Comic book geeks make up perhaps the most loyal fanbase there is. The superheroes and villains that films these days are based around involve characters these people have grown up with. So when it comes to their favorites being translated to the big screen, you'd better believe they'll bring Internet forums to an uproar if you make even the slightest variation from the comics, especially if it's a bad one. Screw a character up enough and you'll never hear the end of it, until you have little choice but to reboot the franchise entirely. What follows are some of the worst examples in cinema of comic book characters who were completely butchered.
Mandarin in "Iron Man 3"
Let's start with our most recent offender. "Iron Man 3" has been out for a month now, but feel free to skip over this slide if you still have plans to see it.
Are you gone? Okay, let's continue. The comic book Mandarin is Iron Man's most famous super-villain and, in fact, his archenemy. He's a brilliant scientist, a master of martial arts and has been hellbent on destroying the world on several occasions. He also wields 10 rings that each possess a specific power. In other words, this dude is a force to be reckoned with.
In "Iron Man 3," The Mandarin starts out in the same maniacal way, but in perhaps one of the strangest and most unwelcome twists in comic book movie history, turns out to be simply an actor who was hired by the real villain of the film, Aldrich Killian (played by Guy Pearce). While fans of the film franchise alone weren't all that turned off by this deviation, true Iron Man comic book fans considered it one of the biggest slaps in the face of all time. When you consider the fact that trailers teased the Mandarin as the main villain, and he'd even been foreshadowed since the original "Iron Man" film, it's easy to understand their frustration.
Sandman/Venom in "Spider-Man 3"
This film was such a mess, it's no wonder that they screwed up both of these fan-favorite Spider-Man villains. First, while Sandman's origin in both the comics and film were similar, involving an accident fusing criminal Flint Marko's molecules with sand, it's a completely different plot point that is destroyed by the character's presence in "Spider-Man 3." It was long established since the first "Spider-Man" film (and comics) that a random thug shot and killed Peter Parker's Uncle Ben, providing him the sense of responsibility to be a hero. But for whatever reason, the film decides to turn this already established canon on its head, making Sandman secretly Uncle Ben's killer. Even worse, Spider-Man forgives him willy-nilly at the end of the movie because he kind of goes good, and we are left with some of the worst superhero/villain sobbing ever witnessed.
As for Venom, we again have an origin story that follows the comics fairly closely, with scorned reporter Eddie Brock blaming Spider-Man for the loss of his job. The flaw here lies in the casting of the villain, who is supposed to have the physique of Arnold Schwarzenegger circa "Predator." So who better to play that role than Topher Grace, perhaps the smallest person we could think of behind David Spade. Yet even he would have come off more menacing. The film also fails by killing Venom after only about 10 minutes of screen time.
Bucky Barnes in "Captain America: The First Avenger"
Bucky was essentially Captain America's Robin in the 1940's comics. He was the frail, child sidekick who always got himself into trouble, yet had a good heart and always did what was right, regardless of his stature. He was then assumed dead when he unsuccessfully tried defusing a bomb aboard a drone plane.
In the film, it's Steve Rogers who at first assumes the frail hero role, and Bucky is more or less the tough guy. Then, Steve gets injected with a super solder serum and transforms into Captain America. Bucky is again delegated to sidekick status, until he just kind of falls off a train during one of the film's action sequences and is presumed dead. Captain America later flies a plane into the ocean to stop a bomb on board. In a nutshell, the film simply shuffled everything around between the two characters for no real purpose other than to make it different, it would seem.
Bane in "Batman & Robin"
For a movie that gets just about everything wrong from tone to characters, Bane stands out as the most underused and lazy. In the comics, he is methodical, intelligent and overall a true "bane" to Batman. His comic book origins are much more in tune with the Bane we see in "The Dark Knight Rises," as he was raised in a prison full of murderers. However, unlike that film (and sadly, the only part "Batman & Robin" kind of got right), he is fulled by Venom, a powerful drug that gives him his super strength.
"Batman & Robin" is a joke all around. In that film, yes, Bane is a prisoner given Venom which grants him super strength. That's about as close to the comics as it gets, however, since he's little more than a muscle-bond parakeet for the duration. All he does is walk around repeating everything Poison Ivy says and smashing things. Seriously?!
