03rd Sep2021

Not So Super – Marvel and DC’s biggest failures

by James Smith

Today, with beloved movies and shows such as The Avengers, Spiderman, WandaVision, The Dark Knight, Aquaman and Harley Quinn: The Animated Series, it’s hard to have anything overly negative to say about both Marvel and DC. However, despite both studios growing from strength to strength over the last decade or so there have been more plenty of failures along the way, and whilst they’re both incredibly keen to brush them under the carpet and consign them to history, we’re not.

Below you’ll find a collection of some of the biggest failures both of these historic entertainment giants have experienced in the last 40 years. These aren’t all of their major gaffes, but they’re certainly some of the most high-profile ones.

DC failure – Corporate pressure helped kill Superman 64

If you’re passionate about video games there’s absolutely no doubt that you’ve heard about the story of Superman 64, one of the worst, most broken video games to ever get released.

In 1997, small French game publishers Titus got their hands on the Superman license as there was very little interest in the IP at the time. The company had grand visions for an open world Nintendo 64 game that saw Superman fly anywhere, fight enemies and use all of his powers.

The game initially had a lot of hype around it, and people were genuinely excited for what was set to come. However, not long after the licensing agreement, an entirely new team took over the project at Warner Bros’ end, and strangely they did not like what Titus was planning.

This was partly down to the fact that Superman was enjoying an unexpected revival in popularity with young fans thanks to the release of Superman the Animated Series, and those in the new licensing team did not want to jeopardise this with a violent game.

Rather than help Titus create a wonderful game that celebrated the Man of Steel, they instead threw a spanner in the works, stating that Superman was not allowed to fight or hurt enemies (despite doing so in the animated series), nor could he use any superpowers that could destroy the environment around him… Essentially we ended up a car-crash game that mostly saw Superman struggle to fly through rings, rather than the Triple-A title we were promised.

Marvel failure – The entire Iron Fist Netflix series

We start this MArvel portion of this list with Iron Fist, a Netflix show about a billionaire superhero who combines his martial art skills with mystical powers. Danny Rand, the wealthy-yet-modest New Yorker has the unique ability to channel ‘Chi’ into his fist, greatly amplifying the power of his punches.

On paper, this sounds like a pretty cool concept, and it worked well back when the Kung Fu hero featured in Marvel comic books in the 1970s… But in the 2010s Iron Fist was a colossal failure by all accounts and is considered the worst TV superhero Marvel has ever had.

Fans found the casting to be flawed, the choreography to be clunky and the story disappointing, full of plotholes and missed opportunities. When compared to other Marvel shows on Netflix at the time, it’s not at all hard to see why this was the very first one to be cancelled.

DC failure – The Green Lantern movie

DC’s Green Lantern is widely considered to be one of the worst superhero movies of all time by critics and fans alike, and for good reason. Despite having a blockbuster lead in Ryan Reynolds and a chunky $200 million budget courtesy of Warner Bros, the film just didn’t hit the mark.

All of the signs were positive ahead of the film going into production, there were grand plans for Green Lantern to spearhead the DC cinematic universe, with sequels already planned. However, once filming began everything fell to pieces.

Behind-the-scenes issues plagued production throughout, and upon its release, many viewers pointed out how poor the CGI was. This hardly comes as a surprise considering around 30 different visual effects companies worked on the film concurrently.

Despite partially destroying the legacy of one of DC’s most beloved heroes, the movie strangely found success elsewhere, with renowned iGaming development studio Playtech creating a Green Lantern slot which proved to be a hit with enthusiasts and critics alike.

Marvel failure – Netflix cancel all Marvel TV shows

Throughout the mid-2010s Netflix released five popular television shows based around minor New York superheroes who were all responsible for keeping neighbourhoods such as Brooklyn, Hell’s Kitchen, Harlem and Chinatown safe.

These heroes were Daredevil, The Punisher, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, collectively known as the Defenders. Daredevil, The Punisher and Jessica Jones proved to be HUGE fan favourites, whilst the other two shows were met with mixed receptions.

Over the years Netflix began cancelling these shows one-by-one, partly because viewership was faltering, partly because of the creation of Disney + who were taking on Marvel IP of their own, which we now know to be successful shows such as WandaVision and Loki.

It’s harsh to consider this a failure that falls directly on Marvel’s shoulders, as it was Netflix who scrapped the shows, but it’s arguably one of the most despised moves to have ever taken place… So much so that an entire fanbase created a widespread global movement known as #SaveDareDevil which calls for the show to return, that’s still very active today.

DC failure – The Supergirl movie

Remember Supergirl? Neither do we. This camp 1984 release was the very first feature-length superhero movie to feature a female lead, however, it proved to be a horrendous flop, a quick look at the film’s Rotten Tomatoes review says it all, as it only scored 9%.

The plot saw Kryptonian Kara Zo-El travel to earth to retrieve an orb known as the Omegahedron (we can’t say it out loud either)… However, upon arriving on the planet (where she conveniently transformed into Supergirl) she discovered that the orb had been stolen by a power-hungry witch called Selena.

If the plot wasn’t already cringe-worthy enough, we later discover that the witch has stolen this orb so that she can use it to free herself from a relationship with a warlock named Nigel…

There’s a very good reason Wonder Woman is DC Comic’s main heroine in this day and age.

Marvel failure – The Punisher: War Zone movie

The Punisher is easily one of the most badass Marvel characters ever created, the ultra-violent trenchcoat-wearing anti-hero is the perfect guy to appeal to a mature audience.

Vigilante Frank Castle first appeared on the big screen in 1986, and again in 2004 in what proved to be a fairly successful modern debut… However, for some strange reason, Lionsgate opted to reboot the movie just a few years later with Punisher: War Zone.

The film became one of Marvel’s worst-performing films of all time, making only $10 million at the box office. This is mainly put down to the fact that Lionsgate had the final say with regards to how the film was made, not Marvel. In addition to this, the adult-oriented film was far outshone by the first Iron Man film that came out in the same year.

One horrified critic even wrote: ‘May God have mercy on this film’s soul. Punisher: War Zone is bland, uninspired, and it missed the point of the source material entirely. It’s like these people have never even read a proper Punisher comic.’
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