There was a time when Detective Comics (DC) comic book movies ruled the world (it still somewhat does in case of animation but their competitors are catching up fast). In the last ten years, it has gradually lost its footing to their main rival Marvel. It has not happened in a day or two; DC has constantly produced some of the worst movies of all time even when it was the only player in the field. All of them not only
failed the box office but also ruined a potential superhero movie franchise opportunity.
From the worst of the worst, we are talking about the movies which at least had a big budget, good marketing campaign and enough promotion to become a box office smash hit. We are not considering movies with smaller budget (like ‘Deadpool’, a huge hit with relatively low budget), lesser known themes (like ‘The Crow’, a decent hit with cult following) and not with unfamiliar Superheroes (like ‘Guardians of Galaxy’, which was a hit from Marvel). Unfortunately, DC could never pull off any kind of success or return in the box office (perhaps with the exceptions of ‘Watchman’ and ‘V for Vendetta’) with their gambles like other studios did quite often.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
First of all, there is ‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace’ which has killed the franchise for almost two decades, and we are talking about the most iconic and powerful superhero. It has an awful 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As if Superman III was not bad enough, there was another Superman sequel. What makes it more dreadful is the fact that the hero of the movie, Christopher Reeve had a big creative role in the film. The film is full of cheese and had a ridiculous plot; the villain was so bad that the fight scenes are barely watchable. It is so sad that this was Christopher Reeves’s last appearance on the silver screen before the unfortunate accident
Batman and Robin
Now, we have a movie which can actually top Superman IV on campiness and cheesiness. The last one killed the Superman franchise and this one did the same for Batman. It had too many villains (most of them wrongly depicted), an absolutely loathsome plot and some questionable acting. George Clooney (Batman) and Uma Thurman (Poison Ivy) came out unscathed from this movie as survivors but some were not that lucky. It had essentially ruined the career for Alicia Silverstone (Batgirl) and Chris O’Donnell (Robin). Both Director Joel Schumacher and George Clooney supposedly apologised for the movie to the fans.
This is a relatively new one. ‘Green Lantern’ had horrible CGI, a poorly written story and literally no ‘superpower’ to pull neither comic book fans nor general moviegoers to the theaters. It has a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is horrendous for a movie with a budget of about 200 million US Dollar. Hal Jordan/ Green Lantern has drawn comparisons from the other appalling depiction of Deadpool in the X-Men franchise, both acted by till then luckless Ryan Reynolds. It has just barely made a box office return, but probably that did not break even. The only good thing that came out of the movie is the relationship between Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively.
There has been many more abominable comic book movies from DC like ‘Catwoman’, ‘Steel’, ‘Superman III’ or even very recent ‘Suicide Squad’ or ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ (according to some of the fans and critics); but the three we discussed here basically killed movie franchises of two of the biggest superheroes of all time, Superman and Batman. And the other one (Green Lantern) literally pushed the formation of DC Extended Universe (DCEU) by five years. However, there must be light at the end of the tunnel for the DC fans as Wonder Woman probably has saved the DCEU after two hits and misses.