Part of making a good comic book movie is getting the hero correct. You have to make sure they look close enough to the source material, and you really have to make sure the character feels right. You can’t have Daredevil fighting on a seesaw, or Batman and Robin going to a social event with the media present and talking to reporters (I hate you, Schumacher).
But, just as importantly as all of that is getting the villain right. How many lame ass versions of cool characters have ruined (or at least contributing to the ruining of) movies? I’m looking at you, Jim Carrey’s Riddler, Danny Devito’s Penguin, Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face, Arnold’s Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy, Collin Farrell’s Bullseye, Jigsaw in Punisher War Zone, and every villain in every Superman movie (yes, even Terrance Stamp’s Zod).
Here are my top 10 examples of villains they got right.
10. The Abomination (The Incredible Hulk)
This really shouldn’t have worked. They completely changed everything about the character except for his name, Emil Blonsky. He looks different, acts different, has a completely different origin, and somewhat different motivations. The only real similarities besides his name are the fact that he’s as strong as, or stronger than, the Hulk, he’s huge, and he’s a maniac who has no qualms whatsoever about massacring anyone and everyone that gets anywhere near him.
I like the fact that we saw Blonsky evolve from a regular man to a psuedo super soldier to a gamma monster. I like the design, despite the fact that he’s completely different from the version that’s been around for nearly 50 years. I like that he’s made with a combination of super soldier serum and Hulk blood, which is the worst nightmare of the Hulk, and something that would/will piss off Captain America to no end.
I think the fight(s) between Blonsky/Abomination and the Hulk are the highlights of this movie, and probably keep it from being a really average movie.
9. The Lizard (Amazing Spider-Man)
Really the only thing keeping him this low on the list is the design of his face while in the Lizard form. There was really nothing broken with what was in the comics, so why ‘fix’ it? Change for the sake of change is never good.
Rhys Ifans did a really good job as Curt Conners. He stole a lot of scenes, but it didn’t stand out as much as it would have in the previous series of films, simply because everyone else was so good, too. But I think he played the brilliant (but very weak) scientist darn near perfectly. I thought it was a strange choice of villain for the reboot, simply because there are better villains to choose for Spider-Man’s origin story. The problem is that so many of them were used in the previous series of films, and they’re too recent. Otherwise I would have expected to see Dr. Octopus, or the Green Goblin.
Anyway, Conners is played very well, and the Lizard is actually really cool, and pretty terrifying (other than his face which, while not great, isn’t that bad; it’s just not what I would have chosen).
8. Deacon Frost (Blade)
The baddest of a long line of monstrous assholes that Blade took out in his trilogy of films, Deacon Frost is a total bastard. In some ways he’s Blade’s father, as he is the vampire that bit Blade’s pregnant mother and made him the vampire hybrid ‘daywalker’ that he is. If it weren’t for Blade, Frost would have conquered the world and turned all of us into walking, talking happy meals. He tossed a little girl into traffic, killed his own goons, and he and his people horribly killed the vampire leaders in a variety of different ways. He also gets the benefit of dying after one of the greatest one-liners a hero has ever uttered in an action movie, when Blade says, “Some motherfuckers are always trying to ice skate uphill.”
7. Scarecrow (Dark Knight trilogy)
While he really only has any impact in Batman Begins, Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow is awesome. The dude drugged Batman, doused him in liquor, and set him on fire! I mean, what more does a villain have to do? Drug the hero’s girlfriend and leave her for dead? Check. Work for a dude that’s going to cause mass murder? Check. Work towards a situation where half of a city is doused in your toxin that psychologically tortures anybody exposed to it to the brink of madness or beyond? Check. The dude even made it through TWO sequels and didn’t die! If they ever did make (please don’t) a sequel to Dark Knight Rises, I bet Scarecrow murders the shit out of the John Blake Batman (that we will hopefully NEVER EVER see).
