Kicking Ass: The Best and Worst Comic Book Movies

Comically bad

Our next group of films should have stayed on the page, if the reviews are to be trusted.

The 10 Worst Comic Book Movies
Title Netflix Year Metascore Users
1 Virus 1999 19 6.1
It's based on: Virus Dark Horse Comics comic book written by Chuck Pfarrer and illustrated by Howard Cobb
This little-known comic book was adapted into a seldom-seen film in which a tugboat crew that includes the improbable cast of Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin, and Donald Sutherland boards a mysteriously abandoned Russian research vessel. The crew is then attacked by sentient mechanical creatures formed from parts of the ship that have been exposed to an alien virus. The film was a critical and commercial disaster, costing 75 million dollars to produce and only bringing in a little over 30 million dollars worldwide.
Budget: $75M Gross: $30.6M
2 Son of the Mask 2005 20 7.8
It's based on: Dark Horse Comics character based on a concept by Mike Richardson and written by John Arcudi and artist Doug Mahnke
The original The Mask turned lead Jim Carrey into a superstar and introduced the world to Cameron Diaz. Eleven years later came the sequel, featuring the odd pairing of Jamie Kennedy and Alan Cumming. Neither audiences nor critics warmed to the film, which bears little resemblance to the original outside of the concept of a transforming mask and a cameo from Ben Stein as Dr. Arthur Neuman.
Budget: $84M Gross: $57.6M
3 Catwoman 2004 27 3.8
It's based on: DC Comics character created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger for Batman
Academy Award winner Halle Berry may have used up one of her nine lives in this poorly executed take on Catwoman, a character from the Batman universe. In this new origin story, Berry plays mousy graphic designer Patience Phillips, who eventually turns into the titular vigilante heroine. The film is featured on many all-time “worst” lists and won several Golden Raspberry awards in 2005 for Worst Picture, Worst Actress, Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay. Meow!
Budget: $100M Gross: $82.1M
4 Batman & Robin 1997 28 2.1
It's based on: DC Comics characters created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson for Batman
“‘Ice’ to see you!” After besting the box office take of Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns with Batman Forever, Joel Schumacher replaced Val Kilmer with ER star George Clooney as Bruce Wayne/Batman, while Arnold Schwarzenegger played Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman vamped it up as Poison Ivy. Dutch angles, nippled costumes, and an overly colorful cartoonish look put a moratorium on the Batman franchise until Christopher Nolan’s 2005 reboot. 
Budget: $125M Gross: $238.2M
4 Whiteout 2009 28 4.9
It's based on: Whiteout comic book series written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Steve Lieber
Greg Rucka’s acclaimed suspenseful graphic novel about a U.S. Marshal investigating a murder in Antarctica was adapted into this little-seen and critically derided film. Kate Beckinsale played U.S. Deputy Marshal Carrie Stetko in this inert thriller, which, according to critics, was both dull and glacially paced.
Budget: $35M Gross: $17.8M
6 Superman IV: The Quest for Peace 1987 n/a n/a
It's based on: Superman DC Comics character created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster
After Superman III and Supergirl failed at the box office, producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind left the franchise, and the fourth film was produced by budget studio imprint Canon Films. The result was a cheaply made, overly comedic take on Superman that effectively killed the iconic franchise until Bryan Singer’s 2006 Superman Returns.
Budget: $17M Gross:
(U.S. only)
7 Howard the Duck 1986 n/a n/a
It's based on: Marvel Comics character created by writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik and featured in multiple series
George Lucas produced this infamous box-office disaster about an alien anthropomorphized duck who is transported to Cleveland, Ohio and befriends humans Lea Thompson and Tim Robbins. Critics couldn’t get over the concept of a talking duck, and his constant sexual advances on Thompson’s character and the film’s wildly inconsistent tone probably didn’t help either.
Budget: $37M Gross: $38.0M
8 Alien vs. Predator 2004 29 5.4
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem 2007 29 5.0
They're based on: The Alien and Predator feature film franchises and the resulting Dark Horse Comics crossover series
The shameless pairing of two franchises that had both run out of steam was a no-brainer for the studios but left critics seething. Most complained that the first AvP film was beleaguered by forgettable characters and riddled with horror movie clichés grafted onto a science-fiction premise. Accompanied by a third species -- a hybrid Alien/Predator creature known as a “Predalien" -- revealed in Alien vs. Predator's twist ending, the creatures invade a WB-network-like suburb in the 2007 sequel. Even though the second film wasn’t screened for critics, it still received scathing reviews, though it surprisingly made decent money worldwide. Both films have almost nothing to do with the Dark Horse comics outside of the basic idea of putting the two worlds together.
AvP Budget: $40M Gross: $172.5M
AvP Requiem Budget: $60M Gross: $128.9M
9 The Spirit 2008 30 4.4
It's based on: The Spirit DC Comics character created by writer and artist Will Eisner
Critically acclaimed comic-book writer Frank Miller’s much-professed love for Will Eisner’s noir detective comic The Spirit didn’t translate well to the screen in this unfocused and excessively violent stylistic copy of his and Robert Rodriguez’ cinematic adaptation of Miller’s graphic novel Sin City. Miller served as both writer and director of this adaptation, which was as critically drubbed as his screenplays for RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3.
Budget: $53M Gross: $39.0M
10 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze 1991 n/a n/a
It's based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mirage Studios comic book characters created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman
“Ninja, Ninja, rap, Ninja, Ninja, rap.” The mega-successful 1990 original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was followed by this sequel the following year, which featured both an ill-advised musical sequence fronted by then white-hot Vanilla Ice and a trend towards overly colorful kid-friendly material that strayed from Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s noirish and blood-speckled black-and-white comic creation.
Budget: $25M Gross:
(U.S. only)

The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). User scores represent an average of scores assigned by site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). Grosses represent worldwide box office receipts (rounded to the nearest 0.1 million) unless otherwise noted. All box office figures are from Box Office Mojo.

