In a Hollywood often bereft of new ideas, and when options for sequels, prequels, reboots, remakes, and re-imaginings have been exhausted, sometimes the spin-off is attempted. Take a fairly memorable character with a smaller role from a successful film and make a film with that character as the star. Can’t miss, right? Wrong. Television spin-offs have been fairly numerous in the past and many have been quite popular. But for every “Frasier,” “The Simpsons,” and “Angel” you’ve had a “Joey,” “Joanie Loves Chachi” and “Baywatch Nights.” In film, the spin-off has an even more checkered past.
1. “Catwoman” (2004)
catsuit playing perhaps the most iconic female comic book character and what could go wrong? If you have a ridiculous plot, a main antagonist phoning in her performance (that’s you, Sharon Stone), boring “action” sequences and clunky dialogue, apparently plenty can go wrong. This train wreck of a movie is hands-down the worst spin-off movie ever.
2. “Elektra” (2005)
Spun off from “Daredevil” – This one makes a lot less sense than doing a Catwoman movie. You’re taking a relatively second-rate comic book character and giving her a star turn in a spin-off of a very mediocre movie to begin with (“Daredevil”). First off, Elektra died in the Daredevil movie so you had to concoct some mumbo-jumbo resurrection plot to begin with. Then you have a tissue paper thin plot, highly derivative and unimaginative fight scenes and some uninspired acting by Jennifer Garner as Elektra. Bland, boring and banal describe this utterly unnecessary spin-off perfectly.
3. “Evan Almighty” (2007)
Spun off from “Bruce Almighty” – Biblical comedies aren’t exactly hot box office properties, but after the surprising success of “Bruce Almighty” someone obviously thought it was a great idea to spin-off Steve Carell’s news anchor character into a modern comedic telling of Noah’s Ark (after Jim Carrey turned down a sequel to the original). With a budget of $175 million–the most for a comedy at the time–and lots of great CGI effects it had to be a hit. Wrong. Though hardly a dreadful movie, it is thoroughly bland and inoffensive with few laugh-out-loud moments. The film ended up grossing less than its budget and received mostly negative reviews.
4. “Supergirl” (1984)
Spun off from “Superman” series – So it looks like female comic book hero flicks aren’t the way to go. The only good thing about “Supergirl” was that newcomer Helen Slater (in her first film role) was actually very good as Supergirl/Linda Lee. She brought an appealingly breezy, blonde bubbly freshness to the role. Unfortunately, everything else about the movie was dreck, especially the A-list supporting cast. Faye Dunaway, Peter O’Toole and Mia Farrow must’ve viewed this is nothing more than a paycheck as shown in their completely uninspiring performances. And despite a fairly large budget for its day, the money obviously went into their pockets instead of being used on a halfway decent story or on special effects that didn’t look like they came from the 1950’s.
5. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (2009)
Spun off from “X-Men” movies – Yes, yet another comic book hero spin-off but this one should’ve been really good. You take the most popular X-Men character (played awesomely by Hugh Jackman) and give him a movie of his own. Not only was this film a spin-off, but it was also a prequel and an origins story. If the plot had been one of Wolverine’s origins it might have worked, but what we ended up with was a film that used Wolverine as a plot device to move the story to the next fight scene. Jackman admirably gives it his all, but this is a dissatisfying film that was weighed down by disappointing action sequences, poor storytelling and an uninspired script. A popular character might get people in the door, but it won’t make them like the movie if it fails to deliver, and that’s true of this film and every other failed spin-off.