After an historic record-breaking box office run, but for all the wrong reasons, The Marvels is facing the comparison that every Marvel movie fears: it’s getting likened to Morbius.
In fact, with a 79% drop-off in earnings from its opening weekend to its second in theaters, The Marvels actually suffered a bigger weekend 2 loss than even Morbius did, which plummeted by the slightly less 74% over the same period. To be entirely fair to Nia DaCosta’s sequel — which, in this writer’s opinion is actually a ton of fun and doesn’t deserve the hate — it is destined to make more than Morbius‘ total gross, whatever happens. Coming out of its second weekend, it’s currently sitting at a $161 million, whereas the Jared Leto bomb made $167 million overall.
Sure, The Marvels has a free run at being the lowest-grossing MCU movie ever, but let’s not get our wires crossed and say it’s earning less than Morbius. And yet, as much as Morbius has become the metric by which the worst the superhero genre has to offer are judged, there are actually a bunch of movies from across Marvel cinematic history that have tanked even harder. At least The Marvels can breathe a sigh of relief that it’s not any of these titles.
Howard the Duck (1986) — $38 million
Photo via Lucasfilm
What’s the first ever Marvel movie? No, it’s not Iron Man or even X-Men or Blade, it is indeed Howard the Duck, the infamous flop that bizarrely predicted the craze for Marvel adaptations that would kick off in the 21st century. Let’s just say that this lone Lucasfilm effort in the Marvel canon was ahead of its time and it failed to find an audience back when it released in 1986.
Blade (1998) — $131.2 million
Photo via New Line Cinema
The Blade movies are iconic for a certain generation of superhero film fans, but their supernatural themes and R-rating meant that they were never destined for the mainstream success of their contemporary comic book adaptations, like DC’s Batman quadrilogy or Fox’s X-Men. Nevertheless, Blade‘s $131 million was a fair amount for the time and was successful enough to spawn a trilogy.
Blade II (2002) — $155 million
Photo via New Line Cinema
Tragically, of the three comic book movies to come from creative powerhouse Guillermo Del Toro, only one of them has managed to gross more than Morbius. 2004’s Hellboy failed to cross even $100 million and its 2008 sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army only just about beats Morbius with its $168 total. Blade II falls somewhere in the middle, then, even if it is the highest-grossing Blade film.
Blade: Trinity (2004) — $132 million
Image via New Line Cinema
Yes, all three Blades brought home less than Morbius. Honestly, we’re starting to wonder why Marvel is so desperate to make its reboot with Mahershala Ali in place of Wesley Snipes happen. History has shown us four times over now that audiences just don’t go crazy for Marvel movies about vampires. Although, to be fair, repeating Trinity‘s trick of pairing Blade up with Ryan Reynolds would probably be a lot more lucrative nowadays than it was then.
Elektra (2005) — $57 million
via 20th Century Fox
2003’s Daredevil wasn’t the Spider-Man-aping success Fox was hoping for, but the Ben Affleck starrer still spawned a spinoff in the form of 2005’s Elektra, which brought back Jennifer Garner as the titular anti-heroine. Unfortunately, on a budget of upwards of $65 million it only earned back $57 million. Deadpool 3‘s greatest joke is that, against all the odds, its invited Garner to reprise her infamous role.
Punisher: War Zone (2008) — $10.1 million
Image via Lionsgate
Jon Bernthal might be the MCU’s Punisher, but three men played Frank Castle on the big screen before him, including Dolph Lundgren in 1989 and Thomas Jane in 2004. Unfortunately, the much-missed Ray Stevenson has the bad luck of being the lowest-grossing of the trio, starring in 2008’s little-remembered Punisher: War Zone — some Robert Downey Jr. movie that came out the same year stole its thunder.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011) — $132.6 million
2007’s Ghost Rider made a solid $229 million, but if you’re wondering why they never made more movies of Nicholas Cage as Johnny Blaze — other than the fact that they’re terrible — 2011’s Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is your answer. Unfortunately, the audience had been spoiled by Marvel Studios in the years since and they didn’t return to see Nic Cage flame on — no, wait, that’s Johnny Storm — a second time.
The New Mutants (2020) — $49. 2 million
Image via 20th Century Studios
You’ve got to feel sorry for Morbius. Well, maybe not got to, but you could do, if you felt like it. Despite its hideous reputation, it’s not even the biggest box office bomb based on a Marvel Comic released this decade. That dishonor goes to Fox’s The New Mutants, the execrable X-Men spinoff that was doomed from the start — it came out after Dark Phoenix had already ended the saga, it released amid the first wave of the pandemic, and it was just really, really bad, people. At least Morbius gave us the memes. When was the last time you thought about The New Mutants?