Bad Superhero Movie Showdown 2007: Spider-Man 3 vs. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer vs. Ghost Rider

We’ve finally made it. We’ve finally made it past the era where superhero films were still a curious “Man, this cape stuff seems to be really catching on!” thing and to the point where no good superhero movies came out in a whole year. None.

Four American superhero films were released in 2007: an extension of past failure (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer), a brand new attempt at awful (Ghost Rider), the tragic last gasps of a series that at one point was the shining point of the entire genre (Spider-Man 3), and Underdog. And the only reason that I’m not including Underdog is because I haven’t seen Underdog, and I have a sneaking suspicion that this trend will continue for a long time.

So, in the first Bad Superhero Movie Showdown Triple Threat match, Spider-Man 3 takes on Ghost Rider and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer in a contest to see which two are just bad, and which one tainted pop culture forever.

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Round 1: Worst Hero

The best that can be said about Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man is that his performance is just as goofy and oddly charming as it was in the previous two films. He doesn’t seem exasperated by the franchise, despite the fact that the movie’s plot is spinning out of control all around him.

It helped Tobey’s attitude that he could be half a continent away when they filmed the action scenes.

Ghost Rider came just a year or two before Nicolas Cage took the crown of “Walking Meme”, and you spend most of the film being disappointed in the fact that Cage isn’t just eating the scenery at every opportunity.

“Serve me as my Ghost Rider, or I’ll take away all your sense of shame about accepting movie roles in the future!”

And the Fantastic Four maintain the standard that they brought with them to the first movie, by which I mean that they’re almost incomparably terrible.

Loser: The Fantastic Four

Admittedly, it would be hard to improve on the four’s performances from the previous film without the advice “Okay, do nothing like that, ever again.” It remains the same, but even worse, simply because we have to sit through it again.

Round 2: Worst Villain

Everything you need to know about Ghost Rider’s Blackheart is the fact that I had to Google him to remember what his name was.

Li’l Satan? Devil Jr.? His name’s on the tip of my tongue.

FF: RotSS features villain-turned-hero Silver Surfer and villain-turned-sleeping-aid Doctor Doom, and even their characters seem to have the motivation of “Don’t worry. Filming is almost over. Just push through it.”

And the less said about Galactivagina the better.

Spider-Man 3 has Venom, Sandman, and New Goblin, and considering the ineptitude of the messy story, that’s three more villains than Spider-Man 3 is equipped to handle.

“But Dad, I wanna take the Vista Cruiser to Milwaukee!”

Loser: Venom

Sandman has a fantastic origin scene and gets some cool stuff to do. The Spider-Man trilogy is basically about the rise, fall, and redemption of Harry Osborn, so New Goblin isn’t so bad. Venom, however, who’s the third member of Spider-Man’s “greatest villain trio” (Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Venom) is the one that gets shafted. He gets the bare minimum amount of setup, as if the struggle isn’t to make him a menacing villain, but to get Topher Grace a spot in the opening credits.

Round 3: Worst Dance Scene

Sadly, Ghost Rider does not feature a dance scene. But FF: RotSS and Spider-Man 3 do, and man, it’s nice to know that, in fifty years, these scenes will be remembered not as important additions to a burgeoning genre but as the times that two of Marvel’s biggest properties got down.

Loser: The Fantastic Four

Spider-Man 3’s dance scenes makes sense. Peter Parker is a giant dork. Of course he’s going to think thatnow that he’s got a black suit that releases his dark side, the way to be a bad boy is to intrusively dance anywhere that he can. As a fellow dork, I understand that. FF: RotSS’s dance scene is there because both of the Fantastic Four films are desperate pleas to be liked by someone, anyone. A dance scene was inevitable. I’m surprised that the movie didn’t end with Reed Richards eating hot sauce packets while a middle school cafeteria clapped around him.

Round 4: Worst World Building

Spider-Man 3’s world is pretty much the same as what you saw in the first two films. NYC is NYC, and every human emotion is handled in a broad stroke of passive aggression.

FF: RotSS’s world is a shrug of science-y whatevers.

And Ghost Rider creates a to-do list of “hell and devil” clichés and checks off every single one. “I want your souls!” Check. “I, umm, need more souls!” Quadruple check.

Loser: Ghost Rider

It’s no surprise that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance treats the world of the original film like a drunk friend that it abandoned at a gas station.

Definitive Answer:

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Once again, the Fantastic Four take home the prize of being the worst superhero film released that year. Am I surprised? No. At this point, Fantastic Four films seem meant to be bad like fire is meant to be hot. The suck is eternal. It will be here when we’re all gone. When humanity has passed, the whisper will still be in the air: “The Fantastic Four movies aren’t very good…” carried into infinity.

Tag: Bad Superhero Movie Showdown

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  • StarlightForPrincess

    Honestly, Spider-Man 3 is my favorite Spider-Man movie.
    I also enjoy Rise of the Silver Surfer, though I probably would go back to Spider-Man 3 first.
    I still have not seen Ghost Rider, yet, though I DID see the Nostalgia Critic’s review of it.

  • Joe in Seattle

    “Peter Parker is a giant dork.” Is this a sly reference to rumors about Toby McGuire’s anatomy?

  • Toby Clark

    I had much bigger problems with Sandman’s story (mainly making him too sympathetic too early), and I generally appreciate Eddie Brock/Venom for being the only villain in the trilogy to be established as a vindicive amoral asshole before getting powers.
    I have no major complaints about Rise of the Silver Surfer.

  • Deneb T. Hall

    I’ll be honest, I’ve yet to understand why people seem to hate the FF films so much (at least, the ones under discussion here; the latest one was flat-out garbage). Sure, they weren’t perfect, but the only detail where I felt that they truly dropped the ball was in the treatment of Dr. Doom – and yeah, Sue Storm could possibly have been cast better, but heck, I didn’t HATE Jessica Alba in the role, even if she wasn’t who I would have pictured. Otherwise, you had a smarty-pants Mr. Fantastic, a tragic, likably blue-collar Thing, and a cocky, wisecracking Human Torch, along with a generally upbeat, let’s-have-fun-with-the-superheroes sort of feel that still left room for darker moments. In short, what an FF film is SUPPOSED to be like. What’s wrong with all that?

    Really, if I had to pick which one of these was the worst, I’d probably have to choose Spidey 3, simply because it was such a drop in quality from the second one.

    • Murry Chang

      I have to agree with you. Doom sucked in the first movie but beyond that it was pretty decent.

    • And I would pick “Ghostrider” because of how poor the action scenes were and the overall weakness of the villain. Every fight consists of one minion ineffectually hitting Ghostrider 1 (Truck, flying chase scene, drag under water) and then getting one shot to dust (fire chain, fire blast, fire blast causing boiling). And nothing about Blackheart’s smug emo teen fashion makes him look like anything that could touch Flaming Skull Biker.

      If the hero is totally untouchable then you made a bad movie.

  • Dean

    It seems no-one agrees with this article.
    FF: RotSS was not a bad movie. Could they have done better? Sure. But it wasn’t bad (lets just not mention the giant world eating stormcloud).
    That dance scene in Spidey was hideous, and absolutely ridiculous.
    The giant suck award goes to Ghost Rider though, any of them, all of them. They totally ruined a great character, that as a result of these movies multiple generations have no desire to ever see that character in any form ever again.