Years before he directed Batman, Tim Burton attended a San Diego comic book convention where he saw the passion and intensity that comic book fans have.
Richard Donner’s Superman was about to be released and while someone from Warner Bros gave a presentation, Burton watched the fans tear him to shreds. So unshakeable were they in their belief that the studio was destroying the legend that, according to Burton, one guy stood up and threatened to boycott the movie, earning himself a round of applause in the process.
Donner’s movie went on to massive success and proved that a comic book adaptation could successfully aim higher than the standards of Saturday morning television, but it still goes to show the level of anticipation that greets each new movie.
Over the years, several movies have failed to live up to those expectations, though the comic book movie must be the only genre where perceived failures don’t get a second chance. No one’s likely to reappraise The Phantom or The Crow: Salvation as lost classics, but are there still a few diamonds among the detritus?
10. Captain America (1979)
When you think of Captain America, you probably don’t imagine him as a surfer living in 70s California (played by a former football player) whose costume includes a blue crash helmet with the letter A clumsily pasted on the front.
Welcome to TV movie hell.
Richard Donner’s Superman movie was tearing up the box office, so it must’ve made sense to the suits at Universal Television to put into production a movie based on another comic book property. Made quickly and cheaply, Captain America makes you realize just how difficult it is to make a decent superhero movie.
In the lead, Reb Brown comes across the way he usually does – like a former athlete who’s landed on his head once too often. He’s not helped by a dull script that lacks any real action, although once Cap gets his “high tech motorcycle” there are scattered unintentional laughs to be had as the filmmakers try to impress the viewer despite their obviously low budget.