Top Ten Comic Book Movie Villains
The recent new images of Jamie Fox as Max Dillon/Electro and Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborne in ‘The Amazing Spiderman 2’ inspired the idea to put together Movie Melt’s list of the top ten best comic book movie villains ever. There are a lot to choose from, especially with Hollywood pumping out comic book movies like Evander Hollyfield pumps out children, so please understand that there are going to be a lot of good movie villains who get left off of our list. Also, remember this is a list of the best movie portrayals of comic book villains, so a bad guy might be awesome in the comic, but that doesn’t always concert to the big screen. Of course, we’d love to hear you call us stupid and tell us what the list should look like, so feel free to do so.
Originally the primary villain from ‘Thor’ is the hero’s darker brother Loki, scorned by their father and destined to take the path of evil. A smart, cold and calculated villain, Loki’s best work includes getting Thor banished to Earth and helping to initiate what appears to be the enslavement of humanity in ‘The Avengers.’ Loki is played brilliantly by Tom Hiddleston, and would probably be higher had he not shown a surprisingly weak, ans strangely un-intimidating side near the end of ‘The Avengers.’ However, with the classic tragic, misunderstood character turned evil, Loki is a pure comic book villain.
So, not always the most famous villain in comic book movie history, Mystique certainly gained a little more notoriety after she appeared in the first ‘X-Men’ movie. Her popularity may not be completely based around her villainous ways however, as what caught many people’s attention was the fact that she was ridiculously sexy and happened to wear a costume that left very little to the imagination. Played initially by the smoking hot Rebecca Romijn, and then by the unbearably beautiful Jennifer Lawrence in ‘X-Men First Class,’ she is one baddie that we all didn’t want to see defeated, in fear that we wouldn’t see her on screen anymore.
8. That Yellow Bastard
Well, villains are supposed to be bad. They are supposed to be evil, and we should hate them and even be repulsed by them. In the world of comic book movie villains however, there is often an heir of popularity and coolness about the bad guys. Often times, they are more loved than the good guys. That is why ‘That Yellow Bastard’ has made our list, because he is quite possibly the most vile and disgusting villain in the history of comic books. Straight from the dark and sadistic world of ‘Sin City,’ That Yellow Bastard is a pedophile and rapist-murderer who manages to get a cop, played by Bruce Willis in the film, framed for the rape of an 11 year old girl. The crimes don’t get much worse than these, and of course those of us who’ve seen the film know just how his story ends. Ouch.
This may come as a sight surprise, as Whiplash is again not as famous as some of the other comic book movie villains out there, but part of the reason for his inclusion is the fantastic performance that Micky Rourke put in during ‘Iron Man 2.’ Anton Vanko is a Russian scientist and genius, who dedicates his life to the death of Tony Stark, for an offense he didn’t actually commit. What makes Whiplash in the movie so great, is the cold, calculated and often times calm portrayal by Rourke. For example, sitting in his cell we see no panic. Then in the fantastic race car scene, we see no rush or sense of urgency as he wreaks havoc and chaos on the surroundings. Slowly but surely wielding his whips with a calm rage. Throw in the creepy Russian accent and you’ve got yourself a real bad guy.
Xerxes the leader of the massive, endless army of Persians who go to battle with Leonidas and the Spartans in Zack Snyder’s ‘3000.’ He is by no means tough, and he is in fact extremely feminine and doesn’t invoke much fear in a physical sense. What makes him such a great bad guy, is actually a number of things. For one, we just hate the guy, because of his unbelievable arrogance and belief that he really is a god among men. We see him tower over his minions, and the highlight is probably when his soldiers form a human staircase for him to descend from his carriage with. Anybody who utilizes that service is immediately a douche bag. Then, there is his merciless destruction of all in his path, including woman and children, and entire villages. Seeing him bleed at the end of ‘300’ is one of my favorite moments in the whole film.
5. Lex Luthor
One of the most high profile villains on the list, Lex Luthor is Superman’s most famous arch nemesis, who appeared in multiple films throughout the franchise, and will appear in more as we revamp it in the near future. Originally played by Gene Hackman brilliantly and then later by Kevin Spacey with some success, what is interesting about Luthor is that he is able to do what he does with absolutely no special powers. He is simply an extremely great industrialist, who unfortunately uses his powers and abilities for evil instead of good. His personality is tough to nail down, because he just doesn’t seem all that bad, perhaps just one of those guys you know is a bit of an a-hole, but you like them anyway. Then you witness some of the insane schemes, and cold hearted methods he uses to both get rich, and to destroy Superman, and you realize that he is about as bad as they come.
Fantastically played as an older villain by Ian McKellen, and then later by Michael Fassbender as a younger version, Magneto is one of my favorite comic book villains ever. His mutant power, for one, is fantastic and almost too good. How do you attack a man who has the ability to completely manipulate and over power all metal around him. The fact that basically every weapon out there involves metal, makes things a little tricky. But what is really great about Magneto, is that he is the old best friend and companion of the leader of the X-Men, Professor X. With the two of them having similar goals in mind, but taking completely different paths to get there, we have an interesting dynamic between them which makes for great movie moments. Nobody is able to portray his fantastic intelligence and stone faced will like McKellen can.
3. Doctor Octopus
For whatever reason, I’ve always loved Doc Oc as a bad guy, and Spiderman was possibly my favorite comic and cartoon as a kid. There is something about Doctor Octopus that is very creepy, and his design is so incredibly unique that I thought it would be difficult to capture on screen. However, in ‘Spiderman 2’ he was brought to life with great success by Alfred Molina, and some great CGI. A somewhat sympathetic character, he is no simple villain and the story of his accident and the death of his wife certainly explain some of his irrational behavior. His sense of evil mixed with a demeanor close to depression, he becomes an extremely formidable and complex villain that is one of the best ever seen on screen.
With the recent success of the massive end to Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ there were many discussions about where Bane stood in comparison to The Joker, and I was actually among those who suggested that he may have been as good or even better. I’m not 100% behind the statement, but either way, Tom Hardy’s Bane was one of the most brilliant, brutal, unique and entertaining villains to ever set foot on a movie screen. His unbelievable combination of eloquent, intelligent monologues and merciless, brute strength and violence is like nothing I had ever seen. He proves to be truly the toughest adversary the Batman has ever faced, and his schemes of bringing Gotham’s citizens down on themselves through manipulation and anarchy is truly unique and amazing, as is always the case with Nolan. The first fight scene between Batman and Bane, and the haunting monologue on the football field are among some of his best moments, and his performance has me watching the film over and over.
So, with all that being said, I simply had no choice to add Batman’s other arch nemesis, The Joker to the list as our best comic book movie villain of all time. The main reason he was able to top the list is that the argument could be made that the role has been done so good, twice, and that each role separately could be worthy of the number one spot in their own right. Initially played by Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’ we got one of the most insane, hilarious and completely manic adaptations of a comic book character ever. This was certainly a more ‘comic book’ version, with Jack bringing The Joker to life in almost cartoonish fashion. With a smile so creepy it will give you nightmares, and a collection of insane and almost hilarious pranks and schemes, this role could argue it’s position at number one. Then we throw in what is probably the most famous and talked about comic book villain adaptation in the history of film, Heath Ledgers historic and Oscar winning portrayal of a much darker, slightly more realistic version of The Joker. Ledger completely reinvented the character by locking himself away for months, and with a terrifying voice and each and every tiny mannerism perfected, this will forever be considered the quintessential comic book villain role of all time.