Ever since Fox’s hit film X-Men was released in theaters in 2000, Marvel superheroes have dominated the box office. 20th Century Fox, Sony and Marvel Studios have given us countless films featuring some of our all-time favorite comic book heroes and villains, and an incredible seventeen films featuring Marvel characters are in the Top 100 Worldwide Box Office Grosses of all time. Though the vast majority of Marvel films have been successful both financially and critically, an unfortunate few received incredibly negative reviews and struggled to garner the popularity of their studio’s other Marvel entries. Even the most dedicated fans have a hard time saying positive things about the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Thor: The Dark World, Fox’s Fantastic Four or Sony’s Spider-Man 3, proving that even the massively popular superhero genre can suffer from standard film problems like poor writing, cheap special effects, questionable casting and frustrating characters who make their films a little less enjoyable.
The point of this list isn’t to bash anyone’s favorite Marvel movie character, as characters can only be as good as the writers who tell them what to say and the actors who portray them. These individuals simply felt out of place at times within their Marvel films, thus negatively affecting the viewing experience, because they served little purpose in the overall story or because they barely resembled their comic book characters.
With that said, here are the 7 MCU, 7 Sony, And 7 Fox Marvel Characters That Hurt Their Movies.
21 MCU: Dr. Erik Selvig
When Dr. Selvig was first introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he was a brilliant astrophysicist. Nick Fury hired Selvig as a S.H.I.E.L.D. consultant so he could investigate the Tesseract and his scientific expertise made him a target of Loki, who controlled Selvig’s mind during his attempt to take over the planet in The Avengers.
After his experience as Loki’s puppet, Dr. Selvig’s personality completely changed and his continued inclusion in the MCU felt entirely unnecessary.
In Thor: The Dark World, he was visibly unhinged and got arrested at Stonehenge for harassing bystanders with his lab equipment while claiming he was trying to save them. His appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron was even weirder, he accompanied Thor to the Water of Sights so the God of Thunder could continue his visions of the six Infinity Stones, for reasons never made clear to viewers.
20 Sony: Riot
Even though Rotten Tomato critics have given Sony’s 2018 film Venom a disappointing sub-40% approval rating, fan response has been much more positive, with 89% of viewers approving of the studio’s treatment of the fan-favorite Spider-Man character. Most viewers expected the main problem with the film to be Peter Parker’s absence in it, since Spider-Man was integral to Venom’s origin story in the comics, but Venom functioned just fine without the wall-crawler.
The film’s biggest issue actually came from its primary antagonist, Riot. Several superhero films feature the hero facing off against a villain with powers and costumes incredibly similar to their own, but it was problematic that Riot and Venom were almost indistinguishable from each other during their fight scene at the film’s climax and that their power-sets were entirely identical.
19 Fox: Galactus
Galactus is one of the most powerful and intimidating beings in all of Marvel comics. He has the ability to grow as large as he wants, allowing him to devour entire planets when in desperate need of life-giving energy.
Making such an usual character like that seem realistic is no easy task, but Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Silver didn’t even bother trying.
They simply pictured the Destroyer of Worlds as a gigantic storm cloud preparing to engulf Earth. Fox’s Fantastic Four films earned negative reviews from fans and critics alike, and their lazy treatment of such an iconic Marvel villain certainly didn’t help matters. Luckily, the Fantastic Four is now finally back in Marvel Studio’s capable hands.
18 MCU: Odin
The former King of Asgard earned the title of Protector of the Nine Realms because he was once considered to be the greatest warrior in all of existence, but the Odin we got to see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe wasn’t exactly all that impressive. We were told stories of the Allfather battling great beasts, invading foreign realms, destroying demons and monsters and laying waste to mighty kingdoms… but Odin slept through most of Thor and he didn’t do anything to stop Malekith from trying to plunge the universe into total darkness in Thor: The Dark World despite vowing revenge on the leader of the Dark Elves for taking his wife’s life. The supposedly all-powerful Odin then fell victim to one of Loki’s spells, allowing his adopted son to banish him to Earth, impersonate him and take his throne!
