The 5 Most Awesomely Bad Comic Book Movies

#2. The Justice League (1997)


Speaking of movies no one cared about, this Justice League movie cast Charles Emerson Winchester III as the Martian Manhunter. That's like covering the smell of a fart with a skunk who is farting. Did that make sense? It will if you watch this movie. You could arguably spend some time trying to puzzle out whether he or Miguel Ferrer is the bigger star in this movie, and I suspect some of you will even spend time Googling both of these people because you've never heard of either of them and aren't even aware that Charles Emerson Winchester III was not a real person.

X-Men has a quick scene in which Wolverine makes fun of the idea of costumes and cracks a joke about yellow spandex, which is funny because, in the comics, Wolverine wears yellow spandex. Or something. They never really state that it's spandex, and I can't imagine Wolverine is going out and darning spandex for himself, but whatever it is, it's pretty form-fitting. Anyway, the valid point he makes is that, on film, you can't dress a character exactly like his comic book counterpart, otherwise you get that 1970s Spider-Man look, which is essentially a guy in footie pajamas. Or, for a little exotic erotic ball flair, the Justice League. Every hero in this movie looks like a fetish club reject. The Green Lantern may as well be breathing heavily and watching people whip each other. The Flash commands all the respect of an adult baby. Fire looks like a bored housewife who found a way to spice up her relationship with the mailman by pretending to be a fairy princess, and the Martian Manhunter looks like Frankenstein's first draft of the monster he came up with after a night of drinking absinthe and watching Igor shower.

David Livingston/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Google me yet? I'm a fuckin' hero!

The thing that puts Justice League above a merely terrible movie -- and let's be honest, this thing sucks like a Dyson -- is its insistence on trying to be cool and funny when it not only doesn't possess those qualities, but wouldn't be able to find those qualities if it mounted a million-dollar expedition into the mountains of CoolFunistan with highly trained Sherpa guides and a legendary map made by Bill Hicks himself.

The movie is constantly broken up by reality TV-esque interview scenes with the heroes as "normal" people, and for some reason they all live in the same Big Brother-style house and have wacky lives outside of their superhero lives because fuck you for wanting to watch this movie. However, appreciating it on that level kind of makes this movie awesome, because it's like no one at all involved in the movie had ever really heard of comic books before and they just decided it'd be cool to try to make this movie, in the same way you think it might be cool to eat a ghost pepper or watch the Octomom porno.

#1. Swamp Thing (1982)

People rag on Swamp Thing as a prime example of piss-poor comic book movies, but they should really go see the far suckier Man-Thing if they're interested in how to make an unfun, stool-laced polyp of a comic book movie that takes place in a swamp. Swamp Thing and, to a degree, it's awesome sequel, The Return of Swamp Thing, were pretty great for terrible movies that clearly no one involved cared about on even the most perfunctory level.

Swamp Thing was awesome for two reasons, only one of which is Adrienne Barbeau. That's a boob joke for you older folks. The other reason was the fact that the movie was mildly popular, but not popular enough. Follow along here, this shit gets deep.

DC Comics started up a new Swamp Thing comic to try to make some money off of the movie release, and it didn't work -- no one bought the thing. Eventually they pawned the title off on Alan Moore, deranged Englishman and creator of V for Vendetta, From Hell, and The Watchmen, to do with as he pleased. Swamp Thing became the first comic to ignore the Comic Code Authority and use ultra-violence and swears and boobies to increase its awesomeness. This is what made Alan Moore famous and allowed those other titles to be written, and that is arguably what allowed Frank Miller to do what he does in comics with things like Sin City and The Dark Knight Returns. The same for all the other Vertigo comic book writers who created actual art: They made real stories that are imaginative and well-written and awesome, and that is what inspired people to start making good comic book movies instead of shitty ones, and that is why we even entertain the idea of comic books being more than goofy stories for kids today. Because Swamp Thing was an OK movie that wasn't good enough to make people want to read his comic.

After writing this, I discovered that I am not the first person to hatch this theory, so kudos to other people out there who actually spend time watching Swamp Thing and pondering its greatness while also enjoying Adrienne Barbeau topless. Boobs!

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Felix Clay

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