The Worst Comic Book Movie Villains


With the explosion of comic to film adaptations, a good number of our favorite heroes have been brought to life on the silver screen. This inevitably means some of our favorite bad guys have received the same treatment as well. Because a good villain is multi layered and full of nuances built over decades by numerous talented writers and artists, it can be difficult to distill everything memorable about them onto the big screen. The there are some movies like these where it seems as if the filmmakers are not even trying.

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Nuclear Man (Superman IV: Quest for Peace): While Superman fans have been clamoring for years to see the likes of; Braniac, Bizarro, and other members of Supe’s rogues gallery on the big screen, filmmakers have never been all that crazy about granting those requests. We have seen an abundance of Lex Luthor, Richard Pryor, and General Zod to various degrees of success. But in the much derided Superman IV: Quest for Peace, the few who saw it got to meet Nuclear Man. When the Man of Steel hurls the world’s nuclear weapons into the sun, a scheme from Lex Luthor ensure that he creates a powerful new enemy. He has an assortment of powers to match up with Superman in battle, but the one that inflicts the most damage is evil fingernails. Any hint of him being a legitimate threat is thrown out the window due to the fact that a lack of sunlight leaves him as weak as a newborn kitten. All it took was for Supes to trick him into an elevator which he moved to the moon and this horrible foe was rendered helpless.

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Red Skull (Captain America): I am not referring to the always great Hugo Weaving in Captain America: the First Avenger. Instead I am talking about Scott Paulin in the 1990 attempt to bring the Star Spangled Avenger to the silver screen. This has nothing to do with his performance, as Paulin actually gives a respectable effort, it has more to do with the way the character was treated by the filmmakers. For starters the Red Skull is only red and skull-like in the first five minutes of the flick, after that he gets plastic surgery to simply look like a guy with a weird face. Which is a shame because the one scene where he is actually the Red Skull, the character looked fantastic. On top of that, this villain who for over seven decades who proudly wore his German heritage on his sleeve, became Italian for no explanation. As it stands he is just another terrible thread in a terrible sweater which is this movie, feel free to read my full review of it HERE.

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Two Face (Batman Forever): An incredibly gifted actor like Tommy Lee Jones taking on the role of one of Batman’s most complex and intriguing villains should have been performance for the ages. Unfortunately Joel Schumacher saw fit to strip away everything that made Two Face such an intriguing character. In theory (because we see a news report about it) Harvey Dent is still the fallen hero District Attorney whose mind was destroyed when his face was. But you would not know this watching the movie as Tommy Lee Jones tries to out-Jim Carrey the actual Jim Carrey. He dashes around cackling like a madman, plotting grandiose schemes and chewing up as much scenery as possible. His iconic coin is relegated to an afterthought as he either ignores it or flips it until he gets the outcome he desires. It goes so far that in the climactic battle, Batman has to remind him to actually flip it.

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Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Bane (Batman & Robin): When people think of bad villains in this travesty of a flick, Arnold’s Mr. Freeze always comes to mind. Sure his ice puns were groan inducing, but we tend to forget that his two cohorts were equally terrible. First off why would one villain who has an ultimate goal of freezing the world team with a villain who has the goal of turning the world into a plant utopia? This does not make any sense, but because they are both in the anti-Batman camp, we are supposed to believe that alone would bring them together. Uma Thurman tries to take her place among the great femme fatales of Batman related media, but her performance is so hammy that it only draws a groan. In the 90’s Bane was put on the pop culture radar, as being the ruthless, strong, strategically-minded villain who finally broke the Bat. In Batman & Robin, Bane is just a hired muscle who can barely string a sentence together and gets taken out by two barely competent sidekicks.

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Lex Luthor (Batman vs. Superman): When comic fans think of Superman’s arch nemesis, Lex Luthor; they think of a bald, intelligent, ruthless businessman who projects strength and power whether in the Lexcorp boardroom or the halls of the Legion of Doom HQ. Zack Snyder made the dumb decision to give audiences a Lex Luthor who was none of those things in the controversial Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Somehow in a flick where Batman blows people away and Superman is a moody whiner, this character is the one who is furthest from his established character. Speaking with this grating high pitched voice with numerous pointless ticks, it is like actor Jesse Eisenberg had never seen or read anything with this legendary character before and decided to play a standard post-Heath Ledger comic villain. At least in the post-credit scene of Justice League he had the decency to actually wear an expensive suit more fitting of Luthor, but that does little to wipe away the stain of this movie.

