Collage of the worst Marvel movies featuring Daredevil, Blade: Trinity, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, and The New Mutants

The MCU Doesn’t Look So Bad Compared to the 15 Worst Marvel Films

The Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t had many misses in its nearly 15-year history. However, with audiences being a little less receptive to recent releases, it raises the question of how the MCU is holding up against some of the worst Marvel movies in history.

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The MCU first kicked off with Iron Man in 2008 and has held up extraordinarily well as far as media franchises go. Of all its 33 films, only two, Eternals and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, have ever dipped below ‘Fresh’ on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the MCU is far from the only producer of Marvel films. Since 1986, various studios have been producing live-action movies based on Marvel comics. Sony, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, and Columbia Pictures are just a few studios capitalizing on Marvel’s plethora of characters and storylines. Unfortunately, it is largely these studios that have produced the biggest Marvel failures and flops of all time.

The reasons for such failures range from not having the technology necessary for compelling visuals and CGIs to miscasting and poor storytelling. While the MCU sometimes makes it seem easy, it truly isn’t that simple to replicate a comic book on the big screen in a way that will appeal to audiences. As proof, here are the worst Marvel movies of all time, ranked.

15. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Paul Rudd's Ant-Man and Jonathan Majors' Kang the Conqueror have a conversation in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the only MCU film on this list, and it just barely made it. The film is the third installment in the Ant-Man film series and sees Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) transported into the Quantum Realm, where they come across Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors).

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a watchable and entertaining film. However, it has several flaws and didn’t meet its expectations. It stirred so much hype around Kang the Conqueror that viewers will be disappointed to find it doesn’t set up something bigger and more immediate in the MCU. Additionally, the plot is very rushed and will leave viewers overwhelmed with how fast things move. Some attempts at humor that just feel random and awkward, such as Bill Murray’s cameo and Veb’s (David Dastmalchian). Ultimately, it’s not as bad as some Marvel films, but it’s a step down from what we’ve come to expect from the MCU.

14. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in X-Men Origins
(20th Century Fox)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the fourth installment in the X-Men series and dives into Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) origin story. The film explores the manifestation of his mutant powers and how a quest for vengeance against his brother Victor Creed (Liev Schreiber) got him roped up in the Weapon X program.

Jackman is as delightful as ever as Wolverine, perfectly capturing his gruffness and raw power. Meanwhile, it’s quite entertaining to watch his action-packed adventure. However, the film doesn’t boast the depth that Wolverine’s story could have. It disappointingly morphs his story into a very familiar and cliché revenge plot and suffers from being overstuffed, rushed, and poorly written. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is perfect for viewers who merely want to see Jackman as Wolverine in an action film, but it doesn’t provide much for viewers who may want something more.

13. Daredevil (2003)

Ben Affleck as Daredevil in Daredevil (2003)
(20th Century Fox)

Daredevil premiered in 2003 and sees Ben Affleck take on the role of the titular hero. The film follows Matt Murdock (a.k.a. Daredevil), a blind attorney who doubles as a vigilante at night and finds himself contending with the double threat of Wilson Fisk (Michael Clarke Duncan) and Bullseye (Colin Farrell).

Like many earlier superhero movies, Daredevil suffers from some campiness, poor CGI, and difficulty setting a tone. Affleck’s performance as the titular hero is mediocre and looks especially poor compared to Charlie Cox’s portrayal of the character in Netflix’s Daredevil. Additionally, many viewers disliked that the film made this hero a cold-blooded killer. Duncan offers a strong performance as Kingpin, and not all the action sequences are bad. However, the film could improve in nearly every other element.

12. The New Mutants

The cast of The New Mutants
(20th Century Studios)

The New Mutants is a spinoff of the X-Men film series and follows five Mutant teenagers—Mirage (Blu Hunt), Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams), Cannonball (Charlie Heaton), Sunspot (Henry Zaga), and Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy)—who are sent to a treatment facility under the guise of training to become X-Men. In reality, the facility has much more sinister plans for them.

The New Mutants just barely made this list. It isn’t terrible, but it was a box office flop and received largely negative reviews. The New Mutants feels cheap, rushed, and poorly written. While there are flailing attempts at being a coming-of-age film and featuring a queer romance, these aspects are not fully developed. Additionally, this film featured some of the fastest rising young stars in Hollywood but didn’t give them anything to work this. Ultimately, the film failed to meet high expectations with its dull, underdeveloped plot and rushed storytelling.

