It's no secret that the villain plays a big part in superhero movie, but just how much do they really matter? Since the year 2000 at least four superhero movies have been made every year, some with great portrayals of villains and some with lousy ones. I decided to conduct a little experiment using my opinions of the best and the worst to see how much the villain effected the ratings of the movies they were in. I used the tomatometer from rottentomatoes.com as a source of reference so if you're not familiar with the tomatometer click here. Without further ado, here's my opinion of the best and the worst in no particular order. Enjoy!
Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin in Spider-man (89% on Rotten Tomatoes)
In my opinion, Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin is the best adapted Spider-man villain we've gotten so far. Dafoe brought the Green Goblin to life with his insane eyes and psychotic grin and even when the mask was on you could feel the demeanor and Bravado of the Green Goblin come right off the pages of the comic and into real life. The thing I liked most was the story arch of Norman Osborn. It was like watching a Green Goblin AND Spider-man rather than just Spider-man. When a villain can steal the show like that they deserve recognition. Nowadays it seems movies are overcrowded with villains and people don't realize it actually takes away from a movie.
I would like to add that I also enjoyed Dane DeHaan's Green Goblin. I think the movie Amazing Spider-man 2 was kind of a mess, but DeHaan was a bright spot. That being said, in my opinion, Dafoe's portrayal is more iconic.
Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow in Batman Begins (85% on Rotten Tomatoes)
When I heard Batman Begins villain was going to be the Scarecrow I was upset. I wanted the Joker! I wanted Penguin! Two-Face! Mr. Freeze! Catwoman! The Riddler! Out of so many villains why would they choose the Scarecrow? Surely Batman was destined for another lousy movie. What a naive fool I was! I saw Batman Begins and it blew me away in large part because Cillian Murphy's Scarecrow. While he didn't steal the show like Dafoe, he was a creepy and believable villain that fit nicely into the Dark Knight universe.
Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender as Magneto in the X-Men franchise (X-Men: Days of Future Past is 91% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Magneto is the greatest comic book villain of all time according to IGN's top 100 villains list and whether you agree or not he should at least be in your top five. That is a lot to live up to and yet the cinematic Magneto is yet to disappoint. The entire franchise started off with young Magneto in Auschwitz extermination camp ripping open a gate with his ability to control metal. The scene was powerful and set the tone for the entire X-Men cinematic universe. We can empathize with Magneto and understand why he does some of the horrible things he does because he is such a well developed character. He is so prominent in the X-Men franchise and both Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender are great in their portrayals of Magneto.
(The reason I put these two actors together is because they are portraying the same exact character. There was no reboot involved like with the Green Goblin and the Joker.)
Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight (94% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Ledger did to the Joker role what Nolan did to the Batman franchise. He revamped it and made it his own unique creation. Unlike Magneto, the Joker doesn't need us to empathize with him, because what makes the Joker such a great villain is that we have no idea where he came from or what his motives are, and I think that was captured very well in The Dark Knight. He's just one big evil mystery and pure evil is fascinating! Ledger was mesmerizing in every single scene that he was in, and I love them all so much that I couldn't choose which one to post in this article, so instead I chose to use Christopher Nolan's favorite scene with Heath Ledger's Joker via an interview with uproxx.com
The scene that is so important and so central to me is the interrogation scene between Batman and the Joker in the film. When we were writing the script, that was always one of the central set pieces that we wanted to crack. On the set, we shot it fairly early on. It was actually one of the first things that Heath had to do as the Joker. He told me he was actually pretty excited to tear off a big chunk early on, really get one of the Joker’s key scenes up in the first three weeks of a seven-month shoot. He and I both liked the idea of just diving in, as did Christian [Bale, who portrayed Batman].
Check it out.
I would like to say that Jack Nicholson also had a great, although very different portrayal of the Joker. It was a different time, and it seems a little dated now, but until Ledger came along nobody thought anyone would come close to Mr. Nicholson's portrayal of the Joker. Jared Leto will be the next to take on the iconic Clown Prince of Crime in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie.
Check out Cameron Monaghan's fantastic performance as the young Joker on Gotham!