The Mask in "The Mask"
Few people even know this was a comic, much less one that wasn't for kids. The character of the Mask is actually called Big Head in the books, and his alter ego, Stanley Ipkiss, doesn't last very long. The story goes that this mask makes the wearer go insane, throwing all their inhibitions to the wind, and take violent action against those their human side doesn't like. As mentioned, Ipkiss puts the mask on, goes on a violent killing spree, and is shot to death by his girlfriend once he takes it off. The mask is then turned over to police lieutenant Kellaway (who is also a character in the film), eventually wielding it himself and murdering criminals in a very violent manner until he realizes what the mask is making him do and buries it. Other than the bald, green appearance of the mask wearer, the comic and 1994 Jim Carrey film have little in common with each other. The film is little more than slapstick buffoonery that heavily relies on imitating old Tex Avery cartoons. Also, Lt. Kellaway in the film never even puts the mask on.
Galactus/Parallax in "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer"/"Green Lantern"
Special effects have come a long way. Therefore, when it comes to intergalactic super beings trying to devour the planet, we know modern visual effects teams can do a little better than space clouds. While we at least give "Green Lantern" credit for giving Parallax a head on a cloud body, "Rise of the Silver Surfer" gets no such slack for their version of Galactus. Galactus is not only a huge fan favorite among Marvel comic fans, he also has a very distinct look, and is one of the most feared beings in all the cosmos. Yet, the movie made him no more intimidating than a storm front coming in.
Frank Castle in "The Punisher"
We're not even going to specify which of the three film iterations of this character we're referring to, because they've all been terrible. The fact of the matter is, the character of the Punisher in the comics is pretty straight forward: U.S. war veteran Frank Castle lost his wife and two kids to a mob shootout in Central Park. Ever since, he's vowed to punish any and all criminals, using his skills as a martial artist, stealth tactician and all-around badass. The 1989 Dolph Lundgren version had him sword fighting at one point. 2004's Thomas Jane vehicle had him sneaking around, making villains kill their own men and families through ridiculously complicated blackmail, as well as setting up a series of elaborate car explosions that formed a skull shape. As for 2008's "Punisher: War Zone," while it possessed the spirit of the original Punisher, it suffered from terrible acting.
We gotta hand it to Thomas Jane, though. He's a true fan of the Punisher, and gave us perhaps the best rendition of the character on film to date with a short film he funded in 2012, starring himself once again as the Marvel antihero. Here it is (warning: strong language and violence):
John Constantine in "Constantine"
This one is so crummy compared to the comic that the creator of "Hellblazer" (the comic which the film is based), Alan Moore, had his name removed from the credits. Basically, all the characteristics that make John Constantine awesome in the books are abandoned in the film. Comic book Constantine is a scoundrel with many vices, who tricks the powers of darkness into curing his lung cancer so he can continue his hedonistic ways. Movie Constantine sacrifices himself, and Lucifer ends up saving his life and curing his cancer, aka the Hollywood cop-out ending. To top things off, in "Hellblazer," Constantine was designed to look like the singer Sting, and is British. Movie Constantine is, well, Keanu Reeves. No accent, no blonde hair, just Neo with a tie.
Deadpool in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"
This is a character they plan to base an entire spin-off movie on. The entirety of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" was a train wreck, but the addition of Deadpool, especially when there were about a million other useless comic book character cameos in this extremely convoluted and poorly written film, was the most disappointing. Fans have always wanted Ryan Reynolds for this role, and so has he. Sadly, almost everything about the character minus his smart mouth toward the beginning of the film, is completely inaccurate to the comic book version. First and foremost, Deadpool is prone to breaking the fourth wall often, which he never does in this "Wolverine" film. But the biggest tragedy for the "Merc with a Mouth" is that in the final act, his mouth is fused shut. Comedic quips are the backbone of this character! Let's hope if they do ever get the Deadpool film off the ground, they can rectify their mistakes.
Next: The Most Memorable Badass Movie Quotes
Catwoman in "Catwoman"
The only thing that this Catwoman and the comic book version have in common are the same name. And we aren't talking the person behind the mask, either, as in the film, her name is Patience Phillips instead of Selina Kyle. The movie plot consists of Patience discovering that the cosmetics company she works for is selling an anti-aging product with dangerous side effects. She is killed for knowing this secret, but brought back by an Egyptian Mau cat and given cat-like abilities. Even though Catwoman has had several different origins over the years in the pages of DC Comics, she's generally just a sexy cat burglar with a fondness for cats on either side of the law depending on her mood. In any case, this film's heroine is considered "Catwoman" by name only, and thank God. It's biggest success is not sullying the Batman brand along with it.