17 Sony: Shocker
Sony and Marvel Studio’s joint ownership of Spider-Man: Homecoming makes it impossible to tell which studio was behind Shocker’s unnecessary inclusion in the film, but since Sony has a tendency to add major villains to their Spider-Man films as mere afterthoughts, they’re getting the blame. Vulture needed a few nameless minions to help him carry out his plans and fight Spidey when he was off doing more important things, but two of his followers donned Chitauri gauntlets that projected concentrated vibrational air blasts and called themselves “The Shocker.”
Shocker is a well-known villain in Spider-Man’s Rogue’s Gallery, so throwing him into the film as a mere lackey with no character development whatsoever didn’t add anything to the story or satisfy fans the way the studio likely hoped a classic villain would have.
16 Fox: Sabretooth
Yet again, Fox took a classic X-Men character and denied them of the ability to speak. X-Men was one of the superhero genre’s first box office successes, but it definitely wasn’t without its flaws. The film had way too many characters to keep track of. We were introduced to nearly a dozen members of Charles Xavier’s team of mutants and then we had to watch them face off against not only Magneto but Mystique, Toad and Sabretooth as well.
Victor Creed is Wolverine’s most iconic nemesis and the two have a complex history in the comics. X-Men’s version of the villain, however, barely had any lines and didn’t have any noticeable relationship with Logan. Countless other Brotherhood of Evil Mutants members could have replaced Sabretooth as Magneto’s third minion, as Victor deserved better than that minor role and his inclusion seemed like desperate fan service.
15 MCU: Quicksilver
20th Century Fox turned Quicksilver into a fan-favorite character in X-Men: Days of Future Past, but the MCU struggled to make their version of Pietro Maximoff as likeable in Age of Ultron.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s version of the character told a few jokes here and there, but he wasn’t nearly as funny as Evan Peters’ take on the mutant speedster.
He also didn’t steal scenes the way his Fox counterpart did. Then the MCU made the questionable decision to sacrifice their Quicksilver to save Clint Barton’s life, ending his time in the franchise before we really got a chance to care about him. Pietro’s twin sister Wanda has become a major and valued member of the Avengers, so it’s a shame Pietro was written-off so haphazardly. Marvel should have either kept him out of Age of Ultron—a film which already felt a bit rushed and cluttered—or taken the time to do his character proper justice.
14 Sony: Peter Parker
Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of Peter Parker in Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 was fantastic, as he gave the beloved character the nerdy, awkward, “boy next door” feel that Parker has always had in the Marvel comics. When Peter bonded with the alien symbiote in Spider-Man 3, however, he became the film’s worst character. The alien symbiote has a tendency to give its wearer mood swings, but the affect it had on Peter was simply ridiculous. He styled his hair differently, put on all of the black clothes in his wardrobe, snapped awkwardly while walking down the street and attempted to flirt with every woman he came across.
Then viewers were treated to an overly-long dance sequence in which he tried making Mary Jane jealous by seducing Gwen Stacy at a jazz club. It’s no wonder so many Spider-Man fans cringe just thinking about it.
13 Fox: Mystique
The writing decisions revolving around Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique in the latest X-Men films have definitely been questionable. Mystique has always been one of the X-Men’s most formidable foes in the comics, so viewers were understandably shocked to witness her dramatically-altered origin story in X-Men: First Class. When Magneto offered her a chance to join him in his fight against mankind at the film’s conclusion, it momentarily seemed like Fox’s Mystique would start to resemble the villainous character she was inspired by.
She embraced her dark side in Days of Future Past when she considered eliminating Bolivar Trask, but by the end of the movie Mystique was back to being a hero. She teamed up with the X-Men once again in X-Men: Apocalypse, so it seems like Fox is opting to ignore comic book accuracy in favor of keeping Lawrence at the forefront of their X-Men films.