Lena Headley as Ma-Ma in Dredd (78% on Rotten Tomatoes)
You may know Lena Headey from Game of Thrones, 300, or The Purge, but you have never seen her like this! I didn't know much about Judge Dredd until last year when my friend told me to check out the movie on Netflix and weeks later while I was laying in bed with the flu feeling like death I decided I might as well check it out. From start to finish it was action packed, full of violence, and it was an overall refreshing movie! It wasn't going to hold back for a PG-13 rating and I respect the hell out of that! But what stands out above all else in the movie is the charismatic antagonist, Ma-Ma. I don't think I've ever seen such a ruthless villain in a superhero movie and it was awesome to see this type of character on the big screen. Here's Lena Headey talking about the character with scifinow.com
“Karl(Dredd)'s pretty intense, he does such a great job. He’s very present when he’s working, so it’s kinda cool to face off and Ma-Ma can’t look into his eyes, which she prefers, I think,” Headey muses, “She doesn’t need to connect. It was intense for Dredd, but for Ma-Ma she was thinking ‘Finally, someone who might actually cause me some pain’ – which, weirdly, is the only way she gets her kicks.”
No super powers, no makeup, just a giant scar and one hell of an attitude! If you haven't seen Dredd I suggest you check it out because it really is a kick ass movie. Here's a sample.
Tom Hiddleston as Loki in The Avengers (92% on Rotten Tomatoes)
In my opinion, Loki isn't as sinister as the other villains on this list, however, he might be the most fun. Loki first appeared in Thor, but he is more widely known as the antagonist from The Avengers. They probably could have used any villain and it would still have been a good movie, but Tom Hiddleston took the movie to another level! In a movie with some of Marvel's greatest heroes it was Loki who stood out above all else. Loki was charming, cool, mischievous, and admittedly silly but he's a villain that everyone can enjoy! Here's Tom Hiddleston talking about the character before Avengers via screenrant.com
“Kevin Feige suggested Loki would be part of The Avengers storyline when I got cast in Thor, but I was so busy trying to build the character that I couldn't think about it. I knew perfectly well that if I was rubbish in Thor, I wouldn’t get anywhere near The Avengers. That’s when I thought I’d just take everything one step at a time.”
Well you did a great job Mr. Hiddleston, if I do say so myself.
Topher Grace as Venom in Spider-man 3 (63% on Rotten Tomatoes)
First, let me explain the comic book Eddie Brock. Eddie is a jerk, but at the end of the day he's also a journalist that is just trying to make a name for himself, exactly like Peter Parker. In the comics Spider-man humiliates Eddie Brock because of Peter's own personal dislike for his rival at the Daily Bugle. Eddie Brock had a justified reason to hate Spider-man, and that justification is what makes him such a great villain. Peter knew with great power came great responsibility and he abused his power in a momentary lapse of judgement. What bothered me about the Spider-man 3 Venom was that it didn't capture any of this. It just kind of sped through it. Even after the symbiote takes over and he becomes Venom he's not very bad ass, and we all know Venom is as bad ass as they come! I know people have said it a thousand times but it was really annoying that he kept peeling his mask back. I think they rushed a character that shouldn't have been rushed, especially after the first two films did such a great job building up the solo villain. Topher Grace seemed less than thrilled to talk with MTVnews about the character back in 2010.
“Well,” he grinned, “I died in the movie.”
And dead is where that version of Venom should remain.
Jamie Foxx as Electro in Amazing Spider-man 2 (53% on Rotten Tomatoes)
I was excited about Electro when I saw the Amazing Spider-man 2 trailer, I mean, he looked promising! Then I saw the movie and slowly realized I had already seen every good scene in the trailer. This one wasn't really Jamie Foxx's fault. I think he's a terrific actor but the writing and directing didn't really let him show off his ability. I mean no one can say "It's my birthday, time for me to light my candles" and sound bad ass. Electro just came off as this generic villain with the cliche "misunderstood guy who has an accident and becomes bad" origin story that we've already have had enough of in Spider-man films. Electro gave us no real reason to connect with him. He was too cartoonish and psychotic for anyone to really empathize with him which sucks, because I think a lot of people do feel like they are invisible just as Jamie Foxx's character did. There was nothing new or different about Electro and I think if they would have just allowed Jamie Foxx to be more of an actual villain who has actual motives rather than just being a cheesy weirdo then maybe it would have worked a little better. In the end it just didn't come off good for me. But Jamie Foxx seems to think Electro was magnificently crafted and well developed character.
