Brother Power the Geek (1968)
Dreamed up by Captain America co-creator Joe Simon, Brother Power was a mannequin dressed in hippie threads who was brought to life by a lightning strike. Published by DC, the Brother Power comic was clearly an attempt to cash in on the late-’60s groovy vibe. According to Simon, DC editor Mort Weisinger was appalled by the comic, which he claimed was ”all about the drug culture: hippies, drugs, and street people.” It was canceled after just two issues, the second of which featured Brother Power being shot into space by then governor of California, Ronald Reagan.
Legends of the Superheroes (1979)
In January 1979 NBC broadcast two execrable live-action specials under the umbrella title Legends of the Superheroes. The second show is a notably regrettable slice of TV, which finds Ed McMahon hosting a roast of the Justice League of America. Incredibly, the roasters include a black character called ”Ghetto Man.”
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
The fourth, and last, movie to star the late Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel was also the only one produced by schlock factory Cannon Films. In Reeve’s autobiography Still Me, the actor recalled the production was hampered by ”budget constraints and cutbacks in all departments. Cannon Films had nearly thirty projects in the works at the time, and Superman IV received no special consideration.” Reviews were harsh, with The Washington Post deeming it ”more sluggish than a funeral barge.” Ticket sales were almost as slow, and Clark Kent would not fly back onto the big screen until 2006’s Brandon Routh-starring Superman Returns.
Captain America (1990)
Captain America was originally destined for cinemas until someone realized it was a total hunk of junk. The film, which starred J.D. Salinger’s son Matt as the patriot-hero, eventually slunk out to video stores two years after its planned theatrical release. ”The shapeless blob of a plot pits Cap against his Marvel Comics foe, the Nazi Red Skull (Scott Paulin), now inexplicably Italian and mostly seen without a red skull,” wrote Entertainment Weekly reviewer Frank Lovece. ”They resume their battle in the 1990s when Cap awakens after decades in suspended animation. He should have stayed in bed.”
The Fantastic Four (1994)
The convoluted, shenanigans-filled history of the never-released Fantastic Four has become the stuff of Hollywood legend. Long story short: In 1992, German producer Bernd Eichinger was going to lose the movie rights to the Stan Lee-created quartet unless he started work on a film adaptation before the end of the year. So he approached schlockmeister Roger Corman to make a $1 million version. Eichinger has claimed that he intended to release the result, but ultimately he sold the movie to Marvel exec Avi Arad. Arad then sat on the film lest it devalue the franchise, much to the chagrin of the actors involved. In 2005, Corman told Los Angeles Magazine that The Fantastic Four was ”the strangest film production I’ve ever been involved with in my life.” Of course, this was before he made Sharktopus.
Tank Girl (1995)
Tank Girl was a hip, beloved-in-the-U.K. comic whose shaven-headed heroine drove a tank and had sex with her kangaroo boyfriend in a postapocalyptic Australia. Then it became a wretched big-budget Hollywood movie starring Lori Petty and Ice-T, which was hated by pretty much all who saw it. Tank Girl co-creator Jamie Hewlett would later describe the film’s L.A. premiere as ”the most humiliating experience of my life.”
Batman & Robin (1997)
Director Joel Schumacher made several tons of money for Warner Brothers with 1995’s Val Kilmer-starring Batman Forever. But his second Dark Knight movie would become the most maligned superhero film of all time. The list of fans’ complaints merely started with Schumacher’s decision to put nipples on the Batsuit. When the film’s star, George Clooney, was asked in 2007 to name the last time he cried at a movie, he replied, ”The premiere of Batman & Robin.”
Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1998)
Before there was Samuel L. Jackson there was David Hasselhoff? ‘Nuff said!
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Comics legend Alan Moore’s series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen — which featured a morally dubious gang of 19th-century superheroes, including the Invisible Man and Dr Jekyll and Mister Hyde — was hailed as an instant classic when it was first published in 1999. The subsequent, Sean Connery-starring film? Not so much. To make matters worse, Moore was made to testify in a plagiarism lawsuit brought by a screenwriter against the movie’s studio, Twentieth Century Fox. ”I was cross-examined for 10 hours,” Moore would later recall to British newspaper, The Independent on Sunday. ”I remember thinking that if I had raped and murdered a busful of retarded schoolchildren after selling them heroin, I probably wouldn’t have been cross-examined for that long.”
Halle Berry was paid $12.5 million to star in this infamously awful Batman semi-spin-off. The Oscar winner’s other reward was a Golden Raspberry trophy for worst actress, which Berry picked up in person. In her acceptance speech, she thanked Warner Brothers ”for putting me in a piece of s—, god-awful movie.”