With all this buzz about whether Ledger’s Joker is truly the greatest comic book super villain of all time, I decided to put together a list of the top 10 and worst 10 comic book supervillain interpretations/portrayals to ever grace the big screen.
However, when I sat down and counted, I realized there’s only a few more than 30 different villains who have even appeared onscreen– so I figured, why not just rank all of them?
So, I set out to rank all of the comic book super villains who have appeared on the big screen. That being said, I’m ranking MAJOR motion picture comic book SUPERVILLAINS.
What this means is –
1. The movie has to be from on a comic book about superheroes (so no villains from non-superhero comic book movies like Sin City, and no villains from non-comic book superhero movies like Hancock or Darkman.) Any villains created for the movie are excluded – like Howard Saint, or Nick Nolte from 2003 Hulk (even though he has Absorbing Man’s powers) Quite a few comic book superhero movies aren’t represented here because they just invented a new villain.
2. It has to be a major motion picture – no movies that are just extensions of TV shows (1966 Batman, Mask of the Phantasm), no direct to video or direct to TV movies (like all the crappy 80’s/90’s Marvel movies.)
3. Must be a SUPER villain – no antagonists that are corrupt politicians or military people. (Senator Kelly, William Stryker, General Thunderbolt Ross, etc.) In fact, they all have non-human monikers, except for Lex Luthor who obviously gets to be included anyway. Obviously I will also omit future supervillains who have yet to appear in their supervillain form (Samuel Sterns from The Incredible Hulk, Dr. Curt Connors from the Spidey movies.)
4. Since its what I’m familiar with, Marvel and DC only (Although since Hellboy uses a historical figure, and Hellboy 2 and The Mask invent new villains, this only excludes the Spawn villains – anyone with info on them feel free to add.)
Other exclusions: Cameos or very minor thugs who are minor in both the comics and the movie (Toad, Callisto, Deathstrike and Magneto’s other random henchmen from X-Men, Zzasz from Batman Begins, The Russian from the Punisher.) The only character who SHOULD be on here that isn’t due to my ignorance is Deacon Frost from Blade – sorry, but I know absolutely nothing about Blade comics. Add him in mentally wherever you want.
OK, with those rules set in place, I have counted that there are 30 different supervillains who have appeared in comic book superhero movies. (And The Joker and Two-Face get two different entries for their two very different portrayals, making 32 entries total.)
They will be graded based on accuracy to the comics, quality of the movie and of the acting, look, justice to the character, how they overall work as a cinematic villain, and the overall potential of the comic book villain. Sometimes they will be weak in some categories but work well in others. One of the biggest themes is “high risk, high reward”- the best comic characters claim the top and lowest spots. A crappy movie character based on a great comics character will rank lower than a crappy character based on a mediocre comics character because of all the wasted potential, and a great movie character based on a crappy comics character can only go so far. Obviously these are based off my own opinion but when my opinion is deviant I factor popular opinion in as well.
Oh, and to add to the suspense: Ledger's Joker is NOT number one (but he's close.) Nicholson's Joker isn't number one either.
Without further ado, here they are….. (and obviously, feel free to add your own opinion and comments)
32. Dr. Doom (The Fantastic Four, 2005, and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, 2007)
Played by: Julian McMahon
Well, right off the bat, here is my choice for the biggest comic book movie villain failure of all time. A controversial choice given the fact that the next few are from absolutely unwatchable movies and the F4 movies are somewhat entertaining in a generic sense. The average movie-goer who saw the Fantastic Four movies wouldn’t probably think he was too bad of a villain, and certainly would think he was a better character than all the Schumacher Batman villains. As horrible as those portrayals were, nothing compares to these F4 movies completely ruining what many consider the greatest comic book villain of all time. I don’t need to sell you on the potential of the Dr. Doom from the comics…but suffice to say, completely ripping off the origin of the Green Goblin from the Spider-Man movies and then having him go into space with the Four and then mutate into a metal freak electric powers was NOT the way to go. But even bastardizing his origin wouldn’t have been too bad if he remotely acted like Doom instead of just being a pissed off Dr. Christian Troy. It is an utter travesty that a character like Doom ended up in the hands of the makers of the F4 movies.
31. Bane (Batman and Robin)
Played by: Jeep Swenson
Yikes. Bane isn’t the only character on here dumbed down into a henchman (Sabretooth and Juggernaut show up soon) but he’s certainly the worst and most egregious. One of Batman’s deadliest and smartest villains, turned into a mute strongman for Poison Ivy. At least the movie tried to make Freeze and Ivy somewhat similar to their comics counterparts, and not freaking mutes. One could argue that Bane is a more important and deadlier villain than those two in the comics, and turning him into some mute thug is a travesty. A strong contender for the last slot, but as great as Bane is in the comics, he’s not at Doom’s level.
30. Mr. Freeze (Batman and Robin)
Played by: Arnold Schwarzenegger
“The ice man cometh!” What more need more be said that hasn’t already? Just six years after Paul Dini and Bruce Timm resurrect Victor Fries and turn him into one of Batman’s most compelling and tragic villains, Schumacher comes along to ruin it. One of the worst and most embarrassing performances of all time, the future Governor simply spits out bad pun after bad pun. The filmmakers try to incorporate his tragic history into the story, but it doesn’t work at all – Fries should be cold, distant and haunted by his condition and his wife’s illness, not constantly making stupid jokes. Schumacher has probably tainted this character forever – everyone associates Freeze with this movie and the bad ice puns now, and if Nolan decides to put him in the next movie, that’s all anyone will be talking about (whereas people kind of forgot about Tommy Lee Jones’s Two-Face when Nolan decided to adapt him). The only redeeming factor is that I actually think the costume looks kind of visually impressive.