12 MCU: The Warriors Three
The Warriors Three appear in all three Thor solo films, but only comic book fans seem to be capable of recalling any of their names because the Marvel Cinematic Universe failed to spend adequate time actually developing their characters. In fact, Lady Sif left a more lasting impression than her peers despite not even appearing in Thor: Ragnarok! Fandral, Volstagg and Hogun were the God of Thunder’s most trusted friends on Asgard and some of the kingdom’s best warriors, but Hela eliminated Fandral and Volstagg in mere seconds and barely broke a sweat fighting Hogun. It was hard to truly mourn their passing since we knew so little about any of them.
11 Sony: New Goblin
Willem Dafoe did an amazing job bringing the Green Goblin to life in Sony’s first Spider-Man film and his character Norman Osborn appeared in Spider-Man 2 through Harry’s visions, so viewers were understandably ready to move on to different villains in the trilogy’s final installment. No one wanted to see Harry jump on a glider shaped to look like a skateboard and fight his former best friend as the New Goblin, as it felt far too “been here, done that.” It was nice to see Harry and Peter team up at the end of the film to take down Sandman and Venom and Harry’s sacrifice to save Spider-Man was emotional, but New Goblin’s inclusion in Spider-Man 3 was simply unnecessary. Two major villains in one film would have been enough.
10 Fox: Lady Deathstrike
In the comics, Yuriko Oyama is one of Wolverine’s biggest adversaries, because her adamantium claws, martial arts skills and healing factor perfectly rival his own.
Lady Deathstrike did manage to put up a good fight against Logan in X2, but her complete lack of dialogue kept their showdown from being as memorable as their battles always are in the comics.
Reducing Deathstrike to William Stryker’s mind-controlled, silent bodyguard seemed unnecessary since she typically works as a mercenary and could have easily just been hired by Stryker and allowed to speak freely. Yuriko would have also made for a better villain in X-Men Origins: Wolverine or The Wolverine, two films which struggled to find a suitable adversary for Logan.
9 MCU: Whiplash
Oscar-nominated actor Mickey Rourke has no problem admitting that his Iron Man 2 character Ivan Vanko seriously hurt the sequel to the MCU’s first hit film.
“I wanted to bring some other layers and colors, not just make this Russian a complete revenging bad guy,” Rourke explained to Crave Online in 2011. “Unfortunately, the [people] at Marvel just wanted a one-dimensional bad guy, so most of the performance ended up the floor.”
Critics and fans tend to agree that Whiplash lacked the character development of beloved Marvel villains like Loki and Erik Killmonger, and was made out to be nothing more than a vengeful, bird-loving madman with an accent that was often too thick to understand. Vanko’s technological expertise made him a worthy adversary to Tony Stark, but he simply wasn’t well-written enough to care about.
8 Sony: Venom
Sony was clearly set on making their first Spider-Man trilogy revolve around the Osborn family as much as it focused on Peter Parker, so New Goblin’s inclusion in Spider-Man 3 was sadly an inevitability. Between New Goblin and Sandman, the film already had enough villains in it to keep the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler occupied, but Sony felt a need to throw a third adversary in during the film’s closing minutes.
Venom is one of the most well-known and loved members of Spider-Man’s Rogue’s Gallery, so the decision to dedicate so little time to the development of his character was incredibly questionable.
Topher Grace’s unusual portrayal of Eddie Brock made the decision even more outrageous. Eddie is supposed to tower over Peter Parker, but Grace’s slender, nerdy portrayal put him more on Peter’s level, so the rivals would seem like two sides of the same coin.
7 Fox: Rogue
Instead of centering on Jubilee like their X-Men Animated Series, Fox opted to focus their original live-action X-Men trilogy on Rogue, a beloved character from the Marvel comics. The comic book version of Rogue typically has a great sense of humor, an independent nature and a lot of spirit. Anna Paquin’s interpretation of Rogue, however, was shy and awkward. Her happiness seemed to be entirely dependent on Logan and Bobby, and she jumped on the chance to take the “mutant cure”—something her comic book counterpart never would have done despite Rogue’s dissatisfaction with her inability to touch the people she loves.
Viewers were delighted to see 2000’s X-Men bring some of their favorite characters to life on the big screen for the first time, but Rogue was a constant disappointment.
