Ant-Man: The world’s most ridiculous superheroes
Warner Bros. has finally been releasing glimpses of the upcoming Aquaman, the follow-up to last year’s Justice League and the next inevitable disasterpiece to add to the growing list of DCEU train crashes. Featuring a smarmy Jason Momoa in glorious leather pants and surrounded by creatures of the deep, the poster has reminded us that not every superhero is a natural fit for the big screen.
The fact that Aquaman is being touted as anything other than a ridiculously campy, self-knowing underwater romp is beyond comprehension. Comic book writers and casting directors have tried their hardest to reimagine Aquaman as an ultra-surly, deep sea wanderer whose powers to – let us remind you – talk to fish are just as much a curse as a gift.
Unfortunately, the damage has already been done. Parodies like Robot Chicken have solidified the character as the butt of the Justice League’s jokes, and the most iconic depiction of the character to this day remains Rajesh Koothrappali’s outlandish Aquaman costume in that episode of The Big Bang Theory.
Den of Geek’s accompanying Aquaman cover has thankfully stifled some of our fears that the movie won’t be a glorious mess. Bursting with unwieldy helmets, giant crabs, and fish people, it has all the makings of a superhero flop. Mamoa’s portrayal of the character sadly still stinks of a chum bucket of insecure masculinity, grizzled lonerism, and bad tattoos, but hopefully his supporting cast won’t be taking the movie about a literal fishman so damn seriously.
A tone-setting trailer has to be just around the corner, so in anticipation of the latest DC mishap, we’re going to take a look at the stupidest superheroes to ever graced the big screen.
The Fantastic Four
Optimists amongst us still insist that the Fantastic Four still have the potential to be done right, but after three big misses, not even their rumored introduction into the MCU has us particularly interested. Their most recent outing, Fant4stic, bored us silly and somehow made Michael B. Jordan a drag to watch.
But it’s Tim Story’s Fantastic Four and Rise of the Silver Surfer where the real magic is. Featuring everything terrible about 00s movie-making, including rubbery special effects, painfully contrived drama, and Jessica Alba, it’s a miracle that two of these were allowed to be made.
Batman and Robin
There’s nothing inherently dumb about Batman mentoring a young, orphaned sidekick. The Lego Batman Movie managed it with heart and humor, and countless comics, games, and cartoons have treated the dynamic duo with effective sincerity.
However, any attempt to translate the pair into live action seems to be cursed with unintentional campiness. Batman v. Superman avoided the problem by killing Ben Affleck’s Robin off screen, but the 60s series and Joel Schumacher’s experiments with leather and neon have forever tarnished the good name of Dick Grayson, and practically ruined the career of 90s heartthrob Chris O’Donnell.
Warner Bros. has promised a return to the world of the Lanterns, but after its previous attempt, we’d much rather the ring stayed buried. In theory, Hal Jordan’s ex-pilot turned intergalactic protector with the power to conjure anything at will makes for a compelling blockbuster, but the 2011 film never got over its flimsy plot and pathetic special effects. At least the film gave the Deadpool series plenty of fodder to mock Ryan Reynolds.
Before Bryan Singer legitimized the superhero genre for the 21st Century with his X-Men series, the 90s were a dark time for comic book movies. Believe it or not, Batman and Robin wasn’t actually the worst superhero film released in 1997. That honor goes to Steel – an embarrassing attempt to turn basketball player Shaquille O’Neal into an action movie superstar. We don’t need to tell you that it didn’t work.
Like Steel, 2004’s Catwoman was a bizarre transformation of a DC villain into a heroic protagonist. Thankfully, Michelle Pfeiffer and Anne Hathaway’s portrayals of the character are iconic enough to not tarnish the character’s good name, but Halle Berry’s solo film is still a hilarious anomaly for Catwoman’s track record.
Apparently, Ghost Rider has finally been given his dues on the MCU spinoff series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but we’re still not really convinced that anyone is still watching that show. Instead, we’ll stick with Nicolas Cage screaming into the camera as his face warps and melts into a hideous CGI flaming skull.
Speaking of Nic Cage, if anyone has a deep-seated urge to see the master of over-acting play Batman, this is most likely the closest we’ll ever get. Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass is packed with bonkers wannabe superheroes, but none are quite as peculiar as Big Daddy – a delusional vigilante who has trained his daughter into a vicious killing machine. If any actor is able to pull off that kind of combination of comedic and scary, it’s Nicolas Cage.
By 2015, Marvel had its formulaic combination of self-aware humor and middle-of-the-road action set pieces down to a science, and with Guardians of the Galaxy becoming a surprise hit the previous year, taking on a superhero with the power to shrink, grow, and talk to ants was no biggie.
Ant-Man was by no means a highlight of the MCU, but it did well enough to earn itself a sequel. That said, the movie does stretch our willingness to take proceedings seriously a little thin, especially when it tries to garner sympathy for the death of a flying ant named Anthony.
So this movie probably arrived about ten years too late. Captain Underpants knows full well how dumb its premise is. Two comic book obsessed school friends find a magic ring that hypnotizes their cruel principal into stripping to his underwear and donning a red cape, believing himself to be a superhero of the kids’ own invention, Captain Underpants.
What’s really dumb about his first foray into feature filmmaking is that anyone who grew up reading Dav Pilkey’s iconic series of children’s books had to wait for their twenties to finally see them realized on the big screen.
The Mystery Men
What’s amazing about this film is that, despite featuring a superhero team comprised of characters such as the Blue Raja, The Spleen, Invisible Boy, and Casanova Frankenstein, Mystery Men still makes more sense than Suicide Squad.
Sharkboy and Lavagirl
After perfecting the spy genre with his Spy Kids trilogy, Robert Rodriguez turned his attention to superheroes with the iconic and ridiculous Sharkboy and Lavagirl. While Rodriguez’s Spy Kids films manage to just about balance cartoonish action and genuine heart, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D is just plain ugly through and through. Definitely worth watching for Taylor Lautner’s first taste of superstardom, even if it took him quite a while to recover.
Rocket and Groot
Two movies featuring a talking raccoon and a sentient tree almost managed to out-gross the first ever live-action appearance of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman in the same film. While you let that sink in, also consider that the same two films out-performed Justice League, and that two characters called Rocket and Groot are key players in a film that has earned over $2 billion. The 2010s are a very strange time.
Somehow a talking racoon is box office gold, but a movie about a dog becoming a superhero is a complete dud. You know – man’s best friend, the most beloved animal on the planet? Maybe Underdog 2 could capitalise on the recent influx of dog memes and become a surprise hit? If any studio execs are listening, Film Daily is happy to take your calls.