Wednesday, July 10, 2013

For all the things that Marvel have been doing right with their films lately, whether it be through their own studio or through 20th Century Fox.  Things weren't always quite rosy for the house that Stan Lee (and Jack Kirby among others) built.  This post is dedicated to those movies that despite all of Marvel's success as of late, it should be careful treading into less mainstream characters.

First one to note is actually the second theatrical film by Marvel since Captain America in 1944.  Howard the Duck (1986) was produced by Lucasfilm with George Lucas as a Co Producer and starred Lea Thompson and Tim Robbins with Chip Zien as the voice of Howard the Duck.  Most Marvel fans from the 1980s would be familiar with the character, but Howard is seldom seen now a days in the current Marvel Universe.  The film was slammed by critics with just a 15% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the lowest for any Lucasfilm produced films.  In the box office, it did no better with a budget of $37,000,000, it's total box office take was $37,962,774.


Fast forward almost two decades later, Marvel begins to churn out films almost yearly through New Line Cinema, 20th Century Fox and it's other partners it has licensed their characters to.  While you can argue that Daredevil (2003) was Marvel's next big disaster, it actually did quite well in the box office and had mixed reviews among critics.  The distinction for the next failure goes to...

The Punisher (2004) by Lions Gate Entertainment featuring the vigilante whose family was wiped out by the mob.  Actor Thomas Jane played the lead role of Frank Castle/The Punisher while John Travolta played the crime boss that wiped out this family.  Also of note Roy Scheider played the father of The Punisher's character.  With box office of $54,600,000 versus a budget of $33,000,000, they at least made a profit, albeit a small one.  On Rotten Tomatoes however, the film received only a 29% approval rating, making you wonder why they would make a sequel.  Apparently the movie did well in sales as far as DVDs, and hence we get Punisher War Zone a few years later.


While Daredevil didn't make our list, it's spin off did, which is none other than...

 Elektra (2005), arguably everyone's favorite female ninja assassin made a great choice for a spin off, right?  Unfortunately a horribly confusing and boring plot kept people away in troves.  With a budget of $43,000,000, the film squeaked out a small profit with a box office of $56,681,566.  On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie stunk with a 10% rating, the lowest rating of any Marvel film.  The only thing going for lead actress Jennifer Garner that year was her marriage to Ben Affleck.


This brings us to our final film which should come as no surprise...

Punisher: War Zone (2008) starred Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle with a cast that includes Dominic West and Julie Benz.  In this follow up to the 2004 film, The Punisher takes on the mob boss Jigsaw.  Unlike the other Punisher predecessors, this was filmed by Marvel Studios and released by Lionsgate.  Monetary wise, it was the biggest flop, with a budget of $35,000,000, it lost big with a box office of $10,100,036.  On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 26% approval rating.


Other notable film flops include the Direct to Video The Punisher (1989) with Dolph Lundgren and Louis Gossett Jr. and Captain America (1990) with Matt Salinger as the lead role.  Both films received abysmal ratings on Rotten Tomatoes with 24% and 11% respectively.

Looking ahead to 2014 and beyond, it'll be interesting to see how well Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant Man and the proposed Dr. Strange film will do.  While each have their own niche following, unless it's well written and produced, we may end up with another Howard the Duck than a Blade or Ghost Rider.  

Which Marvel film are you looking forward to and which do you plan on skipping?

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