters have carried the mantle of Rider over the years, but the one depicted in the film series is Johnny Blaze, played by Nicolas Cage. Now, don’t get us wrong – watching Cage’s hammy, absurd overacting is always entertaining. However, it rarely makes for a good performance (or movie) and it isn’t true to Ghost Rider’s determined, revenge-driven persona. Meanwhile, the films themselves were given pretty subpar reviews too.
Speaking of antiheroes with demonic powers, Spawn proved to be another popular superhero granted unholy abilities by hell itself. The character’s film adaptation put something of a damper on that popularity, however. This was primarily due to the lack of characterization for the titular hero, who is not depicted very sympathetically, despite the skills of Michael Jai White. The direction and cheesy script were weren’t like by critics and marred the reputation of the beloved character in the eyes of the general public, making a sequel or reboot to correct the impression left by this version a difficult task.
#7: Judge Dredd
“Judge Dredd” (1995)
The title character of this comic adaptation is meant to be a gruff, no-nonsense cop/judge/jury/executioner. Unfortunately, this version featured a whole lot of nonsense, just like the film he appeared in. Sylvester Stallone’s scenery chewing performance would give Nic Cage a run for his money, and people thought the rest of the film was just as tacky and overblown. Unlike our last entry, this character did get a more worthy adaptation to cleanse the bad taste left behind by the ‘90s film, in the form of the exceptional “Dredd.”
“Iron Man 3” (2013)
The Mandarin is a powerful supervillain and scientist whose ten alien rings offer a wide range of supernatural abilities, making him an excellent contrast to the purely scientific Iron Man, his archenemy. “Iron Man 3” looked like it was going in a different direction with the character, making him into an enigmatic terrorist, which in itself might have been controversial. But instead, it’s revealed that the Mandarin is just a character being portrayed by an oblivious actor, with the man behind the scenes being someone completely different. Turning Iron Man’s biggest enemy into a joke and momentary misdirection outraged many comic fans, and we share their disappointment.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2014)
This electricity-powered villain is one of Spider-Man’s most enduring and formidable foes. The Electro shown in the second installment of “The Amazing Spider-Man” films is less than true to the source material, though. In the film, Max Dillon, the man who becomes Electro, is an awkward and nerdy engineer, whose obsession with Spider-Man had people calling him creepy even before he gets his powers. After gaining his abilities, Electro’s villainous activities have been compared more to a spurned tantrum than any kind of relatable motivation, and his threat level, as well as the character’s reputation, is tarnished because of it.
“Batman & Robin” (1997)
Very few characters in this film do any justice to their comic book counterparts, and while it was tempting to put Mr. Freeze or Poison Ivy on this list, Bane is the character that many feel was more shortchanged by comparison. In the comics, Bane is a genius tactician, granted impressive strength through a serum. In “Batman & Robin,” the villain is portrayed as nothing more than a dumb muscular henchman for Poison Ivy, whose intellect is as complex as his speech. Director Joel Schumacher took a formidable member of Batman’s rogues’ gallery and turned him into a grunting, moronic minion, in a move comic book fans would deem worthy of a real-life supervillain.
“Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” (2007)
This giant, man-shaped, planet-destroying wielder of the Power Cosmic is one of the Fantastic Four’s most fearsome foes and one of the heaviest hitters of the Marvel Comics multiverse. Galactus’ need to destroy planets to stay alive always made him a departure from the typical villain archetype. Even so, “Rise of the Silver Surfer” departed even further than that. Instead of a humanoid cosmic entity, Galactus is depicted as a destructive space cloud. While the comic book Galactus is akin to a force of nature in terms of how unstoppable he is, the film took away most of what made the character, well, a character, by removing his body and mind!
“Spider-Man 3” (2007)
The fusion of a semi-liquid alien symbiote and journalist Eddie Brock, Venom is another one of Spider-Man’s greatest villains and arguably his most iconic. In the comics, Eddie Brock is a guy with a hefty physique and a reckless attitude, making his eventual personality and appearance as Venom understandable. In “Spider-Man 3,” Eddie is depicted as a snarkier version of Peter Parker. While the parallels do emphasize that Peter could become like Venom if he continued wearing the symbiote suit, the fact that he became a jerk while wearing it already did that effectively, making Brock’s transformation into Venom untrue to the character and redundant to boot.
Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
“Batman Forever” (1995)
“X-Men: Apocalypse” (2016)
- Elektra Natchios
“Daredevil” (2003) & “Elektra” (2005)
“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (2009)
Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool, is a regenerating, fourth wall breaking, cheeky antihero and one of the most entertaining characters in Marvel Comics. Although “X-Men Origins” got the cheeky part right, and casting Ryan Reynolds was a good move, they got just about everything else wrong – if the negative reaction to the character is to be believed, at least. In the movie, Wilson is given a grab bag of other mutants’ powers, including teleportation and Cyclops’ eye beams, by the Weapon X program. To add injury to this insult, they even sewed his lips shut, muzzling the Merc with a Mouth. If there’s one consolation to this perceived travesty towards the character, it’s that it probably led to the much better version we got in 2016.