The Curse of Three

The Curse of Three

aka Why is the Third Superhero Movie the Worst?

Sequels have long been a sure sign of a bad movie. Take an existing popular movie, try it again and see lightning strikes twice. Most of the time it didn’t. Then somewhere along the line, maybe in the late 80’s early 90’s, filmmakers started making sequels that lived up to the original’s expectations. Or oftentimes in the case of superhero movies, exceeded them. Especially in superhero movies, once the origin story is out of the way, the sequel is the best place to get a good action filled story in. But then something else happened, it started with Superman III. Where the sequel was as good as the original, the third movie went way downhill in terms of plot, action, and just overall quality. Is it a curse, often times it doesn’t matter whether the third movie has a bigger budget or a smaller budget, the same people behind the scenes or new ones, they almost always end in crap. Is it a curse, and can it be broken?

Curse of Three

As I mentioned in the beginning, it started early with Superman III, where they brought in Richard Pryor, all but kicked out Margot Kidder. It wouldn’t be for another 10 years before the curse would rear it’s ugly head, or specifically four ugly heads. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started out as a dark, independent hit. The sequel went on to make Vanilla Ice a household name with his Ninja Rap, but for the third movie, for whatever reason they dropped the Jim Henson creature effects for the turtles and went with some other company. Not only that, but they sent the turtles to ancient Japan. The next two, I can’t really talk much about because I haven’t watched them yet, but both Darkman 3 and Robocop 3 were released straight to video and there were not any more from either franchise so that’s got to tell you something.

Like clockwork it took another 10 years for the curse to show up once again, technically 11 years but who’s counting? This time it took hold of the half vampire of the Marvel Universe, Blade. It turned up the action quotient, turned down the horror quotient, brought in some baby-faces by the names of Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel and had Blade face off against the granddaddy of all vampires, Dracula. Except they called him Drake, he spent most of his time running, and he wore bling. The extra year must have done something to the curse because it started spreading quicker, taking only two more years before hitting the X-Men franchise as they handed the reigns from Bryan Singer to Brett Rattner, otherwise known as the Rush Hour guy. Not only that, but it also must have infected Singer as the movie he did instead: Superman Returns, was also doomed by the lack of a decision to make it a sequel or a reboot.

Cursed or not? You decide.

Cursed or not? You decide.

The curse couldn’t wait any longer and the very next year it turned against the Spider-Man franchise, somehow getting to it even though the director and actors all remained the same, and yet it still managed to create the scene where Emo Parker discos down the street. Seemingly sated for now, let’s hope it’s another 10 years before the curse strikes again, though some may say that the curse caused the Dark Knight Rises to bloat to almost three hours long and had Batman take eight years off just because his not-girlfriend died. And we’re only a few short months away from finding out if Iron Man 3 will fall victim of the curse or break free, continuing Disney/Marvel’s current winning streak.

About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 500 superhero and comic book movies in the past seven years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on February 28, 2013, in Blogs and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Interesting observation, Bubbawheat. Although I’m not sure I’d call the first TMNT film dark or independent. And I’d put Batman Forever above Batman Returns personally… but then, I suppose Batman Returns was in fact the third if we just count the entire “Batman” franchise and not just the “90s Batman” franchise. Superman Returns is an interesting case, as they decided to ignore films 3 and 4 but set it after films 1 and 2, making it a second third film…

    I thought TDKR was a good film, but it’s definitely the weakest of its trilogy. No question there.

    Hopefully Iron Man 3 can avoid the curse. But I have to admit I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if it didn’t.

    • On the TMNT front, you might be surprised, not nearly as dark as anything today, but pretty dark compared to, say the cartoon.

      I can’t believe I forgot to add Batman Forever, my fault for writing this last minute, though it’s a topic I’ve been meaning to get to for a long time. In my memory, I enjoyed Forever, but the last time I saw it a few years ago, I couldn’t stand it anymore. Should be about time for a revisit. Also, nice catch on the pseudo-third movie with Superman Returns, something else I will blame on quick writing.

  2. I think Iron Man took the curse in the second one, hopefully anyway 😀

  3. There’s a lot of reasons to it I suppose. Like you point out, its hard to hold the cast and crew together for three films. But also, studios always want the movie to TOP the last, which often leads to writers/directors adding more villains, more danger, more bloat. Lot of pressure by the time you get to the third. 😦

    • Yeah, the third movie tends to have a lot of everything in it. Too bad everything I keep hearing about the second spider-man makes me wonder if they’re getting the bad movie out of the way early.

  4. We are making a zombie film with no heroes, but only humans who can’t be heroes.
    Here’s our facebook page:
    Short trailer:

  5. Interesting observation, I hadn’t thought of the course of three. To be honest I’m not hugely anticipating Iron Man 3 though I enjoyed the first two. Someone just mentioned about Ratner directing X-Men 3 in my recent review, it’s really too bad Singer didn’t direct that one.

    • I know, I’m also not really anticipating Iron Man 3. The only thing that’s gotten me somewhat excited is the Pepper Potts poster. But X-Men: Days of Future Past has me really excited, I hope Singer returns to form and has another X2 rather than another Jack the Giant Slayer.

      • Yes indeed!! I am really looking forward to Days of Future Past, too! I was so disappointed w/ Jack the Giant Slayer.

  1. Pingback: Iron Man 3 | Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights

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