6. Ra’s Al Ghul (Batman Begins)
While they changed a number of things about Ra’s for the movie version, it still rang true enough to the comic book version that it worked, especially in the universe Christopher Nolan was building. Liam Neeson plays Mili Ducard/Ra’s Al Ghul with a perfect amount of both intensity, superiority, and levity.
Tying Ra’s to Batman’s origins was a bit of a surprise, but makes complete sense, almost to the point that I wish it had been done in the comics. Neeson played the role of substitute father figure/arch enemy pretty damn well. You got the feeling that even though Bruce had gone against everything Ra’s had hoped for, he still had some weird sense of pride regarding Bruce/Batman. It was almost like “My best student is SO badass that he took down my master plan, my entire clan, AND me. I am awesome!”
His importance in the series is cemented in the third film.
5. Red Skull (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Even without showing how evil he really was, the Captain America movie had one kickass villain in the Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull. While I would have liked the film to focus more on the actual war, and really would have liked them to show the Skull pushing for more, and harsher concentration camps (like in the comics), as he was Hitler’s right hand man and a total fanatic. The Red Skull is just the most evil fucker ever, and while the movie didn’t really ever depict that, he was still a grade A jerkstore. Also, he looked cool.
I am very curious to see how he is portrayed in any sequels he may show up in, such as any future Captain America movies (like the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier, perhaps?) or maybe even an Avengers sequel (I want Avenges 2 to be a Masters of Evil type story).
4. Doctor Octopus (Spider-Man 2)
While there are plenty of things you can pick apart about the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, I do not believe that Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock is one of them. The only real complaint I can agree with is that he’s not the total sociopath that the comic book version is, but that’s not much of a complaint.
The look was right, he moved like Doc Ock, he had no problem killing people, and the fights he had with the ol’ web-head were the best in the series. Personally, my only complaint was that they gave him a ‘heart’, and he kind of came around to the good side by the end. My Doc Ock, the comic book version, does not have even an inkling of a good side.
The scene pictured above, when he wakes up with the mechanical arms for the first time and murders all of the doctors trying to operate on them, is the best scene in the movie.
If only they didn’t feel the need to kill him off….
3. Loki (Thor, The Avengers)
Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, from both Thor and the Avengers (and the upcoming Thor: the Dark World) is awesome. He has actually become one of, if not the, most interesting characters in the Marvel movie universe. A master manipulator and all around bastard, he is responsible for the banishment of Thor from Asgard, the weakening of Odin, a near war with Jottunheim (the land of the Frost Giants), the near complete destruction of New York, an alien invasion, and, oh yeah, the formation of the Avengers.
Not bad for two films. I can’t wait to see what mischief he stirs up in the Thor and any Avengers sequels.
2. Bane (The Dark Knight Rises)
Nearly a complete departure from the comic book version, the Christopher Nolan version of Bane is totally badass. He crushes Batman with ease and uses his extremist branch of the League of Shadows (well, not really HIS, but he appears to be the leader, at least for a good long while in the movie) to utterly destroy Gotham City. He rules over the city with an iron fist for months, and by the time he is done he has caused Bruce Wayne to apparently sacrifice his life to save the city.
Tom Hardy does a great job of acting, especially considering you never see his face (other than his eyes) as it is hidden beneath that creepy mask. His line delivery is great, and his two fights with Batman are the best fights in the entire series.
Many people saw using Bane as a follow up to the Joker and Two-Face from the Dark Knight as a step back. After all, of the villains in the film series, Bane is the least well known (other than maybe Ra’s Al Ghul) to the general movie going public. Well, at least he was before the movie. The success of the Dark Knight Rises led to DC comics reprinting the epic Knightfall trilogy, in which the comic book version of Bane sends Batman through a gauntlet of his rogue’s gallery before disposing of Bruce Wayne and leaving Gotham City in the hands of a lunatic (Jean Paul Valley, aka Azrael, aka the replacement Batman).
1. The Joker (The Dark Knight)
Do I really have to explain this one? The guy won an Academy Award for playing a supervillain. I mean, come on. Nobody else on this list comes close to Heath Ledger’s creepy, funny, twitchy, psychopathic Joker.