We’ve all seen them. There we are, watching a film, a television program, an animated series, what-have-you, based upon a favorite comic. Then suddenly, the makers of said program do something that crosses the lines between jarring and mind-boggling. Bryan Singer and company appear to be making those kinds of decisions for “X-Men First Class,” with the 1960s setting, some slightly jarring casting, and confusing retconning -not a word that moviegoers will be familiar with (or will want to be).
Inspired by that, here’s a look at some of the bigger Comic Book Movie WTF Moments. Feel free to join in the fun with your own selections after the fact.
Cellophane S-Shield (Superman II): Superman vs. three Kryptonian villains! Superman fighting a pitched a battle in the Fortress of Solitude! Superman . . . rips an S off of his chest and wraps up the opposition like a sandwich? WTF?! Granted, you can pick a few other WTFs among the Superman franchise, but this one seems to be the most obviously drug-induced.
Ice Skates Ready! (Batman and Robin): You might have sensed that “Batman and Robin” was in trouble when it began with Batman and Robin cracking wise at each other over who got the car, followed by the sinking feeling that came with Commissioner Gordon appearing on the Batmobile’s monitor and announcing, “There’s a new villain in town and he calls himself Mr. Freeze!” But even with that, you probably went WTF?! as the dynamic duo began their battle . . .and popped ice skates out of their boots. Even if you go so far as to suggest that they put on spare ice-skate boots from the Bat-trunk after hearing the name Mr. Freeze, you’re giving everyone involved too much credit. Batman and Robin clearly already had ice skates on because . . . they were in the script. Why else would they have them?
League of Highly Inaccurate Geography (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen): It’s true that you could complain about this particular film all day. But in a freaking cinematic collage of WTF?! moments, one of the biggest has to be the giant car in Venice. Forget the fact that The Nautilus could never fit into the canals . . . there’s no room for that damn land-tank of a car to drive anywhere!
Skull-less Punisher (The Punisher): Back in the ‘80s, The Punisher headed to the big screen with Dolph Lundgren in the lead role. Then he missed, and eventually went direct to video. Perhaps the strangest decision in a movie that had a few odd ones was the notion to NOT use the most recognizable and iconic Punisher-related image: the skull. Okay, so he has a knife with a skull pommel, but no one in wardrobe thought to even just give Lundgren a T-shirt with the friggin’ skull on it? WTF?! Sure, there are some people that liked this movie and will always defend this choice. Nevertheless, absent the skull, the movie becomes just another ‘80s action movie with Dolph Lundgren. (Expect “I Come in Peace”; we all know that was awesome).
Cap’s Rubber Ears (Captain America): Marvel wasn’t having much movie luck in the late ‘80s. Along with “The Punisher”, “Captain America” also found itself sinking into the abyss. Though the posters did make it to some theatres, indicating a 1990 release, the movie didn’t. The film, directed by B-movie stalwart Albert Pyun, is actually an interesting failure. It’s one of those cases where you could tell that they tried, but just didn’t land it. In among bits that are both bizarre (The Red Skull is Italian?) and intriguing (Cap is played by Matt Salinger, son of author J.D. Salinger), we have an honest effort at both the Cap outfit and the Cap shield. However, that same honest effort at the outfit leads to a minor WTF?! moment: Cap has rubber ears. That’s right; they attempted to be faithful to the ears-exposed look by . . . sticking a couple of rubber ears on the outside of the headpiece. I know that we fans are a picky lot, but I think we could have let covered ears go, right? I mean, the ‘70s TV movie Cap wore a motorcycle helmet for God’s sake. At least this one had some effort.
Reed, Reed, the Dancin’ Machine (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer): You’ve waited to see an FF film for years. You thought that, like many comic films, the sequel would step it up a notch. You were ready for anything from the FF canon: Lockjaw, Herbie, the Frightful Four, Namor, a visible Galactus. And what you got was . . . a dance sequence. A dance sequence of Reed Richards getting funky with his stretchy limbs. WTF?! That much money spent on the movie, and THAT was an option? You have to realize that someone wrote that it in the script, someone approved that, the director and crew blocked it, the actors rehearsed it, they all filmed it, the special effects team added the stretchiness, and then it got to you. Of all the things that they could have done in the movie with that three minutes, THAT is what they chose to do. For the record, the Spider-Man 3 dance sequence was a terrible idea too, but they didn’t have to dip into the CGI budget for it.
Bullseye’s Stained Glass Stacks (Daredevil): Another case of honest try/didn’t work, Daredevil owns a few crazy-ass moments. The WTF that’s always stuck with me was Colin Farrell catching the raining stack of stained glass from the broken church window to use as weapons. That long shot of him holding two HUGE stacks of fragments doesn’t make him look badass. It makes him look like Tom trying to catch two stacks of plates that Jerry is throwing at the floor. Of all of the potentially cool moves that could have been done in that sequence, we get a shot that looks like a 1930’s cartoon.
The Wit and Wisdom of Blade (Blade): You’ve kicked vampire ass all over the city. You’ve beaten down the undead with guns, swords, lamps, and more. You’re about to avert a vampire apocalypse. What do you say? What do you say to the villain that you’re about to crush? “I just saved the world, and I’m going to Disneyland”? “It’s Miller Time”? “You sucked in Backbeat”? NO. Instead, Blade dusts off Deacon Frost with the immortal line: “Some motherf#*$ers are always trying to ice-skate uphill.” W.T.F. That’s the best that they could come up with? In a world with, well, “in a world . . .”, “I’ll be back”, “Hasta la vista, baby”, “But you go in pieces”, and many, many more, Blade ends the biggest fight of his life, the battle wherein he saved the world and avenged his mother with . . . “Some motherf#*$ers are always trying to ice-skate uphill.” The mind boggles.
Death of Cyclops (X-Men 3: The Last Stand): I know that there are some fans that don’t list Cyclops as a favorite. Whatever. Cyclops was the first X-Man, he’s a lynchpin of the team and the franchise, and it was the emotional arc that he shared with Jean Grey that was the anchor of the Phoenix Saga. Despite the fact that a little bit of attraction to Wolverine was introduced to add some conflict, Jean’s real arc was always with Cyclops, particularly during the Dark Phoenix Saga.
So, when the filmmakers got their chance to do it on screen, they . . . promptly kill off Cyclops. WTF?! That was a bad decision on a number of levels, but it actually seems to have had positive blowback in the comics. Over time in the past few years, Cyclops finally got to stand up and be a leader. He stopped being Jean’s doormat. He got into a more interesting relationship with Emma Frost. And he does things, as a character, that people don’t expect. Hollywood’s loss is comics’ gain; good work, Marvel.
Now, remember, that’s just a few that we recall vividly. You can’t dismiss things like the entirety of “Howard the Duck” and “Catwoman”, nearly everything about the Penguin or Selina’s cat-tongue resurrection from “Batman Returns”, the tendency of comic book villains to die after one appearance, the incredible disappearing Billy Dee Williams, and more. Jill even just pointed out her own big WTF from an upcoming film. Start with ours, and branch out. What say you, readers, apart from WTF?!What's the biggest WTF moment in comic movie history?