11. Dark Phoenix

X-Men: Dark Phoenix
(20th Century Fox)

The New Mutants just escapes being the worst X-Men film of the series, thanks to Dark Phoenix. Dark Phoenix tells the origin story of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and how she became the Phoenix—one of the most powerful mutants ever.

Dark Phoenix wasn’t all bad. Like most X-Men films, it boasts stunning visuals and strong performances, and Turner especially impresses as young Grey. However, the storytelling, plot, tone, and pace are far below the level of sophistication we’re accustomed to with X-Men films. The film is dull, the tone inconsistent, and the plot pretty choppy. It feels cheap and unevolved, like the numerous films before it were for naught. On the whole, it’s not the worst of the worst, but for a well-established film series, we expected way more.

10. Fantastic Four (2005)

Fantastic Four (2005)
(20th Century Fox)

Fantastic Four premiered in 2005 and traces the origin story of The Fantastic Four and the team’s archnemsis. The film follows scientist Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) and Victor Von Doom’s (Julian McMahon) space crew, who all gain superpowers after Richards’ experiments take a dangerous turn.

Fantastic Four is largely an origin story. Thus, it really doesn’t have enough plot to intrigue viewers. Still, it’s certainly entertaining to see the Fantastic Four coming into their powers and bickering amongst each other. The film even boasts some heartfelt performances. However, it is very campy and mediocre. Fantastic Four falls flat and is not the spectacle it needs to be to do justice to Marvel’s first superhero team.

9. The Punisher (2004)

Thomas Jane as The Punisher 2004
(Lionsgate)

The Punisher premiered on April 16, 2004, and stars Thomas Jane as Frank Castle (a.k.a. The Punisher). In the film, Castle is an FBI agent who transforms into the Punisher and sets out on a mission of revenge for the murder of his family.

Jane’s portrayal of Castle isn’t on par with Jon Bernthal’s iconic take on the character in Marvel’s Netflix series, but he’s still quite good as the anti-hero. The strong cast is one of the few highlights of the film. However, the cast really has no story to work with. The Punisher is a pretty cliché vengeance story. It’s a standard revenge story that rehashes elements of every revenge-action film, adding very little depth or complexity. If you judge it as a standard action film, it might be alright, but if you judge it against its comic book counterpart, it misses its mark.

8. Blade: Trinity

Jessica Biel, Wesley Snipes, and Ryan Reynolds in Blade: Trinity
(New Line Cinema)

Blade: Trinity is the third and final installment in the Blade trilogy. The film follows Blade (Wesley Snipes), a human-vampire hybrid who continues to navigate the war between humans and vampires. Things take an interesting turn when he is forced to form a shaky alliance with two vampire hunters.

The first two Blade films are not perfect, but they are by no means bad. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Blade: Trinity. Unlike the first two films, Blade: Trinity lacks a distinct style, resulting in a rather dull and meaningless blood fest. The first two films’ actions, visuals, and other saving graces are also absent. Not only that, but the film is only mildly entertaining in rare parts, making it not even that great as solely a vampire action film.

7. Morbius

Jared Leto as the title character in 'Morbius'
(Sony)

I’m sorry, “morbin time,” enthusiasts, but Morbius still belongs on this list. The film follows Michael Morbius, a doctor suffering from a rare blood disorder who splices his genes with those of a vampire bat, giving him superhuman abilities and a thirst for blood.

The performances of Matt Smith and Leto are the only reason Morbius isn’t among the very worst of the worst on this list. Still, their performances alone can’t make up for the many shortcomings of Morbius. The plot is messy and chaotic, the CGI is unconvincing, the storytelling drags, and the film lacks depth and, most importantly, reason or purpose. While Morbius has gained a cult following in recent months due to memes, that still doesn’t change the fact that it is a very poorly made film.

6. The Punisher: War Zone

Ray Stevenson as The Punisher in The Punisher: War Zone
(Lionsgate)

The Punisher: War Zone was initially supposed to be a sequel to The Punisher (2004). However, Thomas Jane left the franchise due to creative differences with the directors. Hence, the franchise was rebooted with The Punisher: War Zone in 2008, starring Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle. The film sees Castle still waging his vengeance against the criminal underworld in New York. The tables turn, though, when one of Castle’s previous victims, Jigsaw (Dominic West), launches his own mission of vengeance on Castle.

Unfortunately, The Punisher: War Zone didn’t learn from the mistakes of The Punisher (2004). Just like the first, this film is just plain depressing and features pointless violence. Despite the violence and vulgarity, the dialogue is deeply stunted, stiff, and almost childlike. Some viewers may enjoy it as a splatter film, but again, it fails to truly bring the Punisher to life. Also, The Punisher: War Zone was a massive box office flop. The film grossed $10 million at the box office, as opposed to its $35 million budget.

