There are some occasions of a famous and bad-ass villain who is adopted cinematically wrong. One typical example is Mister Freeze in the infamous Batman and Robin. However, as director Joel Schumacher said it wasn't his intention to ruin everyone's favorite characters. What happens when a villain is altered in order to appeal to the audiences? Let's find out what went "wrong" and analyze the possible direction of our superhero movies.
Firstly, let's take the example of Mister Freeze. Batman and Robin was a complete failure, full of miscasts and bad performances. Mister Freeze was portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a more cartoonish and "full of puns" way. Before Batman and Robin, there weren't many the occasions of a villain or character went wrong. There was Red Skull in those old Captain America films, but it was one of Marvel's first tries so I think that they should be forgiven (even though this Red Skull looks like he had a giant pepperoni pizza melted on his face). Warner Bros. and Dc comics rushed in order to make a movie for little kids and in order to sell toys. And then that happened.
This was one first example of the "villain went wrong".
After some years, the Batman franchise was rebooted and gave us Batman Begins with Ra's al Ghul as a villain. Then, the Joker came. Heath Ledger's performance was outstanding. The perfect clown prince of crime. However, as perfect as Nolan's Joker was, he had some serious consequences on the comic book history. Many writers tried to make the antagonists far more menacing and bring them closer to Nolan's Joker's serious and dark tone. The results? Multiple failures. The comic book Joker had his face cut off and started acting like a total abomination. I don't know if you agree on this and I wouldn't like to propagandize against Batman villains, but this isn't the Joker we knew.
The previous year, 2007, was the year of Spider-Man 3. Another successful franchise destroyed by the miscast of a villain. In this occasion, Venom was adapted wrong, portrayed by Topher Grace. I don't want to stay more on this, we all know what went wrong. Exact the same reasons as Batman and Robin.
After 2008, another villain which was negatively criticized by some fans was Bane from the Dark Knight Rises. Bane was altered in order to fit more in the franchise and in the more "realistic" way of Nolan. His appearance was altered and his iconic mask was removed.
The 2010s: the decade of the modern Superhero Films. This is the decade of Iron Man 3. The third installment of the Iron Man trilogy. Although it is considered by many Iron Man's best film, many more heavily criticized it for the Mandarin twist. Iron Man 3 was supposed to bring it all together, but it didn't. For those who haven't seen the film yet, it included a twist with the Mandarin. The terrorist mastermind who manipulated and brought the entire country to it's knees was actually "fake". The Mandarin, portrayed by Ben Kingsley, was a pawn, an actor who worked for the real mastermind. Ben Kingsley's Mandarin is named Trevor Slattery and is a drug addict unemployed actor.
The real "Mandarin" in Iron Man 3 is Aldrich Killian, the creator of the Extremis virus. It is revealed that he is the actual master planner and is introduced as a major character although, in the comics, he is rather than an important character. In fact, after developing the Extremis virus and selling it to terrorists, he commits suicide. In the movie, however, he conspires with Vice President to eliminate President Ellis so that he could become the new President under Killian's orders. His new look also includes dragon tattoos, which inspired the whole "Mandarin" persona.
Although it is revealed that there is a real Mandarin in Marvel's One Shot "All Hail The King", Iron Man's cinematic universe, the fourth movie and the reveal of the real Mandarin and the real Ten Rings organization are hazy.
Iron Man's third movie was followed by Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In The Winter Soldier, we see plenty of Cap's enemies like Arnim Zola, Crossbones and Batroc the Leaper. However, the main villain of the film is Alexander Pierce, a corrupted high ranked SHIELD agent, who overthrows Nick Fury. There were many rumors about Pierce being the Red Skull, however, they weren't true.
Like Aldrich Killian, Alexander Pierce isn't an important character in the comics. He is also a corrupted SHIELD agent, but he isn't the head of HYDRA or a brilliant villainous mastermind like the character in the movie.
Now we learn that actor Matt Gerald, who participated in "All Hail The King" as White Power Dave, a prisoner in the same high-security prison with the fake Mandarin, will be a/the villain in Ant-Man. The character of White Power Dave doesn't even appear in the comics and is an original character. Some suspect that White Power Dave is David Cannon AKA Whirlwind and I hope this is true.
Also, Dc recently announced that actors Holly Hunter, Callan Mulvey and Tao Okamoto have been casted for Batman vs Superman. Those characters will be original too. I personally hoped that Callan Mulvey would be Metallo, as he was rumored to.
My conclusion? We live in an era of directors and script writers who are interfering with the villains and the antagonists. "Unknown" characters who get glory from a movie, like Pierce or Killian are fine, but we have started losing our good, old and famous traditional bad guys, like the Red Skull or the Mandarin. And now, original characters too? What Ant-Man needs is a famous and powerful villain, not an original character. Don't they realize that Ant-Man isn't a billionaire, playboy philanthropist in an Iron Man suit or a living legend of World War II, but a guy who communicates with ants?
Also, I'm starting losing hope on Batman vs Superman and I'm like a big Superman fan and a Batmaniac. (Get it? Batman? Maniac?) What the film needs is a famous Superman villain who will accompany Lex Luthor, like Metallo or Parasite. DC must understand that their cinematic universe isn't like Marvel's. They have to build a strong base to hold all the next movies. Please, don't screw it up.
My advice? In order to increase your popularity, start bringing back the huge weapons.
This was a time of temperate villains, like Pierce, but now you should give us something bigger. Malekith was ok, but is just another forgettable bad guy, because Loki stole the show.
Plus, bringing famous and ambitious villains helps the further development of the cinematic universe. One typical example is Baron Zemo, Captain America's second most vicious foe. Zemo could appear in many films starting with Captain America 3 and then he could even be a villain for the Avengers or the New Avengers, since he is the leader of the Masters of Evil. He could also appear in Agents of Shield. Marvel once used the trick with Thanos. They should start using it again.
I would also like to emphasize one last thing. I referenced Joker and Bane not because they were badly developed, but because they influence writers, directors, cartoonists etc. to write or draw based on this certain dark "ideology", a method which doesn't always has the same results. Take "Man of Steel" for example. Some loved it while others hated it because of this dark tone.
Thanks for reading!!