Superhero movies are a staple of modern cinema, but their road to mainstream popularity wasn’t always smooth. For decades, most attempts to bring comics to life have either flopped or were met with total indifference. Here are a few superhero movies that you’ve probably never seen.
If you’re not familiar with the superheroes of Valiant Comics, all you really need to know is that they mostly create characters by mashing other iconic characters together. X-O Manowar, for instance, is essentially Conan the Barbarian with a suit of Iron Man armor. Bloodshot is Arnie from Predator mixed with Arnie from The Terminator. And Ninjak is pretty much a crossover of Batman and James Bond, which is exactly as awesome as it sounds.
In 2018, Valiant decided to try bringing their characters to the big screen. Originally released as a web series a few years earlier, Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe did exactly what it says on the tin, pitting super-spy ninja Colin King against a live-action version of his entire comic book universe. Unlike most obscure comic book movies, however, this one’s actually worth watching, if only for the cast. Pro wrestler John Hennigan plays the Eternal Warrior, while Bloodshot is played by former Power Ranger Jason David Frank.
The debate over which swamp monster is better has been raging ever since DC’s Swamp Thing and Marvel’s Man-Thing first debuted, within three months of each other, way back in 1971. When it comes to their adventures outside of comics, though, there’s no question about who got the better end of the deal. Swamp Thing has starred in a live-action TV series, a cartoon for kids, two movies, and a streaming series that, while short-lived, was extremely well-received.
Man-Thing, however, had a movie that made 3 percent of its budget in its international theatrical release and went straight to cable in America. It’s also primarily remembered for featuring a cast of Australian actors attempting to perform Louisiana accents, to varying degrees of success.
The movie does have a few good points, though. Man-Thing himself has a pretty cool design, especially when your expectations are adjusted for a low-budget SyFy Original from 15 years ago. Unfortunately, all of the weirdness that makes Man-Thing so interesting in the comics are ditched in favor of a fairly generic slasher, where Man-Thing is ostensibly portrayed as the bad guy.
Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe (2018) | 0:16
Man-Thing (2005) | 1:08
The Spirit (2008) | 2:14
Generation X (1996) | 3:42
Justice League of America (1997) | 5:16
The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988) | 6:35
Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989) | 7:32
Firearm (1993) | 8:20
Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1998) | 9:06
Lightspeed (2006) | 9:56
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