5. Ghost Rider

Nicholas Cage as Ghost Rider in Ghost Rider (2007)
(Sony)

Ghost Rider follows Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage), a young motorcycle stuntman who sells his soul to Mephistopheles/The Devil (Peter Fonda) in exchange for healing a loved one. After being played by Mephistopheles, he is forced to be the devil’s bounty hunter until he receives an opportunity to win his soul back by defeating Blackheart (Wes Bentley).

While Ghost Rider was a box office success, it certainly didn’t receive positive critical reception. The film is just pretty terrible across the board. You see, Cage is a good actor … just not in Ghost Rider. Unfortunately, the acting is atrocious and exaggerated and is further deteriorated by incredibly cheesy dialogue. The CGI has its moments, but aside from that, it is pretty old-fashioned and about as basic and campy a superhero film as you can get.

4. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Nicolas Cage as Ghost Rider in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
(Columbia Pictures)

You would think Ghost Rider‘s reviews would be enough deterrence for a second film. Still, because of those box office figures, a sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, came out in 2012. Nicolas Cage reprises his role as Blaze and has traveled to Eastern Europe, where he finds a new opportunity to save his soul and someone else’s.

Strangely, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, again, performed decently at the box office. Yet, it unsurprisingly received even worse reviews than the first film. Basically, take all the shortcomings of Ghost Rider and multiply them by two, then you get Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. The acting is still over the top, the plot is cheesy and pretty much nonexistent, and the CGI isn’t even cool in this one. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’s only real success is that it somehow made the terrible Ghost Rider film not look so bad in comparison.

3. Elektra

Jennifer Garner as Elektra Natchios in Elektra

Elektra is a spinoff of Daredevil (2003) and sees Jennifer Garner reprise her role as Elektra Natchios. The film follows Elektra after she is resurrected from the dead by martial arts master Stick (Terrance Stamp). Stick teaches her the ways of the Kimagure, but she uses her skills to become a contract killer for the Hand and soon struggles to get out from under the organization’s hold.

Elektra was a failure, both critically and commercially. Its failure is a major part of the reason why Daredevil 2 was called off. There really weren’t any redeeming qualities in this film besides Garner’s charming and strong acting. The CGI and script fall flat and are underwhelming. Meanwhile, the film just isn’t realistic, entertaining, or thrilling. It fails to really give viewers a reason to watch it.

2. Fantastic Four (2015)

The cast of the Fantastic Four reboot
(20th Century Studios)

The Fantastic Four of 2005 faired poorly enough to make Marvel’s worst films list, but Fantastic Four (2015) proved significantly worse. The film follows four teenagers—Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), Sue Storm (Kate Mara), and Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan)—who build a trans-dimensional portal that gives them superpowers. As they explore their newfound powers, they must also stop Doctor von Doom (Toby Kebbell), previously thought dead, from destroying the world.

If you read that summary and thought, “Uh… what?” that is basically what you’ll feel after seeing the film, too. The film doesn’t make much sense. There’s a highly confusing 1-year time jump mid-film in which one character goes to Latin America for no known reason, and von Doom reappears and becomes a villain with no motivation. Oh, and then the Fantastic Four defeats him by punching him. Additionally, the film is horribly cheesy and uninteresting. It grabs random elements of superhero films and mashes them together nonsensically. The cast definitely tries, but there’s not much they can do with this mess of a film.

1. Howard the Duck

The animatronic Howard and Lea Thompson in Howard the Duck
(Universal Pictures)

As ridiculous as it sounds, yes, Howard the Duck is a Marvel film. This superhero comedy premiered in 1986 and was produced by George Lucas. The film follows Howard (Ed Gale), a talking duck who gets transported from Duckworld to Earth. When attempting to get back to Duckworld, he finds Dark Overlords are also being transported to Earth and possessing people.

While we enjoy seeing Howard’s cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy, we don’t need a feature-length film of him. Howard the Duck is just bizarre and terrible. It doesn’t work as a superhero film … it also doesn’t work as a comedy, thriller, children’s film, adult film, etc. It has a few mediocre jokes, a nonexistent plot, a duck they truly didn’t even try to make convincing, and poor special effects in general. Just look up the 1986 Razzie Awards—Howard the Duck basically got nominated for every Worst quality a film could possibly have and for very good reason.

(featured film: 20th Century Fox)


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Author
Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.