More heroes and villains

Which comic book movies didn't make the cut for our best and worst lists? Take a look below.

Even More Comic Book Movies
Title Year Metascore
Superman II198199
Why isn't this atop our 10 Best list? Most of the available reviews are not from the time of the original 1981 release, but were published years later -- meaning that it's not a fair comparison to the other high-scoring films.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army200878
Sin City200574
Road to Perdition200272
Superman Returns200672
Men in Black199771
Batman Begins200570
X2: X-Men United200368
Batman [1989]198966
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence200466
Mystery Men199965
V for Vendetta200662
Incredible Hulk, The200861
Spider-Man 3200759
X-Men: The Last Stand200658
Mask, The199456
Art School Confidential200654
From Hell200154
30 Days of Night200753
Blade II200252
Batman Forever199551
Ichi the Killer200350
Men in Black II200249
Josie and the Pussycats200147
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer200745
Dragonball Evolution200945
X-Men Origins: Wolverine200943
Barb Wire199640
Bulletproof Monk200340
Fantastic Four200540
Blade: Trinity200438
Ghost Rider200735
Punisher, The [2004]200433
Punisher: War Zone200830
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The200330
Additional films not in Metacritic's database:
Barbarella  1968 n/a
Batman [1966] 1966 n/a
Batman Returns 1992 n/a
Captain America 1990 n/a
The Crow: City of Angels 1996 n/a
Fritz the Cat 1972 n/a
Ghost in the Shell 1995 n/a
Heavy Metal 1981 n/a
Heavy Metal 2000 2000 n/a
Judge Dredd 1995 n/a
The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat 1974 n/a
The Punisher [1989] 1989 n/a
Red Sonja [1985] 1985 n/a
The Return of the Swamp Thing 1989 n/a
Richie Rich 1994 n/a
The Rocketeer 1991 n/a
Sheena 1984 n/a
Steel 1997 n/a
Supergirl 1984 n/a
Superman and the Mole Men 1951 n/a
Superman III 1983 n/a
Swamp Thing 1982 n/a
Tank Girl 1995 n/a
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1990 n/a
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III 1993 n/a
Weird Science 1985 n/a
Coming Later in 2010
Date Title / Based On
Apr. 23 The Losers
based on the Vertigo series The Losers
May 7 Iron Man 2
based on the Marvel Comics character
Jun. 18 Jonah Hex
based on the DC Comics character
Aug. 13 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
based on Bryan Lee O'Malley's series Scott Pilgrim

What do you think?

What are your favorite and least favorite comic book movies? Is there a comic you would like to see turned into a film? Let us know in the comments section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (41)

  • 120spaced  

    What? No Sin City??

  • Link  

    Woah woah woah. How is TMNT II on the worst list but not TMNT III????

  • 300  

    @Those who replied - Fair enough, it's based on a comic. Forgive me for knowing about history, rather than comic books.

  • Marko  

    The only thing I find really questionable is your inclusion of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 in the bottom ten list, because it was chosen to be in the bottom ten as opposed most of the others, which were based on their metascores. It's not a great film by any means, but do you really think that it's better than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III or any of the 30 range movies like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the Punisher films, or Spawn?

  • Daelin  

    What a crappy list. Where's Batman 1989? A History of Violence are you guys high?

  • Jah Rastafari  

    Christopher Nolan said he got most his ideas for The Dark Knight from The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb. I'd agree Watchmen was probably the most accurate comic book movie, If you watch the special features everyone was caring copies of Watchmen around with them while filming. Also Sin City was almost word for word on the dialouge and shots can't wait for Sin City 2

  • Keldon Sooper  

    I still really think Snyder's "Watchmen" is woefully under-appreciated. You got to give the guy credit for filming the un-filmable IMO...

  • The O  

    the amount of gross made says it all, the dark knight is by far the best comic book movie of all time

  • Jenova  

    Honestly, I was surpirsed at the rankings of 300 and Watchmen. Both were exceptionally well done films, and I personally think they should have been higher up. Watchmen especially. The only thing from the comics that was left out of the movie was the noise that Rorschach makes when he jumps out of the window. I also think that Dragon Ball Evolution was pure **** The movie strayed so far from the original comics. Goku in highschool? Seriously? The kid could barely read. I feel like I should mention this one since it was so popular. The Dark Knight. Not my favorite movie ever. I say this mostly because there was in fact, a Dark Knight comic book series by Frank Miller. I appologize to those who love the Dark Knight movie, but the Dark Knight comics were leagues greater than the movie. This being said, I'm positive that the Dark Knight comics and movie have no relation other than their name. I just happen to associate the two with the way my mind works. I'm also surprised X-Men Origins wasn't on the worst list. It was a horrible movie. Why do I say this? Because I read the book, and the movie failed in basing itself off the book. I'd say why, but it would be complete spoiler.

  • sab  

    Persepolis was horrible, seriously. I watch a lot of films, okay, and I wasn't coming into it thinking "oh my, cool, a cartoon based on a comic." I knew it was going to be a serious issue. However I think the critics came into it thinking "oh it's a cartoon but they're trying to respectfully tackle a serious issue not just talk about superheroes so it automatically deserves at least a 90." I think this rating is extremely inflated. Horrible film. Absolutely horrible.

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