TV shows have been featuring superheroes for years, and lately it’s felt like a veritable “golden age” of solid offerings, but there’s also a wealth of material to choose from, most wisely forgotten, that is best forgotten. This selection is in no way meant to be exhaustive -- feel free to chip in with other suggestions. In this list, I’ve tried to avoid deliberately awful movies such as Troma’s Sgt Kabukiman NYPD (1990) -- and the more obvious stuff such as Steel, The Meteor Man and the early attempts at Swamp Thing, Doctor Strange, The Punisher, Captain America, Nick Fury et al.
First up, we have Black Scorpion (2001), Roger Corman’s short-lived T&A-laced series for Sci-Fi. Thankfully I passed on the show for the UK’s TV channel ITV2. Adam West (Batman) and Frank Gorshin (The Riddler) showed up as villains ‘Breathtaker’ and ‘Clockwise’. Yep.
Anyone remember The Return of Captain Invincible (1983)? A presumably down on his luck Alan Arkin makes an unlikely superhero in a musical owing something to Rocky Horror. Christopher Lee plays bad guy ‘Mr Midnight’ -- but thankfully not in Frank N Furter suspenders.
The Guardians (2017): One of a number of Russian attempts at Marvel/DC style super-heroics, this movie is truly дерьмо:
Condorman (1981): Brit sitcom/musical star Michael (Some Mothers Will ‘Ave Em) Crawford stars in this Disney crap-fest. Oliver Reed slums it as the Russian baddie Krokov:
Officer Downe (2016): A change of pace as Kim (Fantasy Island/Open Range) Coates plays a resurrected cop (geddit?) out for justice. Made $850 at the box office. You can see why:
SuperAndy, the Brother of Superman (1979): An Italian effort, the only saving grace being that Roberto Benigni isn’t in it. Here’s the whole picture, if you can face it:
Dr Mordrid (1992): Who? this bargain basement Doc Strange rip-off stars genre favourite Jeffrey Combs:
Lightspeed (2006): Stan Lee’s doomed attempt to own his own superhero screen franchise with this Sc-Fi Channel flick:
And lastly, slightly against my earlier injunctions regarding better known titles, the 1997 TV movie version of DC’s Justice League, as it really sucks.
The late David Ogden Stiers (Charles Emerson Winchester III in M*A*S*H) looks particularly uncomfortable as a rather chunkier than usual Martian Manhunter: