5 Failed Marvel Movies: From 1978’s Doctor Strange to 1979’s Captain America

Things haven't always been rosy because there have been some megaflops in the history of superhero adaptations. Let's take a trip down memory lane and go through the five notable marvel movie flops.


5 Failed Marvel Movies: From 1978’s Doctor Strange to 1979’s Captain America


The Marvel Cinematic Universe is perhaps the most successful franchise of all time. Every MCU film is a spectacle, from Iron Man released in 2008 to 2021’s Black Widow. Let’s discover failed Marvel movies together.


Doctor Strange–1978

The 1978 version of Doctor Strange starred Peter Hooten as the master of the Mystic Arts. Doctor Strange was first aired by CBS in 1978 as a TV film, but it was not well-received by the public.

This came as a shock to CBS, considering they had successfully released two films featuring Marvel characters. Namely, the Amazing Spider-man and the Incredible Hulk.

These two movies worked like a charm for CBS and to keep the momentum going, they had to make Doctor Strange.

Initially, it was a good plan for viewers to watch Marvel movies in order, but things didn’t work out.

So, why did Doctor Strange flop?

The film failed for several reasons. First, the director Philip Déguéré Jr. didn’t have enough budget to showcase Doctor Strange’s unique abilities.

This movie presented the director with a problem he couldn’t solve, especially without a proper budget.

The Incredible Hulk and the Amazing Spider-man did not require a massive budget to showcase the characters’ abilities.

The director only needed to turn the camera 90 degrees to make Spider-man climb walls and paint the lead actor of the Incredible Hulk green.

With Doctor Strange, there was no way to make the supreme powers of Doctor Strange pop without a proper budget.

The director had no option but to make Strange’s biggest superpower his irresistible charm.

The script had to be re-written, and this is another reason this movie failed. Doctor Strange was reduced to a womanizer.

He seduced every woman in the film, including the main villain, Morgan le Fay.

The ultimate confrontation between the two foes (or lovers) was just awkward.

Morgan refused to kill Doctor Strange because of his good looks. Morgan’s actions angered her master, The Unnameable, who turns her into an old barren woman.

This TV movie aired to low ratings and received lots of negative reviews.


Captain America–1979

CBS did not allow the failure of Doctor Strange to slow down their efforts at bringing more superheroes to the screens.

They released two Captain America movies in 1979, Captain America and Captain America II: Death Too Soon.

This was a loose adaptation of the Marvel Comics character. He didn’t participate in WW2; he didn’t want to be a soldier, and the Red Skull was nowhere to be found.

Reb Brown’s Steve Rodgers wished to spend his time drawing and traveling.

The 1979 release of the two Captain America films came during the peak of the anti-war movement. CBS thought a funny and laid-back Steve Rogers would connect with the youth, but it did not work out.


The Incredible Hulk Returns–1988

After the Incredible Hulk Series that ran from 1978 to 1982, NBC bought the rights to the show. NBC’s plan was to release three TV movies also featuring other Marvel characters.

The first hero to join forces with the Hulk was Thor in the Incredible Hulk Returns.

But Thor is not the only Marvel character introduced in this film because Donald Blake also steps into the scene.

This version of Thor differed from the Marvel Comics character. He was arrogant, drank a lot, and was not a God either, just a Viking who shared a name with Thor.

In this movie, he was cursed and banished to Earth until he learnt to be humble.


Generation X–1996

In 1994, writer Scott Lobdell and artist Chris Bachalo began working on an X-Men spinoff called Generation X. This all-new character cast featured younger and hippier mutants.

The team featured Husk, Skin, Mondo, Chamber, M, and Penance. Fox, who owned the TV and film rights to X-Men at the time, saw Generation X as an opportunity to tap into the vast X-Men fan base.

Fox partnered with New World Pictures to produce a TV pilot to feature some Generation X characters. Due to budget constraints, the production companies had to alter characters that were too expensive to film.

However, the script was not too good, and the show was not picked up, and on February 20, 1996, Fox released Generation X as a TV movie. Needless to say, it didn’t go well.


Fantastic 4–1994

When Bernd Eichinger purchased the rights for the Fantastic Four from Stan Lee in 1986, he signed a contract with Marvel, and it had a time-lapse.

According to the contract, production was supposed to start before December 31, 1992, or he would lose the rights to the characters.

He struggled to get the funds to make the movie, but because he did not want to lose the rights, Eichinger made a trash movie.

The one-million-dollar budget he had was not enough to pay everyone involved with the film. The Fantastic Four finished shooting in less than thirty days, and the result is clear for everyone to see.

But the funny thing is, even with the time and budget constraints, 1994’s Fantastic Four is better than the 2005 production and the 2015 reboot.

Photos: Shutterstock

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