“I think with all of the Spider-Man villains there is a certain empathy to them. The way we crafted Electro, when he’s Max you definitely feel for him because he’s been sort of shut out and no one really cares about him. And it’s his birthday and even his mom forgot his birthday, so you will feel that. So when he does turn into Electro it’s serious venom, he really wants to hurt everybody, and when he feels like Spider-Man betrays him he really wants to hurt him bad.”
He was right about one thing... No one really cares about him.
Rhys Ifans as the Lizard in The Amazing Spider-man (73% on Rotten Tomatoes)
I'm a fan of Rhys Ifans, but what the hell was up with the Lizard in the Amazing Spider-man? This is not the Lizard I remember from my childhood. Doctor Connors was supposed to be a good friend of Peter's, even a sort of father figure before he turned into the Lizard. And what what was up with that CGI? We've seen better graphics in video games. And also, he had no story arch. Why would we care about this guy? There was no empathy created for him, and it would have been so easy. He was missing an arm for goodness sake! It's not that hard to make people feel bad for him! I honestly cared more about Dylan Baker's Curtis Connors from Spider-man 2 and 3 and Baker got very little screen time.
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin (11% on Rotten Tomatoes)
We all know Batman & Robin is a comically bad movie. It has 11% on Rotten Tomatoes and it is commonly referred to as the worst Batman movie ever made which makes it hard to not feel bad for everyone involved in the train wreck. I don't even blame Arnold, the same way I don't really blame Jamie Foxx. Not even Clint Eastwood could say "Let's go kick some ice" and make is sound bad ass. And you can't say it's just because Arnold is a bad actor, because Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy was almost as bad and she rocks! I think it was a poor adaption of a great character and I hope Mr. Freeze gets another day in the sun... or snow? For now you check out this hilarious article on buzzfeed.com that ranks Mr. Freeze's puns from Horrible to Most Horrible.
Michael Clark Duncan as Kingpin in Daredevil (45% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Believe it or not, I'm not even a Daredevil hater. I actually thought the director's cut was pretty bad ass! However, the kingpin is one of my favorite villains and he was not adapted nearly as well as he could have been. The comic book Kingpin fought with his resources more than he fought with his body (although getting in a fist fight with Wilson Fisk wasn't recommended)! In the movie he just seemed like a normal crime boss, and the Kingpin is anything but a normal crime boss! However, compared to some of the others on the list this one shouldn't seem too bad. It was mainly that Daredevil fell into the trap of not knowing who the target audience was which gave the film an uneven tone.
Famke Janssen as Phoenix in X-Men: The Last Stand (58% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Phoenix was such an awesome comic villain because she came from a beloved hero. There was a lot of build up to the Phoenix saga, so when it was announced she was going to be in X-men 3 everyone was excited! Then the movie came out and it was like getting clothes for Christmas. It's really a shame because the first two films by Bryan Singer set up the Phoenix Saga on a silver platter, but instead of riding the wave, new director Brett Ratner decided to make a movie more focused on racial allegory and mutant cures than the freaking Phoenix. The saddest part is we may not see the Phoenix on the big screen again for a very long time.
The Cloud as Galactus in Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (37% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Galactus is the most powerful villain of all time! He's a total beast who swallows planets whole and could make the X-Men, Fantastic 4, Avengers wet their pants. That's right! He was so bad ass that he crossed over and fought all of them. You know why? Because he's Galactus baby! Do you remember the preview for Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer? The one with Johnny Storm flying after the Silver surfer and then the Silver Surfer just grabs him by the throat and tosses him away from outer space (still one of the coolest trailers of all time)? I remember my friends and I were so pumped not only because of the Silver Surfer, but because it could only mean one thing: Galactus! And you know what we got instead? A FREAKING CLOUD! It infuriates me! If Galactus ever gets a second chance (which he should) I hope that he is done justice, and, you know, NOT A FREAKING CLOUD.
ONE JUST FOR FUN:
Josh Brolin as Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy (91% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Okay, let me start off by saying that Guardians of the Galaxy is awesome and this isn't really fair because Thanos wasn't even the main villain in the movie, and he will definitely turn things up a notch as phase three continues. That being said, he wasn't very menacing to me, and I have a casting call that would have been legendary. Bryan Cranston as Thanos! "Heisenberg" voicing Thanos! Imagine he has Captain America in a headlock and he's like "Say my name!" It would have been amazing! To reiterate, it's not that Josh Brolin is bad, I'm just saying some Breaking Bad would have been even better!
Who do you think were the best and the worst adapted comic book villains? Comment below and let me know!