The 2010s were filled with blockbusters, from the boom of the Avengers franchise to the new era of Star Wars. There were movies that frighted and delighted. Movies that moved us and films that fulfilled us.
And then, there were these films. The ones that we had high hopes for, and the ones that broke our hearts. These are the most disappointing films of the decade, and why we wish they’d never been made.
The Last Airbender – 2010
Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the greatest cartoons of the modern era, and weaved a fascinating tale of power, politics and strength through Aang and his friends. So when a film adaptation was announced, excitement and expectations were high. The film we actually got smashed those expectations to pieces, and then ground them in the dirt for good measure.
Hollywood has never had the greatest track record when it comes to anime and anime-influenced adaptations, and The Last Airbender was definitely a step in the wrong direction. Avatar the cartoon is heavily inspired by Chinese mythology and culture, so of course, nearly every major lead in the movie was played by a white actor. But beyond this predictable issue, the film was poorly written, barely coherent and featured some downright terrible acting. There’s a reason it racked up five wins at the 2010 Golden Raspberry Awards — it was just plain horrible.
Green Lantern – 2011
Following 2011’s Green Lantern adaptation, Hal Jordan was pretty much exiled from the DC movie universe. In fact, when the Justice League finally assembled in 2017, Green Lantern was nowhere to be seen, despite being a long-time, key member of the team. Much of the blame can be placed on Green Lantern, a film that managed to be so boring, forgettable and charisma-less that it tainted the character and his entire mythology.
Green Lantern is a watchable film, and that’s the most that can be said about it. The decision to make the Green Lantern suit (and almost the entire film) CGI was a strange one. There were a handful of badly timed jokes that made the whole film inconsistent. Ryan Reynolds did his best with a bland script and character. Blake Lively was… there. Green Lantern tried to do too much too soon, and the movie and character suffered for it. Hal Jordan deserved better than this.
Terminator: Genisys – 2015
Terminator: Genisys was so poor that 2019’s Dark Fate sequel completely rebooted the series and wiped Genisys (and Terminator 3) from existence. It’s a shame, because this entry marked Arnold Schwarzenegger’s grand return to the franchise after 12 years. It also boasts a stunning cast, from Jason Clarke to Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney and J.K. Simmons, and follows the tale of iconic freedom fighter and soldier Kyle Reese. It should’ve been fantastic, and all the groundwork was there — but the story was inconsistent, the performances were middling and the visual effects unimpressive.
While Terminator: Genisys wasn’t necessarily a ‘bad’ movie, it was a disappointing one, and it sapped enthusiasm for the franchise from fans. After the disappointment of Terminator 3 and Salvation, Genisys should’ve been an easy win. Instead, it mostly doomed the franchise.
FANT4STIC – 2015
The original Fantastic Four movies are naff and dated, but beloved by fans who grew up with them. 2015’s reboot attempted to capitalise on the characters’ popularity, but instead birthed a movie so awful that Fox cancelled a planned sequel and allowed the character rights to revert back to Marvel Studios. The three Golden Raspberry awards it won (including Worst Picture) was testament to how badly the film bombed.
Here, it was a combination of poor directing, a bad script, dour sub-tones and muddy visual effects. While the cast did well enough with what they had, good acting can only take you so far in an incoherent mess. Hopefully Marvel can pick up the ball and run with it from here. Really, the franchise can only go up after this.
Warcraft – 2016
Warcraft and its extended game universe has been extremely popular since it was introduced in 1994. A film adaptation seemed inevitable, and after over 10 years in production, Warcraft arrived in 2016. It was… a movie. Like many video game film adaptations, Warcraft suffered from a disappointing and poorly written script that meant even the usually-charismatic Travis Fimmel came off uninterested and uninteresting.
Part of the problem is that the Warcraft universe is filled with such deep lore that a film adaptation had no chance of touching its depth or what makes it truly interesting. For viewers with no understanding of the lore, a film like Warcraft was entirely inaccessible. While it featured genuinely gorgeous CGI and looked fantastic, Warcraft had nothing else under the covers. In the end, the world of Warcraft was better off sticking with video games.
