With Amazing Spider-Man 2 out this week and Captain America 2 still gracing cinemas, it seems there’s no end to the long-running splurge of superhero movies.
But while many have offered entertaining spectacle and thought-provoking plots, there are others Hollywood hopes you’ve long forgotten. From the shockingly silly to the disastrously disappointing, here are nine of the worst superhero movies ever made.
Captain America (1990)
Nope. Not the new all-singing, all-dancing blockbuster version. We’re talking about the unintentionally hilarious early ’90s flop – where the hero has dorky plastic wings on the side of his head, and looks like a fancy dress wearing student taking part in some absurd amateur spoof.
Boasting terrible effects, awkward stunts, jarring shifts in tone and laughably poor, charisma-free performances, it also packs one of the most ludicrous plots ever conceived for a superhero film (and that’s saying something). So bizarrely mis-judged, you’ll swear you hallucinated it.
Batman and Robin (1997)
The movie that killed a hit franchise – until Christopher Nolan brilliantly resurrected it of course – there’s so much wrong with this tacky, garish and preposterous car crash it’s almost impossible to know where to begin.
There are nipples on the Batsuit, the sets look like something out of a travelling funfair, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cheesy quips are just the tip of the wince-inducing iceberg (sorry). “You’re not sending me to the cooler!”
Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (2007)
The Fantastic Four were always a goofy proposition for the big screen, but this embarrassing sequel pushes the camp silliness way, way too far. Behold Mr Fantastic’s stretchy dance sequence! Watch as Sue Storm is caught outside in her pants!
Despite attempts to actually give the whole thing an emotional impact, the ludicrous action and zig-zagging tone make it impossible to connect with. The Silver Surfer – a dream team-up between Laurence Fishburne’s voice and the mighty Doug Jones – is its one saving grace.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
“I’m the juggernaut bitch!” Yes, that really is Vinnie Jones in a massive metal helmet, yelling abuse at Ellen Page while charging into walls. And it’s one of the least stupid things about this soul-crushingly disappointing conclusion to the original X-Men trilogy.
Key characters are unceremoniously killed off with little fanfare; there’s an earnest cheesiness to everything that renders potentially powerful moments – such as the Angel reveal – unwittingly funny; and then there’s the bloke with hedgehog powers. Yeah.
Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987)
The effects are terrible, the actors look like they don’t want to be there, and taxi-bothering villain Nuclear Man – whose voice is weirdly dubbed by Gene Hackman – may be the first comic book bad guy ever to have had a frontal lobotomy.
This widely derided sequel had a troubled production from start to finish, and boy does it show. Viewed now, it’s a ludicrously funny curiosity. At the time, it killed careers.
Before Superman IV there was Supergirl – in which Superman’s kid cousin travels to Earth to enroll at a private school, and battle an evil witch whose sole scheme is to seduce our hero’s love interest using a dastardly spell.
Yep, that’s right: the whole crux of the plot is two women fighting over some guy. A real hammer blow for gender equality in action films if there ever was one. Amazingly, the supporting cast includes Faye Dunaway as the villain and the late, great Peter O’Toole as a Kryptonian mentor. Bizarre.
The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
A film so naff it led Sean Connery to retire, and provided pretty cast-iron evidence for Alan Moore’s eternal cynicism about adaptations of his work. The whole thing descends into epic farce before your very eyes, complete with extremely dodgy effects, performances and outfits.
While the steampunk aesthetic is cool in theory, in practice it’s criminal how a movie that unites Dr Jekyll, Captain Nemo, Mina Harker and Allan Quatermain can fall so consistently flat. “I’m waiting to be impressed!”
The costume is absurd. The acting is abysmal. The whole thing looks like a lousy, cheap, made-for-TV effort. And Sharon Stone plays a dastardly cosmetics queen, whose skin cream has granted her super-powers. Sort of.
Don’t even get us started on the horrific watered-down rock music that accompanies the lame fight scenes. Halle Berry picked up a Razzie for her troubles but, let’s be fair, no one in this disaster of an action turd really stood a chance.
Three Giant Men (1973)
Brilliantly awful in a so-bad-its-good kind of way, this completely insane Turkish spin on American comic book heroes has understandably acquired an enthusiastic cult following.
Unrecognisable versions of El Santo and Captain America fight an inexplicably villainous Spider-Man – who sports an outfit Kick-Ass wouldn’t be seen dead in, attacks women in the shower, and stabs people with a flick-knife in battle. Known as 3 Dev Adam in its original title, it’s a mind-bending acid trip of a movie.