During these years since the superhero genre has been skyrocketed to never seen before heights, Marvel has been a constant provider of characters, all of them coming from great source materials. But the end products, the movies which we got to see, didn’t all rise to the expectations.
Of course, we’ve had our share of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America movies, but on the other hand we have also had duds like the Fantastic four and the Punisher. And while some of these characters still have a chance of making it big on the silver screens, some other will forever lack a visionary director and the studio’s true grit (of course, in this case we are talking about Deadpool, a project who hasn’t been green light because the studio is still looking for a way to make it PG-13 and thus more appealing to the larger audiences).
These are our choices of the best Marvel superheroes that have been visiting the silver screens but to no success.
1. The Punisher
Marvel’s greatest antihero (well above even Deadpool), Punisher’s story has been translated into film for three times, each one of them failing in a way or another in delivering the character everybody loves.
Basically not a superhero but a vigilante, Punisher is after all the bad guys that have eluded somehow the flawed judicial system, dispensing justice just in one way and one way only. There is no other way around it, there is no parole, and there is only one sentence for those that have broken the law time and time again. And the Punisher always gets its mark, no matter what – he is so immovable in his decisions that there were times when he resorted to weapons of mass destruction in order to punish the criminals.
The Punisher has been portrayed on the big screens by three different actors (Dolph Lundgren in 1989, Thomas Jane in 2004, and Ray Stevenson in 2008) and while one of these movies is the better one, none of them actually presents a hero with whom the audiences could connect (and the better movie isn’t by far the 1989 one).
Along the way, we have seen Frank Castle pitted against enemies like the Yakuza (1989), Howard Saint (a character invented especially for the movie), and finally Jigsaw (in 2008, the only Marvel villain to appear in the movies, although in a much altered state).
So what went wrong? This time it was indeed the lack of faith in the source material and, in 2 of 3 cases, the needs of making the movie as children-friendly as possible (so to speak). While the Thomas Jane vehicle has some pretty intense and well shot sequences, and while the Ray Stevenson Punisher does inflict some serious damage to the criminals, none of these portrayals really deserve the title of Punisher. These are just acts of vigilantism, which could be made by any other fictional character. Frank Castle may be hidden somewhere – but we just can see him.
2. Ghost Rider
Previously called the Phantom Rider and the Night Rider, this hell of a biker is yet another antihero which the studios failed into bringing on the big screen – in a proper way, that is. The hero has seen the silver screen on two occasions (in 2006 and 2011) and each time he was portrayed by the one and only Nicholas Cage (who has proved with these movies, and the second one the most, how low he can get).
Both movies have been critically trashed by everyone, no matter if they were critics (who always tend to look at superhero movies with a wondering eye) or fans (if you are going to make a comic book movie, you can expect some backlash from these guys no matter how good the final product is). And when people cannot decide which movies is the worst, the studio backing them up needs to take a break and reconsider the entire franchise (and, thankfully, there is no word about a third part of the Nicholas Cage mess).
This time there were several other things that didn’t work as everybody wanted. While the fans got super-excited when seeing the first trailer (which featured the iconic flaming skull and chopper), they soon came to realise that the entire story was pure gibberish, that the CGI used was very ineffective on the long run (which means that it was eye-candy only for a couple of seconds) and very unequal throughout the entire movie (the same thing here – at times the special effects are quite good, and at times they are the worst), and that Nicholas Cage is no longer an actor but a monotonous and bored human being who does his job for a pay check, without feeling the need of exceling.
The both movies are equally bad, even if some people might say that the first movie’s Blackheart is better than the second one’s villain (do you remember who was the villain?).
The main impression is that these movies weren’t even supposed to be made – and not because the technology or the original content or the actors couldn’t be found at the time. These movies shouldn’t have been made because the studio’s main purpose was cashing in the new wave of superhero movies successes.
It is obvious that none of the Ghost Riders featured on film have managed to make us afraid for our souls – they did amuse us, but nothing more.
3. Fantastic Four
One of the greatest Marvel teams doesn’t make for one of the best comic book movies. The studio has had two chances of delivering the superhero movie everybody deserved, but ultimately they failed to do that, making us feel that they only tried to make some good cash – and they did earn some money after the release of the movies.
Mr Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and the Thing were all to campy for us, even if we are to consider that the Marvel properties have always been more fun than the DC ones. The awful lines didn’t help either, nor the lack of supporting characters (in the second part at least we get to see the iconic Galactus as being… a huge cloud).
So why would we care for the Fantastic Four?
Do you remember when the Silver Surfer was announced, or when we first heard him (voiced by Morpheus himself), how cool it was? And do you remember the negative impact it had the story in itself when we finally saw the movies?
As far as we are concerned, they should’ve went further with Doom, rather than bringing one of the most powerful beings in the Universe in the form of a rather big puff.
Luckily, the Fantastic Four franchise is being rebooted, with an all new cast, being set for release in 2015. And since a director makes weird casting choices when he actually has something in mind, we do hope that this new film will be miles away from the previous ones.
P.S.: Wasn’t Blade supposed to be on this list? Or, as a whole, the trilogy was a good one?