10 Mostly (and Deservedly) Forgotten Comic Book Movies

By Ethan Kaye in Comics, Daily Lists, Movies
Monday, January 31, 2011 at 8:02 am
5) The Spirit
No, not the Frank Miller nonsense -- I'm pretty sure few comic fans have forgotten that one (yet). In this 1987 TV movie, Flash Gordon's Sam J. Jones wore the domino mask 21 years before Frank Miller put it on Gabriel Macht. In what basically amounted to a 74-minute pilot for a TV show, the Spirit mythos is brought to life, in a sense. In fact, if you're comparing to the original Eisner comics, this version is truer; Ebony White is in it, and the villain is P'Gell, rather than the Octopus (who we're never supposed to see, dammit). But while it had dames and action aplenty, there was no way it could escape the void of '80s production values, and this Spirit got buried.

4) Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D
Yeah, this came from the mind of The Dark Knight screenwriter David Goyer in 1998. And it starred David Hasselhoff and Lisa Rinna before he was filmed eating a hamburger on the floor of his closet and before she had her lips removed and replaced with Swedish fish. All the classic elements are there, from HYDRA to Baron Strucker, from the Howling Commandos to the Strucker siblings. But sitting through two hours of Hasselhoff was more than most could handle, and this one also got shipped to the $1.99 DVD bucket at Wal-Mart.

3) Sheena
The tagline of this 1984 masterfail was "She alone has the power to save paradise." Alas, she didn't do anything to save any of the $25,000,000 that was flushed down the toilet to make this load of dung. Booby-licious Tanya Roberts (less booby-licious on That '70s Show, but still fairly booby-licious) starred as the jungle girl title character but failed to draw any interest from comic fans, movie fans, or fans of movies about jungle animals. In a telling move, Sheena can be found on a combo DVD pack with Princess Cariboo.

2) Vampirella
If you're looking for a flesh-tacular double feature with Sheena, you can't go wrong with the direct-to-video 1996 Vampirella feature. Well, you can, because Vampirella also got savagely torn apart by critics, but for the skin value alone, you can't go wrong. We can lay the blame on two Rogers for this failure, Rogers Corman and Daltrey. Corman exec produced (and if you don't know Corman's track record, I suggest you look it up right now), and Daltrey was the king of the vampires. He's never been known for taking strong roles, but king of the vampires? Really, Roger? You thought you could pull that off?

1) Dr. Strange
And once again, the '70s failed to produce a television series based on a movie-long pilot. Dr. Strange, as I am often told, held the attention of kids in the '60s and '70s because they were doing dope and the stories got extra awesome then. '70s live-action drama TV wasn't conducive to dope, although you could make a case that H.R. Pufnstuf was a drama. Strange, played by white-guy-afro-sporting Peter Hooten, faced off against Morgan Le Fay, played by long-before-she-was-awesome-on-Arrested-Development-and-Archer Jessica Walter. Costumes were silly, magic was silly, and Dr. Strange was a psychiatrist. Thank you, America, for saying no to this pitch for a series.

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