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Luc Crash (the Crow: Wicked Prayer): There is a classic story arc in Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, where Angel lost his soul and reverted to his evil state, and for several episodes audiences got to see just how good David Boreanaz can be at playing a bad guy. That makes seeing him play a bad guy in this edition of the terrible sequels to the Crow (it is sad to see this as being the legacy of one of my favorite movies), that much harder to watch. Boreanaz realizes all h is getting from this schlock is a paycheck (and the joy of working with Danny Trejo) so he decides to go absolutely over-the-top in his performance. I would like to think in a much better dark fantasy flick a Satanic gang leader with minions named after the horsemen of the apocalypse would be interesting, but it sure does not happen here. I will say when he is paired with an equally hammy Dennis Hopper, things do get a bit entertaining. 

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Doctor Doom (Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Fantastic Four 2015): Doctor Doom stands as arguably the greatest villain into the entire plethora of Marvel evildoers. Donning a fearsome suit of armor to rule his own nation, calling him an egomaniac is only the tip of the iceberg. Victor Von Doom devoted his life to being the most powerful and intelligent man in the world solely out of spite towards Reed Richards. Many villains have made plans to conquer the world, but in 2015’s Secret Wars, Doom actually succeeds in doing so, remaking the entire Marvel Universe into his own playground. It makes it all the more disheartening that we have never seen him brought to life properly on the silver screen. In the first two Fantastic Four flicks he was portrayed by Julian McMahon, who is clearly just there for a paycheck. Rather than a powerful ruler, he is more sleazy than anything else. Absent from this version of Doom was every bit of depth, nuance, and coolness that Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and countless other creators over the decades have given to the character. When he was rebooted in the recent dreadful Fantastic Four, he was not even named Doom, but rather Domashev an American hacker. So from the start this iteration is a letdown and it only gets worse from there. When he emerges from the portal which gave everyone their powers, he has a very ill defined power set and a confusing motivation to boot. There is the promise of a Doctor Doom solo movie on the horizon, so hopefully fans will finally see the Latverian ruler done correctly.

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Apocalypse (X-Men: Age of Apocalypse): Apocalypse is arguably the most powerful villain the X-Men have ever faced. Comic legends Walt and Louise Simonson and artist Jackson Guice, created a mighty foe who oozed of power and might, so when fanboys and fangirls heard he was coming to the big screen they braced for something incredible. Instead when the first image of the infamous bad guy appeared it drew laughter and unfavorable comparisons to the Power Rangers character Ivan Ooze. After this response it seemed as if there were some changes made on his appearance, but he was still not the towering majestic threat he should have been. Despite casting the talented Oscar Isaac in the role, the actor’s usual charm was buried in prosthetics leaving just a sad whispery voice as a means to express himself. True he did leave an entire city in rubble, but at this point what comic movie villain has not done that (thanks Zack Snyder). It is a shame to see such a powerful baddie brought to this.

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The Enchantress (Suicide Squad): More of a crappy flashy over-edited music video than a narrative driven movie, there is nothing good about the adaptation of the Suicide Squad. True the Enchantress is the villain of this movie, but I would also want to point out that every character in Task Force X is also supposed to be a bad guy and yet they are portrayed as just wisecracking antiheroes which takes away everything that made the source material interesting. As the villain the Enchantress proves from the start that Amanda Waller’s plan is a bad one, because one of her recruits turns evil and tries to wipe out the world with a generic sky laser. I have a jar of peanut butter with more acting ability than Cara Delevingne so from the start this portrayal of the character is doomed. It is hard to be a threatening villain when you can not walk without doing this weird belly dance thing that causes the audience to cringe. At least this supposedly super powerful baddie can be simply defeated by; a girl with a baseball bat, a dude who can throw boomerangs, and a crocodile guy.

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