6 MCU: Malekith
In Thor: The Dark World, Malekith attempted to use the Aether, an ancient weapon that secretly contained the Reality Stone, to plunge the Nine Realms into eternal darkness. The leader of the Dark Elves was physically intimidating and incredibly powerful, but since viewers barely got the chance to learn anything about him, we weren’t given a genuine opportunity to see him as the threat the Marvel Cinematic Universe clearly intended him to be. It didn’t help that Thor was able to take Malekith down without help from any of his fellow Avengers, even though the villain possessed the cosmic power of an Infinity Stone. By being a forgettable primary villain, Malekith turned The Dark World into a forgettable film.
5 Sony: Gwen Stacy
Sony’s original Spider-Man films made Mary Jane Watson out to be Peter Parker’s first and greatest love. While her relationship with Peter is the most iconic in the comics, true Spidey fans know that Peter’s first love was actually Gwen Stacy and that Gwen was the one Green Goblin used to bait Spider-Man into their fatal showdown on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Sony attempted to do some fan-service in Spider-Man 3 by including Gwen in the film, but the gifted biochemistry student we know and love from early Spider-Man comics was reduced to mere eye candy and her sole function seemed to be causing tension in Peter’s relationships with both Mary Jane and Eddie Brock.
4 Fox: Emma Frost
X-Men: First Class allowed Fox to essentially reboot their X-Men franchise without undoing the events of their original trilogy. Focusing on longtime X-Men villain Sebastian Stan and his Hellfire Club was a great decision by 20th Century Fox, but comic book fans were outraged by the film’s interpretation of fan-favorite mutant Emma Frost. The White Queen is one of the world’s most powerful telepaths and her character undergoes a lot of significant development throughout Marvel comics.
She started out as a primary antagonist, but over time, Emma became a central member of Charles’ Xavier’s team, Cyclops’ love interest, a headmaster and at one point even controlled the power of the Phoenix Force. In First Class, however, Emma seemed to be nothing but eye-candy and was easily defeated.
3 MCU: Baron von Strucker
HYDRA leader Baron Wolfgang von Strucker ordered his operatives hidden within S.H.I.E.L.D. to steal Loki’s Scepter from the organization so he could use it to create an army of enhanced HYDRA soldiers and his experimentation led to the creation of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
The Maximoff twins seemed capable of holding off the Avengers long enough for him to escape their attack on his base, but von Strucker still bizarrely surrendered himself to Captain America without resistance.
Soon after, Ultron took him out just so he could send the Avengers a message. The Marvel Cinematic Universe set von Strucker up to be as formidable an adversary for the Avengers as the Red Skull was for Captain America, but he was ultimately reduced to a fairly minor and insignificant role within the franchise.
2 Sony: Dr. Connors
Dr. Curt Connors was first mentioned in Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man trilogy in the first film, when Peter revealed the professor was his laboratory supervisor and that Connors had fired him for being late to class. In Spider-Man 2, we saw Connors teaching a class at Columbia University and fans were delighted to see that he was missing an arm—in the comics, he experimented with reptile DNA in an attempt to grow his limb back and accidentally became The Lizard.
That scaled Spider-Man villain would have been the perfect primary antagonist for the trilogy’s final installment, but Sony opted to go with Sandman instead, making Dr. Connors’ role in the series a mere Easter egg for fans with no real payoff.
1 Fox: Origins Deadpool
Ryan Reynolds has done an amazing job bringing Deadpool to life in the Merc with a Mouth’s two solo films, but no matter how hard we try, audiences will never forget his first appearance as Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Deadpool has become one of the most popular comic book characters of all time thanks to his amazing sense of humor and ability to break the fourth wall, but Fox made the bizarre decision to glue Wade’s mouth shut in Origins.
The studio then proceeded to equip Deadpool with a variety of powers which he never acquires in the comics, such as Cyclops’ eye blast and the ability to teleport. Thank goodness Deadpool and Deadpool 2 retconned that first appearance out of existence.
Which of these did you actually enjoy? Let us know in the comments!