Hollywood has been churning out a steady stream of superhero movies over the last decade. The reason is clear: These films perform extraordinarily well at the box office, grossing millions of dollars domestically and billions abroad.
Not every movie featuring spandex-clad heroes and comic book villains results in box office gold, however. 24/7 Wall St. has determined the 30 worst superhero movies by creating an index based on user ratings from the Internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes. Even if they were crafted in pursuit of critical success, these films have become the equivalent of studio kryptonite.
The superhero movies created in the last decade have generally been commercially successful. For example, seven of the 25 highest-earning films of all time – ranked by worldwide gross – are superhero movies, and every one of them was produced in the last seven years. These films generally have extraordinary budgets, access to technology that was not available in the past, and appeal to markets across the world. By contrast, of the 30 worst superhero films, just four debuted then, while 12 of them hail from the 1990s and five from the 1980s.
While some films on our list of this genre’s worst revolved around stalwarts – witness “Superman III,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III” and “Batman & Robin” – many more trot out lesser-known characters, who have failed to capture audiences’ imaginations. Such titles include “The Shadow,” “The Phantom” and “Steel,” which stars none other than NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.
In addition to drawing dismal reviews from critics and the public at large, many of the films on our list performed exceptionally poorly at the box office. “Steel” grossed less than $2 million in the U.S. “Blankman,” the film on our list with the second-lowest gross, collected only $7.9 million domestically. Some of the higher-earners have been virtual flops in domestic box office: Director M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender” grossed just a tad more than $131 million in the U.S., a meager haul considering its $150 million budget, per IMDb figures. It did earn the rest of its production budget back on the global market, however.
To be considered for this ranking, a film had to have picked up at least 10,000 user ratings combined from IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes and 10 Tomatometer critic reviews along with an action classification from IMDb. Our index tallied an average for each film using its average audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes and average user rating on the Internet Movie Database, all weighted by the number of votes. We then averaged the combined user score with the film’s Rotten Tomatoes’ average critic rating. The box office data, taken from IMDb, has not been adjusted for inflation.