Suicide Squad – 2016
Suicide Squad was a total mess, with only a single bright spark in it — Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, who has now been spun off into her own franchise. While Robbie lapped up scenes in this derivative, badly paced and terribly scripted film, her co-stars faded into the background. Or stuck out like a sore thumb, in the case of Jared Leto’s over-acted, over-hyped performance as the Joker.
There was so much going on in Suicide Squad that it’s hard to narrow down exactly what was wrong with it. Enchantress made for a bad villain, the cast chosen were unmemorable in their roles, it was hard to care for any of the characters, and the story made zero sense. But maybe the upcoming sequel by James Gunn can still save the franchise. All we’ll say is good luck!
The Dark Tower – 2017
Stephen King’s Dark Tower series is one of the pillars of modern sci-fi/fantasy novels. It follows the story of Roland Deschain, the last member of the deadly gunslingers, as he quests to find the Dark Tower, a nexus of all realities. Roland is undoubtedly the heart of the Dark Tower series, but to make the film more accessible to non-readers, a child named Jake Chambers was made the central protagonist.
While Chambers appears in the books, he’s more of a side character, and many were disappointed by the new narrative frame that focussed on his story over Roland’s. Most critics agreed that the adaption made little sense to fans of the book or newcomers, making for a muddy adaptation that reeked of unfaithfulness. The Dark Tower epic deserved better.
Solo: A Star Wars Story – 2018
Did anyone really need to know Han Solo’s back story? Disney was determined the answer was ‘yes’, and so Solo was born — a movie that even Star Wars fans didn’t go to see. It bombed at the box office, grossing $US393 million on a reported $US275 million budget, making it the lowest-grossing live-action Star Wars film ever.
The attraction of Han Solo is that he’s mysterious. Audiences don’t want to know more about his past. Subtle teases were enough to keep fans satisfied for years. Fans didn’t need a Han Solo origin story, and they sure let Disney know it. While the movie itself is serviceable, it was hardly memorable, and for a Star Wars film, that’s just criminal.
Glass – 2019
Glass acted as a sequel to both 2000’s Unbreakable and 2016’s Split, and was heralded as a deep commentary on the modern idolisation of superheroes. Fans had been begging M. Night Shyamalan for a sequel to Unbreakable for over a decade, and he was set to finally deliver with this ‘groundbreaking’ sequel. Instead, what fans got was two hours of Unbreakable‘s David Dunn and Elijah Price, and Split‘s Kevin Wendell Crumb sitting in an asylum being convinced that they weren’t heroes. Two hours of this!
And then, the film rushed into a finale where every character was murdered by the government, including the death of the ‘invincible’ David Dunn via drowning in a puddle. The teased confrontation between Dunn’s super powered hero and Crumb’s hideous ‘Beast’ persona amounted to nothing, and the entire franchise’s potential was literally shoved into the dirt. Glass was a deeply weird sequel, and one that failed to be as deep or insightful as it claimed to be. As far as disappointments go, this was one of the big ones.
X-Men: Apocalypse – 2016 & Dark Phoenix – 2019
What happened to the X-Men franchise? At this stage, it has more misses than hits, and the one-two punch of Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix guaranteed that the series will have to lay low for a while and tend to its wounds. Apocalypse was enjoyable enough, but it was bogged down by a poor story, Oscar Isaac’s hideous-looking Apocalypse and a bad reliance on CGI. Dark Phoenix doubled down on this by being a boring and nonsensical character study of Jean Grey — a character that the X-Men films really need to stop focusing so much on.
The Phoenix Saga is deep and epic, but it’s a story that’s only really suited to the pages of a comic book. This latest adaptation was poor at best, and failed to understand the basics of Jean’s journey throughout the saga. As the finale to the newer class of X-Men films, it was a major disappointment, and one that marked the death knell of the modern X-Men franchise. Let’s hope that, like the phoenix, this series can rise anew from the ashes.
For good movies to exist, there always has to be a balance. For every great movie, there’s a terrible one. The next decade is sure to have just as many stinkers, but what would good movies be without them?
This article has been updated since its original publication.