20 Comic Book Films You Should Die Before You See

Constantine: Hell on Earth in more than one way.

Constantine Hell
Warner Bros.

For twenty years between Richard Donner’s Superman and Stephen Norrington’s Blade, if you wanted to see a comic book movie you had to contend with films whose quality varied from fair through awful to 1990’s Captain America.

Kudos to the Mighty Marvel team, then, for consistently supplying some of the most lavish and entertaining superhero movies of the last few years, and even though they have occasionally failed to live up their own standards (Man Thing, anyone?), there are far worse pictures out there.

There are pictures that, if not assembled by crackheads and cretins, appear to be slapped together by businessmen with no storytelling instincts and one eye on the bottom line. Bland, soulless and lacking in energy, their attempts at cashing in on the comic book craze smack of laziness and desperation.

Filmmakers you would never expect (or want) to see tackle a big bucks popcorn movie are handed $150 million to do just that, while the people who should be filling their shoes (Tim Burton, James Cameron etc) for one reason or another just didn’t work out.

Here’s 20 of the worst offenders; movies that smack of focus groups, test screenings and the pursuit of the lowest common denominator.  

20. The Phantom

Constantine Hell
Paramount Pictures

Lee Falk’s comic strip hero becomes an Indiana Jones wannabe in this big bucks adaptation that was neither well cast, well-staged nor particularly exciting.

A movie guaranteed to leave you thinking, “What else is on?”, The Phantom would dearly love to be mentioned in the same breath as The Rocketeer and Dick Tracy, but it’s too lead-footed even to get away with being dumb escapist fun. 

And worse, it gave Catherine Zeta Jones an early Hollywood gig. 

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Ian Watson is the author of 'Midnight Movie Madness', a 600+ page guide to "bad" movies from 'Reefer Madness' to 'Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead.'