Wicked 10: Ranking Sony's Worst Marvel Movies

Wicked 10: Ranking Sony's Worst Marvel Movies

BY MATT TUCK, BLOGGER SUPREME

IG@matt.tuck.writer

FB@ The Comic Blog

The critics almost universally hate Morbius, but is it really the worst superhero movie ever made? Clearly, they haven’t seen Sony’s other comic adaptations. 

As on Monday evening, Morbius sits at a humbling 16% critical rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though audiences are scoring it much higher at 70%. Then again, audiences also scored Venom 81% fresh, so…

It’s easy to pick on Morbius, but it’s far from the worst Marvel movie Sony has produced. Compared to others, it’s a cinematic masterpiece. It’s hard to believe the same company that gave us the beautifully written Spider-Man 2 has far more misses than hits. The company’s track record is proof enough that Sony’s braintrust hasn’t read a comic since 1968. It doesn’t bode well for the other projects on the horizon from more Spider-Man and Venom adventures to Madame Web, Kraven, and possibly Black Cat. 

That brings us to today’s list, the worst of Sony’s Marvel entries. My complicated algorithm amounts to this: if I were kidnapped and forced to watch one of these ten movies for 24 hours, which would be the one that I would rather be beaten than sit through?

10. SPIDER-MAN

In case you’re not lighting your torches and sharpening your pitchforks just yet, here’s another hard truth for you. As much as we all love Sam Rami’s 2001 Spider-Man with the wholesome performances from Tobey Maguire and J.K. Simmons, the original live-action Spider-Man movie was not good. It was your standard affair superhero movie that was a love letter to the days of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. I can appreciate Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, but this movie was as corny as the Silver Age stories. Over 20 years later, that Macey Grey cameo ramps up the cringe factor. The bad special effects and cheesy dialogue in the parade festival don’t help matters.

9. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

Marvel managed to do the one thing Sony by itself could never do: make Spider-Man completely unrelatable. The hallmark of Peter Parker and his alter ego is being a superhero with normal problems. Stan Lee had said many times that the core concept of Spider-Man was to present a character that, despite his superpowers, was still a teenager who dealt with the same problems teens at the time faced. 

That’s what made Spider-Man unique from virtually every other superhero of the era. He was the working class hero with real world limitations. Homecoming forgot all of that, and we were treated to a mini version of Iron Man complete with all Tony Stark’s advantages. It simply wasn’t Spider-Man.

I realize that the Tom Holland Spider-Man movies have a warm, cozy spot in the hearts of many. Despite his stereotypical New York accent (“Mista Stock, I don’t feel so good.”) that seems to fade in and out, he’s made for a good Peter Parker, and at least he looks like a teenager. In the eight minutes of screen time he had in Civil War, the Russo Brothers gave a much more accurate depiction of Spider-Man than the majority of three entire movies. Boy, did Marvel want us to realize Homecoming was tied to the greater MCU with an endless assault of Avengers name drops one after the other.

On the bright side, I’d rather sit through Homecoming than anything else on today’s list.

8. SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME

People were so excited about Spider-Man joining the MCU that Homecoming could have been 90 minutes of Peter Parker buying groceries, and it still would have made a fortune. Just because it’s Marvel, it was praised as the greatest Spider-Man movie ever made. Then came Far From Home, which was also applauded as the latest and greatest Spider-Man movie. 

The reality is that neither film deserves that accolade, and Far From Home was just…bad. 

The filmmakers doubled down on ignoring everything that made Spider-Man, well, Spider-Man. Instead of learning from its predecessors, FFH leaned heavier on the comedy and shied away from the actual drama. In essence, this was a dumbed down Spider-Man aimed at selling toys that had the heavy handed fingerprints of Disney executives all over it.

7. VENOM

The middle of the pack is mostly interchangeable. None of them are necessarily unwatchable, but they’re all so ridiculously cliche that it’s downright painful. Although it had some head-eating action and curse words, Venom was watered down into a live-action cartoon for younger audiences, and that was its biggest misstep. Tom Hardy went full slapstick, and he broke out his best Cookie Monster impression for the symbiote’s voice. 

The one saving grace was Venom’s aesthetic. After living with the failure that was Venom in Spider-Man 3, it was refreshing to see Eddie Brock’s better half fit the comic images that we all fell in love with (minus the iconic white spider symbol). If nothing else, at least Venom looked the part despite a plot so dumb you’ll lose brain cells by the post-credits scene that put a clown wig on Woody Harrelson for some reason. Then again, it fit this movie’s string of poor decisions and unintelligible similes that roll off the tongue like a turd in the wind.

6. MORBIUS

In the grand scheme, this is where Morbius belongs, in the middle. No question, it was a bad movie, and the Michael Keaton Vulture cameo was about as flat as that half can of soda you left on the counter two weeks ago. We’re used to the post-credits scenes leaving us in awe even if the rest of the movie was horrible (looking at you, Let There Be Carnage), but the potential for a Mobius-Vulture team up was more confusing than intriguing. 

Still, it’s far from being the worst superhero movie ever made. There were decent moments and the effects were interesting. The story left much to be desired, and the cliches were running wild throughout this one, complete with childhood bullies (because no one can make a movie with kids that doesn’t have ruthless, unrealistic bullying) and an odd, ill-advised Matt Smith dance scene. It’s no Bully Maguire, but it’s cringey all the same.

5. VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE

When I first heard that Andy Serkis would direct the Venom sequel with Harrelson as Carnage, I had hopes. Although he wasn’t famous for his work behind the camera, I caught his live-action take on The Jungle Book, Mowgli. I had my fingers crossed this would be more horror and serious than Venom. If there is any Spider-Verse character worthy of a horror spin, it’s Carnage. 

That’s not what we got. Instead, we received the Venom sequel that couldn’t manage to outdo its laughably bad predecessor. Woody Harrelson was serviceable, but the Eddie-Venom odd couple routine was hard to digest. Once Venom started singing, it was crystal clear that Serkis and company didn’t understand Venom or Carnage. And then there were the bad jokes, one after another, and it was all so hard to watch.

4. GHOST RIDER

Wait. When did Ghost Rider become part of the Sony-verse? As it so happened, the infamous 2007 Ghost Rider movie was produced by Columbia Pictures, which is owned by Sony. In fact, the media giant bought Columbia and all its movie and music divisions in 1989. While there’s no shared universe, it makes the two GR movies Sony products. It fits, too. Out of all Sony’s poorly conceived ventures into the world of Marvel Comics, this one has the company’s trademark cornball and cheese.

What makes this movie memorable is Nicolas Cage in the lead role. The world’s greatest/worst over actor has become a cultural icon in recent years thanks to an endless parade of memes and increasingly awful movies. The plot alone for Ghost Rider is enough to land it on today’s list, and Cage’s exaggerated, cartoon performance is the icing on the cake. The funny thing is that you could put a better actor in the starring role, and there’d be nothing to talk about here. It’s Cage’s return to the spotlight and his wacky acting style that keeps fans talking about Ghost Rider

3. SPIDER-MAN 3

Widely considered the worst superhero movie ever made, and for good reason, Spider-Man 3 is simply a mess of irreverence, cliches, lame dialogue, and bad ideas. The thing is, there is a good story at its heart. The first half of the movie’s Sandman origin story is intriguing. He is established as an antagonist, but not a villain, though the “steal money to pay for my daughter’s operation” is about the hokiest manner to do this. Still, the Sandman transformation scene is riddled with sadness, and you can’t help but empathize with the character. Then it all goes downhill.

This film has become a guilty pleasure for many viewers. Peter Parker’s emo transition to “Bully Maguire” is unintentional comedy. The nonsensical jazz club dance scene (since when did getting an alien costume teach you to play piano?) and the horrible Saturday Night Fever homage with Peter strutting and jiving his way down the sidewalk are contenders for the cringiest moment of the 2000s.

Here’s the thing to remember that should make us shudder: Kevin Feige approved all of it. If you’re not sure about the increasingly silly MCU entries, bear in mind that Feige was an executive producer on Spider-Man 3. Every horrible, idiotic, ill-advised, and lame moment from Spider-Man 3, of which there are many, all got Feige’s okay. It helps explain why all the Marvel movies and shows are getting more and more goofy, and it should make us all worried about the MCU’s future.

2. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

We all loved seeing the three Spider-Men come together in live action. The nostalgic moments with Maguire, Holland, and Andrew Garfield united on the big screen is what catapulted Spider-Man: No Way Home to record box office success. Up to that point, NWH was filled with the same corny shlock as the other two MCU Spider-Man movies. If it wasn’t for that movie’s second and third acts, it would have been included on today’s list. 

Overnight, Andrew Garfield went from outcast to beloved. I’ve seen blog posts calling for another ASM movie, and some fans seem to think it was a travesty that he never starred in a third installment. To that, I remind you of the complete abomination that was The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Whether it was Jamie Foxx’s ridiculous combover, Dane DeHaan’s emo Harry Osborn, the Sinister Six references being shoehorned into the plot, or just those damn electric eels, there’s little to enjoy here. Seeing Paul Giamatti’s so-stereotypically-Russian-it-hurts Aleksei Sytsevich piloting the horrible Rhino mech suit is mercifully cut short. 

Those of us with functioning memories know the story here. Sony had big plans for its Spider-Verse. Along with more ASM movies, there was a Sinister Six film in development and the Black Cat/Silver Sable team up flick, Silver and Black. All of that was canned thanks to the colossal failure of ASM 2. Before anyone begins petitioning for another round of Garfield-led ASM movies, watch ASM 2 one more time. That should squelch any bad ideas you might have.

1. GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE

Today’s list really comes down to how much pain and frustration am I willing to endure. Each entry will leave you cringing and shaking your heads, some more so than others. The deeper we get, the more painful they are to watch. As I said, I ranked based on the degree of punishment watching each movie amounts to. Numbers one and two were a toss up because I would be happy never seeing either again. If I was forced to watch one, it’d rather sit through a double showing of Spider-Man 3 and ASM 2 than Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Maybe it’s too Nicolas Cage-y. Maybe it’s Ghost Rider urinating fire (an antibiotic may help with that or so I’ve heard). Maybe it’s the annoying cast of supporting actors. You know, it’s actually a combination of all three plus a story that is downright insulting to loyal GR comic fans. Spirit of Vengeance earned the prize today because there’s nothing redeemable here. It’s two hours of misery, and I never want to see this atrocity again. 

As horrible as SOV is, the blame is not entirely on the shoulders of the cast and crew. Before the cameras ever started rolling, Sony did not seem confident in the sequel whatsoever. Like Michael Myers at a trunk-or-treat event, the budget was slashed from top to bottom. When your entire movie relies on awe-inspiring visuals and your main character is a CGI flaming skull, that is a death sentence. It was reported at the time that Cage nearly took a 50% pay cut, but he stayed on despite the reduction. At least he was dedicated.

Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and the Blogger Supreme. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.


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