Comic Book Movies Before They Were Cool

Hello nerds and nerdettes! Comic book movies have had a great run for the past 16 years thanks to CGI, 3D and other new technology that’s come along. But what about those comic book movies that everyone forgot? Let's jump into the DeLorean and take a little trip back through time and check these movies out!


In 1984, DC Comics released Supergirl to act as a spinoff to the very popular Superman films that starred Christopher Reeves. The film stars Faye Dunaway, Helen Slater as Supergirl, and Peter O'Toole, with Marc McClure reprising his role as Jimmy Olsen from the Superman films. He was the only actor to do so. The film was released in the United Kingdom on July 19, 1984 and failed to impress critics and audiences alike. Dunaway and O'Toole earned Golden Raspberry Award nominations for Worst Actress and Worst Actor, respectively. However, Slater was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Actress. The film's failure ultimately led the Salkinds to sell the Superman rights to Cannon Films in 1986. Supergirl hasn't had any kind of recognition until 2015, being released on CBS as an ongoing series that I, personally, am still not too impressed with.





In 1989, Marvel released The Punisher that starred Dolph Lundgren. The film changes many details of the comic book origin and the main character does not even wear the trademark "skull". Frank Castle is the city's most wanted, and most mysterious, vigilante, known as "The Punisher". He has killed 125 criminals in the past five years. An ex­police officer, Castle's family was murdered in a mob hit, in which Castle was also thought to have perished. This combined with Castle's furtive methods of attack have made the Punisher's identity a mystery to the general public. Thank goodness for the 2004 reboot, right?







In 1990, Marvel Entertainment tried to release Captain America before all the awesome effects were available. While the film takes several liberties with the comic's storyline, it features Steve Rogers becoming Captain America during World War II to battle the Red Skull, being frozen in ice, and subsequently being revived to save the President of the United States from a crime family that dislikes his environmentalist policies. The film was supposed to be released in the summer of 1990, to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Captain America. Several release dates were announced between fall 1990 and winter 1991, but the film went unreleased for two years before debuting direct­to­video and on cable television in the United States in the summer of 1992 and was given a limited theatrical release internationally.






In 1994, Dark Horse took a shot at the big screen and brought out Time Cop. The film stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as a police officer in 1994 and a U.S. Federal agent in 2004, when time travel has been made possible. It also stars Ron Silver as a rogue politician and Mia Sara as the agent's wife. The story follows an interconnected web of episodes in the agent's life as he fights time­travel crime and investigates the politician's unusually successful career. Timecop remains Van Damme's highest grossing film (his second to break the $100 million barrier for a worldwide gross) as a lead actor. It is generally regarded as one of Van Damme's better films by critics and one of my favorite films by Van Damme.






Also in 1994, an independent film for the Fantastic Four was made but was never actually officially released. Executive produced by low budget specialist Roger Corman and Bernd Eichinger (who went on to produce a big budget Fantastic Four film in 2005), the film was based on Marvel Comics' long running comic book and featured the origin of the Fantastic Four and that superhero team's first battle with the evil Doctor Doom, combining the superteam's origin from The Fantastic Four #1 and Doom's origin from Fantastic Four Annual #2 with original elements. Despite a tentative scheduled 1994 release date, the film was ultimately never released officially, but illegal copies began circulating after a few years. Too bad they've never been able to make a decent FF film.





In 1998, Marvel took another stab at another character. Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD was a television film that was first broadcast on May 26, 1998 on Fox. Directed by Rod Hardy, the film stars David Hasselhoff as Fury, a retired super spy who is approached to return to duty to take down the terrorist organization HYDRA, who threaten to attack Manhattan with a pathogen they have reconstituted known as the Death's Head virus. This was the first and only time Nick Fury was given his own film.






Have you seen any of these films?

Are there any films that we missed along the way that failed before comic book films were cool? Let us know in the comments.








How earth's mightiest heroes could have looked 30 years ago.

On the eve of Avengers: Age of Ultron hitting screens, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth and the like playing earth’s mightiest heroes.

But what if the team had been assembled in 1985? Who would Marvel choose and what would they look like? We thought it would be fun to speculate a bit, so the following are our choices, with the ‘85 age listed next to each name for a bit of context. And obviously there are no right answers here, so when you’ve had a read, let us know your casting suggestions in the comments below…

Iron Man – Burt Reynolds (49)


Burt Reynolds was one of the biggest stars on the planet back in 1985, thanks to the success of the Smoky and Cannonball Run movies. And while they had fair jokes and good stunts, much of the popularity was down to Reynolds' charm and charisma, which could be put to good use as Tony Stark. But the guy could also do tough, as the likes of Deliverance and Sharky’s Machine prove, so he could handle himself as Tony is so frequently forced to. As for the look, that iconic moustache would need to be trimmed and the rest of his facial hair developed, but make those tweaks and you’re looking at Iron Man ’85.

