Pow! Splat! Kablam! Stars Who Failed as Superheroes

If Superman got in a fight with Batman and Green Lantern, who'd win? If these playground arguments fascinated you as a child, perhaps it's time to consider which star looked the silliest as a superhero.

Was it Halle Berry in her sadomasochistic Catwoman outfit or George Clooney as a nipple-accentuated Batman?

When movie stars need to boost their careers, they often pull on a mask and cape. Sometimes, however, a seemingly can't-miss blockbuster ends up a colossal embarrassment that's hard to live down.

"It seems almost wrong to cast a big star as a superhero because celebrities are insiders and superheroes are outsiders who come out of nowhere," said science fiction and fantasy historian Bob Madison of Dinoship publishing.

"We know too much about a George Clooney or a Halle Berry to accept them in such a role, and so it's a tough sell for an audience to accept them in these roles," Madison said.

"The audience ends up saying, 'Oh, that's George Clooney as Batman' or 'That's Sylvester Stallone as Judge Dredd.' … And in the end, it becomes a major fiasco," he said.

Brandon Routh flies into theaters on Wednesday in "Superman Returns" -- and like the late Christopher Reeve, he takes on the role of the Man of Steel as a virtual unknown.

Brendan Fraser, Jude Law and Josh Hartnett had reportedly been considered for the role. Nicolas Cage had long talked about starring as Superman, and is such a fan of truth, justice and the American Way that he named his newborn son Kal-El, which, according to the comic book legend, is Superman's birth name.

Given some of the celebrity superheroes who found bad reviews and moviegoer scorn more lethal than kryptonite, we all may be better off with newcomer Routh.

Now, take a look at some of the most regrettable big screen adaptations of a comic book legend (PHOTOS | VOTE), and the stars who looked all-too-mortal in their performances.

Berry in "Catwoman" -- Berry went from Oscar winner in "Monster's Ball" to theatrical kitty litter, snapping a whip in a skimpy cat suit, to fight Sharon Stone, who played an evil cosmetics executive. Berry had success as the mutant Storm in the "X-Men" movies. "Catwoman," though, took in half of its $85 million at the U.S. box office and had the dubious distinction of winning Razzie awards for worst picture, worst director, worst screenplay and worst actress. Meow.

Clooney in "Batman & Robin" -- Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and, more recently, Christian Bale had success bringing the Caped Crusader to the big screen. Clooney's "Batman & Robin" in 1997 gave the blockbuster franchise the Mr. Freeze treatment.

Playing up Clooney's popularity as the sexy Dr. Ross from TV's "ER," director Joel Schumacher pumped up his star with a 15-pound bat suit that added enough muscle to make Barry Bonds envious. Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl didn't help matters, and the romance with femme fatal Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy made Hollywood's most famous bachelor quip, "Why is it that all the beautiful ones are homicidal maniacs?"

Ben Affleck in "Daredevil" -- As least when Affleck bombed in "Pearl Harbor," he flew a bomber. In "Daredevil," all he got was an embarrassingly tight, red outfit -- and even a blind superhero should care a little more about his appearance. The 2003 fiasco allowed him to cozy up to his future wife, Jennifer Garner, who played fellow do-gooder Electra, which was spun off into another movie that bombed in 2005.

Stallone in "Judge Dredd" -- Even among Stallone's many bombs, "Judge Dredd" stands out. Based on the British comic, it cost $90 million -- more than any other Sly film -- and brought in just $34 million. British comic book fans voted the film one of the worst movie adaptations ever of a superhero.

Of course, with yet another round of "Rocky" and "Rambo" films slated to open within the next year, Stallone is poised to make everyone forget the horror of "Dredd" with even more laughably bad movies.

Pamela Anderson in "Barb Wire" -- The only thing stronger than Superman might be Anderson's sports bra. As the titular character in "Barb Wire," Anderson ran a leather club by day and a mercenary service by night. Her character's trademark line was, "Don't call me babe!" Even with the inventive costuming, the "Baywatch" nonbabe's 1996 movie couldn't crack the box office Top 10 when it opened.

Shaquille O'Neal in "Steel" -- O'Neal's worst personal foul -- and his last attempt to star in a feature film -- was "Steel," a 1997 action flick that made his work a year earlier as a magic genie in "Kazaam" look like "On the Waterfront."

Buck Wolf is an entertainment producer at ABCNEWS.com. "The Wolf Files" is published Tuesdays.