The Hulk – Mel Gibson (29) & Arnold Schwarzenegger (38)


The Hulk is a character that’s fuelled by aggression and rage, and in 1985 Mel Gibson had already played a character filled with aggression and rage (Mad Max) and was about to play a character tormented by those same emotions (Martin Riggs). For that reason – as well as the fact that he’s a pretty great actor – Gibson is our Bruce Banner. But in those pre-CGI, post-Lou Ferrigno days, we’d need a giant to green-up to play the Green Goliath, and for that role we’re looking no further than Austrian Oak Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Thor – Dolph Lundgren (28)


Back in 1985 Dolph Lundgren was making his silver screen debut as a muscle-bound bodyguard in A View to a Kill and a Russian boxer in Rocky IV, so he was hardly a household name. But look at any photos from the time and you realise that he basically was Thor, just without the flowing locks. And while he might not have been the greatest He-Man in 1987’s Masters of the Universe, his Swedish accent make him a much better fit for the Norse God a couple of years before.

Captain America – Patrick Swayze (33)


This is a tough role to cast. Especially as Chris Evans has absolutely nailed it across The Avengers and a pair of stand-alone Cap movies. Kevin Costner would have been a good shout, but back in the mid-1980s he was best known as the dead corpse cut out of The Big Chill. And both Kurt Russell and Dennis Quaid scream square-jawed all-American hero. But we’re going for Patrick Swayze, who played a brave patriot in Red Dawn, and became the youth of America’s stoic big brother in The Outsiders. Strong, handsome, athletic and tough, he looked good as a blond in Point Break, and spent the bulk of his career playing likeable heroes, so it’s easy to imagine him as the ultimate good guy.

Hawkeye – Tom Cruise (23)


Tom Cruise would have made an amazing Tony Stark in the late 1990s when he was linked with the role. In 1985 he was just 23-years-old however, making him a little young to play the billionaire industrialist. But the cocksure kid from Risky Business and All the Right Moves would have made a fantastic Hawkeye. The Cruise of the time was all intensity and steely-eyed determination, plus you just know he’d be a crack shot with that bow-and-arrow.

Black Widow – Michelle Pfeiffer (27)


Coming off the back of Scarface and about to start work on Into the Night, Michelle Pfeiffer was the dangerous dame du jour back in 1985, making her a great choice to capture Natasha Romanoff’s dark side. But it’s her later work as Catwoman in Batman Returns that convinces us she'd make a great Black Widow, with Pfeiffer effortlessly combining athleticism and sexuality to leave you in little doubt that she’s the most dangerous woman on the planet.

Nick Fury – Clint Eastwood (55)


In 2008, when he made his debut as Nick Fury in the MCU, Samuel L. Jackson was 60-years-old and having played gangsters, a Jedi and all manner of tough guys, was pretty much the baddest man on the planet. Back in 1985, having embodied both ‘The Man With No Name’ and Dirty Harry on the big screen, Clint Eastwood was just as tough. Give him an eye-patch and the then 55-years-old basically is Nick Fury, though his iteration might also wear a cowboy hat. Because he’s Clint.

Agent Coulson – Bill Murray (35)


Thanks to the colossal success of Ghosbusters, Bill Murray was the box office king heading into 1985. Combine that with his understated comedy genius and he’d be an impeccable choice for the deadpan Phil Coulson. And while up-to-that point he’d rarely dipped his toe in dramatic waters, Murray’s modern-day output proves that he’s equally as skilled with the dramatic stuff, enabling him to bring much needed pathos to a role that turns tragic in the team-up flick.

Spider-Man – Michael J. Fox (24)


Yes we know Spidey isn’t in Avengers or Age of Ultron, but with the character joining the MCU for Captain America: Civil War, we thought we’d cast the role anyway. And though he was busy shooting Family Ties during the day and Back to the Future at night in early ‘85, Marvel would have to find some kind of window is his schedule as Michael J. Fox is our wall-crawler. He’d have to scale back the cool of Marty McFly a little, but the baby-faced star was a dab hand at playing plucky young upstarts you could really root for in the 1980s, and upstarts don't come any pluckier than Peter Parker!

Those are our suggestions, but what are yours? Feel free to speculate wildly in the comments below…


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